THE MAN WHO KNOWS TOO LITTLE

The Twit-in-Chief has struck again. His hail of lying, insulting, and threatening inanities gives one the impression he has a bump stock attached to his Notsoverysmart Phone.

This is one of his latest, hence the meme quoting Andy Borowitz;

With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!

This tweet is offensive on many levels. First of all, NBC itself is not licensed by the government. Only TV and radio stations using public airwaves are subject to federal law and regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). But his ignorance extends far beyond lack of knowledge about a major independent agency within the United States government.

There is also a little thing within the United States Constitution called the First Amendment which reads as follows:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That great document also has this provision in Article II, Section 1 requiring that the President when assuming office, take this oath:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States

His threats on this and other issues are in direct violation of the oath he took January 20, 2017.

As Jordan Weissman explains here the threat against NBC is utterly empty so far as the power of the Twit or the govenment goes, but is still frightening nonetheless.

https://slate.com/business/2017/10/donald-trumps-threats-against-nbc-are-empty-yet-frightening.html

An element of the cause for alarm is that, given other statements in the past and ongoing wars with media and media/entertainment personalities, it is clear he BELIEVES he has this power. And when he fails to exercise it he will brag of course about how wonderful and considerate and sparing he is.

Which brings us to other examples of his ignorance. And the ignorance is palpable leaving one to speculate whether he really is that stupid or is being willfully so just to further whatever demented agenda he has. Here are a few:

Not knowing anything about the nation’s nuclear arsenal and why it is the size it is.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2017/10/now_we_know_why_rex_tillerson_called_donald_trump_a_moron.html

Inferring the rising stock market somehow ammeliorates part of the National Debt.

https://slate.com/business/2017/10/trump-says-the-rising-stock-market-is-erasing-the-national-debt-in-a-sense.html

His utter lies on the effects of the estate tax, declaring erroneously how it burdens small business owners and farmers

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/sep/28/donald-trump/donald-trumps-pants-fire-claim-about-estate-tax-sm/

That is just one of SEVENTY Pants on Fire ratings he has received from Politifact

http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/

And that was a lie he repeated just last night in Harrisburg:

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/presidential/trump-harrisburg-pa-estate-tax-cuts-trucking-20171011.html

His Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson allegedly and probably and logically and accurately called him a “fucking moron”. The response was to challenge Tillerson to a test of IQ’s. Twit against Tillerson in an IQ contest is like me against an eagle in a flying contest.

I could cite so many more instances of this ignorance, this lack of knowledge about or even interest in the powers and mechanisms of our government and our laws, but I can’t write the equivalent of Moby Dick or War And Peace in this space.

There is a popular term millennials are now using to describe someone who is aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice) amd that term is woke, a brand new use of an extremely old word.

Would that Twit was woke.

In the meantime I wish I could be woke  from this nightmare.

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BRING ‘EM ON

 

What is taking place in this photgraph?

  1. Kim Jong-Un exhorting his troops to destroy the “American bastards” as he called us after a missile launch on the Fourth of July?
  2. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (who’s your daddy?) leading ISIS fighters in Muslim prayers before launching their latest Jihadist mission?
  3. Osama bin Laden (you don’t think that fool Obama really killed him do you?) preparing all his remaining followers to meet virgins while making al-Qaeda Great Again?

No, you silly people, none of the above. That’s one of thousands of photographs of troops from the various services taken just prior to the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944.

Our government keeps warning the public of how these countries or groups present an existential danger to the United States and we must commit hundreds of thousands of our military personnel and hand over trillions of dollars to our Military-Industrial-Terrorist Complex in order to protect the 320 million people within our borders from a horrible end.

The thing is, none of these entities is capable of destroying us or destroying our way of life. Let’s face it. The United States of America is pretty damned impenetrable.

Oh, sure, North Korea might be able to launch a nuclear armed ICBM that reaches our West Coast but is that necessarily a bad thing? Let’s say it lands in Seattle. Whatever numbers of people it kills can it exceed the numbers posted by the multiple serial murderers spawned in that area? Ted Bundy, Gary Ridgeway the Green River Killer, John Allen Muhammed the D.C. Sniper, Robert Yates, Jr the former national Guard helicopter pilot convicted of 15 murders may just be the tip of the iceburg.

Let’s say it hits Portland.The worst fallout there would be the hair from the prolific amount of man buns which will eventually lead to clogging of the water supply. Will self-absorbed Portlandians even notice?

But if North Korea wants to invade, it faces substantial obstacles. Indeed, it might invade South Korea first hoping to provoke  U.S. retaliation. But geez, once those troops pass the 38th parallel heading to Seoul they will be distracted by a plethora of Samsung products that will make their lives easier and if they get hold of some Galaxy cell phones they will be rapt on sharing selfies with their loved ones back home and possibly trip over their own weapons that kill them as they text with their eyes down not paying attention.  If those phones are the S7 model they could die from their use, saving the efforts of ROK troops.

Too, they will have access to the first decent kimchi they have ever had. Hell, they’ll have access to real food for the first time.

If they want more direct access to North America they’ll need to come across the Siberian Peninsula, just as did the original Native Americans thousands of years ago. And we know what happened to THEM on our soil. Besides, do you think Putin will give them a right-of-way through Siberia? Hell, NO, he’s invested too much time and money into his sock puppet Drumpf to put his reign of terror at risk.

At least North Korea has an army, an air force, and a navy, the latter putting the SS Minnow to shame. ISIS? They’ve got pickup trucks. Maybe pickup trucks with machine guns, but even those are not nearly as well armed as the ones owned by the 3,400,768 active militias on our shores. However, let’s say ISIS was able to commandeer a fleet of seaworthy kayaks to voyage across the Atlantic. Chances are they’ll end up on our East Coast at a place like Myrtle Beach. With the plentiful family attractions there, those brave fighters will immediately regret having left the wives and kids at home when they could be sharing the experience and the windmills on the mini-golf courses will befuddle them. They very well could waste all their ammunition attempting to silence them.

Then, while camped, in the evenings they will wander into the bars and become dazzled by all the lovely young women competeing in wet burqa contests.

If they land much farther south at Miami Beach they will soon realize that they are overmatched in number by the Jews there. They will face the threat of being nagged to death by Jewish mothers. Or else, since Miami Beach has also been a favorite playground of the Mafia, these ISIS fools could find themselves swimming with the fishes.

Al Qaeda faces similar difficulties. Again no navy or air force and even if its operatives got their hands on some planes, there is no guarantee they could land safely to dispatch an invasion force without additional training. But let’s say they did manage to successfully breech our borders and began to move stealthily inland. Assunimg they came in on the East Coast means they will soon encounter Appalachia. Once in that territory getting to see first hand how that part of the country lives back in the hollers and in mostly abandoned coal camps, they will realize that this is no America worth destroying.

After all, these folks  have barely advanced beyond the 14th century. Al Qaeda will feel right at home.

 

Rest easy my friends.

DRUMPF AIN’T NO JOE FRIDAY

 

Sgt. Joe Friday, played on TV’s Dragnet by noted former wooden Indian Jack Webb, was a straight shooting Los Angeles Police Department detective who frerquently admonished witnesses to crimes that what he wanted was

Just The Facts, Ma’am

If only that were the case with our present Presidential administration, from top to bottom.

In the aftermath of The Charlottesville race disturbances, culminating in the death of a young counter-protesting woman by a vehicle driven at ramming speed, Drumpf delivered some conflicting messages.

His first statement, issued Saturday was this:

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Drumpf, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time…

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/12/politics/trump-charlottesville-statement/index.html

He did NOT call out the Nazi’s and KKKers or other white supremacist groups by name, and stated quite clearly that the demonstrators who came to oppose the fascist racists were also to blame for the violence.

Reports have indicated his own aides urged him to make a stronger statement and on Monday he did. The perttinent part:

…Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans. …

The full text can be found here:

Full text: Donald Trump says “racism is evil” in his latest statement on Charlottesville

Okay. Much criticism from some that it was far too late and from others that his lack of sincerity was obvious. That criticism can be dismissed, for our purposes, as quibbling.

But on Tuesday all hell broke loose as the Apologist For White Supremacists In Chief exploded in vitriol at a press conference that was not even meant to be about Charlottesville. He defended his Saturday remarks and seemed to walk back his critcism of racists on Monday:

I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement, but you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts,” Drumpf said Tuesday. “It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts. It is a very, very important process to me. It is a very important statement. So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts.

The absurdity of that claim is patent. Case in point on Thursday, reacting to an apparent terroist attack in Barcelona he told a tale about how General Pershing once too care of Islamic terrorists. He had captured fifty of them and had his men dip the same amount of bullets in pig’s blood, the well known antidote to murderous attacks by Muslims. Lining the 50 Muslims up 49 were shot and the 50th was released to go back and warn his fellow Muslims that was what happened to their ilk.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-barcelona_us_5995bcd4e4b0d0d2cc851561?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Of course that never happened.

What else never happened? Well, over 3 million illegal votes in the 2016 election for one. There is simply no evidence that non-citizens vote in large numbers or that even citizens entitled to vote do so multiple times. Yet Drumpf, embarrassed by the fact Hillary Clinton outpolled him in the popular vote by about 3 million tries to make it look as if that margin was entirely due to illegal votes. But he shoots off his mouth about this to Congressional leaders a few days after inauguration without any…you know…FACTS.

http://www.factcheck.org/2017/01/trumps-bogus-voter-fraud-claims-revisited/

In November Drumpf asserted, in a play to his racist base, that 81% of white homicide victims were killed by blacks. He added some other numbers that were fiction and cited a non-existent agency as his source. That happens to be one of his many “Pants On Fire” ratings from Politifact.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/nov/23/donald-trump/trump-tweet-blacks-white-homicide-victims/

Indeed, Politifact has six different ratings:

  • True
  • Mostly True
  • Half True
  • Mostly False
  • False
  • Pants on Fire…That means the statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.

To date Politifact has examined and fact-checked 442 statements and claims made by Drumpf. A full 69% fall into one of the three false categories with 16% (69) Pants on Fire.

http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/

FYI: Barack Obama has more fact chgecks than anyone else with 76% in one of the true categories and only 2% Pants on Fire. Hillary Clinton has 73% in the true categories and only 2% Pants on Fire.

So Drumpf has about as much connection with fact as oatmeal does to ingredients for thermonuclear weapons.

Drumpf’s father’s real name was NOT Fred, as is commonly believed. It was Geppetto.

 

UPDATE NOTE: I originally wrote that “on Wednesday all hell broke loose” though Drumpf had spoken on Tuesday. My intent was to note the clamor that really went fullblast the next day, though in our internet world the outbursts were almost immediate. I edited Wednesday to Tuesday for greater clarity in that regard.

UMOC

 

 

 

 

YOU’VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT

On Saturday, August 12, 2017, white supremecists held a rally in Charlottesville, Va., ostensibly to protest the proposed removal of a statue of known traitor to America Robert E. Lee from a public park. The rally turned violent as the rallyers attacked counter-protesters opposed to their racist views, beating several up and using pepper spray on others. It culminated in one of their evil ilk ramming a group of the moral counter-demonstrators with his souped up car, killing one woman and injuring more. The young fucker arrested is only twenty years old.
How the hell could such a young person develop hatred for non-whites and Jews and others who cannot lay claim to being white males?
Now the term often applied to these racist monsters who believe the color of their skin is superior to all others is white supremacy. That designation is meant to distinguish these ignorant bastards from the standard right-leaning conservatives, assuming any really still exist. However, white supremacy is a misnomer since the movement is actually ALL WRONG.
Its adherents spuriously allege white males are discriminated against and oppressed because other people who not share that description seek to ensure they have the same rights and opportunities that white males are always privileged to enjoy.
I myself am a white male with 70 years experience…and counting…and I have never experienced discrimination or oppression as a consequence of my gender and complexion.
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
The great Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific was based on Michener’s collection of tales about World War II stories he heard about the South Pacific, most especially one involving racism. An American Navy officer falls in love with a native girl but, fearing she would not fit in with his upper class WHITE Philadelphia mainline family, he does not marry her and is then killed in action.
Looking at his own prejudices he sings “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” which highlights the fact that people are not born with racial hate in their hearts.
Complete lyrics.
You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear
You’ve got to be taught from year to year
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade
You’ve got to be carefully taught
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You’ve got to be carefully taught
That seems a logical place to look for the source of the young driver’s actions, both in attending the rally in the first place then in his wanton, terroristic attack. Great numbers of his cohorts are also young men.
But a prime example of this principle is Dear Leader Drumpf. His father Fred was a known racist long before asshole son hit the scene, though there is no known proof he was a KKK member despite numerous memes I’ve seen.
However, legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie lived in one of Fred, Drumpf’s aprtment complexes, Beach Haven, for a couple of years beginning in December 1950. “Bitch Havens” was what Woody Guthrie called the Drumpf complex he moved into, and was horrified by this exclusively white “JimCrow town.”
So upset was Guthrie that he wrote a poem:
“I suppose/Old Man Drumpf knows/Just how much/Racial Hate/he stirred up/In the bloodpot of human hearts/When he drawed/That color line/Here at his/1800 family project.”
Years later those words were put to music.
When the DOJ sued Fred and son for violating the Fair Housing Act by racial profiling, Beach Haven was one of the properties cited. At the time The Donald declared the suit was “reverse discrimination” (Sound familiar, Charlottesville Nazis?)
Of course Drumpf, ever the fighter, signed a consent decree with DOJ. Didn’t stop him. In 1982 class action suits were instituted against other of his properties (though Fred was the only one sued by name)
Again that case was settled with damages paid to the discriminated against potential tenants (Other companies were defendants, too. It was a group settlement.).
“Workers at Drumpf’s casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, have accused him of racism over the years. The New Jersey Casino Control Commission fined the Drumpf Plaza Hotel and Casino $200,000 in 1992 because managers would remove African-American card dealers at the request of a certain big-spending gambler. A state appeals court upheld the fine.”
That article also describes other instances demonstrating Drumpf’s racism including his appointment of racist swamp creatuers such as Steve Bannon to his administration.
How on earth did Drumpf become such a racist who supports white supremecists who love him?
He was carfeully taught.
Thanks, Fred.

WHAT, ME WORRY?

The man—and I use that word only in its most general sense—pictured above has proven to be startlingly incompetent throughout his life. Yet he constantly brags about his superiority in all manner of things. Sad.

Actor Stephen Fry (yes, I, too, have barely heard of him) was voted the most intelligent person on TV in the U.K according to this article in HuffPo wherein he provides an explanation of why the man pictured above has so many supporters who believe everything he says, even when it is obviously pure twaddle and outright lies.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/stephen-fry-explains-lies_us_591550ebe4b00f308cf4323c

Fry believes a psychological lesson helps explain this effect.

 

For example, researchers found students who were least proficient often overestimated their own abilities.

“The skills they lacked were the same skills required to recognize their incompetence,” Fry said. “The incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.”

That’s now known as the Dunning-Kruger effect.

The Dunning-Kruger effect was developed by psychologists at Cornell. It considers that incompetent people

fail to recognize their own lack of skill

fail to recognize the extent of their inadequacy

fail to accurately gauge skill in others

recognize and acknowledge their own lack of skill only after they are exposed to training for that skill

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

Both Fry and Wikipedia offer oversimplifications of Dunning-Kruger, but the entire Dunning-Kruger paper can be found here:

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.64.2655&rep=rep1&type=pdf

We focus on the metacognitive skills of the incompetent to explain, in part, the fact that people seem to be so imperfect in appraising themselves and their abilities.1 Perhaps the best illustration of this tendency is the “above-average effect,” or the tendency of the average person to believe he or she is above average…

That, the man pictured does to the max. Indeed, the Washington Post compiled a litany of such claims last October. Among them

“I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone, which is why I’m the one who can truly fix them,”

“I think nobody knows the system better than I do.” (on government)

“Nobody knows more about trade than me.”

“There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.”

“So a general gets on, sent obviously by Obama, and he said, ‘Mr. Drumpf doesn’t understand. He knows nothing about defense.’ I know more about offense and defense than they will ever understand, believe me. Believe me. Than they will ever understand. Than they will ever understand.”

“Because nobody knows the system better than me. I know the H1B. I know the H2B. Nobody knows it better than me.”

And, of course, there is his constant bragging about his negotiating skills.

He understands the tax laws but insists he can’t release his tax returns because he is under IRS audit. The IRS tells him he can, though whether he is under audit is a private matter.

He “knows the system” but yet many appointed positions remain unfilled that are vital to the workings even he wishes to occur.

As to the military and the generals, he also promised to have a plan to defeat ISIS “within 30 days” Still not done.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/trumpometer/promise/1375/develop-plan-defeat-isis-30-days/

And when the Seals mission in Yemen went awry did he take responsibility because he knows the military? Hell no.

On Visas he knows more than anybody? Several federal judges have told him he does not. And that is compounded by his utter lack of understanding of how the federal courts work—or else it reveals that he doesn’t care that federal courts exist, he wants to be a dictator.

On trade he’s an expert? He’s gone from totalling condemning NAFTA to a willingness to renegotiate with Canada and Mexico on some of its terms. All the while he ignores mountains of evidence that NAFTA is not a disaster, but at worst only a lukewarm success for the United States

And negotiating skills? Gee, where were those demonstrated when Republicans were forced to give up ACA repeal and all the program cuts he wanted in order to keep the government financed for the remainder of this fiscal year? He got NOTHING he wanted.

This piece provides a more recent perspective on Dunning-Kruger.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2016/11/revisiting-why-incompetents-think-theyre-awesome/

Unfortunately, in those places ruled by the smug and complacent, a classic paper has become a weapon. The findings of Dunning and Kruger are being reduced to “Stupid people are so stupid that they don’t know they are stupid.” Rather bluntly, Dunning himself said, “The presence of the Dunning-Kruger effect, as it’s been come to be called, is that one should pause to worry about one’s own certainty, not the certainty of others.” And that humorously suggests the Dunning-Kruger effect is now a candidate to become a second Godwin’s law.

Like Dunning, I do not take such a dim view of humanity. In fact, Dunning-Kruger and follow-up papers give us cause for hope. They show that people are not usually irredeemably stupid. You can teach people to accurately self-evaluate—though, in their specific examples, this also involved teaching them the very skill they were trying to evaluate.

(Godwin’s law, incidentally, is the proposition that in any comment thread, if long enough, some comparison to Hitler will emerge.)

But remember the fourth point of D-K

recognize and acknowledge their own lack of skill only after they are exposed to training for that skill

While that may be true, that presupposes that the person demonstrates a desire to cure their lack of skill. In our present case, do not hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

What, ME worry? Damned right I worry.

 

THE WHARTON FOLLIES

Wharton Follies is an annual Spring comedy show written, produced, and performed by Wharton MBA students. A certain graduate of Wharton…from its undergraduate school, not its MBA program…has brought this follies idea onto the national stage and it is a 24 hour a day 7 days a week production with only occasional unscheduled but very brief intermissions. It is, of course, headquartered at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washngton, D.C. which provides the primary stage but its road companies are legion and come in a variety of packages for your entertainment.

They may be presented as a political rally before a decidedly less than capacity Pennsylvania Farm Show Arena which somehow was “record attendance” or at Town Halls across the country where the legislative provocateurs who kowtow to that certain graduate have been drawing nearly uniformly panning reviews, to even the bushes at the White House where the chief spokesman for that certan graduate took to hiding from reporters seeking an explanation of that day’s performance.

Now, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania has a mostly deserved reputation for churning out top business leaders. But this certain graduate, one could conclude, is the exception that proves the rule. For his economic beliefs and ideas are decidely a bunch of hogwash. They defy facts, logic, and a rational thought process.

In his personal life he has demonstrated that a teeny tiny loan of just $1,000,000 from his father, and the use of that same father’s name and connections and  loan guarantees and the provision of other financing, as well as that certain graduate’s ultimate inheritance of possibly as much as $200 million from his by then dead father can be built into an empire worth much less than if it had been invested in an index fund and he could have avoided the ignonimy of six bankruptcies, a failed football franchise, a failed airline, a university that was both a fraud and a failure, and at least one year—1995—in which he lost over NINE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS from all his multiple enterprises.

Along the way he excoriates NAFTA and any notion of international trade that takes jobs away from the United States to foreign climes while simultaneously shipping production of his own line of clothing overseas and purchasing steel from China to build at least his Las Vegas hotel if not other of his edifices. (And his daughter is equally adept at these same business maneuvers.)

And the hell of it all is that his Follies play to an audience that gets no bang for their bucks.

Nevertheless he persists. In an interview with The Economist, partially recounted here

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/05/11/donald_trump_thinks_he_invented_the_phrase_priming_the_pump.html

that certain graduate inexplicably lays claim to coining the phrase “priming the pump” as a metaphor for cutting taxes to stimulate the economy.

Yes.
We have to prime the pump.

It’s very Keynesian.
We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. Have you heard that expression before, for this particular type of an event?

Priming the pump?
Yeah, have you heard it?

Yes.
Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just…I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It’s what you have to do.

The phrase itself dates to at least as early as 1840 in reference to pumping water from the ground but economist John Maynard Keynes used the term beginning almost a century ago when describing how government spending, in times of economic distress, could put money in people’s hands so that the economy would improve. Of course this certain graduate perverts the term in the sense that he speaks of tax cuts for the already rich, not the expansion of government spending that will “prime the pump”. So not only did he NOT coin the phrase, he does not even understand its meaning.
If you can stomach the entire desultory interview have at it.

http://www.economist.com/Trumptranscript

I note that, as usual, the certain graduate is either grossly misinformed or outright lying in his statements on a regular basis. I would have fact-checked but my time is limited. I’m preparing for my 100th birthday in thirty years and have not the time to spare.
However, some real facts about our trade with Mexico provide some enlightenment. There is no denying that we run a deficit in our trade with Mexico. For instance in 2016 that deficit was just over $63 Billion. We exported $231 Bn and imported $294 Bn worth of goods. But, predating NAFTA, in 1985 that deficit was $5.5 Bn but with a total of slightly less than $33 Bn in total trade between the two. In other words the total volume of trade between the U.S. and Mexico in 31 years increased 16 times while the deficit in trade increased only 12 times. Of course there are differences from year-to-year but the U.S. Census Bureau provides this handy chart to trace the history of such trade.
Trade with Canada in the same period has been more of a roller coaster ride. From a deficit of $21 Bn in 1985 to just over $11 Bn in 2016 seems like a huge improvement under NAFTA with a four-fold increase in volume but, beginning in 2000 through 2008 that deficit ranged from $48 Bn to $78 Bn. However, since 2009 it has never been more than roughly $36 Bn. Hmmm, what do those years coincide with?
With regards to Mexico, furthermore, experts like to point out a key fact: 40% of the parts in a typical Mexican product originate in the United States, according to the Commerce Department. And that’s a key reason why 6 million U.S. jobs depend on trade just with Mexico, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Can we thus assume that this certain graduate was not exposed to an examination of facts during his Wharton years that would have led him to contrary approaches to economics than he now espouses? Or can we thus assume this certain graduate is simply fact averse under any and all circumstances.
What is clear is that the value of a Wharton education is bigly lost on some of its graduates.
Sad.

STANDING UP WHILE SITTING DOWN

Kaep

#7, above, is Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers during the playing of the National Anthem prior to its exhibition game vs the San Diego Chargers on Sept. 1, 2012.

Note he is kneeling and does not have his hand over his heart as all the civilians around him seem to be doing. This was also his appearance during the National Anthem at the three previous exhibition games on August 26, August 20, and Augiust 14. No complaints were registered until after the August 26 game.

But, oh, how those complaints have come in.

Kaepernick, in one interview, explained his rationale

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color… To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder

One objection to Kaepernick took this form:

Martin Halloran, the San Francisco Police Officers Association president, sent a letter Monday to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and 49ers CEO Jed York denouncing Kaepernick’s “ill-advised” statements and a “naivete” and “total lack of sensitivity” toward police, along with an “incredible lack of knowledge” about officer-involved shootings.

The police union invited Kaepernick or anyone else from the league to visit the San Francisco police academy to build communication and understanding about the profession.

“I only wish Mr. Kaepernick could see the emotional and psychological challenges that our officers face following a fatal encounter,” Halloran wrote. “Some are so affected they never return to the streets. In short, Mr. Kaepernick has embarrassed himself, the 49er organization, and the NFL based on a false narrative and misinformation that lacks any factual basis.”

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/17418050/san-francisco-police-union-president-rips-colin-kaepernick

There are several problems with that narrative, not the least of which is that Kaepernick did not reference the San Francisco Police for misbehavior, but he well could have. The S.F.P.D. has been involved in  95 officer involved shootings in the past 15 years with 40 deaths. 18 of those shot had only knives on them and 11 were not armed at all. And since there were multiple officers with more than one shooting I’d say the emotional trauma of shooting a civilian must not be that great since there are repeat offenders and other officers do not seem to learn from the mistakes of their brethren. So spare me the sob story.

Too, Kaepernick is not the one embarrassing himself, nor should he be embarrassed but Halloran should be utterly ashamed of himself. As to “a false narrative and misinformation that lacks any factual basis.” Halloran must be playing see no evil and hear no evil all by his lonesome but he forgot the speak no evil part—because his accusation that Kaepernick operates from a false narrative and nonfactual information is so obviously itself a lie.

But one phenomenon is quite apparent in the criticism. The quarterback is accused of demeaning America and denying its greatness. But so so many of the people voicing that criticism are preparing to vote for a large incandescent yam whose very campaign slogan tells Americans their country is not great.

As an interesting aside and a corollary to the Kaepernick story, read this tale by a reporter who once protested in favor of the National Anthem by sitting down for it. Same action, different rationale.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/i-stood-up-for-the-national-anthem-by-sitting-down-for-it/2016/08/30/6d08901e-6ecb-11e6-8533-6b0b0ded0253_story.html

Another curious twist is that part of  Kaepernick’s position is in total alliance with BlackLivesMatter. Protests and demonstrations have come to many cities across the country. Most have been extraordinarily peaceful but on the uncommon occasions with some violence the cry has been heard, “Hey, you black folks! You can protest better by sitting down and shutting up” So a black man decides to protest by sitting down and shutting up and that still is not good enough.

Colin Kaepernick is in excellent company.

Rosa Parks stood up against segregated buses while sitting down and her action has been immortalized as a linchpin of the Civil Rights Movement.

Ezell Blair, Jr. Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, and David Richmond stood up against discrimination in public accommodations by sitting down on four stools at a Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth’s lunch counter.

In 1776 fifty-six men stood up against the tyranny of King Goerge III by sitting down to debate and adopt the Declaration Of Independence.

Will Kaepernick’s protest eventually carry the same import? Probably not but it is very much in the spirit of the aforesaid protests.

Colin, in my apartment I have a very comfy La-Z-Boy recliner. Stop over to watch some games, any games, and feel free to fully enjoy the recliner during the National Anthem. You’ll hear not one peep out of me if you fail to stand.

NO, ALL LIVES DO NOT MATTER

BLM

Black Lives Matter

Such has become the rallying cry for those protesting police violence against unarmed civilians, very often young black men. And the slogan and the movement represent the demand—not that black lives are to matter more than other lives—but that black lives be recognized as mattering at all. During the greatest part of the history of first the colonies and then the United States, it is obvious black lives didn’t matter one iota.

But some folks completely miss the point of Black Lives Matter. And often this is deliberate. The racist whites counter that BLM is racist itself. People who refuse to acknowledge that there are real bad cops out there who may not be racist but who operate from the standpoint that more force is always better and think so poorly of the people they are supposed to be serving that they disgrace the badge in interactions with the public on a regular basis.

Then there are the deadheads who allege BLM is anti-cop and simply masks the call to wantonly kill cops, as was done in Dallas last week with five policemen dying.

And finally, there is a widespread, though utterly mistaken, belief that Black Lives Matter is short for Black Lives Matter More Than Other Lives. So to counter that ridiculous reading of the cause they came up with the All Lives Matter slogan.

And an amazing variety of people have bought into that slogan, ranging from blacks themselves to white liberals who allow that yes, we must consider and support all life, to mainly white people who don’t give a shit about black lives and, while using this slogan as cover for a pretext of caring for everyone, really only believe that certain lives matter. And those lives that matter are the ones they deem worthy.

Receiving Welfare or Food Stamps? Your life doesn’t matter. Proof? Cuts to Welfare and Food Stamps that hurt people who need the help.

Children with inadequate diets who get at least some valuable nourishment in their schools? Their lives do not matter. Proof? Cutting meal programs in schools or changing the rules so that fewer needy children will have access to food assistance.

People with health insurance due to passage of the Affordable Care Act? Their lives do not matter. Proof? Over sixty efforts in Congress to repeal the ACA and the pledge of every major Republican Presidential candidate to replace the law with something nebulous but which will almost certainly result in fewer people wth health care insurance.

Victims of terroristic violence? Their lives do not matter. I’ll modify the “their lives do not matter” statement to “only some lives matter of people who are victims of terroristic violence”. Proof? The only outrage against terroristic violence from many in the United States comes when it is domestic—as in San Bernadino or Orlando and can be tied, however tenuously, to Islamic radicals. Or if it is terroristic violence against a European nation such as France or Belgium where one would presume the victims are white Christians or at least the majority are.

Remember when the Brussels attacks occurred? President Obama was in Cuba for an historic visit for a ball game as relations between the two nations are being normalized and followed that with a visit to Argentina where he and Mrs. Obama danced the tango at a state dinner. Right wing media was outraged.

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/curtis-houck/2016/03/24/cnn-panel-goes-nuclear-obama-over-going-ball-game-dancing-tango

But the following link wil provide a list of terror incidents to date in 2016 around the world, just about every day, and many many with multiple victims numbering at least double figures and many that far exceed the death toll in Brussels, but there was nobody keeping track of where Obama was because those victims had darker skin and were murdered in foreign countries that most Americans couldn’t even find on a map or globe (not that they’d do much better locating Belgium). Why? Because those lives did NOT matter so who gave a damn?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents,_2016

Or even back in the good old USA if its some white dude shoots up a store or church or theater or school, the right cares more about any calls to institute some controls on assault weapons than is does for the lives lost.

No, the slogan All Lives Matter is a subterfuge so that the lives that matter are only the ones deemed worthy, mostly by the right wing. I bid you beware if you are not one of their favorites. Depending upon your own personal peculiarties, at a critical point you might find that, contrary to the slogan, your life don’t mean shit.

 

THE NEW PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

usa_flag.jpg

Have you ever received an email or read a Facebook meme that begins with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and continues on about how schoolchldren used to recite this every day–often accompanied by a picture of some random kids doing exactly that—and then lament that we’re not allowed to perform that little exercise these days?

I have seen plenty of both, mostly of the Facebook meme variety these days. My friends have learned to stop forwarding chain emails for the most part. Too many were nonsense, lies, or both, which I did not hesitate to call to their attention. Then again, maybe they haven’t stopped circulating chain emails, they’ve stopped being my friend.

Gotta account for all possibilities I suppose.

The notion expressed in such emails and memes is ridiculous. There have been challenges to the recitation of the pledge, but none has resulted in any ban on its use in schools, shopping malls, or AA meetings. The Pledge and its use have a fraught history. A summary can be found here:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/04/us/pledge-of-allegiance-fast-facts/

Most of the recent challenges are in regards to the words “Under God” which were inserted into the Pledge in the 1950’s. Is this an “establishment of religion” as prohibited by the First Amendment? The Courts have held it is a pledge of patriotism, not religion.

So be it.

But I believe there is a much more fundamental problem with the Pledge of Allegiance. Its object is a piece of cloth, arbitrarily selected to be a symbol of the United States of America. The flag has no intrinsic value, other than the $4.99 it may cost at Walmart. It consists of 50 stars, one for each state, and 13 stripes, one for each of the original colonies. Pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth accomplishes exactly what? It is meaningless. Would we pledge to a flag if all it contained were the numbers 50 and 13, representing the corresponding numbers of states and colonies on our current flag?

The flag is a symbol. Symbols are fine. Symbols are reminders, Symbols may be inspirational. They have been used throughout hstory in a plethora of contexts. Sports team mascots are symbols. The Pirate Parrot is a playful symbol of my favorite baseball team, but the mascot cannot exist without the team, though the team certainly can exist, and existed for its first 91 years, without the Parrot.

Same with the American flag. Its creation, in various forms, was used to rally the troops fighting the British during our Revolution and has evolved since then.But which came first, America or its flag? And if the flag were no longer used, does that mean the nation would become extinct?

Thus a Pledge to an arbitrary, ephemeral creation ultimately means nothing concerning one’s loyalty to one’s country and one’s fellow citizens (not always equivalent).

Our citizens can be quite diligent and meticulous about reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in school, at public meetings or events, or, for instance, in private organizations such as the Jaycees. During my membership in that group all of our meetings began with the Pledge. But does reciting the Pledge indicate you have the best interests of the nation and your fellow citizens at heart? Not in any way, shape, or form.

In the link above about litigation, one mention is given to Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder signing legislation requiring state schools to recite the Pledge. But Snyder himself is under fire for the lead poisoning of the children of the city of Flint. He may have pledged allegiance to a piece of cloth but his electoral and statutory duties to his own constituents, part of the United States of America, were ignored. Other examples of two-facedness abound.

For that reason, I am proposing a new Pledge of Allegiance, one which expresses the ideals we claim America represents and it is not a pledge to a piece of cloth.

I pledge allegiance to the people of the United States of America, and to the nation’s peaceful place in the world, and to the goal of making not only America but the rest of the world a fit place for all human beings, not under any god since humans recognize many gods or none at all, but with the guidance of moral righteousness to treat each other decently and equally, and to work towards  truly establishing liberty and justice for all.

One needs no piece of cloth to view when we give this pledge. We can, instead, look each other in the eye. Isn’t that what we are taught to do to honestly communicate with each other?

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN? THIS ELECTION SEASON I’D SETTLE FOR MEDIOCRITY.

drumpf

 

Earlier today I blew up on Facebook. I called friends who generally share my views stupid and those who don’t stupider. Much of my heartfelt enmity is the result of the rise of Drumpf.

Why do I refer to him as Drumpf? You can thank John Oliver for that.

Immediately after my viewing of this episode I downloaded the Chrome extension that converts Drumpf to Drumpf (I have found I can’t even type the actual name here without it undergoing the transformation) on stories in my browser. It is one small consolation to see this at work in the headlines and stories I see on Slate, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, and elsewhere, even on sites that lean farther right.

I deplore the lowlghts from all the 2016 campaigns. Our Presidential  electoral process is in the gutter, dragged there by Drumpf who has been joyfully joined there by Marco Rubio  who questions the size of Drumpf’s penis; by Ted Cruz simply being Ted Cruz; by Jeb Bush forced to defend charges of being a mommy’s boy; by Ben Carson, who fell in while sleep walking; by John Kasich, who destroyed any possible claims of being a moderate by defunding Planned Parenthood; and by the millions of presumably sentient human beings who listen to all the crazy talk about immigrants and an out of control government who couldn’t pass a U.S. citizenship/civics test if it were an open book exam and the original Declaration of  Independence and Constitution were splayed in front of them.

Holding them hostage there are David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremicist groups armed to the teeth courtesy of the National Rifle Association, crazed Evangelicals who believe Drumpf somehow possesses better Christian bona fides than the Pope when The Donald is probably more likely to provide a quote from a Smokey Stover comic book than from II Corinthians when asked about his favorite Bible passage.

Let us not forget the Secret Srvice which somehow has improved its training to the point that a reporter who wanders 10 inches outside the designated journalist area at a Drumpf rally is strong armed when only a few months ago intruders inside the White House grounds stole President Obama‘s favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe before being hustled to the requisite nearby mental hospital for observation.

Oh I’m not forgetting the Democrats. Their participation is in somewhat shallower waters near the curb cutouts that allow wheelchair crossing rather than in the middle of the block, but where the H2O is equally putrid. This time it is not so much the candidates themselves…Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton …hurling invectives at each other so much as it is the so-called BernieBros who have been accused of ugly misogynistic characterizations of the other camp while feminist icons Like Gloria Steinem, though using politer language, are equally sexist in how they portray young female Sanders enthusiasts.

And from these nominal Progressives come the enabling threats to withold their vote from the nominee should he or she not be the one they love to death at this moment. Enabling threats because by doing so they will practically guarantee that our next President will have a bulbous red nose, bizarre multi-colored makeup, a fright wig,  and will be making nonsense noises as he struts around the circus ring. Of course all but Drumpf will need to be fitted for this outfit.

Accompanying this flotsam down the gutter where it will eventually empty into the stream that will make the water supply of Flint, Michigan seem utterly pristine by comparison are various pundits, analysts, economic gurus, and the like offering opinions that may be parsley, rosemary, or thyme, but most certainly not sage.

Perhaps the only good that is coming from this is Spotlight. No, not the latest Oscar winning film but the harsh relentless glare focused on the entire Presidential nominating process that places premiums on a candidacy that begins within weeks after the prior election and is fueled by endless speculation, pollmongering profiteers, the need to fill cable TV news with anything but substance, and the proliferation of web sites whose sole purpose is to promulgate lies, denigrate anyone with opinions different from theirs, and disregard anything remotely likely to benefit the America they all profess to love but which they incessantly subject to virtual domestic violence while declaring their fealty between bruising blows.

Super Tuesday is an agglomeration of primaries in states and American Samoa which would be significant just for the sheer numbers of opportunities for voters to express their choices were it not for the media telling us that the issues have been decided by the primaries/caucuses already consigned to history in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina and whch have a combined poulation dwarfed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania whose own 2016 primary is not until April 26, a date by which the names of many former candidates will be not even a memory and which may represent only the merest possibility of ultimate success to the horses (asses) still in the race.

All this makes the Swiftboating of John Kerry in 2004 look more like the highest level of forensic debate by comparison.

Oh, hell. I’ll admit it. I, too have awkwardly stepped off the curb and fallen into the slime. But the murky waters are deep and I really can’t swim so I am about to drown in this torrent I am now a part of.

In splashing around for survival I might occasionally send splurges of nastiness into the open mouths of others, but they were there first voluntarily.