#376. Trump’s Stupidity May Help Save the Country

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, a list of earlier revolutions and the author, Entry #1.

Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether in the next few years, a revolution in the US is still possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US.  Most recent sense check, Entry #365.  

Some of the entries are part of a series.  Several series are available as easy-to-read booklets for download:

Prelude: there is an endless number of inconsistencies in information from the Trump administration about the spread of the coronavirus and/or actions to mitigate the spread. For recent blog entries I’ve selected a few that are representative but not necessarily the most egregious.

ENTRY #376 BEGINS:  When it became clear the coronavirus had turned into a pandemic, the White House dropped claims the virus was a hoax and established a task force to help coordinate something, although no one was quite sure what.  The task force began a daily press conference to provide the public with updates on the spread of the virus, actions being contemplated – emphasis on contemplated – to help mitigate the spread and guidance from CDC doctors about steps to the public could take to avoid getting infected or infecting others.

Once Trump realized the task force’s press conference was being viewed widely, he insisted on VP Pence playing second fiddle and Trump becoming the lead spokesperson. Since joining the daily briefings, frequently Trump has spoken for 45-60 minutes, often rambling incoherently about a wide range of unrelated and irrelevant topics. The rambling regularly includes an incredible number of lies and totally fabricated stories and claims. 

Even in a crisis, Trump cannot tell anything resembling the truth.  Since the beginning of his term, the frequency and magnitude of the lies has increased dramatically, even by Trump standards.  The daily press conferences seem to be two, sometimes three different events. 

  1. Press conference featuring Trump’s incoherent rambling and lies.  The remarks almost always include pointing fingers at someone else, claiming the other person/group is at fault, and not Trump.  An example is Trump claiming the Governor of New York should have known that the Federal government had stored ventilators in New Jersey.  Even though the Federal government didn’t know, Governor Cuomo of NY should have known the ventilators were in New Jersey!  Seems logical to me.
  2. Press conference updating info from the task force.  Lots of claims of progress and projections but very little hard data.  During the press conference the contrast is shocking between statements from Pence, who constantly praises Trump, and live reports from doctors and nurses in hospitals in say Brooklyn or Queens.  While Pence has fewer gross misstatements than Trump, Pence has not been a credible source of information.
  3. Press conference with doctors from CDC, especially Anthony Fauci, a 79-year-old, Brooklyn-born straight shooter with extensive experience in communicable diseases.  Fauci has become a trusted “voice of reason” in this crisis.  Fauci also frequently, but diplomatically, corrects Trump’s claims.  The contrast between Trump and Fauci is striking, both in stature and credibility.  The little guy Fauci is a credible giant.

Unfortunately, for Trump’s hard-core supporters, none of Trump’s behavior seems to matter.  For them Trump can never be wrong, no matter how egregious the claim or no matter how much data support the truth.  Trumpsters have made it a habit of never checking the facts.  Why should they when they have “alternative facts” to support their position?  If one is able to hold something akin to a conversation with a Trumpster, the least bit of a challenge to one of Trump’s claims will result in the Trumpster making irrelevant and usually disproved claims, usually about Obama or Hillary Clinton. 

Trump’s lies, and the refusal within the Trump Administration to address real problems – recall as late as March 3 Trump claimed the coronavirus was a hoax – has made it even more difficult to address the many logistical and medical equipment availability problems associated with the coronavirus.

An example is limited availability of ventilators.  While the percentage is small of people contracting the coronavirus who need a ventilator, the vast number of people who have or will contract the virus results in the need for ventilators far in excess of existing capacity.

Increasing production of ventilators is it good example of how, in the Trump administration, no good deed goes unpunished. When projections indicated that demand for ventilators would far exceed installed capacity, General Motors offered to work with Ventec Life Systems, a ventilator company based in Bothell, WA and help the company increase production.

That proposed relationship was announced March 20, although likely most of the agreement had already been reached. Under the agreement GM was to help the company increase production from about 150 per month to 1,000 per month and then 10,000 per month with total production up to 200,000 ventilators.

Within a few days of the announcement that GM would help, which received decent press coverage, there was another announcement published in the technical press.  That release received very little coverage.  The “technical” press release indicated details about the ventilator design. Knowing the details presented a completely different picture of the problems GM faced in increasing production than the supposed problems claimed by Trump.

If you were not familiar with manufacturing, the details in following paragraphs might not seem to be so important. If you are familiar with manufacturing, your jaw might drop and hit the table.

For reference, think of a ventilator as a somewhat more elaborate HVAC system that’s in your car or truck. Both the ventilator and HVAC have a pump, tubes to push the air, vents that open and close and sensors to monitor air flow and other conditions. The ventilator also includes a facemask to help concentrate the airflow for the user. Otherwise the ventilator and the HVAC system are roughly the same.  Since GM makes millions of cars and trucks every year, all with some form of HVAC, one would think that GM should be able to take the ventilator company’s design and ramp up production within a few days.

Alas, the unforeseen problem. I don’t know the exact percentage, but I’ll bet 90% of the key components are the same for every HVAC system installed in GM cars and trucks. Yes, between body styles the tubes might be a different length and the mounting brackets might be different, and the pump on a big truck will be larger than a small car, but fundamentally the components are all about the same.

Well, manufacturing experts, the ventilator design would not pass DFM 101 (design for manufacturing). The report I saw in the tech press indicated there are 1,400 specific parts. That sounds outrageously high so let’s cut that by 75% and say there are 350 specific parts. The tech press also indicated the parts were sourced in at least 10 different countries.

Thus, what GM encountered was not a manufacturing problem which it could solve simply and quickly, but a supply chain problem, which can take much longer to solve. No one, and I mean no one, who understands one iota about manufacturing would allow such a crazy design to go into production. For GM, the problem then became how to find parts, including parts in a number of countries also inflicted with the coronavirus. Nonetheless, GM apparently found enough parts to be ready to begin ventilator production at a plant in Kokomo, IN that is outfitted for “clean production.”

What did Trump do to help alleviate the ventilator shortage? Trump, who knows absolutely nothing about manufacturing and apparently is either too lazy or too stupid to learn, likely both, blames GM for not meeting a Trump-set production goal, even though GM was ready to begin production and waiting for Federal government approval. In addition, rather than approving the request to begin, Trump said GM should begin production at a Lordstown, OH assembly plant that GM no longer owns.  (Bloomberg article.)

OK Donald, let’s not take responsibility for not preparing the country for a likely pandemic – your administration was informed formally by China January 3 and then later you claimed you always knew it was a pandemic.  No, instead of taking responsibility, let’s blame the Good Samaritan GM for stepping up and trying to help.

In addition to chastising General Motors for not meeting a nearly impossible production schedules, Trump claimed GM was charging too much for the project. Of course, Trump had no data points to support his claim. In a widely-watched interview, Governor Cuomo of New York stated that each ventilator cost the State of New York roughly $25,000.

Trump told GM to build a minimum 40,000 ventilators asap.  Gee, the last I looked 40,000*$25,000 = $1,000,000,000.  Where’s the premium you claim GM is charging?  There appears to be little, if any reimbursement to GM for engineering hours, travel expenses and assembly time.  What’s being charged is the transfer price from the existing company.

There’s an old saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  Well, Trump’s refusal to lead and to take responsibility for delaying any type of Federal action to help thwart the effects of the coronavirus is a perfect example of someone who talks tough but isn’t. 

Ironically, Trump’s lame, narcissistic, stupid behavior may somehow allow the US to avoid a more serious 5th revolution.  The Revenge Revolution will still occur but the outcome, if patterns continue, will be positive.  People are starting to understand and appreciate the importance of sharing and sacrifice, the importance of being honest and helpful, the importance of duty, honor, country.  Trump has none of these characteristics.  In a very obtuse way, his negligence and ineptness has forced the country to reassess its behavior.

I’m optimistic the US will be a better country once we get through this phase of the coronavirus.  It’s truly unfortunate so many people had to die prematurely because of Trump’s behavior.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it became clear the coronavirus had turned into a pandemic, the White House dropped claims the virus was a hoax and established a task force to help coordinate something, although no one was quite sure what.  The task force began a daily press conference to provide the public with updates on the spread of the virus, actions being contemplated – emphasis on contemplated – to help mitigate the spread and guidance from CDC doctors about steps to the public could take to avoid getting infected or infecting others.

Once Trump realized the task force’s press conference was being viewed widely, he insisted on VP Pence playing second fiddle and Trump becoming the lead spokesperson. Since joining the daily briefings, frequently Trump has spoken for 45-60 minutes, often rambling incoherently about a wide range of unrelated and irrelevant topics. The rambling regularly includes an incredible number of lies and totally fabricated stories and claims. 

Even in a crisis, Trump cannot tell anything resembling the truth.  Since the beginning of his term, the frequency and magnitude of the lies has increased dramatically, even by Trump standards.  The daily press conferences seem to be two, sometimes three different events.  #1 event is Trump’s incoherent rambling and lies.  The remarks almost always include pointing fingers at someone else, claiming the other person/group is at fault, and not Trump.  An example is Trump claiming the Governor of New York should have known that the Federal government has stored ventilators in New Jersey.  Even though the Federal government didn’t know, Governor Cuomo of NY should have known the ventilators were in New Jersey!  Seems logical to me.

#2 press conference is the task force report.  Lots of claims of progress and projections but very little hard data.  During the press conference the contrast is shocking between statements from Pence, who constantly praises Trump, and live reports from doctors and nurses in hospitals in say Brooklyn or Queens.  While Pence has fewer gross misstatements than Trump, Pence has not been a credible source of information. 

#3 press conference is the doctors from CDC, especially Anthony Fauci, a 79-year-old, Brooklyn-born straight shooter with extensive experience in communicable diseases.  Fauci has become a trusted “voice of reason” in this crisis.  Fauci also frequently, but diplomatically, corrects Trump’s claims.  The contrast between Trump and Fauci is striking, both in stature and credibility.  The little guy Fauci is a credible giant.

Unfortunately, for Trump’s hard-core supporters, none of Trump’s behavior seems to matter.  For them Trump can never be wrong, no matter how egregious the claim or no matter how much data support the truth.  Trumpsters have made it a habit of never checking the facts.  Why should they when they have “alternative facts” to support their position?  If one is able to hold something akin to a conversation with a Trumpster, the least bit of a challenge to one of Trump’s claims will result in the Trumpster making irrelevant and usually disproved claims, usually about Obama or Hillary Clinton. 

Trump’s lies, and the refusal within the Trump Administration to address real problems – recall as late as March 3 Trump claimed the coronavirus was a hoax – has divided the country further and made it even more difficult to address the many logistical and medical equipment availability problems associated with the coronavirus.

An example is limited availability of ventilators.  While the percentage is small of people contracting the coronavirus who need a ventilator, the vast number of people who have or will contract the virus results in the need for ventilators far in excess of existing capacity.

Increasing production of ventilators is it good example of how, in the Trump administration, no good deed goes unpunished. When projections indicated that demand for ventilators would far exceed installed capacity, General Motors offered to work with Ventec Life Systems, a ventilator company based in Bothell, WA and help the company increase production.

That proposed relationship was announced March 20, although likely most of the agreement had already been reached. Under the agreement GM was to help the company increase production from about 150 per month to 1,000 per month and then 10,000 per month up to 200,000 ventilators.

Within a few days of the announcement that GM would help, which received decent press coverage, there was another announcement published in the technical press.  That release received very little coverage.  The “technical” press release indicated details about the ventilator design. Knowing the details presented a completely different picture of the problems GM faced in increasing than the supposed problems claimed by Trump.

If you were not familiar with manufacturing, the details in following paragraphs might not seem to be so important. If you are familiar with manufacturing, your jaw made drop and hit the table.

For reference, think of a ventilator as a somewhat more elaborate HVAC system that’s in your car or truck. Both the ventilator and HVAC have a pump, tubes to push the air, vents that open and close and sensors to monitor air flow and other conditions. The ventilator also includes a facemask to help concentrate the airflow for the user. Otherwise the ventilator and the HVAC system are roughly the same.  Since GM makes millions of cars and trucks every year, all with some form of HVAC, one would think that GM should be able to take the ventilator company’s design and ramp up production within a few days.

Alas, the unforeseen problem. I don’t know the exact percentage, but I’ll bet 90% of the key components are the same for every HVAC system installed in GM cars and trucks. Yes, between body styles the tubes might be a different length and the mounting brackets might be different, and the pump on a big truck will be larger than a small car, but fundamentally the components are all about the same.

Well, manufacturing experts, the ventilator design would not pass DFM 101 (design for manufacturing). The report I saw in the tech press indicated there are 1,400 specific parts. That sounds outrageously high so let’s cut that by 75% and say there are 350 specific parts. The tech press also indicated the parts were sourced in at least 10 different countries.

Thus, what GM encountered was not a manufacturing problem which it could solve quickly, but a supply chain problem, which can take much longer to solve. No one, and I mean no one, who understands one iota about manufacturing would allow such a crazy design to go into production. For GM, the problem then became how to find parts, including parts in a number of countries also inflicted with the coronavirus. Nonetheless, GM apparently found enough parts to be ready to begin production at a plant in Kokomo, IN that is outfitted for “clean production.”

What did Trump do to help alleviate the problem? Trump, who knows absolutely nothing about manufacturing and apparently is either too lazy or too stupid to learn, likely both, blames GM for not meeting a Trump-set production goal, even though GM was ready to begin production and waiting for Federal government approval. In addition, rather than approving the request to begin, Trump said GM should begin production at a Lordstown, OH assembly plant that GM no longer owns.  (Bloomberg article.)

OK Donald, let’s not take responsibility for not preparing the country for a likely pandemic – your administration was informed formally by China January 3 and then later you claimed you always knew it was a pandemic.  No, instead of taking responsibility, let’s blame the Good Samaritan GM for stepping up and trying to help.

In addition to chastising General Motors for not meeting nearly impossible production schedules, Trump claimed GM was charging too much for the project. Of course, Trump had no data points to support his claim. In a widely-watched interview, Governor Cuomo of New York stated that each ventilator cost the State of New York roughly $25,000. Trump told GM to build a minimum 40,000 ventilators asap.  Gee, the last I looked 40,000*$25,000 = $1,000,000,000.  Where’s the premium you claim GM is charging?  There appears to be little, if any reimbursement to GM for engineering hours, travel expenses and assembly time.  What’s being charged is the transfer price from the existing company.

There’s an old saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  Well, Trump’s refusal to lead and to take responsibility for delaying any type of Federal action to help thwart the effects of the coronavirus is a perfect example of someone who talks tough but isn’t. 

Ironically, Trump’s lame, narcissistic behavior may have actually allowed the US to avoid a more serious 5th revolution.  The Revenge Revolution will occur and the outcome, if patterns continue, will be positive.  People are starting to understand and appreciate the importance of sharing and sacrifice, the importance of being honest and helpful, the importance of duty, honor, country.  Trump has none of those characteristics.  In a very obtuse way, his negligence and ineptness has forced the country to reassess its behavior.

I’m optimistic the US will be a better country once we get through this phase of the coronavirus.  It’s truly unfortunate so many people had to die prematurely because of Trump. 

#375 Leadership in a Crisis: Chaos or Confidence?

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, a list of earlier revolutions and the author, Entry #1.

Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether in the next few years, a revolution in the US is still possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US.  Most recent sense check, Entry #365.  

Some of the entries are part of a series.  Several series are available as easy-to-read booklets for download:

Prelude: there is an endless number of inconsistencies in information from the Trump administration about the spread of the coronavirus and/or actions to mitigate the spread. Rather than beat a dead horse, I’ve chosen a few that are representative but not necessarily the most egregious.

ENTRY #375 BEGINS: During the Great Depression FDR understood that instilling hope in people would help bring the country together and help reduce the likelihood of societal chaos. FDR started his first term by stating, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

FDR followed his inaugural address with a series of “fireside chats,” during which he outlined problems and proposed solutions. (If you’ve never heard any of the “fireside chats,” they’re available on the internet.) The fireside chats helped build confidence in the capabilities of the Roosevelt administration and a foundation of hope in a time of great uncertainty.

The umbrella for recovery from the Great Depression was called the “New Deal.” The New Deal included a series of programs to provide work and income (and self-respect) for all types of unemployed workers. The New Deal work programs – WPA, CCC, and many others – included significantly expanding infrastructure in the United States, which laid the groundwork for economic growth for many decades to come.

The lesson of FDR’s understanding of creating hope and maintaining self-respect seems to have been lost on the Trump Administration. Whereas the cause of society’s uncertainty today is different than during the 1930’s, the importance of instilling hope in society and avoiding instilling fear remains the same.

Unfortunately, since day #1 in office, Trump has promoted chaos and fear. Even cabinet members who were selected because of a relationship with Trump, have been cast aside for daring to disagree with Trump. As noted in several previous entries (#374 is an example), the result of Trump‘s management style has been a cabinet that is filled with incompetents.

Trump has also consistently displayed incompetence on substantive issues. The combination has reduced people’s confidence in the ability of government to manage crises. What about the public’s confidence in the competence of the White House in dealing with the coronavirus? Did Trump take the approach of FDR and layout problems and proposed solutions?

In a press conference March 20, 2020, a reporter asked Trump and Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, when the administration first learned of the extent of the coronavirus problem in China. Pompeo asked the Homeland Security director to answer – the reply was “January 3.”

Did the Trump administration convey such information to the public? Did the administration take any action to ensure critical medical supplies would be on hand should the virus spread to the US? No, not even outside the public purview. As recently as March 3rd – two months after learning about the major problems in China – Trump declared publicly the coronavirus was a hoax.

When cases started appearing in the US, Trump claimed there were only 15 cases (there were at least 60). And of the 15 cases, Trump claimed only one or two were serious. A few days thereafter, Trump declared the virus would magically disappear, like some miracle. According to Trump, the US, unlike other countries, had the coronavirus under control.

On March 19 information became available that the Senate Committee on Intelligence had been briefed on the severity of the problem in February. The chairman of the committee, Richard Burr (R-NC), used the information to sell stock in industries that might be affected and to warn a small group of high-dollar donors about the growing problem. Did Burr inform the public? No. (Gee, I wonder what the outcry would be from Fox News, Lindsey Graham and other Trump lapdogs if Burr were a Democrat?)

Despite declarations from King Trump, the number of people infected in the US kept increasing exponentially. Then after several governors and mayors had implemented severe restrictions on travel and gatherings, King Trump declared, “I always knew this would lead to a pandemic.” Right Donald – liar, liar, pants on fire.”

Aside from the bonehead declarations by the president, the performance of the Trump administration this past week or so has been better, but remains mixed. Public confidence in the Center for Disease Control (CDC) seems to have improved as doctors have begun telling the truth about the intensity of the coronavirus and how citizens should behave. Comments from CDC personnel often have directly conflicted with claims made by Trump, even when Trump is standing next to the CDC spokesperson.

In addition, state and local officials have continued to provide guidance. Examples include governors of Michigan and Washington as well as governors/mayors in the New York tristate area. There are still some bumps in these declarations and differences of opinion but action is being taken.

As far as calming fear, Trump might have convinced the hardcore supporters he’s competent, but no one else seems convinced that he or key White House staff/cabinet officials knows what to do. Once the public began to understand more about they could be affected by the virus and then began to understand proposed government programs to respond, mild panic set in.

People rushed to buy food and staples. Stocks of toilet paper were depleted because people were concerned the material used to make facemasks would stop production of toilet paper. A simple explanation of manufacturing capacity for TP, and lead times from factory to food stores would have mitigated most concerns. A similar explanation for many food products would have helped. But as of this date, nary a word from the White House about supply chains.

The uncertainty also spooked investors, who hate uncertainty. The result has been a frenzy with huge daily swings in the market, mostly down. The major indexes, Trump’s personal barometer of job performance, have declined to a point where all the gains realized since inauguration have been wiped out. In less than two months the major indexes have fallen 25-30%.

The near freefall of the stock market has affected consumer confidence as has the projection of a double-digit drop in GDP in 2020:Q2, and double-digit unemployment. The trifecta hit on confidence will exaggerate the virus-related slowdown in purchases of durable goods as well as home sales and construction.

The run-up in the stock market proceeding the recent crash also left the public with another headache – an additional $1,000,000,000,000 Federal debt. The 2017 tax cut was essentially a wealth transfer program to the rich, making them even richer. Think of it as socialism for the rich. Little, if any of the tax cut actually filtered down to the middle and lower-income categories.

The end result was the rich got considerably richer and everyone else got stuck with the bill — $2,700+ for every man, woman and child in the US. For a family of four, they should think of the tax cut as their gift of more than $10,000 to the very wealthy. (For more about the fallacy of trickle-down economics, which was used to justify the wealth transfer, see blog entry xxx.)

While an economic stimulus will help some people pay bills in the short-term, the real issue is mitigating the effects of the virus. Because currently there is no vaccine (forget Trump’s claim) and no known cause, there is no way to stop infections. The government’s plan is to “flatten the curve” of the rate of infection so the number of people needing hospitalization stays within the capacity of the hospital system.

Actions to “flatten the curve of infection” include restricting the number of people who can gather together. In some areas, the restriction is 100 people, some areas it is 50 people and some areas 10 people. Surprisingly, as of 03/18, about 10 states had no restrictions, including Texas.

The flip side of restrictions on crowd control is the negative impact on commerce. Restaurants, bars, hotels, gyms, movie theaters, theme parks and even religious institutions have been ordered to close. Sporting events have been canceled or delayed. Airlines have cut back flights by 50% or more.

Even such mundane tasks as garbage pickup have been affected. In our neighborhood, the sanitation department also picks up twigs, leaves and other yard waste. This week the yard-waste truck was about an hour late because, according to a man on the truck, they could not take off because of the 50-person restriction and had to wait for the sanitation workers to leave the building. (Yard waste pickup has now been suspended.)

The effect of these restrictions will be a significant increase in unemployment and decline in GDP. Although some believe the jump in unemployment will be temporary, my belief is that any rebound in employment will leave many unemployed as organizations realize how to operate with fewer employees by implementing more technology. The depressing effect on employment could last for a number of years. (For more information about the effects of technology on potential unemployment, see ”Tech Tsunami Booklet with Supplement” )

While both economic and medical programs are needed, most proposed actions by the White House seem more focused on the economy and less on ensuring medical care is available for those affected. An example is the proposed payment of $1,000-$2,000 per family for some period. The intent seems worthwhile, helping to address income shortfalls for many service workers.

The effect of such programs on confidence is more problematic. The proposed program would link the amount of payment to family size and family income. Thus, the more income one earned (there’s a cap), the bigger the check from the government. Does anyone in the Trump administration or the Republican Senate understand basic economics? People with lower incomes who get laid off have no savings. At least give everyone the same amount.

Doubtless the irony of the proposed economic program has been lost on the White House and the Republican Senators. Isn’t giving away money directly to families socialism? Only a couple of weeks ago Republicans were characterizing as socialism any Democratic proposal for income support or student-loan forgiveness. Or, as often stated by Trumpsters, maybe such programs were really like communism. Well, aren’t socialism and communism the same?

Okay, the idea of supplementing income in the short-term makes economic sense. But there’s no need for a tax cut for corporations. In case Trump and Republicans don’t understand, taxes first require revenue and then a profit. If the public is not working there’s no demand and no revenue – and duh, no profit or tax due.

The proposed programs also have a flip side. #1, the proposed program would increase the federal debt in FY2020 at least another $1,000,000,000,000 and closer to $2,000,000,000,000. Thus, by the time Trump completes four years in office, the Federal debt will have increased more than $3,000,000,000,000…and likely more. The increase is remarkably high given that unlike Obama, Trump inherited a very strong economy that should have resulted in a smaller annual deficit and possibly annual surplus. Like I asked earlier, does anyone in the White House, Trump’s cabinet or the Republican Senate understand basic economics?

So where have all the Republican fiscal conservatives been while Trump ran up the federal debt? Apparently in hiding and waiting for a Democratic president so they can begin screaming about the level of federal debt. The scream will be the Federal debt needs to be reduced with cuts to payments for Social Security and Medicare.

Another area that can contribute to the thinking-public’s lack of confidence is the Trump administration’s effort to eliminate Obamacare. During the 2016 presidential campaign and then during three years in office, Trump has made every effort to kill Obamacare. Any Obamacare-like program was bad — oops until the coronavirus. Now many programs being proposed by the Trump administration are absolutely consistent with the purpose of Obamacare and suggest that the US would be better off with a national healthcare system. Such change in policy will only increase frustration among the populace as well as increase the lack of confidence in government.

Adding fuel to the “no-confidence” fire was Trump’s claim at a oppress conference Friday, 03/20/2020 that his administration inherited a broken healthcare system from the Obama administration but that he (Trump) had fixed it. Obviously, not everyone agreed. The lead doctor at CDC put his head in his hand as Trump spoke.

Where does all the inconsistency and uncertainty lead? Uncertainty, as discussed in a number of previous blog entries, is often a precursor to a revolution. The US might get lucky and avoid a 5th revolution by voting out Trump and most of the Senate in the November 2020 election.

As of today, even though the coronavirus crisis is still in the early stages, the public seems more than willing to accept Depression-era types of programs to help stimulate the economy and begin to help reduce the income inequities that currently exist. Such programs are more consistent with the Democratic Party and would seem to bode well for the election of Joe Biden.

However, if for whatever reason Trump is re-elected, then the level of chaos and uncertainty experienced during the first term is likely to intensify. While the hard-core Trumpsters might be satisfied, the majority of the population will not be. The extreme discord between the hard-core Trumpster and rational people will increase the probability of a 5th US revolution.

As described throughout the blog, the revolution will be some type of revenge against the elite that Trump continues to support. The revolution – the Revenge Revolution – also will include many of the hard-core who finally wake up to the reality of how much Trump has screwed them.

#374 Trump Incompetent’s Club Squared

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, a list of earlier revolutions and the author, Entry #1.

Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether in the next few years, a revolution in the US is still possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US.  Most recent sense check, Entry #365.  

Some of the entries are part of a series.  Several series are available as easy-to-read booklets for download:

ENTRY #374 BEGINS: The theme of this blog is a revolution of some form in the US seems likely within a few years after 2020. In the various entries, I’ve tried to cite factors that could contribute to a revolution.

Last week’s entry was titled “Where Do We Go from Here?” and attempted to outline some of the public confusion and angst created by actions of the Trump administration in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. But how could it get any worse?

Well, this past week the ineptness of the Trump administration ratcheted up several notches the public confusion and angst about the virus. Apparently what’s not clear to the Trump administration is no one is blaming Trump for the outbreak. What’s causing great frustration among most sectors of the population is how the Trump administration is handling efforts to diagnose and contain the spread of the virus.

And who’s the primary source of the confusion and inept management? None other than the Donald himself.

In crisis situations, people’s strengths and weaknesses tend to get magnified. One of Trump’s personality flaws is fear of being criticized. To help get around that flaw, Trump became a compulsive liar. The lying was his regular MO in the real estate business and has continued as president. He lies regularly on tv/radio and in public forums. Based on a mountain of examples, Trump seems to make erroneous statements, aka lies, whenever he needs to reinforce his own behavior or deflect potential criticism.

Specific to the coronavirus, within the past week Trump claimed 1,000,000 test kits would be available by the end of the week. He also claimed that a vaccine preventing the coronavirus would be developed and available in a couple of months.

Both those claims were intended to demonstrate to the public how actions by the Trump administration were mitigating the effects of the virus. However, both claims were patently false.

Increasing production and distribution of test kits will take weeks, if not months. Further, testing capabilities in some areas of the US is extremely limited. Arkansas, for example, has lab capacity limited to testing only 6-10 cases per day. Additional tests will need to be sent elsewhere for processing, further delaying results. As of March 6, there was no central location for labs and/or doctors to report the number of cases detected.

As far as the vaccine, a doctor at CDC noted it would be a minimum 18-24 months for development of the vaccine. In addition to development time, additional time would be required for distribution, then inoculation and finally time for the body to incorporate the vaccine. The “normal” flu vaccine, for example, takes about two weeks to become effective.

While some of the population might continue to believe Trump and the Coronavirus Czar VP Mike Pence – “You can fool some of the people all the time…” – an ever-increasing percentage of the population is becoming more concerned about the ineffectual efforts to control spread of the virus. The lying by Trump, Pence et al, further erodes confidence in the government’s capabilities. Loss of confidence in government is a major contributor to revolutions regardless of country.

The lack of honesty by the Trump Administration has created uncertainty among investors. In the past month stock process have gyrated with all major stock indexes having declined at least 10%, and more declines likely.

So what? Why would activity on Wall Street contribute to the Revenge Revolution? In today’s workforce, few people have defined benefit programs paid for by their employer. As a result, workers must rely on building their own retirement savings. A substantial portion of retirement savings is invested in stocks. When markets decline sharply, as we’ve seen the last few weeks and may see for some time, people become anxious and disenchanted.

In addition to concerns of individual investors, a problem not well understood by the public is lurking on the sidelines. The problem has been caused by the Trump administration’s fiscal policy, specifically the 2017 tax cut, and pressure on the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low. The ballooning deficit and the already low interest rates have reduced options available to the Federal Reserve to help counter any economic slowdown.

Trump can blame anyone or any group he wants. However, when the economy declines and jobs are lost, and the population has little confidence in the government, the chances increase for some type of revolution.

With some luck, voters will replace Trump in November 2020. What we won’t know, even with a new president, is whether damage to the credibility of the government caused by Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus as well as mismanagement of many other situations is too extensive to repair sufficiently before a segment of the populous revolts in some way and we have a revolution – the Revenge Revolution.

#373 Where Do We Go from Here?

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, a list of earlier revolutions and the author, Entry #1.

Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether in the next few years, a revolution in the US is still possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US.  Most recent sense check, Entry #365.  

Some of the entries are part of a series.  Several series are available as easy-to-read booklets for download:

ENTRY #373 BEGINS.  Some readers are old enough to remember the TV show “Laugh In.” The show included a segment titled, “That Was the Week that Was,” which was a satirical review of recent news.

“That Was the Week that Was” seems to have returned, unfortunately not as a spoof, but as a series of real actions by the Trump Administration.  In a classic example of “stupid is as stupid does,” the White House, and Trump in particular, played down the potential impact of the coronavirus.  The virus has been spreading rapidly worldwide.  Yet Trump proclaimed the spread of the virus was under control in the US.  Further, according to Trump, the virus was just like a miracle, and would disappear one day.

During an evening press conference this past week designed to address concerns about the virus and outline plans to mitigate risk to the US populous, the White House staff, better named the Gang-that-Couldn’t-Shoot-Straight, apparently did not coordinate who was going to say what.

Trump, who spoke first and rambled endlessly, kept claiming there were only 15 cases of coronavirus in the US.  Then, Trump suggested, most of those had been cured or not serious. So, in fact there were only a couple real cases, and maybe just one.  You know, whatever.

The CDC doctors who followed, preceded by an interlude featuring Trump naming VP Pence the corona czar – virus, not beer – followed by Pence praising Trump for his leadership, said they knew of 60 cases. Furthermore, according to the doctors, everyone should prepare for many more cases.  The issue was not if the US will be impacted by the coronavirus, but when the US will be impacted and how severely.

In typical Trumpian rationale, the president claimed the public hysteria associated with the virus and the plunge in the stock market – more than 10% in a week – was the fault of the media and the Democrats. Republican stalwart Rush Limbaugh told listeners that the virus was nothing more than a common cold.

On top of these brainless statements, the White House initially proposed funding any extra costs associated with addressing the virus by diverting funds from programs aimed at helping the poor. The poor you know, must really have been the cause of the virus and, therefore be punished.

What kind of idiotic Administration is running the country? The craziness is never ending.  Yet, most Republicans don’t seem the least bit concerned by such events as Trump’s truly incoherent statements during the press conference or, by his even more incoherent claim about the virus being under control in the US.

Worldwide, major events are being canceled. The Geneva Auto Show being but one of many examples. While the US has restricted travelers from certain countries from entering the US, the State Department allegedly overrode a recommendation of the CDC and allowed people who had been on a cruise ship and considered highly contagious, to enter the country, then head home without being quarantined. Why did these people get special treatment? Apparently phone calls from the White House.  If true, who knows the real reason?

On another mind-numbing note, the White House acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, chastised the media for, among other things, not reporting more about Trump’s positive relationship with his son Barron. Barron’s mother, also known as the first lady, had asked the press to continue the long-held tradition of not reporting most activities of presidential children.  But, oh, why would the Acting Chief of Staff, or anyone in the White House and the Trump Administration want to spend five minutes to check just a bit of history?  Doing so would be such a waste of time.  History is such a boring topic.

Normally, I get concerned but don’t rail about many actions taken by the gang of incompetents in the Trump Administration, the most notable incompetent being the president.  Doing so would consume much of the day and be too depressing.

However, what does seem worth railing about is why and how so many people continue to support Trump and don’t seem to appreciate or understand what a risk his actions are to our democracy. As noted in several other blog entries, these people seem to have been brainwashed.  What can we do to get them out of their fog and wake up to reality?  Where do we go from here?

 

#372. Sticks and Stones Will Break My Bones, but Words Will Never Hurt Me.

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, a list of earlier revolutions and the author, Entry #1.

Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether in the next few years, a revolution in the US is still possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US.  Most recent sense check, Entry #365.  

Some of the entries are part of a series.  Several series are available as easy-to-read booklets for download:

ENTRY #372 BEGINS.  As a kid, most of us were told, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.” The lesson of this little saying was not to let schoolyard bullies and others intimidate you with their words.”

Well, Republicans in Congress, and Republican Senators in particular, did your parents not teach you that saying or have you forgotten it? All Republican Senators but Mitt Romney apparently have forgotten the lesson and continue to kowtow to Trump.  What’s worse, even as Trump’s behavior has spiraled out of control since the Republican Senators refused to vote to impeach, these brave Republican Senators have remained quiet.

Republican Senators, what’s bad-boy Donnie really going to do to you? Send a few nasty tweets? Mock you at a rally? Come on, where’s your sense of dignity?

Trump is a classic bully. And my experience with every bully I’ve ever met has been the same – deep-seated inferiority complex on top of being a coward. Standing up to a bully usually causes the bully to turn tail and run.

Trump appears no different than those other bullies. For certain, he’s a coward.  The most visible display of his cowardice being the alleged bone spur, which somehow rendered him 4F for the military and therefore ineligible to be drafted during Vietnam.

For those who don’t play golf, having a 4F-scale bone spur would make playing golf incredibly painful. Maybe Trump plays so much golf to demonstrate how tough he really is because he plays through all that pain.  And, if you believe that, you’ll believe there’s a bridge between Brooklyn and Manhattan that’s for sale.

On a more critical level for the country, Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his cowardice by refusing to discuss with anyone or debate with anyone substantive issues. If you think the 2016 debates for the Republican nomination and then presidential election were really debates, take a look at the reruns. Trump never offered a substantive, well-documented argument. Trump’s response to any issue was more akin to what one would characterize as schoolyard “trash talk.”

Since being awarded the presidency by the Electoral College, Trump has continued the trash talk and ratcheted up the trash talk and bullying since the acquittal.  And where have the Republican Senators been during this period of even crazier behavior?  Showing their mettle by acting like a bunch of scared little kids, cowering at the side of the school yard, hoping the bully Trump doesn’t try to steal their lunch money.

What’s worse is the Republican Senators won’t even admit he’s been stealing their lunch money for the last three years.  The stealing has not been confined to Republican Senators.  Trump’s been stealing every taxpayer’s money. If you’re a Trump supporter, take some time and do real research about how your tax dollars are flowing into Trump’s pockets. Forget putting Fox News, Breitbart and other Trump outlets on the list of credible sources.

If you don’t like to read, then at least listen to a series of podcasts titled “Trump, Inc.”  The podcast content is well-researched and describes in some detail about how Trump and family have been funneling significant amounts of taxpayer money to their pockets and/or funneling foreign money to their pockets. Just listen and learn.

Do you really think a small cottage on the grounds of Bedminster Country Club should rent for $17,000 per month?  Yes, that’s $17,000 per month, or $204,000 per year for a small cottage.  That’s what Trump charges the Secret Service.  What does Trump charge the government for rooms at Mar-a-Lago for Secret Service?  Only $650 per night.  And the $650/night rate is after Donald, Jr. claimed the charge to Federal government at any Trump facility would be direct cost of housekeeping – about $50/room.

After you finish listening to the podcasts, please Trumpsters, no false comparisons to some fictitious claim about some Democrat.  The issue is how Trump as president is raping taxpayers.  Understand?

In addition to intimidating, bullies are good at breaking things, like 2-year olds.  Do you know anyone who’s ever hired a bully to build something?  Trump’s ability to break things might warrant his only grade of A+, ever.

There has never been a president who has made such an intense effort to destroy the very fabric that sets the US apart from every other country, including other democracies.  Since the first day in office, actually before the first day in office, Trump has been bent on destroying the FBI, CIA, the federal judiciary, and it seems even destroying the military. Republican Senators, have you ever wondered why he wants to destroy these organizations?  And, why he keeps denying that Russia might have helped him get elected?  And why he keeps trashing Robert Muller?

Yes, every organization needs to make a course correction now and then. But a course correction to address problems that need to be fixed doesn’t mean destroying the entire organization.  Do you blow up the house when the toilet is leaking?

Republican Senators, have you ever wondered why Bill Barr, whom you approved as Trump’s attorney general, acts more like Roy Cohn or a mob attorney than a real AG? Republican Senators, you do understand you can impeach the AG?  Republican Senators, have you no concern when Trump routinely appoints lap dogs to key positions in the justice department and national security agencies?  In case you haven’t noticed, Trump’s gigantic inferiority complex shines brightly when he appoints only people to key positions who will not challenge him.

Well, Republican Senators, where is your courage? Where’s your sense of duty, of honor, of country? Have you forgotten the lesson that “words will never hurt me?”  Why don’t you, Republican Senators, stand up and challenge the bully in the White House? What are you afraid of?  Cat got your tongue?

 

#371. Putin Praises Puppet President. Mandates Moscow Mitch Merits Medal.

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, a list of earlier revolutions and the author, Entry #1.

Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether in the next few years, a revolution in the US is still possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US.  Most recent sense check, Entry #365.  

Some of the entries are part of a series.  Several series are available as easy-to-read booklets for download:

ENTRY #371 BEGINS.  During a private, off-the-record meeting that was secretly recorded, Vladimir Putin gushed over how obedient Trump has been at following orders. Putin noted that Trump’s performance in wrecking long-held democratic standards in the United States had far exceeded his expectations.

Putin was heard on the recording stating, “In three years Trump has done more to destroy the fabric of US democracy than Russia has been able to accomplish in 75 years. And he’s got his supporters believing Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election and not us. What more could we ask for?” Putin continued, “The only problem is his paranoia is far worse than we realized.  Who knows what Trump will do next? He’s become like a mad dog.”

An unidentified attendee reminded the group that just last week during a ceremony at the White House honoring service dogs, Trump flew into a rage and actually bit a former service dog when he found out the dog was now owned by the Obamas. When being taken away, the speaker noted, “Trump yelled that Obama’s dog should be impeached and kicked out the service dog corps.”

The comment drew uproarious laughter by the group, after which Putin added the real surprise in the Trump era has been Mitch McConnell. Putin noted, “While Trump has created a lot of noise, McConnell – I like the nickname Moscow Mitch – has wielded a true wrecking ball to the legislative process.

Under any other Senate Majority Leader, Trump would have been impeached. But good ol’ Moscow Mitch managed to bring a vote to the floor without allowing any evidence or witnesses. And only one Republican senator objected. Now that’s how dictators operate. Whatta guy.”

Following an order to the waiter to bring another round of drinks, Putin declared, “I think Trump and Moscow Mitch deserve a medal. They’ve kowtowed to our requests and helped Russia more than we ever expected. And both of them have been so cheap to buy. What does the group think about a medal for each?”

Someone then rather loudly proclaimed, “A toast and a medal to the puppet president and to Moscow Mitch. Since Trump and Moscow Mitch have been so good at kowtowing, let’s give them a medal shaped like a cow’s udder.” In unison, the group was heard moaning, then laughing, which was followed by a loud, “Hear, hear!” End of recording.

 

#370 Rabid Trump Bites Obama’s Dog. Dog to Get Shots.

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, a list of earlier revolutions and the author, Entry #1.

Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether in the next few years, a revolution in the US is still possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US.  Most recent sense check, Entry #365.  

Some of the entries are part of a series.  Several series are available as easy-to-read booklets for download:

ENTRY #370 BEGINS: Following formal acquittal of impeachment by the Senate, President Trump went on a wide-ranging, vicious attack spree. No one seemed immune. While most of his venom was directed at Democrats in the House, and those who testified against him, some Republicans were attacked, most notably Senator Mitt Romney.

Trump seemed unable to control himself on Twitter or in person. At a White House ceremony on the south lawn honoring service dogs, Trump began foaming at the mouth after being told one of the service dogs being honored had retired and now belonged to the Obama’s.

Trump demanded that the latest in a string of acting White House chiefs of staff point out the Obama’s dog, which was being escorted by its former handler. After the dog was identified, Trump lumbered toward the dog, pushed its handler aside and began biting the dog.

Secret Service agents were so startled, they watched in horror for a few bites, then managed to pull Trump off the dog. The agents escorted Trump, who was still foaming at the mouth, back into the White House.

The honoree dog was examined by a vet, who recommended that as protection against Trump’s apparent rabies, the dog should receive a series of shots.

In the White House, Trump, still foaming, refused to be examined, claiming he was smarter than any doctor and would diagnose himself to determine if he was rabid. Trump also claimed Obama’s dog had attacked him and should be impeached as a service dog.

#369 Climate Change. Who’s Right about the Cause? Doesn’t Matter.

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, a list of earlier revolutions and the author, Entry #1.

Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether in the next few years, a revolution in the US is still possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US.  Most recent sense check, Entry #365.  

Some of the entries are part of a series.  Several series are available as easy-to-read booklets for download:

ENTRY #369 BEGINS.  Recently, a longtime colleague sent an article from a local paper about a series of speeches he’s been giving focused on electric transportation and climate change. The article noted his position about the increase in the earth’s average temperature was due to natural causes, and not due to actions by humans, such as burning fossil fuels or deforestation.

In the speeches, he argued because the change in temperature was due to natural causes, society should continue to burn coal, gasoline, natural gas, etc. He stated the CO2 generated from the burning would not be harmful to the environment and, in fact, could be could be helpful – e.g., more CO2 could increase agricultural production.

While I agree that the average temperature of the earth and CO2 ppm have varied over time due to natural causes, the changes have occurred very, very slowly, often taking hundreds if not thousands or even tens of thousands of years. In addition, in periods with very high concentration of CO2, all evidence suggests that humans didn’t exist.

I’m a big supporter of science-based decisions. However, the science doesn’t matter about the cause of climate change. What matters is how to mitigate the potential damage associated with the rapid increase in the earth’s temperature.

You don’t need to have a degree in climate science to know that if the earth’s average temperature continues to rise more polar ice will melt. Actually, a 3rd grader can understand the problem. What happens when all the ice melts? Oceans will rise. (Much of the ice is on land.)

Let’s say the ocean level increases 12-18” inches over the next 50-100 years, which is not an unreasonable estimate. Well, that amount of increase in ocean levels would be goodbye to much of Florida as well as goodbye to many coastal cities in the US and around the world.

In addition to the rising seas and the millions of people displaced, we are likely to see oceans as a less productive food source. There would also be a major disruption to agricultural production since many crops would not grow in the current location. The transition in agriculture could result in major shortages of food for years, possibly decades.

Regardless of the cause of climate change, the risk of doing nothing could be catastrophic. So let’s not get our panties in a wad about who’s right or wrong.  Instead, let’s figure out what it takes to mitigate the effects of higher temperatures and capitalize on any opportunities.

An obvious action that can start now is to accelerate the elimination of fossil fuels. And why not? Why not add solar panels to roofs? Add solar panels even in areas where the sun shines say only 50% of the days per year. While the electricity generated in the 50% areas won’t match electricity generated in Arizona, the cumulative effect of all houses in the 50%-sunny area would be an enormous amount of electricity over time.

Why not reduce the number of animals raised for meat? Cows are great for hamburger but they’re also a methane machine. Increased use of plant-based “meats” would have a positive impact.

My colleague was trained as a nuclear engineer. Despite his belief the increase in earth’s temperature is the result of natural causes, he is an advocate of migrating from using fossil fuels to nuclear power to generate electricity.

I’ll not argue the burn-fossil-fuel-and-switch-to-nuclear logic and agree with using more nuclear fuel as long as the industry chooses the least damaging and easiest to manage nuclear fuel. Based on very limited research I think that thorium would be a better choice than uranium, although I’m not a hundred percent sure.

Many other changes can be made to reduce CO2 emissions. As many of us are experiencing in the auto industry’s migration to electric-powered vehicles, the change can be challenging but also exciting fun. The changes are very likely to spawn a plethora of new technologies and create many new jobs.

The first step in this journey, however, is to have both sides quit pointing fingers about who’s right and who’s wrong. Folks, it does not matter. The consequences of continuing to do nothing are bad and worse. Consequences are the issue. Forget about who’s correct about the cause.

And, oh, what if the average temperature starts to fall in the future because of natural causes? Mmm, what has been lost by all the efforts to reduce CO2 ppm?? Absolutely nothing, nada, zero. In fact, the earth will be have cleaner air, more productive citizens and some new jobs. Not a bad thing to have happen.

So, to all the so-called “climate-change deniers” and to all the so-called “climate-change extremists”, let’s shake hands, go grab a coffee and start working on solutions, together. Something productive might get accomplished.

#368. The Big Bang Theory. Explosion of Political Ethics Inside the Beltway.

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, a list of earlier revolutions and the author, Entry #1.

Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether in the next few years, a revolution in the US is still possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US.  Most recent sense check, Entry #365.  

If you want to a diversion, easy-to-read booklets for download.  These include:

ENTRY #368 BEGINS.  Normally when someone mentions The Big Bang Theory, the reference is to the formation of the universe. The Big Bang Theory might also be applied to political ethics in Washington.

The impeachment trial of Donald Trump has left me stunned and angry. Stunned not by what Trump has done – for decades Trump has flagrantly violated the law and many social norms – but stunned by the lack of moral character among Republican Senators.  Whether you think Trump should be removed from office or not, everyone should be stunned at how Republican Senators are refusing to even acknowledge publicly that Trump’s behavior was outside the norms for a democratic government.

Excuse me Republicans, since when is it okay to obstruct justice? Since when is it okay to insult publicly people who have put themselves in harm’s way to protect the United States? Since when is it okay to state publicly that you believe the remarks of a leader of a known enemy of the US, Russia, are more credible than the information from the US intelligence community?  When did such behavior become acceptable?

My formative years were spent in Central Illinois. The area then, and now, was definitely what one could call the Land of Lincoln.

While others might consider my remembrance naïve, everyone seemed to know and agree on what was right and what was wrong. Understanding right from wrong seems to be understood by all classes of people from all different religions and ethnic backgrounds.  Yes, there were some issues with gray areas but not many.

I’d like to think those values have stayed with me and my fellow citizens. The area had a social/political attitude that Bush 43 described as “compassionate conservatism.”  If someone or some family needed help, assistance was provided very discreetly. Further, most everyone seemed fiscally conservative. Even those with far more money than their neighbors were conservative in displaying their wealth.

Doubtless, residents of Central Illinois were not alone in being able to understand right from wrong.  Highly likely that many other areas of the country had similar attitudes. How many other “Leave-It-to-Beaver” towns were there across the country?

Given that reference point, what’s been displayed this week in Washington by Republican Senators indicates that the attitude and understanding of right and wrong, which made America great versus many other countries, has exploded.  Exploded just like the Big Bang.

Why have Republican Senators decided they can no longer distinguish right from wrong? What has become so complicated in making this distinction?

If leaders of this country are not willing to state publicly what behavior and actions are right and what behaviors are wrong, then the US is headed for a dictatorship.  In dictatorships, citizens no longer have a say in determining what’s right and what’s wrong.  The dictator decides.

Stating publicly a president’s behavior is wrong does not automatically require supporting a vote to remove the president from office. When a child misbehaves, the punishment is a function of the degree of misbehavior. Same with deciding about the punishment for a president misbehaving.  Not all types of misbehavior demand removal from office.

So once again, why can’t Republican Senators seemingly distinguish right from wrong?  Are these Republican Senators so afraid to stand before their constituents and declare, “Trump’s behavior is wrong? My oath of office is to uphold the Constitution. Based on the evidence presented, I thought the president should (should not) be removed from office.”

What’s so difficult about making such a statement? Not every constituent will be pleased with your decision, but at least the vast majority of people will respect your integrity. And, you know what? I’ll bet you get reelected for being…yikes, an honest politician.

The effect of the Big Bang, whether talking about the formation of the universe or behavior of politicians, maybe like squeezing toothpaste from a tube. Once the action is taken, it’s nearly impossible to return to the former state.

While the US can’t go back to the “Leave-It-to-Beaver” days, the populous can begin to demand politicians behave within the bounds of what is considered right and wrong. And, as a populous let’s not get sidetracked that only certain religions have the answer to what is right and wrong.  For every major religion, the major tenets are essentially the same for guiding what is right/wrong.  The US Constitution is also a great guide.

Unfortunately, since the Big Bang has left us with the toothpaste dilemma, the only way that seems feasible to jolt society and politicians back to some kind of normalcy is a revolution. Let’s hope the damage from the revolution is relatively mild.  Better still, let’s hope I’m wrong and we find another way.

 

#367 Prescription? Conscription for All. Steps to Implementation. (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, a list of earlier revolutions and the author, Entry #1.

Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether in the next few years, a revolution in the US is still possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US.  Most recent sense check, Entry #365.  

If you want to a diversion, there are easy-to-read booklets for download.  These include:

ENTRY #367 BEGINS.  Blog entry #366 proposed reinstituting conscription and expanding it to include women.  Doing so makes sense only if those “conscripted” can be productive and the output benefit many US citizens.

If implemented, the goals of conscription would be:

  1. Improve understanding with a broader swath of the population how to:
    • Work in teams
    • Work with people who have different skills
    • Work with people from different socio-economic backgrounds
  2. Provide reasonably skilled labor for major government projects, such as rebuilding infrastructure. Think of the 1930s and how the WPA was used for building roads, dams, and other infrastructure throughout the United States.
  3. Create a sense of having served, and being proud of having served the country. Less than 1% of citizens currently serve in the military. In addition, of those who volunteer for the military, most are from families whose members have also served. The current military is supported by a very narrow segment of the population. The current enlistment model is likely unsustainable over time.
  4. Create skills that allow those discharged to find meaningful employment in the private or public sectors.

Key components of a broad-based conscription program would include:

  1. Everyone subjected to conscription at age 18.
  2. Minimal exemptions from serving.
  3. Being able to serve other than in the military. Individuals would have the option to select the military or other agency. If after joining the military, the individual could not meet the physical requirements, the individual would then transfer to a non-military assignment.
  4. Assignments would be throughout the United States, not just near the individual’s hometown.
  5. Assignments outside the US would be available for certain categories.
  6. Basic training would be required for everyone, even those not serving in the military. For anyone who has served in the military, basic training is a memorable experience. For those who have never lived away from home, basic training is an opportunity to begin to understand how the world operates.  The non-military basic training would not be as intense as the military but would have many of the same components: (i) being trained with people of disparate backgrounds; (ii) living in “barracks” for a certain period, including some KP. Total basic training for non-military would be maybe 8 weeks. Advanced training would vary by general assignment but likely not exceed 8 weeks. Depending on assignment, likely additional OJT.
  7. Meaningful tasks. During the time in service, members should be taught a skill that can be used in a meaningful job as well as a skill that can be transferred to the private or public sector once discharged.
  8. Uniform for all serving. While the uniform for non-military assignments would be different from the various military uniforms, requiring a uniform during working hours would help to: (i) designate who is serving their country; (ii) reinforce to the participant that he or she is a member of a team.

US Departments/Agencies where trainees could work include:

  1. Defense – optional. However, if DOD does not meet its recruiting quotas by branch, then some trainees could be assigned to help meet quotas.
  2. Interior.  Participants would work in national parks, for example.
  3. EPA.  Monitor pollution in and sources of pollution in lakes, rivers, air.
  4. Education. Could work at federal facilities – Native American schools, e.g., state facilities – academic institution, or local – neighborhood school. Dep’t of Education would be overall coordinator and manage selection of location.

Time Required to Serve. Two (2) years active service plus four (4) years reserve duty. Reserve would allow government to recall key individuals in critical situations.

Reenlistment. Participant could re-up for an additional two years, including seeking a higher-level position.

Years of Credited Service. Number of years would transfer with the individual if he or she transitioned to a government job, whether federal, state or local level.

Options of When to Serve. All individuals would be expected to begin service not later than age 23. Participant could join immediately after high school, at age 18 to 19. Program would include option to defer service until after college, with a maximum deferral of five years.

Exclusions from Serving. Minimal reasons for not serving.  Bone spurs would not qualify for exclusion. Few would be categorized as “4F.” Even those with physical handicaps would be expected to serve, unless the level of physical handicap was deemed extreme. Every effort, for example, would be made to include people using wheelchairs. For those who are handicapped there might be different level of training and jobs might be somewhat different. Nonetheless, every effort would be made to include them in the “corps.”

Autism Spectrum. To the extent possible all but the most extreme on the autism spectrum would be expected to serve in some capacity. Like those with physical disabilities, training routine and the type of job might be different.

While some might argue against including people with special needs, the service requirement would: (i) help train the individual with some transferable job skills; (ii) help reduce the stigma often associated with some type of perceived disability; (iii) help reduce the long-term cost of care since many will be employed following service and become taxpayers.

Non-Citizens in the US. Would be eligible to serve. Serving would be a path to US citizenship.

While the devil is in the details for large-scale projects, much of the framework to implement a conscription program is already in place. The US military has systems and procedures that could be modified. In addition, a “conscription-for-all” program could be implemented in phases, allowing inevitable kinks to be worked out before the program is expanded to everyone turning age 18.

An argument can be made that with such a low unemployment rate, a “conscription-for-all” program would make finding employees more difficult.  Well, if you look behind the numbers of the unemployment rate, its not as rosy as what the White House promotes.  Many counted as “employed” are in fact workers with low-paying, part-time jobs.

In addition, the economy is not going to grow forever.  There will be another recession, possibly depression. While the likelihood of a depression is the topic for another blog entry, there is ample historical evidence that supports a sharp economic downturn following a period of rapid concentration of wealth and “bubbles” in the financial markets.  Both conditions exist today.

Another reason to support “conscription for all” is to help mitigate the impact of the coming “technology tsunami.”  The tech tsunami will cause a major disruption to the workforce.  For more about the technology tsunami and the likely impact, download Tech Tsunami Booklet with Supplement.

Now, how to get the House and Senate to pass a bill to expand conscription.