Saturday, December 31, 2016

Here's Wishing You All a Happy New Year

by Nomad

I wanted to wish all of you copious amounts of positive energy, limitless patience, and emotional strength in the coming year.
I suspect we are all going to need it.

Out of curiosity, I also have a few questions for you:
  • What was the single best thing that happened to you this past year?
  • If you could pick three words to describe 2016, what would they be?

  • What was the most important thing you learned this past year?
  • What's the most important decision you had to make in 2016?

  • And finally, if you could go back 12 months ago, what advice would you give yourself about 2016?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Delightful Sport of Deflating The Donald

by Nomad

For comedians and cartoonists, the Trump Presidency will be boom years. Hopefully, for the rest of us, that won't be true in the literal sense.
Here are some that caught my eye. Hope you enjoy them.

Donald Trump Cartoon 1

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Why This 1967 Interview of Prof. A.J. Toynbee is Still Thought-Provoking

by Nomad

The observations of an esteemed historian from 1967 still hold true in our time.

More than a Historian

To call Professor Arnold J. Toynbee a historian is to fall short of the mark. He was called a " philosopher of history." 

His most famous work "The Study of History" is a staggering 12 volumes and took three decades to write. On a human scale, that's a lot of history right there.
Today, Toynbee is known mostly in academic circles but in his time, he was a widely read and discussed scholar in the 1940s and 1950s.
Sadly, for the anybody without a masters' degree, the work is not what most people would consider and "easy" read.

But that's not to say it is inaccessible. A later condensed version allows us mere mortals an opportunity to understand Toynbee's brilliance. Even then, there are moments when you look up from the book and wonder, what the heck did I just read?
(The Wikipedia version is perhaps the ultimate abridgment.)

To put it simply, Professor Toynbee studied what caused primitive societies to transform themselves into civilizations and the reasons why civilizations collapsed.
Toynbee's goal was to trace the development and decay of 19 world civilizations in the historical record, applying his model to each of these civilizations, detailing the stages through which they all pass: genesis, growth, time of troubles, universal state, and disintegration.
In a way, Toynbee turned a very wide angle lens on humanity. Toynbee, as dry as his works could often be, provided remarkable insight into where we are in the bigger picture. He also hinted at where we might be going.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sanity Break: Three Holiday Songs by Sufjan Stevens

by Nomad

I think it's time to take a break from politics for a few days and enjoy the holidays. Whether that means Christmas, or Hanukkah or a belated recognition of winter solstice, whatever, just consider this post a bit of relief from the relentlessly depressing political news.

To take our minds off of all that, I have selected the ever-quirky Sufjan Stevens who apparently has a particular fondness for this time of year. He has not one but two Christmas collection albums

Here he performs "Lumberjack Christmas / No One Can Save You From Christmases Past."

Thursday, December 22, 2016

What Americans Will Lose when Trump Takes Office: A Sense of Responsibility

by Nomad

President Obama
Americans are going to miss a lot of things when President Obama leaves office. The most important of these will be a president with a sense of responsibility.


The editorial board of the Denver Post recently observed that the inauguration of a new president will represent more than merely the changing of the guard. We will be saying farewell to a president who has demonstrated a sense of responsibility.
The world, the article points out, seems increasingly unstable, with geopolitical tensions mounting in more and more places.

Next month a new leader will be faced with complex issues which will require tremendous intellect, subtlety, and heart. President-elect Trump has demonstrated throughout his campaign that he possesses none of those traits.

On the contrary, his remarks and actions have provided more than enough examples of his ignorance, his impulsiveness, and his frightening irresponsibility.

Just this week, we were given yet another foretaste of the Trump's problem. Only hours after the attack in Berlin and the cold-blooded murder in Ankara, Trump insisted on jumping to conclusions before all the facts were in.
It wasn't so much that he was right or wrong but that a wiser leader would know better than to launch a diatribe on twitter so soon after these events. By declaring these events as terror attacks so hastily, Trump had nothing to gain and, in terms of credibility, very much to lose.

His twitter account provides all Americans with a concise record of the future president's impulsive behavior. The attention-addicted Trump seems incapable of simply keeping his mouth closed.

That's probably one of the most essential characteristics of an American president; knowing when to not to interject an unhelpful remark.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Why Trump's View on Intelligence Will Leave America Blind, Deaf and Dumb to its Enemies

by Nomad


Trump's Wilful Ignorance

On Sunday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) pointed out that President-elect Trump's denial that Russia interfered with the elections was "deeply damaging."
That denial flies in the face of the verdicts of all 16 government intelligence agencies and at least three private security firms which have independently investigated the security breaches.

Schiff told ABC’s “This Week.”
“For the president-elect to continue to give the Russians deniability is deeply damaging to the country.”
Here we have a President-elect rejecting the findings of a majority of government intelligence agencies which have suggested that his victory owes a lot to  illegal interference from a foreign government.

As of last week, U.S. intelligence officials stood by their allegation of Russian tampering. In fact, senior U.S. intelligence officials now believe with "a high level of confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin became personally involved in the covert Russian campaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election.

Two senior officials with direct access to the information say new intelligence shows that Putin personally directed how hacked material from Democrats was leaked and otherwise used. The intelligence reportedly came from diplomatic sources and spies working for U.S. allies, the officials said.
Trump is adamantly refusing to accept that.

Only a decade ago (or perhaps less) these events would have been unthinkable. Today, the people who have long considered themselves red-blooded patriots and loyal Americans are numbly silent when it comes to the Manchurian candidacy of Donald Trump.
Who'd have thought it possible?

Schiff, the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said  
“By attacking the intelligence community basically, it’s going to make it that much more difficult for the current president to make attribution, for the American people to understand what they really need to about Russian involvement in our elections.
There's another dilemma facing the incoming president. By repudiating the work of intelligence agencies, charged with gathering, collating and analyzing vital information in defense of the nation, Trump has essentially shot himself in the foot. 
In times of crisis, President Trump will have to rely on the findings of these very same agencies that he has declared incompetent and untrustworthy.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Mobilization 101: How to Make Your Voice Heard

by Nomad

FDR quote

When it comes to politics, what is the best way to get your voice heard? One of the easiest ways is to contact your Congressional representative. It's not quite as straight-forward as it might seem. The slideshow below offers some tips from a person who is acquainted with what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the voice of the people.

The fact is, as with everything in a representative democracy, no matter how loud and persistent, and no matter how fair and righteous your opinion might be, a single voice is likely to be lost in the steady hum of Washington. You are competing with sophisticated lobbyists and special interests of all kinds.
So what can you do?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

These Three Tales of Open-Hearted Giving Will Make You Smile

by Nomad

Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck once said that an act of goodness is of itself an act of happiness and that no reward coming after the event could compare with the sweet reward that went with it.

To illustrate that idea, I've found three stories. I present them with the hope they will reaffirm your faith in people.
Firstly, there's this lesson of how to turn good fortune into goodwill.

Anonymous lottery player drops winning ticket in Salvation Army kettle

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. - An anonymous Pennsylvania Lottery player recently deposited a winning instant ticket worth $1,000 into a Salvation Army red kettle. "The Christmas season often brings out the best in people," said Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko.

In another story of anonymous assistance in Pennsylvania, an unidentified man has paid off the overdue lunch bill of more than 40 elementary school children.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ultimate Risk: Why You Should Be Terrified About Trump's Finger On The Nuclear Button

by Nomad

Before the election, experts were warning that Trump was the wrong man to be in charge of America's nuclear arsenal. Now that he has revealed his choice of advisors, the full scale of the risk of catastrophe has become clear. 

The Missileers' Warning

An open letter was published in October should have sent a chilling warning to all Americans. It was penned ten officials who once controlled access to firing the nation’s nuclear weapons.
It was our job to turn keys to fire nuclear-armed missiles if the president so ordered us. Once we began alert duty, we took orders from the president and no one else.
Obviously, as the last link in a process which would seal the fate of humankind is a duty of the utmost importance. That's why they felt compelled to issue a warning to the world.

These former nuclear launch control officers, or “missileers” had come to the conclusion that the then-GOP nominee should not be given this responsibility. And they made that very clear in their letter.
Donald Trump does not have these leadership qualities. On the contrary, he has shown himself time and again to be easily baited and quick to lash out, dismissive of expert consultation and ill-informed of even basic military and international affairs – including, most especially, nuclear weapons. Donald Trump should not be the nation’s commander-in-chief. He should not be entrusted with the nuclear launch codes. He should not have his finger on the button.
As we all know, in a contested election, Trump went on to victory. The warnings were ignored and come January, the thin-skinned Trump- the person who cannot resist responding to any insult- will have the power to end civilization.
Too bad for us that nobody paid any attention to the warning letter.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Could the Electoral College Really Vote to End the Trump Fiasco?

by Nomad

Decisions sign
It's quickly becoming an election year cliche.
We are now in uncharted waters.

Who could say that's not true?
The circumstances of Trump's victory have been extraordinary.  Not merely because, against all odds, the tangerine tycoon won, but also because it was an unanticipated technical win.

Although he won the Electoral College vote, his opponent won the popular vote. It's not the first time this has happened, but Trump comes to office as the most disliked president-elect in modern US history. 
According to a Pew Research poll, even before Trump is inaugurated, 55% of those polled say they disapprove of the job Trump has done.
That 41% approval rating is lower than President Barack Obama's 72% in December 2008 and President George W. Bush's 50% in January 2001 -- in the wake of a disputed election. It's also lower than President Bill Clinton's 62% in January 1993 and President George H.W. Bush's 65% in March 1989. took a look at the vexing question: Could the Electoral College Elect the winner of the popular vote, Clinton, over the winner of the electoral college vote, Trump?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sanity Sunday- Two by Jack and the Weatherman

by Nomad

The two-man-band, Jack and the Weatherman, is an acoustic duo from Haarlem in the Netherlands. Both songs come from their latest album, Some Kind of Purpose.

First up is the song, "Rock Bottom."

This one is called "Stolen."

Friday, December 9, 2016

Listen to an Interview with France's Marine Le Pen, Leader of the Ultra-Conservative National Front

by Nomad

In this podcast interview France's Marine Le Pen, leader of the ultra-conservative National Front demonstrates why she could very well be the next French president.  

Meet Madam Le Pen

If you never listened or watched the BBC program HARDtalk, it might come as bit of a shock to hear what outstanding journalism actually sounds like. There's nothing to compare it with in American news. 

In this podcast, interviewer Stephen Sackur quizzes Marine Le Pen, president of France's far-right National Front (NF) Party.
According to polls held in October, a far-right or extreme-right National Front party leader Le Pen would win 30 percent of the national vote if elections were held today. As of last week, Le Pen has taken a sizeable lead over former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy.
According to one source:
Under the French election system, barring the unlikely possibility one candidate gains an overall majority in the first round vote, the two candidates with the most votes will contest a second and decisive round on 7 May.
Many of her policies have been compared to those of Donald Trump, in particular, her anti-establishment appeal to nationalism. Critics, (and Le Pen has many) claim her advocacy of anti-immigration is heavy laden with Islamophobia. 

Le Pen and Trump

Ms. Le Pen was recently asked about the comparison. She expressed her happiness about the Trump victory and declared that the stunning result of the election shows power is slipping from global "elites" who have "acted like carnivores" and "used the world to enrich only themselves."
(Given the very elite, very carnivorous Donald Trump's willingness to mix his business interests with his political responsibilities, Le Penn might have to revise that assessment.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dashed Hopes for Increase in Federal Minimum Wage May Be Just the Start of Hard Times

by Nomad

On 29 November, some 40 people were arrested at a protest outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Detroit. They had gathered to demand wage increases. With picket signs and a loudspeaker, hundreds of workers demanded a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour. Said one protesting worker:
“They are a multi-billion dollar company and they can afford to help us support our families. I cannot support my family on $8.50.”
On that day, there were similar demonstrations in hundreds of US cities, including the commercial hubs of New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
The protests were put together as part of the "Fight for $15," a US-based international movement seeking a minimum wage of $15-per hour for low-paid workers.
Given the outcome of the last election, few expect these nationwide protests to have any impact.

Efforts to raise the federal minimum wage may, in fact, come to a crashing halt the very moment President Trump is inaugurated. 
During the campaign, he made the off-hand remark that wages were too high. He said:
"Taxes too high, wages too high. We're not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is. People have to go out, they have to work really hard and they have to get into that upper stratum. But we cannot do this if we are going to compete with the rest of the world. We just can't do it."
It was a truly insulting thing for a man of Trump's wealth to say.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sandi Toksvig's Big Idea: A Political Party for Women's Equality

by Nomad

Writer, actor, and comedian Sandi Toksvig has a brilliant idea. As she explains in this lively TED lecture, her idea is a simple one but one which could change the world. 
Why not form a Women's Equality Party? 
We want to be the only political party in the world whose main aim was to no longer need to exist... We wanted to be the only political party with no particular political leaning. We wanted people from the left, from the right, from the middle, every age group. Because the whole point was to work with a simple agenda: let's get equality in every aspect of our lives, and when we're finished, let's go home and get the other chores done.
Data from World Economic Forum found that women will finally get equal pay in ...2186! Under the current system, she reckons, women are not going to get equal pay in my grandchildren's grandchildren's lifetimes.
Think of the shame of that.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Musical Sanity Break: Scala & Kolacny Brothers - Use Somebody

by Nomad

Originally this was a Kings of Leon song which sounds very different than this version. This rendition is sung by Scala & Kolacny Brothers, a Belgian women's choir.
Hope it brings you a little calm on this Sunday night.  

Friday, December 2, 2016

Open Source Podcast: What is the Appropriate Response to the Trump Presidency?

by Nomad

Despite our new age of open communication, intelligent and informed discussion is not always easy to find. It's hard just find civil discourse online and on television. If you don't prefer confrontation over explanation, aggressive cross-talk, and questions that never get answered, you may just want to turn off your television altogether. 

You might not have heard of this weekly podcast but Open Source is, in fact, the world's longest-running podcast. Hosted by Christopher Lydon, a former New York Times journalist, this radio program focuses on the big ideas in culture, the arts, and politics with the smartest people in the world. It has been called "an American conversation with global attitude.”

In this week's show, we examine the very different world in the aftermath of Donald Trump's stunning election victory. Even as the Left attempts to pick up the salvageable pieces, we need to ask ourselves what is to be done next?

Of special interest is the opening interview with the former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis who offers some advice for disheartened progressives. We should be very afraid of what Trump represents and what he could do.

However, he adds, we should not allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear. The time to come together to prevent erosion of civil liberties is now. 

Introducing the Nomadic Politics Corkboard

by Nomad

If you are observant, you might have noticed I've added something new to the blog. Right under the blog title, you will see a list of pages. 
Got it?
See the one between Home and Embedding Content listed as "The Corkboard"
Click on that. That's a feature that allows you the readers to easily add their own links, photos, videos, post ideas or whatever they feel like.  
Because there are so many trolls on the prowl, anybody who'd like to contribute can put their name on the list and I will be glad to add you. 
After that, it's super easy to figure out. How you want to use it up to you. Of course, the comment policy for keeping things respectful will still apply. 

Every month or so, (depending on the number of posted notes, I'll clear the board and we start fresh again. 
Tell me what you think.