Dangerous dilettantes

“I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

Those words, published anonymously by the New York Times, may be the most dangerous words written in the history of our nation.

While so many had their panties in a twist about a Nike ad using former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, which read “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” could very well have been the impetus for the “like-minded colleagues” to come forward.

Colin Kaepernick Nike ad, sacrificeVery few people put the two events together. But we all should have.

When one enlists in the United States Military, as I did long ago, you raise your right hand and swear an oath:

I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

Those words are commonly referred to by basic training instructors, boot camp DI’s and the like as signing a check to the US Government payable with your life. It’s serious.

And here we have the problem the “like-minded colleagues” (LMC) face, they have apparently decided that the president, is a domestic enemy and it is their role to support and defend the constitution over obeying the orders of the President of the United States.

And for that, we should be thankful, except by doing it anonymously, they are not stepping up and signing that check. What they are doing is called treason, and the President is right to be incensed.

One of the ways we test a theory to see if it applies is to use Occam’s razor to present two scenarios and test for the simplest answer: If the same LMC had tried to insert themselves into President Obama’s presidency as he tried to unwind the financial meltdown by anonymously announcing their intervention there would have been screams of racism, of subverting the democratic process. I’m not saying people didn’t interject themselves into his presidency- the bankers got exactly the bail-out they wanted, and the public got the bill, but, it was all done in relatively plain sight, and of course, Obama had won not just the electoral college vote but the popular vote- and let’s not forget that he isn’t bat shit crazy.

On the other hand, we have people burning Nikes, and screaming about how Kaepernick hadn’t sacrificed anything really, in comparison to, well, you name it. First of all, those words were not Kaepernicks, they came out of the braintrust at Wieden + Kennedy of Portland Oregon. No, they are not a political thinktank, they are an ad agency. Nike’s ad agency, and they are insanely great at what they do. They are also one of the largest independent shops left in the industry (independent as in not owned by some huge conglomerate of ad agencies- not as in politics). This campaign was well thought out, measured and did exactly what it was supposed to do- generate free promotion, move Nike to the forefront of the consumers mind and boost sales- which it did and will win huge awards for.

Kaepernick is just the model. But a model with a brain, a voice and who is lucky enough to have a corporation ready to back him up. Because, just like in politics these days, the size of your soapbox is directly correlated by the size of your bank account (or your “supporters” bank account).

As I’ve said before, we have the best politicians money can buy. Still.

And that’s part of the problem with President Trump, he’s defied all odds, and continues to befuddle the betting money. All the “Never Trump” Republicans fear that his supporters which ruled over so many of their districts, will not tolerate disobedience to the new emperor, even though they are well aware that he has no clothes and is bat shit crazy. Not in that they truly believe that his policies will solve all America’s problems, but that he’s caused confusion as to who their true allegiance needs to be sworn to- the president and his “deplorable followers” or the money that has kept them in power for so long.

Elections are no longer as predictable as the gerrymandered maps used to guarantee. Some crazy ass socialists have already won over incumbents who used to be safe and solid establishment folks. We can’t love all of Trump- because some of his character faults are reprehensible even to us (take your pick from philandering, to Russian interference, to the good Nazi’s of Charllotesville).

And now, we have this gift- there is a resistance, an underground secret society, working to protect America from the dilettante dictator in the making. If I manage to squeak by in my election, and the Special Prosecutor finally does make his case for removal from office for Trumps defecation over the rules of decency that used to be in place for our political system, as flawed as it has become, to work, we can say “I was part of the resistance” – I now have “plausible deniability:”

Although plausible deniability has existed throughout history, that name for it was coined by the CIA in the early 1960s to describe the withholding of information from senior officials in order to protect them from repercussions in the event that illegal or unpopular activities by the CIA became public knowledge.

Source: Plausible deniability – Wikipedia

And that’s what Kaepernick doesn’t have. He has actually taken a stand by taking a knee in front of “God and Country” to protest what he sees as injustice. Of misappropriation of power, of the protection of those in blue who have lost their perspective on what “to serve and protect” means. Of the discount of human lives, especially of black ones, who seem to have a separate standard applied to their loss of life without judge or jury- just an executioner.

Just this week, a white female police officer in Dallas entered an apartment and shot a black man and wasn’t immediately arrested and charged with manslaughter. Yes, we have a problem. Kaepernick has clearly stated over and over why he kneels. Many choose to ignore it. And of course ignorance is bliss.

Ignorance is the enemy of democracy and trust is the bedrock. We may claim to be a secular country, but on our money, the currency of our political system, it’s there for all to see “In God We Trust” as if the power of the greenback really isn’t what props the whole thing up. In the end, it’s trust.

Those LMCs have a problem. They have broken our trust. If they are indeed senior officials, they have not done what the constitution requires which is to sign your name to your claim. They have cowardly tried to have their cake and eat it too. They have not sacrificed everything. They have endangered the very bedrock of our democracy, by thumbing their nose at the rules and saying “trust us” without question. That is unacceptable.

While the New York Times was right to publish the essay, they created a political football.

Our legislators swore an oath of office after all, and Kaepernick just played football.

We can’t afford a fumble on this one. To the LMC- sign your names or resign. To the rest in Congress, you’re in the game, it’s time to demand a President who plays by the rules again.

Trust is what makes civilization and democracy possible, and it can’t be bought and sold, it must be earned. And yes, there is a price that comes with it. Some are willing to pay the ultimate price and some, just want to pay lip service. Now is the time to separate the true patriots. My bet is still on Kap.

 

 

 

For all its flaws, we still need the Dayton Daily news

This morning on Facebook an acquaintance was railing against the new Dayton Daily news paywall. There was an article she wanted to read (ironically about the shift to temp and part-time workers) but didn’t want to pay for.

This is a person who rallies against minimum wage jobs, Monsanto and the 1%, yet, doesn’t think the journalists at the Dayton Daily news should be paid for their work.

In Cleveland this week, the Cleveland Plain Dealer cut home delivery to three days a week and laid off about a third of its newsroom. That means a third less people digging into government doings to uncover unethical behavior, misguided spending and criminal conduct- by corporations, criminals, politicians, etc.

While advertising used to support journalism, times are changing. As is the way we gather news. For many people, they depend on their Facebook friends to share some of the news. Others, who don’t have Internet access, may have to depend on local TV news (which is news “lite” at best). It’s hard to monetize information- which just wants to be free on the Internet. The government is having a really hard time understanding that you can’t classify things as secret that are readily available online (that’s from a NY Times article today- but I’m not going to link to it, because all you free loaders don’t subscribe and don’t read it daily).

I pay for the NY Times. It’s worth every penny to me. Unfortunately, I also pay almost as much for the Dayton Daily news, which isn’t worth nearly as much, but I still need to read it so I know what’s going on in this community since I can’t dedicate my life to full-time blogging).

Recently, I made a switch to read the NY Times first, and then the DDn. It makes me feel smarter- and I can skip over about half of the global and national news in the DDn which is just dumbed down NYT content. I almost feel guilty with this switch up- but, if I have to skim one because I’m pressed for time- the DDn skims much easier since there is less substance.

I still laugh about the DDn pricing structure- an all digital edition with all access actually costs more than buying just the Thursday and Sunday paper which comes with full digital access. They do this to increase their printed circulation numbers because they still think their ad rates are based on the dead tree numbers. Makes me laugh, except for the pile of unopened papers in my living room. I much prefer reading a paper on the iPad these days, even if it is the horrible Olive Software version of the DDn.

If you think journalism is important- and being well informed is a civic duty as I do, get a subscription so we don’t have to see the kind of cuts in Dayton that just went down in Cleveland. And, people in charge of the DDn- please consider a way that I can skip getting your dead tree edition and still get the reasonable rate, at heart, I’m still a tree hugger.

Dayton makes the New York Times- again for the wrong reasons

We’ve made the news, the New York Times.

Instead of talking about why Dayton is a great place to locate your business, with a highly trained workforce, low cost of living, high quality of life- we get a mid-level manager talking about our long-term unemployed:

Lucious Plant, work force development administrator in Montgomery County, Ohio, where Dayton is the county seat, said companies were shortsighted for viewing people who had been out of work for several months as somehow inferior. Given today’s economy, he said, it was common for those who lost their jobs to stay unemployed for six months or more, and that many of those workers were highly skilled.

“I think it would be very easy to have six months of unemployment and still be a top candidate,” Mr. Plant said.

via Employers Say Jobs Plan Won’t Lead to Hiring Spur – NYTimes.com.

This is a global publication- who gave Mr. Plant the opportunity to speak for the region? This is why you have spokespeople and hire PR firms to fine tune a message. It’s why we have the “Dayton Development Coalition” to put our best foot forward.

Instead, we’ve got a guy with an odd name, making statements that run counter to what’s becoming a national trend: unemployed people aren’t even considered as candidates.

Until the United States changes the tax structure, and starts rewarding employers for job creation, more than rewarding the Wizards of Wall Street for their casino operation, we won’t see more jobs, more consumer confidence or a stable economy.

From the same article:

Companies are focused on jittery consumer confidence, an unstable stock market, perceived obstacles to business expansion like government regulation and, above all, swings in demand for their products.

Stabilize the stock market by eliminating all flash trades, tax any transaction made on equity holdings that have been held for less than a year at a ridiculously high rate, as well as bar all companies from the market that pay their executives more than a ratio of 20/1 of their median U.S. employee salaries.

Also, since small businesses are the major engine in employment, consider rewarding owners of companies who employ Americans and who pay decent wages. Offering those job creators lower personal tax rates based on a ratio under 10/1 of median employee salaries to their income with tax breaks.

Also, states like Ohio need to cut the practice of charging companies unemployment rates based on a three-year floating account- and make it into a real insurance pool. My small business was hammered after firing one employee after 17 years of never having done so, with a 10% unemployment tax going up from a sub 2% rate. With a 10% unemployment tax it incentivizes hiring contractors instead of employees.

And by the way, like it or not, nobody knows where Montgomery County is- or Centerville or Oakwood- it’s Dayton,people. If we were smart, we’d have one government- with one name that’s on the map.

 

Time for Warren Buffett to walk his talk

In yesterday’s New York Times, the oracle of Omaha wrote a plea for Congress to “Stop coddling the super-rich” and raise his taxes and all those of the people making more than $1million a year.

I highly recommend you read it- and then laugh:

OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks.

via Stop Coddling the Super-Rich – NYTimes.com.

This is my response to Mr. Buffett.

If Mr. Buffett was truly sorry about the situation the poor and middle class (which for his info are becoming one and the same) were in, he could change the tax code the same way it got the way it is- by buying his own politicians, just like all his rich friends have for years.

In fact, this is his way of side-stepping the expensive process that runs our country, the one that we mock in other countries as corrupt- the pay-to-play system, the auction of political office to the highest bidder. Buffett doesn’t want to have to pay to get his way- instead he just writes an op-ed column for the New York Times and walks away.

The real answer is for him to back a third party slate of honest politicians (if they can still be found) to go to Washington and do his bidding for him. First order of business would be to pass laws to publicly fund elections, taking the grease out of the fundraising wheels, and second, to reform our elections so that it’s not a lesser of two evils choice, moving to instant runoff ballots. Those two changes would give his ideas of changing the tax code a chance to actually happen.

Buffett is no stranger to giving money to politicians- you can look up his donations here:

http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/norindsea.shtml

His total is $119,400 according to the FEC- and while that may seem like a lot to some of us, it’s barely rounding error on his taxes (he seems to favor Dems). Frankly, he’s not even a player in the political slush fund arena- which may be one reason he’s so wealthy.

There are solutions to stop coddling the rich and help the rest of us. Mr. Buffett, they require someone to outbid your wealthy friends on our behalf. Are you up to it?

 

The doors open to the back room of international politics

A sea change is coming to international relations- and social media will be the engine driving the movement. The latest release from Wikileaks is a fascinating look at the good ‘ole boy/country club that’s making decisions on how the world turns:

A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.

via WikiLeaks Archive — Cables Uncloak U.S. Diplomacy – NYTimes.com.

Diplomacy is dirty business- and the brave moves by Wikileaks to hang the dirty laundry out for all to see, may give the people of the world a perspective on what governments believe their true objectives are- and world peace and ending inequality aren’t going to make the list.

This is the type of news reporting that can transform society. I highly recommend you read the article in the New York Times- and from other sources to get a feel for the way we project “American Power” throughout the world. [NOTE: Fast company delves into the different ways these leaks have been turned into online materials by the NYT and the Guardian- the presentation of the material is key to letting people get access: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1662770/infographics-of-the-day-whats-in-those-leaked-diplomatic-cables?partner=homepage_newsletter

By contrast- the Dayton Daily News has a story about “Power drills, covered in feces, found in driveway,” Considering there is still a digital divide in our country with as many as 1 in 12 not connected to the Internet, shouldn’t the local newspaper still focus on informing, educating and making the people of our region smarter?

There are back rooms to our local political scene as well. How do some developers keep getting deal after deal, while the taxpayers fully fund other projects that have no guarantee of success? Why is nepotism perfectly accepted in the County building- and in the City of Dayton- while not accepted in any of the well run suburbs?

When will we see the real reporting in our community? When will we realize that the new tools can give the pawns the power to at least question- if not start a movement to overthrow the corrupt private clubs that seem to run our country?

This batch of Wikileaks is more powerful than the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate tapes all rolled into one. Read them. Pay attention.

Change is coming.