Wednesday, November 30, 2016

This Century-Old Article Recalls the Connection between Fair Wages and Freedom

by Nomad

Over a hundred years, this progressive essayist from asked a vital question: Can there be any meaning of the word "freedom" without economic independence?

A Voice from the Past

In many ways, the following essay about the vital importance of a living wage- as the first step to all progress for a nation- could have been written last month. In fact, it's well over a hundred years old. 
Journalist and novelist, David Graham Phillips published this article in The Arena in 1909, two years before his shocking murder in the streets of downtown Manhattan.
His phrase "the politicians of privilege" is an eerie reminder that progressives have fought  this battle before.

Economic Independence, the Basis of Freedom

It is true that we are a free people in name only. It is true that, in fact, we are no freer than if we had a king over us and a powerful nobility. But it is also true that our possession of the power of freedom, of the political machinery of freedom, makes us better off than if we still had that first step to take. If we were on our way down, this would not be so, but we are on our way up.

Freedom does not come from without, but from within. It is, first of all, a state of mind, an attitude of thought. We used to have more actual freedom than we have now, but it was a freedom insecurely based and it was swept away. 

It was insecurely based because it was merely a sentiment. We did not understand what freedom meant; we did not understand how to keep it; we did not understand that it had a practical value of the highest kind and was not a beautiful ideal only.

We did not understand that freedom meant a better house to live in, better clothes for our families, better food on the table, more leisure for amusement and improvement, more money in our pockets, better education and better prospects for our children. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Secret of Putin's Political Longevity? Old Soviet Wine in New Russian Bottles

by Nomad

Vladimir Putin

A St. Petersburg professor asks the question a lot of people have been wondering: How long will President Putin be able to hold onto power?

The Real Reason why Putin is Still Around

Professor of the Department of Economics at the European University in St. Petersburg, Dmitry Travinpoints out in an article for The Moscow Times, that, even though the corruption of the ruling authorities is "too obvious for thinking people to hold out any hope of progress" the Russian authorities have been effective at suppressing (or at least, discouraging) mass protests.
It would appear, Travin postulates, that Putin's expiry date will come when he himself sets the date.

But why? What could account for Putin's political longevity, which in modern Russia is the only measurement of success? 
The answer is something that many Americans long accustomed to a certain degree of political tranquility, (at least until recently) tend to overlook: stability.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sanity Break: Van Gogh Marbling

by Nomad

Where this technique of using oil paints on water has long been debated. Some claim it began in China around the late 900s. It is often called a "Turkish" art mainly because Istanbul was the place many Europeans first encountered it. The technique was greatly developed in Safavid Persia and Ottoman Turkish periods. 

Today the fine art of marbling is widely known as ebru and this tradition, requiring a steady hand and years of practice, continues to be very popular.

Here the artist uses the technique to re-create the works of impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Donald Trump and the Selling of Mitt Romney's Soul

by Nomad

Well, that certainly didn't take long, did it?

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was the one defiant anti-Trump voice in the Republican Party. He was one of the only people in the Republican Party that stood up against the Trump campaign. It seemed as though the 2012 Republican presidential candidate really did have some backbone after all. 

I had come to believe that Romney was a weak sort, always craving to be liked or at least, respected. Hence the reason for his constant flip-flopping during his campaign against Obama.

In recent months, though, I began to question my opinion about Romney. Maybe I had been all wrong about Romney.
Even though Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Romney in 2012, Mitt Romney made it clear about a year ago what he really thought. Trump was totally unsuitable to be president. Romney caught a lot of media attention- and came under fire by the Republican party- for calling Trump “a fraud” and “a phony.”

Showing real character, he certainly didn't stop there. Romney's other comments were both painfully sharp and deadly accurate.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Trump's Nepotism? It's Just Business as Usual in the Swamp of Washington

by Nomad

Family Trump

Almost as soon as Trump was declared the winner of the 2016 election, allegations of family favoritism began to emerge. Here's why the charges of nepotism are probably not going to go away but also not going to matter.

Many of us have looked upon the first weeks of the approaching Trump presidency with a great deal of concern. Laws which were once well-recognized  are shrugged off. Things that were once prohibited have apparently been abandoned. The notion that president-elect would not do all in his power to avoid conflicts of interest now seems, for some reason, to be an archaic idea. It is now enough for Trump to make an imaginary blind trust in which his sons and daughter to run.

Nepotism as a Privileged Birthright

Another law that Trump is openly flaunting is the prohibition against nepotism, the hiring of relatives. You might ask why nepotism is considered a criminal offense when it is so routinely practiced in the business world. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Want to Be an Official Trumpling? Get Ready for Some Mind-blowing Hypocrisy

by Nomad

Following the nation-shattering victory of Donald Trump in the 2016- I never dreamt I would be typing those words- the transfer of power is now underway.
Already it has become obvious that we are soon going to be living in an upside and ridiculous world where nothing makes sense. The hypocrisy will be institutionalized and the contradictions will be impossible to ignore. 
This one, taken directly from his transition team page, is no doubt only the first splash of a coming flood.

Remedied by Divestiture

There's a web page for any patriot American who might be   thinking about serving in the new Trump administration. That page provides information regarding the application process and instructions.
A full FBI background check in which an applicants history of employment, personal, travel, medical, financial, legal, military and education background will likely take.
Consideration is taken for possible conflicts of interest. Financial holdings and sources of income must be disclosed. Any conflicts must be remedied by divestiture, the creation of special trusts, and other actions.
When it comes to conflicts of interest, Trump has simply ignored the problem. Just this week, his own daughter accompanied him on an official meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Why One Group's Stand on the Muslim Registry Should Make Every Jewish American Proud

by Nomad

Trump's campaign promises are making life nightmarish for his transition team. Last week, his plan to implement a Muslim registry created a storm of protest across social media and organizations. In a show of solidarity, the leader of a Jewish defense organization gave his defiant response to Trump's outlandish proposal.

Theodore Roosevelt once said that America would not be a good place for any of us to live in "unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in." 
We can assume by that, Teddy meant a good place for all races, religions, party affiliation and class. 
That noble idea is likely to be put to the test under President Trump. It's quickly becoming apparent that his campaign tactic of dividing the nation may also become Trump's strategy for governing the country. 

Muslim Registry Backpeddling

Last week, President-elect Donald Trump's team found itself in yet another tight corner when asked about a proposed registry of American Muslim. Jason Miller, Communications Director of the Presidential Transition Team explained:
“President-elect Trump has never advocated for any registry or system that tracks individuals based on their religion, and to imply otherwise is completely false."
That's not quite true.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Wall-to-Wall Absurdity of Trump's Folly

by Nomad


If President-elect Trump has his way, he will leave as his legacy one of the most embarrassing and expensive monuments to one man's vanity in American history. The Wall, otherwise known as "Trump's Folly."

The Folly of Donald Trump

In the 19th century, when some self-important character became transfixed by a foolish notion, the public would name it after him by calling it his "folly." It was a way of bringing home the public shame to a personal level. To use modern parlance, the fool would be made to "own" his act of stupidity.

President-elect Donald Trump has, for quite some time, been obsessed with his own particular folly- the building of a monumental wall between Mexico and the US, as a means of stopping the flow of illegal immigrants.   
"This will be a wall with a big, very beautiful door because we want the legals to come back into the country."
The idea was to first deport the millions of illegal immigrants in the US and then seal them out with a wall. Later, we could let them filter back in an orderly fashion.
(Now, even the mass deportation aspect seems to be undergoing a drastic re-think.)
"I will build a great wall -- and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me --and I'll build them very inexpensively.
However, the man who thinks going bankrupt is a clever business strategy has, according to the numbers crunchers, underestimated the costs of construction by perhaps a full half.

Friday, November 18, 2016

An Open Letter to Americans who Voted for Donald Trump

by Nomad

I have no idea who wrote this but it pretty much sums up how I feel after this election. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Living and Dying in the Arms of Mother Russia

by Nomad


Here's a peek into some of the reasons why Russians, men, in particular, have a hard time surviving until what we consider middle-age. Sadly for the Russian government, there's not a single reason but a multitude of them. 

Russia is no country for old men. And it's not all that great for old women either. That's not an opinion but a fact.
According to a recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), most Russian citizens will not see their 71st birthday. But how does that stack up against other countries, you ask?

The life expectancy in the former Communist country lags nearly ten years behind the average in developed countries. That's also lower than countries with similar income levels such as Turkey, Mexico or Chile.

Russia ranked 43rd out of the 45 countries surveyed. The average life expectancy in Russia in 2013 was 70.7 years. but the life expectancy for Russian men is just 64 years. (For U.S. men, the average life expectancy is 76.)
Experts have made some conjectures on why Russians have such a hard time staying alive past their seventh decade.

Up in Smoke

Lifestyle choices are blamed for the poor showing, namely high rates of alcohol abuse, and smoking.
Back in 2013, Putin signed legislation that placed an increased tax on cigarettes raising the price to approximately $1.50 a pack.
(A smoker's paradise compared to most Western countries.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How Stupid Can Washington Get? You Haven't Seen Anything Yet

by Nomad

Trump Supporter

Candidate Trump ran his campaign as a protest against Washington. He routinely castigated politicians and bureaucrats in the nation's capitol as being too stupid the run the country properly. It was, as far as a theme, a hit with his supporters. Now, as President-elect, the shoe is on the other foot.

Stupid is a Fun Word

From the clip below, it's fairly clear that Candidate Trump enjoyed calling everybody in government "stupid." To cheers and jeers, Trump regularly worked the crowds into a frenzy all along the campaign trail. Everybody in government was stupid, he told them. They said and did stupid things. Their policies were stupid. Washington was filled to the rafters with stupid, stupid people. 

Trump might have been short on specifics about his smart policies but what did it matter? Those subjects were too boring to discuss or understand. It was all about rounding off all the criticism to its common denominator, reducing it a single word everybody could understand. A virile sort of word loaded with strong consonants- Stupid.

Is Trump Already Flip-Flopping on His Campaign Vow to Mass Deport Illegal Workers?

by Nomad

For those who supported the Donald Trump's tough-guy approach on illegal immigration and his vow to begin mass deportation, it's starting to look more and more like Trump was all talk. 

Trump Re-Tooled by Ryan 

On Sunday, the president-elect and House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that, contrary to what Trump had said ad infinitum, there was no plan to begin mass deportations. 
With Trump and Pence sitting beside him, Speaker Ryan explained:
We’re not focused on, we are not planning on erecting a deportation force. Donald Trump’s not planning on that.”
Ryan stressed:
“We should put people’s minds at ease, that is not what our focus is. We’re focused on securing the border.”
Instead, they would be looking for "a solution that doesn’t include mass deportations, that involves getting people to earn a legal status while we fix the rest of illegal immigration.”

Earning legal status? Isn't that another way of saying those taboo words- conditional amnesty?  It all sounds suspiciously like what JEB! was proposing back in August  2016. 
His solution was described as
a rigorous path that requires individuals to pass a thorough criminal background check, pay fines, pay taxes, learn English, obtain a provisional work permit and work, not receive federal government assistance, and over an extended period of time earn legal status."
However, JEB! said, "any plan to address the status of illegal immigrants must be accompanied by a robust strategy to improve border security."

Post-election, Mr. Trump isn't looking so radical. Take away the mass deportation part and there's really not much difference between JEB! and Trump or Trump and Clinton. And make no mistake, mass deportation was the key variable of his campaign.

For all his bluster, Trump is turning out to be a run of the mill politician who makes a lot of promises but promptly breaks them the moment his jet touches down in Washington.
Compare what he was saying exactly one year ago.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Welcome to the New Realities of America's TrumpWorld

by Nomad

Trump Cartoon Future

Elections, as we all know, have consequences. Unfailingly, it is the one truism that voters seem to overlook. With reportedly 49% of voters opting out, this election, it is no different. 


Logically, one would question the legitimacy of any election in which nearly half of the population refuses to vote. The New York Times reported:
Some people were barred from voting by law, and others were effectively blocked by the obstacles put up by new restrictions or stalled by the memories of bad experiences the last time around. For others, child-care and work demands proved too difficult to juggle with going to a polling place. Some decided not to cast a ballot on principle.
There were plenty who just could not be bothered. They found their private ways to rationalize it. Still others argued that between Clinton and Trump, there's wasn't much difference. It was just choosing between two evils. 
 As one voter told the NYT reporter:
“I couldn’t in good conscience vote for president.”
Now we just have to sit back and wait for such people to realize their horrendous misjudgment. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

President-Elect Trump Facing Court Date for Fraud and Racketeering Charges

by Nomad

Trump Heads To Court For Fraud And Racketeering Before Inauguration
Donald Trump may have thought that the 75 current lawsuits filed against him and the Trump Organization would simply go "poof" when he was elected president, but boy is this uninformed president-elect wrong "bigly." The Supreme Court has ruled that becoming president of the United States does not shield an individual from private litigation concerning matters…

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Superpower in Crisis and the Disgrace of Mr. Trump

 by Nomad

Win or lose tomorrow, Donald Trump has achieved one thing from his campaign. He has justified unspoken international concerns that the US is no longer a dependable ally.

Doubts and Worries about Donald

Even at a superficial glance, this year's election has been a fairly pathetic spectacle. There really haven't been any high moments. Only a dismal record of low points, which somehow defied expectations of how low the presidential race could actually go. 
Much of the blame for that must rest on the sloping shoulders of one man, Donald Trump.

Whether he beats the odds and becomes the next president or not, Mr. Trump has accomplished something quite out of the ordinary. Through his bombast and his vulgarity, through his extremely volatile populist rhetoric (accompanied by a remarkable ignorance about all things), this unlikely candidate has accomplished something that no other American candidate has done before.  

Trump, his history, and his manner of politics all have created a sense of doubt and suspicion amongst even our oldest allies. 

A “hate preacher” was how German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier described Trump. French President Fran├žois Hollande said  that Trump’s “excesses” had produced “a retching feeling.” Members of the Britain’s Parliament have had an opportunity to exercise their wit at Trump's expense, referring to the businessman-turned-candidate as  a" “demagogue,” and a “buffoon.” 
And that's just the opinion of our closest allies.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Don't Be Fooled by Donald Trump's Big Fat NAFTA Lie

by Nomad

Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has condemned Bill Clinton's signing of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
"NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country."
To his roaring audiences, Trump likes to cite this agreement as the main reason why American workers have lost their jobs. President Bill Clinton is the villain, he tells them. And now, his wife is running for president. The horrorof it!
“I’m going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers,”
According to Trump, NAFTA is the culprit for destroying America's manufacturing sector. Today, there are about 12.2 million manufacturing workers, down from 17 million in 1994, according to the Labor Department. As we have seen in another blog post, this claim is extraordinarily misleading (even for Trump.)