Monthly Archives: June 2016

BREXIT AND OTHER HUMAN FOLLIES

The British vote to exit the European Union this past week, only goes to show that the United States has yet to corner the market on sheer, unadulterated stupidity. By a narrow vote, the normally staid and rational British decision to leave an organization designed to enhance free trade, facilitate easier travel throughout Europe, create a single currency, and grow the economies of all member states had deep-seated ramifications for the entire planet. Alan Greenspan who was Chairman of the Federal Reserve in this country for about 20 years called the Brexit vote the greatest financial disaster in his lifetime. J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter authorship fame stated that it was a victory for all the racists and bigots in the U.K. Indeed, the backlash among many Europeans to the migration of tens of thousands of Moslems into their midst because of all the horrors of war, terrorism and killings in the Mid-East, did provide  a strong motivation among the British against continued membership in the EU.

On Friday, financial markets around the globe took a nose dive because of the Brexit vote and lost $2 trillion. Over $2 trillion of the world’s wealth evaporated like the morning mist.The Dow-Jones in this country dropped over 600 points and the bloodletting seems to be continuing as the Dow is down another 300 points today even as I write this piece. British Prime Minister David Cameron, as decent a politician and leader as exists in today’s world, was forced to submit his resignation (effective in October) because he strongly opposed the United Kingdom’s exiting the EU. Scotland, on of the 4 member states comprising the UK, (along with England, Wales and Northern Ireland) voted in favor of remaining in the EU and is now talking about leaving the UK so it can stay in the EU. Scotland had previously voted on whether to free itself from British rule, and that measure lost by a narrow margin. Now it wants another such vote which would likely succeed this time around. The British themselves are now having buyer’s remorse with over 2 million signing a petition to have a do-over vote. They’re asking for a mulligan, if you will.

As with the Trump fantasy in this country, education and economic status played a huge role in the vote’s outcome. Over 70% of those with a college education or higher voted to remain in the EU, while a similar number with only a high-school or lower education desired an exit. Similar percentages existed with those in higher income brackets favoring remain, versus lower income classes voting for exit. In the U.S., Trump’s demagogic and xenophobic candidacy and following also has its primary support  from the lower economic and poorly educated masses. So what accounts for this type of division that now seems to becoming a world-wide phenomena. The answer may lie in the opening lines of Charles Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities” written in the 19th century, which goes-“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Dickens was describing conditions in London and Paris during that period, but a similar description can be written of the economic landscape in the U.S and Europe in today’s world.

Those British favoring exit kept dwelling on the EU’s fault-lines. Yes, the EU had a cumbersome bureaucracy which added unnecessarily to the cost of membership. Yes, it appeared that the cost burden to the UK of being a member exceeded the financial benefits being derived. Yes, there were a lot of seemingly unnecessary rules and regulations emanating from EU headquarters that people became fed up with. But those on the exit side failed to acknowledge that a ton of trade and tariff barriers among the EU states had been removed and that goods and services throughout Europe now flowed more freely, to everyone’s economic benefit. Now, Britain will have to renegotiate dozens if not hundreds of new trade agreements with its European counterparts, which could take many years. For those British that were doing well financially, it has indeed, been the best of times. But those struggling in the lower income brackets, who are also generally poorly educated, seem trapped financially with nothing but poverty to look forward to. For them it appears to be the worst of times. Or an opportunity for opportunistic politicians to move in and blame all their economic ills on that bumbling bureaucracy known as the  EU.

And so it goes in the U.S. as well. America has, by far, the most advanced economy the world has ever seen. For many Americans it’s the best of times with new innovations, new markets, new electronic gadgetry, and better living conditions seemingly advancing on a daily basis. But those on the lower end of the economic totem pole, usually lacking meaningful job skills, feel trapped by their lack of economic opportunity. Seeing how so many of their fellow citizens are living so well, while they’re engulfed in a financial quagmire, makes it, painfully, seem like the worst of times. Another opportunity for a power hungry demagogue such as Donald Trump to fill the vacuum. It’s not their fault that they’re living so poorly he tells the masses. Blame the Mexicans, the Chinese, our NATO partners in Europe, all Moslems, etc. for your economic difficulties. Peddled as skillfully as snake oil salesmen of the 19th century peddled their worthless elixirs, Trump’s neo-fascist demagogic skills now put him within hailing distance of becoming the most powerful man in the world.

So the 2 most prosperous English speaking nations in the world, have put themselves on a path toward economic and political ruin through mind-numbing irrationality. Kind of seems to me like, potentially, the worst of times.

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Categories: Brexit, Donald Trump, Alan Greenspan, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, presidential polls,, Economics, human affairs, politics, Ronald Reagan, the Depression, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

IN MY LIFETIME….

Although this planet is billions of years old, and life on this planet is measured in at least hundreds of millions of years, what is considered the beginnings of civilized society goes back a mere 10-12 thousand years. Barely a thimble of water in oceans of time. Therefore, the way I figure it, we’re still pretty far down on the evolutionary totem pole. Which explains why those 12 thousand years of of recorded society have been replete with bad behavior, mass killings, barbaric practices, evil despots and tyrants ruling over kingdoms built by using slavery, and, of course, ever-ongoing brutal, savage war-mongering. Although there were undoubtedly armed conflicts during the entire history of man on this planet, the first recorded war occurred just under 5000 years ago. It took place in Mesopotamia, (today’s Iraq, Syria and Kuwait), and the carnage has being going strong ever since.

So, just to pass the time of day, I was thinking about all that has transpired just in my lifetime. I was just a tot when a supremely gifted demagogue used his immense powers of preaching hatred to the populace to rise to power in Germany and eventually launch what came to be known as World War II. Which was really just a continuation of WWI with a couple of decades of respite. Before that confrontation was over, 60 million people would lose their lives throughout Europe, including millions of Americans. Several million more would die in the Pacific at the hands of Imperial Japan, Germany’s ally. Also, for the first time, the mass extermination of an entire ethnic group was just about successfully accomplished through the use of gas chambers in Nazi concentration camps. About 6 million Jews, and other opponents of Hitler’s Nazi empire, lost their lives in what came to be known as the Holocaust. In a history replete with evil savagery and barbarity, the Holocaust was probably the single most evil act of all time. And it wasn’t just Hitler and the Nazi’s that made the Holocaust work. It took hundreds of thousands of European bureaucrats  to establish the network of railroads bringing prisoners to the death camps, and to provide the immense amount of logistics it took to make the camps functional. Hitler’s willing accomplices as one writer called it.

Toward the end of WWII, the Nazis had supposedly developed rockets that were capable of hitting the U.S. East Coast. As a child growing up in New York, I remember being subject to air raid alarms and warnings which required everyone to turn off all lighting. During these air raid drills my parents would bring chairs into my bedroom as we sat there silently in the dark until the all clear sign was given. Most people aren’t aware that Hitler was just days or weeks away at the most before he fell, from developing atomic bomb capabilities that could be employed on rockets that could reach U.S. soil. Or that if Japan had invaded our West Coast immediately after Pearl Harbor, it could have gobbled up at least two-thirds of the U.S. before the Roosevelt Administration was prepared to take a military stand around Chicago. Such was the precarious nature of the freedoms we take for granted today.

After the war, the U.S. quickly demobilized as it appeared that peace would be on the horizon for decades. In the meantime, the most advanced electronics in everyone’s home was a radio and a land-line telephone. When television started coming on the market shortly after the war, it was like the 8th wonder of the world. Our first black-and-white TV had an immense 13 inch screen, and only 3 stations which broadcast only during certain parts of the day and night. But to actually view what one could only hear on the radio, was considered beyond the pale. Also some kind of contraptions they started calling “computers” entered the American vocabulary. But as people learned, they were about as big as a Sherman tank and could be used only for business purposes. The thought of having this contraption in one’s home was considered ridiculous. Until suddenly, something called the “internet” became a hot topic of conversation and they figured out how to downsize computers so they fit comfortably in people’s residences. But telephones always had to be hooked up to a cord, didn’t they? Until they further figured out a way to get rid of the cord and turn the phone into a mini-computer. And thus, on-and -on marches the electronics revolution. All in my lifetime.

In the meantime, the peace-in-our-lifetime dreams that Americans had with the conclusion of WWII evaporated as quickly as the morning mist. With the rise of Communist Russia and China, Americans became highly fearful of the “Red Menace.” When both countries acquired nuclear bomb capabilities deep fears and anxieties spread throughout the land. After a mere 5 or 6 years since the end of WWII, the U.S. was back on war-footing; this time fighting Communists on the Korean peninsula. More death and destruction. Meanwhile a Senator from Wisconsin named Joe McCarthy saw a huge opportunity to demagogue the “soft-on-communism” issue. He was sort of like the Donald Trump of his day. He claimed that the U.S. government, as well as Hollywood and other institutions were riddled with Communist spies working for Russia. To be labeled a Communist by the McCarthy committee was equivalent to seeing ones life turned to ashes. McCarthy eventually went down in flames but not before he had destroyed countless lives.

The Communist scare, known as the better-dead-than-red mentality, eventually led from the stalemate in Korea to the huge loss of life in the Viet-Nam fiasco. Almost 60,000 Americans died in the hell-hole jungles of Viet-Nam before we lost the war and called it quits. To say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese that died during that fracas. And it wasn’t all that much later, that a new barbarism had come upon the landscape in the form of Islamic-Jihadism. Which has us militarily bogged down once more, this time in the Mid-East. It seems as if evil is like wild-fires. You douse one, and two more crop up somewhere else. In the meantime, in mid-2016, it’s as if the re-incarnation of Joe McCarthy has rose to power and he is now one step away from the White House. All of this, in my lifetime.

To say that I’ve lived through a fascinating panorama of events during my life would be a considerable understatement. But I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.

Categories: A malfunctioning psche, Ben Franklin, The Constitution, Monarchies, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, presidential polls,, Economics, Huey Long, Franklin Roosevelt, Great Depression, The Kingfish,Donald Trump, human affairs, Isis terrorist attack in Paris,, Joe McCarthy, McCarthyism, World War II, Viet-Nam, Anti-Communist Witch Hunts, Army-McCarthy hearings, Islamic Jihadist terrorism, Soviet Union, Red China, John Kennedy, John Kennedy, foreign policy,terrorism, lack of U.S. response to terrorism,, politics, Ronald Reagan, the Depression, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

TRICKLE-DOWN HATRED

The latest massacre in Orlando, with about 50 dead and the same number wounded, is just the latest in what has become an ever-growing list of atrocities being committed with greater frequency in the United States. It follows the recent slaughter of innocents in San Bernardino by lone-wolf Islamic Jihadists; the butchering of 20 innocent children in Connecticut by a young man who just couldn’t cope with life; the killing of black church-goers in South Carolina by another deranged individual seeking vengeance for the South’s loss of the Civil War 150 years ago; the murder of about 30 people at Fort Hood, Louisiana by another Jihadist lunatic; the murder of movie-goers in Colorado by another mentally-ill delusionist; and ultimately back to 9/11/01 where almost 3000 lives were lost thanks to fanatical Jihadism; and finally all the way back to Columbine where modern day mass murder in the U.S. seemed to originate. Whether committed by religious fanatics or loners seemingly rejected by society, all these events had the same thing in common. Namely, a deep-seated hatred by the perpetrators toward their victims.

Lets start with the Islamic-Jihad brand of murder, as seems to be the case now in the Orlando slayings. There are about 1.3 billion Moslems currently living on this planet. The vast, overwhelming majority are peaceful human beings, going about their business every day of trying to earn a living, raising a family, taking care of the bills, etc. The problem is, however, that a small minority of Islamic fanatics would like to turn the clock back to the seventh century, when, (in their minds) Islam was untarnished by Western values and modern culture. Fanatical Imams preach a violent interpretation of the Quran which translates into a non-stop hatred toward anything Western, and urge young Moslems to martyr themselves by killing infidels and blowing-up Western society. While most Moslems reject this spewing hatred, there are always those lost souls looking for meaning in their worthless lives, and hence, only to eager to follow the dictates of Islamic-Jihadism. There are no easy answers toward resolving this condition, since there seems to be an endless supply of down-and-out, usually poverty-stricken, mostly young men who feel that sacrificing their lives for a cause, no matter how deranged, is preferable to the way they currently live. It would take world leadership in the Moslem community, as well as high-ranking Imams to denounce this spewing hatred of anything Western. This might, perhaps begin to turn the tide of Islamic-Jihadist vitriol. Thus far, however, this type of moderate leadership is not showing up on the horizon.

Of course, speaking of spewing hatred, the U.S. has its own long, rich history of violent hate-mongering. From its earliest days as a series of colonies in the 1600s, Americans believed what a neat idea it would be to enslave an entire race of people based on their skin color. Slavery lasted in the U.S. for about 250 years before it took a costly and deadly Civil War to end this barbaric practice. When the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution gave black people the same rights as everyone else-it proved to be a bridge too far for most whites in this country, especially in the South. A series of Jim Crow segregation laws were quickly enacted through the entire South which forced black people back into a state of semi-slavery. To make matters worse, whites in the South, after the Civil War, formed an organization that came to be known as the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, to deal with those blacks they felt had become “uppity.” Those that had actually sought to exercise their full rights as a U.S. citizen. The Klan dressed themselves in white hoods and costumes and rode through and intimidated black communities. They engaged in cross-burnings, whippings or lynching of blacks based on the perceived severity of their transgressions. Even as late as the 1920s, the KKK had a huge following in the tens or hundreds of thousands, throughout the entire country. The murderous lynchings of blacks in the South continued as late as the 1970s.

Today, despite the belief by many Americans that the Klan has just about disappeared, the KKK is indeed still active throughout most of the U.S. They may not wear white hoods anymore, but they still spew forth a message of deep hatred for blacks and Jews, or for that matter, anyone whose skin-color isn’t pinkish beige. The former Grand Dragon of the KKK, a fellow named David Duke, has come out and publicly stated that any white person that doesn’t support Donald Trump for president is a traitor to his race. The current KKK leadership has formally endorsed Trump’s candidacy, stating that the Donald is their kind of guy. And, as for David Duke, he currently has a radio program based in Louisiana, where he gets to spew his racial, religious, and ethnic hatreds to a large audience, 5 days a week.

When Trump was recently attacking by racial bias, the judge who had the temerity to release the papers involved in the law-suit against that crooked, sham enterprise known as Trump University, he was finally called out by many that had previously stood on the political sidelines throughout Trump’s prior bigoted tirades. Even the Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, stated that Trump’s attack against the judge because of his Mexican heritage, was “a classic case of trickle-down racial bigotry.” Nevertheless, Speaker Ryan stated that he would continue to support Trump for president because they were of the same party. Sort of like selling one’s soul to the company store. Aren’t politics wonderful? Meanwhile, because of all this hatred, more atrocities will likely be coming our way and at a faster pace.

Categories: A malfunctioning psche, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, presidential polls,, Economics, Joe McCarthy, McCarthyism, World War II, Viet-Nam, Anti-Communist Witch Hunts, Army-McCarthy hearings, Islamic Jihadist terrorism, Soviet Union, Red China, politics, Ronald Reagan, the Depression, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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