A Couple of InsignificantStories

truthA remarkably loud silence has underlined two recent reports. With the attention of our “news” minions seemingly inversely proportional to the real import of information these days, we herewith provide some thoughts generated by those reports for your amusement, boredom or as the kids put it, whatever.

In the first of these, the German Finance Minister asked the European Central Bank to begin unwinding its long running easy money policy, a request akin to inviting the happy host of a swinging, late night party to invite the police. The second report told of the decision of the Court of Appeals of Versailles stating that Israel is the legal occupant of the West Bank under international law, dismissing the arguments of the Palestinians.  While appearing legally quite correct, that spits in the faces of some 70 nations trying to hand Israel to the Arabs at a U.N. sponsored meeting just ended in ironically, France.  And none of this is news …

Returning to our first report: Finance Minister Schauble’s request to the ECB took place shortly after the U.S. Federal Reserve Reversed its long standing cheap money policy , raising questions about how far and how fast might be the return to a more normal U.S. economy. Are the Fed and the ECB coordinating?

While showering money onto Europe and the U.S. from helicopters has clearly failed to stimulate significant growth while inflating dangerous bubbles, politicians remember (though school teachers are not allowed to recall) that such monetary policy reversals have produced past market crashes with bank failures and depressions.  Germany’s Merkel is expected to seek her fourth term in office this year, perhaps she is willing to assume that risk. In the U.S, perhaps the political maverick Donald Trump is expected to front the monetary unwinding following his hapless 1928 GOP predecessor Herbert Hoover. Or perhaps planetary history will be made with government economic meddling actually doing good rather than ill. (Bets?)

In Europe, Germany likes to talk financial rectitude but has sat still for “helping” southern European spenders such as Greece. Italy seems next and France follows, Will the hard-working Germans continue to support more carefree southerners?  Is Schauble speaking for political effect, or does he mean what he has asked?  In the U.S. will the Fed keep raising rates under President Trump, or ease off? We cannot know now, but that is probably the most important question of this moment.

After the French Court of Appeals of Versailles decided that Israel is the legal occupant of the West Bank, a group of over 70 U.N. members decided in Paris that Israel must abandon that territory to negotiate the Palestinians (and other Moslem Arabs) into ceasing their endless attacks upon innocent Israelis. Since the “peace” promoted by the U.N. folk would, by shrinking Israel, presently produce more Arabs than Jews there, it seems an unlikely “solution” to those observing from reality. Furthermore, we understand that our President-elect Trump does not favor the U.N. “solution.”  As the Middle East, an anthill poked into frenzy by a U.S. stick, is threatening to destabilize Europe via throngs of migrants fleeing the mayhem, now seems an unproductive moment to impair the only stable, democratic economically productive state in the region.  But we note that politics always trumps economics, not so?

Wrapping all of this, we recall historians pointing to the attempt at the Treaty of (an earlier) Versailles to yoke Germany to the rest of Europe. We note too, the perennially anti-Semitic history of both Europe and to a much lesser extent, its offspring in North America. Add that the Arabs, not the Jews, have all that oil.  And add to all of that, the indubitable fact that in today’s politicized atmosphere, whatever we are told must necessarily serve someone’s political purpose.  Bake all these ingredients in a high temperature oven, then serve. Maybe you will be able to compete with Fox News as Rupert Murdoch’s sons assume command, altering their father’s now outdated views. Or not.

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GLEANINGS FROM THE PASSING SCENE … (Politically Uncorrected)

alfred_e-_neumannThis week’s survivors:

Trump’s U.S. Navy fleet expansion boom at billions of dollars per ship … (Report)  (Federal obligations already exceed $800 ,000 per family.)

The culture: A group beat and robbed an 80 year old man in the Bronx.

A Michigan man was fined $128 for leaving his car running to warm up on his driveway.

The lifestyle: Update on changes looming over our lives. (Article)

The climate: Russian scientists now warn of a new ice age as temps drop to -80 degrees in Russia.

A word to the wise: Norway is shutting down its FM radio services in favor of digital radio.

Chicago: 2016 homicides were 50 more than reported. (Report)

More home sales are failing to complete; the failure rate has doubled to some 3.8%.

Progressives seem to be moving from convenience abortion toward population restrictions?  (Report) (Well, Federal courts already deprive parents of control over their kids’ education …)

Legal rights for robots appear in a European Parliament committee draft proposal. They are to be referred to, should it become law, as “electronic persons.”  (Should we hope that robots will replace European Parliament committeefolk?)

Fiat Chrysler  joins Volkswagen as an emissions cheater, says EPA. (Post-Christian corruption isn’t limited to politicians?)

U.S. deportations hit a 43 year low point.  (Report)

NSA surveillance will be more widely shared among government agencies under a new presidential directive. (What ONE person knows can be a secret …)

The federal Justice Department is investigating the actions of the FBI and Justice Department during the presidential campaign, apparently searching for inappropriate political motives. (Spy vs Spy?)

Are Obama/Trump more alike on trade than they say?  Obama clamps on China. (Report)

A new aircraft carrier will soon join the US Navy, over a year late and likely overpriced too. (A costly target for today’s missile submarines)

Total California state plus local debt is $1.3 Trillion. (Report) And taxpayers are departing.  (About $33,000 per each man, woman and child  Add that to their share of Federal debt …)

European Union legislators called for a universal basic income to deal with job loss to robots. (Do they expect the robots to pay the necessary taxes?)

The culture: Graduates of Jesuit colleges serving in Congress are overwhelmingly pro-abortion. (Report)

Inauguration protests: (The Left  accepts only elections they win?  Democrats  against democracy?)

California’s high speed train is heading to big cost overruns. (Duh … Government is involved)

The millennial generation earns 20% less than its baby boomer forebears at their ages? (Report)

Dead people redeemed over $2B in food stamp benefits, the Inspector General reported.

A naked Seattle man attacked cars and buildings until he was arrested.

And that ought to be enough for one week …

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alfred_e-_neumannThe week that was:

Washington Post “Fake Jews” of Russian hack fell apart … (Report)

 A drunken airline pilot was arrested in Canada after fainting in the cockpit.  There were 99 passengers aboard … (Hmnn … How does an alcoholic pilot differ from a jihadi suicide bomber?)

China is considering “strong measures” re Taiwan. (Report)  (As the U.S. withdraws from policing the world, bad boys come out to play …)

California opens 2017 with increased business labor costs. (And 900 brand new laws, too)

Retail store closures will come with the new  year? (Report)  (As the ‘recovery’ continues)

The war on cash: Millions of British pound coins will be worthless shortly.

5 cases where the government did wrong. (Article)

Illinois owes $11 of unpaid bills, most long overdue. (Keeping the unions happy?)

A leaked audio of Secretary of State Kerry revealed that President Obama deliberately allowed the rise of ISIS? (Report)

Legalizing child prostitution will result from a California Senate bill? Report)

India’s war on cash  is causing chaos? (Report)

Finland will test ‘guaranteed income’ by paying 2,000 citizens $586 monthly for two years, regardless of wealth/employment status. (Prediction: 2,000  more welfare recipients and enough higher taxes to pay them.))

The internet: 2016 brought censorship, snooping and other attacks likely to increase … (Report)

The war on cash: Washington is behind India’s destructive attack on cash? (Report)

New York’s Governor Cuomo (D) proposed free college tuition for children of households warning under $125,000 annually. (No mention of how it could be funded)

The war on cash: Greece will accept only credit /debit card tax payments? (Report)

Finance warning: What will happen to the $52 T of world debt denominated in dollars if the Federal Reserve significantly raises interest rates this year?  (Hint: Do you want to buy bonds now when you know that later ones will earn more interest?)

The climate: Ocean islands, contrary to alarms, are not sinking. (Article)

U.S. debt rose $1,054,647,941,626 in 2016 … (Report) (Thank the GOP-led Congress)

Russia: Puts missiles on its Lithuanian border; U.S. puts special forces in Lithuania. (Google: Cuban missile crisis)

The culture: A student, (14) was criminally charged after posting a racial slur of a classmate on Snapchat. (Juvenile behavior has become a crime?)

Bedbug cities: Baltimore 1, Washington D.C. 2 per Orkin  list. (Report)

Uber faces 2 lawsuits from New York women alleging frightening rides.  (Never occurs in taxis, right?)

Philadelphia: Sugary drink tax shock as city hits wallets “for the good of stomachs.”

Global debt has reached over 3 times the global GDP? (Report)  (How invest in growth when all your income is pledged to repay debt?)

The war on charter schools: How Detroit condemned kids tossed from closing schools to lower rated survivors. (Report)

Trump’s new trade appointee is no fan of free trade? (Report)  (Well, nor is Trump, if he wants tariffs)

An engine fell off an Air Force B 52 in flight. (Report)

Destabilizing demographics around the world : A Sword  of Damocles over future peace? (Article)  (Shrinking populations  will magnify economic decline)

The culture? A Charlotte pastor was arrested for 9 armed business robberies.

Non-working Americans numbers have returned to those of the housewife era. (Report) (Up 18% under Obama, but though he lies about it, he didn’t cause it … nor has he tried to fix it.) (Opinion)

The British economy seems better, not worse after vote to leave the European Union. (Report) (Oops …)

The climate culture: A leading climatologist resigned from Georgia Tech in refusal to support man made climate change.

Trump’s border wall: Cost $12 – $38 billion. (Report)  (An empty political gesture –  it’s enforcement that matters!) (Opinion)

Control of elections a new Federal target? States worry that Feds’ “help” with election security will impose supervision. (Report)

Turkey fires 8,000 in continued purge of opposition supporters …(Report)

The culture: “There is no future in history.”  (Article)   (A historian warns us of our future)

A naked woman was arrested after crashing a car during a police chase.

And so was the week.

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Tweeting Presidents, Digital Government anda Paper Constitution

trrump-tweetsWill historians mark Barack H. Obama as the first post Constitutional president of the United States? We must await those historians’ judgements, but there are plenty of clues.

President Obama, in place of largely disappearing into the White House like most of his predecessors, has been aided by doting media in extending his high visibility campaigning as a governance tool for managing Congress and the people. His NSA and FBI snoop our internet and cell phones. The Obama Justice Department has entered local community relations and assumed oversight of local policing. Thanks to satellite networks, military commanders in the field seemingly require White House permission for bathroom breaks. Drone assassinations and U.S. military missions conducted inside other countries at presidential order have become business as usual and President Obama’s use of executive orders has been compared to ruling by decree, with minimal resistance from courts or Congress. His agencies massively regulate the details of business and of private life while his agents appear regularly in court to force new moral and social behaviors onto reluctant organizations or citizens. Though the Constitution still limits presidential power, societal changes, technical innovation and of course, human ambition may be making a hands-on ruler of an officer originally intended to preside. None may honestly deny the growth of economic and behavioral control exerted by the U.S. government, presciently predicted in 1835 by Alexis de Tocqueville. When we expand the power of the government bus, how do we restrain the bus driver? Perhaps that underlies the historical succession of successful democracies into empires?

The seed of executive aggrandizement has always been present; the Founders worried about it. They wanted no kings in the United States; their careful enumeration/separation of powers in the Constitution was aimed at holding off such a development. However, Founder John Adams wrote that the new Constitution was suitable only for a moral and religious people and Benjamin Franklin wondered in public whether Americans could keep it. It has been clear since the Supreme Court appointed itself arbiter of the Constitution in 1803 that Constitutional limits would only delay, not withstand sustained popular will or sustained, determined government.

The current attacks on the Electoral College, a key determinant for equitable government, would probably surprise few of the Founding Fathers. While they could not predict the female contraceptive pill or the internet impacts on society and government, they knew human nature better than we appear to understand it. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” is their warning; that it has fallen on deaf ears would probably not surprise them.

President Obama, in addition to installing a permanent campaign as a governing mode, has deviated from most of his recent predecessors’ poses as the presidents of all the Americans; his presidency has been more parochial than that. His Internal Revenue Service discriminates against Tea Party groups and his law enforcement agencies see threats on the political right more easily than on the left, ably reinforced by the major media. The CIA is accused of presidential election interference via its heavily debated reports of Russian hacking, a follow-on to a suspiciously timed FBI announcement re Clinton e-mails with likely election effects. Though serving different aims, both of these suggest government election meddling.

Recently, the Obama Administration joined with major internet providers in an effort to defund “fake news,” a program that while too new to condemn outright, smells like political censorship. “Fake news” is being attributed to the “alt-right,” a new political term intended to suggest extremism that may in fact be applied to any right wing source of which the political Left has not approved. Most of the major media are in sync. For those who enjoy irony, we may be seeing the greatest proliferation of information ever contemplated, subjected to the most detailed political censorship ever conceived, courtesy of the same new technology.

President-elect Trump seems to be building upon President Obama’s amplified presidential model, even enlarging perennial public presence. The media have replaced much news with endless discussion, pro and con, of Trumpian doings and sayings plus reruns of his public performances. The erstwhile “news” media outlets are becoming Trump Temples, albeit staffed with more detractors than adherents at the moment. While this Trump opera inundates the public stage, the President-elect generates a storm of tweets and posts in addition to it. He is, should he continue this fandango after next January 20th, about to be the perennially public President, a permanent pitchman on full time display in every home and venue. Theodore Roosevelt’s “bully pulpit” was a very modest ancestor; P.T. Barnum would bow in envy of superior promotion and showmanship. Demagogues are hardly novel but the scale and persistence of this one might redefine the term and reallocate government power in the United States.

Another possible indicator: The President de facto is wielding power comparable to that of the President de jure. Our President-elect is, while awaiting inauguration, strong-arming manufacturers into producing domestically instead of abroad, luring Chinese manufacturers to build U.S. factories, influencing Obama Administration regulators to hold off regulations and even negotiating with foreign leaders. By appearances at least, Donald Trump is doing as much U.S. governing as Barack Obama. Such is the power of Promoted, Perennial Public Presence. Congress, unaccustomed to its present eclipse, has had trouble holding its own with President Obama. How will it deal with Trump?

For those who like jokers in their games, we can add Trump’s comparative isolation from not only the opposing Democrats but from the GOP establishment too. Will he cozy up to one of the parties or play them off against each other? Will the parties come together to quash too strong a President? Stay tuned; this show seems destined to play for a while. And it may reshape U.S. government.  Or not, of course. Place your bets …

Perhaps all this just says that the U.S. Constitution is obsolete? It tried and failed to use the states to limit Federal power. It tried and failed to limit Federal spending by restricting Federal access to funding. It was conceived to protect the people when their delegated power was exercised far from their ken; news filtered out slowly.  But today, this morning’s Washington doings are tonight’s news. Well, until Trump replaced the reporters…. Now, Trump may tweet the news as it happens. Or not …

The Constitution is obsolete, even as amended; Americans aren’t the same sort of people for whom it was written nor do today’s conditions match those of yesteryear. But the principles embodied in it are tied to unchanged human nature, as valid today as ever. Opening the document to formal revision risks alterations subject to destructive agendas put forward for self-interests, a grave risk indeed given an uninformed and uninterested public. The American experiment is ongoing and moving into less charted seas as well, but still the United States remains the destination of choice for the world’s refugees and aspirants to success. That is a lot to risk for the sake of updating a document.

On the other hand, looking at those we have chosen to lead us, the matter may be moot. If President Obama is thought to take lightly the Constitutional limits of his power, how should we look at President-elect Trump, who has begun the exercise of presidential powers without bothering with the Constitutional detail of a swearing-in?

Perhaps the U.S. Constitution is less protection today than the popular image of it in the public mind; perhaps it is mostly the fact of recurring elections that protects us. That is not a novel view. If it is a correct view, the new presidential paradigm initiated by Barack Obama and under expansion by Donald Trump is not reassuring. U.S. elections are becoming suspect and the new model presidency channels the ancient process by which the Roman Senate gave way to Caesar….

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GLEANINGS FROM THE PASSING SCENE … (Politically Uncorredted)

alfred_e-_neumannNewsbits  of the week:

Chicago’s Merry Christmas: Only 7 dead, 27 shot. Weekend: Over 60 shot, 11 dead.

Trump takes reins early, at home and abroad (Report) (Will Congress cope?)

The war on cash: 2017 will be ground zero. (Opinion) (Governments asserting control over personal finances)

The culture: Fights broke out at malls across the U.S. (“Wilding” teens)

The U.S. government legally snoops Facebook etc.; your data are not private. (Report)

China: To tempt tourists with toilets?  (Will the unholy hole be wholly replaced?)

Cities attack Airbnb  to protect hotels like they attack Uber to protect taxi operators. (And like Trump aims to attack imports via tariffs.)  Hotels lose customers to Airbnb. (Buying a politician is cheaper and easier than competing?)

Uber drivers in Philadelphia are suing for minimum wages, joining California in claiming that they are employees, not independent contractors.  (The Yellow Cab Empire strikes back)

Argentina: Ex-president Fernandez was indicted on corruption charges. (Did Russia hack her e-mails?)

California pension payments to retirees are being reduced for the first time in 85 years. (Faint first sucking sound from the direction of reality)

The climate: 48 states to drop below freezing next week. Claim:100% of U.S. “warming” results from NOAA (government) are data manipulation.

Pursuit of the Clinton e-mails will be a Trump Administration decision per a Federal Court of Appeals. (Place your bets …)

Trump is a “con artist and would be dictator” per billionaire George Soros?  (Article)  (Hmnn … How will they keep Trump alive for 4 years?)

Minimum wage increases appear in 19 states. (Where will the new money come from?)

A San Diego woman was arrested for shooting at neighbors while topless. (And it wasn’t at a strip mall)

Obama released 1,853 new federal regulations. (Making sure Trump has enough work)

The climate: The “coldest snap in 15 years” is predicted for the U.S.

A mummified human body surprised a touring homebuyer in Detroit. (Included in the sale price?)

Barack Obama plans to become the anti-‘president’ from January 20th. (His perpetual campaign to continue?)

Government legal notices: Should they still be published in newspaper classified advertising? (Costly)

Turkey jailed an American reporter from the Wall Street Journal incommunicado for 3 days as its crackdown on news media continues. (Sinking toward Islamic dictatorship)

New oil drilling tech might greatly expand U.S. oil reserves and increase production. (How will the anti-energy enviros interfere?)

The polls are corrupt? (Article) (No, no … it’s just politicians and alt-right fake newsfolk, right?)

Is Trump an establishment decoy? (Article) (Well, it’s a reasonable view … and it would make keeping him live easier)

A naked man was seen jumping on cars along a Florida highway.

And may we all find something happy in the news of the new year …

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But the Electoral College Isn’t Democratic!(No, it’s only Fair …)

'Does the electoral college have a football team?'Let us, discussing the current attack on the Electoral College, first notice whence it comes. It proceeds from those who lost the election. In the present, that is the political Left. Forgive us if we believe that, had it won the election instead, the same political Left would be stanchly defending the Electoral College.  You may color us cynical.

Proceeding from there, why do we have the Electoral College? Well, why do we elect Congressfolk by districts instead of by national vote? Obviously because a national vote would provide Congressfolk set to fulfill the wishes of Los Angeles and New York, the largest sources of votes. That would leave some 99% of the U.S. real estate with little influence; the two cities would impose their sensibilities upon the rest of the country. Bullies, they would become. So to avoid that, we elect Congressfolk from local districts whose interests they represent.

The Electoral College assures that those districts are also represented in selecting the President. How can you expect the voters of Iowa, Arizona, Oklahoma and Alaska to follow a president elected by only two cities? Especially when that president is trying to deal with war, depression or some other unpleasant reality? If the president wishes to enjoy legitimacy, he/she/it must at least appear to represent all the people, not just a couple of big city liberal populations. The Founders saw that and gave us the Electoral College to provide it. If you want pure democracy, you shouldn’t have states either, right?

Thanks to the Electoral College, presidential candidates have to convince voters from Idaho, Hawaii and West Virginia as well as those from California and New York. A couple of populous bullies can’t run the country by themselves. The Founders knew what they were doing. Deo gratias!

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GLEANINGS FROM THE PASSING SCENE … (Politically Uncorrected)

alfred_e-_neumannFrom Christmas week, to you:

Boston Climate: Coldest December 16th in 133 years … (Report) (Hmnn …)

Electoral College besieged: Thousands demanding electors vote against Trump. (Entitlement rampant)

The culture: An Oregon resident received court permission to change his/her/its gender to: “non binary” (Report) (Question: Did the judge have jurisdiction over genes?)

Guilty! The Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was found guilty of criminal negligence in the use of public funds back when she was France’s Finance Minister.  She left France before the verdict was announced; no punishment was imposed. (We guess that IMF Director ranks below being Hillary Clinton.)

Illegal aliens: November average apprehensions on the Mexican border were 1,475 daily. (Report)  (How many weren’t apprehended?)

Gun sales exploded in California to beat a new law forbidding quickly changeable magazines for semi-automatic rifles. (Guess a lot of folks got a bang out of it)

The climate: Snowplow drivers were stuck in -65 degree. The Sahara is seeing snow for the first time in 37 years.

The culture: A middle school girl was suspended for possession of a butterknife with her lunch.

Chicago’s surging murder rate (Article)

The Obamafolk fired a top scientist to advance their climate change agenda. (Report) (If the science isn’t “settled,” the scientist can be …)

Ex President Obama will create unrest during the Trump presidency, per Rush Limbaugh. (Report) (If so, it will be a new paradigm for retired presidents.)

The culture: An 8 year old girl was shot in a road rage incident.

The U.S. interferes in elections of other countries routinely…. (Report)

Red meat is GOOD for blood pressure (Report) (Are wine and chocolate good or bad this week?)

Science: Earth’s core has a ‘jet stream’ of molten iron deep inside.  (Will General Drayson return to say: “I told you so!”)

A U.S. government push aims at lessening privacy. (Report) (Haven’t the NSS, the internet and drones already accomplished that?)

Facebook’s new ‘fact checker’ seems questionable? (Report) (Who checks the checkers …)

Will Trump be killed?  (Article by Nobel Laureate Economist)

College has become a scam? (Article) Retiring Baby Boomers social security checks are being garnished to repay student debt? (Report)

A Chinese manufacturer opened a U.S. factory over high costs in China …

California’s birth rate hit its historically lowest level. (TJAT can’t be all bad …)

Uber shuts down its San Francisco self driving cars under city pressure. (Think: If taxifolk hate Uber for replacing them, how do taxifolk plus Uber drivers feel about self-driving cars?) An Arizona welcome instead?

Christians treat Muslims harshly in the Middle East per a New Jersey middle School’s history course? (Report) (Not quite as we have heard it …)

The culture: A cheesecake factory restaurant expelled several police officers from the restaurant because they carried guns. (Report)

A European supervolcano  near Naplesis making some volcanologists nervous. (Report)

Egypt scuttled UN anti-Israel vote at Trump’s requiest. (But Obama pushed it through.)

Broadcasters are shifting programming strategies in the Trump age …  (Report)  (Translation: Same old, same old)

“The electoral college is unconstitutional” per the Los Angeles Times. (Do the Supremes read the LA times?)

Police’s secret cellphone snooper can also block calls? (Report)

Illegals find good jobs, not just work that “Americans won’t do.”(Shush …)

Ex White House economist: “94% of Obama’s new jobs are part time” (Report) (We have doubts)

Climate Change: A Princeton physics professor has discredited the human-caused climate change theory. (Report)(If nothing else, we may assume that he has tenure, right?)

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff and the Great Depression (Article) )For those interested in Economics and Trump’s new tariff policies)

Turkey: 1,656 social media users have been arrested since summer for their posts on the internet.

Science: The earliest Americans were already present when folks arrived over the Bering sea land bridge. (Report)

Expanding nuclear war into space will now be one Obama legacy. (Report) He signed a new bipartisan bill removing restrictions on weaponizing space. (The story won’t tell you, but Russia and China are already working on it)

Formal U.S. government propaganda/censorship  programs became law with President Obama’s signature. (Report) (Will we hear when internet sites disappear?)

California bolstered its overpromised pension fund.  (Report) (Too little, too late?)

A man wearing only socks was picked up by deputies on the road in 30 degree weather.

And that’s all, folks … Merry Christmas!

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