If Only…

It is nice to read an article that finally admits that we can never unite under a common political cause. Our fundamental beliefs prevent that from happening:

When they disagree, it’s often because they have incompatible values.

Most Democrats believe it’s inhumane for society not to guarantee a certain minimum standard of things like food, shelter, and health care; most Republicans don’t.

Most Democrats believe women ought to control their own reproductive lives; most Republicans don’t.

Most Democrats believe the wealthy ought to shoulder more of the burden of funding the things government does; most Republicans don’t.

These aren’t just fleeting preferences — they spring from fundamental ideas about how the world works and how it ought to work.

And yes, we do live in a polarized age. But that’s in large part because both parties have become more internally consistent about what they believe. There are problematic consequences for the government’s ability to perform basic functions (even those that ought to be removed from ideology), but the differences are substantive and substantial….

What I’d like to hear is a presidential candidate answer the unity question by saying,

“I wish I could unify the country, but I can’t. All I can do is do the best job possible, even if I know that no matter what happens a healthy portion of the population is still going to hate me.  But I’ll try to do right by them too.”

That would at least be honest, even if the candidate would be pilloried for not buying into the myth of a unity that is always supposed to be awaiting us if only we can put aside our differences.

Source: No president can unify our hopelessly divided country

Given the still adamant Trump supporters even after so much ugliness about him has come out  I have to agree that values differ greatly among us in the U.S.  Some concentrate on one part of our constitution as being sacrosanct, and some another. Some want to throw the entire document and all of government along with it out the window.  As the article above says Democrats  believe that everyone should be their brother’s keeper. When our fellow citizens fall on harsh times we should be there for them as a society. (Kind of sounds like the words of Jesus if you ask me but I won’t go any further with that thought here. ) Democrats believe that government has the duty to do the people’s business especially when individual citizens can’t do it themselves.

Since it has been a long time since I claimed the Republican mantel I can only guess by their actions what my Republican friends believe . Republicans put the pre-born into a much higher category than those who have left the womb.  They will fight to insure that every life conceived is brought to birth but then don’t seem to care much about it after that.  They believe that government is to do the least possible and let the capitalist systems take care of the rest. They ferociously cling to their guns as their main protection against their conceived evils of the world.

With this great disparity  of values I agree there can never be  a president to unify the country.  All we can hope for is that whichever party holds the power they do the best within their mindset and we  count on checks and balances to reign them in when they exceed their bounds.  Maybe there is something that can bridge this gap between us but right now I seriously doubt that it can happen anytime in the near future.

Bill Clinton takes on protesters in coal country

I know it is quite chic to be a Hillary and Bill basher right now. Especially with the Basher-in-chief, read that as Trump, tweeting almost hourly  lies and conspiracy theories about them.  But I must admit that I do miss Bill Clinton sometimes.  My 401k especially misses him!

He might not have been able to keep his zipper up but he was the master of logic in his thinking. The rally in West Virginia shows that he hasn’t lost it. He says things that I would have said in the same circumstances.  He just has a way of putting things in very simple and real terms. Let’s look at some of his most recent quotes:

2016-07-07_09-30-45.png“I’m not like a lot of people. It doesn’t bother me to have protesters at rallies,” the former president began.

“I’m glad they come, because I think one of the biggest problems in America today is we seem to be less prejudiced about a lot of things, except we don’t want to be around anybody who disagrees with us. You notice that?”…

Hillary Clinton seemed to confirm that perception in March, at a town hall in Ohio, when she said that a transition to clean energy would “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” She later said she had made “a misstatement,” but the comment contributed to her loss Tuesday in West Virginia, a state whose Democratic primary she had won by a landslide in 2008.

“I think ‘Make America Great Again’ means that we’ll make it like it was in the 1960s, even if [we] have to put another wall up,” he said. “Well, if you think you can do it, have at it, but no place else in the world that mines coal has been able to do it.”

“Don’t tell me we can’t bring different kinds of jobs,” he admonished. “Don’t tell me you’re not smart enough to do it, and don’t tell me nobody over a certain age can learn this stuff.”

SOURCE:  Bill Clinton takes on protesters in coal country – The Washington Post

Bill Clinton is a debater. He loves facing off with those who might not think as he does. Now that he will no longer be seeking a political office  he doesn’t parse as many words as most politicians.  He is free to say what he thinks and often does just that to the embarrassment of his wife.

This post is  very much aligned with the one from yesterday about being replaced by robots. Let’s face it coal is quickly becoming yesterday’s energy resource and therefore needs to be replaced by other commodities. It is as simple as that. But the problem is that there are just too many in certain areas of the country who depend solely on coal as a means of income. There is little else available to bring income into the family.

We can’t go forwards by going backwards, it is that simple. Now I admit that it will be decades, if it even happens that rural Pennsylvania and especially much of West Virginia can replace coal jobs. The short term solution will probably be to simply move someplace else. But that is emotionally hard for some to do…

The World of Pretend…

2016-03-26_12-51-39.pngA good portion of my life was spent around someone who lived in a world of pretend. My mother was that person. She abandoned me, my brother, and her husband when I was about ten years old to marry someone much richer who could provide her with the luxuries she so wanted in life.  I would not have any sort of relationship with her again until twenty years later when that husband divorced her to marry his much younger secretary.

It was not until this re-introduction that I realized that she primarily lived in a world of pretend.  Reality had little to do with her mentality. She lived in a dream world of her own making. Since she left school at the age of fifteen to bare her first child it is unlikely that she ever graduated from high school. But to her that was not her reality. Throughout her life she made up stories about how she was a doctor, a head nurse at a prominent hospital, and a myriad of other occupations and circumstances.

She was pretty much a bigot and did not have much room for empathy in her life. But to show that she wasn’t she would occasionally “adopt” a person of lower standing than she perceived herself to be.  But then she would drop them as quickly as she adopted them. In reality she very seldom looked beyond herself for any reason.  I would later learn that she was the epitome of a narcissist. She lived in her own world of pretend throughout her life. Tragically, in the end she became an extremely spiteful person who looked down on everyone and everything around her. I was the only one of her four children that had any kind of a relationship with her and even that was very limited in the final year.  I think she finally discovered that the world of pretend was a cage, not a cocoon and that was devastating to her ego.

In a way I am thankful that she was in my life, it gave me a perspective of what I didn’t want to be. To counter her narcissism I went the other direction and became an empath. I purposely try to always tell things as I believe them to be. I probably do this to a fault. I just don’t want to ever want to live in a pretend world.

The world of pretend is in itself not a bad place, but when it invades and even takes over the real world it becomes a strangling cage.


Why Hillary Clinton could easily lose to Donald Trump

2016-02-27_11-48-43.pngBut Hillary Clinton is not a strong opponent — against Trump, or anyone else.

The problem isn’t ideology. As a center-left neoliberal, Clinton fits right into a political sweet spot — affirming the importance of reality-based policy expertise at home and abroad; showing a willingness to cut deals to get things done; and displaying an appreciation for the crucial importance of markets in generating economic growth, along with a recognition that tough-minded regulations (and a generous safety net) are needed to minimize the corruption and injustices to which markets are prone. This combination of idealism and pragmatism grows out of the core neoliberal aim of creating a society as fair as possible within a world of intransigent political and economic constraints….

Even without a subpoena (or indictment), Clinton is widely disliked and distrusted. Trump may have the highest unfavorable rating of anyone running for president, but his closest rival for that honor (now that Jeb Bush has given up his bid for the White House) is none other than… Hillary! Is it really so hard to imagine Trump beating her in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, and Florida?

Talk about squandering what should be an enormous Democratic advantage.

SOURCE:  Why Hillary Clinton could easily lose to Donald Trump.

I too can see the Trump as president scenario happen with Hillary as the opposition and that scares me! I don’t think the mistrust and downright contempt for the current political establishments is just a GOP thing. Politics has gotten so ugly that most, if not all of us, are a little fed up with it. We are ready for a clean break with the recent past and Hillary is anything but that. Her air of entitlement just turns me off. No, I don’t buy the false rhetoric from the GOP that she is somehow less trustworthy than other politicians.  If it comes down to a Trump/Clinton election I will undoubtedly cast my vote for her. But I think there are better, wiser choices out there.

In order to affect any significant changes in our political process it will take a near revolution among the voting masses and Trump certainly represents that. Maybe we need our “Jessie Ventura” moment on the national stage in order for a paradigm shift to occur in our politics. Maybe it is time for Trump???

In order to affect any significant changes in our world maybe we need a President Trump. That would likely scare many countries around the world to start to take responsibility for their own safety. Due to his erratic nature they would like want to protect themselves. Then we could finally reign in our absurd military spending in the U.S.  We could then start taking better care for our own citizens. We could then even afford universal healthcare much as the rest of the world already has.

Maybe a President Trump is just what we need right now…. but I seriously doubt it…

An Ounce of Truth


Oh the Good Ole Days……

Some are saying that W’s appearance at Jeb’s rally in South Carolina was the reason for his dismal showing there.   I guess I am not the only one with Bush fatigue…  We need to turn the page, however ugly it might get…

There Will Always Be Sob Stories…

I see in the debates how the GOP candidates for president constantly comment about how bad things are.  I wish someone would ask them point blank whether they think things are worse now than when the last Republican president left the Oval Office?  It would be very interesting to see how much spin they could put on that question.

In that same light, it is a strange dichotomy how Wall Street is so anxious to get rid of Obama and put another conservative in the White House. During the eight years of the Bush administration the stock market went for 11,000 to below 8,000. Whereas during that same period of time for Obama it went from 8,000 to 18,000. Maybe my math is defective but it seems like they made a lot more money from the latter than the former so why are they so anxious to go back to the Bush years?

Getting to the title of this post, the GOP wannabes say they hear all the pain and suffering in the population and want to do something about it. But what they want to do is what caused most of it to come crashing down eight years ago.  Of course that immediately brings to mind the old saying”

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

But maybe even more insane is how so many people seem to believe their rhetoric! My hero Will Rogers said that anyone who gets all his news from one newspaper is an idiot. It seems most of those who immediately fall in line with whatever these guys say is probably among that group of idiots, except that now it is one cable news channel instead of a newspaper.

Yeah, I know that there will always be sob stories from at least a few but it is kind of like all those reviews for products found on Amazon. Many, if not most of the worst reviews come from the competitors of the product being reviewed. They want to drive sales to their own products. And then there are those in the opposite direction.  There will always be sob stories but if you want to understand the overall picture you need to throw out the worst and the best and look at all the in between.

Let Me See If I Got This Right?

2016-01-06_08-13-16.pngLaVoy Finicum says the Feds won’t take him alive

One of the armed protesters occupying a federal wildlife refuge in rural Oregon said he would rather die defending the building than be arrested by the FBI.

Source: Oregon Occupier Warns FBI He’d Take Death Over Jail | TIME

I guess that not all the nuts in the country are running for president. Some of them are waving the flag and the constitution in the name of getting “free” stuff and saying they will die rather than pay for it.

Ok, maybe that is a little harsh, lets look at it a little more.  The major conflict of these guys known as the “Oregon Occupiers” is grazing rights. They all have ranches/farms  close to federal land and think they should be able to use that land for their own purposes. They get upset when the federal government says they have to pay rent on it via grazing fees.

How much is the rent? -I’m not sure if I got all this straight but it appears that people using government land to feed their cattle pay about $1.50 per cow a month. That comes to about $18 a year. If the rancher is not fortunate enough to be close to federal land he would have to pay  about $1/day. That’s about 20 times more than grazing fees.

How is this rent money used? – About half of it goes to the States to compensate them for not being able to get property taxes from that land. The other half goes to the costs of managing the land and to preserve additional land for public ownership.

All this doesn’t seem very evil to me and it certainly is not worth dying for. It doesn’t sound like it is the big bad feds putting it to the little guy. To me it kind of sounds like these guys are getting a deep discount for their cattle business but they want it free instead! I’m sure the vast majority, if not all, of these guys are ultra-conservatives who rail against all those free-loaders who are living off welfare checks but are they really any different in wanting free stuff?

As of this writing, and I hope into the future, the FBI and other law enforcement branches are choosing to just ignore these nuts who are ranting in the northern wilderness about their constitutional rights but actual history shows they are on the wrong side of this issue. I suspect they will prosecute some of them for the laws they are breaking, especially when they do so at the point of a gun. But that will come later.

As soon as the press leave I suspect even the guy who claims he will fight to the death for free stuff will leave. Let’s end this post with another group of armed insurrectionist occupying federal buildings..



As If We Didn’t Have Enough To Fear…


If strong enough, the storm of electrons and other charged particles from an EMP could disrupt the Earth’s magnetic field, disable satellites and the internet, ground all commercial aviation, silence telecommunications, and fry much of the electrical grid — catapulting our society back to the 19th century for months or years.

Peter Pry, executive director of the federal EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security, told Congress this year that a major EMP could cause widespread “starvation, disease, and societal collapse” that could lead to the deaths of tens of millions of people. The Obama administration recently released a multiagency battle plan to study and defend against what many scientists consider the most likely source of EMPs: solar storms, which Bill Murtagh of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy calls “a real and present danger.”

SOURCE:  The deadly threat of a solar superstorm.

Having training in electrical engineering I have known about EMPs for quite some time and their possible impact on the world. According to this article the last solar super-storm with a massive EMP occurred in 1859 long before we had microchips.

I guess we need to add this one to our overgrowing list of fears for today.

Being The Adult….

McConnell said that this year, Democrats objected to spending bills drafted under existing tight budget caps — known as sequestration — because they want more spending for domestic programs. Republicans are seeking more defense spending than the current caps allow….

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday  “I would expect that in the weeks ahead we’ll have more of a discussion about how Democrats and Republicans in Congress can work together to make sure that we adequately fund both our national security and economic priorities, while of course taking the necessary steps to prevent a government shutdown in an unnecessary injection of volatility into the national economy.”

Source: Congress gears up for major budget talks with White House

I’m going to put on my fiscal conservative hat here.  I don’t like to wear the “C” cap very often but  it is necessary. Fiscal conservatism used to be the job of the GOP but since they are now in the “anti-” mode someone has to be the adult and talk about our spending.   It seems that both parties want to pile on more spending year over year. One for the safety net for our citizens and one for  expanding an already over bloated war machine so that we can get even more involved in all the conflicts around the world.

Instead of constantly increasing our spending someone needs to look at what we spend our current budgets on and eliminate those items that are no longer useful.  Some one needs to be the adult here.  Let’s start with the military.  We spend more on our war machine than the rest of the world combined and we are only 5% of the world’s population.  I say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. You hear almost every day about the next “$1000 toilet seat”. I’m sure there is at least 25% of that budget that no longer serves any purpose. Why can’t we root that out and get rid of it instead of just piling on more money? One of the answers is that if someone tries to cut military cost someone else will scream “you are making our soldiers less safe!!” But someone has to be the adult and do it anyway as the vast majority that wasteful spending it has nothing to do with the safety of our soldiers.

One the domestic side I personally have seen several people who are on disability payments who when no one is watching work just as hard as the rest of us. It is just too easy to get a government payment. I know I sound like a card carrying member of the GOP here. But, I am not saying that most, or even many, are in that mode but there are sufficient numbers who do game the system that if we took a closer look could substantially reduce our safety net costs.  I”m sure there are  many other examples of where we could reign in spending if we just put our mind to it.

I have been on a fixed budget for over 15 years now. Yes, some things change for instance the ever increasing cost of healthcare. Medicare pays for 80% of my medical costs for about $100 a month and that hasn’t changed dramatically but to cover the other 20% has increased from about $100 to over $250 and for my wife over $350.  In order to pay those bills we have had to cut back other places. Why can’t the government do the same?

Goodbye ATT/Yahoo News…

I’m not paranoid so I don’t think they are targeting me personally but I am once again very annoyed by my news feed of choice for the last year or so.Thumbnail

Let me give you a little background before I wade into this topic. I have discovered that I am without any doubt a morning person. I just don’t seem to be able to conjure up anything in a creative nature after lunch. For that reason a part of my usual morning routine is to browse the news from  the past day. I do this so that I stay informed with what is happening and also so I can create some ideas on what I want to blog about in the coming week. I have some special news sites such as  Time, The Week, and PBS Newshour that I read by but I depend on broader news feeds for most of what is happening.

That newsfeed for the past year or so has been Yahoo News but over the past months it is just too annoying to read any more.  Maybe because I am deaf I may be more sensitive than others for distractions in my peripheral vision. It seems that whenever there is a self-starting video anywhere on the list of news articles on my screen I can’t concentrate on what I am trying to read.  These self-starting videos have become to common on Yahoo News that I looked elsewhere for my morning reads.

I spent an hour or so trying to find if my current browser, or any browser for that matter, had the capability of stopping the annoyance but was unable to come up with anything. Months ago I shut down Adobe Flash as it is reported to be the source for many of the malware that prowls the Internet but it also created these self-starting annoyances. Shutting down Flash stopped the videos to some extent but not it seems they come from somewhere else.  Since there seem to be no viable way to stop this I looked elsewhere.

I am now over to Google News and have yet to come across this problem.  It is nice to be able to concentrate on what I am reading again. Google news provides you with a list of areas that you want to see. That is kind of nice but it may be preventing me from seeing something that I don’t have on the list but need to.

Anyway goodbye Yahoo news and hello every morning to my new friend Google News.

Low Info Voter…


I pulled this picture off of one of the many articles about how Donald Trump is number one in the polls for the GOP candidate.  But Donald Trump is not the topic of this post. Instead it is about a phrase that David Brooks has used a few times on the PBS Newshour. He calls many if not most of the Trump supporters “low information voters”. I thought that was a very descriptive and I imagine an accurate term.

QE BannerJust who  might be described as a Low-Info voter?

I don’t know why but I picked this guy above as be typical of that category. I did a little playing with the photo in order to give him emphasis.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have no idea who this person is but I am choosing to make him the poster child for that category.

Low info voters are:

  • guys (for the most part) that don’t like paying any form of taxes
  • angry at most everything in and about their lives
  • haven’t picked up a book or newspaper in ages
  • listens to Fox News as his primary, and probably only, source of information
  • has a low self-esteem and even lower view of most people
  • is just pissed off at most things in the world

I don’t know, maybe I have it all wrong here but since this is my blog I can say whatever I want.  The trouble with this whole concept is that I am afraid that the legions of low-info voters is growing by leaps and bounds. Politics has become so nasty lately that only the strongest among us, of which I am not one, tries to stay informed about all the candidates.

I’m afraid that the saying that we only have choices between bad and worse in our election process these days is becoming true. No one of a noble mind and heart dares to get into that arena now days. No one seems to have the stomach for it.  If we believe the pundits come next year we will have either another Bush or another Clinton in the White House!  Why can’t we get some who we really think can do the job to even put his/her name on a ballot??

Question everything….

Something For Nothing…

2015-08-12_18-19-20But since Piotrowski describes property taxes as “unethical, unchristian-like” and a form of “financial slavery,” he decided to make a statement.

“Since I’m being forced to pay for something against my own will, I’m paying in pennies,” he told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

SOURCE: This man collected 50,000 pennies to make a statement about paying his property taxes – Yahoo Finance.

QE BannerI don’t know about you but these sort of stories get on my nerves but kind of like a train wreck I just can’t seem to look away. This guy claims paying taxes is “unethical, unchristian-like and a form of financial slavery”. Oh come on…. Paying taxes is a very necessary part of living in a democracy. Who does this guy think builds our bridges, maintains our police and fireman forces, and a myriad of other services we come to expect? Those things don’t come free and I’m sure this guy’s eyes glaze over when someone tries to explain that to him.

Its bad enough that he is ignorant enough to think paying his share of taxes is unethical and financial slavery but he had to add his religious leanings too. Yeah I know there are a lot of conservative, especially evangelical, Christians out there that don’t want to be forced to pay for things like helping the needy, infirm, or mentally challenged. Jesus Christ made it very clear that we are to be our brother’s keeper and since  religious organization don’t remotely begin to meet that need we should happily support our government do so in our place. But again, I’m sure this guy’s eyes also glaze over when that is explained to him.

I kind of put this guy in the same league of all those millionaires who have off-shore accounts to hide their money so they don’t have to pay their share of taxes. Both are shameful.  Before you say I am painting with too broad a brush here I will say that fortunately this guy does not represent the majority, or even a slight minority of Christians  with this behavior the same as that rich guy doesn’t represent everyone who has more money than they know what to do with… I kind of hope this yahoo got a hernia from lifting his 50,000 pennies🙂

My Take On The World

QE BannerFirst off I hope you are enjoying the new and expanded view from RJ’s Corner. Its kind of more a neighborhood now than just a corner but that’s the way it is.  Its fun to be able to put all my posts in one place. Let me know how you like the new format and anything that would make it better. I have been doing some serious maintenance on the site for the last week or so and that is why recent postings have dropped.  I hope to finish that up this weekend and will then start posting on a more regular basis.

2015-08-07_08-41-01There is so much to talk about recently that it is hard to decide what to tackle. The Republicans just had their A-team and B-team debates and of course Donald was the star of the show. I guess it is totally appropriate that Fox News which is the epitome of conservative fringes hosted the debate and I’m sure that many of their loyal viewers, even though it went on beyond their bed times, tuned in.  As for the rest of us… well let’s just say we have other higher quality comedies to spend our time with. It looks more like a three ring circus than anything serious.  I will wait until the “ready for prime time” players have been decided before I even think of watching all those yahoos..

Ok, lets move on to some more serious stuff. Of course the latest is about the Middle East and our dealings with Iran. Was the deal that was worked up with them worth anything? I don’t know but it is better than charging into another trillion dollar war that too many of our young people would die in.  Does anyone really believe that the Iranians will drop a nuclear bomb on Israel? I’m sure even they can see that would be a suicidal thing to do. Yeah, they might be able to make a couple of bombs but just look around the neighborhood and you will find hundreds of them in close by countries.  Drop one and be assured that ten times that many are used on you. Does that make any sense even for the whacko clerics that run that country??

2015-08-02_13-21-01But looking at the bigger picture, I still can’t figure out why we are so fixated on that part of the world? We now have all that shale oil to process so doing without Middle East oil would not be a terribly burdensome thing. ISIS is a threat but what if we just let them have their own theocracy as they want.  As long as they only played with themselves and promised not to bother us, would that be a bad thing?  After all isn’t Israel a Jewish Theocracy and the world hasn’t ended  in the last sixty years because of that one. I got a radical solution to all these constant issues over there, just get out as my hero Will Rogers would say…

I know that Jon Stewart just retired so maybe I am trying in some minute way to fill the void here…🙂

Prosperity and Taxes…My Recollections

QE BannerI know all you young folks out there who might accidentally come across my blog know very little about the history of prosperity but most of the older folks have recollections of more prosperous times.  I can remember the 1950s where everything seemed to be going well  for many of us. We couldn’t build enough houses or cars to meet our needs.  Instead of our returning vets coming home to unemployment, jobs were being created at a vigorous rate.

The 1960s was my decade for growth. Even though I was raised in the single parent household and my father was a milkman I managed to get accepted by a great State college and worked my way to a bachelor’s degree paying all the expenses by working in a dormitory cafeteria up to 40 hours a week. It was a struggling time but probably the happiest of my life. I made such good friends during those years before I became deaf.

In the 1970s things started to change. Good middle class jobs for those without a formal education beyond high school were starting to disappear.The Oil Embargo put a hamper on things and inflation was roaring along. Things were starting to change by the end of that decade and then came the 1980s.

The 1980s seemed to be a pivotal decade. It is the time when we elected a very conservative president who believed that government was the main problem in our society. It was a time when the elite among us began to get inordinate influence in our society. It was a time that the social conservative that seemed the dwarf the emphatic among us. It was a time when the rich started getting much richer.  It was also a time when the MBA college degree started taking root. The MBA degree taught that people where no longer to be considered valuable members of a company but instead liabilities that needed to be trimmed as much as possible.  At that point the middle class shrinking came fully into force.

The 1990s, or the Clinton years as I knew them, brought back prosperity at least the a degree and to a limited segment of society. These were my most productive years from a financial standpoint. My retirement funds and 401k’s grew at a rapid pace. The growth of the stock market rivaled that of the 1930s. A new thing called the Internet was taking hold of everyone including corporate America. I took advantage of the trend by re-purposing myself into an IT guy (information technology). I was suddenly in demand for my skills. but toward the end of the decade panic started. Luckily I got pretty much out of the stock market before the crash.

The 2000s were a very pivotal and dramatic decade that saw  the stock bubble burst and then years of a stagnant economy. When Mr. Bush came into the Oval Office the DOW Industrial averages were at 11,000, When he left eight years later it was at 8,000 and due to too much deregulation much of the banks were on the verge of bankruptcy along with a couple of our biggest corporations.

The 2010s finally ushered out the president who started two wars and huge increase in military spending. The new president managed to get us out of these two catastrophic emergencies and as a result in six years the DOW averages went from 8,000 to 18,000.


So, studying the above graphs let’s recap all this. When the super rich were being taxed at up to 90% of their income we had prosperity. Then when that was reduced to about 30% things started falling apart. I think you should get the idea  that giving big tax breaks to the super rich is not a way to get us once again to prosperity.

I am way over my word limit here so I have to stop.

About Our Defense Budgets… An Historic Perspective..

2015-03-25_14-59-11Total U.S. defense spending (in inflation-adjusted dollars) has increased so much over the past decade that it has reached levels not seen since World War II, when the United States had 12 million people under arms and waged wars on three continents. Moreover, the U.S. share of global military expenditures has jumped from about one-third to about one-half in this same period. Some of this growth can be attributed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the baseline or regular defense budget has also increased significantly. It has grown in real terms for an unprecedented 13 straight years, and it is now $100 billion above what the nation spent on average during the Cold War. The fiscal year 2012 budget request of $553 billion is approximately the same level as Ronald Reagan’s FY 1986 budget. As a result of this “gusher” of defense spending—to quote former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—Pentagon leaders have not been forced to make the hard choices between competing programs as they traditionally have. And the ballooning defense budget played a significant role in turning the budget surplus projected a decade ago into a massive deficit that forces the U.S. government to borrow 43 cents of every dollar it spends. As the nation attempts to bring this massive deficit—which chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen calls the greatest threat to our security—under control, leaders from both parties recognize that these unprecedented levels of defense expenditures cannot be maintained. The question currently facing Congress and President Barack Obama—how much to spend on defense in times of large deficits or in the final years of a war—is not new. Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton had to identify reasonable levels of defense expenditures as the United States transitioned from war spending to peacetime budgets, while President Ronald Reagan needed to control defense spending in the face of rising deficits. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush confronted both scenarios at once, like President Obama today.

SOURCE: A Historical Perspective on Defense Budgets | Center for American Progress.

In looking at the chart above it is obvious that two American presidents are primarily responsible for most of our outrageous military spending. I don’t think I have to tell you which ones those are. Sadly, for the most part those increases in spending were matters of choice. Yes, the Iron Curtain was up for one president but it had been up long before he came into office.  Yes, a rag-tag bunch of fanatics managed to kill three thousand of our citizens with some box cutters but in the world scheme of things  more people than that have died daily in the world from lack of food and drinking water. If we had just gone after the rogues instead of invading nations that had nothing to do with the tragedy our military expenses would never have risen to such mammoth levels.

Can we continue to spend such levels in these times of rising deficits? Aren’t the deficits causing us more harm than the enemies we are supposedly facing. Fear just seem to be the primary driver of our nation today. We have long forgotten one of our most meaningful American quotes “All we have to fear is fear itself”. We need to just get over this paranoid fear that has come to grip us so  forcefully…

Clinton-Bush Fatique

2015-03-10_08-45-45Have you ever felt as if a mysterious black cloud of despair was rising from the great depths of the universe? That it was cresting over the horizons of your life, blotting out all sunlight as it closes in and paralyzes you in fear? And maybe you felt that this slow-motion tsunami of dread was a deserved punishment for you personally, and humanity in general. And you realized, as I have, that this unstoppable, groaning wave was a natural outgrowth of your own moral torpor — the listlessness you had demonstrated over and over again, allowing injustices, petty cruelties, and incompetence to extend their reign over everything you loved, until finally it crashed on you, plunging you into a darkness beyond the reach of light, hope, and redemption…. The inevitable Bush-Clinton presidential campaign is gathering itself along the horizon. It will be a boring, substance-less grind that turns on just which candidate’s operation can direct slightly more of the public’s disgust over the worst parts of the last two decades at the other candidate.

SOURCE:  Why a Clinton-Bush presidential race fills me with nothing but despair.

I remember a time, way back thirty years ago before President Reagan when there was not Clinton or Bush on the national scene. But for the last almost twenty years those two families seem to have dominated the news and as a result I have severe Clinton-Bush Fatigue. I am simply totally exhausted with all the vitriol ranting that has taken place in our country since these two families have been battling for the supreme Monarchy of the USA.  About two-hundred and fifty years ago we went to war to rid ourselves of a monarch and as far as I am concerned I don’t want to return to that state.

There is so much baggage surrounding these names that if they are nominated by the parties it will surely be the most dirty mud-slinging presidential election in our history. To me it would come down to which would cause the least harm to our country and right now that is probably a close call. Our country needs to get away from all this hatred surrounding us lately and Bush and Clinton are the source for much of it.  Surely the two parties can at least give us voters an alternative to these two but given that money pretty much controls all of our political processes now who becomes the candidates will probably be a done deal before we have our say.

Sadly because we have made running for public office such a rancid experience I’m not sure that any really qualified candidate can make it anymore or even want to make it for that matter. We are just stuck with the ones we get (sigh)… I hope not…

2015-03-10_08-53-13   2015-03-10_13-12-34

Will Our Gushing Military Spending Ever End?

I know there are many of U.S. citizens who have never known a time when our military spending did not dwarf everything else in our discretionary spending budgets. We just seem to be a nation that wants to be policemen of the world. We want to put our noses into every conflict we can find.  It doesn’t matter that in places like Iraq and Afghanistan they have been having the same battles for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years. We just can’t seem to find a conflict that we think we stay out of or can’t solve with our military might.

Only those of us over the age of forty have ever know a time when our military budgets haven’t dominated everything else. But in reality the vast majority of our over-blown war spending can be attributed to just two presidents, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.  here is a little more about this. Check on the source to see the entire article.


Total U.S. defense spending (in inflation-adjusted dollars) has increased so much over the past decade that it has reached levels not seen since World War II, when the United States had 12 million people under arms and waged wars on three continents. Moreover, the U.S. share of global military expenditures has jumped from about one-third to about one-half in this same period…. The ballooning defense budget played a significant role in turning the budget surplus projected a decade ago into a massive deficit that forces the U.S. government to borrow 43 cents of every dollar it spends. As the nation attempts to bring this massive deficit—which chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen calls the greatest threat to our security—under control, leaders from both parties recognize that these unprecedented levels of defense expenditures cannot be maintained. The question currently facing Congress and President Barack Obama—how much to spend on defense in times of large deficits or in the final years of a war—is not new. Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton had to identify reasonable levels of defense expenditures as the United States transitioned from war spending to peacetime budgets, while President Ronald Reagan needed to control defense spending in the face of rising deficits. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush confronted both scenarios at once, like President Obama today.

SOURCE:  A Historical Perspective on Defense Budgets | Center for American Progress.

Given that historically we can and have reduced our military spending. It just takes a different point of view to make that happen. I don’t think that the GOP’s combination of inert fear of others and the bravado of getting the bad guys will go away anytime soon but historically we can almost count on that eventually happening again.  The big question as to when, is all about when  we as voters finally realize that we fear way too much and we can’t solve thousand-year old tribal battles on the other side of the world with our million dollar plus smart bombs and drones. It is very possible to drastically reduce our military spending with little or no difference to our security. It just takes more voters at the polls who realize that possibility.

Federalized Healthcare…

If you pay attention to such things it becomes very apparent that depending on where you live and how much income you have, and when you need it, primary healthcare varies widely across our nation.  The example below is specifically about worker’s compensation but is endemic across the healthcare spectrum.

2015-03-06_10-22-00JUDY WOODRUFF: Howard Berkes, why are so many states moving to cut workers’ comp?

HOWARD BERKES: Well, there are a couple of things that have occurred.

One is, medical costs have increased so dramatically over the years. But the other thing is, we have had a couple of recessions in the last 15 years, and states are competing with each other fiercely for business, and one of the things that businesses complain about all the time is the cost of workers’ compensation insurance premiums….

 As businesses complain about these costs, they go to lawmakers in state — in state capitals around the country and say, this is one thing you can do to help us compete with the next state. And, of course, each state is dropping costs, is lowering costs, so there’s this competition to be lower than the next state….

And this [differences between States] is really apparent when you talk about catastrophic injuries like arm amputations. So we looked at — we visited with two workers, for example, both living near the Alabama-Georgia border. On the Alabama side of the border, the worker who lost his arm in an industrial accident looked like he would get maybe about $48,000 maximum in his lifetime as compensation for his injury in weekly payments and in compensation for the loss of his arm.

But just across the border in Georgia, the worker there who had a nearly identical injury and an arm amputation, nearly identical age at the time of his injury, he will get somewhere in the neighborhood of $700,000 more over the course of his lifetime.

SOURCE:  Why workers’ comp isn’t working for many who need it.

A big part of this overall healthcare problem is due to economic fluctuations over time.  Because most State must balance their budgets it becomes necessary to reduce spending during recessions and given the current environment they seldom get raised back to adequate levels during the years of prosperity.  If people just got healthier during recessions than they are during prosperous years it wouldn’t make any difference but that simply is not the case. So, things like Medicaid, worker’s comp and such get reduced because of budget restraints.  Of course the same thing applies for education. The first thing that often gets cut are education budgets and that is utter stupidity, but that is another story.

The obvious solution that most of the rest of the world has already learned is to federalize healthcare. If the federal government needs more income to meet the people’s needs during hard times they can simply print more money.  No, that isn’t a long-term solution but it is an effective stop-gap in order to provide a consistent level of healthcare to all our citizens and at reduced levels of expenditure. The rest of the industrialized world spends about 8% of GDP for healthcare while the U.S. spends 18% and they have higher satisfaction level to boot. Some day we will get over our extreme stubbornness in this area and federalize our healthcare like everyone else has already done.

And It Begins…A China Power Play….


In quick succession, the U.K., France, Italy, and Germany all agreed to become founding shareholders of the AIIB, a sign that they are eager to cozy up to Beijing and its $4 trillion in foreign reserves. Once upon a time, “the world was said to bow down before the mighty dollar. These days, even many of America’s closest allies have renminbi signs in their eyes.” This is an impressive “soft-power victory for China,” said the editors at Bloomberg View, and “Washington largely has itself to blame.” The U.S. has long called on China to take more of a role in international financial institutions, “without making room for it to do so.” Congress has repeatedly “blocked efforts to dilute U.S. dominance of the World Bank” or give China more influence at the IMF, where Beijing’s voting share is just 4 percent versus Washington’s 17 percent. Republicans have also shot down President Obama’s attempts to increase U.S. funding for the World Bank and IMF, said Charles Kenny at Bloomberg, leaving those institutions “undersize compared with the demands they face.” But if the Obama administration can’t persuade the GOP to put up the cash needed to underwrite development projects that will save lives and foster global growth, “it should at the very least get out of the way of other countries willing and able to lead.”

SOURCE:  China’s latest power play comes at the expense of America.

Everyone needs to learn that actions have consequences, even countries and that is what is beginning to happen to the U.S. For all of this millennium we have increasingly turned over our industrial production to China because of their lower labor costs. Too many people just focused on getting things a little cheaper and failed to look at the bigger picture.  Now, the consequences of these actions are starting to manifest themselves.

Of course we know that those actions have resulted in a severe reduction in the middle class of America. Due to constantly lower wages being earned by so many American families we have come to depend on getting our “stuff” cheaper. The second consequence is that China now has trillions of our dollars in their banks and that is resulting in them taking over the financial matters of the world. We have always been a debtor nation but never so much to just one country. Our past actions this millennium have consequences and I’m not really sure that is a bad thing.

Yes, it is fearful to see a country that is driven by a very different mentality gaining more power. Lets face it, communism is a very scary matter to capitalist nations. But if this current consequence results in our country to step back and look at what is going on with us lately maybe good will come from it. We need to realize that our very dysfunctional government is doing us grievous harm. We are ignoring things that need to be fixed because we refuse to get along together. We spend soooo much more on our military than anyone else in the world and that is draining our economy and making enemies throughout the world. We will learn that one country with less than 5% of the world’s population and, and really shouldn’t, be the policemen of the world. It is time to share that responsibility.

Maybe good things will come from us no longer being “The” political and economic power in the world….

A little humility is a good thing….

Walking The Plank…



I dread to think about how our totally politicized Supreme Court is going to rule on the latest attack on affordable healthcare for almost ten million of us.  Will they essentially make those folks walk the plank as Steve Sack shows in this editorial cartoon. It is widely known that most of the yahoos on the court vote primarily on their political alignment. The law and original intent just doesn’t seem to mean much to them.


Military SpendingI also see where the Republicans have recently come out with their budget proposals for the coming year. Take a look at that very little orange slice of the current budget pie to the right. That shows our current food stamp allocations. It seems that tiny slice is where they want to do the severest cuts. Part of their budget is to increase the dark blue area even more! They don’t think it is big enough yet.  Please tell me how anyone can actually believe that they are serious about their budget proposal when they take the elephant in the room off the table for cuts???

Why does it seem that we are living in an upside-down world right now???


Paul or Plato??

This is going to be one of those very philosophical posts so fasten your seatbelt.

It is this idea of a fundamentally sinful humanity that inspires the harsh, punitive sentences of our criminal justice system — including capital punishment. It also provokes visions of merciless suffering in hell after death. We deserve severe punishment because we are free agents who knowingly choose to do what we ourselves know to be wrong. On the far side of a chasm stands a very different idea of humanity — one elaborated by Socrates and other characters in several Platonic dialogues. It holds that virtue is knowledge and vice is ignorance. Plato’s dialogues may have presented the fullest and most radical exploration of this view, but versions of it animated various strands of Enlightenment thought, and to this day it continues to influence the way many liberals and progressives approach questions of criminal justice and related areas of public policy.  When someone commits a crime, do your instincts tell you to blame the perpetrator’s upbringing, background, education? Do you think that the best form of punishment would involve rehabilitation? Then you are, at bottom, a Platonist who rejects the idea of sinful depravity. On the other hand, do you tend to blame the perpetrator’s actions on a malicious will and presume that, however worthwhile an education might be, it will never eliminate the possibility of evil, because evil is chosen despite knowing what is good and right? And do you therefore think that the best form of punishment is one that imposes suffering for the sake of retribution and deterrence, hopefully to help scare this and other potential criminals away from making similarly bad choices? Then you are, at bottom, a Pauline believer in the reality of sin. This either/or way of presenting the two views is overly simplistic. Plato was well aware that teaching virtue can be a challenge (and may often be impossible), just as believers in sin typically think that moral education is extremely important in shaping and strengthening a person’s conscience.  Still, the distinction is real and important — and its implications touch on areas of our cultural life far beyond criminal justice. It helps to explain, for example, the very different ways that Platonic liberals and Pauline conservatives approach sex — with the former willing to trust in the power of rational sex education to help shape behavior, and the latter much more concerned about their children succumbing to sinful temptation no matter how many rational arguments they’re exposed to.  What’s clear is that, if you’re interested in exploring our cultural conflicts at the highest levels, you could do worse than pondering Plato and Paul.

SOURCE:  The real fault line in the culture war isn’t race or sex. It’s sin..

The quote in red is just what I am going to attempt to do in tomorrow’s post.

Containers They Carry Their Brains Around In…



I must admit that I love Shonda Rhimes and her creative mind! Grey’s Anatomy is probably my all-time favorite show and since I have been around quite a while that is a lot of shows. She shows us the challenges of life that many of us have never faced.  I captured the quote above from a recent CNN broadcast talking about the Oscars. I have not watched that awards ceremony in many years but I do get glimpses of it and the meat parade that goes on as the actors enter the theatre are still very prevalent. It seems that those guys in Hollywood love to give each other awards but that is another story.

Being a man I guess, I don’t really understand the mentality of so many women who want to hobble around on seven-inch stilts and scanty dresses in order to get attention. To me, and I know I am probably unusual in this regard, a woman’s attractiveness is inversely proportional to the height of their heels and the amount of paint covering her face.  It just seems that women are not taken as seriously as men in almost any realm and they probably will never be until they recognize that they need to emphasize their brains and get away from so much fixation on the container that holds it.

Women are generally the caregivers in the family and maybe as an evolutionary result have an in-grained empathy that so many men lack.  Being the caregiver they are more often the voice of reason and sensibility in difficult times than  those testosterone driven men who control too many things right now.  If more women were in leadership roles I am convinced that their would be fewer wars in our nation’s history. More women need to step up to being leaders instead of containers. When that happens America will be a much better place.

A Sad Day For The Possibility of Peace In The Middle East…



The Palestinian problem is the primary driver for so much of what happens in the Middle East. To see a solution taken off the table by Israel is tragic for all the world.  Give peace a chance…..

The American Creed..

I started thinking about this post after I saw a PBS Special about Gunner Myrdal entitled “American Denial”. Myrdal was a famous Swedish sociologist that in the 1940s was asked by the Carnegie Foundation to study the “negro problem” in the U.S. He had a long and deep admiration of the United States and particularly the American creeds of equal chance, equal opportunity and equal justice.  He spent several years investigating before he published his foundational report.  Here is a little from Wiki about the man and his work:

2015-03-01_16-30-48Myrdal believed he saw a vicious cycle in which whites oppressed negroes, and then pointed to negroes’ poor performance as reason for the oppression. The way out of this cycle, he argued, was to either cure whites of the prejudice he believed existed, or to improve the circumstances of negroes, which would then disprove whites’ preconceived notions. Myrdal called this process the “principle of cumulation.”

According to Myrdal, the American dilemma of his time (1944) referred to the co-existence of the American liberal ideals and the miserable situation of blacks. On the one hand, enshrined in the American creed is the belief that people are created equal and have human rights; on the other hand, blacks, as one tenth of the population, were treated as an inferior race and were denied numerous civil and political rights.

Myrdal’s encyclopedic study covers every aspect of black-white relations in the United States up to his time. He frankly concluded that the “Negro problem” is a “white man’s problem.” That is, whites as a collective were responsible for the disadvantageous situation in which blacks were trapped…

At the center of Myrdal’s work in An American Dilemma was his postulate that political and social interaction in the United States is shaped by an “American Creed.” This creed emphasizes the ideals of liberty, equality, justice, and fair treatment of all people. Myrdal claims that it is the “American Creed” that keeps the diverse melting pot of the United States together. It is the common belief in this creed that enables all people—whites, negroes, rich, poor, male, female, and immigrants alike—with a common cause and allows for them to co-exist as one nation.

SOURCE: An American Dilemma – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Myrdal, like Alex De Tocqueville a hundred years before,  was a person looking from the outside into the American psyche. He was a person who asked questions that other people weren’t asking. In the 1940 when he spent quite a bit of time in the South he was utterly dejected by what he found to the point of a deep depression.  When he saw the extreme racism of Jim Crow he could not reconcile that and the American Creed that he loved so much.  He concluded that the reconciliation could only be accomplished by the habit of denial. We simply deny that there is a problem. We ignore it.

Is that, even to a small degree, what we do today? It is finally becoming more and more obvious that equal justice just doesn’t exist in our current system. When 10% of the population account for almost half those incarcerated something needs to be looked at. I hope we eventually recognize that fact. Is the “Negro problem”, and  “poor problem” and the “Homeless problem” actually a “white man’s problem” once again.  I am not necessarily saying that it is but we need to recognize that it is a possibility or at least a major contributor.

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