Economic Globalism: The United States of China

global economics

I find it sort of ironic that, while Republicans make the kinds of globalism advocated on the left suspect and even part of a grand conspiracy, economic globalism has been trending for years. Trade has been a global concern in America since the triangle that involved sugar, rum, and slaves.

Wikipedia:

Sugar (often in its liquid form, molasses) from the Caribbean was traded to Europe or New England, where it was distilled into rum. The profits from the sale of sugar were used to purchase manufactured goods, which were then shipped to West Africa, where they were bartered for slaves.

Imports and exports have played a role in the economies of just about every nation. However globalism went viral in the 1980’s and beyond when factories started to leave America (and other industrial nations) to tap into an unused work force that was plentiful and which did not require high wages or benefits. The temptation to keep overhead costs and employee costs low while creating new buyers and opening new markets was apparently just too tempting.

There were other perks of relocating factories such as being able to keep profits away from America where taxes were high and place them in tax-sheltered situations. Although Trump wants American manufacturers to come home to the continental United States and bring their money with them, although he wants these wealthy Americans to practice a new-old policy of “America First”, economic globalism is highly unlikely to become isolationist any time soon. I have heard of no big rush to repatriate profits sitting abroad. Neither have I heard any patriotic fervor for bringing factories back home. While a few businesses may come home, a few more businesses are always leaving. Unless we invent a fuel to use in space and a ship designed to burn it and become a center of space exploration and colonization, unless an amazing new science of cheap, safe, and efficient space technology is found, I don’t know how we become a hub of industry again as we were in the past. That’s why we need all the talented physicists and engineers we can train and attract. Getting to space is once again a race.

It is tempting to look at the way we kept our economy booming in the past and then to simply try to replicate it. If the whole culture decays and times become more primitive a new industrial age might replicate the 1890’s – 1950’s but having to take so many steps backwards just to hope that we can recreate past innovations would mean that something catastrophic had occurred. In that case we are just as likely to languish in a primitive state as we are to reinvent the combustion engine, and the assembly line.

Annoying our trading partners, blowing up established trade relationships, does not seem like the most productive way to keep the world economy (and therefore the American economy) ticking along. If we are angry at China or Mexico or any other trading partner there must be ways to negotiate trade agreements that are not harmful to our own economy. China may be experiencing temporary challenges with its debt and its currency, but the Chinese economy looks like it still has much more room for growth than ours does. Just look up the population demographics.

I am no economist but a couple of very respected economists wrote articles this week about the complex considerations we need to keep in mind when speaking of economies and trade and globalism versus nationalism.

Sam Natapoff writing in Salon begins his recent article like this:

“The U.S.-China trade war is heating up in a battle that may last for years to come. Last week President Trump imposed new tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese exports to the United States. The Chinese government responded with tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods. The economic effects of this trade war between the world’s two largest economies (the U.S. at $19 trillion and China at $12 trillion) are slowly emerging. While many around the world are ignoring this, the recent damage is only the beginning.

This U.S.-China trade war was primarily caused by confusion. The Chinese government does not understand Donald Trump’s trade goals, because they are not primarily trade goals. Donald Trump has the bit between his teeth. He wants both a victory and public adulation, to feed his ego and to keep a promise to his 2016 voters that he would renegotiate unfair U.S. trade deals. He also fantasizes that he is teaching China who is boss. What’s really going on is that China has been gaining ground on the U.S. in key strategic areas, such as military power, economic influence, and scientific accomplishment, and the U.S. is now turning to aggressively confront a new rival.

At heart, everyone should be worried. The U.S., China, and all trading nations will feel real economic pain as a result of this trade war. …

This clash of economic titans threatens all multilateral trade norms and would replace them with rising tariff and non-tariff barriers around the world, placing pressure on multiple economies and eliminating any winners from this process. More concerning, this trade volatility is triggering a run by global investors into dollar assets, increasing pressures on countries with unstable currencies that were already worried about inflation and depreciation.

Even though the U.S. is being harmed, there is no chance Trump will back down. He feels that he alone can change the global trade order, make the U.S.-China trade relationship fair, and, most importantly, he wants a personal win. This position is reinforced by several of Trump’s officials and even some outside forces, for very different reasons.”

https://www.salon.com/2018/09/29/the-u-s-china-trade-war-this-is-only-the-beginning/

There was also an interesting article in the NYT about an invisible recession and its implications for the future.

Neil Irwin writes:

In 2015 and 2016, [in the United States]…

“There was a sharp slowdown in business investment, caused by an interrelated weakening in emerging markets, a drop in the price of oil and other commodities, and a run-up in the value of the dollar.

The pain was confined mostly to the energy and agricultural sectors and to the portions of the manufacturing economy that supply them with equipment. Overall economic growth slowed but remained in positive territory. The national unemployment rate kept falling. Anyone who didn’t work in energy, agriculture or manufacturing could be forgiven for not noticing it at all.

Most important, the mini-recession of 2015-16 offers a cautionary tale for any policymaker who might want to think of the United States as an economic island.

The episode is stark evidence of the risk the Trump administration faces in threatening economic damage to negotiate leverage with other nations on trade and security. What happens overseas can return to American shores faster and more powerfully than once seemed possible.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/29/upshot/mini-recession-2016-little-known-big-impact.html

The last article I will talk about said things that some might find controversial but that I thought were illuminating. The topic here is five myths about corporations. Its written by Steven Pearlstein who writes about economics at the Washington Post.

“Thirty years ago, in the face of a serious economic challenge from Japan and Europe, the UnitedStates embraced a form of free-market capitalism that was less regulated, less equal, more prone to booms and busts. Driving that shift was a set of useful myths about motivation, fairness and economic growth that helped restore American competitiveness. Over time, however, the most radical versions of these ideas have polarized our politics, threatened our prosperity and undermined the moral legitimacy of our system. (A recent survey found that only 42 percent of millennials support capitalism.)

Here are five of the most persistent myths about corporations.

[Remember these are myths so the author sets out to prove these statements are not true. Follow the link to see the author’s reasoning about why these statements, although widely believed are not necessarily accurate.]

  1. Greed, a natural human instinct makes markets work.
  2. Corporations must be run to maximize value for shareholders.
  3. Workers’ pay is an objective measure of economic contributions.
  4. Equality of opportunity is all people need to climb the economic ladder.
  5. Making the economy fairer will make it smaller and less prosperous.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths/five-myths-about-capitalism/2018/09/27/3f0b72f6-c06f-11e8-90c9-23f963eea204_story.html

Bank of England Vault

What I am trying to say is that Conservatives seem to like globalism for economics, but not when it might cost them in some way. They are inclined to use fossil fuels for as long as they are available and have lived in an oil, gas, and coal based economy for so long that they cannot conceive of an economic scenario that offers similar profits without these fuels. So when scientists and citizens talk about environmentalism, and climate change and global warming, and CO2levels all they picture is their dollars flying out the windows. It is more profitable to imagine this as a liberal plot to “redistribute wealth” than it is to take a long view and figure out what will happen when the ice caps melt and flood coastlines forever, not just during storms.

Having invested millions of dollars in building business all around the globe it seems that Conservatives are pulling back from this kind of investing in areas that are still underdeveloped, have climates that make running a business expensive, do not have enough workers or enough consumers. Once again when liberals speak of lifting up nations that are still too poor, the wealthy among us hear more dollars flying out the windows. While the world might be more stable with stronger economies in many Arab nations, African nations, and South American nations, rich folks seem to want to hang on to their own wealth rather than spread it around right now. But China is not so worried about losing individual wealth and they are filling the development gap in these nations.

Great wealth has turned our corporate heads and wealthy business people into global citizens already. They live in America only part time. They keep their money anywhere but in America. They wish to pay as few taxes as possible to help a nation of people that they have made poor by hoarding profits. No amount of excess wealth is enough. Stockpiling money for a rainy day is the prime goal. It’s mine, it’s all mine is the message. No one who did not use the public schools to get a decent education is touching a cent of my profits. No one who won’t or can’t work gets a dollar from me. If you reward them for not working they will go on not working. No one who needs to work three jobs to support dependents they had out of wedlock will engage my sympathies. They declare themselves the greatest patriots as they take their factories off to another nation where paychecks are so low as to be almost criminal. Trump thinks he can buy these people back, but they are already citizens of nowhere in particular and claiming to be an American citizen does not carry the same cachet it once did.

I cannot imagine an America isolated from everyone, turned in upon itself, not gregariously, confidently, annoyingly, and heartily interacting with nations around the globe. If we withdraw and pout about how unfairly other nations have treated us I don’t think anyone will come to comfort poor old America and try to offer expensive gifts to lure us out of our funk. The world will just go along without us and we will not only have a small government; we will have a small America. And rather than be a global force competing and scrapping with our allies and enemies we may eventually be adopted by an all-powerful Chinese Empire and become part of the United States of China. Just for a minute, imagine what we might be able to accomplish if nations worked cooperatively. I guess that can never happen unless we have reasons to toss out some excesses of national identity and national pride.

Photo Credits: From Google Images Searches:  Google sites, alfahir.hu

This is a view from the cheap seats.

 

 

 

A Republican Folly

Lindsey Graham CNBC.com

When Dr. Ford’s identity was finally known, Senator Feinstein, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, was free to put a name to the letter she had received from Dr. Blasey Ford. She had held on to the letter to protect the privacy of Dr. Ford. She handed the letter off to the FBI late in the confirmation process. The anger of the Republicans was colossal. The Republicans ranted and raved. They had their guy on track to be confirmed before midterms as Trump wanted, believing it would help Republicans get elected in those elections. Given that Trump has a Legislative branch with a Republican majority, they know he will not understand why they can’t get this done and get this done in a New York minute. Now here was this woman, and not only was she destroying the Republican time line, but she was impugning the character of their Supreme Court nominee.

Republicans immediately assumed that the Democrats had saved the letter as part of a plan to keep Kavanaugh from getting confirmed at any cost. Obviously the Democrats did try to slow down the confirmation hearings and there were demonstrators at the hearings. The Democrats answer to their constituents and they are aware that Democratic voters do not want more right wing Justices on the Court. Republicans and Democrats know that Democrats have no real power and so they have to use a small handful of techniques available to a minority party. But did they hold Christine Blasey Ford’s letter until the hearing was almost over and then use it because it looked like Kavanaugh would be confirmed? This may be the one thing that Dems did not actually do on purpose.

Diane Feinstein remained calm and level-headed never raising her voice or expressing angry words. She was focused on two tasks, getting an FBI investigation into the situation Blasey Ford had described, or at the very least getting a fair hearing in front of the Senate. She showed great restraint and earned respect for her behavior.

Republicans did not care what Dr. Ford had to say because it was vague enough to be deniable as long as no corroborating testimony came forward. Republicans made sure that no witnesses would be heard and no FBI investigation would be done. They had this jet serviced and ready and sitting on the runway and Kavanaugh will be confirmed now that this “hiccup” has been dealt with.

I think it was great theater to see 11 Republican men, mostly in their dotage, in high dudgeon because Democrats may have used a few pages from the Republican’s favorite bodice ripper. It is not actually a matter of life and death to get Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. But, although I was glad to meet Dr. Blasey Ford, although I found her believable and likeable, she should never have bothered to testify in this kangaroo court where Republicans had suppressed evidence and intended only to humor her, “yes dear”, “so sorry dear”, “not our guy, dear”, “bye dear”. People believe that Dr. Ford was sexually abused, but not by Brett Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh really mean Washington Examiner

Kavanaugh angry Philly.com

But Brett Kavanaugh certainly showed us his mean side. He lectured the Democrats. He obviously felt (or was convinced to feel) that the Democrats were trying to block him only out of animus to his ideology, which he says will not affect his decisions on the Supreme Court. From all of the evidence we have, the ideologies of Supreme Court justices definitely affect the ways they reason and the decisions they make. To hear a court nominee sound so partisan in a confirmation hearing that he accuses the Democrats on the Judiciary committee of using Dr. Ford to stonewall his confirmation because of his role in the Clinton impeachment or their anger about the outcome of the 2016 election was something new to me. He tipped his hand. He was no longer the affable choir boy. I think the Republicans did him a great disservice to call forth this particular incarnation of Brett Kavanaugh.

Yesterday’s supposedly respectful hearing about a sexual abuse accusation from a distraught victim became, instead, a hearing to indict Democrats. The proceedings seemed hardly to resemble a hearing to honestly explore the charges of Dr. Blasey Ford and the fitness of Brett Kavanaugh for a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court. It is very probable that we just wasted a day of our lives listening to a coverup and a venting session, with arrows that could not be launched at one woman because of “optics” being used to puncture another in the name of politics. And after all that, I still bet that Kavanaugh will be confirmed post haste to the Supreme Court of the United States of America for life. Will he play nice with the other justices or will that mean boy appear all too often?

Photo Credit: From Google Image Searches – CNBC.com, Washington Examiner, Philly.com

The United States of Earth

earth Blue Marble Review

Republicans go on and on about the evils of globalization as if liberals want to demolish nations and become the United States of Earth. I do not believe that the modern movement towards globalization is about anything of the kind.

The globalization of which we libtards speak has two parts. One is for the nations of the world to work together globally to be better caretakers of our planet. We have plundered our planet, trashed our planet, and moved harmful chemicals from places where they did no harm to places and in combinations where they threaten our clean water supplies and the layers of air above us that protect us so well from the airless space beyond. What will our planet be like without our ice caps? The very fact that they are melting is proof that earth is warming. As the earth warms our weather appears to grow more severe. Whether we caused this uptick in global heating or not, doesn’t it make sense to explore ways we could slow it down or reverse it? Climate deniers say earth is too big to be affected by human activities, but our planet seems smaller every day.

The other way that us liberal snowflakes use globalization relates to fighting poverty, illiteracy, disease, and lack of opportunity worldwide, especially in nations that may be challenged by harsh climate conditions or constant power struggles that savage land and people. The world has had to contend with at least two or three new diseases that seemed to emerge from these very same challenged areas. HIV had roots in Africa, Ebola virus did also, and West Nile virus, which holds horrors for pregnant mothers, seems to also have come from the tropics. In the past, when travel was difficult these diseases mostly stayed put (although previously some diseases were spread through shipping). Now they threaten everyone on the planet. Keeping people around our planet healthy may be altruistic, but it is also quite selfish. Although drugs can be and are developed to treat these new diseases, raising the standard of living for all people everywhere on earth will offer the best protection of all.

As I listened on this Tuesday, September 25, 2018, to Trump give his speech (Steven Miller’s speech) to the UN and tout the glories of the new nationalism, it did not escape me that the sense of barriers going up around states all over Europe arose from the very Pandora’s Box that the Republicans insisted on opening in Iraq (which they now blame on the Democrats because of Libya). The wave of war spread across the Middle East from Iraq until it arrived at Syria and sent migrants outward into Europe. People leaving a war torn nation where their leader used chemical weapons on his people; that’s a thing we should all comprehend. But the fear of people arriving in a settled nation in large numbers, the timing of these migrations after a long spate of terrorists activities in European nations, and the lack of a good plan for how to offer hospitality to traumatized families has set up new opportunities for power for those who give voice to anti-migrant speech.

Trump can sense fear in others because he feels it himself, hence his support for white supremacists. Trump can sympathize with the rise of dictators in Europe who promise to keep migrants out of their nations. By turning to policies of “our nation first” “earthlings” will lose the very important outcomes of the dual goals of globalization. As a result, Nationalism could destroy America as we know it, but it could also destroy our entire little planet out here in a lonely corner of space. Please keep the destruction down all you powerbrokers, until we find Earth B out there in the void.

Globalization, as us lefties define it, is not completely at odds with Nationalism, so stop making it look like we can only have one or the other. The New World Order is not a real thing. It is a made-up political construct, a conspiracy theory, to deliver a message that the left has extreme and diabolical plans for global domination. If anyone has such plans however, it is the right.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Blue Marble Review

Republicans on Judiciary Should Recuse

Dr Ford thedailybeast.co

Perhaps you wonder why I would say that Republicans on the Judiciary Committee should recuse themselves from the hearings into the Kavanaugh/Dr. Ford matter. After you refresh your memory about the recent history re Republican’s stated beliefs about women I think you might agree with me and write or call your Senators to recommend recusal. It is tempting to want to lure these men into more tone deaf remarks, but we need to weigh the satisfaction we can get from how shocking they might be against the damage they can do to Dr. Ford.

I published a book (The US Republican Constitution: A Nonfiction Constitutional Thriller, N. L. Brisson, on Amazon.com) shortly before the 2016 election, but not in time to have any effect on the outcome. What I found when I compiled my comments in Chapter 5, Roe v Wade, Defying a Supreme Court Decision seems quite appropriate to this moment when Republican men seem rabidly impatient to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, a man who has been accused in September of 2018 of a past act of attempted rape and physical restraint. Here are some of the things Republican men have said about women in the last decade.

  1. Women are just “hosts” for the precious babies that the GOP suddenly stops caring about once they are born, Virginia Senator Steve Martin said in 2014. “I don’t expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive. However, once a child does exist in your womb I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mother’s) doesn’t want it.”
  2. Women who have abortions should be hanged, according to conservative columnist Devin Williamson.
  3. Rape and incest are “minor problems” when compared to abortion, GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak mansplained.
  4. “No” doesn’t always mean “no” if the man decides it doesn’t, says aging right-wing slob Rush Limbaugh.
  5. Emergency rooms erase rape, claimed Texas Rep. Jodie Laudenberg in 2013. “If a woman is raped…We have hospital emergency rooms. We have funded what’s called rape kits that will help women, basically clean her out. And then hopefully that will alleviate that.”
  6. Oral contraceptives cause prostate cancer (in women, who don’t have prostates), so said New Hampshire state Rep. Jeanine Notter in 2012.
  7. Abortion causes breast cancer, and women should pop out babies as early as possible – a lie so precious Republicans in New Hampshire included it in an anti-abortion bill in 2012. (“In fact, for each year that a woman’s first full-term pregnancy is delayed, her risk of breast cancer rises 3.5 percent. The theory that there is a direct link between abortion and breast cancer builds upon this undisputed foundation.”
  8. Women who use contraception are sluts and prostitutes, so sayeth Rush Limbaugh in response to Sandra Fluke’s testimony about a lesbian friend who uses birth control for noncontraceptive medical purposes. “What does it say about a college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says she must be paid to have sex. What does it make her? It makes her a slut right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayer to pay her to have sex.”
  9. “Legitimate rape.” Courtesy of Todd Akin: “From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.”
  10. Long before “legitimate rape,” Bush-appointed federal judge James Holmes said in 1980 that wimmin can’t get pregnant from rape. “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.
  11. Seriously, the “juices don’t flow” and pregnancy just doesn’t happen if a woman is raped, Republican Henry Aldridge said in 1995.
  12. Contraception is as cheap as an aspirin between the knees, Rick Santorum donor Foster Freiss said in 2012.
  13. God wanted you to be raped, Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock told victims who might want an abortion in 2012. “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is a gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape
  14. In 2013, Congressman Steven Stockman postulated that if babies had guns, they would kill their mothers rather than be aborted (and ultimately die anyway).
  15. Tea Party queen, Saturday Night Live has been Victoria Jackson, blamed the Sandy Hook massacre on abortion in 2012.
  16. Fetuses masturbate, according to Rep. Michael Burges in 2013. “If they can feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?
  17. Alabama state Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin said in 2013 that a fetus should be considered an organ in a woman’s body.
  18. According to Tom Cotton, who violated the Logan Act in his attempt to throttle a nuclear deal with Iran, said women should not serve in the military because they’re weak.
  19. A woman wasn’t truly raped if she didn’t go to the emergency room immediately, according to 2016 presidential candidate Ron Paul.
  20. Some girls – especially underage ones – “rape easy” according to Wisconsin Republican Roger Rivard.
  21. “Why not just sit back an’ enjoy” being raped, wondered Texas Republican Clayton Williams.
  22. If a woman who was raped wants an abortion, her doctor should make sure she was really raped, said Idaho state Senator Chuck Winder in 2012.
  23. Mike Huckabee would force child rape victims to give birth to, and raise their rapist’s babies.
  24. According to Fox News contributor Liz Trotta, female soldiers should just expect men to rape them.
  25. According to Republican Paul Ryan, rape is just another method of conception – like in vitro fertilization, which he wants to criminalize.
  26. To 2016 Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, there’s an upside to rape. “And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.”
  27. Seriously, God really wanted you to be raped because it’s a “blessing”, Missouri Republican Sharon Barnes said in 2012.
  28. God even planned your rape, explained failed GOP candidate for Senate Sharro Angle in 2010.
  29. In fact, Kansas state Rep. Pete DeGraaf said in 2011 that women should probably just go ahead and plan to be raped.
  30. Men after all, have the right to rape women as long as those dirty harlots are allowed to have abortions, according to Maine state Rep. Lawrence Lockman in 1995.
  31. Besides, if a man rapes a woman and a baby is produced, the woman should feel blessed because of the “gift” God and her rapist gave her, according to 2016 presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
  32. When it comes down to an abortion, a woman does not have the right to her own life, former Republican Rep. Joe Walsh said in 2012.
  33. Former Tea Party candidate for Senate and OB-GYN Greg Brannon mansplained that pregnant women are just “little girls” who don’t understand their own bodies like he does.
  34. Did you know that rape exceptions are “little gotcha amendments?” Kansas state Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce does!
  35. Women who are raped should consider that, while rape is bad, the child might be absolutely beautiful, West Virginia Delegate Brian Kurcaba said in 2015
  36. Rape isn’t just for unmarried harlots, though. It’s also for husbands, who Utah state Rep. Brian Greene says should be able to rape their wives while they are unconscious. It’s not their first date, after all.
  37. In 2005, conservative commentator William J. Bennett explained that women could decrease the crime rate through abortion, if they aborted black babies.
  38. Women shouldn’t vote, according to conservative Ann Coulter.
  39. You can’t be raped if you’re married, according to 2016 GOP candidate Donald Trump. “You cannot rape your spouse. And there’s very clear case law.”
  40. According to right-wing Evangelical “Christian” Pat Robertson, the fight for women’s rights has nothing to do with women – it’s a socialist plot to destroy the family and kill children, among other things.
  41. Life might actually begin before conception, so sayeth former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer when she signed a bill that said as much.
  42. But it’s OK – 2016 Republican candidate Ben Carson says we should “re-educate” women so they don’t get too uppity about abortion.
  43. With all this talk about “re-education,” if wouldn’t be right to skip pointing out that Mike Huckabee – who wants to be President – thinks women who have abortions are just like a million bagillion Hitlers. “If you felt something incredibly powerful at Auschwitz and Birkenau over the 11 million killed worldwide and the 1.5 million killed on those grounds, cannot we feel something extraordinary about 55 million murdered in our country in the wombs of their mothers?”
  44. Abortion is so horrible that women who are in the process of making the difficult decision to have one should be read their rights like criminals according to 2016 GOP contender Piyush Jindal.
  45. But do women know, anyway – besides laying back and spreading their legs? (2015, Republican Perryville, MO school board member Mark Germaud)

“This is just a small sampling of the horrific remarks Republicans have made regarding women,” says John Prager who compiled this list of comments that make many of us smack our foreheads in dismay. The remarks bear such similarities that we wonder if Republicans have a secret society that indoctrinates their minds with this stuff. Sadly, it might be in the Evangelical/Fundamentalist churches where this happens. Many of the women believe the same things the men do.

See the original article at

http://addictinginfo.org/2015/08/26/these-45-horrible-gop-quotes-show-why-no-woman-should-vote-republican-ever

3 senators on justice committee CNN

Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings

“Capitol Hill has seen dozens of senators cycle through its halls over the years, but at least three had front row seats to a pair of Supreme Court nominations both rocked by claims of sexual misconduct separated by 27 years’ time.

Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Orrin Hatch of Utah and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont were all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee when the panel heard Anita Hill’s blockbuster testimony in 1991 against the nomination of now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

All three senators remain on the committee and questioned President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh earlier this month, giving the three men an unmatched perspective on two moments in history with significant similarities.”

You can see what each of these senators had to say about the Anita Hill hearings and now the Ford hearings here:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/22/politics/senate-judiciary-committee-chuck-grassley-patrick-leahy-orrin-hatch/index.html

A look at past practice for the men on the Judiciary Committee and a list of the remarks of Republicans suggests that the GOP may be obsolete; a party of backward troglodytes. Christine Blasey Ford has her work cut out for her in getting through to this lot. We will all be watching but Republican men in the Senate who seem to have gone power-mad will most likely do to you, once again, what may have been done to your when you were 15. You have put yourself in front of a runaway train and there is no Dudley Do-Right in sight. We will all be watching so that hopefully whatever happens will happen in full view of all of America. If it turns out we can’t watch someone will be sure we learn what happened. Perhaps with the numbers in the Senate you will not be able to win but you can at least strike a blow to add to others that might portend better days ahead for women. Stay safe.

Photo Credits: From a Google Image Search – thedailybeast.com, CNN

Living in the Loopholes

Loopholes Oregon Center for Public Policy

We are living in the loopholes. We exploit loopholes in our documents and in our laws. We exploit privacy laws and consumer protection laws. We create a safeguard against one scam or sneaky work-around and a new way to skirt that safeguard is instantly dreamed up. It does speak volumes for our creativity but not so much about our character. Perhaps since opportunities to climb the economic and social ladder have gotten scarce exploring the frontiers of the art of the con are the only places left for self-expression and achieving a sort of trashy success. More and more of us don’t seem to worry about where our money comes from these days because we don’t have that luxury.

There have always been con artists, probably since time began and traders wandered to distant tribal groups to barter their wares for food and whatever passed for payment. Early traders may have been welcomed and fussed over for their news of other people and their exotic goods from distant geographical locations. Still I bet some traders had a reputation for being more honest than others.

Although people in towns all over the world cheated each other in business deals, property deals, and every other way imaginable, the gypsies were often shunned for their disregard for laws and boundaries and were even rumored to have kidnapped children. Perhaps they were just too blatant about their insistence on an alternate lifestyle unlike that of most people who were beginning to settle in one location (a city, a town). It is difficult for people who at least pretend to live a rule-based life to incorporate those who are seemingly lawless. But sneaky lawless behavior is often tolerated.

The fewer opportunities there are to earn a substantial wage the more likely people are to look for loopholes. So as soon as we got our “do not call” lists people came up with the robocall. Making robocalls seems like a terrible way to earn a living wage and offers, I suspect, little social stability. But judging by the fact that I almost never bother to answer my phone anymore the “business” is thriving. And the “do not call” fix does not work for robocalls. Phone companies say they are working on a new fix but robocalls must be a difficult thing to stop because that has not happened so far.

We seem to be living in an age when finding loopholes compares to mining for gold. I would say that it is because we have a con man for a President, but it predates 45. The Republican Party, the Conservatives, and wealthy donors have been mining loopholes in our Constitution and our laws for some time now and the prize is money, of course, but the bigger prize has been power and finding ways to hold on to that power.

Obstruction is not forbidden in our laws although it sort of undermines the whole idea of governance so it mines a loophole. Republicans have used this tactic time and time again here at the beginning of the 21stcentury to great effect. When a former Chief Executive of our nation had to resort to governing in limited fashion by Executive Action because of obstruction, the Republicans just bided their time until they took over the executive office and then overturned all the previous Executive Actions, which do not have the longevity of actual laws. When faced with public resistance to their occupation of our halls of government they resorted to issuing their own Executive Actions.

There are American people trying to “turn” state governments red in order to compile a magic number of states who will vote for calling a new Constitutional Convention. These people are not in the government, although they certainly have allies in the government. They are wealthy people, corporate people who do not want to stop using the fossil fuels that funnel wealth around the globe and that have so successfully fueled their businesses. They understand fossil fuel. Solar energy, wind energy, hydropower, electricity, and all alternative energies reek to them of what they disparage as the “new world order”, at a time when all these rich old people are trying to make the “new world order” the same as the “old world order.” These new energies seem wimpy to them compared to oil and gas and even nukes. It is true that we probably cannot power the world as we know it with only the alternative energies so far available. But changes on earth (melting ice caps, more extreme weather) tell us that we must find a way to wean ourselves from using fossil fuels. What new laws do you think they would like to make at their new Constitutional Convention?

More loopholes. We are learning that impeachment has no teeth and certainly can’t be used when one party controls our entire government. We are learning that there is really no case of a President who is bad enough to invoke the 25thAmendment. Even the Emoluments Clause, although it makes a rule prohibiting Presidents from making money from their powerful position, is not enforceable because, apparently, a sitting President can neither be subpoenaed nor indicted. We have laws against nepotism – unenforceable. Unfortunately we have no laws against Tweeting.

When the Republicans, or anyone, operate in the loopholes of our laws our laws lose their force and we find ourselves in that place everyone keeps talking about, a Constitutional Crisis. Sounds bad doesn’t it. Well it is. Because it means our democracy/republic as we know it could fail. It doesn’t mean our Constitution gets a bad grade; it means it no longer has any power as an instrument of American governance. Of course there is always that promise of that Constitutional Convention our oligarchs are trying to convene. Not exactly the idealistic base one would hope for when forming a new government to equal our old one. I think we can say goodbye to “we the people” if this is our eventual fate.

It is the newest trend in Europe for a man, so far it is always a man, to get himself elected in a democratic election and then to find loopholes in either the country’s laws or in the resolve of the people. Certain patterns seem to work to turn democratic nations into autocracies. Finding ways to intimidate a free press, at first verbally and then with arrests and perhaps even mysterious deaths is part of the authoritarian playbook. Dismantling legislative bodies or filling them with toadies is also in there. And turning the judicial system into a body that merely rubber stamps executive policy. Then you create new language, a linguistic loophole and you call your dictatorship an “illiberal democracy.” You exploit some fear that you have magnified in your people’s minds, you find a loophole through their usually principled ideals, and that’s how you hold onto power.

Living in the loopholes is an insidious way to live our lives. It leads to dark underground places that undermine the worth of individuals and of a culture as a whole. It makes us lawless and disrespectful. How can you respect anyone who lets her/himself be conned by anyone as despicable as you. It leads to loss of freedom and fear. It makes everyone suspect. Who is honest, who is cheating? Who is stealing away your personal power and/or your personal property, and invading your privacy? Who is aiming to turn you from an autonomous actor into someone who must obey or hide in the shadows? We can’t hope to plug every loophole. Plug one, another opens. The only way to fight the trend towards exploiting loopholes is to call it out and make it shameful. Living in the loopholes could take away our democracy/republic and land us in an autocracy. It could happen here. It could happen now. It only starts with a robocall.

Survey – Immigration/Migration

child detention centers thedailybeast.com

On September 12, 2018 the New York Times gave us the newest figures on migrant children who are being detained in the U. S. Many of us were shocked to learn that the number is now 12,800 and that our government does not plan to reunite these children with their parents who may have been deported. Many of these children also arrived here unaccompanied by their parents. Here’s how the NYT’s article begins. Please follow the link if you want more details.

“Even though hundreds of children separated from their families after crossing the border have been released under court order, the overall number of detained migrant children has exploded to the highest ever recorded — a significant counternarrative to the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce the number of undocumented families coming to the United States.

Population levels at federally contracted shelters for migrant children have quietly shot up more than fivefold since last summer, according to data obtained by The New York Times, reaching a total of 12,800 this month. There were 2,400 such children in custody in May 2017.

The huge increases, which have placed the federal shelter system near capacity, are due not to an influx of children entering the country, but a reduction in the number being released to live with families and other sponsors, the data collected by the Department of Health and Human Services suggests. Some of those who work in the migrant shelter network say the bottleneck is straining both the children and the system that cares for them.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/12/us/migrant-children-detention.html

Once again the two parties have adopted different words to refer to these children with Republicans calling them immigrants and Democrats calling them migrants. Please take the following survey and see the directions that follow it.

survey 2 Newcastle West Cham of Comm

Survey  (Circle your choice)

Yes.         No        I like the Trump approach to immigration

Yes.         No.      I think we should build a wall

Yes          No.       I think we should accept zero immigrants across our southern border

Yes.          No.      I think these children should be kept here and placed in foster care after every effort is made to reunite them with their parents or relatives

Yes.          No.   I want these children sent out of the country

Yes            No.   I approve of the Trump’s plan to spend $20 millions taken from the foreign assistance budget to pay Mexico for plane and bus fare to send 17,000 immigrants to Mexico

Yes.           No   These children are migrating because of fear about their fate at home and should be allowed access to due process to determine if they qualify for asylum

Yes.          No.  Assign more judges to expedite the cases of these children.

Yes.          No.  Hold demonstrations across America to bring pressure on the administration to adopt a more humane approach

Yes.          No.  Appoint a committee of citizens to examine approaches to immigration/migration that others have suggested (perhaps a Move On initiative)

Yes.          No   Open the US southern border for a year and study what happens. Allow people to move freely back and forth across the border.

Yes.          No.  Close the border between Mexico and America down completely except for designated entry zones until a plan is in place that works.

Yes.          No.   Enforce the southern border laws with towers and a shoot-to-kill order.

Yes.          No    Migrants/immigrants may come in but cannot collect welfare, food stamps, or have access to free health care.

Yes.         No.   Respect the Flores ruling and do not keep children in detention longer than 20 days.

 

Offer your own suggestions for dealing with migration/immigration at our southern border:

 

Highlight the survey and copy it to a Word document. Print it out. Fill it in. Send to Migration/Immigration Survey, PO Box. 3876, Syracuse, NY 13220

Drawing: (To join in the drawing you must include your mail address. It will only be used if you are the winner. Otherwise it will be discarded after the drawing.

IMG_0803

When we have received 50 surveys we will pick a winner, we will email the winner to get a mailing address and we will send you either the Armchair Observer mug or the Cheap Seats mug. You may specify which one you would like. If there is no email address we will assume you do not want to take part in the drawing although we will still count your survey as one of the 50.

Photo Credits: From a Google Image Search, thedailybeast.com, Newcastle West Chamber of Commerce

 

 

Another Typical Week in Trump’s Version of America

hurricane-florences-ABC News

Second Week of September, 2018

While we all have been engrossed by an approaching hurricane with all its unknown variables such as, where it will come ashore, what will the winds be like, and how much rain will fall, we have also been listening to our President play the Revising Recent History Game in what is just a typical week in Trump’s version of America.

Although we all watched the aftermath of two hurricanes slamming Puerto Rico, despite the fact that we all saw the footage of the devastation, Trump denies the most recent facts about how many died. Even though we decried the painfully botched recovery and we knew that the actual death toll had to be greater than the 16-17 deaths that were officially reported, our President, Donald Trump expects that we will deny our own senses, our own logical deductions, and allow him to insist that the scientific analysis that tells us the number of deaths was more like 3,000 is wrong.

No matter how you repackage the facts, Donald, Mr. 45, there are videos, there are witnesses. You could change every story printed on the matter, but you cannot erase what we saw with our own eyes. What we abhor the most is that you try to deny what is clearly a matter of record and that some Americans let you get away with it.

What will happen after this slow-moving Hurricane Florence finally blows itself out perhaps somewhere over the northern Atlantic? We’re on the mainland not an island (although that island was not very far away) so I expect the recovery will follow the usual pattern. FEMA will do its always somehow controversial thing. People from all over the US will pitch in to help. The convoys of utility trucks will wend their way backwards along the path of the hurricane. Some will bemoan the fact that they evacuated unnecessarily and will vow that next time they will stay put and a large swath of America will eventually be cleaned up and restored to something like pre-hurricane status. Deaths will be mourned and the living will go on.

Then we will try to figure out what to do about the newly exposed information that 12,800 immigrant children without parents are still being detained in the United States of America. Their parents have been found guilty of crimes and our government has decided not to place these children with foster families or with relatives already in America. What does our current administration have planned for these children?

This is the newest old plan according to the Daily Intelligencer, writing on September 13, 2018:

“In recent weeks President Trump has been threatening to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t give him more U.S. taxpayer money to build his border wall. In the meantime, his administration plans to take $20 million that Congress allocated for foreign assistance, and use it to pay Mexico for plane and bus fare to deport as many as 17,000 people in the country illegally.”

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/09/us-pay-mexico-deportations.html

If you don’t like this source the same information appears in several other sources.

Our guts are already tangled by so many reports of weather gone slightly mad, of the inexplicable lies of America’s President to cover up his very odd behavior towards Puerto Rico, this new data about the numbers of immigrant children still being detained in America, and the hurried agenda of Mitch McConnell to pack the courts before the blue wave that could hopefully come in November (which we did not discuss but I will offer you a link)

Mitch McConnell plans to keep Senate open through October, against tradition to keep the confirmation-of-judges assembly line ticking along and to keep Dem Senators from going home to campaign.

https://www.salon.com/2018/09/13/mcconnell-breaks-senate-tradition-to-obstruct-democratic-campaigns-hes-resorted-to-cheap-tactics/

that you might have missed another, far smaller story, an enticing little mystery with huge possibilities for the conspiracy mill.

A solar observatory in New Mexico is evacuated for a week and the FBI is investigating. No one will say why.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/a-solar-observatory-in-new-mexico-is-evacuated-for-a-week-and-the-fbi-is-investigating-no-one-will-say-why/2018/09/14/ea006a96-b78b-11e8-a2c5-3187f427e253_story.html

If we were under attack from outer space or had contact with aliens would we band together? Or would we have factions of those who wanted to try diplomacy, and those who wanted to blow them out of the galaxy, and those who were in denial and kept claiming it was all a plot by those libtards to oust real Americans from power? Well the article claims that no aliens are involved in this mystery so we will not get to see if any of my alternative predictions pan out. But it does make us wonder what really is going on in New Mexico. And it will probably prove easier to resolve than any of the other big issues we consider each and every day in the administration of 45. Whew, which one of these crazy weeks will finally end either our democracy or this administration?

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search, ABC News