Saturday, April 14, 2018

Syria, Red Lines, Red States and a"Blue Wave"

Two nights ago the USA conducted a "surgical
strike" against the Assad regime in Syria. We were
assured by Sec. Defense Mattis and  Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Dunford that this
operation would produce little collateral damage
(innocent civilians). We have the U.K. and France
on our side for this outing, so a semblance of
statesmanship provides a veneer of respectabilty
in many quarters save Russia and her orbit.

Mr. Obama misspoke about declaring a red line
in Syria but then didn't follow through, making him
look weak. So as to outdo Obama, The Don decided
to be "stronger and greater", therefore, this air strike
to presumably destroy Assad's chemical weapons
capability...

I'm sick right now so won't be doing much research,
but here are two key questions:

(1) Will the Allies' air strikes spread the lethal
chemicals further? Is it possible?

(2)  Will voters in Red States come to their senses
and  create enough of a "Blue Wave" to create
changes in the House and the Senate come
November 6th, 2018? Is THAT possible?

Here is what my crystal ball tells me: if the
Democrats and moderate Republicans don't
get serious starting NOW, they will repeat
their lackluster performances of years past--
don't they remember that the right wing is
fiendishly organized? No one can  take for
granted easy wins in the midterms.

Of course,  before then, the KGB's Putin
might initiate WWIII, which could make
all sadly, destructively irrelevant-- States,
waves, and even colors like Red and Blue.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Bolting from Bolton and Trump

Fasten your seatbelts, sisters and brothers, bumpy air ahead...
with dangerous duo Bolton and Trump at the controls. Bolton
is to the right of the Donald, which will only encourage
"Mr. Make America Great Again" toward ever more
bellicose behavior. Don and John are an unwelcome,
bad news team.

Psychosocial professionals have long pointed out
past behavior predicts likely future actions.
Frightening,isn't it, when we recall Bolton's
hawkish, war-mongering behavior, his ill
temper. He's shown he believes war beats
diplomacy, even writing in the Wall Street
Journal the USA ought to preemptively bomb
North Korea--what? Does he dismiss the virtual
certainty of retaliation by China, Russia, North
Korea and/or others?  --NUCLEAR retaliation,
that is.

Mr. Bolton cannot correctly earn respect for any
putative intelligence when he seems to utterly
disregard the trenchantly salient fact of other
nations' nuclear weapons capability. Decades ago,
the two nuclear super powers, the Soviet Union
and the U.S., were fairly evenly matched, war-
head for war-head. "MAD", the operative
acronym, (mutual assured destruction) kept
"the peace". There has seldom if ever been
a lack of violent hostilities somewhere on
Earth, so construe "peace" as no world or
large scale wars.

John Bolton argued for war in Iraq, defying/
ignoring warnings re: the bad intel emanating
out of the U.K. we are still there 15 years
later; the Allies won WWII in less than five!

The midterm elections this November 6th
are crucial choices, first steps, if we want
to avoid disaster. Key changes in the U.S.
House reflecting respect, restraint, and
moderation matched by a few more like-
minded in the U.S. Senate can effectively
stymie bad moves from Trump/Bolton.

'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished:
a massive uprising of sense, like a bolt from
the blue.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Ken Griffin, Illinois Multi Billionaire, Follows the Time-Honored Robber-Baron Prescription

...by donating $127 million to the University of Chicago,
Department of Economics, naturally. His company, Citadel,
is worth ~27 billion; a hedge fund (remember, hedge funds
are virtually UNregulated) with a harsh boss, 45 souls have
been given  pink slips recently, merely for not producing
profit goals for a few months. 45 employees represents
about a third of KG's staff complement, so others will have
to work even harder amidst a flurry of new hiring--hmmmn.

Let's travel back in time to J.D. Rockefeller, HIS stern and
violent approach to capitalism; eventually, JD realized he
was hated (with good reason) by the many who knew about
his practice of hiring goons to assault his strikers out west, etc.
He and many of his fellow robber barons began to donate
respectably large funds to universities, hospitals and libraries,
feeling charity could wipe away some of the blots on their
escutcheons. Apparently such large contributions DO
get them press, largely favorable, to say nothing of the
oo-ing and ahh-ing, invitations to " A List" events.
--TSK!!

I find it dispiriting indeed to hope for, therefore, work
for change, when far too many people still fawn over
the rich while conveniently denying or dismissing
the many pertinent facts about most of them--facts
which logically should engender skepticism,
suspicion and a raised eyebrow or two.

More disparagement describing the Oligarchs
will follow, bet on it.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

States' Rights and the Newly-Favored Flavor of Its Definitions

Watching political decisions/events in California,  Illinois and
other states, we see an interesting, 180 degree twist from the past:
States' Rights,  a term/concept formerly used to thwart Civil Rights
in the USA's southern states, flouting the U.S. Constitution, is now
used to defy the federal government to provide civil and human rights
to its residents.

Chiefly two subjects are in dispute: Marijuana legalization and
Illegal immigrant rights. Several states like Illinois, California
and Colorado have simply allowed Pot to be legalized via state
capital decree, whether for medical or recreational purposes.
Perhaps not coincidentally, these same three states  are fighting
illegal residents' deportation, whether via sanctuary cities or
by continuing DACA (allowing young people illegally brought
here as babies to remain, gain routes to citizenship).

California, often the country's trend-setter, is the most strident
and intransigent  of the lot, Sacramento issuing three laws
designed to keep the illegal teens in the only home they have
known. Twice elected CA Governor Brown so far stands firm
in support of the three statutes...we now see a Sanctuary State
(CA) rather than just a Sanctuary City (Chicago).

Will Washington DC, AKA the Donald, launch a new kind of
Civil War? It seems a far-out fantasy--until you recall Mr. Trump
saying he's the only one that matters.

Hmmn. "States' Rights" promoting more humane policies--
who knew? New definitions, new flavors, new fights: what next??

Another Costly Credit Crime Horror, Synthetic Identity Fraud, COULD be Avoided

...if everyone in the retailer/lender/credit reporting chain
simply DID THEIR JOB.  According to the Wall Street
Journal, 03/07/2018, fake borrowers are created, costing
many millions to the lenders who trusted Experian,
TransUnion and a now-infamous third reporting agency
which will be duly noted.  The lengthy article revealed
shocking lapses in clerical procedures which would
have eliminated much of this costly crime to lenders and
retailers, thus, to us via raised prices.

Other, smaller companies have known how to stymie
much of this faux info by, among other requirements,
disallowing  P.O. and mail box services as legitimate
billing and shipping addresses--a real, verifiable physical
address demand before sealing the deal. The decades-
long practice of eliminating jobs in favor of machines is
catching up to the USA big time: fewer humans to
process and check important information means weakness
in security and accuracy at all points in the money flow.

Interestingly, both Amazon and Discover chose not
to comment for this WSJ piece, as they too have taken
massive $$$ hits caused by not due diligence checking.
--But wait! Isn't Jeff Bezos, head of Amazon, one
of the world's wealthiest people? HE CAN AFFORD
to hire fact checkers and electronic verifiers to scotch
this insidious practice.

I'm surprised what's left of my hair hasn't fallen off after
reading this explanation in the WSJ: a mere credit
application without a subsequent loan or even support
documentation can create a legitimate credit file;
randomly-issued SSA numbers are now the norm at
Social Security (some of the new random numbers will
be duplicates of actual, older SSA card holders as well as
the syn-ID made up ones). Other, quite questionable policies
and practices must be changed to eliminate many of
the time-wasting, money-losing situations we now
see.

Equifax , the biggest malfeasor in reporting history,
released the personal records of some 147 million Americans
even though told how to fix their software security
vulnerability--they simply ignored the helpful warning/advice.
Understandably, Equifax declined the Journal's requests for
comment. TransUnion and  Experian claimed it's just too hard
to tell a fake from a real person for the first time without
identifying information not on file...so I say, get it! Hire
more clerks, detectives, accountants, software gurus,
whoever can derive the true from the false. But AGAIN,
perennially boosting the profit margin (also known as
"growth", the capitalist's prime mover) is at bottom of
these shoddy, illogical excuses.

Wow. So many stupidities could be avoided by being
more concerned with error and harm, less concerned
for exponential $$$ growth...

Could be, should be, would be--sic transit gloria mundi.



Monday, March 5, 2018

Billy Graham, Mr. Rogers and Reputation vs. Reality

A fallacious sort of respect attaches to the dead in
our culture: don't speak evil about the dead.
Based on notions of fair play, the idea is that
the dead cannot defend themselves against
scurrilous attacks. But there are exceptions
to almost everything; compelling  reasons do
exist to point out less than perfect behavior while
certain famous folk, now departed, are extolled
without a balanced critique.

Billy Graham, said to be America's preferred
preacher, died recently amid public praise.
Not one of the media outlets I checked dared
to include the unhappy fact that Mr. Graham
was an unrepentant anti-Semite--unrepentant
and dishonest until audio tapes revealed the
Rev's disdain for Jews. In 2002 The National
Archives released tapes of conversations
Reverend Billy had in 1972 with then President
Nixon, also an anti-Semite. Rumors of
such un-Christian attitudes circulated for
years regarding Graham, who stoutly and
steadily denied them until the Archives
published the damning tapes, whereupon
Rev BG profusely apologized.

Then there was Mr. Rogers, friend to
children and normal middle-class values.
My daughter and I enjoyed his show for
years, thinking he really did love children,
loved to be surrounded by them. In 1990
I worked for La Leche League, the mothers'
group promoting breast feeding. One day
my boss told me a surprising story: at an
event sponsored by the League, Mr. Rogers
asked that the children be kept away from
him...what? They had come to interact with
their "friend", Mr. Rogers. But thinking back,
Mr. Roger's Neighborhood did not usually
feature a goodly group of kids, no, just
puppets and grownups.

Shakespeare, in Julius Caesar, observed that
the good men do often gets interred with
their bones. I submit that, all too often,
the bad they do is buried there as well.

All the admiration for the public face
of the man (or woman) can't whitewash
any dark side...

Reputation vs. reality, often at odds.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Young Parkland People Rising--the Right Age, the Right Time

It's not surprising that the Parkland FL teens are more
effective change agents than the small slain children
and their parents in Sandy Hook were--they are perfectly
positioned to achieve improvements in thorny gun
control practices/politics.

Again and again, it is now, always has been, about
power, how to have it, how to leverage it. The parents
in Sandy Hook were too destroyed by their tragic
horror to mobilize politically, which is the only way
to overturn bad law and policy in the U.S. short of
a violent, destructive revolution few would want.
But now, after the Las Vegas massacre and the
latest school shooting in Florida, the students
there recognize they are able to move the needle
on the dial toward a more sane policy--one that
other developed countries DO have.

              The  "Parkland Advantage":

(1) These students are either at voting age or very
close to it;

 (2) They are at the most physically energetic
they will probably be in their lives;

(3)  The brain power now available to these
young people is at its peak performance for life--
no accident that college is for  teenagers
and young twenty-somethings, by and large;

(4) This horror happened to THEM--not some
news item elsewhere to be ignored.

Conservative Republicans in the U.S. House
surely can't be insensible of the threat to their
upcoming re-election hopes. Ditto "Don T" who
has said he's not afraid of the NRA and advocates
significant restrictions as to age requirements and
bump stock purchases, etc.

Consider the time frame of our next nationwide
elections: every two years  U.S. House Reps
face re-election or removal. The students from
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and their
supporters possess the best schedule possible to
mobilize, register voters, publish PSAs (public
service announcements), canvass, call legislators,
meet with them, more.

I predict these savvy, savaged kids will make most
of these actions a priority, which CAN change
stupid law and policy here at home. I hope and
pray they will not succumb to the flaws Occupy
Wall Street and their clones stumbled over, after
a promising start.

This is the right time, Parkland people/students:
Others will join you, keep rising!