Donald Trump’s First 100 Days

Even if Donald Trump is not my President, this is still my country and he has been in the people’s White House in Washington, DC for 100 days. I’m sure that everyone has an opinion about this; I know that I do. I am quite happy that DT has been unable to accomplish some of his major objectives so far like overturning the Affordable Care Act or cutting off funds for sanctuary cities. There are some immigration horror stories but there would have been more damage if his executive orders had not been opposed by the courts. He has so far been unable to start work on the wall on the Mexican border. Congress has been able to pass some economic deregulation measures and is working full speed ahead to undo environmental protections. Trump has announced a plan for tax cuts that will put more money in the pockets of those who are already wealthy, so I hope his tax plan also goes down in flames. But after the blunders of his first 100 days people are hopeful, but not convinced, that the entire first term will be equally unproductive.

Mr. Trump has made his greatest strides in dismantling our federal government and this is not a good thing for the citizens of America. He has placed billionaires in his cabinet who have little or no experience in governance. Not only are they billionaires but each appointee has professed an interest in destroying the department s/he has been assigned to lead. Many agencies have almost no employees, especially the State Department which has apparently been practically emptied out. What is the rationale for this? Is it incompetence? Is it the implementation of a plan to make federal government small as Republicans have wished to do for the past eight years? Is it the first stage of what we can expect to be an increasingly authoritarian rule which sees employees who have been in Washington during the Obama administration as resisters who wish to undermine a leader whose philosophy differs from the previous President and from the entire American Constitutional democratic way? It makes little sense to fire people from good civil service jobs when, actually, you are supposed to be trying to increase the number of jobs available for Americans. It seems, to many, that running a large enterprise like our government without the people who pay attention to the details will be messy and eventually the whole machinery will grind to a halt. Again this could be wishful thinking.

Can a pseudo “Board of Directors” hand-picked by a corporate CEO-style President run America without a clerical staff of experienced government employees who understand the rules and the laws and who each have their particular sphere of activity which keeps that little corner of the government running smoothly. They can if they intend to ignore the rules and laws. Our unpopular leader shows a pattern of a top-down governing style that is quite at odds with the illusion of a more bottom-up governance that is the purpose of having a Congress with elected representatives. He is beginning to see that there is a Congress and that with Congressional approval he might get his way more often, but he is not used to sharing any of his power. All his employees, even when they are family, are perceived to have only advisory roles. He does have a Congress that is on his side and they are trying to help him grow into his role but he has never been malleable. He is sort of like a large hyperactive child and in the White House as the President that makes him a “bull in the china shop”.

I was hoping that the President would have already been ousted from office. He has broken so many traditions. I guess we are finding that these traditions do not have the power of laws and that the American President has been given immunity from many of the rules of ethics and just accepted practice, even though most modern Presidents have held to these standards. But not 45. He has turned our government into the family business. He gives the appearance that he has complied with an absolute separation between his business interests and his powers as the head of the US government but we all can see that this is not so. Nepotism even worried our forefathers but Mr. T has no problems with it and, apparently, neither does anyone else in the Republican-controlled Congress. At the end of the first 100 days we find his daughter and son-in-law ensconced in the White House and doing business with world leaders around the world. We suspect they do a little of the nation’s business and a lot of the Trump business everywhere they go.

Donald should either have to comply with these protocols which protect the American people from dictatorship or kleptocracy or he should be forced to leave the Presidency and return to the private sphere. However frustrating we find his casual approach to protections that have been important features of our government these things are apparently not deal breakers. Even the many connections between his Presidential campaign staff and Vladimir Putin’s Russia and possible charges of treason have not made a dent in Donald’s tone deaf occupation of the American Presidency or in the confidence of those who elected him. He manages to blithely tweet his way through all of it and head off on the weekend for some golf.

As to the actions of the incomprehensible leader of the free world in regard to our relations with foreign nations the first 100 days have been, well, incomprehensible. He seems to have alienated all our allies and made nice with all the nations that concern us, except Syria and North Korea. Is he ready to go to war or is he just rattling sabers? He has left us teetering between amusement and horror. We can’t decide if he is dancing on the edge of disaster taking us along for the ride, or if he is the astute gamer that he claims to be. We can see similarities between Trump and Kim Jong un, at least in their shared paranoia syndrome, but Trump does not seem to have the imperialistic or hostile motives Kim Jong un seems to telegraph. Is Trump taunting North Korea to get them to either back down or do that final incendiary thing that initiates trading bomb strikes with all the attendant damages? What will happen in Syria? We just saw DT threaten to cancel the trade agreement with Mexico and Canada (NAFTA) and these nations seem to have backed down and agreed to negotiate new terms. Will threats and bluster work? All I can think is that watching Trump deconstruct America is putting the fear in them. I liked America’s role as a diplomatic power, trying to keep hate from escalating and talking with other nations and not to them. It appears that this is not the Trump way.

Whatever each one of us sees as we reach the 100-day milestone (however arbitrary the time frame) it is clear that there is discontent in the realm, and as far as our “king” is concerned there are only bad polls, partisan courts, fake news and paid demonstrators. How incompetent, treasonous, uninformed, unethical and nepotistic does a person in the US Presidency have to be before s/he is given the boot? Obviously 100 days is not enough time for this disaster to reach critical mass.

 

AAUW Conference or Science March?

Last weekend I did not March for Science, although my heart was there. I had committed to attend a conference of the NY Branch of AAUW (American Association of University Women). Since part of this group’s mission these days is to help implement Title IX – a law that is a mandate for equality for girls in schools (sports, academic, safety) and since this includes encouraging STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) for girls through raising funds and providing support and oversight. I was, in a way, still “marching for science”.

AAUW also backs women at work and especially in university settings on issues like safety, equal opportunity, equal pay, and equal resources. It supports female students and faculty and has a legal fund to give it clout.

What I was reminded of is that there are women all over our nation who have studied and worked, for more than a century in this organization (since 1881), without any recognition beyond the admiration of their peers, on projects that affect educational opportunities for women and girls. I was in some very impressive company and I was just a beginner. These women had multiple degrees, often from prestigious colleges and universities and they had held an enormous variety of positions in educational, social, and governmental fields where they were able to provide services to woman and girls and anyone who needed someone to fight for their equality. Many of today’s members have done this for decades.

The schedule of events followed the template for most conferences. Everyone met for a business meeting that lasted until just before lunch on the first full day. After the budget was presented and the amendments to the bylaws were voted in we were introduced to a speaker, Louise Bernikow, who spoke about little known facts about women’s suffrage which we should all know. It was enlightening. I learned that the date I use for a women’s right to vote is wrong. I always say 1920 (which I got from the internet) but the actual date is 1917 (the year my mother was born).

We adjourned for a luncheon where awards were given to women who had donated generously to the organization and we had a speaker along with our dessert. The speaker was a woman from Yale, Susan Daria Landino, hired by the university to provide for student safety on campus until she tried to help a woman who came to her about a rape. The speaker reported the rape to the police who arrested the alleged rapist and after that she found herself in a world of trouble. She was ostracized and marginalized and eventually fired and escorted off campus, and so, also humiliated. Colleges do not like anyone to realize that their daughters might not be safe because it will hurt their bottom line and perhaps even bring eventual failure to the institution. This young woman had trouble finding another job and finally had to get a lawyer. AAUW, through its legal fund, helped her pay her legal fees, she got a settlement and her life turned right-side up once again. Good talk.

After lunch people were offered two sessions of workshops with several options to choose from in each session. The two sessions I attended were well worth giving up a Saturday for. Of course, by then the science march was over and so was any guilt I had felt about missing it.

AAUW used to be open to only women with a university background but has now opened up to any who want to support women’s rights and STEM programs for girls and who would find value in a nationwide community of women (and even some men) who support each other and stay in touch and fight for what is right. In these days when the rights of women seem to be under attack, when we may need to reengage in a fight that should already be won, this organization finds itself dying out. It needs a big injection of young energy to carry on the work of the wonderful women who fought so quietly and well. Many of these women are in their seventies and eighties and cannot do the work they once did (although they are still quite energetic and amazing). They are looking for younger women who will learn what they know before they have to retire from the organization and who will keep this important work alive. Please type AAUW into your favorite search engine, read more about the organization, and join this excellent group if you have something to offer.

For Earth Day, 2017

 

Sea Sick

This article was originally posted on 5/21/2015 after an oil pipe leak onto a beach in Santa Barbara, California but I think it is quite appropriate for Earth Day in 2017. This article can also be found in my book, Environmental Diary, The Obama Years with a link at http://notabene718.com/

We sort of view our oceans, seas, rivers, and lakes as a giant purification system. We can empty any dirty old thing in there and it will come out clean. But we have been fooling ourselves with this science of wishful thinking. When our population was smaller and the waste we emptied into our water was mainly organic, this faux water science sort of worked. But with 7 billion plus people on the planet even organic wastes are taxing our water systems, fresh and salty.

When we were at the peak of the Industrial Age we put heavy toxic chemicals and more complex organics like oil into our water systems routinely. This was done so slyly that we can conclude that businesses were aware of both the true science of their acts and of the moral quicksand they were standing on, but this was the standard procedure in industry at that time and many sins were hidden under our waters.

I’m sure local government leaders and other government people on up the chain were at least peripherally aware of what businesses were doing but industry was so important to an area’s economic health that secrets were kept. When our factories left us in The Great Industrial Migration, which began in the 80’s and 90’s and is still going on, these same governments suddenly found themselves stuck with the toxic waste left behind in local water systems (and in the earth too, in many cases). In some cases local governments were able to hold a business’ feet to the fire until they mounted some kind of clean up.

I have seen this whole dynamic play out in my own town which has had the honor of being host to Onondaga Lake, the dirtiest lake in America. Between Allied Chemical and Honeywell dumping heavy metals and other toxins into this small and scenic urban lake and the sewage that overflowed the city water treatment plant whenever it rained, our beloved lake practically glowed in the dark. We could no longer fish or swim in it and if you were boating you shared tales of what would happen to you if you fell in.

There are reasons our planet’s surface is three-quarters water. Without a water cycle that repeats predictably life could not exist on our planet. We are 90% water. We only survive a short time without water to drink. Water is life. Water supports marine life which we enjoy eating but which could prove essential to life if we ever do descend into survivalist mode. Primitive man treasured fish because it added variety to their diet and healthy Omega-3’s, which they did not have a name for, but which they instinctively knew to be good for them. Even if you don’t eat seafood, I’m sure derivatives are in many products you do use.

Now we watch in horror as the petroleum industry expects us to believe that the earth’s water system, including the wildlife in it, can absorb oil spill after oil spill and that the negative effects will be purely temporary. But that queasy feeling we get each time a new oil spill sullies another pristine spot is our inner primitive survivalist telling us that we don’t believe a single disclaimer from these planet-trashers.

Honeywell may be able to help clean up my community’s small lake, but the oil companies cannot clean our oceans. There will be a tipping point eventually when the seas, river, lakes, oceans cannot take the toxic onslaught anymore. I hope we don’t wait that long. I applaud efforts to find new energy sources, but we need safeguards for oil drilling and oil delivery that really work and we need them now. (Hint, hint; oil people, stop operating on the cheap.)

Without clean water we will die, rich or poor, we will die.

Here’s a few links to lists of oil spills:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oil_spills

http://www.itopf.com/knowledge-resources/data-statistics/statistics/

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001451.html#ixzz3amWW16pK/

Of course it is no longer 5/21/2015 and the list of spills is much longer as we get ready for Science March this weekend 4/22/17 and the Climate Change March next weekend 4/29/17.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hillary and the 2016 Election, A Look Back

 

If you ask Google for articles that analyze Hillary and the 2016 election almost 23 million choices are offered up by the search engine. Everyone has something to say about this. Some back their analyses with data, official results of various pre- and post-election polls, and some just wail away with their observations during and after the election, which I believe is also valid as long as they were paying attention. Obviously there were things going on that were flying just under the media radar and, although some of us may have sensed that both sides were not equally guilty of the viciousness of the 2016 election, we had no real proof and no clear voice. Hillary’s campaign was using standard operating procedures which can be dirty up to a point, but which usually do not skirt our laws and our Constitution.

Hillary is hardly a revolutionary. She likes progressive ideas but is too much of a pragmatist to think that asking for a lot is the best way to get some. She knows too much about law-making and about the Federal budget. Bernie said things that were more wishes than realities, as far as Hillary was concerned. She did not believe his “people’s agenda” was suited to the economic realities of the times. She is too “bourgie,” people said. People were in the mood for drama, for revolt, for theater. She was too much the policy wonk. This goes a long way towards explaining why Bernie was such an explosive figure in the 2016 election.

The fact that Democrats were split both along age and gender lines did not help Hillary at all. Bernie Sanders had the millennial vote and his followers were passionate and idealistic. They were ready to get big money out of government. They were ready to give Capitalism a bit part in the American story going forward. They were going up against a muscular Republican Conservative order that was organized, rich and overwhelmingly in favor of Capitalism and the prominence it held in the economies of modern nations. Most Conservatives don’t seem to have a communal, barter, new economy bone in their bodies (except maybe David Brooks who misses the sense of community of the post-World War II era).

It would have been hard enough if Hillary only had to run against a “true believer” from the GOP. Fox News and Talk Radio and the Supreme Court had prepared the way so well. And Hillary made human errors that were unintended gifts to the Republicans. The Grand Old Party had been demonizing Hillary since the Clintons were in the White House. They could forgive philandering because many of them had “slipped” into sin, but they could not forgive getting caught and caught in such a “sacred” place as the Oval Office. The sins of the husband are also the sins of the wife in the judgment of many. Republicans played it all up. They never shut up about the Clintons. They hammered away for decades and the effects kept intensifying so there was no reason to stop and we got Benghazi and when Benghazi looked like it would fizzle a bit too soon, Trey Gowdy pulled the email “scandal” out of the Benghazi investigation records and so, something that was basically a clerical decision, worked like a powerful accusation to pursue Hillary with because it could be tinged with a whiff of “treason”.

The GOP loves to accuse their opponents of the very things they are doing themselves to deflect attention from their own misdeeds. And when they pulled in James Comey just before Election Day, they delivered their coup de grace and it offered up even more propaganda magic, especially if you add it to all the other skullduggery in this campaign. And Hillary wasn’t running against a “teabagger”, a typically wingnut Republican. She was running against a true nut with a penchant for really dirty fighting and no political background to rein in his imagination with tradition. She was running against someone who said that he could shoot someone in Central Park and he would not be hurt by such an act. And he was right. I was even afraid for Hillary sometimes in this travesty of an election.

Fake news did not appear on my radar until just before the election. At least not the truly scandalous fake news. I was more than aware of the media on the right and their fake news, but the truly horrendous stuff never appeared on my Facebook page, perhaps because someone knew it would end up in an article. I did not realize that Hillary was being accused of pedophilia and human trafficking or even of taking part in ceremonies with the “13 families” or whatever where babies were eaten. I got a few odd comments from readers that accused Hillary of having ulterior motives for her work with women and babies, but I had no context with which to understand them. I guess from the alleged “murder” of Vince Foster Hillary just graduated to someone whose teeth literally dripped blood.

I’m not sure how people came to believe that the Clinton campaign had a hand in hacking the computers at the DNC but for someone so obviously evil it was just a baby step to go this far. We all thought it was odd that Trump sweet-talked Putin but we were, for the most part, unaware of all the connections between his campaign people and Russians or Ukrainians or Turks. We may have felt a frission of fear, a little shiver down the spine to have Russia so prominently present in election debates but the true scope of involvement would not bubble up until after the election.

Hillary does not bear the biggest burden of guilt for losing the election in 2016. It was hardly an ordinary election. The stakes were very high and the GOP very determined and better organized than ever before. They had carefully planned to stage their coup and it got trumped. But they pulled their ashes from the fire and rode the mad train into control of all three branches of government. It looks like they will finally get most of what they want and heaven help us all. To me “we the people” will suffer some tragic loses because we could not coalesce and ignore the noisy distractions and elect Hillary Clinton.

Why did the media desert Hillary and the Democrats? I cannot forgive them for the jumping on the email bandwagon and pumping up Hillary’s sins despite the fact that they seemed laughable next to the sins of her opponent. People like Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell piled on to the demonization of Hillary because, I guess, they just don’t like her. Weren’t they even once honest with themselves about what a Trump presidency would be like? They had to have realized the extreme political measures that the Republicans had taken to come out on top in the election. Did they start to lean right themselves because of their own really very moderate beliefs?

I no longer listen to mainstream news. I trust Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and Joy Reid. Occasionally I listen to PBS or the BBC. Everyone else is culpable for Hillary’s loss in the 2016 election and they put us all in the grip of a madman and a rogue political party. We can resist but damage will be done. Where were all the people who bemoan Trump’s election before November of 2016? Almost everyone bears more guilt for Hillary’s failure than Hillary does and I don’t buy that she lost the whole thing because she didn’t go to Michigan or she didn’t pour enough heart into campaigning. She may have just been too moderate for the 2016 election or too carefully demonized, or both. I thought that it would be revolutionary enough to elect a woman. However it’s now obvious that men were in no way ready to share power in the US at that lofty level. Hillary Clinton is who she is and I do not blame Hillary for Trump at all.

Rep. John Katko and Me

 

Since the election, once I got through my 5 stages of grief, I have decided to try to resist changes that I think will be harmful to “we the people” because they are actually designed to line the pockets of those who are already rich and add to the power of those who are already powerful. I have been writing to my representative in the House, John Katko, because, although he does not represent one thing I believe in, I thought that he might have some wiggle room in his Republican psyche; he might not have been totally bought and paid for by Republican super PACs or the Kochs. I thought perhaps he had some compassion for those in his district who have special needs at the very least. He spends a lot of time in the rural parts of his district and he has taken opioid addiction as one of his causes.

When, recently, the Congress and DT were attempting to replace the Affordable Care Act with the poorly designed American Health Care Act I wrote a letter to Rep. John Katko in which I tried to connect with any moderate impulses he might still harbor.

 

Rep. John Katko:

 

Although I am sorry to write such a long letter I hope you will indulge me and read it in its entirety.

I am thinking that you are not thrilled by everything that is happening in Washington. I know that you are an earnest man who has a serious interest in serving the people in your district, which is a mix of urban, suburban, and rural cultures with diverse needs that few other representatives have to deal with. I suspect that you are a Catholic man, or at least a man of faith. I know that your unshakeable Conservative values include a firm pro-life stance and probably an economic view that fits with the one usually held on the right, one of fewer regulations and possibly even tax breaks to help employers take greater risks.

I don’t believe that someone with your inflexible position on women’s reproductive rights should be in government at all, but there are obviously many people in this district who do not agree with me. So I will leave this issue aside except to say that if you have your way in this matter it will make women’s lives far more difficult and will reset the clock on women’s rights back to my grandmothers’ days.

However, what seems most doubtful to me is that you want to “deconstruct” the American administration as the President’s men and women seem to want to do. It seems doubtful to me that you want to invite Vladimir Putin in to influence American politics. I find it hard to believe that you would like to vote in lower taxes for the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class people you represent. You just don’t seem like a person who wants to see our schools with insecure funding which could have profound effects on the quality of education in America and make opportunities unequal across the states.

I also find it hard to fathom why you might want to support the American Health Care Act when so many in your district would lose health insurance and so many seniors would be negatively affected. You don’t seem that extreme to me. I would guess that you are more moderate than some of your colleagues. But I do not know how ambitious you are. I do not know what you owe to the national party and the super PACs and other Conservative organizations. I do not know how courageously you would fight the very powerful pressure brought to bear on Conservatives in Washington by the base and the upper echelons of the party and by big money people.

Well I guess we, as your constituents, will see how extreme you are or how courageous you can be. Will you fight for the needs of your constituents the way a parent fights to meet the needs of their children. Every day I awake to see what new actions of this administration have weakened the foundations of our democracy and every day I am more and more shocked and distressed about what I see. Yet every day I feel more and more helpless to have any way to stop this administration from undoing every single thing I think any modern culture should try to do for the people it governs.

I have enclosed my latest article about the flaws in the AHCA for you to look over and consider but I hope that you will look into your conscience and that you will not need to be prodded at each turn to do what is right.

Sincerely,

Yesterday, 4/13/2017, I received this disappointing, but not surprising, response from Mr. Katko.

 

(I have no faith at all that the Republicans can devise a comprehensive health plan that covers all Americans and keeps prices under control and yet relies on free market principles. There is no way to devise such an animal.) Here is my final answer, what would you say?

Rep. John Katko:

Thank you for your response letter. It shows me that trying to reason with you is a waste of time. On the bright side your extreme right wing views actually should help shorten your career in Washington. If you showed mercy I would have more trouble watching you lose your seat in the House.

The Affordable Care Act may not work well in places that did not agree to the individual mandate or the Medicaid expansion but the plan works very well in our state. When your voters lose their health insurance, especially those with preexisting conditions, you will lose your job.

I will not reach out to you personally on any issue again, at least with a plea to your better nature as one of your constituents. I see that you are unable to compromise and you will only vote to impose your will upon all of us, as if you have an absolute mandate. But I continue to believe that you are wrong about the Affordable Care Act and on many other issues. Clearly you are exactly the mean and narrow-minded pseudo-Christian I took you for.

I do appreciate your honesty about your stand on the issues as expressed in your response to my last letter, and that you show me the errors in my thinking that suggested that there is room for compromise. In the future I will choose whatever avenues are open to me to oppose you and I will hope your voters soon feel that buyer’s remorse that taking away their health care should engender.

Now I see that you are a hard and judgmental man and I know that Republicans agree that this is the way to handle us “peons.” But I will continue to see each of your constituents as part of “we the people,” even if some are down on their luck. I do appreciate that you are trying to tackle the opioid addiction problem but I also think that it is short-sighted to be unable to see how great health care could help implement the treatments needed (which is not what your mislabeled “patient-centered” health care will turn out to be if you pass it).  Your colleagues in Congress either never had to struggle financially, or they have forgotten what that was like. They have enriched themselves with our money and now they want to wash their hands of us. You are obviously no different and I am sorry for that.

Sincerely

 

I feel the need to answer this letter with this one final statement of my own. I am not trying to get in the last word. This man can never represent me so he leaves me unrepresented in this term of the current administration, but I don’t want him to think that I will passively accept that my side lost and that there is nothing I can do. I also want to make this correspondence public because otherwise there is no accountability for Katko’s actions in the US House of Representatives beyond the public record which few people ever check.

Here is John Katko’s letter to me about border security:

John Katko
24th District, New York

1620 Longworth House Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20515

440 South Warren Street
7th Floor, Suite 711
Syracuse, NY 13202
(315) 423-5657

http://katko.house.gov

House Transportation and
Infrastructure Committee

House Homeland Security Committee

Subcommittee on
Transportation Security
Chairman

April14,2017

DearMs.Brisson,

Thank you for contacting me regarding American border security.  It is good to hear from you.

Having served as a federal prosecutor for over 20 years, I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of the rule of law.  I believe that we must properly enforce our nation’s immigration laws, while working towards commonsense immigration reform coupled with strengthened enforcement along our borders.

I am committed to fighting for fiscally responsible legislation that will secure our borders. Last Congress, I cosponsored the Secure Our Borders First Act, which was the toughest border security bill placed before the 114th Congress.  This legislation would require the Department of Homeland Security to achieve complete operational control – the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States – of high traffic areas of the southwest border in two years and operational control along the entire southern border in five years.  The legislation provides the necessary technology, data analysis, fencing and infrastructure, and Border Patrol authority to realize complete operational control of the border.  The bill includes my amendment which provides the same types of technology to the northern border as it does the southern border.

In addition, I introduced H.R. 455, the Northern Border Security Review Act, last Congress.  This legislation would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to assess potential security gaps in our northern border.  This legislation passed the House but was not taken up by the Senate.

As you know, several proposals to secure the border have been discussed.  I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support meaningful, cost-effective legislation to secure our borders and strengthen our national security.  As legislation related to this issue come before the House for a vote, I will keep your thoughts in mind.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me on this important matter.  I hope that you will continue to keep me informed of the issues important to you and your family, as your input helps me to better serve you as your Representative in Congress. If you would like to stay informed of the latest issues coming out of Washington, you can visit http://www.katko.house.gov to sign up for my e-newsletter.

Sincerely,

John Katko
Member of Congress

Time For an Internet Boycott

I don’t think I ever saw a new law impact my life so quickly as the new law that says ISP’s can access your browsing history and your personal information. I didn’t even know that 45 had signed it yet. We are going to have to accept that it is time for an internet boycott.

When my sister sent me a message on “Messenger” two days ago she teasingly suggested that we buy my mom a caftan that costs over $3500. When I sent her a new message today there was a pop-up showing the last four numbers of my debit card asking me if I wanted to buy that caftan with just one click? I have never seen such a prompt in Messenger before but it would be quite easy to push the wrong button here and then, in my case, my bank account would have declined; but this kind of activity is wrong. What if I did have enough money in my account? How does being declined by your bank affect your credit?

I am a blogger so I write online and, of course, I will continue to do that because the internet is the only platform for bloggers. But for a while I will stop purchasing things on line. I will boycott the internet. I will either call the seller directly or go to a brick and mortar store.

I was actually messaging my sister to tell her that my mom would have a different aide tomorrow. I did not even have to type in the keyboard. As soon as I mentioned the name of the caller the message to my sister appeared word by word in the bar above the keyboard. Somehow my tablet or Facebook knew everything I had discussed on the phone.

I will use a land line from now on to speak to my family and friends and to conduct business and I will not communicate through Facebook or the internet. I have not tried texting yet. I’ll see if the text feature is spying on me also. This is very upsetting. I did not think that the “big brother” age had made it this far yet.

If internet service providers cannot control themselves and their greed we may all have to avoid our computers, our smart phones, our smart TV’s, and those new devices that we can talk to like Alexa. I do not want something in my home that can hear me or see me when I think that I have privacy. Will we have to go back in time to avoid the problem of boundaries on the internet?

The problems of hacking an election and planting fake news seem all too frightening and just wrong, but when it becomes this personal it hits a bit too close to home. I guess these are the Wild West days of the internet. Will our “smart” devices eventually get some etiquette that sticks and place some limits on the behavior of those who offer services to “we the people” for profit? Or will we have to find ways to block them from reading our minds when what we are doing or saying is none of their business? Perhaps someone will market something like a lead-lined box to place around a device that will block the Ethernet. Will that even work? Is lead the “kryptonite” for the Internet? If not then something else probably is. Perhaps microwaves? (A Dirty Dancing reference might work here – is there sheet music for this?)

I know! They will sell us something to shut spying down and then someone will mysteriously figure out how to bypass that device and they will sell us a new device and on and on it will go. But don’t they have to use the same computers we all use when they go home to their private lives? Boycotting is our best bet to make the point that business and our government need to mind their own campfires and keep their noses out of ours. (It’s a cave man thing.)

Creating Jobs, What Won’t Work

I am in favor of creating jobs. Who isn’t? However, I do not believe the ways this administration is going about “bringing back jobs” will work. Trying to get back factory jobs, at least at this particular moment, is probably a bad strategy. Although there will always be industry, the Industrial Age, those busy days of railroads, steel, coal, automation, automobiles and burgeoning electronics were changed forever by a relatively tiny chip. The Industrial Age has left the west. It has gone “on tour” to nations that have not yet been “modernized” and monetized.

So not only is vacating the regulations that help rein in the rapacious greed that often partners with Capitalism a bad move (everything has a bad side); such actions are unnecessary and probably counterproductive. The same is true of trashing our environmental protections.

Even if you reset our laws and regulations back to when America was packed with factories, when workers left home each day at the crack of dawn with their lunchboxes, when the air was clogged with the smoke factories emitted, containing all kinds of toxic elements, and when the industrial wastes containing heavy metals and other carcinogens were discharged into our water and our soil; even with a reboot you cannot expect to “regenerate” the boom times of the peak of the Industrial Age.

I could listen to Led Zeppelin every day and wear bell bottoms and a headband, but just reproducing these details will not cause the 60’s to suddenly re-coalesce – and thank goodness for that – because, even though in many ways the 60’s were wonderful, terrible things were also afoot (the Vietnam War, policemen training hoses on black folks, or doing worse).

I am reading a book which takes place in colonial times but keeps flashing back to 1665. In 1665 people believed, for example, that meat left to sit out would generate maggots. Today we know that, in the absence of flies, old meat cannot generate maggots. Just recreating the conditions that pertained at the height of the Industrial Age will not necessarily bring back the factories so essential to that booming era in American history. Other unknown variables might be absent.

We can have a new boom. We might have full employment with jobs that pay well once again. History doesn’t clone itself exactly, but it is a sort of spiral where events circle back but on a different level.

As I watch this administration undo the 21st century in order to get back the 19th and 20th centuries it is reminding me of something I once read by Edward Albee, “sometimes you have to go a long distance out of the way to come back a short distance correctly.

Why would we want to do that? After all we learned in geometry that “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line” Lowering taxes on the rich (‘job creators’), tickle-down economics, deregulation, abandoning environmental protections are variables that might have been present in the last boom. But trying to implement the exact same constellation of events is practically impossible in the first place and in the second place is unlikely to generate America’s new economy (or, in other words, make America great again.)

Education and training – even if it is more technical and less “liberal” is most likely the true key to the “new age” What we need is the patience to let the world as it is now generate the events to come and we need to get as many Americans as possible proficient in current technologies in order to give people a platform from which to build the future. Obviously this is no time to dismantle America’s educational system either. I am sorry to see us taking these unnecessary detours to the past.

Here is a list of the bills that my representative in the House of Representatives voted for since the beginning of the 115th Congress and almost every one of these bills overturns a regulation on businesses, the SEC, or removes an environmental protection, except for the one that takes away more of our privacy on the internet.

John Katko’s voting record

http://congress.freedomworks.org/legislators/john-katko

017: 115th Congress 89%

  • 1: On Passage: REINS Act – H.R. 26✔ Yea
  • 2: On Passage: Regulatory Accountability Act – H.R. 5✔ Yea
  • 3: On Passage: H.J. Res 41 – Resolution of Disapproval Against the SEC’s Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers Rule✔ Yea
  • 4: On Passage: H.J.Res. 38 – Resolution of Disapproval Against the Department of the Interior’s Stream Protection Rule✔ Yea
  • 5: On Passage: H.J. Res. 37 – Resolution of Disapproval Against the DOD, GSA, and NASA Federal Acquisition Regulation✔ Yea
  • 6: On Passage: H.J.Res. 36 – Resolution of Disapproval Against the Bureau of Land Management’s Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation Rule✘ Nay
  • 7: On Passage: H.J.Res. 57 – Resolution of Disapproval Against the Department of Education’s Accountability and State Plans Rule✔ Yea
  • 8: On Passage: H.R. 372 – Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act✔ Yea
  • 9: On Passage: H.R. 1101 – Small Business Health F

·         Recent Votes

Date Roll Call Bill Vote
4/6/2017 221 H.R.1219 Yea
4/5/2017 220 H.R.1304 Yea
4/5/2017 218 H.RES.242 Aye
4/5/2017 217 H.RES.242 Yea

 

Guess what. Mr. Katko was not alone. Looking at the voting records of any one Republican representative in the House is the same as looking at the voting of all of the Republican representatives in the House because they all vote pretty much exactly the same way.  They are all busily and happily deregulating everything they can think of, in order to undo all laws that they believe restrict industry and business in the US, and fully believing that if they do this America will once again be the key nation in the world in terms of economics and therefore power. When everyone in a party votes in lockstep, this is what partisanship looks like.

This is a view from the cheap seats.