Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Twitter Meister

King of the Tweeters
The Great Communicator
The Great Manipulator
Given’ ‘em just a taste, or
just doin’ what comes naturally with the tool at hand, Twitter.

Whichever it is, Mr. Trump has mastered Twitter. At his fingers, Twitter has become The Medium for reaching his supporters; making ‘em believe he’s doin’ somethin’ huge; keeping the mainstream media in the palm of his hand; minimizing and controlling available information; and, eliminating substantive reporting.

It reminds me of mortar or artillery harassing fire to keep the enemy pinned down and guessing what’s goin’ on, anxiously occupied for the comin’ attack, if there is one.

That is to say, we are all waiting for the next itty-bit of info that the Meister tosses our way in order to cipher out which way is up.

And, of course there are potential downsides to all this Twitterin', right? Dr. Justin Wolfers, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, University of Michigan, points one out in his Tweet:
Tweets.2
As a Michigander, I’ll admit to more than a little distrust when viewin’ Mr. Trump’s tweets claiming a great victory over savin’ 1,000 jobs, since the number of disappeared manufacturing jobs ranges to nearly 5 million over the past 20 years. And, to complicate matters, over the past 25 years, exports have quadrupled and uncompensated productivity has actually skyrocketed with a lot less people workin’. Further, claiming a great victory, without revealing the terms to do so, is not only misleading it is an abysmally microscopic first step compared to losin’ millions.*

*The Carrier Deal Is Great — But Trump Hasn’t Saved Manufacturing Yet, Issie Lapowsky, Wired.com, 30 Nov 2016.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ah... about Draining That Swamp...


Given the team self-professed, federal-government-dismantlers which Mr. Trump is appointing to his cabinet, we can expect an unrecognizable USA to emerge in short order as these Republican nihilists murder what little humanity exists in our government. It won’t take them long because they are literally drooling like a pack of starving hyenas ready to rip apart and “privatize” our meager consumer protections and miserly human services.

But, the real question is: How long before the flyover-state Trump supporters realize that they have been duped into believing he will make their America great again?*

After all, we already know he wasted no time making his America greater. Right from the get-go he has been monetizing the power of the presidency into his bank account.**

Interesting isn’t it? Mr. Trump seems determined to drain the “swamp”, just like he promised on the campaign trail. But, no one thought to ask him the follow-up question, “Where will you put all those nasty swamp monsters?” 

Now, we know. He’s appointing them to his cabinet and other top level federal jobs.


* Already a Big Gap Between Trump’s Promises to the Middle Class and his Policies, Josh Bivens, BillMoyers.com, 28 Nov 2016.

** Democrats Ask Oversight Committee To Investigate Trump’s Potential Conflicts Of Interest, Matt Fuller, Huffington Post, 28 Nov 2016.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Election: Wake Up. Listen to the Stories.

by Gary R. Baker, Senior Lecturer, English Composition, University of Akron

Around nine o’clock on the evening of November 8, a friend from college days at Kent State University called me to say that the election results were not going well. He was offering a gentle warning. As we talked, Trump built up his lead in the Electoral College, and the US map grew red and then redder. I told my friend that support for Hillary Clinton in the West – in Colorado – but especially California plus Oregon and Washington – would save the day. Before election day, I had assumed that Clinton would win in a very close vote. I was worried that Trump might win the popular vote with Clinton winning the Electoral College – thus giving Trump “evidence” that the system was rigged against him.

I stayed up much too late that night. I even took my radio to bed with me to continue to listen to the results. Trump’s victory in the Electoral College left me stunned – a bit punch drunk – and on the edge of nausea for several days. I have been trying to figure out what happened and why. What does this election mean? What do we do now?

Donald Trump (with Rudy Giuliani) visited the University of Akron during the Fall Semester. He spoke at the JAR (the arena named for the late Ohio Governor, James A. Rhodes). That day excitement was building. University police were evident – standing next to their cars in the area around the JAR. Just west of the arena, TV trucks with satellite dishes stood ready to beam the rally to the world.

Many tables and small “Trump Stores” were being set up on campus and on the sidewalks bordering the campus. Plenty of wares were laid out – buttons, bumper stickers, baseball caps. The messages on the merchandise were not filtered. One button with Hillary Clinton’s face said, “Life’s a Bitch, So Why Vote for One?”

People planning to attend the rally were walking on campus. They were happy and excited – looking forward to the rally. They looked like working people. They looked like people from smaller towns. They didn’t appear to be students or members of the faculty. Their numbers grew. The line formed near the entrance. The line started to stretch.

Later that afternoon, I watched the rally inside the JAR via a video feed from my laptop in my apartment. It was scheduled to begin at 7 PM. Around 6:10, Rudy Giuliani was warming up the crowd. His energy level hit a peak. His adrenaline was pumping. Every seat and every space was taken. “We planned to start at 7. But the arena is full. It’s packed. The line to get in is not getting any shorter. It keeps growing. So we’ve decided to start. Why wait?” And he proceeded to introduce Donald Trump.

Under spotlights, Trump walked into the arena from a side door to loud, on-going applause. During some of his rallies, Trump had happily encouraged security people or police to throw out protestors – not this time. No protestors appeared in the arena. He went smoothly through his speech. At the end of his speech, he walked down a long line of bleachers. People leaned forward and reached out to shake his hand or to ask him to autograph a T-shirt or Make American Great Again baseball cap. Women came up to him. One woman with her teenaged daughter. Black men. Younger and middle aged white men. He slowly made his way to the side door he had entered earlier. He had many conversations with people along the way.

Look at the faces of the people. To understand what’s going on, we need to look not so much at Trump but at the people. Their faces showed enthusiasm and affection and a willingness to hope. Their faces showed a confidence in Trump that he was someone who heard their stories and felt their concerns on a gut level. To understand what’s going on, we need to listen not so much to Trump’s words but to the stories the people are speaking about their own lives.

Trump carried Ohio. No doubt about it. Clinton carried the urban areas; however, Trump cut into her lead in those traditionally Democratic areas. He swept non-urban counties. Most of the state map ended up “red”.

Trump won a majority in the Electoral College. But Clinton won the national popular vote by around 2,000,000 – the second time in sixteen years that the outcome of the Electoral College vote did not square with the national popular vote.

What Now?

To understand what’s going on, we need to look not so much at Trump but at the people. Their faces showed enthusiasm and affection and a willingness to hope. Their faces showed a confidence in Trump that he was someone who heard their stories and felt their concerns on a gut level. To understand what’s going on, we need to listen not so much to Trump’s words but to the stories the people are speaking about their own lives.

Trump carried Ohio. No doubt about it. Clinton carried the urban areas; however, Trump cut into her lead in those traditionally Democratic areas. He swept non-urban counties. Most of the state map ended up “red”.

Trump won a majority in the Electoral College. But Clinton won the national popular vote by around 2,000,000 – the second time in sixteen years that the outcome of the Electoral College vote did not square with the national popular vote.

We have to hear each other. We have to hear the stories. We have to hear the stories about each other’s lives and the work we do.

The Democratic Party must become the party of working people again – working people of all races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and geographic locations. As working people, we have overlapping and shared identities.

We must work for fairness and justice in our elections. If we keep the Electoral College, we need to reform it. Perhaps we should follow a form of proportional representation within each state to assign electoral votes – rather than the tradition of winner-take-all. We must work for fairness in the drawing of Congressional and state legislative districts. Let’s put an end to gerrymandering. Some states have taken action already and have established non-partisan or independent commissions. California is one of those states. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission has been operating for several years. Take a look at http://www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov/faq.html.

To make democracy work, we must vote in elections. But between elections we must be like Argus, as James Madison explained. We have to watch the individuals elected and appointed. We have to watch each branch of the government. We must stay awake and aware.

But – so important – we must watch out for each other – especially the most vulnerable, the most exposed to political and economic winds, the people with the least amount of power and the least amount of money in their own hands.    


References and Photo Credits
1. Entertainment Fort Smith
2. Election Results, Ohio, The New York Times
3. Mother Kindness, DownriverUSA
4. Everyday Hero is Next to You , DownriverUSA

Saturday, November 26, 2016

One Executive Worth his Salt


In case you haven’t noticed, some “executives” achieve their “C” suite positions because they are or border upon psychopathic personalities. They treat their employees like trash and their fellow executives like stepping stones.

Sergio Marchionne, however is a human being and an outstanding leader, as well. So, in my book, he is one executive worth his salt.

Mr. Marchionne has repeatedly proven his unequalled management skills over and over these past years as Chief Executive Officer of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.; Chairman and CEO of FCA US LLC.; Chairman of CNH Industrial N.V.; and Chairman and CEO of Ferrari N.V.

When Mr. Machionne speaks I know he speaks with the authority of a corporate combat veteran of untold global-spanning battles.

I lived through Depression.2. I can attest to the fact that for many Michiganders and automotive industry people throughout the world that past “recession” was much deeper and longer lasting than most people can appreciate.

So, when Mr. Machionne says that Mr. Trump is a "game changer", well, I know hard times may be just around the corner.*

I hate the thought of Depression.3, because I fear most of the 99.9% will not sit still and wait to be tossed out of their homes again while the .01% continue to enjoy the "Rich and Famous Life Style" touted by our President-elect.

* Marchionne: Trump is a 'game changer' for auto industry
“President-elect Donald Trump’s critical stance toward free trade could affect Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s business in North America, according to the Italian automaker’s chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne.”

“Trump’s election ‘certainly is a game changer, mainly because I think that there are a number of conditions in the U.S. which are not yet spelled out,’ Marchionne told Bloomberg Television at an Alfa Romeo plant in Cassino, Italy. Statements Trump has made about trade are ‘a big issue’ because of the North American Free Trade Agreement’s impact on Fiat’s operations in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.”

Please go here for the whole story:




Friday, November 25, 2016

Super Charged Battery


While the United States seems headed into a period of neo-Dark Ages, some bright lights are still shining. For how long we do not know since the new administration appears ready to dismantle every governmental program of value, including education. Still, it is not looking good for technological progress, to say nothing about the welfare of us, the “Joe and Jane lunch buckets”, the common un-billionaires, the 99.9%.

So, reading Steve Dent’s report at www.engadget.com, about the University of Central Florida’s achievement is like mainlining a brain-boosting IV. Here’s the story:

New battery tech lasts for days, charges in seconds

Scientists from the University of Central Florida (UCF) have created a supercapacitor battery prototype that works like new even after being recharged 30,000 times. The research could yield high-capacity, ultra-fast-charging batteries that last over 20 times longer than a conventional lithium-ion cell. "You could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds and you wouldn't need to charge it again for over a week," says UCF postdoctoral associate Nitin Choudhary.

Supercapacitors can be charged quickly because they store electricity statically on the surface of a material, rather than using chemical reactions like batteries. That requires "two-dimensional" material sheets with large surface areas that can hold lots of electrons. However, much of the research, including that by EV-maker Henrik Fisker and UCLA, uses graphene as the two-dimensional material.

Yeonwoong "Eric" Jung from UCF says it's a challenge to integrate graphene with other materials used in supercapacitors, though. That's why his team wrapped 2D metal materials (TMDs) just a few atoms thick around highly-conductive 1D nanowires, letting electrons pass quickly from the core to the shell. That yielded a fast charging material with high energy and power density that's relatively simple to produce. "We developed a simple chemical synthesis approach so we can very nicely integrate the existing materials with the two-dimensional materials," Jung says.

The research is in early days and not ready for commercialization, but it looks promising. ""For small electronic devices, our materials are surpassing the conventional ones worldwide in terms of energy density, power density and cyclic stability," Choudhary said.

Jung calls the research "proof-of-concept," and the team is now trying to patent its new process. While it could go nowhere like many other battery developments, it's worth looking at new supercapacitor research closely. If commercialized, it could allow for longer-range EVs that can be charged in minutes rather than hours, long-lasting (non-explosive) smartphones that can be charged in seconds and grid or home energy storage solutions that drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Read more about grapheme and other breakthroughs here: www.brkthu.org

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Willow Run's Mobility Future

The other day, a few miles from my location in Downriver Michigan, a few politicians gathered for a photo opportunity. They performed the time-honored, “throw-a-shovelful-of-dirt-toward-the-camera” groundbreaking ceremony at Willow Run Airport, Ypsilanti Township, MI, close to the location of the former, massive Willow Run assembly plant. During WWII more than 8,700 B-24 bombers were built there.*

The new facility, which the dignitaries celebrated, is expected to be in operation by December, 2017, for the American Center for Mobility (ACM). ACM is a non-profit testing and product development facility for future mobility, designed to enable safe validation of connected and automated vehicle technology, and accelerate the development of voluntary standards.

Back in the 1940s thousands of Metro Detroiter workers, many of them women of “Rosie the Riveter” fame, came to Willow Run to work on those airplanes. Over the next few years, the facility itself grew in stature to represent in many ways the best of the “golden generation”. The women proved their value and resourcefulness in a multitude of ways and the B-24 played a huge role during the war.

After the war, General Motors Co. repurposed Willow Run as a powertrain plant.

A few years ago, you will recall, GM fell into hard times and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court created RACER Trust to dispose of properties and facilities owned by the former General Motors Corp. Willow Run became one of the “disposed” facilities, and most of the massive structure was demolished. The remaining portion was sold to the Yankee Air Museum.

ACM has great plans for the new facilities it is building on the legendary property, Explained John Maddox, president and CEO of ACM, “We envision the American Center for Mobility as a global hub for connected and automated vehicle technologies supported by Michigan’s high concentration of automotive expertise. We are excited to be partnering with the state of Michigan to establish a fully-capable, real-world testing and innovation center that will be instrumental in putting self-driving cars on America’s roads.”

“Self-driving cars” aka “autonomous cars” or “driverless cars”… Now, this is the technology that will put us one up over the Jetsons. You remember them, the 2060 family. While their vehicle could fly, it still left the steering to George, the head of the Jetson clan.

Our future car? Well, it will steer itself while we try to “relax”.


Go here for an episode of the Jetsons:
The Jetsons S01E04 - The Space Car

*Go here for more about the ACM groundbreaking.
Willow Run could change how world moves again, Daniel Howes , The Detroit News, 22 Nov 2016.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

35 Cents & a Box of Sugar


It took a lot of effort back then, but I really wanted that exploding battleship toy. It looked like a lot of fun and sending my 35 cents to Battle Creek, Michigan was like taking part in history. I mean, Battle Creek? What a great name! What happened there, anyway?

"I don’t know", I thought, "but just send these boat things to me. I had to have that battleship and submarine!"

Well, one day they came and it was great fun.

The cereal? I guess it was O.K.

Little did I, nor did anyone, know then that sugar would end up making us all sugar addicts some 57 years later and that sugar, in one form or another, would be an ingredient in nearly everything we eat.

The result is that we are not only obese, we are literally the “walking dead”, subject to the eight chronic metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance) diseases: heart disease, lipid (blood) problems, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cancer (especially breast and colon), polycystic ovarian syndrome, and dementia. Please go here for the story: http://www.legacygrandkids.info/legacygrandkids_health.html.

How did we get into this predicament?

Obviously, most humans have a major sweet tooth. We love sweets. So, in order to sell more product, the process foods industry simply added heaping loads of sugar to everything they made. Back in the 50s and 60s, no one understood the horrible consequences of mega–sugar-overloaded foods.

Today we know.

That’s why this AP headline caught my attention: ‘Independent experts’ paid by Kellogg.

It seems that Kellogg set up a “Breakfast Council” consisting of “independent experts” to help the company with its “nutritional” program. The problem is that Kellogg never directly released the information that their “experts” were paid experts.

For me that rings a warning bell.

Like the tobacco industry, the sugar industry adopted and implemented a long-time “disinformation” program, using paid, “independent experts” to discredit years of research which clearly showed the negative health impact of smoking and consuming too much sugar. Both industries disavowed the fact that experts supporting them were paid by the industries to do so and that the research they proffered was tainted.

Combined, their highly effective PR and advertising disinformation programs have directly led to the lung cancer and metabolic syndrome disease epidemics we have endured over the past 60 or so years. The cost to humanity in misery and death has been horrendous. The cost in healthcare dollars ranges into the trillions of dollars.

I hope Kellogg will quickly implement an effort to inform the public about their paid nutritional expert program. The consuming public needs to know that Kellogg’s has their best health interests in mind.

That Akron, OH, kid... who sent his hard-earned 35 cents to Battle Creek, MI... would greatly appreciate it.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Blind Trust? Or Dumb Trust?


News Flash
Doonesbury,Say What?
21 Nov 2016*

"It's not a blind trust if you and your siblings are still running the company."
-- George Stephanopoulos to Donald Trump, Jr. on "Good Morning, America" in September

"We're not going to be involved in government. We wouldn't be involved in government."
-- Donald Trump, Jr.

"You're running the company, and he's president, so any foreign..."
-- Stephanopoulos

"But he's not making any decisions as it relates to the company."
-- Trump, Jr.

"But it's not a blind trust if it's being run by his children."
-- Stephanopoulos

"It is, because he'll have nothing to do with it, George."
-- Trump, Jr.

"He's still going to know what the businesses are, and where they are...
-- Stephanopoulos

"No he won't. We're not going to discuss those things. It doesn't mattter. Trust me."
-- Trump, Jr

And, they say he's the intelligent one... RB

Go to Doonesbury for more Say What? Stuff.

Go here for the complete frog and the scorpion story.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Michigan’s Unknown Unknowns


A few years ago Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld became famous for his dissertation, “Known Unknows and Unknown Unknows” at a news briefing (12 Feb 2002) about the lack of evidence linking the government of Iraq with the supply of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups. I remember being awestruck with his command of doubletalk and thinking, “This man is the Absolute King of B.S.”

Rumsfeld actually said, ”Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.

Well, I’ve recently discovered (thanks to an email from my brother, Gary, pointing to a Guardian article*) that he was close to being correct about the “unknown unknowns” part of his B.S. statement — but not about Iraq.

“Unknow unknows” is actually an apt description of some Michigan voters.

No, it’s not the fact that Mr. Trump ended up the winner by 10,704 votes. It’s about the 87,810 voters (as of 19 Nov 2016**) who voted but didn’t vote for a presidential candidate. For whatever reason, each one of them chose not to vote for president by leaving that part of their ballot blank.

Here in Michigan, those are the people who could have chosen Hillary and changed the election results.

They were Michigan’s Unknown Unknowns.

Indeed, Mr. Secretary, our Michigan Unknown Unknowns are, “the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”

Donald Rumsfeld Unknown Unknowns!



* "In fact, an unprecedented number of Michigan voters cast ballots without choosing either Clinton or Trump. This kind of voting happens every election – where voters make their preferences known down-ballot but don’t mark anyone for president – but never in such numbers. In 2012, there were 50,000 Michigan voters who declined to choose any presidential candidate. In 2016, there were 110,000."
Clinton lost Michigan by 13,107 votes. None of the Old Rules Apply: Dave Eggers Travels Through Post-Election America, Dave Eggers, The Guardian, 18 Nov 2016. 

** As of 19 Nov 2016, the number of "no votes for president" appears to be 87,810 as deduced by addin' and subtractin' the election returns from the Michigan Sec. of State election returns page. Go here and here to check my deducin' mathematical skills.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Takin' Credit

I’ve often written that I grew up in a simpler, naïve time. For instance, kids walked home from grade school; neighbors looked out for the kids next door; our black and white TV received only three channels; people did say, “Yes, Ma’am” to my mother; and most importantly, as far as I can remember, people kept their word and didn’t take credit for something they didn’t do.

O.K. Times have changed and none of the above happens today.

Just take a glance at today’s headlines. You’ll note our President-elect actually reinforced my premise… about the takin’ credit part… by claiming that he convinced Mr. William Ford to keep a Louisville, KY assembly plant open and not move the whole shebang to Mexico.

The truth is that Ford Motor Company never planned to close the plant. In fact, according to Crain's Automotive News*, in 2015, Ford signed an agreement with the UAW to invest $700 million in the facility over the next four years and that the current production Lincoln MKC “will balance out to allow capacity for (the) Escape”. That translates into: the plan was to open up more production capacity for the better selling Escape.

Most everyone even remotely connected to the automotive business knows that the OEMs and suppliers stop, start, move, shift vehicle and component production for lots of reasons. So, Ford’s Louisville facility production adjustments and investments are excellent examples of good management at work… no jobs loss are anticipated and consumers will have the product they want when they want it.

Mr. Trump, however, needed to take credit for all this. He said, "I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great State of Kentucky for their confidence in me!"

Okie dokie Mr. President-elect. If you need to claim something you didn’t do, it's fine by me. After all you are the Pres-in-Waiting.

Still, all this “takin’ credit” stuff brings to mind one of the TV characters of my childhood, when we were all naïve and believed it just wasn’t “honorable” to borrow someone else's credit.

His name was Amos McCoy, of The Real McCoys. Played by three-time Academy Award and three-time Oscar winner, Walter Brennan, Amos McCoy was full of bluster and vinegar. Yet as certain as the sun will come up tomorrow, he always could be counted on to arrive at an honorable, honest decision.

Please join me in Mr. Peabody’s WABAC Machine and spend a few minutes revisiting that “takin’ credit” challenge.

The Real Mccoys - Season 1 Episode 9 The Fishing Contest



• Ford says Lincoln MKC production will stay in Kentucky, not move to Mexico, Michael Martinez, Crain's Automotive News, 18 Nov 2016.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

One more reason to Wear "M" for Michigan


A staggering number of hate crimes are sweeping the USA now that Mr. Trump’s team is making ready to take over the presidency. “Anti-anybody-but-white” diatribes spray-painted on churches, mosques, school buildings and public places are becoming common. Sadly, reports of school children acting out in their best imitation of Trump-inspired-bullying are a common occurrence, too.

No one knows how far down we will degenerate as a nation. But with talk of creating Muslim internment camps, the signs are clear that we could quickly descend very low into our despicable past with a recreation of one of our WWII era, crimes against humanity.

But there is a strong movement coalescing against the hatred, bigotry and outright criminal acts we are witnessing.

An example… from the campus of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor:

“In outright defiance of the rising levels anti-Muslim hate in America, University of Michigan students joined forces on Monday to protect their own.”

“After hearing that a Muslim student had reportedly been threatened for her faith, hundreds of students and faculty showed up to stand guard around classmates who had gathered in a main square to perform one of Islam’s five daily prayers.”

“But Ali wasn’t expecting such a strong and substantial turnout, from the Muslim community and from allies.”

“Hundreds and hundreds of people came out for both prayer and showing their support,” Ali wrote. “The amount of support was overwhelming and absolutely wonderful, and it brought some ease to the Muslim students [and] showed that we have other individuals who are willing to stand with us.”

Please go here for the full story.*

I always knew there were a multitude of reasons to wear “M” decorated clothing. But, now there’s an even more important reason… showing support for the people who, like their ancestors, stand for and help guarantee the natural rights of their fellow citizens.

Now, this is the USA I believe in.

Allies Form A Circle Of Protection Around Muslim Students Praying In Michigan,
Carol Kuruvilla, Huffington Post, 16 Nov 2016.

Animiran filmt Yamashita WWII Japanese American Internment Camps



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Know When to Hold 'em


Bernie Sanders has not folded his cards. I'm with Bernie... what he said...

Part 1
Bernie Sanders: The Democrats Have To Become A Grassroots Party
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert 
Published on Nov 15, 2016
Part 2
Bernie Sanders: Now More Than Ever, It's Our Revolution
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Published on Nov 15, 2016


And, this from my brother, Gary: 
We won't allow Trump to remove rights
BBC News

Yes, sir. We got to know when to walk away, when to run, when to hold 'em and when to count our money. (Not necessarily in that order.)

Kenny Rogers - The Gambler





Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

Are we here yet?


Like an impatient little child, tired of driving to Gandma’s house, I keep asking, “Are we here yet?”

No more riding, I remember thinking. I’m ready to have some of those great noodles Grandma Baker makes every holiday dinner. It really didn’t matter that the ride was all of 20 minutes to Grandma’s house. I couldn’t wait to get there.

Today, Grandma’s house is a parking lot for the University of Akron, and like the Reiter Dairy, where Grandpa Baker once worked as a farrier, it too is long gone from its Carroll Street location.

Those days, the 1950s, are past and won’t be coming back, no matter how much wishing I might do.

The fact is our world is here. And, it does not look at all like I remember the 1950s. It's like we are standing on a precipice, watching the approaching storm clouds, with no comforting noodles to eat in sight.

We’re here alright. Looking for signs and praying they say: The Great American Reformation Ahead, rather than, Disaster Waiting Ahead.

“Almost there, Ronnie… we’re almost to Grandma’s house… just over the hill and around the corner… and we’ll be there.”

“Are we here yet, Mom”?

The Clovers: "Devil Or Angel" — 1956

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Demons



The past couple of days I have spent a great deal of time in serious election depression stupor.

I mean, speaking of world class, in my mind this guy Trump is the living example of American Predatory Capitalism “Gone Wild”. But, in the eyes of many Mr. Trump has artfully cultivated his image as The King of the Rich and Famous.

Despite the fact that Mr. Trump has no experience in public office, nor shown an iota of empathy for the “common people”, many of my friends passionately believe that he will act in their best interests, that is to say, their common, “Joe and Jane lunch bucket” interests, like creating good paying jobs, providing non-bankruptcy costing medical help, ensuring affordable housing, putting a leash back on the “banksters”, etc. The list is endless. The needs are real. The pain is real. The suffering is felt by the 99.9%.

As I have written in the past, I am praying for some sort of an epiphany, that this person will suddenly change his direction and become passionate and caring for the welfare of the people of the USA, and therefore by extension, the welfare or all of us throughout the world.

My super-life-changing fear is not that Mr. Trump will spend the next four years in the White House as he has in the past, e.g. a bully reality TV star, continue his star role as a voyeur-MC of the Miss Universe Pageant, or bring a brainless, hedonistic, late-night-TV Girls Gone Wild lifestyle to the White House.


No, my fear is that Mr. Trump will open Pandora’s Box and unleash the worst of America on us and the rest of the world. The power to transform America into an outright fascist dictatorship is already in the hands of the President.

The key question is: What will happen now? Will this man be up to the task to truly change our direction as a nation back toward a Democratic Republic? Or, will he, either willfully or stupidly, unchain those world-ending demons we’ve kept hidden out-of-sight and out-of-mind, deep within our musty, dank dungeon.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Hallelujah


Leonard Cohen died the other day.
My country, the USA, the nation, my father, my grandfather fought for and I believed in died earlier.
In truth, the "faith" I thought I believed in, died last night, too.
So, for tonight and for all the tomorrows to come...
Hallelujah.







Friday, November 11, 2016

Coach Class, Center Seat


The Revolution Really Does Continue
Sanders Statement on Trump
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
BURLINGTON, Vt., Nov. 9 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement Wednesday after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States:

“Donald Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media.  People are tired of working longer hours for lower wages, of seeing decent paying jobs go to China and other low-wage countries, of billionaires not paying any federal income taxes and of not being able to afford a college education for their kids - all while the very rich become much richer.

“To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”

Ah... I'm with Bernie. The guy who flys coach class, center seat is the MAN. He really is one of us. www.legacygrandkids.info


What happens now?
We believe in America. We fought for America. Still, we are people who believe we are a free people. Not one of us will knowingly accept slavery.
    
While our blood boils and our anger has risen to unimagined  heights — just like the characters depicted in Les Misérables  — we will take a  different path to right the wrongs. We have a plan which will spread throughout the world because it serves the 99% everywhere. After all, Freedom is international.

It was not what we did that mattered, although that was important. It was not what we said, although that too was important. What mattered was our 'beingness'. The essence of who we were, that is what made the British choose to leave India. Mahatma Gandhi, Jan 1948.

We are All Partners in This Life. First, We Agree to Help Each Other.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Fearing Kristallnacht.2016


(This post is my letter to my brother Gary, in response to his query about how I am dealing with the recent election.)

Gary,

I am in shock*.

I understood that people did not know what they were voting for when they voted for Trump.

For many he was a joke. Others actually believed that Trump will magically, “Make America Great Again”.  I guess, for them, that means like a 1950s “America” of their imagination.

Still others see him as the ultimate outsider and identify with him. For example, many if not all, of our women friends voted for Trump, I guess out of repudiation of another Clinton in office. Trump successfully pinned onto Hillary all the "wrongs" which were committed by past "power-holders" - Republicans, Democrats, the "Oligarchs". He managed to accomplish this while being the obvious embodiment of American Predatory Capitalism. In some twisted way, people believe that is a good thing.

Why they ignored his “lack of character” is a mystery to me. How these women believe that their children and grandchildren will be positively served by President Trump is well beyond my comprehension.

Nearly everyone was fixed on Hillary’s emails and not one of these people gave a second thought to Mr. Trump’s serious legal problems, nor what will happen now that Mitch McConnell is in charge of the Senate and Ryan in the House without a shred of moral / ethical restraint under President Trump and a compliant, "conservative" Supreme Court.

As I write this I am reading that young and older people are out in the streets in NYC and elsewhere protesting the coming Trump presidency. These people have not realized that our “Democracy” is long gone. (1.) We no longer have “rights”. If they persist, they will find that out when Fascist America shows its face. (2.)

I fear the “good “days are gone and the long ugly nights full of bullying, mayhem and pain are now upon us as we near our version of Kristallnacht... Kristallnacht.2016. (3.)

Ron

*I believe that my "shock" is mainly rooted in the near universal failure of mainstream media election forecasts, models and polls to predict the election results.

1. Protests Flare Against Donald Trump’s Election, Michael McLaughlin, Sebastian Murdock, Andy Campbell, The Huffington Post, 9 Nov 2016.
2. Remember these Bill-of-Rights-busting laws remain the law of the land:
(a) the USA PATRIOT Act (Yes, Congress “repealed” the Patriot Act. But it was in name only. Now we must work to revise the Freedom Act.)
(b) the Military Commission Act and
(c) section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. ( Go here for info links for a-c above.)
3. Don't know much about History? The truth is that what will happen to you happened before in Nazi Germany. And from your own US history, your ancestors fought the Robber Barons of old through the grassroots organization called the Chautauqua Movement. The oligarchs who rigged our America today are the descendants of the Robber Barons of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Please go here for more info about our current day The Movement.

"Don't know much about History", "Wonderful World", Sam Cooke, 1960.



Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We Have Work To Do... Let's Get Goin'


The election is over. This morning, more than any other, it's up to us to make sure the grandkids have a legacy. We need you in The Movement. It's free. Please go here: http://legacygrandkids.info/

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Voting This Morning


I'm Betting and Voting with you Mr. President 

“I’m betting that tomorrow, most mom and dads across America won’t vote for someone that denigrates their daughters from the highest office in the land. I’m betting that most Americans won’t vote for someone who considers minorities and immigrants and people with disabilities as inferior, who considers people who practice different faiths as objects of suspicion. I’m betting that tomorrow that true conservatives won’t cast their vote for someone with no regard for the Constitution. I’m betting that young people turn out to vote because your future is at stake. I’m betting that men across the country will have no problem voting for the more qualified candidate who happens to be a woman. I’m betting that African Americans will vote in big numbers because this journey we’ve been on has never been about the color of a president but the content of his or her character. I’m betting that America will reject a politics of resentment and a politics of blame, and choose a politics that says we’re stronger together. I am betting that tomorrow, you will reject fear, and you’ll chose hope. I’m betting that the wisdom and decency and generosity of the American people will once again win the day. And that is a bet that I have never, ever lost.”

Pres. Barack Obama, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA, 7 Nov 2016.

Go here for the whole story:
America’s First Major Party Female Nominee And Only Black President Rally Voters At Nation’s Birthplace, Ryan J. Reilly, Jeffrey Young, The Huffington Post, 7 Nov 2016. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Willie Words of Wisdom


Here's a random thought this day before the big election:

To those NYC FBI guys who tried to make their will be the winning vote tomorrow... we all know that you'll keep tryin'... 'cause you can, right? I mean, after all, you guys know better than the rest of us what's best for the USA.

Still, this one time, a few "Willie Words of Wisdom" about countin' chickens and arrangin' ducks might be worth considerin'...

Ain't Necessarily So, by Willie Nelson



Sunday, November 6, 2016

Early Sunday Morning Sanity

It's Sunday morning and I have been given an extra hour by the Daylight Savings Gods.

Yes.

Now what will I do with that hour??? I know, I'll see what happened last night on the "campaign" trail and try to cipher out which way the home of the "free and the brave" is headed.

Very bad idea. A better idea? Yes!!! Bloom County! I'll visit Bloom County in search of Sunday Morning Sanity. And, I did.

I found PSYCHEDELIC YOGA PANTS and SPIRITUAL BALANCE... TOGETHER. (Before the election!!!)



Please: Join me seeking "truth", finding "balance", and asking, "Are they the same?".


Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Beat Goes On

Amidst the standoff one peaceful demonstrator (at Standing Rock) said she was telling officers that she "Loved them" when they began shooting her in the face with mace.*




*Go here for the story:
Hundreds of Armed Police Descend On Water Protectors Trying To Reach DAPL Site, Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams, Mint Press News, 3 Nov 2016.


The March on the Pentagon on October 21st 1967 was not the first, the last or the largest of anti-Vietnam war protests by activists, hippies, students and draft resisters. However, the rally was envisioned with one adamant purpose: to shut down the war effort, if only for a day — and on that October morning the crowd of some 100,000 confronted 2,500 rifle-wielding soldiers for just that. The organizer Abbie Hoffman held a mass exorcism, hoping to levitate the Pentagon 300 feet off the ground, turn it orange and vibrate out any evil spirits.

French photojournalist Marc Riboud noticed a lone girl posturing inches from the soldiers’ sheathed bayonets. She was trying to start a dialogue with them. Riboud crept close, snapping away in the soft, dying light of the late afternoon with the last of his film. He wouldn’t learn the girl’s name for three decades, but the photograph he took—a gauzy juxtaposition of armed force and flower child innocence—soon became a defining image of the antiwar era. The girl, Jan Rose Kasmir, was 17 when the picture was taken, a high-school student who’d bounced from foster home to foster home in the nearby Maryland suburbs. Now she had settled in Denmark.

The photo–perhaps as as proxy for the girl–talked to the soldiers; it convinced them to throw down their guns and join the anti-war movement soothingly and softly. However, what happened that day was anything but: it resulted in some of the first violent clashes of the antiwar movement as the soldiers lobbed tear gas into the crowds trying to force their way into the building. Six hundred eighty-one protesters were arrested, and dozens were beaten as they were pushed off the Pentagon’s steps. Norman Mailer chronicled these events in his firsthand account, The Armies of the Night.

Sonny & Cher The Beat Goes On



Friday, November 4, 2016

Try Not to Step There, Mr. T

Once upon a time, while on vacation at Fort Polk, Louisiana, I remember a U.S. Army Drill Sergeant who used a unique phrase to capture one trainee's attention when he committed an error or didn't make the grade for whatever task was at hand.

He said, "You're steppin on your d**k, maggot. Try again.” The sentence was usually delivered with considerable emphasis and accompanied with a few other descriptors plus a generous amount of additional physical activity on the trainee's part.

Particularly inspiring, isn’t it? Of course that time is long gone and well before the U.S. Army became a gender-free organization.

My flashback came to mind when I read another of Mr. T's asinine comments. You know, the person who believes he can be our Commander in Chief. From the podium at a recent campaign stump, he wondered aloud if the military generals would be willing to take orders from President Hillary Clinton. (She is a woman, after all.)

I thought it appropriate to remind Mr. T. that many women are serving with distinction in a variety of capacities in today’s military. Consider, for instance, Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson. She is a four-star general and the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. A whole lot of men and women are under her command.

Gen. Robinson is the highest ranking female service member in our nation’s history. While women have reached the rank of four-star before — including Adm. Michelle Howard, who currently serves as the 38th Vice Chief of Naval Operations — none have reached a position as high as a unified combatant command like NORTHCOM.

The facts are that men have been taking orders from female commanders for a very long time.

However, no one actually knows if anyone will follow Mr. T’s orders if he is elected.

Mr. Trump, who never served in the military due to his five draft deferments, has never taken orders from male or female commanders, nor has he given orders. So, we really don’t know what he will do when the goin’ gets a little tough, do we? Nor do you know if anyone will find him a leader worth following.

My guess is he will continue, “stepping on his d**k”. Sadly, Mr. T will not have the benefit of a US Army Drill Sergeant to help him remove his foot.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

As the Sioux Say, Mini Wiconi — ”Water is Life”


Many years ago someone on my father’s side of the family fought on the American side of the Revolutionary War.

As the story goes, the colonies won some of the fightin’ and eventually independence from King George, as well.

Many of those who did actually participate in the fightin’ were supposed to be paid for their services. But after the British went home, Congress, similar to our representatives today, decided to shortchange the very people who actually fought the battles to win independence by withholding their rightful pay.

Years later, Congress did get around to paying their veterans, but not in cash. Congress gave some of the Vets title to Native American land in the Ohio Territory as payment for their service in the War for Independence.

Nothing has changed since those days, except, maybe, Congress’ skill level. Today our reps are even more expert at double-dealing and fleecing. Only the amounts fleeced are a great deal more than back in the early 1800s.

As for the double-dealing skills, our leaders have become outstandingly adept. For instance, they have signed a multitude of “treaties” with Native Americans and broken most — if not all — of them when it was convenient and profitable to do so for the “white” business people, politicians and settlers.

At every turn of our twisted, broken-treaty path, “profit” was realized by forcing Native Americans from their lands so that exploiters could control natural resources, i.e., gold, water, mineral rights, railroad right-of-way or land for white people to farm.

Not only were treaties broken or land stolen outright, our politicians approved or looked-the-other-way while our Army  and / or white gangs killed thousands of Native Americans in “battle” and slaughtered thousands more of defenseless women, children and elders in a multitude of massacres.

Today, we have added one more chapter of heinous crimes against humanity to the USA History Book of Atrocities: Standing Rock.

“Thousands of Native Americans and their allies have gathered on unceded Sioux land delimited by the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie to try and stand in the way of the “black snake” that could poison the Standing Rock Reservation’s water supply. Many have noted that the pipeline corridor was repositioned from its original route north of Bismarck after white citizens spoke up against the threat a spill would pose to their drinking water ― a threat duly recognized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Yet the Corps failed its federal mandate for meaningful consultation with the Standing Rock Tribe before signing off on a route that moved the pipeline to their doorstep.”
A #NoDAPL Map, This pipeline could endanger the drinking water of millions
Carl Sack, Huffington Post, 2 Nov 2016.

Please go here for more of the story...
North Dakota pipeline: 141 arrests as protesters pushed back from site,
Sam Levin, Nicky Woolf and Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 29 Oct 2016.




Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Fear & Rawhide


Fear is one of the prime motivators of life.
We fear making wrong decisions. We fear appearing stupid. We fear many things.

Oddly, we never fear making good decisions, because, well, the results are usually good, depending on the issue bein' decided, of course.

Take this coming election. Just what would a bad decision be? And what would a good decision be?

Should we fear Mr. T as president or Sec. Clinton?

Now that our FBI Director has muddy-up the waters and caused a massive outcry of “offendedness” by issuing his “October Surprise”, which has morphed into untold levels of fear amongst potential voters, I am doin’ a whole lot of “fearin’” myself.

In order to lower my “fear” quotient, I decided to seek counsel from a childhood hero.

Yes, going back to the days when things were black and white is SOP for me. After all, back then we all knew that our heroes would make the right decisions for the right reasons, no matter the situation.

That’s why I felt good after watching one of those old TV westerns. Take Rawhide, for instance. When Mr. Favor (Eric Fleming) and Rowdy Yates (Clint Eastwood) made a decision I always knew it was for the right reason and everything would turn out fine.

Now, who would Mr. Favor and Rowdy vote for in this election?

I know there’s a message from the past waiting to be rediscovered and help resolve this very dilemma. Let’s watch an episode and discover the pearls of wisdom waiting there for us.

Rawhide - Incident of Fear in the Streets
Season 1 Episode 17, 8 May 1959

Pete is injured, so Favor and Rowdy into a nearby town for a doctor. Because the town lynched a man the day before, the residents along with Favor and Rowdy are held hostage until the Sheriff and the man who led the lynching are also hung.




Tuesday, November 1, 2016

More to the Story, Part 2


Yes, always. There is more to the story:

"Beltway insiders swooned over Comey's "nonpartisan" reputation—but his career tells a very different story."

"But then this isn’t the first time for Comey to break with DOJ guidelines in the case. His press conference in July announcing that no charges would be brought, while excoriating Clinton for her handling of classified emails, was completely out of bounds. If the government doesn’t have the goods, it certainly doesn’t have the right to smear the subject of its investigation, which is essentially what Comey did with his statement and repeated inappropriate testimony before a partisan congressional committee."

"And now there’s this."

"Some of us are anything but surprised. Liberals who lived through the ’90s and the endless Whitewater probe that went nowhere met President Barack Obama’s appointment of James Comey as director of the FBI with a primal scream of “Are you kidding me?” It was inconceivable that, just as former president Bill Clinton had foolishly appointed a Republican FBI director, Louis Freeh, who saw it as his primary duty to investigate a president he did not respect, a Democratic president was appointing a GOP lawyer to the same job 20 years later in an even more toxic political environment."

"At the time, everyone in Washington seemed to be very pleased with the choice, seeing Comey as a “straight shooter” without a political agenda. That was largely based on his dramatic congressional testimony about the night in 2004 that he and then-FBI director Robert Mueller raced to former attorney general John Ashcroft’s sick bed to stop the White House counsel Alberto Gonzales from coercing the ailing AG into signing an illegal domestic spying order."

"A lot of civil libertarians understood that to signify that the heroic Comey had been arguing the constitutional point, but he wasn’t. His concerns had been over a technical problem with the program’s legal basis. They fixed a few little details and Comey signed the order that month to keep the secret domestic surveillance program going for many years. A civil liberties hero he is not."

Please go here for the full article:
So Much for the 'Upstanding' James Comey: The FBI Director's Long Career as Preening Partisan Hack, Heather Digby Parton, Salon, (Alternet) 31 Oct 2016.