Rick Lucke’s Guest Column!


Rick Lucke‘s Guest Column!

Fellow Blogger Rick Lucke has written a long comment which I have posted here. He’s got some good thoughts and I want to share them with all my readers.  jp

I’m not sure which part of my comment is unclear. I’ll expand a little on the individual points.

“…we have a system that betrays the concept of democracy, it undermines the concept of one-person-one-vote, and shreds the concept of majority rule.”

The concept of “democracy” is undermined by the fact that the candidate who wins the office does not often win a “majority” of votes, as we’ve seen once again in 2016. As a result, the democratic concept of one-person-one-vote is virtually neutralized by a system that not only nullifies so many votes, but also discourages so many from bothering themselves to vote. This is accomplished through the Electoral College system as well as through approaches like “closed primaries” in which only registered members of “the party” are allowed to vote to nominate a candidate, which reduces the process to a matter of something like “club membership”. The concept of political parties and factions was recognized even by the Founders as a problem and many were opposed to the idea.

Then there is the problem of “big money in politics”. The impact of big money is manifold and undeniable, despite not necessarily guaranteeing election victory.

“… this system that effectively allows the majority to be oppressed by the minority is a complete travesty.”

As we watch Trump make cabinet appointments which are in clear opposition to the majority views of various issues, we see the majority becoming oppressed by the minority. This is in direct opposition to the concept of democracy and to the protections against that oppression that the Founders attempted to provide.

“…the Democratic National Committee’s corrupt nature was exposed …”

The revelations during the Democratic primary campaign of the DNC’s clear bias in favor of one candidate over the other was, in my view, a definite strike against not only the Democrat Party, but also their preordained candidate of choice. Even as Bernie Sanders consistently drew considerably larger crowds at his rallies and was shown in virtually every poll to have a far better likelihood to defeat Trump and Clinton was shown to be more likely to lose than Sanders would be, the DNC continued to undermine Sanders and his supporters, along with the major network media outlets that seemingly did everything they could to ignore Sanders’ campaign successes.

“…neither major party candidate was qualified …”

Trump presented as an ill-informed dolt with no clear plan for governing and who, according to the former communications director of Trump’s now-defunct Super PAC, was never serious about becoming president but was, instead, merely running as a “protest candidate”. Consider the following:
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In an open letter to voters supporting Donald Trump in the Republican presidential primary, the former communications director of Trump’s now-defunct Super PAC said that the former reality television star not only never expected to be the Republican nominee, much less president, but never even wanted to be.

Writing for the website xojane.com, Stephanie Cegielski said that when she was brought aboard as communications director for the Make America Great Again PAC last summer, the instructions from Trump Tower were to make sure that Trump finished a respectable second in the GOP primary. It was made clear that Trump was running not as a serious contender, but as a “protest” candidate.

“I don’t think even Trump thought he would get this far,” she wrote. “And I don’t even know that he wanted to, which is perhaps the scariest prospect of all.
http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2016/03/28/Ex-Trump-Insider-Donald-Doesn-t-Want-Be-President

The “open letter” she wrote can be found here:
http://www.xojane.com/issues/stephanie-cegielski-donald-trump-campaign-defector
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Hillary Clinton’s record of being on the wrong side of virtually every issue she ever voted on or spoke in support of and then later changing her rhetoric when it suited her or evading some issues altogether prove her to be one of the worst candidates the Democrats have ever nominated. Of course, that statement depends on whether or not a person agrees with the progressive agenda Bernie Sanders presented, which Clinton began referencing after she noticed the success Sanders was having with voters.

That sort of waffling and evasionary tactics do not impart a sense of trust, thus she lost many voters from within and from outside the party. Another aspect related to undermining a sense of trust of the Democratic Primary that discouraged many from supporting Clinton was the pledging of support for Clinton by the party electors before the primary election process had taken effect.

In the end, it seems the only voters who viewed either candidate as worthy of the office were voters who were either religiously faithful to party name, Democrat or Republican, or voters who were too ill-informed to realize the lack of qualifications most of us would expect in a presidential candidate, not to mention the loss of integrity of the entire process. I see this election as a major turning point in American society – what it means for our future is impossible to know at this point.

Dangerous Neoliberalism Edition


Dangerous Neoliberalism Edition

Sometimes you find a paragraph that says what you would like to say brilliantly and this is one of those paragraphs.

Many times I’ve tried to explain the impact of free market fundamentalism, Hayek, Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand, all of whose combined effect might well be summed up by the word, neoliberalism.

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Dangerous Neoliberalism Edition

I strongly agree and endorse the following statement from George Monbiot in his essay from The GuardianNeoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems.

“Perhaps the most dangerous impact of neoliberalism is not the economic crises it has caused, but the political crisis. As the domain of the state is reduced, our ability to change the course of our lives through voting also contracts. Instead, neoliberal theory asserts, people can exercise choice through spending. But some have more to spend than others: in the great consumer or shareholder democracy, votes are not equally distributed. The result is a disempowerment of the poor and middle. As parties of the right and former left adopt similar neoliberal policies, disempowerment turns to disenfranchisement. Large numbers of people have been shed from politics.”

I think Donald Trump is President now due in part to feelings of powerlessness on the part of the middle class due to their loss of economic and political power — and much more due to Hilary Clinton’s embrace of this maniacal philosophy more worthy of a James Bond Villain than someone wanting to be the leader of a free people.

James Pilant

Business Ethics Links 8-5-2016 Sizes are random numbers edition.


Sizes are random numbers edition (For women, anyway.) 

Today we discover the women’s clothes sizes are virtually random numbers surely a business ethics problem if ever there was one. Denying women the most basic information about what they buy is a wrong that takes money out of women’s pockets every single day. 

If Donald Trump were elected he could use nuclear weapons on his own authority. If suffering from a concussion, get rest – do not resume sports immediately. And Congress fails in its duty one more time. 

James Pilant

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Sizes are random numbers edition

The sizes on women’s clothes are random numbers.

“Vanity sizing was done as a marketing tool. I don’t think it’s done as a marketing tool anymore. I think it’s done because the women are getting bigger, and we’re just addressing that,” said Lynn Boorady, chair of the fashion and textile technology department at SUNY Buffalo State, in the video. “The original sizing charts never had sizes 0 and 2. Now we select sizes 0 and 2 because the sizes are getting smaller and smaller and we’re getting larger and larger but we’re also adding at the other end.”

Yes, if he were President, Donald Trump could use nuclear weapons 

If the United States appeared to be under nuclear assault, the president would have minutes to decide whether the threat was real, and to fire as many as 925 nuclear warheads with a destructive force greater than 17,000 Hiroshima bombs, according to estimates by Hans M. Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, a private group in Washington.

 The commander in chief can also order the first use of nuclear weapons even if the United States is not under nuclear attack.

“There’s no veto once the president has ordered a strike,” said Franklin C. Miller, a nuclear specialist who held White House and Defense Department posts for 31 years before leaving government service in 2005. “The president and only the president has the authority to order the use of nuclear weapons.”

Don’t continue playing after a concussion!

But if I had known that continuing to play the same day after hitting my head could have done so much damage, I would not have pushed myself. Now that the information about concussions is available, there are more ways to manage the symptoms once they arise. Coaches and athletic trainers are more aware of the negative effects of a single hit to the head, and most of the time, they won’t allow their athlete back onto the playing field. There are preventative measures that youth sports are taking, such as requiring softball pitchers to wear face masks and soccer players to wear padded headbands.

Is congressional concern over a possible ban of the confederate flag stopping action on the Zika virus? 

President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion in February to deal with the impending outbreak of Zika in the United States. Congress finally began working on the request in May, with the Senate passing a bipartisan compromise that was about $800 million short.

The bill got tanked in a partisan squabble last month afterRepublicans decided to add in contraception restrictions, a pro-Confederate flag provision, extra cuts to Obamacare, and a measure to exempt pesticides from the Clean Water Act, even though those pesticides don’t target Zika-carrying mosquitoes.

They then departed for a seven-week break while sending a sternly worded letter to Obama, saying he should take aggressive action to battle Zika using the $589 million the administration transferred from other programs, taken primarily from the ongoing Ebola response. GOP lawmakers have also complained recently that the money is not being spent quickly enough, with nearly two-thirds still available.

Is Data Our Problem?? (This is an interesting take on modern politics – I recommend careful reading. This is a good one.) 

In this year’s election cycle, the restless, anti-establishment anger is palpable, and shared by voters on the left who felt the Bern and on the right who love the Donald. Both are animated by a conviction that the moneyed class and corporations have hijacked our democracy. Emerging from their conventions, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will vie to win over these disaffected voters. Right now, both candidates are missing a potent opportunity to publicly recognize that it is not only money producing outsized influence in our democratic system. It is data.

Congress failed to act on the Zika virus (Yes, this is another article on the same subject – I have a lot of anger on this topic. A deadly virus that also causes birth defects is predicted to enter the United States and our congressional response was an extra long vacation. Yes, they did pass a bill to fight the Zika virus — it also defunded parts of Obamacare, defunded Planned Parenthood, protected the confederate flag and removed regulations from some pesticides. Apparently holding the lives of Americans hostage is good politics.) 

Irresponsibility of this kind should outrage the nation, but our stores of outrage are largely spent. Members of the House and Senate turn every issue into partisan Kabuki theater — a ritual performance of ideological difference in which real-world problems are never solved. And so the status of 11 million undocumented immigrants goes unaddressed. Crumbling bridges and roads remain unrepaired. Social Security and other entitlements go unreformed. A proposal to prevent people on terrorist watch lists from buying firearms dies in committee. The Zika battle is starved of funding. On and on it goes, even as these public servants spend much of their time fundraising for their next re-election campaign. When Donald Trump supporters are asked why they support someone so rude and reckless, they say, “Washington is broken. We need someone who’s a little crazy to shake it up.” Even if their choice of medicine is questionable, you can’t argue with the diagnosis.

How dirty is the water at the Olympics?

Absolutely filthy. A cleanup was promised ahead of the Games, but the state government spent only $170 million of a pledged $4 billion on the effort, citing a budget crisis. Surf still churns with sludge, and garbage floats freely; in many places, raw sewage flows directly into the streams and rivers that feed Olympic sites. “Foreign athletes will literally be swimming in human crap,” Dr. Daniel Becker, a Rio pediatrician, told The New York Times. The Associated Press found dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria in the waters. In some cases, the virus loads were up to 1.7 million times the level considered hazardous on a Southern California beach. The U.S. rowing team will wear seamless double-layered unisuits made with antimicrobial material to help protect them from the contaminated water.

Hilary opens up a 15% lead

Clinton opened up a 15-point margin in theMcClatchy-Marist survey, 48% to 33%, which was conducted as Trump feuded publicly first with the Muslim parents of a slain American war hero and then House Speaker Paul Ryan, one of the GOP’s most popular and powerful figures.
Last month, Clinton held a narrow 3-point advantage, 42%-39% in a McClatchy-Marist poll.
In an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, Clinton’s edge is 9 points (47% to 38%), cushioning what was a 5-point advantage in early July. A CNN/ORC poll this week showed Clinton with a similar 9-point edge over Trump nationally.
Fennell’s organization urges parents and caretakers to read its safety tips, which include looking in the back seat each time you get out of the car and putting something you need in your back seat — a cell phone, handbag, employee ID or briefcase — to ensure that you check.
KidsAndCars also suggests leaving a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat and then placing the stuffed animal in the passenger seat as a visual reminder to remove the child when he or she is in the car seat in the back.

Since oil prices began to fall in mid-2014, cheap crude has been blamed for 195,000 job cuts in the U.S., according to a report published on Thursday by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

It’s an enormous toll that is especially painful because these tend to be well-paying jobs. The average pay in the oil and gas industry is 84% higher than the national average, according to Goldman Sachs. The cuts have occurred at a time when many other corners of the American economy have been adding jobs.

A police officer in southern Virginia was convicted of manslaughter and jurors recommended a sentence of two and a half years in prison on Thursday for his fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old during a confrontation over a suspected shoplifting.