Common Bonds…

I don’t know exactly when this round of” Us vs Them” started, but it is proven to be flat out destructive. Let me spend a few minutes here trying to show you the damage it has done and what we might do to reverse it.

From what I can find making those who think differently than you do in the political arena started in earnest during the Newt Gingrich era of the 1980s. I like to blame Reagan for most of this stuff so I will add his name here too. Since that time partisanship has almost completely evaporated! It is now all about defeating your bitter foes on the other side of the great divide.

The problem is that today’s divide has become so wide and vitriolic that it comes down to friend vs enemy, politics is always war, and life in general is eternal conflict. We have it in our mind that if we can just defeat our enemy we can make a perfect world where everything goes our way.

Little do we realize that can never happen. Once that mentality takes shape in our mind it fashions enemies where none were previously present. All we do is peel the onion down to the next conflict level.

I would like to believe, whether it is true or not, that most of us don’t always live our lives in that mode. We manage to get along with our neighbors, even if they are different from us. Those of us in small communities actually enjoy those around us. Yes, there is the tribal instinct when it comes to family but there is also a community instinct outside of family.

The underlying problem in America, and much of the rest of the world, is division, or how we separate ourselves from others :

  • The widening gap between rich and poor
  • rural and urban
  • whites and people of color
  • educated and less educated
  • conservative and progressive

But I can’t help believe that somehow these divides can be conquered using things where we agree with each other. The first part of this very long journey is to find those things. Let’s look at a few possibilities here to get us started:

  • We all love our children and want what’s best for them.
  • We are bound by our work ethic and can find improvements we all want to see in that area.
  • We all want a sense of belonging so maybe we can find a way to pull the political power more to the local area.
  • We all have a shared sense of community. If only we can see that there is a diversity of poeple in that community that are not threatening to us.

We need all of these things to begin coming together as a nation. Let’s all try to take baby steps in these areas and before you know it we just might be taking giant leaps together.

The Us vs Them Mindset Just Might Take Down Our Country – Let’s Find Our Common Bonds To Keep That From Happening

It’s About Trust

It used to be that trust was a foundational thing in a person’s life. It used to be if a person lost the trust of others, he was proclaimed to be persona-non-grata until he proved he was trustworthy again. How did the reversal of that happen to so many in our American society? That is what this post is all about.

I’m sure you know who I am talking about, but if you don’t, the untrustworthy person is the current Oval Office occupant. This guy has been documented to tell dozens of lies every day during his time in office. . He seems to take great pride in that fact too! He proudly boasts of things he absolutely knows are not true. To me that is the epitome of someone I detest, and yes, for the first time in my life I do detest this president.

Due to his endless lying, I take the approach of automatically assuming anything he says is blatantly false. Most of the time that turns out to be an accurate assessment, sometimes not. I guess I should give him credit for some of the things he does, but given all the rest it is a hard thing for me to do. It would kind of like be saying that some white supremacists are good people. I have come across a few other people like him in my life before. Mostly I have managed to cast them out of my orbit, but since this one affects so much of our daily living that is almost impossible to do.

Now, getting to the heart of this matter, it totally astonishes me as to those who hang on every word he says. They say “that is just who he is”. I also say “that is who he is” but the difference is they love him because of that, whereas I loathe him because of that. How can you say someone is doing a great job if you can’t, in your heart, trust them?

But to me by far the most damaging result of their backing is that many then go and proclaim to be “Christians”. I wish some of them would open their Bible to show me where the evidence of that is with this guy? I can certainly open my Bible and show you where it is not.

If there is not contract of trust with our leaders then we might as well throw in the towel as a country now and get it over with. If that is what we have become, we deserve what we get.

Clearing The Distractions…

Now that the Mueller Investigation is finally over I hope we will no longer be totally engulfed with the daily news of possible scandal and can finally concentrate on what is actually happening to our democracy. Yes, we have an incompetent in the Oval Office but our attention should be to keep him from doing irreparable harm for his remaining one year and nine months in office.

Looking back, I was never that hopeful that a “smoking gun” would be found in the two-year, which seemed like ten year, investigation. I never really deemed him smart enough to accomplish something as complicated as collusion. Given the verocity of the MAGA cult, an impeachment would probably have done more damage to our country than what he can do in the next two years, especially since we finally have a check on his power via the US congress.

I realize that 2016 events were just an exercise in self-praise and spiteful games for the current Oval Office occupant. He never really intended to be president so why would he even expose himself to a treasonable scenario even if he could accomplish it? He is there because of the defective electoral college tradition and proud ignorance of so many who voted blindly without thinking of the consequences of their actions.

Getting back to the point here, I’m glad this is almost over so we can spend the next two years concentrating on the drastic changes he taught us are needed in the executive branch to reign in a future incompetent. We need to have in place a way to quickly fix the damage he is doing to worldwide efforts to attack global warming once he leaves.

Another issue I hope we have time to address now is how to convince the unconvinible that his version unfettered capitalism is not a solution, but instead, the major source for the financial inequity in our country. Yes, the stock markets might have temporarily gone up with his tax break for the affluent but at the same time most important quality-of-life metrics continue going down for the rest of us. These include: skyrocketing suicide rates, a health care system that is unattainable for too many, a military complex that starves much needed infrastructure improvements, and pretty much anything else.

We need to do the equivalent of hitting our citizens, especially the MAGA cult, over the head with a two-by-four to get them to realize that our country will cease to exist as we know it if we don’t address all the issues that are currently being proudly ignored by the current Oval Office occupant. I just hope it is not too late!

Finally I dream of a time when I can once again look at any news source and not see it totally consumed by an orange-haired narcissist.

Eliminate Federal Pensions and Retirement Plans

Now before you get all worked up by the title I want to add a couple of more words. “For all elected employees”. I think this plan will go a long ways to prevent future gridlock that we are seeing today. Here is one of my sources that back up that idea:

Congressional members are eligible for their own unique pension plans under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), though there are other retirement benefits available, ranging from Social Security and the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Currently, members of Congress are eligible for a pension dependent on the member’s age at retirement, length of service, and salary.

The pension value can be up to 80 percent of the member’s final salary. Currently, Congressional pay is $174,000 per year, which, at an 80-percent rate, equates to a lifelong pension benefit of $139,200. All benefits are taxpayer-funded.

Source: Investopedia

A three-term congressman (or one-term senator) who has now reached retirement age of sixty-two would be eligible for an annual pension of $17,588 for six years of work. Let’s see, I was an engineer who worked thirty years for the same company and my pension is less than two times this amount. So, I would say that you can make out pretty well on a congressional pension.

Getting down to the roots of this post. Our founders never meant that representing your constituents in Congress to be a full-time job. It was just something that you did to fulfill your obligations to your country. The first president illustrated that by limiting his occupancy to two terms.

Secondly, Congress should mirror the private sector when it comes to these sorts of things. Since private sector pensions are pretty much a thing of the past, federal pensions should also be eliminated. Just give them 401k payments like the rest of us have. In that same area, Congress should not have their own healthcare plan that are so out of touch with what their constituents get.

The problem today is that there are just too many in our congress who are determined to make being a congressman a full time job. If we could just get one of those guys, specifically Mitch McConnel to finally leave maybe at least some level of gridlock would be finally eliminated.

Making term limits happen is the problem. It takes either a constitutional amendment initiated by the State or for Congress to overwhelmingly do it. Neither is likely to happen today. But Congress is not the only institution that needs term limits. Supreme Court Justices should be told to leave after they have served twelve years.

Let’s give power back to the people instead of keeping it entrenched in the powermongers in Washington.

If You Have To Build A Wall…

I think the masonary union has some sort of power over the current Oval Office. What else would explain the obsession with wall building? If the current Oval Office occupant (#CO3) hopes to have ANY chance of re-election, he should change just where he wants to build his wall.

Let’s investigate the possibilities some with this post. What is the biggest sinkhole for our money in the world today? Undoubtedly it is the Middle-East. I’m sure we have spent trillions of bucks in the region of the world and in the end have gotten practically nothing to show for it. We prop up so many failing regimes in that area when we should be looking at keeping our country afloat.

Saudi Arabia is the prime example. #CO3 says they are our friends because they want to buy billions of dollars worth of our war machines. But, in the end, their country represents almost everything we despise. They execute people for speaking out against their way of government. They enslave almost half their population to serve the males in their country. Almost all the 9/11 terrorists were from there. Their regime represents the opposite of what we think is any level of morality.

Afganistan and Iraq are not much different from Saudi Arabia. The main difference is that we took down their the dictators who ran those countries and haven’t been able to escape the consequences even after decades there. How many trillions of dollars have we poured into those two countries and have nothing to show for it.

Everything about the Middle East is very contrary to our way of life. It is almost as if it was a separate world and maybe it should be. If any region of the world needs a wall to separate them from us it is the Middle East.

So, Mr. President, if you must build a wall do it to block off the Middle East from the rest of the world. I might even vote for you if you did that. No, I changed my mind, there is no way in hell I would ever vote for you.

Riding Into The Sunset…

I was about ten-years-old before I saw my first TV set. It was a big box with a little grey-lined screen. One of the things I remembered most about what I saw in that box was that the good guys always won. If it was a western, most often the hero would ride off into the sunset at the end of the show. Matt Dillon took on so many bad-guys during his years on Gunsmoke that it is almost impossible to determine how many bad-guys he took down. The bad guys always lost in the end.

Flash forward to today and the good-guys-always-winning seems so naive now. People who are morally bankrupt, who cheat and lie seem to flourish. There is even one in the Oval Office. In order to take him down, it would require two-thirds of the Congress to be good guys and that seems literally impossible now.

Watching the Cohen fiasco a few weeks ago was an eye-opener even after all gutter stuff that has gone on in the last two years. To see Republican Congressmen who totally ignore the bad stuff happening and instead they attack the person who is reporting it. Yes, I know that Cohen is a liar but isn’t the person they are defended the ULTIMATE LIAR? It is reported that he has told over 10,000 documented lies in the last two years alone. That is an average of more than ten lies a day! Lord knows what the count would be if we had access to what is said inside the White House.

They don’t even bother anymore to pretend that what he does is “not that bad”. But I still hold onto the hope that those cowardly Congressmen will be held accountable for their not taking on the bad guys.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to watch the Congressional posse ride into the sunset after taking down the bad guy? Just like the “Good Old Days” sixty years ago. Now that I would say is great again.

My All-Time Favorite Republican

I will almost shamefully admit that I started my political life as a Republican. My first vote for president was a Republican. If in doubt I voted with the GOP. I don’t vote that ticket much anymore as they have drifted so far off their original course as to annihilate my image of them.

One of the main things that appealed to me was their fiscal restraint. Another thing I admired was their desire to keep our government as small as possible and still be able to do their job. One of the things I never liked was their hawkishness when it came to war. Another was for the last hundred years they have been pretty much the party for the rich and affluent. But that wasn’t always the case.

Getting to the point of this post, my favorite Republican was without a doubt was Theodore Roosevelt. He had a big ego but he also, for an inherited rich guy, had a lot of compassion for the “average guy on the street”. Here is a memorable quote from him about that.

“It is important,” said Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, “to grapple with the problems connected with the amassing of enormous fortunes” — some of them, he declared, “swollen beyond all healthy limits.”

And indeed he went on to “grapple” very well with that problem of the Robber Barons who were primarily concerned with amassing wealth regardless of the method.

Elizabeth Warren

Now I want to talk about my hidden reason behind this post and that is to explain why I am so enamored toward Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy. She, like Teddy Roosevelt before here, has spent most of her life fighting for the “common man”. She, unlike most of the rest in the current and growing field of candidates, has lived what she preaches.

The Warren proposal would impose a 2 percent annual tax on an individual household’s net worth in excess of $50 million, and an additional 1 percent on wealth in excess of $1 billion. The proposal was released along with an analysis by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman of Berkeley, two of the world’s leading experts on inequality.

Saez and Zucman found that this tax would affect only a small number of very wealthy people — around 75,000 households. But because these households are so wealthy, it would raise a lot of revenue, around $2.75 trillion over the next decade.

Make no mistake: This is a pretty radical plan.

Source: New York Times

I know the primary objective for everyone except the MAGA minority is to make sure that the current occupant of the Oval Office leaves on or before January 20,2021. When it comes time for the Democratic candidate to come head-to-head with this lying morally corrupt con-man, Elizabeth is up to the task. She may be a petite woman in body but she is also a giant killer who is not afraid to stand up to bullies. She has been doing just that her entire life.

If You Really Must Fear Something…

There seems to be nothing that some people won’t fret about. They fear imaginary rapists crossing our borders by the thousands. They fear liberals who are intent on destroying their way of life. They see the media as an enemy of the people. They fear whatever their cult leader tells them to fear.

If you must really live your life focused on fear, then at least fear something that is real. Fear something that will actually do you harm and from a recent column in the New York Times by David Brooks that something is CHINA. Here are a few quotes about that. I would highly encourage you to read the entire article.

No, I don’t think we have to fear that China will invade our country but they are in the process of taking over our leadership role in science and technology and that in itself will lead to world dominance.

According to a report just released by Marco Rubio, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, China’s artificial intelligence industry has grown by 67 percent over the past year and has produced more patents than its U.S. counterparts. One estimate suggests China is investing as much as 30 times more capital in quantum computing than the U.S. My colleague Thomas L. Friedman notes that China already has the No. 1 and No. 3 drone manufacturers in the world, and it is way ahead of us on technologies like facial and speech recognition…

Fourth, the Chinese challenge is no longer just economic; it’s moral and intellectual. It’s a clash of two value systems. And many people around the globe now believe that Beijing’s values are better.

Source: New York Time – David Brooks

Quantum computing, Artificial intelligence, and robotics along with renewable resources will be the drivers for the 21st century. To see that we are for the most part turning domination of those technologies over to the Chinese is scary for our future. To see China almost totally focused on the future while we are obsessed with the next quarterly dividend is writing on the wall so to speak.

In a capitalist system such as ours, it is the government’s responsibility to push the capitalist toward a longer view. In the past, they have done that through regulations and tax incentives as well as some targeted goals, such as “putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade” of the 1960s. Today our government is so gridlocked that none of that is happening. They now spend all their time battling the “other” side who they deem their enemies. That very counterproductive world just might prove to be the fall of the democratic empire so to speak. That gridlock and pathetic leadership is something you really need to fear.