#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.

#366 — Prescription? Conscription for All. (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, 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:

Start of Entry #366.  With the new year, I decided to try, emphasis on try, and get back to outlining practical solutions to complex societal problems. Ideally all of the topics in the coming blog entries will be related to factors that could contribute to the 5th US Revolution, the Revenge Revolution.

Some topics will be more obviously linked to the projected revolution; some less so. Doubtless, there will be entries that are more a reaction to some recent event inside the Beltway, or some inane comment or action by Trump. However, one of my resolutions for 2020 is to keep “reactionary” entries to a minimum, or at least put the entries in a broader context.

A societal issue that seems to generate little discussion but one that has long-term implications for a stable US democracy is how to staff the military. In a previous entry (#293), I recommended conscription be reinstituted in the US. I also recommended that satisfying requirements of conscription could be expanded beyond service in the military. One could satisfy requirements by serving in any number of government agencies – Federal, state, local – as well as serving in certain jobs outside the US – embassies, e.g.

The general benefits of conscription include: (i) exposing “draftees” to jobs, people and activities they would likely never experience otherwise; (ii) providing an excellent way to train people for work in the private sector. Many of the jobs skills learned while serving, especially non-military assignments, would have direct applicability in the private sector; (iii) helping people understand how to build a highly functioning team from a group of individuals with disparate backgrounds. Such an understanding should help reduce the polarization that continues to worsen in this country; (iv) maybe the most important, allowing people to state rightfully and proudly they served their country.  Under the proposed conscription system, let’s change the term “draftee” to “patriot.”

Conscription would help overcome what is a growing problem for the military – a very narrow segment of the population volunteers to serve. According to an article in the New York Times (20 01 11 NYT Makeup of Military Recruits), less than 1% of the US population serves in the military. Further, nearly 80% of the current recruits come from families where someone has served, and 30% of the recruits come from families where one or both parents have served in the military.

The current volunteer system limits the personality profiles of people in the military. While some might find this comforting, my experience has been limiting personality types in a group can result in distorted thinking and/or distorted behavior. Expanding the type/personality profiles of individuals serving in the military can have a moderating influence on “group think” behavior. Such moderation seems especially important for members participating in units subjected to extreme training and precarious assignments – special forces and Navy SEALs e.g. Members of these units may find having a moderating force in the ranks would help mitigate the difficulty in transitioning to civilian life.

Admittedly, the number of former special forces personnel I’ve worked with in say the last ten years is limited. However the actions of each suggest a problem in the transition to civilian life. Of the four (4) in various special-forces units, one was a convicted felon, two were extortionists, and one was a seemingly “normal” individual but who also maintained a significant cache of weapons, including several .50 caliber rifles. Folks, .50 caliber rifles are not for hunting. They’re for armed warfare.

The military seems to be trying to address the most egregious misbehavior of personnel in special forces. Recent examples include the Navy’s conviction of Edward Gallagher, a high-ranking NCO SEAL, and the Army’s refusal to restore a Special Forces tab for Major Mathew Golsteyn, who had been accused of killing an unarmed Afghan suspected of bomb making.

Unfortunately, the efforts by the military have been thwarted by Trump. Trump, who has zero military experience and apparently no appreciation of the need for discipline within the system, pardoned both men and hailed them as true “warriors,” thereby undermining the military justice system.

Whereas reinstituting conscription won’t necessarily stop egregious, even criminal behavior by those in special forces, it will increase the appreciation among a wide swath of citizens, including those inside the Beltway, of what is required to operate a military that can be model of integrity for other countries worldwide. A credible, well-disciplined military with proper, separate oversight is also critical to a functioning democracy.

For “patriots” who serve in government organizations other than the military, the organizations will benefit by being exposed to a workforce with fresh ideas and skills that should be especially useful as more technology is integrated into these organizations. The “patriots,” in many respects, will be like interns in the private sector. Having “patriots” as workers allows managers of the government organization an opportunity to evaluate performance and then potentially recruit the higher performing individuals for employment following discharge.

Reinstituting conscription needs to be fair and equitable. Some ideas in the next entry.

 

#365 Sense Check re Likelihood of 5th US Revolution

Entry #365 is a periodic “sense check” about the likelihood of a 5th revolution in the United States.  The first entry for this blog was in the fall 2013. The theme was based on a correlation that I discovered while writing another paper. The correlation was the United States has experienced some type of Revolution about every 50 years. (See Entry #1 for more explanation.)

According to my analysis, Revolution #4 occurred in the late 60s, early 1970s. If the pattern holds true, then there should be another revolution sometime around 2020. For nitpickers, measuring social change is not a precise algebraic equation. Therefore, a revolution in 2025 and even a few years later would still fall within the general guidelines of the 50-year cycle.

So, what’s the likelihood of this 5th revolution? What was unknown in 2013 was a likely trigger point. By late 2013 the Obama Administration had implemented numerous social reforms but none seemed likely to trigger a revolution. Doubtless, some groups in society, especially those on the far right, were frustrated by the Administration’s policies but some groups are always frustrated when there’s change.

What has changed since? Enter the effect of Trump. The “Trump effect” cannot be attributed solely to Trump. Trump was more a catalyst than the cause. Some change had been building in the Republican Party for years. No question that Trump has managed to accelerate the change in the Republican Party. And the change has been more extensive and faster than anticipated.

Trump’s involvement was even a surprise to Republicans and Democrats. Few expected him to earn the nomination and even fewer expected him to be elected. But Trump was elected, well sort of elected. Based on a popular vote count Trump received about 3 million fewer votes than Clinton. Nevertheless, Trump won the Electoral College vote, the second consecutive Republican to lose the popular vote and still be elected.

While the Electoral College win was frustrating for many Democrats, what seemed to shatter any hope of Congress and/or voter coming together was Trump’s personal behavior. From the moment the outcome of the election was clear, Trump ramped up his insulting, boorish behavior, further alienating Democrats and many independent voters.

Trump also managed to bully Republicans in the House and Senate into supporting his strange policies. Other than the late Senator John McCain, no Republican has been willing to challenge Trump’s abandonment of many previously held Republican principles – free trade and fiscal conservatism, e.g.

The bullying has resulted in the same Republicans making no public effort to stop Trump’s serial lying, denigration of widely-respected government employees, trashing of the FBI and CIA, insulting the military chain of command, and repeatedly insulting leaders of long-standing US allies. Nor, has any Republican made any serious counter to Trump’s public support of known enemies of the US, which is a direct threat to national security.

Among the voting public, Trump supporters seem to fall into three major camps and a fourth smaller camp. The three major camps are: #1, far-right fringe groups, who relish Trump’s support, whether intentional or not; #2, Evangelical Christians who seem to focus on one issue – abortion – and somehow disregard 99% of Trump’s behavior that seems contrary to their core religious beliefs; #3, long-time Republicans who somehow cannot fathom voting for a Democrat no matter how bad the Republican is for the welfare of the country. Many of these “yellow-dog Republicans” are likely primary voters who hold a disproportionate influence on members of Congress.

The fourth camp, which has the fewest number of people but the most influence, is the money camp. If one filters out all the noise, the quest for money is what drives Trump. His policies, whether tax policies or directives to such agencies as EPA to slow or stop enforcement, have consistently favored the money group. There is considerable evidence that seems to indicate his positive attitude toward and accommodation of the Russians is driven by access to their money.

Maybe most surprising and illogical to me is that Trump and Trump TV talking heads (Fox News) have convinced the three non-money camps that Trump’s policies are in their best economic interest, when in fact, the policies are contrary to the economic interests of virtually all these families. The 2017 tax cut is a good example. The tax cut threw a few bones to middle and lower-income families in the short term. However, beginning in the mid-2020’s, the “tax cut” results in penalties to middle-income families while continuing to benefit the rich.

In addition, the tax cut for corporations combined with the tax cut for the wealthy was so significant that the Federal deficit ballooned in 2019 – up 50% to about $1,000,000,000 – even though the economy was reasonably strong. Oh, yes I forgot, Trump is the reason the economy grew. The deficit grew because of Obama’s policies.    (Seriously, if you want to understand more about why “trickle-down” economics is a fraud, even though widely supported by many Republicans, start with Entry #21. It’s conversational and easy to understand. Entry #237 also addresses some fundamentals of economics.)

What could be the trigger point for the 5th US revolution is Trump’s reelection. But the revolution will not be started by Democrats. The revolution will be started by Trump supporters. Why?

Long before Trump, I assigned a name to the projected 5th revolution – the Revenge Revolution. But revenge for what?

Right now the table seems to have lots of plates that qualify for revenge – inequitable economic policies; environmental degradation; a department of education that favors private over public education; a president and first family that are enriching themselves at public expense; an immigration policy where children are physically separated from the parents then housed in cages for indefinite periods; an attorney general who promotes Trump as being above the law; a president who labels wounded military veterans as “scum;” a president who is a serial liar, distorting the truth about even the most insignificant issues…and the list goes on.

Despite all the obvious reasons for revenge against the Trump Administration, the Revenge Revolution may be started by an unexpected group. The group is Trump supporters.

If Trump is reelected, Trump will try to satisfy his money camp and start screaming about the need to reduce the Federal deficit. But Trump will argue the deficit cannot be reduced by raising taxes – such a move would kill economic growth and result in a recession. No, the only way to reduce the Federal deficit is with additional cuts in spending for social programs – food stamps, e.g. – as well as cutbacks in Medicare, Social Security and support for Obamacare.

If Trump is not reelected, then Republicans will make the same arguments that the Federal deficit is too high and must be reduced. One thing about their argument is correct. The rate of increase in the deficit needs to be reduced. But reduced by returning tax rates to levels under Obama, or even Clinton, and not by cutting social programs and cutting benefits for program workers have funded.

The proposed cuts in Medicare and Social Security may finally awaken Trump supporters to realize how much they’re going to be screwed economically under Trump’s new proposals , and then how much they have been screwed under Trump’s existing policies. When they do awaken, this group will be shocked and angry. They might also start listening to their children and grandchildren and finally acknowledge that global warming is real and not a hoax of some 3,000 scientist and every credible news outlet worldwide.

What form might the Revenge Revolution take? The 4th revolution in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s was a mix of social upheaval and armed rebellion. The social side is often referenced with a cutesy photograph of a couple hippies dressed in tie-dyes and smoking weed in Haight Asbury or at Woodstock.

The armed side of the 4th Revolution was much grimmer. Events included significant riots that devastated parts of Newark, Detroit and Los Angeles as well as protests in many other cities and college campuses. 1968 included the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.

Given the continued expansion of ownership of firearms, the Revenge Revolution is likely to be more of an armed rebellion than the 1960’s/1970’s. But who will be the aggressors and who will be the targets in the Revenge Revolution?

Although I have not done a deep-dive into the psychology of why, a group that seems likely to be part of the aggressors is those who view the changing demographics of the United States as diminishing the value of their “whiteness.” To me such thinking seems a bit absurd.

However, a long article in The NY Times (19 12 29 NYT Example of Attitude of Trump Supporters in AZ) discussed attitudes of some of Trump’s core base in Arizona. The base is very white, less-educated and seemingly either brainwashed or completely delusional about who is really impacted by Trump’s policies. Like many Trump supporters I’ve tried to talk to and understand, this group’s lexicon seems to be unique – “up” means “down,” “good” means “bad,” “hate” means ”patriotic,” etc.

A number of comments and quotes in the article left my head shaking. One comment from a Trump supporter that I found both frightening and amusing, “I don’t have a problem with Muslims but can they take the rag off their head out of respect for our country?” The scary part is this guy’s very anti-Muslim, and probably anti-black, anti-Asian and anti-Semitic as well.

The amusing side was it probably never occurred to the speaker he too was wearing a head-cover, thus by his own definition, disrespecting this country. And it probably never occurred to him his MAGA hat was made of the same basic cotton as the Muslim’s “rag.” Somehow I don’t irony would play well with this guy.

This group of self-proclaimed patriots discussed having an armed revolt if Trump was not reelected in 2020. Nice to see the patriots support the US Constitution and the electoral process.

On a broader scale the likelihood of a 5th US Revolution seems to increase with the findings of the impeachment proceedings, the bizarre actions/inactions by Mitch McConnell and the continued overhang of the many unanswered questions of Mueller Report, especially Trump’s association with the Russians – likely more about money than philosophy.

In the last Sense Check, Entry #332, I indicated the probability of the revolution had increased to “highly likely.” Based on what’s happened in Washington the past few months, a forecast of “highly likely” seems on solid ground with an emerging forecast closer to “almost assured.”

Unfortunately, as experienced during the 4th Revolution, the 5th US Revolution is likely to include the assassinations of high-profile figures. Targets will likely include those deemed “liberal,” whether judges, politicians, prominent business people, or media personalities. Equally unfortunate is that the police and/or the US military will be unable to prevent many of these killings.

Think about all the mass killings in the US and how they’ve occurred. (As of December 31, 2019, 434 mass shootings occurred in 2019… In these shootings, over 1,643 people were injured and 517 died, for a total of over 2,160 victims.) Virtually all were carried out by a single individual. Imagine a well-organized killing effort by a group of individuals with military-assault style rifles. There are millions of AR-15’s in private hands and even more rounds of ammunition. Yes, it’s scary.

As noted repeatedly throughout this blog, I hope the assumption is wrong about a 5th US revolution, the Revenge Revolution. Everyone who makes predictions makes mistakes. And I am no exception. However, I wish my track record at making accurate predictions were a little less positive than it is.

Welcome to the year 2020.

Remembering a Friend from My Early Days

This entry is a complete switch from the usual content.  For a few days I’ll keep as a post, then transfer to one of the pages.  Thought it might be a good break.

A few days ago while thinking about an upcoming blog entry, the idea of writing about dogs in my life popped into my head. Most everyone has a dog story from childhood so this will likely be no different.

My childhood dog was named Frosty. Frosty arrived in early to mid-December. I was about 8 years old.

Her name came from the snow outside and her sort of whitish fur. Her Heritage? Mixed to say the least, and certainly no discernible breed. Medium size with a disproportionately large body and disproportionately small head, which made keeping a collar on her next to impossible. A couple of paw swipes and the collar was off.

Previous home? The dog pound. And like most pound dogs, Frosty was eternally grateful for her new home. I know that feeling.

Of all the dogs I’ve ever met, she might be the smartest. No, it’s not because she was my dog and my colleague for many years. She earned her reputation for being smart.

She’d walk anywhere without a leash and obey a variety of commands. She was also very sneaky and would go into stealth mode moving around the house. When outside she met her obligation as a dog by pretending to chase squirrels and rabbits. These efforts seemed more for show than anything serious.

She was great at keeping secrets. I would tell her my innermost thoughts and she never disclosed them to anyone. A couple of traits I remember most.

She was great at warming the bed.  My room was a dormer with no separate heat duct. My father liked to turn down the heat at night – and I mean way down – so my room was always chilly in the winter. Frosty would come to the rescue, sleeping at the foot of the bed and serving as a wonderful second blanket.

Feeding time was also a memorable experience. The kitchen was perpendicular to a hallway with a wooden floor. Her food came from a can – I mean, who knew then about gourmet dog food?

With the sound of the electric can opener, Frosty would race down the hall. She’d try to turn into the kitchen but always slid past the opening. Then, she’d turn around and would race into the kitchen. The routine was always the same and always fun to watch.

Frosty lived 15 or so years. I was out of college and married when she finally succumbed to cancer. I suppose in terms of dog stories, Frosty was nothing special. She was a mutt who hung around some kid and then became a companion to the kid’s father when the kid went off to college.

There’ve been other dogs in our life after Frosty. Ralph, a St. Bernard, was our fraternity mascot in undergrad. In Michigan, our neighbor’s dog, Mitzi, was crazy about broccoli. In California, Jeanie was a wonderful neighbor. In Charlotte we’ve been fortunate to be occasional caretakers for two Havanese – first Max, then Rocket. All the dogs have been fun.

But to me, Frosty was special. More than just a dog. Frosty was a friend. Frosty was someone I could talk to. Someone whose situation I could relate to. I miss her dearly. Thanks for everything Frosty.