Conversations With Conservatives

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Recently I have had a couple of face-to-face, civil conversations with conservatives. The conversations gave me a better understanding of how Donald Trump and the Republican party have managed to stay in power for the last 37 years.

The Issues
Among the issues we discussed:

  • Finance regulation:  Banks unethical practices
  • Housing inflation:  Housing prices increasing too fast
  • Economy:  Not growing fast enough
  • Jobs:  Not enough good paying jobs
  • Healthcare:  Taking care of people who can’t afford healthcare, keeping healthcare costs down
  • Drug pricing:  Prescription drug unfettered pricing

Government or Business Corruption?
There are many more issues; however, the ones discussed offer insight to the driving attitude of conservatives. It was not surprising that conservatives believe that the government is inherently corrupt. They also have an unshakable opinion that business and capitalism are the solution to almost every social and/or economic problem.

When asked about the above issues, conservatives will automatically assume the problem can be attributed to government corruption, interference, or mismanagement. They also believe that government is holding back, or preventing from business solving the problem.

It is admirable that most conservatives don’t need, nor care if their opinions have no proof, or facts to support their position. Even when it is apparent that business is/was the cause of the problem, conservatives have the ability to double down on the fallacy and ignore anything that contradicts their opinion.

Cause of the Housing Crisis: Business as Usual Unethical

Regulation:  The False Enemy
In one conversation I was told of how a bank sold the fixed rate housing loan of this person to another bank and the new bank raised the interest rate without the consent of the owner. Though the person kept paying on the loan, they were finally told that they were in arrears on the loan because they had failed to pay the additional interest on the new loan. Ultimately, the person was forced into either spending thousands of dollars on legal fees, or walking away from the house.

Three factors are key to this situation. First is the greed of the banks to make more money for the investors. Second is the lack of ethics by the bank. Finally, the lack of government oversight over the banks to prevent them from selling the loan, remaking the loan, and then forcing the homeowner into foreclosure.

Business was the corrupt party in this situation, and a lack of government oversight was the contributing factor; however, to the conservative, this was another example of a corrupt government.

NEXT:  The Thirty-Seven Year Lie

Katy Perry’s ‘Chained To The Rhythm’ Liberates Pop

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Katy Perry: Rhythm Unchained

A successful pop song needs two critical elements. First, it has to ear appeal to the current audience. This is a standard that evolves over time as pop music tends to find a formula that is addicting, then thousands of wanna-be stars pile on their version of the style, and boredom ensues.

The best pop stars manage to experiment just enough to create a new, fresh sound, without leaving the bounds of the genre. Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Shakira have been consistent leaders evolving pop music in the last ten years. This is not to say that other artists haven’t helped to evolve pop music, but these three artists have been the 100-pound royalty in the recording studio.

The second element is lyrics that engage the human brain. Some singers tend to copy the current style of pop music, then tell us about their latest break-up, but that appeals to those who have precious few brain cells to engage. Katy Perry, Gaga, and Shakira typically go beyond the obvious, and trigger thoughts and ideas that touch, rather than tell.

In the past decade years Katy Perry has produced I Kissed A Girl (2008,) Hot N Cold (2008,) Last Friday Night (2010,) Teenage Dream (2010,) E.T. (2010,) California Gurls (2010,) Firework (2010,) Part of Me (2012,) Wide Awake (2012,) Birthday (2013,) Roar (2013,) This Is How We Do (2013,) Dark Horse (2013,) among her top hits. This would be a lifetime of work for most artists, yet she continues to push her status as one of the monarchs of music.

Katy Perry’s latest release, Chained To The Rhythm (2017,) from her upcoming album/CD, is more than just another mega-hit for her. From start to finish this song is a statement about the dark side of the American Dream, and about the unreasonable expectations created in a world where status is equated with human worth, yet this is not a song or video that portrays a downcast view of our current society. Instead, it is an upbeat, happy song that masks the underlining message just enough to engage the audience into the music. It isn’t until the end of the video that a person realizes the full impact of the content of the song.

This mastery of creating music with the key elements of a great pop song, and then weaving in a serious social message, without detracting from the entertainment value, is rarely achieved in the restrained environment of pop music. It keeps Katy Perry relevant as a master of pop music, and as a human being.

PR Fail: What United Airlines Should Have Done

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United PR:  At least we don’t shove the children out at 35,000 feet!

Sunday morning United Airlines once again proved that they have some of the worst public relations people in the business, which is likely a reflection of their top management.

The Situation
Two young girls, ages estimated to be around ten to eleven years old, were prevented boarding a United Airlines flight from Denver to Minneapolis with their family. These were children, not adults, nor young adults. According to United Airlines, they were flying on what is known in the industry as a “Buddy Pass,” which is a relatively free (taxes have to be paid) ticket that is one of the benefits of airline employees.

The girls were wearing leggings, which again, according to United Airlines, is in violation of the dress code of people flying on a Buddy Pass. The gate agent apparently approached the family and told them the girls could not board the plane wearing leggings.

It is important to note that two of the girls did not have any other clothing options at the gate, and the family apparently checked bags with the girl’s clothing in them at the main ticketing, where a United representative had to weigh the bags, check the tickets, and confirm the identifications of each of the passengers. Despite this close contact with the passengers, the ticket agent did NOT prevent the children, nor the rest of the family from heading to the gate.

The gate agent that confronted the family was involved in a “tense” discussion of the dress code issue in front of other passengers. At one point the gate agent bragged, “I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them.”

This became a major public relations issue because passengers in the area were witness to the scene and a passenger from another gate investigated the situation and reported it on Twitter. The gate agent’s handling of the situation was overt enough to cause another family, not involved in the incident, to have their daughter put on a dress over her leggings.

United later reported that the girls later changed and boarded another flight.

What United Should Have Done
It boggles the mind as to the many public relation fails occurred by United staff, but here is what the public relations people should have said and done:

On Sunday, March 26, a family was boarding one of our flights on a special ticket that includes a dress code requirement for the passenger. One of our gate agents determined that the children were not dressed according to that policy, and the family was not allowed to board the flight.

While the gate agent technically followed our policy, we regret that this situation became a public scene. We also regret that our staff did not remind the family of that policy when they checked their bags at the main ticket counter, when the children would have been able to obtain appropriate clothing before their bags were checked.

Our policy is meant to encourage a professional appearance of those passengers who are flying as a benefit of being employed, or being a family member of one of our employees. When this involves children, we attempt to be sensitive to the difference in the typical appropriate dress for their age.

We regret to the manner in how this situation was handled and apologize to the family involved and to the passengers who were witness to this situation at the gate. We are reviewing our policies and how those policies are enforced.

The United Blood Bath
Rather than apologizing, United decided that it would work to sway public opinion against the traveling family and humiliate them further. Their announcement in response to the situation put all the blame on the children and their family and implied that the gate agent who created the scene was the hero.

It is a Trump-like strategy that is based on never admitting failure, even when the failure is obvious. It did produce a wave of approval by people who enjoy watching someone being crushed by a more powerful and insensitive force.

However, this type of strategy builds mistrust of an organization and clearly demonstrates United’s lack of empathy for its passengers, paying or not. It also demonstrates the lack of humanity by a corporation that doesn’t understand the deferred cost of bad public relations, and proves that United doesn’t know the quality of mercy.

The Self Destruction of the Caucasian Race

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My DNA analysis from Ancestry.com

Ninety-eight percent (98%) of my DNA comes from Europe. While the term ‘Caucasian‘ refers to a race from a larger region than just Europe, I am about as Caucasian as one can be on this planet.Caucasians have done many great things. Our history is rich with progressive development of our society. In a relatively short period, my race has moved from tribal societies to rich urban cities where many people from other regions of the world come to live and work.

KKK Then

While my race does not dominate the world in art, literature, philosophy, mathematics, or science, we have made major contributions in all these areas.

But now, I am embarrassed by the people of my race. My culture was the key to electing a President and a political party that is overtly trying to erase centuries of advancements in society, like fair working conditions and fair wages, and healthcare is for everyone.

KKK Now

My culture has traditionally led the way in limiting the corruption and greed that is inherent in business. My culture has often avoided the mistakes of other countries where governments fail to regulate and control unethical business practices of private corporations.

 

Today, my culture is ready to sacrifice this planet for our children and our children’s children so that energy companies can employ a handful of rural people. And each one of those jobs hand down less to each subsequent generation.

Caucasians proud of their stupidity

There is a price that my culture will have to pay for their stupidity. We could be embracing people from all cultures and solving all the world’s problems together. Instead, my culture is tearing apart families of other races and throwing them out of the country. Building walls and cancelling the economic treaties that have brought new prosperity and virtually ended wars.

This is not amusing or smart. My culture will pay a price. Yes, the smallest minds of my culture have won the day in the belief that they are invincible, but they are digging a hole in which the rest of us will be buried.

Trump Leaks Own Tax Form?

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Trump: “It’s illegal for you to see this but look at how great I am!”

It is the centerpiece of the Trump agenda to keep the subject off Putin’s overthrow of his administration. And just when the topic would be coming back to the KGB agent that seems to be in contact with all the Republican leadership, suddenly, a bone is thrown to the media. Trump’s 2005, rosy tax form…but only two pages. Who gave it to the media? Nobody knows. It just magically appeared.

Trump and his Iraqi-styled minions didn’t even snicker when they scolded the unknown person who ‘illegally’ released his alleged tax document…all two pages. Nothing about the tax form reflects badly on Trump, and that alone casts suspicion that the President who can admit to no wrong, personally selected these two pieces of paper to be ‘anonymously’ delivered to a journalist.

Trump’s tax release has all the cleverness of a Dr. Evil plan

Even David Cay Johnston, the journalist who landed this punt, is suspicious of how he came to obtain this sudden flattering twelve-year-old snapshot of Trump’s financial qualifications. It is too coincidental that a minor aspect of Trump’s tax reporting, that creates a positive impression of his finances, appears with no explanation, no authentication, nor no information as to who is behind the release of the two pages.

Perhaps if this weren’t so blatantly manufactured to change the subject, it wouldn’t be so silly, … but we are talking about Donald Trump and his friend Vladimir Putin.

We Don’t Need More Service Jobs

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Putting people on the Moon meant jobs on Earth

During President Lyndon Johnson’s second term (1965-1969,) the space program was booming. At almost four percent job growth, his administration exceeded any other presidential term since World War II, including President Jimmy Carter’s impressive 3.2% growth. These were high paying, skilled jobs that created a demand for workers that enticed many young people to choose engineering and scientific careers.

PRESIDENT PARTY TERM YR JOB GROWTH
Herbert Hoover R 1929–1933 -5.41%
Franklin Roosevelt D 1933–1937 4.97%
Franklin Roosevelt D 1937–1941 2.53%
Franklin Roosevelt D 1941–1945 5.00%
Roosevelt/Truman D 1945–1949 1.61%
Harry Truman D 1949–1953 2.93%
Dwight Eisenhower R 1953–1957 1.34%
Dwight Eisenhower R 1957–1961 0.87%
Kennedy/Johnson D 1961–1965 2.64%
Lyndon Johnson D 1965–1969 3.90%
Richard Nixon R 1969–1973 2.23%
Nixon/Ford R 1973–1977 1.68%
Jimmy Carter D 1977–1981 3.21%
Ronald Reagan R 1981–1985 1.47%
Ronald Reagan R 1985–1989 2.80%
George H. W. Bush R 1989–1993 0.45%
Bill Clinton D 1993–1997 2.85%
Bill Clinton D 1997–2001 2.33%
George W. Bush R 2001–2005 0.02%
George W. Bush R 2005–2009 0.24%
Barack Obama D 2009–2013 0.23%
Barack Obama D 2013–2017 1.85%

CHART 1.0 – Job growth during Presidential Terms (1929-2017) Growth over 2.5% is in green. (DATA credit: Wikipedia)

Service jobs were a byproduct of the main engine driving the boom in the rapid expansion of the space program. Service jobs did not offer the wages or the excitement of the space program, but they did provide employment for those who lacked motivation to qualify and/or seek out better paying, higher skilled jobs.

And then we landed on the Moon.

After we had achieved the primary objective, people who didn’t understand what a large government project means to employment, began questioning the space program. Over time the naysayers effectively killed the program, leaving private business to reinvent what NASA had accomplished in the 1960’s (landing on the Moon) and the 1980’s (a reusable rocket system.)

Today, we are trying to sustain and expand a service industry that lacks the main component of job growth, namely, a major public project that creates high paying and highly skilled jobs. Since NASA wound down its Space Shuttle program, job growth has flat-lined.

Private business does not exist to create jobs. It exists to put money in the pockets of the executives and owners of the business. Creating jobs cuts into profit. Paying higher wages cuts into profit. Private business is never going to create significant job growth, nor improve wages and benefits for the worker.

If we want job growth and livable wages, it is the government that will do it, not private business.

Sean Spicer: Trump’s Baghdad Bob

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As U.S. troops were rolling into Baghdad, Saddam Hussein‘s Disinformation Officer, known as Baghdad Bob, was telling the media that U.S. soldiers were committing suicide outside the city to avoid dealing with the Iraqi Army, and as U.S. tanks were a few meters away, Baghdad Bob (Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf) denied that any U.S. forces were in the city.

Spicer’s poetic truth: U.S. flag is upside down

This is apparently the model Sean Spicer, Donald Trump’s Disinformation Officer (a.k.a. Press Secretary,) has chosen to emulate. Spicer doesn’t have a working relationship with the media. His function seems to be an attempt by the secretive Trump administration to create a sideshow that manufactures lies and deception to cover Trump’s idiotic rants and actions.

Spicer’s latest performance included a claim that Trump didn’t mean that the Obama administration wiretapped his phones in his March 4, Tweets, where Trump twice accused President Obama of wiretapping his phones. Spicer said that when Trump meant ‘observing’ and not wiretapping.

The Soviet Spy Now Trump’s Daddy

The reality is that Spicer’s job is to distract from the deeper controversies that Trump doesn’t want in the news cycle. It seems obvious that the influence that Vladimir Putin has over Trump’s administration is requiring Spicer to create a diversion for the media.

The reality is that we seem to have proof in evidence and deed that Putin has gained significant control of our government. Trump’s administration may simply be attempting to destroy as much of our government as possible before they are taken out of power.

The question remains, how much more can we continue to be mesmerized by the silliness, before appropriately respond to the crisis?

Preparing for the Post Trump Era: Step One

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Donald Trump is the apex of the Republican model of government. What is happening today is exactly what has been desired by conservatives like, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Jerry Falwell, Rush Limbaugh, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Mitch McConnell, and Paul Ryan. It is a corporate government, not to serve the public, but as a corporation to satisfy the desires of the wealthy.

It is racist. It is secretive. And it is illegal. Our model of government is that it is a government of the people and by the people. What Trump is doing is anything but that.

It is a model of government that Vladimir Putin has perfected, and it seems apparent that he has been trying to export his perversion of government to create subsidiaries of his corporate government in democratic countries.

There is ample evidence of a Trump/Putin connection that is inappropriate for the Office of the President. It would be cause for investigation and removal from office; however, our Republican leadership is in the same bed as Trump. 

Still, the tolerance of the political fiasco in our country is wearing thin, and the United States doesn’t suffer fools for long. Before that happens, our country needs to establish a plan of how we will move forward and not let this happen again.

Step One:  The Disposal of the Trump Era
It will not be enough to remove Donald Trump from office. He will need to be prosecuted for his crimes against our country. There seems to be enough evidence to suggest that he should be charged as a traitor. If found guilty, he must face punishment. There can be no pardon for him.

If he is found guilty of crimes against foreign countries, extradition should be on the table. 

Trump’s tower in Panama

All his assets, and any asset using his name should be confiscated and placed in the public treasury. He cannot be allowed to walk away with the fortunes he is gaining at the expense of the citizens of this country, and we should not be forced to see his name on buildings, projects, and programs.

His children must also be investigated, and prosecuted if they are suspected of acting against the interest of the people of the United States of America.

All Trump appointees, and anyone hired into federal service during the Trump administration should be removed from office immediately. All actions taken by Trump and/or his appointees should be immediately rescinded.

There is likely no legal precedent to allow all of these actions, but Trump has violated the established norms and mores of our country, and legal precedent does not apply.

Republicans Living Down to Expectations

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GOP’s big loser takes from the elderly and poor to give to the rich

They did exactly what was expected and then went further. Republicans put together a plan to shred our healthcare, and then added more tax breaks for the wealthiest. Ryancare could best be described as the bomb dropped on the United States to distract us from noticing how deep Vladimir Putin is in Trump’s pants.

‘Repeal and Replace’ is, as expected, ‘Flush and Make the Wealthiest, Wealthier.’ By bullet point, this is what the Republicans shot down.

  • Mandatory coverage, gone. A return to pre-Obamacare
  • Subsidies, still there, but smaller
  • Medicare money raided to give the wealthy a big tax cut
  • Elderly and people with pre-existing conditions will pay up to five times more for insurance

Many believe that Ryancare will undergo significant changes; however, none of the discussed changes will improve the existing law. Republicans are committed to carnage and destruction. Business as usual.

The Privatization of the Presidency

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Leadership in secret isn’t in the public’s best interest

The one of the Commandments of the Bible of Conservatism is that government should be privatized. This idea has been proven to cost more, create more corruption, and more inefficiencies, and yet it is still on the banners of the conservative fanatics that don’t need facts, because they have faith.

Donald Trump has now taken the Privatization Commandment to a new level: The Presidency of the United States of America. Trump is operating his administration as if he doesn’t report to the public. He uses the government to promote and fund his own private business interests. He doesn’t believe in transparency, and acts as if the government is his private corporation, where information is to be closely guarded, and the media is the enemy.

The model he is using is a return of a King George type of model, where he is the absolute leader that cannot be questioned or challenged, and uses force to impose his will. It is exactly the type of leadership that our country rejected when it declared independence from Great Britain.

This model of secrecy of leadership is almost always used to hide unethical acts. It is even worse than when Richard Nixon tried to cover up the illegal acts of his administration during Watergate. Like Nixon, Trump believes that he is untouchable. Let’s hope he is not.