Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Populism Defeated Hillary Clinton and Democrats Must Pay Attention

The most qualified candidate in my lifetime lost the 2016 presidential to the least qualified and populism was the cause, amplified by social media. Newspaper and TV media played their part by essentially going to sleep at the switch, laughing at the Trump campaign while giving him tremendous coverage—six or eight times that of Hillary, proving once again that any exposure is good exposure. The Democratic National Committee further enabled the disaster by sidelining Bernie Sanders, a man who might have beaten Trump but, what the hell, it was Clinton’s turn. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Donald Trump Re-brands the Republican Party

Few people understand branding as does our president-elect. The fact is that he might well be looked upon by slightly over half the nation as little other than a brand. But he knows the territory and what he chooses to do with his first term will linger for generations in his party. Let’s discuss what is at stake.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Migration, a Problem in Its Infancy

Counting the dead. We’re extraordinarily good at counting the dead, we warlike nations. Every drone-strike has its body-count and we’re pretty good at counting losses on both sides, whichever those sides might be.

What we’re not so good at is keeping tabs on the displaced and those whose lives have been unalterably affected by chaos. Our boys come home, if they come home, to dysfunctional medical and psychiatric care—a lost generation, as the women and men of Vietnam were lost. In those far away war-zones the losses run deeper and the damage runs closer to the bone.

Iraq was a nation run by a ruthless dictator, no doubt. But the parks were open, the ice cream vendors sold their wares and family life had regularity, no matter the constrictions. Syrian children went to school and Afghan tribal communities went about their daily lives.

All gone now, the mirage of democracy traded off for car-bombs, suicide bombings and families shuttered away in what’s left of their homes—listening, fearing the skies, wondering how and when and who will next fall victim. The question is not whether they have survived, but if there’s anything left worthwhile to live for.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Headlines That Make Me Nuts

No rest for migrant-weary Europe in 2016 as desperate refugees flood continent

That from CNBC News, to herald the beginning of 2016.

Well, I must say my heart goes out to those Europeans who face another wearying year ahead. My god, it must be tough sustaining oneself in such a ‘flood’ as to threaten the continent.

A million migrants have come in 2015, according to reports. “By gad, sir, that’s one in every 750 Europeans and soon we shall be quite inundated.”


Monday, December 21, 2015

The Ominous Omnibus, a Favored Washington Vehicle

"Fiscal fights fade as Congress backs huge omnibus budget bill"

Noun: A vehicle carrying many passengers; used for public transport.

In this particular case, the ‘vehicle’ drives off with your tax money and leaves you standing at the curb, required to reach deep into your pockets to pick up the tab. Requirements:

A bill that must be passed, a deadline too short to consider the details and an up-or-down vote without discussion are the preferred ingredients of this legislative stew. The carrot is favored funding for each legislator's personal district and the stick is time run out. Salt and pepper to taste.

Congress whizzed this high and inside fastball past the public just in time to adjourn itself for the Christmas holiday. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Defining American Conservatism

It’s interesting to me to look up the definition of ‘conservative.’ I would have expected one definition at least to be ‘someone who conserves.’ But alas, that explanation fails the current list and I find instead:

Adjective: Believing in or supporting tenets of the political right: "The Conservative authoritarians who were more inclined to violence."

Noun: A member of a Conservative Party.

Wouldn’t one at least expect a throw-away to those who care about the planet, or possibly those who seek to maintain (conserve)—at least in the American context--our freedoms, willingness to welcome the poor and disadvantaged of the world and possible support for the upward mobility for which all citizens strive?

Nary a word in that context.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas for the Homeless—a Cardboard Bed

Every once in a while an article comes across my attention that simply astounds me with its approach. So it was when I opened a recent Guardian piece by Tash Reith-Banks, titled Creating cardboard beds for a more comfortable Christmas on the streets.

Indeed. A more comfortable Christmas, sleeping on cardboard.

But is it possible to make a difference to the lives of homeless people without fundraising or investment? Psychology graduate and former primary school teacher Elliot Lord has set about doing just that. Having worked on conservation and sustainable living projects in Ecuador and then with refugees in northern India, Lord realized that his home city, Wolverhampton, would benefit from some development work. He moved back to Wolverhampton and started Our Own Future, a community organization dedicated to creating opportunities for those who lack them and to solving social problems.