Shame on me

Like many other people I joined Facebook, tweeter and other communication services as a way to interact with friends in states far away from my new home in Texas. Some of my friends are “usurers’” of Facebook on a daily basis. One of my friends sent an innocuous looking surveys and games to participate in. Generally speaking I don’t do surveys or games but a couple were cute like; what would you be doing now if you had changed your major in school. In any case I only filled out a couple of the surveys and as I said at the start of this piece, shame on me. You see until Sunday night I didn’t know that these surveys in some cases were being used to gather demographic information for plotting and planning political strategies. So, shame on me for participating but and it is a big but I didn’t realize until watching Homeland Sunday night and watching the producer at the end of the show explaining how and why these social media tools were being used by research firms to solicit political action groups with valuable information. What really upset me was that I found out that when the info from these surveys and games were gathered it also means similar information could be gathered from all of the friends and relatives I communicate with on Facebook. This means that people like me are exposing my own family and friends to what I consider illegal search and seizure. I guess it is too bad that I signed up for Facebook in the beginning and probably tweeter as well. In any case I suggest that my friends and relatives are very careful in participation of surveys or any communications via Facebook with me or other friends or relatives lest you feed the political parties interested in acquiring your vote on key national, state or local interests.

Tillerson termination

Recently a friend wrote me questioning the stability of our President based on his erratic tweets and most specifically his change of his executive staff.  I told my friend I viewed the President’s actions in a slightly different fashion.  I believe it is possible that Donald can blow it but because of his basic policies; tax reduction, regulation relief, tighter boarder control, trade balance, pride in our country it is best for us if he succeeds in his program.  The changes in personnel is as I see it not a reflection of their performance but rather getting someone that is in sync with his goals and objectives.  This is not unlike what I experience with Coke, GE and Chrysler/Mercedes management.  It was not unusual for well informed and good performing people to fall to the axe because they were at odds with the leaders polices or pursuing his or her own agenda.  The results, one or the other gets fired.  Donald chooses to not accept the idea that congress is in any way a partner but rather sees them as a recalcitrant board of directors filled with weak sisters that he believes he can eventually get rid of or mold to his goals and objectives. Like I said, Donald can blow it but the country needs to view things through a lens not colored by a politically correct press reporting process.  America first is not a politically incorrect statement even though the press is trying to sell it as a “hayseed statement for unsophisticated mid country voters who shouldn’t vote!” [from a recent blog.]  Trying to make people ashamed of supporting their country is not a winning formula but it is at least in part a basic liberal tenant of being PC.  Donald doesn’t care one way or another about the politically correct force just about getting the economy back on course, gaining better balance on the trade deficit and most of all being lauded by the voters as “their guy.”

Fear, frustration, disbelief, what is the answer?

These are the words we all have heard in the last few days regarding the killing of 17 people in Florida. Of course, the words were followed by the question; what can the government do to stop these mass killings? On the left the answer is money to all states to identify and treat mental illness and to ban all guns or as much as they can get through the congress. On the conservative side a similar cry to identify and treat mental illness with much less emphasis on gun control. Of course, the news pundits are screaming for answers but neither they nor the politicians have real answers to the obvious question, what can we do?

It is our opinion that the pattern of mass killing needs to be treated as we do with the CDC and diseases, careful study and logical treatments. In the case of the CDC they try to isolate the carriers of a specific disease and then study a controlled group to arrive at some logical steps to stem the tide of an epidemic.

We think the same action should be taken by the federal government, establish a control population, recruit the best of our doctors, sociologist, law enforcement to study the group, prioritize the problems ranking them in order of contribution to the atmosphere that leads to mass killings. The possible contributions are health conditions, access to guns, drugs, gangs, lack of family unity, education and other causes not yet identified.

We think we can recommend the perfect location to run this program of research and recommendations, the south side of Chicago Illinois. This location has the highest rate of murders on a daily basis [based on news reports] and is concentrated in one area so the research program can be controlled and the recommendations for dramatically reducing the mass killings can be developed. This program should be funded by the federal government assuming the administration can do this without asking the congress to supply the funds. It is clear that politics is governing the congress and that factions of each “side” will never agree to their opponent’s plans. A possible positive side effect of this research program will be to develop actions that will reduce the killings in the south side of Chicago as well as recommend ideas that can be applied all over the country. The political leaders in Chicago will need to allow the federal government to pay for and conduct what we think will be a three-year study and series of actions to stop the killing. Certainly, politician’s do not have the answer to this problem that as we said at the outset is causing anger, fear, disbelief and the question, what is the answer?

Earmarks, a slightly different look

For decade’s it was a standard negotiating tool to offer a representative in Congress support of a project in his/her state or district in exchange for a his/her vote to support a political party or administrations particular program. This process was called “earmarking,” the procedural process of marking a bill, amendments, etc. was called earmarks because the edge of the document was marked for “special consideration.”

In 2007 after decades of abuse by representatives in Congress and administrations, both Democrat and Republican, Congress decided to legally eliminate earmarks. It seemed logical that states building bridges to nowhere to acquire federal funds to increase employment in a state or district was a clear waste of money and especially offensive when it was in exchange for a vote that might have been used to support reasonable legislation in other areas. But as my Damon Runyon friend from New York, Danny would say, not so fast!

With the waver of earmarks the inclination to cooperate between the political parties in congress was virtually wiped out. Members of congress are inclined to vote party politics and the polarization that results is like two opposing magnets preventing political organizations from working together. This polarization results in congressional gridlock and it seriously curtails any legal progress on major issues by the house and senate.

This week there was a suggestion that earmarks be reintroduced to the congressional process. The premise is that the representatives and senators with the promise of getting some of the “federal pork” in their respective state or district in exchange for the vote needed by his/her party or in some cases administrations will be a “fair exchange.” The gridlock can’t go on if we expect effective government based on our congressional representatives “doing the right thing.” Why not admit that it is reasonable and realistic to expect congressional representatives to want something for the constitutes in exchange for their vote on specific legislation.
Let’s face it overcoming the congressional gridlock we are currently in with earmarks is cheaper than months and years of no decision with costly delays and little or no results making “kicking the can down the road” the rule of governing in this great country.

And as long as we are addressing “righteous ideas” that may not be practical in the sense of governing allow me to address term limits. This seems like a good idea after all we liked the idea of an elected representative not gathering power over decades and having unfair leverage on legislative matters. What we have seen at least in the case of individual states is that when elected representatives are termed out of office they most likely pursue a job in lobbying. As a lobbyist, they are familiar with the governmental procedures that make the process work. They know where “the bodies are buried” or more importantly the civil service staff that used to report to them knows exact procedures, laws and procedures needed to get laws passed or amendments approved. In practice, it turns out that the “winners” in the term limit program is the civil servants who for all practical purposes runs the governing process. Since they can’t for all practical purposes be fired they are worse than elected officials even when those elected representatives have limited knowledge and sometimes poor judgement on governing issues. Like earmarks be careful what you wish for because you may get it and I can think of nothing worse than giving the decision-making process to civil servants who can and do demand “romancing” them as they make decisions that can affect businesses and voters alike. I say this from practical experience.

University of Michigan Football

As a fan and supporter of U of M football let me start by saying we began our demise with in state rivals, Michigan State by fumbling. The fumble changed the momentum of the game and was followed by quarterback panic and further basic mistakes in playing the game of football. The reason I and I’m sure other supporters of this team are exasperated by these failings is that the U of M team has every resource they could want in their arsenal. The school has money, reputation, staff and talent access, still we fail. In essence our loss to MSU has finished our season. We will lose one and possibly two more games before our meeting with the Ohio State University. This leaves us with the chance to play spoiler against OSU, an empty victory if it occurs since all we will be able to do is sink another big 10 team from national championship competition.

The fault lies with our coach, Harbaugh and his obsession with 6’ 6” quarterbacks. O’Korn couldn’t go through the progression on pass plays and panicked on virtually every play that called for calm, rationale decision making. Unfortunately, Speight was no better in his performance before he suffered injuries. I was a big supporter of bringing Harbaugh in because I wanted discipline, something that had seemed to slip away with previous coaches. I was wrong and Jim needs to take his 25 million from the university and go away. Maybe we should hire Washington State coach Mike Leach and let him find a fast, agile, thinking quarterback with killer linemen and fast as the wind receivers. In any case, we are facing another three years of rebuilding, meanwhile many talented football players will have wasted their time and talent with a team that will not will a Big 10 championship let alone a national championship!

Rhetoric

The definition of rhetoric is among other things language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content. Add some synonyms like bombast, magniloquence pomposity and purple prose and what do you have, congress.

The ratings of both houses with the public is single digit and that may be overstating congresses value. We have seen little activity for the last ten years and what we have seen has been totally partisan.

The point of this rant is that I believe we are very close, possibly less than a year away from street violence not from gangs but from frustrated and angry citizens. It is my belief that if the rhetoric of congress isn’t replaced by positive and unified action to pass legislation that makes the administration’s agenda become a fact, that violence will visit our country on nationwide basis.

The Press is Frustrated

President Trump gave an excellent speech today in Saudi Arabia. The press was frustrated as they tried to find something to criticize about the President’s performance. One member of the Face the Nation panel on CBS said he didn’t use the term Islamic terrorist and this was a major deviation from his campaign statements about Islam. Allow me to quote directly from the President’s speech as stated by Haaretz,“That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires. And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians.” Pretty clear to me but not what the lame stream media wants to hear.