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Is All This Tariff Talk Real? I hope Not!

Is all the Trump tariff talk real? Or is this just a better-orchestrated rehash of Trump vs Pina Nieta 2017?

Do you remember when President Donald Trump begged Mexico to pay for the wall, or failing that, at least not to say publically that they wouldn’t?

Of course, you don’t. If you linked here from FB you probably can’t remember what people were pretending to care about just before they pretended to care about illegals being separated from their kids. (It was Trump meeting with the crazy fat kid – even though the same people pretending to object to the meeting were insisting on it the week before Trump announced the meeting.)

But the idea behind the phone call to Mexico, cited in the link above, was to create theater around the border wall issue. I believe that by mid-2017, the Donald already realized the slim chance he had of getting a needless wall built. But his entire political trajectory is predicated on him being the Ultimate Deal Maker. Building the wall was supposed to be one facet of this title.

He isn’t a great deal maker. He never was. As streetpolitics.us has pointed out in other pieces, citing a variety of sources, Trump was never the big deal maker in the multi-billion dollar empire that bares his name. He was the face man. He was the dog-and-pony show that kept the flamboyant public image of empire alive, and the big money marks occupied, while the real deal makers hammered out real business. Ultimately, after it became apparent that he had no mature interest in the actual running and monetization of the corporation, the board fired him from positions of real responsibility and paid him a monthly stipend to stay on as the public entertainer-in-chief.

But hey, it’s an image, right?

When Trump first donned the MAGA hat and announced his candidacy, he knew that most of the public was blissfully unaware of his real role in Trump Enterprises and counted on his undeserved “Gordon Gecko” image to say that he would make “great, great” deals as president. “Such beautiful deals!”

But when it came time to actually perform, we found the Donald woefully lacking.

President Donald J. Trump

For example, when Trump did call Mexican President Pena Nieta in 2017, not only did he tip his entire hand, leaving himself no avenue of attack or retreat, he made a series of cringe-worthy gaffes which for some reason, even his political detractors didn’t really hammer him for. But Trump displayed an ignorance of parlay not seen since the Duke of Edinburg demonstrated the diplomatic skills of a Moe Howard on Chinese soil.

Along with racial groupings that only a modern “liberal” would conflate (because modern liberals are racist), Trump suggested to the president of another nation, that although his “wall” was the least important thing being discussed, that it would be helpful TO TRUMP if they would pay for the wall or at least stop saying they wouldn’t. This was tantamount to begging someone of an opposing point of view to pretend not to be, so the requesting party might not be made to “look terrible”.

I’ll try to address the racial gaffes in another article. My to-do list grows exponentially with such asides.

 Fast Forward

Is it possible we are seeing the same immature theater playing out with these tariff battles (minus the leaks that resulted in the WAPO article linked above)? Did Trump actually sit down with leaders in recent summits and say something like, “Look, I have to pretend to be this tough guy. So I will announce tariffs, then you can do the same and then we’ll settle back to basically where we are right now anyway. I have to do something because I said I would in the campaign. Not doing so would make me look stupid.”

If so, then the worst you can say about this “trade war” dust up is, at least in private, the leaders of the world are giggling behind their hands at the President of the United States. After a few months of posturing and stock market drama, all things will settle back to where they are right now, with a few meaningless, token changes. Trump will declare victory and the our trading partners will be happy to let him do so  because they will continue to gauge our exports as they have for the last 50 years.

I can live with the embarrassment. I would be disappointed with the result.

But what if the tariff talk is real?

What if Donald Trump really intends to use a tariff war to “help” the U.S.? Is it possible that someone who has no understanding of history or economics convinced him that haphazardly slapping several countries with tariffs is a good idea?

I will stipulate that among Facebook bozos and talking heads in the “Entertainment News” business, there is almost no understanding of history or economics. Most people in those two intellectual ghetto forums are motivated by what is politically helpful to my tribe?

 But when White House advisors start telling someone as pliable as Trump that protectionism is GOOD for our economy, well… Houston, we have a problem.

Assuming this is not a stunt, this is how Trump’s present course of action will pan out. We are hitting several key trading partners (I use that term advisedly) with broad, impulsive tariffs. They must respond in kind for their own domestic consumption. This includes China. It can be argued that they need our markets more than we need theirs. That is mostly true, but as you will see, hardly of any help in this scenario.

Very quickly, trade will slow, production will slow, and people WILL start losing jobs. Companies with the money and dexterity to quickly move production into countries, considered our to be “trade war” enemies, will do so. This will minimize some of the damage they will endure. These companies will be punished (mostly with rhetoric – look at Harley) by our deal-maker-in-chief. No one will actually be able to do anything to them legally, except congress, but there isn’t a gonad to be found among the entire 535 creatures there.

And so it will go. Eventually, no country will be able to sustain the economic hostilities. Slowly, quietly, the barricades will be dismantled, and as before, all belligerents will slowly retire to about where we are right now. As was the case in Cuban missile crisis, all countries involved will make some token gestures that will leave their home audience thinking they are strong and the international community thinking they are magnanimous. Everyone will get a participation trophy.

But after wrecking jobs and retirement accounts, nothing really will have changed in the grand scheme of things…

Except for one thing…

…The market sentiment and economic trend created with Trump’s election will be over. In fact it will see a huge reversal. Everything we have enjoyed over the last two years will be wiped out. And this COULD all happen by November of 2018. That means we could be looking at a real “blue wave” as opposed to the imagined one of today.

This is one reason I have still not completely let go of my old Trump-as-democrat-shill theory.

It all depends on whether we are looking at an opening gambit, with real free trade[1]  to be proposed in the ensuing weeks or if Trump and company are actually stupid enough to follow through on the existing threats.

[1] Real free trade is just that; no tariffs, no subsidies, no protectionism.

In my next economic piece, I will discuss REAL free trade and why we need it now more than ever.

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Sexual Counterfeiters

I wrote this before leaving town for the holidays.  But check out the update at the end.  I love being right!

Let’s pretend we’re Puritans and we’re irreparably offended by Roy Moore, et al!

A good holiday read this year might be The Crucible: A play in four acts by Arthur Miller. Yes, the original play is a great read. It beats the movie all the hell. And it couldn’t be more timely.

People who do not understand economics, and there are far too many in this country, usually fail to realize what happens to the value of their money when worthless dollars are injected into the economy. Whether on a small scale by counterfeiters or a large scale by the government trying desperately to keep Wall Street afloat, flushing money with no underlying value into the system cheapens the currency and hurts everyone but the Federal Reserve and the cronies or criminals who will profit directly from the circulation of the funny money.

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The same holds true with just about every other aspect of your life. When there is too much of something or false versions of something flood society, the real thing loses value. Sometimes the real thing becomes the object of contempt.

So in an age of me-too-ism, where hoards of people try to inject themselves into high-visibility narratives, the experience of real people with real problems becomes cheapened.

In recent weeks we have seen a gully wash of sexual harassment claims made public by people trying to gain notice by riding on the backs of people who have real harassment grievances.

We hear stories every day from people coming out of the woodwork to tell us what happened to them way back when. Some are real. Some indicate real trauma, if the activity involved was unwanted.

But many are of the type we hear from a handful of women trying to get some mileage out of some me too stories.

Barbara Boxer recounts a story about a fellow member of congress in the 80’s who said, “I’d like to associate with the gentle-lady (Boxer),” In a joking and suggestive manner. Please remember that Boxer is an attractive woman. In the 80’s she was HOT.

So what are we to make of this? Was it harassment? Of course not. It was a joke and one can safely assume meant as a compliment. And it happened thirty-some years ago. If Boxer considered it harassment what are we to say about her strength as a person. It seems she wants us to feel sorry for her because she is just a girl.

In a world where sexual harassment charges have become a cottage industry even before fat Harvey hit the headlines, are we to assume that Barbara Boxer was too weak to bring this capital offense to light? Of course not. She is putting forward this story because she wants to gain some political cache while all this SH talk is still percolating. So she takes a joke, which she in all likelihood laughed at, and is now touting it as trauma.


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Oh! But they must all be believed!

This is actually the message, both direct and indirect, that we are being sent. If a woman says she was harassed or assaulted sexually we are to believe it without question. If we don’t we are no better than the accused. And in this reinvigorated age of penny ante sexual offense, the accused has no assumption of innocence. The accused is guilty and that is that.

I would ask why? Are we obliged to believe something because the person making the claim wants to be believed? Is that the reasoning process?

The justification, we are told, is that coming out with such allegations is a brave act.

Well.

I would submit that to approach your organizations chain of command, as a lone accuser, in a timely manner with accusations about someone you see every day or actually work for is brave. There are hoops to jump through. Despite assurances, we’ve seen that companies or government organizations are not always honest brokers in these situations. Hell, Fat Harvey’s company had a schedule of financial penalties they would charge him every time he got caught begging women for sex. THAT is NOT an organization with a desire to see its employees protected from abuse. That is a company with incentives to support the abuser.

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Gloria Allred being celebrated at a men-dressed-up-as-women parade. Because she “cares.” Photo Credit: calvinfleming Flickr via Compfight cc

It is NOT brave to be recruited by the media or bottom dwellers like Gloria Allred and to smear politicians or anyone in exchange for 15 minutes of fame. I’ll deal with the veracity of claims against Conyers, Moore and Franken in a bit. But true or not, to come out and claim offense, years after the alleged incident, to the public, surrounded by cheerleaders, at a time that JUST HAPPENS to be the most damaging to the accused is not brave. It is underhanded, vindictive and questionable on its face.

To Wit…

The stories presently swirling around many male celebrities have sweeping degrees of credibility. In the case of poor John Conyers (D-MI) things do look bad. It seems his odd predilection for walking around his office in his skivvies was well-known [1.See what I mean about organizations not REALLY being interested in helping the actual victims of harassment…or even embarrassment] throughout Capitol Hill. AND he’s paid settlement money [stolen from us] to hush his accusers. We have to chalk him up as guilty.

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Al Franken dehumanizing two women at once. He is evidently an ambidextrous dehumanizer. Photo Credit: RamseyCountyMN Flickr via Compfight cc

The stories around Al Franken (D-MN) show him to be sophomoric and kind of pathetic. If true, some of the claims do rise to at least smarmy. The original accuser, who I tend to put the most trust in, had pictures. Franken’s response to her was at first dismissive. Then when the pictures came out, Al was suddenly somber and contrite. He would restage his contrition, always fine-tuning his remarks again and again. But his tone was always somewhat smug and self-important, even while trying to pretend he was sorry.

His non-resignation resignation speech was an exercise in deflecting, projecting and chest beating.

But as is almost always the case with these high profile smack downs, out from nowhere we get the ones who WANT to pile on. The last one I heard piling onto Franken said when he posed for a picture with her at an event YEARS AGO, he put his hand ON HER WAIST and squeezed twice. On her waist? Is the waist a sex organ? Is it depraved when mooning for political photo (the attendees are always the ones to request a picture) to throw an arm around the people you’re posing with? And squeezed how?

The complainant in this case said a hand on her waist made her feel diminished, less human. She also said she won’t allow her husband to touch her that way in public. Wow! She sounds like loads of fun! She also sounds like she is piling on. Oh yeah…uh…me too! Me too! He assaulted me!

As for the original accuser, Leeann Tweeden, I think my wife hit the nail right on the head. Little troll with a permanent Joker smirk on his face wants to “rehearse” a stage kiss with hot lady. Hot lady finally gives in. Little troll, desperate to feel attractive lays a killer lip lock on hot lady. Hot lady is, of course, annoyed with the little troll. She also finds out he posed for pictures while she slept, pretending to grope her boobs. There was no groping, but again, even the accuser at the time considered it all adolescent behavior. It was probably the subject of many a demeaning giggles and gossip over the ensuing years.

But in the age of “all men suck” and “I want some too” it all went from Isn’t Al gross? to I was abused and damaged for life.

 My wife said that if it had been an A list star for whom Tweeden felt a physical or romantic attraction, the whole “rehearsal” would have seemed cute and sexy, [sigh] impetuous! But it was the little troll, so he needed to be punished.

The Roy Moore Story: In A Class of its Own

Roy Moore dressed up as a rootin’, tootin’, gun-totin’ cowboy. Yeeee-hah! Credit: https://i0.wp.com/www.occidentaldissent.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Roy-Moore.jpg?fit=1200%2C630

In most states, it is legal to marry at 16 with parental consent. In Hawaii that age is 15. In Alabama and Utah it’s 14.

So right off the bat, we can dispense with the whole child abuse thing regarding Moore. We may think a 30+ year old man pursuing teenagers is kind of pathetic, but it doesn’t automatically rise to the destruction of someone 40 years after the fact.

In the case of one of Moore’s accusers, the mother of the girl in question encouraged her to pursue the relationship. One can safely assume mom thought gittin’ daughter hitched up to a lawyer might not be so bad.

Eliminate Yearbook Lady.

Before I break down this circus I’ll say this: When a politician comes at you waving a bible or any holy paper and says vote for me, assume first that you are being played. Moore is a Southern political stereotype. He is smarmy and disingenuous. His whole religious schtick is laughable. I can’t believe how easily people still fall for that crap. But if he says he’s a Christian and wears a cowboy hat, I guess that’s good enough for Billy Bob.

That said…

…Beverly Young Nelson, likely recruited by Gloria Allred for fun and profit, has stunk to high heaven from the start. Her overly rehearsed statement, read from a script, was an outlier from the beginning. The narrative is in no way similar to that of the other accusers. It sounded completely contrived. Then after insisting twice in that press conference that the inscription in her yearbook was entirely from the hand of Moore, we find out Nelson added the cute little notations. So in the court of law and the court of common sense we are permitted to dismiss her and Allred entirely out of hand.

As for the others, whether Moore made a play for them or not, my question is where the hell have they been for the past 40 years? Where were they when Moore was elected to the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court? In that position he has a much more direct effect on people’s lives than the 535 jackasses we have working on Capitol Hill. Why didn’t these brave troopers speak up then about his antics from 38 years ago? Where were they with Moore’s Ten Commandments circus stunt? He clearly knew it would spark a shits storm, it always does. He did it for political mileage. Why didn’t these women call him out as a hypocrite then, while he was making national headlines?

The answer is obvious. Roy Moore was not running for a precariously balanced Senate yet. So there was no press or political operatives snooping around hoping to create a story.   Opposition research led to some stuff that was ripe for the pickin’ in the age of Fat Harvey. And voila, you have a 38-year-old story that is treated as if it were serious and happened last week.

If you are truly so puritanical as to be offended by this, so be it. But I expect to see the same people rallying against child marriages, parental consent or not, because to get to that point with a young girl, we all know there has to be some he-in’ and she-in’ going in before hand. If that is sexual assault or child abuse, there can be no child marriage. Period. If you are not ready for this fight, spare me your faux offense.

Hypocrite Hill

We hear congressmen saying if Moore wins the ethics committee will immediately launch an investigation. About what? The allegations are 38 years old. And as we have demonstrated here, this is none of the Federal Government’s business.   They have absolutely no bearing on Moore’s ability to legislate.

Besides, until Congress comes clean about who paid tax-payer dollars to hush up sexual harassment accusers, and what these congressmen did to those who were paid, they have no ethical authority to investigate anything of a sexual nature.

But as I said earlier, it is stories like these that will cause bosses, coworkers and potential mentors to hold people at arm’s length.   When someone is legitimately accused of sexual abuse, stories like these will cheapen the charge, cause eye-rolls and give organizations even more incentives to circle the wagons against REAL accusers.

And no, we don’t have to believe anyone just because they said something. Certainly we don’t if the story is years old and timed to damage someone at a key moment. I couldn’t care less if Franken and Moore slid into a sinkhole together. But when we treat petty complaints like these as if they were the equivalent of REAL abuse, we hurt women.

Update: Well, well!  It turns out that I had it exactly right.  Gloria Allred and Lisa Bloom (Mama Sleazebag and Baby Sleazebag, respectively) have been COLLECTING DONATIONS  from liberal suckers to pay women to make sexual assault and harassment allegations against high-ranking conservatives.  To have suspected it bothered me.  To learn it was true infuriates me.  These “crusaders for women’s rights” have done more damage to the position of women in society than anything Franken or Moore could ever dream of.

And just to make it all even sleazier, these two wretches were schlepping donations to do this!  They’re both richer than god.  They could have bankrolled these “offended” women if they really believed their complaints.  And when many turned out to be duds, Allred and Bloom claim to have returned “some” of the donated money.  What skanks!

Expect to see more of this in coming elections.  Hey, when you don’t have real issues to pursue, why not make a mockery of a real issue?

 

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Why Everyone Is Wrong About "Tax Reform"

So, What’s Wrong With “Tax Reform”?

I’ll start with this little hint:  What we are seeing debated right now in the abortion we call Congress is not tax reform.  It isn’t even a significant tax reduction.  Okay, so that was more than a hint.

Take a gander at my piece about Boris and Ivan.  When I posted it last week a Boris attitude was running rampant through social media and cable news.  Commentators and the wider ignorant crowd were whining about how unfair it is that the rich get the several times more than everyone else.They should pay more still!

When I read and hear people saying such things I often wonder if they are stupid and pathetic enough to actually believe it, or if they are hoping to join the chorus of the left, hoping that Daddy Government will kill Ivan’s goat for them.

At any rate, it seems to be working.  Since last post congress has been debating who should get taxed to pay for the tax cuts.  (Can you see the stupidity at work here?)   It appears they will not only keep the top rate at 39.6%, there is serious talk of running it up to 48%+ to pay for the measly tax breaks the middle class is getting.

There are so many things wrong with the ongoing debate it is hard to know where to start.  The undiluted bullshit is flowing out of DC like a wall of stinking lava.

The first, and most significant point is how blatantly disinterested the Republican are in a true, free-market fix to our tax code.  I would lump Trump in with them but I have to allow for his monumental ignorance about all things political and economic.  I have been so hard on him over the years it wouldn’t be fair to pretend he understands what is actually being debated here.  Clearly, the Four Morons simply stroked his ego, let him think he was the driver of the debate and told him this was going to be a historic tax cut.  It’s not going to be any such thing.

If the GOP actually wanted to REFORM the tax code, they would have started from a position of real reform.  This would have been to announce that taxes and spending were going to be slashed to the bone.  Naturally, the Dems would have had fits.  But they would have been forced to defend the ridiculous code we have now.  Any conservative, even pretend conservatives like Paul Ryan could have easily won that debate.

The result, even with compromises, would have been far more productive and far better for the economy than what we have now.  That’s because the GOP started, as they did with Obamacare repeal and Immigration, from a position that was already 90% a Dem/Socialist position.  And as with Obamacare and Immigration the Dems couldn’t have been happier with the laws being proposed by Ryan and McConnell.

When you see the Democrat half of the Four Morons saying how horrible the GOP plans are, you are just hearing hot air.  They know three things: There are a few honest conservatives on the Right who know this is all theater and will have a hard time supporting it.  They also know there are at least two political whores, McCain and Collins, who will not support anything that isn’t 99.9% liberal so they can claim to be “mavericks” working across the aisle.  Finally they know the Ryan and McConnell are weak leaders who care more about simply being in their cushy positions as party leaders than actually accomplishing something.

Result:  the Dems know they will either keep everything as they want it or if they “lose” the debate, they keep 90% of what they want.  In other words, the Dems can’t lose and the GOP had already surrendered their principals before the first committee took up “tax reform”.

Oh Yeah, about the “reform” thing.

I really hope if you are reading this you are not one of those pathetic rubes excited about the post card tax form.  THAT is the first “reform” Paul Ryan has been touting.  There is nothing new about that card.  It is a 1040A printed in a smaller piece of thicker paper.  You’ll enter the same numbers in basically the same way.  The only difference is there will be more people claiming “gifts” from the government in the form of “earned” income credit (EIC) and the “alternative minimum” tax (AMT) repeal.

While these “gimmees” send more of our money to mostly people who don’t pay income taxes to begin with, they represent more of the federal government taking money from you and me and pretending to help us by giving it back or giving it to someone else.  Why take it to begin with?

So the card is a hoax.

The state tax write-off.

Most people actually think this is a good thing.  While I am sure they love the idea of getting the money in their Federal refund, did you ever consider what little sense it makes?

Let’s say you live in Mississippi.  Your government taxes you and everybody else. At the end of the year you get a deduction for what you paid Mississippi.  In other words Daddy Government is subsidizing your citizenship in a state.  Pretty good, right? 

But in MS, you don’t pay very much in the way of state taxes.  New Yorkers, on the other hand, pay a huge tax bill to the state.  Their deduction is a lot bigger.  So when businesses and people decide to live in New York, it is understood that to live in such a “great” state, you have to pay for the privilege.  But wait, they are subsidized too.  Hmmm.

What would happen, I wonder, if the federal government dropped everyone’s tax rates a bit and stopped subsidizing people living in congested, high tax, big, bureaucratic areas?  Would a small to medium sized business person stay there with the traffic and the crime and the red tape, if someone else was not paying him public money to do so?  Just chew on that one.

But everyone is worried about the deduction (which the government never had any business creating) going away.  The idea of the government subsidizing what state you live in deserves more attention.  And I will revisit this subject in greater detail soon.

And what of your mortgage interest deduction?  Did you buy a home because you got a deduction?  Don’t lie.  You’re not a billionaire.  You bought a house because you were ready to buy a house.  Period.  The “deduction” you get is smoke and mirrors.  How about we knock a few more point of your tax bracket and stop wasting time and money factoring and paying inflated refunds.

How about the child-care credit?  That’s going up!  How about we knock more still off what you pay to begin with and not pretend to “give” you that money every year?  Do you know what happens to prices when there is less money chasing them?  That’s right!  Very good!  They go down.  It is the illusion of getting that money from Daddy Government that contributes to the high cost of child care.

And if you don’t qualify to pay income taxes, everyone else is paying for your child care and your “earned” income credit.  You should thank people for that every day.  If that line makes you smirk it is because you are an ingrate with an over-bloated sense of entitlement.  Don’t worry, you are not alone.  This tax debate and the comments I see on social media indicate there a bunch of you out there.

Don’t get me wrong.

Any reduction in taxes will have a positive effect on the economy right now.  But the pathetic little we will come away with after this bit of worthless theater in Congress will not be anywhere near the boost we’d get from a real across-the-board cut.  Everyone paying the same percentage of their income, closing all loop holes would be better.

But the tax cuts need to be paid for!!!!

No they don’t.  Not in the near term.  But once the economy settles into the new norm, there will be no new boost from the tax rates.  So, since we know that any new revenue from the volume of taxes being paid will be wasted by the spending pigs in the House and Senate, what is a voter to do?  What is the 1 smart statesmen in 50 to do?

Well, if you want to offset tax cuts directly, you don’t raise other kinds of taxes.  That kills the point of the exercise.  You must cut spending.  First there has to be a push for no new spending.  No one is dying in this country because the government doesn’t piss enough money away.

Uncle Stinky can, as I point out in Street Politics, dump a lot of useless spending over night. Start with the entire Department of Education.  It has never educated a single child in this country since its inception.  In fact, like the “war on poverty”, every dollar spent by the Dept of Ed has resulted in one less educated graduating class after another.  It is a drag on REAL education.  Dump it.

Put the EPA under the Department of the Interior.  Strip it of its entire mission other than referee of disputes between states over shared waterways.  Every state now has an EPA of its own.  We don’t need a 51st EPA in DC.  Slash it by 90%.  Not a single molecule of carbon will be emitted because of that cut.  Until now the only thing that stood between fossil fuels and success was bribe money on K Street.  Now the states will be the final arbiter of who burns what fuel and who builds wind farms.

And don’t get me started on job training programs.  They are most wasted tax dollars ever spent.  Not one of the 47 job training programs run by the federal government has reported a single success.  Most don’t even pretend to have a matrix to justify the money they waste.

That’s just three examples of billions we can save to put the “pay for tax cuts” canard to rest.  There are more in the book and many more to be had throughout the federal pig trough.

Conclusions

This should be your take-away.  There is only one true, honest, permanent tax reform to be pursued.  That would be a flat tax.  To be most effective it should be a point-of-sale retail tax, but or now we just leave it as an income tax.  No pretend loop holes.

Arguing for more taxes to pay for tax cuts is the kind of sick shit Orwell tried in vain to warn us about.  Reduce the size of the pig trough.

My final conclusion is this:  I am likely pissing up a rope (old Navy talk for wasting my time).  My guess is the GOP will put out a plan even more Byzantine than our existing tax code which will do 1/10th of what a simple across-the-board cut will do.  There will be great fanfare.  The Donald will call it the greatest tax cut in history.  And you will let them all get away with it.

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A Fun and Easy Lesson: Boris and Ivan

I was told this story by an economist. He said an economist is a CPA without the bubbly personality. For the life of me I cannot recall his name.

Boris and Ivan

Boris and Ivan were goat herders in pre-communist Russia.   They lived on neighboring farms, raised their little herds and sold goat milk.

Goat herding is a hard living. Every day the men would go out to the yards and feed the animals and yell at the goats to produce more milk. They’d kick them and curse them. The goats would give up a little milk each day. Money was always tight.

One day, Ivan got it in his head to pray for a better life for his family. After some time a genie (old Eastern Orthodox term for angel) appeared to Ivan and asked how he could help Ivan. Ivan said, “If my goats would just produce a bit more milk each day I would be a bit wealthier and we would have a better life.”

The genie said that was easy to fix. “Show your goats affection,” the genie told him. “Engage them and speak kindly to them.”

So Ivan did just that. He would pet his goats and talk to them every morning while he fed them.

Before long his goats were producing copious amounts of milk. His income doubled, then tripled. He was able to send his children to school. He was able to buy nice things for his wife. He improved his home and made it more comfortable. His family thrived. Ivan was very grateful.

Boris watched Ivan with great envy. He would laugh at Ivan for talking to his goats like they were children. When his wife suggested he try doing what Ivan was doing to be more successful Boris scolded her. “Who has time,” he bellowed, “to pet dumb animals and blather on to them about how nice they are? I have enough problems just feeding and milking and selling the milk!” Then Boris would go into his yards and berate his goats and yell at them as he’d always done. This went on for two more years. Ivan became wealthier and had a much happier life. Boris barely scratched out a living. Finally, he gave up and he too prayed for help from heaven.

Finally, one day a genie appeared and asked Boris what it was he wanted more than anything. Boris looked across to his neighbor’s yards and back at the genie and said, “Kill Ivan’s goats!”

Are you Boris or Ivan?

Think about this story the next time you hear an ignorant, envious loser (encouraged by low-life politicians) say we want our tax cuts AND we want to keep all our benefits, but be sure to screw the rich at the same time. Rich people will inject far more into the economy, supporting your job and the general quality of life more than any ignorant, envious loser will.

Better yet, with more money sloshing around the private economy, there is a far better chance that you might end up being one of the rich people the envious loser despises.   Wish the honest, rich people well, and then do what they do.

Unless you care more about what ignorant, envious losers think than you do about your own life.

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Smirky Head Shakers II

Those TV and movie moments that make normal people smirk and shake their heads.

I was at a doctor’s office waiting for my wife last week, watching a Biloxi news show. I had to cringe. This is why local news is seen as the kindergarten of the news media industry.

The anchorwoman was discussing child obesity with a local “expert” on the subject. The “expert” said that child obesity strikes 74 million boys and 50 million girls in this country. The “news” anchor joined the “expert” in a short round of somber head-shaking. Why, it’s just shocking!

Made all the more shocking by the fact that we now have 124 million kids out of 73.8 million (total) suffering from obesity. (Look at those numbers again if you aren’t smirking yet).

We see this almost every day; and not just on local news. It only stands out on a local level because these programs look like high school media projects. But we see this kind of “reporting” everywhere. The reason why most people don’t question enough is because when the shoddy information is reported it is often reported on varsity outlets like cable news, featuring our favorite celebrity reporters.

Guests make the most outrageous claims and the “news” celebrity nods, giving the statements an air of legitimacy. We shake our heads and wonder My god! Is there ANTHING that can be done about this!

 In most cases, with the slightest intellectual curiosity on our part, we would find that what we are being told is either grossly exaggerated, being spun to the point where the underlying information is worthless, or that the statements are outright lies.

Name a big news item we’ve seen on the last 10 years. Think about what is reported and opined upon with respect to the “news”. With ten minutes of critical thought, you can probably find that a) the “reporting” provides very little in the way of fact surrounding the item, and b) the opinions are ALMOST always an effort to advance a commentator’s personal crusade or to advance the career of the commentator/”reporter”.

Here’s the problem with that. Once we reach the point where discussion is bereft of fact or reason argument ceases. You cannot argue a point with reason on one side and self-serving bullshit on the other. And when reporting and discussing reaches the point where both sides are shoveling agenda and spin and ignoring reason, you hit the slimy bottom of the sewer.

As a culture, we’ve been there for a while.

Name the subject:  North Korea, Donald Trump, the Vegas shooter or fat kids; there is precious little being said anywhere having any intrinsic value. There is almost no subject upon which we can gain purchase and reach valid conclusions. Not from the sources we presently accept as legitimate.

We ARE the “idiocracy”.

We live in a world where in some powerful circles Donald Trump is still referred to as “brilliant” and a great “deal maker”. He was NEVER either. We live in a world where an entire house party caucus still allows itself to be disgraced by Nancy Pelosi. We live in a world where a cabinet officer, former first lady and presidential candidate is caught red-handed, up to her eyeballs committing felonies – and nothing happens. In this world, Mitch McConnell is still revered. Global warming alarmism is gospel, while not a single person can tell you what the ideal median temperature of the earth* is supposed to be.

And while half of the population latches onto one of these stupid conclusions the other is only motivated by how they can be used to discredit or destroy political opponents.

We may well have passed the tipping point where recovering a mature, educated, civil society is impossible.

How do we now teach our daughters that a pat on the ass, while most consider it inappropriate, is NOT sexual assault? How do we then teach her to handle such things as an adult?

How do we teach our children that history favors free and open discourse, while we allow a growing list of things we are not permitted to discuss?

How do we, as a nation, ever again recognize the laws of economics (as hard and fast as gravity) versus the failure of “managing” an economy among 312 million people?

We live in a country where adults watch TV shows about vampires and zombies, and now police officers with magic super powers. Think about that! Less than a generation ago such concepts would be laughed out of any adult gathering.

Me-too-ism is running rampant. For every dramatic news event, there are now battalions of Americans jumping in and trying to be part of someone else’s narrative. They are followers and claim the mantle of weakness or victimization as if those were good things.

Our schools, our government and now many of our corporations operate not from a position how do I improve my world today, but from a kill Ivan’s goats perspective.

Some believe we just need “god in schools” to fix everything. But our present-day, citizen-as-obedient-drone society has been metastasizing since Woodrow Wilson. Religion has been around since the discovery of fire. Prayer in schools and the Pledge of Alligiance didn’t stop the rise of FDR or LBJ. So that’s not the answer.

If someone can tell me how we can un-Animal Farm this nation based on reason and without magical thinking, I’d love to hear your argument. I will enthusiastically invite you to post it here.

Just follow and message me here.

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Pay Attention!

I am supposed to be doing homework for a special project. But I if I didn’t get this out, my head will explode.

Everybody is getting their noses out of joint about the NFL and Donald Trump being his regular, inarticulate, nonsensical self.  I sure as hell said my piece about it.  But as a problem, who stands, sits or scratches their asses during the National Anthem should be about 138 on our list of national priorities right now.

There is far more to worry about.

First I will stipulate that as sure as there will never be a real wall on our southern border, I am equally sure that the NOKOs will get their nukes, just like the Iranians did. There is no one in DC with the brains, much less the sack to do anything about it. (Perhaps the only saving grace in this case is that the American President isn’t going to actively facilitate Kim’s acquisition of the weapons as Obama did for the Iranians.)

BUT!!!!!

If anyone is seriously thinking about going after the crazy fat kid and his crazy generals they better start making preparations SIX MONTHS AGO! If the post Vietnam yes men in the Pentagon plan this one the way they have done the last several, we will find ourselves in real trouble on the Korean Peninsula.

I have been watching the Ken Burns’ Vietnam series. Not much new there, but the detail is amazing. And as many times as I have read or seen these stories, it still leaves me gob smacked at how criminally incompetent LBJ, Robert McNamara and the Joint Chiefs were in the execution of that war. All the years in Nam and all the conflicts since have demonstrated that we have yet to learn anything since 1945.

In McNamara’s time, the powers that be believed the guy with the best spreadsheet would win the war. Now the yes men believe the guys with the coolest PowerPoint slides are on top of things.

If we don’t get REAL generals and planners in DC, plan a REAL campaign designed to defeat the enemy and INITIATE THE DRAFT right now, any adventure in Korea will result in a tremendous loss of life, squandered initiative and NOKO getting their nukes anyway.

In Chapter 16 of Street Politics: It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore! I laid out my objections to the concept of limited war. The bottom line was that if you don’t intend to take all the real estate and keep it; if you don’t intend to completely break the enemy’s will to resist your own, you don’t go to war. Period.

Korea I, Vietnam, Iraq (under Obama) and Afghanistan were all a colossal waste of American lives. As this NOKO debacle unfolds before our eyes, I don’t see anyone with the requisite knowledge and courage to understand this.

Trump still lacks the intellectual curiosity needed to digest real input from his advisors on a subject as important as this. And I see no indication the military is being led by a new breed of young turks capable of planning a real war.

Again, I don’t think we will lift a finger against NOKO nukes. But if we decide to do so, and try to do the “limited war” circus, popular since 1950, we are going to be in deep shit!

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The NFL. Children. Ignorant, Petulant and Overpaid

I’ll put the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF as my old boss used to call it). The playing of the National Anthem at sporting events has always been for one and only one purpose. It was a way of saying, in a feel-good way that we are all in this together. The Baptist in section C row 5 seat 16, the lesbian in A 15 4, the disabled vet in F 22 12 and the Muslim in P 11 2 are all Americans. Tomorrow the Lesbian might blog about gay rights. The vet will be fighting red tape at the VA. The Baptist will decry the lack of god in schools. And the Muslim may decide to march against the travel ban.

But right now, in this place, at this happy time, we are all a part of a larger picture. Let us just for this brief moment enjoy knowing that and enjoy being together. THAT is why we play the national Anthem at ballgames. There is no other reason. There never was.

It wasn’t about wars. It wasn’t about race riots. It wasn’t about the imaginary grievances of college snowflakes. The flag itself was just a focal point; a rather pretty visual the good feelings were built around.

Well…until entirely un-oppressed, professional athletes decided to get camera time and headlines by ruining the moment for the rest of us.

It’s Not FSC’s Fault

As I read the social network comments regarding the NFL’s National Anthem controversy, I am struck dumb with the level of ignorance from which people argue. Clearly, many of the arguments are made up from whole cloth. I read one post that the National Anthem was written by an attorney who worked to free slaves.

[insert loud game show buzzer here]

Sorry! Francis Scott Key was a slaveholder who, it is said, wrote of the inferiority of the Negro race. Yes, he did represent slaves seeking legal manumission as well as slaveholders seeking return of their “property”. If he thought his client had a case, he argued it. But he was no paragon of abolitionist virtue.

I hate revisionist history worse than cooked carrots.

I read repeatedly that the song “celebrates slavery” or “celebrates the murder of African-Americans”. Leaving aside the impossibility and self-indulgence of the label in the latter example, the song does neither.

Sadly, the ignorance is not limited to silly tweets or Facebook trolls. Mark Clague, a musicologist (here defined as someone who can say anything he wants and declare it valid) is a shining example of what has become of American learning and intellect.

Clague works at the University of Michigan and is founder of the Star Spangled Music Foundation (no agenda there, right?). In a particularly non-intellectual and self-contradictory interview with the NY Times[i], Clague says the lyrics are not a celebration of slavery.

So far, true enough. They are specifically not that.

But then Clague goes on to damage a simple and true statement by slathering on his own disjointed views and projecting his own wishes and feelings on things, 200 years hence, into the minds of people who simply did not think as he does; people who did not think the way educated people think today.

In his reference to “freemen”, Clague asserts, Key was including white people AND black slaves who remained loyal to the U.S. during the war.

In other words, according to Clague, an attorney, and the author of a rather well-penned verse, had no concept of the meaning of words. At the beginning of the 19th Century, a freeman was specifically NOT a slave. Period. If I were a merchant in Philadelphia and was introduced to a Black man with whom I might do business, he would be introduced to me as a freeman to specifically delineate him from those who were slaves. This was by no means an uncommon occurrence, even in major southern cities.

Key would have not confused the two. Clague does so intentionally to burnish the image of the Anthem, which is clearly his goal.

At the same time, Clague and any other literate person who reads the lyrics and knows of the history of the time, knows the terms “hireling” and “slave”, in the context of defeating the Brits, was a reference to the mercenaries and slaves who fought for England during the war.

If you are a 100% pacifist and believe that all war is murder, then you could read into the words of FSK a justification for the murder of slaves and mercenaries in the Anthem. But that would be projecting YOUR beliefs onto the words written by another person.

Key clearly believed in the cause being contested and did not quibble about the morality of war in his verse. So in his mind, and therefore his words, there is no celebration of murder. There is only the statement that the enemy is not free from what American forces might visit upon them. This included people who lived here and fought for the Brits. The “controversial” phrase is neither celebration nor condemnation of death in war.

All I will say further about the birth of the Anthem is that it was a verse that reflected it’s time. The modern approach to that reality is to deny it by saying things like, “Don’t tell me about the morality of the time! Don’t confuse me with facts! XYZ is wrong and everybody knows it!”

Well, isn’t that just too convenient for you? The fact is, that for several millennia, it was accepted as correct that one people should enslave another. If your state went to war with another, one of the most valuable and common spoils of war was the acquisition of slaves. If you marched your god into a foreign land and they rejected that god, you could do to those people anything you wanted to.  While the Greeks and Romans would happily nuance the concept to win the loyalty of this tribe over that, the common thinking was that the conquered could be used as the conqueror sees fit. There was no moral argument against it.

We are a mere 200 years into a world where slavery is seen as a blight. Many places in the Muslim world have a lot of catching up to do to eliminate slavery all together. That’s to be understood since they actively rejected the Age of Enlightenment, where old cultural and religious nonsense started to be peeled away in favor of critical thinking.

But is it a process. One we worked through, quite painfully, 150 years ago.

There is more to Clague’s unhelpful interview, mostly about newer versions of the song written over the years by people with various axes to grind, including abolition. But they are not germane to the argument at hand as they are not Key’s words. But Clague is a “musicologist”. So perhaps I should show a bit more respect.

Meh…nah.

So What of Today’s NFL Anthem Squabble?

It might have been smart if Woodrow Wilson and Congress, when they made the Star Spangled Banner our official Anthem, had reviewed all of it. If they found controversy in the various stanzas, it would have certainly been within their power to say, “We adopt this stanza and reject the rest in the use of the verse as our anthem.” That would have been quite prescient. However, there would be no way Wilson could have possibly read anything sticky about the third verse. He was a racist. He was completely and utterly tone deaf to issues of any minority.  So talk of defeating slaves and mercenaries fighting for the enemy would have meant nothing to Wilson.

But at this moment, the Anthem is still our official song.

There is no law that requires the playing of the Anthem at sporting events. Nor should there be. This is a tradition, and a nice one.

People are free to sit, stand or chew gum while it plays. People are free to protest during it’s playing. After many decades of this without these circus stunt “protests” do I question the motivation of players who are protesting a benign song? Of course I do. These are spoiled, overpaid, prima donnas who haven’t heard the word “no” since the first scout visited their schools. Not a single one of them could articulate a true statement in favor of their “protest”.   Talk of “oppression” coming from their mouths should be an anathema to any mature adult in this country.

Even if their erroneous view of the Anthem’s lyrics were correct, there isn’t a single person alive who has actually suffered through the time in question. Not a single living American has had to deal with the issue of slavery. Only the oldest among us had to fight for civil rights. And they won! The only emotion we should feel about any of that is gratitude!

But They Disrespect Our Veterans!

If you’ve read my stuff, you’ve read that I don’t use my time in uniform as a reason to criticize protestors. I wore the uniform for 23 years to uphold the right of anyone to peacefully protest anything they want. That includes the actions of stupid, spoiled men getting paid to play a kids’ game.

But as they are free to make phony protests, you are free to counter them.

I hear talk of boycott. That might do it. But be sure to make your actions clear and accurate. They lose their meaning if you don’t.

This is my take. Player A sits on the bench, collecting camera time during the anthem. Let’s not pretend it is really anything else. That is his right. BUT he is in a uniform. While wearing that uniform, and in the performance of his duties representing the ball club, it is the club’s reaction that is the key.

The owners and stockholders of the franchise have freedom of speech as well. If a player sits out the anthem and the club doesn’t penalize him, or at least scold him publicly, the club is making one of two possible statements.

  1. We agree with the actions of Player A and believe the National Anthem and the United States are bad things.

OR

  1. We don’t agree but will coddle the spoiled brat because we care more about how much we pay him than we do about patriotism or national pride or whatever label the observer thinks is appropriate here.

But take care where you point your finger and be prepared to make your own mea culpa. Who was it, after all that made these “protestors” into more than overpaid meat hired to play a game?

Who was it that paid good money to make sports entertainment into a multi-billon dollar activity? What a waste of resources! Who is it that allows our institutions of higher learning to be football clubs and snowflake villages rather than institutions of higher learning? Who stood by and watched as our government created a publicly subsidized “bread and circus” industry we now know as professional sports?

That’s right. It is you. I would wager some the people most angry with the protestors these days are season ticket holders or viewers that never miss a game each week. But in attempting to admonish the “Frankenstein” we’re angry with, don’t minimize your role in creating it.

Still feeling passionate about your argument? I hope so. Now go out and make a valid one.

Note: The fact that NFL players in exhibition in England stood for God Save the Queen and took a knee for our National Anthem shows their complete ignorance of the history of the anthem and the history of this nation. And it demonstrates the total lack of seriousness in their “protest”.

Children!

[i] The National Anthem Racist? Beyond the Debate over Colin Kaepernick by Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times, 2 Sep 16. The Times actually refers to Clague’s emotionalist, self-serving meanderings as “scholarly”.

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Modern Fallacies of "Race" and "Heritage"

This is addressed to a small, but growing subset of our population.

In the following paragraphs, I will state several facts.  They won’t be arguable. Every literate person who reads these facts will know they are true.  But these facts will tug at the silly emotionalism too many have chosen to cloak their lives in.  These facts will stand athwart the nonsense cultural con men have been hawking for decades.

With a little luck, I will convince a few people to revive their sense of dignity and REAL self-respect and turn away from the childish thinking that keeps them from reaching their full potential and divides our people.

Fact 1: I am NOT Irish.

Throughout my childhood there was a myth about “pride” and “heritage” that was foisted on every kid I knew. It was the myth that we were “Irish” or “Italian” or whatever other label people decided to hold over from the old country.

Yes it is true, that by accident of birth, and by no other machination, I have DNA similar to that of people who immigrated to the U.S. four generations before.  In my case, the big celebration of this accident was Saint Patrick’s Day.  We would be regaled with the myth surrounding this character and we were supposed to be filled with “pride” in our “heritage”.

Pride?  Heritage?  Really?

Dismissing the banishment of snakes for the nonsense that it is, what was it about Patrick and my Irish-ness I was supposed to be proud of?  What actions were taken five generations before and earlier that I was supposed to feel somehow “proud” of.  I wasn’t there.

However my ancestors chose to survive the famine, I didn’t participate.  In parts of our extended family were people who were part of the IRA.  We were supposed to be somehow proud of that.  Leave aside the twisted animals the IRA would eventually become, how was I supposed to be “proud” of a struggle with which I had taken no part?

And from whence comes my heritage?  It damn sure isn’t from Ireland!  The ONLY tangible heritage that contributed what I would become is what my parents and grandparents provided.  And except for the silly green hats and “Kiss me!  I’m Irish!” badges I’d see once a year, that heritage was pure American.

But oh, I was told, think of the brave souls that fled the famine and came here to start a new life!

 Brave?  Well, I’ll grant you, the first man to pull a black spud from the ground to say, “Uh-oh. There’s something wrong here,” who packed his kit and got out of dodge, could be called brave or visionary.

But when the staple crop of Ireland failed catastrophically, millions of Irishmen did what every other culture had done before them.  They left.  They moved en masse searching for a place to survive.  It would have been far braver, some thought fool-hearty, to have stayed on and figured out a fix than to have left a lifetime of work and run.

I’m not saying those who did leave did the wrong thing.  But when you follow the herd, for whatever reason, you are not standing out as brave.  In this case, people were doing what simply had to be done as they saw it.  That they didn’t do it in small numbers kind of tarnishes the “brave” label.

Having settled in Philadelphia, the first generation of my family born here went of to war.   Two that I know of, Matthew Jordan and George Platt both fought for the Union at Fredericksburg, among other places.  They didn’t do that because they were Irish.  They did it because they were American.  No matter your feelings about the Civil War (or any war), you can’t get around the fact that those who fought and died, mostly thought they were doing the right thing.  But these two men were not fighting for Ireland.

Like all those who descended from other cultures, these men went on to build a life here. At the time, and in many ways today, that life is unique when set against the sweep of history. The life they built here was not an Irish life.  It was an American life.  The children they raised were American.

Some understood this and went on to do great things.  They made prosperous lives for themselves.  Others bought into the sorry groupthink that pervaded places like Boston and thought (stupidly) that their lives were somehow made better by the political vultures that fed on cultural parochialism.  All those people did was slow their own progress in this culture while enriching politicians who didn’t really give a damn about being Irish and didn’t care a lick for those that enriched them.

Still others fell in with the worst of elements.  People with Irish surnames cannot claim the moral high ground here.  The Irish mob is as much a blight on society as the Mafia, MS-13 and the Russian mob.

We may entertain ourselves and pat ourselves on the back for things with which we have no connection.  But my family, like all American families, succeeded or failed by how they approached life in the United States – not Ireland or Russia or Africa or China – but here, in this reality.

I have been troubled by these thoughts because of a resurgence of racism in this country. Class envy is resurgent too.  But I’ll deal with that in another post.

I went from pre-adolescence to adulthood in a world where everyone with the least sense of dignity looked at racial identity as a punch line at best and a cancer at worst.  Comedians rightfully portrayed the mouth-breathing White racist AND the stereotype, outdated Black Panther wannabes with equal amusement.

But in the last two decades, as the Sixties crowd moved into power, I’ve seen this trend reversed.  We are now seeing those who feed off of class and ethnic identity gain an undeserved voice.  We’ve replaced real progress with emotionalist stupidity.

In St. Louis last night (9/15/17) we saw people who are told (or decided) they must stand shoulder to shoulder with a heroine dealer who tried to run over two cops because they have a similar skin color.  Sadly, many people either believe it or pretend to believe it.

Whatever the specifics of the final encounter this criminal had with police were, we only have the legal record to figure out.  But the man himself isn’t worthy of the least consideration.  He certainly isn’t worthy of being raised on a pedestal.  He isn’t worth societal division.

But there are those who will tell you that he is.  They thrive on it.  They’ve grown rich, like those Irish politicians, convincing you that your first consideration must be the color of your skin, or a brogue, not what you need to do to thrive in society.

To my Black brothers and sisters who were born in this country, I submit facts number 2 and 3:

You are not African and you are not slaves.

I am not going to lecture you about what the word African means.  Just take my story as an overlay and compare it to your family tree.  Fact number 3 is self-evident.  Neither you, your parents nor your grandparents were slaves.  If you are not of a certain age, even your great grand parents were not slaves.  You share no connection to that world unless you chose to study the history of it.

You can no more claim legitimate pain from slavery than I can from the Potato Famine and the Irish caste system.

To let people keep you from reaching your full potential because slavery existed 160 years ago, to base your world view on that, is an insult to every person who survived slavery and went on to make a life for themselves.

Too many Black Americans have gone on to greatness and dispelled these myths.  That includes those who walk around in mansions, selling their music and talking about being oppressed.  You can enjoy their music, but don’t buy the insult to your own intelligence that says they can make it but you can’t.

I liked Tom Cruise in Valkyrie, but I wouldn’t give a warm fart for his pathetic Scientology lunacy.  And yes, that is the very same thing as believing Kanye has a point about being oppressed.  He is living proof that in the US, oppression in a function of one’s own design.  It is not an American reality.

The fact that people like those in the following paragraphs exist cannot oppress you unless you say it does.

To my white brother and sisters, I submit facts number four and five: We are not the super race.  And there is no god of white people.

Waaaaay too many of you are drifting back to that moronic, 1950’s, jerkwater way of thinking.

Many of you are also being manipulated in the same way as all cultures have been from time to time.  Many of you are unemployed or underemployed.  You’ve allowed yourselves to be sucked into a pathetic narrative that says it is someone else’s fault.  It’s not.  If you are not happy with your lot in life, it’s your fault.

As for race?  Hell, in the wider scheme of things, there is no individual race.  Dr. David Duke (the title gets funnier every time I hear it) would tell you that a white guy is a white guy and everyone else is entirely different.

[Insert loud game show buzzer here.] Sorry.  That just ain’t so.  We now know what we call our “heritage” (there’s that word again) is thoroughly intermingled going back tens of thousands of years.  Every single human being you look at every single day is a cousin, at some random distance removed. Give them a hug.

And as I said above, referring to culture vultures, many of you have enriched people like David Duke while virtually hiding from a full and happy life.

Do yourselves a favor.  Relax.  Let go of your self-imposed stupidity and join the rest of society.  If you spent as much time and money becoming better human beings and gaining real knowledge as you did on your tattoos, and listening to people like Duke, you’d all be far better off than you are.

I would submit this one assumption: The only well-off, successful, mouth-breathing racist in this country is the one who has capitalized on your gullibility.  He likely doesn’t really care about skin color.  But it’s a good gig if you want money, easy fame and a credulous following.

Finally there is this irony.

Across the color spectrum, race baiters work in tandem.  Each LOVES the fact that the other exists.  Duke needs Sharpton and vice versa.  La Raza needs the people who think everyone with a Spanish accent is an illegal. Each secretly prays that the other is kept safe and successful.

It’s the same as the zoo we have inside the Beltway.  Phony conservatives need phony liberals need each other to be loud and strong.  Neither has any intention of actually accomplishing anything.  If they did, their power would wane.  But this is an issue for a wider audience, isn’t it?

To the 80% of society (hopefully more) that doesn’t fall into the narrative of this essay, I say thank you for being you.  Don’t be afraid to invite the others to participate in a normal life.

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"Founded By Slaveholders", A Non-thinker's Argument

Founded by Slaveholders!

There is a popular admonition floating around about our nation’s founding. It is intended to cause deep soul searching or inflict discomfort and shame in the American listener.

A reasonable listener could be excused, with reasonable provenance, for reaching a different conclusion about the admonition and the purveyors of it.

I would take this shallow scold less seriously if it were restricted to Facebook trolls wanting to make noise and FEEL intelligent. Sadly, it has been popular on college campuses and in otherwise respected books and publications.

The Admonition

In order to “shout down” a person who may seem to some as too nationalistic or patriotic, it is popular among liberals and those who think we should be more like Europe, for example, to remind us that “all but one” of the founding fathers were slave owners. A quick poison pill qualification often follows in the form of, “…and I don’t want to hear about the morals of the time. That has nothing to do with it!”

Firstly, the pronouncement is inaccurate and shows how we have come to venerate the centralization of power that the Revolution fought against. The qualification ignores the progress already being made at that time against slavery. The qualification also rings of “…don’t try to confuse me with facts. I’ve already made up my mind!”

Well, with all due respect to those who reject any thinking on the part of the listener, I will point out the following:

The Founding Fathers, we are more and more often told, consisted of seven people. Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Jay (I am surprised he survives this modern myth), Hamilton and Madison.

As a young adult, and an avid reader of history, I discovered this elementary school list was far from complete. We remember their names because, unlike many of the others who risked death and ruin, they stayed around after the founding to take the reins of the very power they had created by expelling the Crown. We remember their names because it is a short list and it is easy to teach children about them.

One of the sillier results of this simple-minded notion of our founding is the beatification of the U.S. Government. Most people at that time knew this was not what people fought and died for from 1775-1781. Local governance remained as the proper locus of power. But the Civil War and popular myths surrounding these seven “fathers” fostered the concept of “The United States” vs “These United States.” It cemented, sadly, the idea that real government exists only in DC. State and local governments are just the junior league. There really is an amazing number of people who think our system of government was set up so that the federal government could do as much as possible, and the state governments should bat cleanup and fight for federal dollars.

Who will deny that the average American sees an election as a populist federal exercise? I would contend that less than 10% of all Americans know who is on a state or local ballot until they enter the voting booth.

Enough on the peripheral effect. Let’s deal with who “founded our nation” and the revisionist moralizing aimed at these founders.

There were more than seven!

I was reading a friend’s FB post the other day. It made the same point that I am arguing against here. He said of the founding fathers, all but one owned slaves. When I called him on it he, for some reason, changed the term to the “founding framers”.  An odd change, and further from the truth than the original claim.

Here’s that fact that muddies the waters. There were 56 founding fathers. 56 people pledged their property, lives and honor to US independence. 56 men traveled from all over the east to Philadelphia. 56 debated seriously, often passionately, about our allegiance to the Crown. Not all believed we should break with Britain. But they would, by 2 July 1776, agree to do so. They all took the same risks. 56 families and yes, even the slaves of those who held them, were put at risk as well.

We only know the big seven as near godlike because they would hold positions of power that long exceeded the Revolution and the creation of the US Constitution. It can be argued, and history supports this, that these seven spent those decades vying for that very power.

Of the 56 who actually did the work of creating this nation, 41 (73%) were slaveholders. Not all but one.

As for the “framers” (There is no accepted term “founding framer”. That’s a new one.), 27 (49%) of the representatives from the various states were slaveholders. So from 1776 until 1787 the trend among those who shaped the nation was drifting toward abolition already.

“…I Don’t Want To Hear About The Morals Of The Time!”

Well suck it up, buttercup. You can apply modern thinking to people of other times, but it doesn’t change what has already occurred. You can wish your own motivations into the hearts of those long dead. But criticizing the constitution because some of the framers were slaveholders is like saying Mickey Mantle knew nothing about baseball because he drank too much whiskey.  To remove the morals of the time from consideration is to discount your own credibility. And it is a form of pouting.

But take heart. As it turns out, modern ideas about slavery were already taking root in some quarters during these early years. The delegates to the Continental Congress AND the Constitutional Convention who argued against slavery were not expelled from the events. In fact, the anti-slave faction was able to at least get the Three-Fifths Compromise through to blunt the voting power the slave states were claiming. Slave states were insisting slaves counted against their census. It was a small victory, but a victory.

The economics of it all

Another canard criticized along with the “morals” dodge is the economics. I have heard it said that the economics argument for not charging ahead with abolition PROVES the founders were immoral. And again, the claim is at a minimum, naïve. At any rate, it is false.

This was at the heart of the matter for people like Gouvernuer Morris and George Mason. They both expressed, quite eloquently, a fear of eternal damnation (if you go in for that sort of thing) at their holding of slaves. But they like everyone in both bodies, Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention, knew that you don’t simply declare the undoing of a massive institution, even one as onerous as slavery, at one go.

Let me give you a modern example.

There are many, I am among them, who see the Social Security system as a corrupt Ponzi scheme. It is also horribly administered and of precious little value overall. It, like Obamacare was a system destined to fail from the very start. Many of you, at or near retirement count on this program to be your lifeline in your old age. It isn’t. You will find yourself in poverty. You have no one but yourselves to blame.

It isn’t all of your own doing. The federal government has repeatedly told you it is intact and that to keep it going in the future will require only minimum adjustments. They have not stated emphatically enough that it will not provide you with the retirement income you will need to live well. They have not admitted that with each month they wait to actually fix it, there is a greater chance that those already dependent on the system will suffer. Your fault lies in having believed any of it.

All the said, you can’t take something as vast as Social Security and simply declare today that it won’t exist tomorrow. You can’t even repair it in that fashion. It takes time. The economic and social impact must be attenuated to absorb the impact. After a long hard slog of un-brainwashing people as to its value, the system must be gradually replaced by a more effective and sustainable free-market program.

Slavery was seen in the same light. Slaveholders like Jefferson and Mason knew two things. Slavery was immoral, and contract or employee work was far less expensive. They also knew that in order for the American economy to survive the end of slavery other slaveholders, at least a strong plurality, would have to see the logic of this. For an individual to simply give up his slaves in a market dominated by slaveholders would leave him at an insurmountable disadvantage. By the time everyone else might have caught on, that business may lay in ruin.

The result would be to reaffirm the need for slaves in the minds of those who were holding out.

If the government simply mandated an abrupt end to slavery across the board the economic and legal chaos would have ended the American experiment before it got started. Yes, in order for there to be an America in which we would one day end slavery, there had to be an early time in which slave state and free state would exist side-by-side.

Now, even though I am writing this paragraph, there will be people shrieking at my comparing slavery to Social Security. There is no comparison, they’ll cry. Morally, the comparison is one of degree. Certainly holding generations of Americans in forced labor, and beating them in some cases, is a far greater offense than taking their money under false pretense. But both concepts are wrong.

And I stand by the economic comparison without apology.

But Why The Silly Admonition To Begin With?

The complaint about the “Founding Fathers” holding slaves is a red herring tossed into many conversations when respect for the Constitution comes up. The fact is, if your original argument for an issue is strong enough, you can change the Constitution to reflect that.

But as I heard on Glenn Beck’s radio show a few weeks back, no one WANTS to wait that long for anything. On that particular day, Beck’s issue was tax reform. And the truth is, to have permanent and effective tax REFORM, you must REFORM tax law. Reducing taxes does very little. The government can jack taxes right back up on a whim.

The reform must take place in the way we collect taxes and how much the government is limited to collect. Beck mentioned changing the Constitution and he and the entire cast all agreed that we shouldn’t have to wait that long to get something done.

Beck is not alone. We have several generations in this country that think every notion and difficulty they have should be acted on and solved by the government NOW! And if you tell them to form an argument and see if it will pass muster and then change the constitution…

…Oh boy…

…That’s when it comes out. Having no argument or lacking the skill to make one, they simply say they shouldn’t have to follow the Constitution because it was written a long time ago by white men, or rich men, or old men, or slaveholders, or NOT WOMEN,…

The invalid arguments are endless. And they have been in play in our government since FDR. That is why we have lost so many rights and so much of our personal wealth over the last 70 years.

Through our ignorance about our Constitution the government has not only been able to whittle away what you need to succeed and protect yourself, but YOU have fallen prey to moronic arguments about the foibles and sins of the “founding fathers”, as if they invalidate our governing documents.

This, and the “poison pill” I referred to earlier, are called a fallacious argument. Look it up and learn something.

When I started to post regularly in 2012 I lamented the lack of political and social maturity in the United States. I now despair that thanks to the echo chambers of social media, things have gotten much worse.

I’d love to be proven wrong about that.

Matt Jordan is the author of Street Politics: It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore! Grab your copy here.

Kindle version here!

Or just start reading for free on Kindle Unlimited!

 

 

 

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Quick Hits, 1 August 17

My mood:

 

Just a few thoughts on recent developments:

1) Kelly in as Chief of Staff: If anyone can bring order to the playpen that is the present White House, it’s General John Kelly. He is among some of the notables I’ve met in my past life.

But I am proposing a big “if” here. It is being reported that Trump has pledged his full support to his new Chief. But Trump and promises are a fungible relationship at best! Witness number 2 next.

2) During the G20 pretend summit, media reports of Donald Trump Jr.’s contact with Russians hit the streets. Big Donald immediately huddled with his people and it was decided that the administration would lay it all on the line and face this thing head on. The plan was to get ahead of the story by being blatantly honest and transparent.

Three hours later, Trump cut his own people off at the knees, as usual. He dictated a different position. Specifically, he said that the meeting between Junior and the Russian agent was about Russian adoption. Of course the story had to be walked back before the day was out.

But the difficulty of working for a man who can be swayed by the slightest flattery or distraction, or even his own fleeting whims cannot be overstated here. And that is what Kelly has to deal with.

 

 

3) I had predicted that Kelly’ first order of business would be to fire Anthony Scaramucci. The Mooch is a conniving and vindictive creature suffering from a severe Napoleon Complex. I wish I had put this prediction online. Stupid me! I do so enjoy watching as my predictions come true. Almost all of them do.

So I’ll make up for the oversight here. Prediction: Rex Tillerson will give Kelly 60-90 days to bring order to the White House. If Kelly succeeds, Tillerson will stay on at State until the end of the term or until someone denounces him while blowing sunshine up Trump’s ass. At that point he’ll be asked to resign because someone who flattered Trump said he should. Of course that would negate the first qualifier in this prediction.

Just the same, we will witness a new maturity inside the administration or watch Tillerson leave within three months. He finds the present environment undignified, and he is correct. It is.

 

4) Again in reference to para 2, I hear constantly that Donald Trump is great because he is not like all the others. As has been demonstrated countless times since the first moments of his campaign, this is a fallacy. Start with his pronouncements about abortion over three days in 2016 and end with his impetuous burning of his staff with the Donald Jr. lie, and we see time and time again that Trump is EXACTLY like the rest of DC. Worse, he sucks at it. At least the other slime balls are skillful and articulate in the way they lie. It takes a long time and a lot of explaining to call them out on their BS. But Trump embarrasses himself within days, sometimes hours of blurting out a promise or an insult.

The apologists like Charles Hurt, Laura Ingram and even Rush now, are finding it difficult to explain away a Trump gaffe. At one time they would completely make up a whole new quote or narrative having nothing to do with what Trump did or said. Even that isn’t working anymore.

 

5) The situation in North Korea has only gotten worse since I published this article.

I heard a comment the other day that planners believe we are within 3 months of conflict. If this is so, and we have not initiated a military draft, many people will die with nothing gained on the Korean Peninsula.

If we enter into hostilities in Korea with the same perverse, “John McNamara” attitude that has become commonplace in the Pentagon and the White House, we will not prevail. This time around we must go with the resolve to utterly annihilate the North’s war fighting capability. If not we face financial ruin and will lose tens of thousands of troops killed or maimed FOR NOTHING!

So, what is there to celebrate?

Politically? Not much.

The items listed above can all come out right, depending on whether the President and Congress can get their act together in a big, fat hurry. The economy is crawling back. Employment is improving.

There is a chance that Trump will pull the exemptions from Obamacare and eliminate the insurance industry bailouts. While I applaud this, he’s doing it for the wrong reasons. He has been suckered by flattery into supporting the GOP’s efforts to make Obamacare permanent, never having made the argument for complete repeal (not that has the ability to do so). He is only threatening exemptions and bailouts to try to force holdouts in Congress to give in to the stupidity.

Geez! This is quite the sad sack of issues here. I will write something more chipper tomorrow.

Matt Jordan is the author of Street Politics: It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore! Grab your copy here.

Kindle version here!

Or just start reading for free on Kindle Unlimited!

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