Entries Tagged 'Politics Blogs' ↓

Democrats’ platform

Hey Democrats:

First–stop saying Mitt Romney’s vote to convict Trump was an act of courage. Acts of courage teach us about action in the face of danger. There was no danger lurking anywhere near that vote. And the only resulting actions were condemnations from Trump, and Republicans turning away from Romney. We will get back to that, later.    

Second–pull together to defeat Trump next November. Now that Republicans have ruined government and failed to fix our electoral system, it does not matter which one of you gets elected!

Here is your platform:

Our crumbling infrastructure affects all Americans, even the country club set. They don’t realize it, yet, because they are among our most uneducated people: (1) They are ignorant of the long-term effects of their actions. (2) They cannot imagine how their future is tied to the future of the middle and lower classes. (3) They are too weak to stop buying luxuries they don’t need. (4) They fear the truth–that their wealth is the result of luck, or inheritance, or both. (5) They are proud of their wealth, as if it is the result of some great accomplishment (See #4). (6) And they believe self-interest, not generosity, is a virtue.

In other words, if our infrastructure is NOT repaired, their profits will suffer in the long run. The difference between a first world country and a developing country is that the former has all three of the following:

  1. safe roads, bridges, and airports.
  2. water and food that is safe to consume.
  3. a middle class with enough disposable income to buy the products the country clubbers sell.  

Steven Brill, Tailspin (2018), described how government has been destroyed, and how the rule of law and due process have been used to protect and accommodate the wealthy, more than to serve the common good. Ask any honest lawyer about that.

There it is. Nothing could be simpler for Americans to understand. Now that our electoral system, government, and presidency have been misaligned, educated people will vote for the democratic candidates (1) who reject corporate donations from the oil industry, (2) who refuse to criticize other democratic candidates, and (3) who call for democratic candidates to be a band of brothers and sisters.

Please don’t say democratic candidates have to criticize each other, so the party gets a nominee who is tough enough to stand on the debate stage with Trump. Think past the Trump-Clinton debacle. The democratic candidate should never get down in the mud with Trump. Look at how that would play out. Republicans will revel in Trump’s nastiness because they will regard him as the nastier of the two, which he is and always will be. That makes Trump the winner in their eyes.

And about that Romney thing–Trump demonstrated his uneducated nature by ridiculing Romney. Trump’s ignorance and intellectual incompetence were evident in his inability to understand that pleading for help from Ukraine violated his oath of office. And his weak character, fear of truth, pride and selfishness were evident in his Romney outrage. Trump supporters may share these vices, but most Americans demonstrate the three virtues they were taught in public schools–understanding, strong character, and generosity.  

In other words, with this platform, voters looking out for the public good will vote for a democrat. They will know that a repaired infrastructure, a secure election system, and a government that works for the public good is needed to take us into the 2020s, 30s and 40s.

So, Democrats, if you want to make it even simpler, “Make America Great Again” looks to the past. Democrats make us great into the future. Drive on Interstate 40 and 26 to experience what that will be like. Those are Republican potholes you are driving over.

And–Hey working class Republicans–How is that tax cut going for you? Now that you are filing your taxes, you see a huge reduction–right? You better spend that money for new tires. I am warning you. If your blowout damages my car when I cannot avoid your car lurching into my lane, I will sue you. (See–I can incite fear, too.)  

Dear Tom Perez

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

Memo to: Tom Perez

From: Voters

Subject: Iowa Caucuses

Nobody cares.

Rip it up

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

Headline:

GOP rips Pelosi over torn speech

Many people have expressed the wish that Nancy should not have torn the speech on national TV.

Regardless of the verdicts coming down on Nancy, another way to look at it is that, if she had not done it, we would not be talking about it. Maybe Nancy learned from Donald that, If you want to be in the news, you have to do and say outrageous things:

“And when you are a star, you can do anything . . . Grab them by the pussy.”

How many of the Pelosi condemnations are coming from people who condemned Donald’s disgusting statement? Unless you can point me to your condemnation of Donald’s attitude toward women, shut up about a speech torn by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. If you don’t like it, remember – that is why we have elections.

Culture War

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

According to the New York Times:

Mr. Alexander (Republican Senator Lamar Alexander) said Friday during an interview in his Capitol office. “For the Senate to tear up the ballots in this election and say President Trump couldn’t be on it, the country probably wouldn’t accept that. It would just pour gasoline on cultural fires that are burning out there.”

Earlier in the morning, I was reflecting on the “cultural fires that are burning out there.” As I wrote in my book, American public schools teach three virtues (understanding, strong character, and generosity), and three vices:

  1. lack of imagination (Sit down, shut up, and don’t ask too many questions.)
  2. fear of truth (Democracy is the best form of government.)
  3. pride (Be proud of yourself, your country, your state, and your school.)

When I go to the polls next November, I will remember that we are engaged in a culture war. What is that about democracy being the best form of government? Does it apply to countries in which voters are taught to be unimaginative, fearful of truth, and proud?

Next November’s results will be a verdict on public schooling in America. And I won’t need to know a thing about students’ test scores.

Incentives and education

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

Sixteen days ago, I returned from a Road Scholar tour of Cuba, one of 4 Communist countries. China, Russia, and North Korea are the others. Yesterday I said to my wife:

I noticed that in Cuba there is little incentive to produce things to improve their economy. In our capitalistic society, however, there is always the same incentive–to get more money for one’s self.

I must clarify. When I say economic incentives are lacking in Cuba, I am not saying Cubans lack incentives to improve their quality of life. Our tour group met many Cubans doing just that. It means their economy is not stimulated in the way our economy is–by the incentive to get more money for one’s self.

Here is how Steven Brill (Tailspin, 2018) describes America’s recent economic trends in the chapter entitled, “Casino Country:”

We should remember that the innovators of what became the short-term-obsessed, casino economy were not villains. With some exceptions, the world does not divide that simply into black and white. Joe Flom, his raider-clients, the stock buy-back engineers, Lew Ranieri and Blythe Masters, even Angelo Mozilo, didn’t set out to do harm, let alone create a crash that cost America $20 trillion in lost gross domestic product and boosted the have-a-lots far above everyone else. Even those who broke the law didn’t wake up in the morning determined to destroy the economy so they could make money. They simply responded–many with trailblazing ingenuity–to the incentives put in front of them and the culture of the times. Change the incentives and change the culture and the genius of their successors can be redirected. Short-termism, which has been so devastating to so many Americans, is not immutable. (p. 85)

So, dear educators:

Who is going to change the incentives? Who is going to change the culture? Brill (2018) claims the capitalists who made millions by crashing the economy were not villains. He says they were just incentivized to make more money. And he says they responded to economic conditions with “trailblazing ingenuity.”

Really? These imaginative geniuses had no idea of the harm they were doing to others? They did not think they were stealing from others? Where did they think their money was coming from? It looks to me like Brill felt a need to fudge his description so he could promote capitalism, while telling a story about its evils.

Or maybe I missed something. Maybe I missed the news accounts of how Joe Flom, his raider-clients, the stock buy-back engineers, Lew Ranieri, Blythe Masters, or Angelo Mozilo gave back some of their imaginatively gained millions of dollars. If they are so imaginative, and they are not villains, surely they want to give some back. Oh–I forgot–they are not incentivized to give back. They are incentivized to get all the money they can for themselves. And, evidently, they are not incentivized to care about others.

So, how does the argument go–the one about how capitalism is good and communism is bad? If you believe selfishness is our human nature, you can make that argument with glee. On the other hand, if you believe selfishness is our uneducated human nature, but generosity is our educated human nature, you can’t make that argument.

Educators must start teaching the six virtues of the educated person. Our capitalist economy depends on it. Even Steven Brill says so.

Trump family gives rich people a bad name

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

Headline:

AG James Secures Court Order Against Donald J. Trump, Trump Children, And Trump Foundation

Behind the headline:

According to Attorney General Letitia James, “The Trump Foundation has shut down, funds that were illegally misused are being restored, the president will be subject to ongoing supervision by my office, and the Trump children had to undergo compulsory training to ensure this type of illegal activity never takes place again.”

Hey – Rich People!

The Trump family is giving you a bad name. It is one thing to benefit from tax policies that shield your wealth. It is another to lobby for rules that protect your assets, as they pollute the environment. And it is another to take your wealth out of sight of the IRS.

But misusing funds donated to a charity is below what you expect from your kind. Isn’t it? Or do you also need to “undergo compulsory training to ensure this type of illegal activity never takes place again.”

God Bless America

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

Headline:

President tweets a warning to Russia, Iran over Syria

Subheading:

He tells countries not to kill civilians in conflict.

Behind the headline:

Trump has nominated former Navy Seal Edward Gallagher for that job. Gallagher said he will happily come out of retirement.

Bloomberg

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

The headline reads:

Bloomberg Under Fire

The story is about a misogynistic culture in organizations run by Mike Bloomberg. He got into the democratic race because, as he said, none of the other candidates could defeat Trump. Apparently, he believes we need a better misogynist in the White House. 

Celebrate Xmas and Trump courage

Our side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.

The local television commercial for the 2019 Charles Taylor annual Christmas dinner concludes with this invitation:

“Guest speaker and best-selling author, Sidney Powell, will have a Christmas card you can sign to thank President Trump for his courageous stands.” 

I was struck by this because, at first, I could not think of any courageous stands taken by the president. Then I started counting them:

  1. Trump described himself as a serial pussy grabber. Any teen-age boy will tell you that takes a lot of courage.
  2. According to a White House report, Trump recently warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Russia better not meddle in our next election. Russian television edited out footage of Putin quaking in his boots when he received the warning.
  3. Trump said he would shut down the government and take the blame. I guess it takes courage to shut down the organization you are hired to run.
  4. As commander-in-chief, Trump’s anti-immigrant policies have kept us safe from asylum-seeking children, who are now in cages across the nation. All Americans are sleeping better, now.

Or maybe only those Americans who want to sign a Christmas card thanking the president for his courageous stands are sleeping better.

The rest of us are tired of his despicable cowardice. 

The Divide

Here is John Dewey’s description of what Americans are taught to believe about democracy:

We have been taught not only in the schools but by the press, the pulpit, the platform, and our laws and law-making bodies, that democracy is the best of all social institutions. We may have so assimilated this idea from our surroundings that it has become an habitual part of our mental and moral make-up.

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and Education. New York: Macmillan, p. 34.

More than 80 years have passed since Dewey described this quintessential American belief. The fact that we have rarely (if ever) challenged that belief is proof that it has become “part of our mental and moral make-up.”

And that belief relates to my suggestion for addressing our current political divide. Everyone, who writes about the divide, or who defends one viewpoint against the other, must start with one of the following sentences:

  1. “My side is not corrupt, but the other side is.”
  2. “My side is corrupt, but the other side is more corrupt.”
  3. “Both sides are equally corrupt.”
  4. “My side’s corruption is a good thing; the other side’s corruption is a bad thing.”

By starting with one of those sentences, writers/commentators put their argument in the context of what is true–that our system is corrupt in various ways; instead of what we cannot know to be true–that “democracy is the best of all social institutions.”

For more than 200 years we have failed to live up to the ideal of a fair, democratic system of governance. One reason is that we are in denial about systemic corruption. If we start by recognizing that every system of governance is corrupt (even American democracy), we could start building a more fair and just system of the people, by the people, and for the people.

If we don’t, our divide will grow as powerful actors continue to enrich themselves at the expense of those with less power, which is the definition of corruption.

In the spirit of following my own command, I choose sentence #2.