#303 Trump Supporters Really Brainwashed? (Part 2)

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1.  Most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations.

Occasionally I break from the normal formatting and do a “sense check.”  Auditing one’s own work is problematic but I try to be objective.  Entries #300 and #301 are the most recent “sense checks.”  Your thoughts are welcomed and appreciated.  Thanks for your time and interest…and comments, please.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Jordan having coffee with Walt, a friend from college days.  Conversation begins entry #302.

Jordan:  “So, Walt, how’s the coffee?”

Coffee cup StarbucksWalt:  “Great!  Where’d you get it?  Don’t tell me.  It’s from that liberal bastion, Starbucks.”

Jordan:  “Yes, Starbucks.  But why does everything in your world have to fall into a bucket?  Why do institutions have to be labeled liberal or conservative?  Starbucks is a coffee shop, not a political party.”

Walt:  “You don’t get it do you?  Or maybe you don’t want to understand.”

Jordan:  “You’ve lost me.  Understand what?”

Walt:  “Many of these institutions are part of a conspiracy.  A Few years ago that conspiracy was focused on getting rid of Trump…and was the primary cause of the Revenge Revolution.”

bang-head-against-wallJordan:  “C’mon.  Stop me from banging my head against the wall.  I admit I find your logic fascinating, even humorous at times…but your logic is also incredibly frustrating.”

Walt:  “Why so frustrating?  Seems pretty straightforward to me.”

Jordan:  “Start with the conspiracy assumption.  A conspiracy requires a group of people.  But the group is usually fairly small since it’s hard to keep a secret, even within a small group.  And now you’re talking about some conspiracy with hundreds, if not thousands, even tens of thousands of participants.  That logic does fly.”

Baldheaded ManWalt:  “But it’s true.”

Jordan:  “Just think about.  How could one possibly coordinate the activities of all these organizations, let alone people within the organizations?  As I said, Starbucks is just a coffee shop.”

Walt:  “Here’s an example.  Before the break you said we were going to discuss my thoughts on the Mueller Witch Hunt.  I know, you think it was an investigation but it was really a witch hunt.  The FBI’s behavior then was a perfect example of one group that conspired to stop Trump from getting elected.  Then the FBI tried to get him out after the election.”

Jordan:  “Statements claiming the FBI conspired to elect Hillary make no sense to me.  The facts suggest the opposite.  Actions of the FBI likely helped Trump get elected.”

Walt:  “See, there you go spouting off the liberal fake news.  You need to watch Fox News and start getting the truth.”

FBI LogoJordan:  “If the FBI was trying to get Hillary elected, then why did Comey hold a press conference a few days before the election effectively reopening an investigation about Clinton that found no laws were broken?”

Walt:  “I think laws were broken.  She should have been punished and locked up.  But Comey’s real purpose in criticizing Clinton just before the election was to gain more sympathy for her…and encourage the Democrats to vote for her.”

Jordan:  “Huh?”

PutinWalt:  “Same thing with Obama.  He knew the Russians had hacked the Democratic National Committee HQ and were releasing emails to the public.  But he didn’t do anything about it.  No.  Why?”

Jordan:  “You tell me since the Russians were helping Trump?”

Walt:  “The Russians weren’t helping Trump.  Why didn’t Obama make any public announcement?  Because he didn’t want the make the DNC and Clinton look like they were not on top of things.  I’m telling you, Mueller should have investigated Obama and not Trump.”

ComplicatedJordan:  “Just for fun, please tell me, in Trump world, does the sun come up in the east or west?”

Walt:  “Whadda mean?”

Jordan:  “Never mind.  Back to the FBI.  Let’s turn the situation around.  Suppose the FBI had strong evidence that the RNC had been hacked and the Russians might be working with the DNC to get the Democratic candidate elected.  What would you want from the FBI?”

American FlagWalt:  “A thorough investigation.  Why should the FBI allow a foreign country, especially a known enemy of the US, try to influence the outcome of a presidential election?  If the FBI didn’t investigate, it would be dereliction of duty.  All of them should be fired…and some tried for treason.”

Jordan:  “Let me see if I understand your position correctly.  If the FBI had credible evidence a foreign country, and especially an enemy like the Russian, had infiltrated a campaign and were trying to influence the election, you’d want the FBI to pursue the investigation vigorously, right?”

Walt:  “Yep.”

Jordan:  “And it would be unpatriotic, possibly treasonous if those who had credible information didn’t pursue an investigation and prosecution.”

Walt:  “Yep, again.”

TurtleneckJordan:  “Yet, when the FBI had very credible evidence that the Russians had infiltrated the Trump campaign and the campaign was likely conspiring with the Russians, you supported the Republicans in Congress who objected.  Those same Republicans thought the investigation should be stopped.  Why did you support them when you just said there should be an investigation?”

Walt:  “You don’t listen very well do you?  I told you, the FBI favored Clinton and therefore the FBI evidence and Mueller investigation were a ploy to get Trump out of office.”

Jordan:  “How did you know there was no evidence if you wanted to stop the investigation before it was completed?”

Walt:  “Because Mueller never disclosed publicly any evidence…until issuing that phony report.”

Jordan:  “Even though releasing some of the evidence might have compromised the investigation and might have violated some national security laws, you thought it should be released anyway.  And because Mueller didn’t release the evidence, you think it was likely fake.”

dude-with-questionWalt:  “Not likely fake, it was fake.  At least now you’re starting to understand.”

Jordan:  “Walt, have you ever studied how people think after they’ve been brainwashed?”

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#302 Trump Supporters Really Brainwashed? (Part 1)

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1.  Most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations.

Occasionally I break from the normal formatting and do a “sense check.”  Auditing one’s own work is problematic but I try to be objective.  Entries #300 and #301 are the most recent “sense checks.”  Your thoughts are welcomed and appreciated.  Thanks for your time and interest…and comments, please.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.

Jordan:  “Gelly, nice to have you back from vacation.”

092615_2031_Characters7.gifGelly:  “Nice to be back.  Had lots of fun but sorta, kinda missed the office.”

Jordan:  “Glad to hear that.  See you got new reading glasses while you were gone.  Look very nice.”

Gelly:  “Thanks.”

Jordan:  “Anything special on the calendar today?”

Gelly:  “Nothing special except your visitor.”

TurtleneckJordan:  “Right.  Walt’s coming over sometime late morning.”

Gelly:  “How’d he get the name Walt?  That’s not his real name is it?”

Jordan:  “No.  The guys in the fraternity nicknamed him Walt.  And I might have been the culprit.  He was always dreaming about some big project…like Walt Disney.”

Gelly:  “Hope you two have a good visit.  Let me know if you need anything special.  We can order in lunch if you want.”

——– Walt arrives ———-

Walt:  “Jordan, great to see you.  Been a while.”

Jordan:  “Nice to see you, Walt.  Last time was a couple of years ago when you guys came to Charlotte for the 4th of July.”

Baldheaded ManWalt:  “We had a great time and the fireworks at the club were sensational.”

Jordan:  “What brings you to town, anyway?”

Walt:  “Trying to help salvage the right-wing of the Republican Party.  Since the Revenge Revolution, the right-wing has been in shambles.”

Jordan:  “You’ve got a tough job ahead of you.  With that in mind, I have what may be a sensitive question.”

Walt:  “You, concerned about being sensitive?  Since when?  Go ahead.  We’ve been friends for too long to worry about sensitive questions.  Besides, if I don’t like the question, I’ll just go run and hide.”

Jordan:  “Think back to the 2016 presidential campaign.  Did you originally support Trump?”

trump-scowlWalt:  “I thought Trump was a blowhard.  More of a flake real-estate salesman than a conservative Republican.”

Jordan:  “But as the other candidates dropped out and the field narrowed…”

Walt:  “…as the field narrowed, his appeal increased.  Truth be known, I would have voted for a yellow dog rather than Hillary.  I just didn’t like her.”

Jordan:  “OK, so you committed to a Republican candidate no matter what.  That candidate turns out to be Trump, who you thought was a flaky real-estate salesman.”

Walt:  “Guess so.”

Jordan:  “Then Trump gets elected.  Were you pleased with the results?”

Walt:  “I was pleased he was trying to make changes.  You know, make the Federal government more efficient.  And I liked the idea of draining the swamp.”

Jordan:  “Were you pleased with his choices for cabinet secretaries?  Think about Flynn, Price and Pruitt, for example.  And what about bringing in the Trump family as close advisors?  Were you satisfied with everyone’s experience in running large, government-like organizations?”

Ends Justify MeansWalt:  “Guess I never really considered the experience.  Was more intrigued with the idea of change than the quality of the people involved or what they had to do to implement change.  Sort of the ends justifying the means.”

Jordan:  “What about Trump’s attacks on the media, the FBI, the CIA…the entire intelligence community?”

Walt:  “As time went on Trump’s claims about fake news and liberal bias in the media seemed to be proved right.  The more I studied, the more I thought the FBI was really after him.”

Jordan:  “As part of your ‘studying’, did you ever step back and ask yourself, ‘Gee, what Trump is claiming to be true is contrary to just about everything I’ve learned over the years.  Wonder why I am changing my views?’”

Walt:  “Didn’t ask any question exactly like that.”

Jordan:  “Aside from Trump and his tweets, where’d you get your news?”

Walt:  “Why do you care?  Why the interrogation?”

Jordan:  “No interrogation.  What I’m trying to understand is why…and how…Trump gained such rabid support among hard-right Republicans when many on the right originally considered him a Democrat.  I find the shift in attitude fascinating…and troubling.”

fox-news-logo bWalt:  “We’ll talk about troubling later.   As I said, I did my own studying trying to understand if Trump was real or not.  I spent lots of time watching Fox – mostly Hannity and O’Reilly before he got unfairly railroaded out – and I’d catch Limbaugh on the radio a couple of times a week.  The more I listened to these guys the more convinced I was Trump was on the right track.”

NYT LogoJordan:  “Did your studying include reading newspapers – let’s say the Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post, Washington Post, NY Times?”

Walt:  “On rare occasion the Wall Street Journal.  The Times?  Never.  Run by a bunch of liberal NY Jews.  Oops, sorry.  But you know what I meant.”

Jordan:  “Actually, I don’t know what you meant.  Give me an example or two.”

Walt:  “Take Paul Krugman in the Times.  He’s way too liberal and always trashed Trump.”

Jordan:  “Krugman is an op-ed columnist for the NY Times, not a reporter. The editorial and news gathering sections of the Times are completely separate.”

Walt:  “I have no proof and therefore, to me, there’s no separation.  If what he writes is in the NY Times, it means the NY Times supports it.”

Jordan (shaking his head):  “Any other sources of info?”

Walt:  “A few conservative websites that have their act together.”

Sarah Huckabee CartoonJordan:  “If I understand correctly, your primary sources of info were Trump, Trump’s tweets, probably the White House press secretary – Sarah Huckabee – and a couple of commentators on Fox.  No print media other than an occasional read of the Journal.  And no other networks such as PBS, CBS, and say MSNBC.”

Walt:  “You got it right.  All those non-Fox sources are too liberal…and fake.”

Jordan:  “OK.  Why don’t we take a break, get some coffee and, then, if ok with you, discuss the evolution of your views about the Mueller investigation.”

Bagel BillWalt:  “OK, but you have to buy coffee…and I want a bagel, too.”

Jordan:  “You do know those liberal NY Jews are the source of those bagels, right?”

(Continued)

 

#301 Republicans: Ask Yourself These Questions about Why You Continue to Support Trump

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1.  Most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations.

Occasionally I break from the normal formatting and do a “sense check.”  Auditing one’s own work is problematic but I try to be objective.  Your thoughts are welcomed and appreciated.  Thanks for your time and interest…and comments, please.

During the Independence Day weekend, I tried to assess in Entry #300 whether a 5th US revolution was likely sometime in the next few years.  While one should always be careful about claiming objective analysis of one’s own writing, I concluded “Yes, a revolution is likely.”

Well, this past two weeks seemed to add an exclamation point or two to that conclusion.  Over the years in this blog I’ve tried to avoid commenting on daily or weekly events.  Many such events are merely “noise” over the long-term…and there are many talking heads in the various media offering their analysis.

Jaw Drop

However, Trump’s behavior recently has been jaw-droppingly bizarre, even by Trump standards.  Consider his behavior at the NATO meeting when he trashed the US’ most loyal allies.  The apparent effort to dismantle NATO was a pure gift to Putin.  The NATO alliance was established by the US post WWII as a counter to the Soviet Union’s efforts to invade other European countries.  The history of and reason for NATO seem to be unknown to Trump.

One can argue what percent of GDP NATO countries should spend on defense.  The target for countries is 2.0% of GDP and participating countries have been moving toward the 2.0% target.  Rather than complimenting these efforts and then taking credit for their increased spending, Trump berated them by offhandedly claiming the countries should increase spending to be more in line with the US, or 4.0% of GDP.

swastika

Legitimate arguments have two sides.  The other side of demanding more spending on defense is the reminder than the US and western European allies fought a very heavily armed Germany in WWI and WWII.  Be careful about encouraging countries to build a very strong defense system when one or more could become your adversary.  Remember, it’s better to have a potential adversary inside the tent pissing out than outside ppissing in.

Following the NATO meeting Trump visited England and managed to humiliate publicly Prime Minister May.  And for what gain?  The US has no skin in the Brexit game.  Regardless of the deal Britain negotiates with the European Union, the US can continue to trade with both.  So why trash the Prime Minister?   Why be rude to THE most reliable European ally?  What was there to gain?

Puppet

The only rationale seems to be Trump wanted to gain approval from Putin.  But why court Putin?  Putin doesn’t play golf, at least as far as we know.   Putin doesn’t appear to be a particularly affable guy.  I mean would you really want to sit down and have a beer and cigar with the guy?  So why try to gain his approval?  Why would you want to be Putin’s puppet?

Let’s start by following the money.  Based on what I know about his finances, Trump seems to be in considerable debt to Putin’s cronies (and maybe Putin) — probably hundreds of millions of dollars.  With all that debt Trump seems more worried about protecting his own skin that protecting the welfare of the United States.  Think about taking a loan from the Russians as taking a loan from the gangster-cartoon-clip-art-540pxmafia.  The Russians, like the mafia, play serious hardball when it comes to collecting debts.  Trump and Manafort seem to be aware of the dirt bath they might get if they don’t cooperate with the Russians.

If it’s not the money, then Trump must be so mentally unhinged that he belongs on the funny farm.  Likely the cause is both the money and unstable mentally but let’s stick with the money.

Which brings the discussion back to a like 5th US revolution – the Revenge Revolution.  While as of this writing Trump’s approval ratings among Republicans remains remarkably high, the very high ratings might be best viewed like a bubble in the stock market or housing market.  The bubbles seem to last well beyond what is logical, then suddenly burst and all the air gets sucked out.

Bubble Bursting

What might precipitate the Trump support-bubble bursting?  When the scope of the corruption begins to touch those closest to Trump – immediate family.  What happens to support when Robert Muller goes before the grand jury and gets indictments for Junior, Ivanka and Jared Kushner?  Will Republicans begin to wake up to the extent of the corruption?

What about the public testimony from the US translator during discussions with Putin in Helsinki.  What about the transcript the Russians release of the meeting?  Republicans, surely you’re not so naïve to believe the Russians didn’t record the meeting.

Will Republicans begin to realize Trump’s relationship with Putin could qualify as treason?  Yes, despite the White House flip-flops and wildly funny explanations, the Russians are continuing to try influencing elections in the US.  Such efforts could rightfully be considered an attack on the US and therefore any effort to aid and abet the enemy (Russia) would be considered treasonous.

mirror-clipart_jpg

Republicans go look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Why would I support a president whose behavior is not in the best interests of the United States?”  “Why would I support a president who shows more support for Russia than our closest allies?”

OK, so you don’t like the French…or even the Germans.  And yes, English food is a bit bland.  But why should…and no it wasn’t shouldn’t…you support a president who states publicly his distrust for the US intelligence agencies?

Why support a president who refused to allow anyone to sit in on the meeting with Putin in Helsinki?  Why support a president who refuses to have someone transcribe dialogue at the meeting?   Who refuses (as of this date) to share any information from the meeting with the head of the intelligence agencies or the military?  Republicans – doesn’t this behavior give you reason to pause and ask “What is going on here?”

Putin

Why would a president want to keep secret dialogue with an arch enemy?  Would you still be as supportive if such behavior had been exhibited by president Obama or if Hillary Clinton were president?  I’ll just bet you might not be as silent and sanguine.

If you’re a Republican, how can you justify and support Trump’s behavior as president?  Your rationale is not only flimsy, but filled with holes.  Have you no shame?

drone-manWhile you might ignore all the shenanigans and secrecy with the Russians, claiming the “Trump haters” just don’t understand and are overreacting as usual, I’ll bet you begin to pause when Trump’s so-called “economic policies” hit your pocketbook hard.  Without getting into a wonkish discussion about economics, several of Trump’s so-called economic policies – tariffs, even on countries even where we have a trade surplus, massive tax cuts for business and the wealthy, promoting a weak dollar, promoting low interest rates and a couple of others – are at cross purposes.  First and maybe most important is the tariffs will raise prices and reduce employment – and your pocketbook will be affected.

If Trump wants to make the US more competitive in specific industries, which everyone supports, then two critical items are necessary – increased investment in those industries and a better education for more people.  Trump’s economic polices do neither.

Woman ScornedThere’s more to discuss but enough for now.  The final thought of this “sense check” entry.  When all the lower-income Trump supporters finally realize they’ve been had, we will see the tipping point for the revolution. Remember, hell hath no fury like a (former Trump supporter) scorned.  So Republicans, be prepared and make sure to enjoy the ride to the Revenge Revolution.

#300 Sense Check: Is a 5th US Revolution Likely? (Yes)

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1.  Most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations.

Occasionally I break from the normal formatting and do a sense check.  Auditing one’s own work is problematic but I try to be objective.  Your thoughts are welcomed and appreciated,  Thanks for your time and interest…and comments, please.

Is a 5th revolution in the US likely after the year 2020?  The short answer is “yes.”

WhySince today is part of a long weekend celebrating July 4 and the nation’s declaration of independence, what better time to step back and assess the premise of this blog.  I’ve been writing the blog for about five (5) years with a few months between starting writing and publishing the initial entry.  What has surprised me the most the past five years is not that a revolution seems likely…but the path to the 5th revolution.

Obama PicFive years ago (2013), Barack Obama was in the second term of this presidency. Some key points of that time: (i) the economy was slowly but steadily recovering from the Great Recession of 2008; (ii) even with the economic recovery median household income was flat (not unexpected given the depth of the recession); (iii) the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, was just beginning to be fully implemented; (iv) Republicans were making every effort to thwart legislation of nearly any action proposed by president Obama.  Recall Mitch McConnell declared about two years into Obama’s term that his job and the job of Republicans in Congress McConnellwas to make Obama a one-term president.  In addition to attempting to thwart any legislative action, Republicans were holding what became endless hearings on Benghazi.  The pattern of these type hearings continued throughout Obama’s presidency.  None of the hearings produced any substantive evidence of intentional wrongdoing.

In the media, cable was overtaking the networks as a primary source of news.  Cable outlets are not subject to the same FCC restrictions as over-the-air networks.  As a result, news on some cable channels became more of an ongoing editorial with less objective reporting of events.  Fox News, although claiming to be fair and balanced, was the most extreme among the cable news outlets about editorializing events.  At the time Fox had the most overall viewers among cable news channels.  Since 2013 the right-leaning Fox has shifted farther right with even more frequent wildly exaggerated, unsubstantiated claims couched as news.  Over the same period, CNN has moved more left.  While I’m certain Fox News watchers would disagree, MSNBC seems to have carved out a middle, if somewhat left-leaning, position, with more objective reporting.

(As a sidebar, I find intriguing the education level of “top-of-the-heap” talking heads of the various media outlets.  The kings of the hard right, Hannady and Limbaugh, do not have college degrees.  Limbaugh attended college for one year; Hannady attended three colleges over three years.  Rachael Maddow, MSNBC, has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and doctorate from Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.  Chris Hayes, MSNBC, has an undergraduate degree from Brown University and had three (3) fellowships, including one at Harvard.  Exactly what this means, I don’t know but seems worth exploring more.)           

Math ClassAs noted in Entry #1 of this blog, the idea of a 5th revolution in the US was based on math.  Looking back at US history, there seemed to be a revolution about every 50 years.  #1 was the “American Revolution.”  While the American Revolution started in 1776, the revolution did not end until the War of 1812.  #2 revolution was the Civil War, which began in 1861.  #3 revolution was about 1910-1915 with a major societal upheaval associated with rapid industrialization and mass migration – both domestic migration north to factories and the influx of immigrants. #4 revolution was the cultural revolution of the late 1960’s, early 1970’s.  So, given this pattern, I added 50 years to 1970 and, voila, time for another revolution around 2020.

What was not apparent to me five years ago was the catalyst for the revolution.  When Obama was president, many whites were frustrated and angry.  However, the president himself was calm…so calm at times he was called “No drama Obama.”

trump-scowlThe unexpected catalyst for the 5th revolution, at least what seems to be so far, was the unexpected and unlikely 2016 Republican presidential nominee – Donald Trump.  Trump ran a very unconventional campaign, capitalizing on what seems to be his major strength – being a highly effective bully.  But a bully not in the tradition of the presidency, which is often referred to as having a “bully pulpit,” but a bully that one might have experienced in say grammar school or middle school.

ScreamDuring the campaign for the Republican nomination Trump was relentless in taunting fellow Republican candidates.  After earning the nomination, he was relentless in taunting the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.  While in “normal times” one would expect such school-yard tactics to result in a resounding defeat,” Trump won the Electoral College vote even though losing the popular vote by more than three (3) million votes.

As president, Trump has continued to taunt, whether members of his cabinet, members of Congress (including Republicans) and even such allies as Canada, England, Germany and Japan.   The taunting, combined with his apparent disdain for any type of preparedness for any meeting or issue, seems to have great appeal to a hard-core base of white, less educated, lower-income voters.  Trump supporters also include a group of middle-income, mostly white voters, especially Christian conservatives.  While Trump maintains a very high approval rating among Republicans, my belief is the hard-core base is the most likely to start the 5th revolution, the Revenge Revolution.

RevoltWhy expect the hard-core right to revolt?  Aren’t they Trump’s biggest supporters?  Yes, but the hard right will be the most negatively affected by Trump’s policies.  Believe what you will but the coal industry is never coming back.  Use of other fossil fuels is going to drop sharply.  Two of Trump’s favorite industries – steel and aluminum – are highly automated and don’t need many more workers to increase output.

An example of the effect of automation is an industry I know well, the automotive industry.  Compared to when I joined General Motors many years ago, labor content per car/truck has dropped like a rock.  If you want to see the effect of automation, look beyond final assembly, which admittedly has far fewer workers.  Look at labor content in the areas of machining, welding and painting.  All high-paid skilled workers replaced by machines.  The machines don’t take breaks, don’t go on vacation and don’t require health benefits.  Plus the quality using these machines is better.

TractorThe other group likely to revolt is farmers, who also were big Trump supporters.  Exports have become a huge money-maker for family and corporate farms.  Retaliatory tariffs on farm products by China and other nations will decrease demand for soybeans, corn and wheat.  The US produces far more foodstuff than it can possibly consume.  A decrease in farm production translates into a decrease in farm income.

Yes, the hard-core right will be the hardest hit.  But they’re so loyal to Trump…they’re almost fanatical in their support.  Surely they won’t abandon him…will they?  There’s an old saying that might seem sexist but really applies to both genders, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

SurpriseOne day in the next five years or so, the hard-core Trumpsters will wake up and realize not only are the promised jobs not coming back but Trump and Congressional Republicans are on a determined path to cut Social Security and Medicare.  Why?  Because the Federal deficit is too high.  Why is the deficit too high?  Because the Trump tax cuts benefitted the rich and the promised “trickle-down” effect never occurred.  Raising taxes on the rich is out of the question, of course, so these “entitlement” programs must be cut.

The idea that tax cuts for the rich somehow stimulate demand the benefits trickle down to the poor has never been demonstrated.  There is no credible empirical evidence supporting the contention.  George H.W. Bush was correct in calling the trickle-down voodoo-2015958theory “voodoo economics.”  Trump’s tax cuts were pure voodoo economics.

So when the hard-core Trumpsters finally awaken and realize they’ve been had by Trump and elected Republicans, what do they do?  They revolt.  How do they revolt?

Exaggerating the truth has a way of coming back to haunt you.  For the last 3-4 decades, Republicans and the NRA have been touting a clearly distorted interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, especially the right to own an assault rifle or high-caliber weapon used only in the military.  In addition, the hyperbole about a “deep state” has encouraged many on the hard-core right to buy additional firearms and stock additional ammunition.  And what’s the consequence?

SoldierAs noted in the early entries to this blog, the scorned (hard right Trumpsters) begin to exact revenge on the more affluent.  How widespread is such an armed revolt?  Hard to predict.  But what I do know is there are not enough police and not enough military personnel to stop geographically dispersed guerilla raids on single homes and/or neighborhoods, especially if invaders are armed with AR15’s and the like.

Well, now you have the update about the premise of the blog — is a 5th revolution in the US likely?  Not a pretty picture but, unfortunately, a 5th US revolution seems more likely every day that Trump is in office.  Further, the disruption caused by Trump will take years to repair.  Even if Trump were removed from office tomorrow, the country might not avoid the revolution.  And, oh by the way Mrs. Lincoln, make sure to enjoy the play.

#299 Making America Great Again #9: Enforce Fair-Play Rules

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC. Conversation began Entry #289.

Jordan:  “OK, break’s over.  Any more thoughts on having Leviticus as the standard for behavior inside the Beltway?”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “Look, I like the idea of ‘treat thy neighbor as thyself’ as the standard for behavior.  But let’s not be naïve.  What do we do about those people who don’t follow the rules?”

Greenie:  “You mean like Trump and his gang?”

JC:  “Exactly.  Trump’s behavior pointed a flaw in the Constitution – the assumption that members of the Legislative and Executive branches would behave reasonably civilly.   And, with a few exceptions, that assumption proved correct for 200+ years.”

092615_2031_Characters12.gifGreenie:  “Until Trump.  Then he and his gang basically gave the finger to everyone.  He even trashed people in his cabinet who supported him from the get go.  Some display of appreciation and loyalty, huh?”

Jordan:  “So what can be done to stop Trump-like behavior in the future?  What do we recommend to the post-Revenge-Revolution Congress…assuming some of them are willing to listen.”

JC:  “Listen or not, we’ve still got to try.  Greenie, any ideas on how to enforce more civilized behavior?”

010414_1635_16TeachingS2.jpgGreenie:  “A start would be to reinstate the 60-vote rule in the Senate for approving appointments, whether for the agencies or the courts.  A 60-vote rule would force the White House to offer nominees toward the middle politically…not the extremes.”

JC:  “Good start.  We’d eliminate some bomb throwers from the courts and the agencies – like Trump’s Pruitt at EPA and Mulvaney as Budget Director and head of Consumer Protection.  Behavior of both was way out of line.  I mean, Pruitt and his quest for a used mattress from a Trump hotel.  That sounds almost kinky.”

JudgeJordan:  “On the Judicial side, even with the 60-vote rule, what about limiting tenure of Senate-approved judges?  Right now these judges have lifetime appointments.”

Greenie:  “Maybe there could be an appointment period – say 20 years – and then some way to renew the appointment.”

JC:  “I don’t have any idea what the average tenure of a Federal judge is but being on the bench without a review for 20 years seems more than fair.”

Greenie:  “Maybe add a clause about a renewal option.   Whadda say in the military when you agree to extend your time?”

TurtleneckJordan:  “Re-upping.”

Greenie:  “That’s it, re-upping.  Maybe the default is the judges re-up automatically unless reviewed and denied by the Senate.  But make the re-up period for 10 years, not 20 years.  Think about it – 30 years on the bench is a long time.”

JC:  “Would you apply the 30-year limit to all time spent on the Federal bench or a specific court?”

Jordan:  “The only judges that I think are approved by the Senate are for the Appellate, Circuit and Supreme Courts.”

supreme_court_buildingGreenie:  “I don’t know if the limit should be at the court level or in total.  For now, let’s assume the limit applies to a specific level.  Otherwise someone might get to SCOTUS with only 6-7 years left out of the 30-year limit.  That doesn’t seem fair.”

Jordan:  “What about rules for enforcing behavior in the agencies and in Congress, especially the Congressional committees.”

JC:  “Such as the Judicial Oversight Committee in the House?  During the Trump Administration, good ol’ boy Chairman Nunes took classified information from the Mueller investigation to the White House?  Some oversight, huh?  Tried to give the keys to the henhouse to the fox.”

PoliceGreenie:  “OK, Jordan, any ideas how to stop such behavior?  And what about all the obvious ethics violations by Trump, the Trump family and some cabinet officials?  How do we stop that going forward?”

Jordan:  “We need to be realistic.  Whatever the rule, someone is going to try and get around it.”

JC:  “You going to answer Greenie’s question or mumble like some politician?”

Jordan:  “I’m trying to buy time while I think of a good response.”

Greenie:  “What about this idea as a start?  The office of Ethics…or whatever it’s officially called…used to have some power and was respected by the Executive and Legislative branches…at least until Trump.  Why not give the office more teeth?”

Sharks TeethJC:  “More teeth and more transparency.  I realize there’s some information cannot be disclosed.  But, and this should be a big but…no comments, please about personal appearance…the baseline should be to make the public as aware as possible of the shenanigans and unethical behavior by people inside the government, especially members of Congress and high-ranking agency personnel.  The disclosures might force some people to stop.”

Greenie:  “For those who don’t stop, then give the Ethics Office the right to take them to court for a public trial.  No plea bargaining, no consent decree, no sealed documents or other copout.  Make the record public.”

Jordan:  “Court instead of impeachment?”

Judge with GavelGreenie:  “Make it in addition to impeachment.  Some of the behavior will be illegal.  Why shouldn’t that behavior get punished like the rest of us are subject to?”

Jordan:  “Theoretically the behavior is subject to punishment.”

Greenie:  “Two words you just stated are the problem – ‘theoretically’ and ‘subject.’  Too often the SOB’s in Congress or the Executive Branch who blatantly screw the public are given a slap on the wrist at worst, then sent home with most of their pilfered goodies.”

JC:  “You’re getting tough, Greenie.”

Greenie:  “We need to get tough on these bums.  Otherwise the Revenge Revolution will have been for naught…and I don’t like naught.”

JC:  “Agreed.  Now, ought naught we should take a break?”

 

#298: Making America Great Again, #8: Leviticus to the Rescue

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC. Conversation began Entry #289.

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “I agree the president and cabinet need to pass the same end-of-year test given to 8th graders.  Let me add another, ‘Duh, are you serious?’ idea.”

JC:  “Ice cream is mandatory at cabinet meetings?”

Greenie:  “Only if the ice cream is from the Custard Cup.”

Jordan:  “That I could go for.  Two scoops of lemon custard topped off with a scoop of cold fudge and some peanuts.  Seriously, what’s the idea?”

Greenie:  “Since lots of people, especially hard-right Republicans, want to link religion and government more closely, why not use a key part of Leviticus as another component that could help make America great again?”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “You mean the idea of treating your neighbor the same way you want to be treated?”

Greenie:  “Yes.  Many moons ago in undergrad days, I took a course titled something like comparative religion.   What we learned was a core principle of almost every religion is to treat others as you want to be treated.”

Jordan:  “I agree but the idea seems so basic.”

JC:  “So basic and so ignored.  Think back to the Trump Administration policy of separating children of parents who were seeking asylum at the southern border.”

SessionsGreenie:  “I don’t know if Sessions had kids or grandkids but do you think he’d want his kids or grandkids separated from their parents?”

JC:  “As cold-hearted and seemingly cruel as Trump acted, do you think he would want his kids separated?”

Jordan:  “Trump aside, because I’m not sure he had empathy for anyone but himself, the policy of separating kids…and many other policies…likely would never have happened if Greenie’s idea of having some form of ‘treat thy neighbor as thyself’ as a check mark for assessing proposed policies and legislation.”

Greenie:  “Obviously, I like the idea but how would you implement the check-mark policy?”

WhyJC:  “Maybe there would a cabinet officer or some high-ranking staffer whose job it is to go around and ask ‘Would you want this whatever-idea-is-being-discussed to happen to your family?’  The person could be titled the ‘sanity-check maven.’”

Jordan:  “This idea of treating each other fairly seems so much like kindergarten.”

Greenie:  “Well, it is like kindergarten.  I know we’ve talked about these kinds of basic ideas before but some people seem to go brain-dead when they start working inside the Beltway.”

fife-drum%201JC:  “Let’s hope going brain-dead is past tense.  We have a new opportunity to begin rebuilding American values post Revenge Revolution.  Even if it is kindergarten like, using ‘treat thy neighbor’ as a check mark for policies and legislation seems like a good way to keep things from getting too out of control again.”

Greenie:  “Jordan, you’ve had a lot of experience with Congress and the White House, do you think we can make this idea work?”

Jordan:  “Why not?  It’s simple, easy to understand and can work for everyone – whether someone is super religious or an atheist.  Really, who wants to be treated like crap?  Selling the idea to the public will likely be the key.”

Trump KingGreenie:  “You mean like when public pressure force king Trump to stop separating children from families at the border?”

Jordan:  “Great example.  We need to work on how to phrase and position the idea but I think we have a winner.”

JC:  “I agree the idea seems simple and should get widespread support.  Just so we make sure we’re not off in the weeds, may we take a break, please, and think about the idea for a few minutes?”

 

 

#297 Making America Great Again #7: Presidential Candidates Must Pass 8th-Grade EOY Exams

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “When we were talking about using the rules of golf as a guide to personal and professional behavior, I was reminded how little Trump followed the rules of golf…and then asked myself, ‘Did he really know the rules?’…and, ‘What else didn’t he know?'”

JC:  “Know about what?  He played a lot of golf so he must have known some rules.  You have something else in mind?”

Greenie:  “Yes.  Did Trump even know what most any 8th grader knows.”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “Don’t make me laugh?  Not know what an 8th grader know?  Still not sure what you’re talking about.”

Greenie:  “Remember when Trump held that so-called ‘Patriotic Ceremony” after the Super-Bowl champs Philadelphia Eagles refused to go to the White House?”

JC:  “Oh, you mean the ceremony when the Marine Corps Band played ‘God Bless America’ and it was clear to the world that Trump did not know the words?”

Greenie:  “Some patriot, huh?  Bone-spur and all.”

Canadian FlagJC:  “Now I think I see where you’re headed.  What about Trump implying…or at least asking…if Canada burned down the White House in 1812?  No that was the British.  Gee, Donald, in case you didn’t know Canada has been a long-time friendly neighbor.  Canada is north of the continental US, except for one area near Detroit, and a major trading partner until you tried to ruin the relationship.”

Greenie:  “How long was the list of stuff he didn’t know that virtually every 8th-grader would know?”

JC:  “Like the Department of Justice is supposed to enforce the laws made by Congress and not be the personal defense attorney for the president’s wrong doing?”

TurtleneckJordan:  “So, Greenie, exactly what are you proposing?”

Greenie:  “I’m embarrassed the idea sounds so…well, so imbecilic.  But an idea for Making America Great Again is to make sure the presidential candidates…no, make that all candidates for Federal office and all Cabinet nominees…can pass the end-of-year exams given to 8th graders.”

JC:  “Exams given to 8th graders?  That sounds absurd…but a good idea.  How do we test for stuff like knowing the words to ‘God Bless America’?”

Student ExamGreenie:  “I don’t know how we’d test for some things but by forcing candidates for Federal office and Cabinet nominees to take 8th-grade end-of-year exams, you can assume that those who pass at least paid some attention to teachers along the way.  And anyone who failed…”

JC:  “…Such as the Donald, who very likely would have failed?”

Greenie:  “Yes, like the Donald and some of his merry band of munchkins, would be ineligible to run or hold office.”

Jordan:  “You really think we should propose something so basic – passing an 8th-grade exam?”

JC:  “I’m with Greenie.  Before Trump became president, anyone who made such a proposal would have been sent off to the funny farm.  But now the idea seems reasonable.”

Jordan:  “How do we frame the idea so it does not seem so, as you said Greenie, imbecilic?”

dunce capsGreenie:  “Why not be straightforward?  No reason to sugarcoat.  I think we give some examples of basic information that Trump and the Cabinet members did not know.  There are lots of examples where it looked as if they hadn’t graduated from 8th grade and/or should have been wearing dunce caps.  It was embarrassing for the country.”

Jordan:  “Now that we’ve had the Revenge Revolution, is putting forth passing the 8th-grade exam idea opening old wounds with the Trumpsters?  I know most of the Trumpsters lost and we have many new members of Congress but the idea seems a bit petty.”

Greenie:  “I hear you and point well taken.  I also know, as a country, we can’t ignore the lessons of history.  The idea of passing a test given to 8th graders might get ignored.  However, I think we should at least put the idea on the table and generate some discussion.”

JC:  “What about testing candidates for Federal office, at least presidential candidates, for mental stability and maybe a test for early stage Alzheimer’s?  Throw in Cabinet members as well.”

Jordan:  “That idea will be more controversial and more complicated to get implemented.  Might be worth discussing more…but let’s take a break first.”

(Continued)       

 

#296 Making America Great Again #6: Live by the Rules of Golf

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

092615_2031_Characters1.jpg

Jordan:  “Now, if its ok with you guys, I have another idea for making America great again.”

JC:  “Greenie, are you ready for Jordan’s lightning bolt?”

Greenie:  “OK, Jordan, what’s the idea?”

Jordan:  “We, societal we, would be well served by aligning our behavior with the rules of golf.”

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “Since neither JC nor I play golf, we have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Jordan:  “Golf has a set of rules that one is expected to follow.  But the difference between golf and other sports is there is no referee to monitor behavior or enforce the rules.”

JC:  “So, if I understand correctly, the individual golfer is supposed to say ‘I broke a particular rule and therefore the penalty is whatever.’ That seems weird.”

GolferGreenie:  “Are you serious?  The individual golfer is supposed to penalize herself or himself for some rules infraction?  I agree, that does seem weird.”

Jordan:  “It might seem weird at first but among people who take golf halfway seriously, there is an incredible amount of self-induced pressure to follow the rules.”

JC:  “So, even if there is no other golfer who can see the rules infraction, you feel pressure to call a penalty on yourself…or whatever you call it.”

Jordan:  “What might seem even stranger is when you’re playing alone, you still don’t break the rules.”

Greenie:  “That behavior is really interesting.”

Jordan:  “In addition to the rules that result in some kind of penalty, there’s rules of etiquette one is supposed to follow.  Some examples, who tees of first, always repair the ball mark on the green, replace the divots, rake the sand trap, leave your bag next to and not on green, don’t drive your golf cart near the green…and a bunch of others.”

Trump Driving on GreenJC:  “I guess I never appreciated all the hullabaloo about Trump, when he was president, driving his cart on the putting green at Mar-a-Lago and that place in New Jersey he used to play.”

Jordan:  “Bedminster.”

JC:  “That’s the place.”

Greenie:  “I hate to sound so naïve but is driving a golf cart on the green so bad?  It’s got those fat tires and they use some type of lawnmower to cut the green.  Is driving the golf cart on the green really that bad?”

TurtleneckJordan:  “As far as hurting or killing the grass on the green, you’re right.  Driving on the green one time is no big deal.  But, in terms of golf etiquette, I can’t think of anything more egregious. In the rules of golf etiquette, you’re not supposed to walk on the green in an area where someone else is going to putt…aka, the putting line.”

Greenie:  “You’re not supposed to walk on…what did you call it…someone’s putting line.  Not walk on it even if the other guy is your opponent?”

Jordan:  “Not even an opponent.  Walking on the line might affect the roll of the ball.”

JC:  “Wow.  If walking’s on the guy’s putting line is bad, what about driving over it?  By driving on the green Trump ignored a whole slew of rules of etiquette.   Maybe worse, he effectively told everyone else in the golf group and every member at Mar-a-Lago and Bedminster, ‘Screw you.  I’m the king and I set my own rules.’”

Greenie:  “Do golfers really follow the rules?  This all sounds so hypothetical.  How can you tell?”

FlagstickJordan:  “I’ve tested this theory over many rounds.  If you are playing golf with someone you don’t know, by the 4th hole you will have a very good idea of their personality and their ethics.”

JC:  “C’mon.  That sounds preposterous.  How can you tell?”

Jordan:  “Golf is a game where everyone makes lots of errors, even the pros.  By the 4th hole, at least one error will have been made or a situation will have occurred where golf etiquette will come into play.  How the person reacts almost always mirrors their personality and moral character.”

MistakeGreenie:  “Your theory is, if the person readily admits a mistake, or takes the penalty or apologies for breaking some etiquette rule, then that’s a reflection of their true personality.  Same if they don’t acknowledge the mistake, right?”

Jordan:  “Yes.  Have seen it happen time and time again.  The other part you learn about the person is whether they are courteous and helpful to an opponent.  For example, if your opponent hits the ball in the woods and you are reasonably close by, do you help look for the opponent’s ball?”

JC:  “What you’re describing sounds like common courtesy.  Be polite, try to help others and follow some basic rules.  Stuff you learned by second grade.”

Learned in KindergarfenGreenie:  “What was the title of that book?  ‘All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.’”

Jordan:  “That’s about it.  The right type of behavior its stuff we all should have learned as kids.  Somehow many adults seem to have forgotten those lessons or chosen to ignore them.”

JC:  “Maybe the idea of framing post-Revenge Revolution behavior around the rules of golf might work for people.  We also need to make sure whoever’s president is briefed on those rules.  She or he needs to set the example for the country.  Fore!”

(Continued)      

 

#295 Make America Great Again #5: Increase Gas Tax to Fund Infrastructure

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “Alright, now I have an idea for how to make America great again.”

Greenie:  “Could we use another slogan, please?  Making America great again is so Trumpish.”

Jordan:  “I agree the slogan is Trumpish.  However, the ideas we’re discussing, unlike the Donald’s ideas, will make America great again.  At least for now, let’s keep the slogan and try to discuss practical solutions, OK?”

JC:  “Agreed.  The conversation is still among us chickens so using the slogan is ‘no harm, no foul’ so to speak.”

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “I shouldn’t even smile at that one…but it was pretty good.  Now, JC, stop the puns and tell us your idea.”

JC:  “Simple – increase the gas tax and use the funds to rebuild infrastructure.”

Greenie:  “But we don’t need to destroy more land for a bunch of new roads.”

JC:  “Who said we’re talking only more new roads?”

Jordan:  “Then, if not new roads, what’s your plan?”

albert-einsteinJC:  “Two prongs.  (i) Reconfigure existing roads into smarter roads.  Smarter roads can carry more traffic with a lot less congestion; (ii) rebuild and expand the rail system to handle more passenger trains and freight traffic.”

Greenie:  “I like the idea of better trains but that seems so…well, old fashion.”

Jordan:  “JC, you might be on to something.  Smart highways and smart trains.”

JC:  “Jordan, you’re an experienced commuter in a number of cities.  Which do you prefer, commuting by car or rail?”

metro-north1Jordan:  “Commuting by rail in metro areas is easier, more pleasant, less expensive and faster.  Plus, you can work on the train.”

Greenie:  “What about longer trips – say Washington to Manhattan or even to Boston?  Take the train, plane or drive?”

Jordan:  “Drive, no, unless absolutely necessary.  To NY, train for sure.  By the time you travel to the airport, go through security, wait at the gate, then taxi for takeoff…and probably wait so more, you’re more than halfway to NY.  Then the same wasted time at the destination getting out of the airport, then travelling to the city.  Plus, with a plane and especially driving you end losing lots of productive time.”

JC:  “What about DC to Boston?  That’s about twice as far as NY.”

Jordan:  “That’s where an increase in the gas tax could have the most impact in getting people off the highways and/or out of planes.  Some of the gas tax money could go toward a high-speed rail line.”

Greenie:  “Is high-speed rail practical in the Northeast.  I mean, there are so many curves and old bridges.  Lots of buildings are almost right up against the tracks.  Rebuilding would cause a major tear-up.”

BarriersJordan:  “High-speed rail needs to be defined given the barriers that exist.  High-speed in the Northeast corridor is not going to be like a bullet-train in Japan.  Making that happen would be outrageously expensive and disruptive.”

JC:  “Well, then could high-speed rail in the Northeast average say 100 mph?”

Jordan:  “100 mph average seems like a decent target.  If the trains average 50 mph now, then duh, a 100 mpg average speed would cut travel time in half.  So an 8-hour trip from Boston to DC would be more like 4 hours.”

JC:  “What if we took the major metro areas – DC, NY, Boston, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas…and some others – and drew a 200-mile radius around them?  What percent of the population would be covered?”

Pie ChartJordan:  “Don’t know exactly but I’ll bet you’re pushing 85-90%.”

Greenie:  “You really think the existing railbed could be used?  I realize some improvements would be required but how do we avoid just tearing up more land?”

Jordan:  “With some creative thinking and some application of technology, I’ll bet speed could be doubled without much tear-up of new land.”

bullying-20clipart-bullyingJC:  “This sounds great but what about resolving the conflict between freight and passenger traffic?  The little that I know about rail, the freight railroads seem to keep resisting any efforts to add passenger traffic to certain rail lines…in fact, most rail lines.”

Greenie:  “I agree.  Each side seems to want their own dedicated rail lines.  How does that conflict get solved?”

Jordan:  “The solution is in the approach.  In metro areas many of the freight and passenger tracks are likely to be the same.  In less densely populated areas, would be possible to have more dedicated tracks.”

JC:  “I keep coming back to the question, ‘Do we really need two sets of tracks?’  That seems like old-school thinking.  What about smart trains and smart tracks?”

Greenie:  “Surely, smart trains are easier to manage that smart cars or smart trucks.  The trains just can’t wander off the tracks.”

TurtleneckJordan:  “Other than difference in speed between freight trains and passenger trains, I don’t know of a technical reason the two can’t share the tracks.”

JC:  “While we’re at it, why do freight trains have to be so long?  They seem to go on forever…and are so slow.  With all the self-driving technology for cars and trucks, why can’t there be faster, shorter freight trains?”

Greenie:  “Seems like a no-brainer to me.  What’s the real barrier to making these ideas a reality?  Jordan, any thoughts?”

Jordan:  “The discussion about resistance from railroads reminds me of an article we had to read in graduate school.”

JC:  “You can remember that far back?  Just kidding.”

Thumbs DownJordan:  “The article was in the Harvard Business Review and written by Theodore Levitt.  The title was ‘Marketing Myopia.’ An example of the myopia was the railroads viewing themselves as being in railroad business and turning thumbs down to considering being in the transportation business.  As a result, the railroads lost a huge share of the logistics business to the trucking industry.”

Greenie:  “OK, nice observation from ancient history.  But how does that solve the problem we’re talking about?”

Jordan:  “If we think back to some of the other ideas to make America great again, the barrier to accepting the idea was…”

JC:  “…commitment, right?”

Greenie:  “Commitment and support from the Feds, especially Congress.  If that’s the barrier for smarter railroads and faster trains, then what the barriers to improving highways without tearing up new land?”

(Continued)

#294: Making America Great Again #4, Ban Charter Schools…and Busing.

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “Before the break, I said I thought at first Jordan’s idea of reinstating conscription was stupid.  Then I came around and supported it.”

JC:  “And…?

Greenie:  “Well, here’s an idea that you guys might think falls in the category of stupid.  I think we should ban charter schools.”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “What’s your logic?  Something wrong with charter schools?”

Jordan:  “Supporters claim charter schools are more effective than public schools at educating students.  So what’s wrong with their argument?”

Greenie:  “My view is charter schools are band-aides, not solutions.  Charter schools are an excuse to divert money from public schools to the private sector.  Or even worse, charter schools are part of a plan toward eliminating public schools altogether.  But charter schools don’t solve any real problems.”

BandAidJC:  “Not that I disagree with you but why do you think charter schools are a band-aide?”

Greenie:  “Because charter schools address symptoms and not causes.  Let’s not be naïve, a certain percentage of public schools have real problems.  And those problems need to be fixed.”

Jordan:  “You’re saying that charter schools don’t fix the problems.  Why not?  Aren’t students better off moving from public schools to charter schools?”

Greenie:  “Some students, probably, but not all.  What about the kids who don’t go to charter schools and remain in public schools?   Many are worse off than before the other kids left…plus there’s less funding for the public schools because taxpayers must fund the charter schools.”

Bag of MoneyJC:  “We need to get more specific about the issues.  Besides we know that merely throwing money at schools does not necessarily make schools better.”

Greenie:  “You want specifics?  Start with quality of teachers.  I know we all grew up in a different era – some probably liken it to the Stone Age by today’s standards.  But think about the quality of teachers we had from first grade through high school…and especially high school.”

Diagramed SentenceJC:  “I agree that many were top-notch, especially those teaching math and English.  To think we were so motivated we used to diagram sentences for fun!”

Jordan:  “Why do you think the teachers were so good?”

Greenie:  “Party because women had fewer career opportunities than today.”

JC:  “True, but we had some great male teachers as well.”

Black School TeacherJordan:  “What about teacher pay?”

Greenie:  “Much better proportionately than pay today but still less money than the private sector.”

JC:  “What about respect?  In an earlier era, teachers seemed to be respected by almost everyone…including politicians.”

Jordan:  “Good point.    I really get frustrated with some politicians in North Carolina.  Republicans have let teacher pay lag behind the rate of inflation.  What’s even worse, when teachers marched on Raleigh recently for higher pay and more support for students, a long-term, high-profile Republican called them thugs.”

JC:  “Nice, huh?  Calling your teachers thugs.  What an a-hole.”

Greenie:  “See why I said charter schools were a band-aide?   Charter schools do nothing to address some of the fundamental problems of public education.”

WhyJordan:  “OK, I’ll be the bad guy.  Why do we need free public education?  What percent of the public thinks education should be privately provided and not publicly provided…forget who pays for it?”

JC:  “That kind of question makes my head hurt.  Jordan, you know as well as I that what made this country great was not a bunch of open land, not a bunch of resources…not even a great constitution.  None of those mattered unless you had one thing…”

122813_2140_15Education4.jpgGreenie:  “…an educated populous.  And how did the US populous become educated?  Not just an education for the elite but an education for everyone, including immigrants, many of whom arrived here illiterate. They were educated through a free public education.”

Jordan:  “So your premise is until the country sets a goal of free, quality public education for everyone…and then begins to make that happen again…we’ll not make real progress toward making America great again.  Right?”

Greenie:  “You got it.  Allowing charter schools avoids forcing society toward restoring free, quality public education for all.”

School Bus NoJC:  “While we’re throwing out ideas about education, what about banning busing?  Busing seems like a waste of time and money.”

Greenie:  “Busing is a waste.  I agree the goal should be to eliminate almost all busing.”

Jordan:  “Ok, what’s the first step in making this plan work?”

Greenie:  “Simple.  Commitment.  If people commit to free, quality, public education for all, then the problem is more than half solved.  With such a commitment, all the other issues can start to be addressed rationally.”

JC:  “What about support from politicians?”

fife-drum%201Greenie:  “Tell me how a politician is going to campaign against free, quality public education for all?  That type campaign, especially in this post-Revenge Revolution environment would be suicide.”

Jordan:  “Greenie, I really like your idea.  Simple and easy to understand.”

JC:  “You got my vote too.  And now I’m the one who needs a break.”

(Continued)