In a Hole? Stop Digging!

In a Hole? Stop Digging!

Ted Folkert

January 17, 2017

For the news media and for the comedians of the world, Donald Trump is a gift that just keeps on giving. All the news programs, talk shows, comedy routines, and interviews are dominated by discussions of the actions, inactions, and comments of his majesty, the Donald. He has upset the order of public communication. He has insulted many news persons or organizations with rude, childish comments and denigrations. His defensive and defamatory twitter episodes have become predictable. They follow any comment about his majesty which he finds critical or derogatory.

No one can compete with the things trump excels at: untruthfulness, exaggeration, vengefulness, slander, and braggadocio. These may well be prerogatives, maybe the five keys to success, in the business world of the Donald and his co-conspirators. He is the kind of guy who tells a lie and then starts believing it himself. Once he says it, it becomes true because he said it, so everyone is expected to believe it.

He thinks Putin likes him, not because Putin thinks he can use him in his criminality, but because he is brilliant, reasonable and understanding. That’s kind of like thinking that Al Capone likes you, not because you kill people when he tells you to, but because he thinks you are so much fun to be around.

Trump wants to violate a constitutional ban on anyone who holds governmental office from standing to gain financially from involvement with a foreign country. He wants to violate the ban on appointing any relative to a position in his administration. That is called nepotism and has been illegal since the law was enacted in 1973 after JFK appointed his brother Robert to be attorney general. Trump didn’t even know what the word nepotism meant until he found out it describes what he intends to do.

Trump has a staff of lawyers seeking loopholes in the laws that he chooses to break which will allow him to ignore them without being impeached. And I would imagine we will be paying this staff of lawyers in one way or another, by hook or by crook, as they say. He’s a smart guy. We know. He keeps telling us he is.

So, with his right-wing political appointees and his platform of “tax the poor and pay the rich,” the picture seems bleak for the common good. It seems that while we were digging for economic benefits, equality of opportunity and tough talk about immigration, we dug ourselves into a hole.

So, how do we defend ourselves from this eminent threat to our quality of life? How do we get out of this hole?

Two possibilities: Impeachment and removal from office for malfeasance, a real long shot, or – regaining control of the House and Senate.

There seems to be a solid basis evolving here for an immediate movement toward impeachment. The grounds are multifaceted: violation of the anti-nepotism law, violation of the ban on standing to realize personal gain from business ventures with foreign governments, encouragement of a foreign government to hack emails of a US citizen, encouragement of a foreign government to interfere with an election in the US, suggesting assassination of one’s opponent by your supporters upon your defeat, and the list will go on as we progress into his administration. We can count on that. He can’t help himself. He is totally absorbed with his enormous power, which provides incessant nourishment for his incurable egotism.

Of course, the Republican congress is not likely to pursue impeachment, so, assuming irresponsibility on their part, the only alternative to regain control of our government would be at the ballot box in two years. If such an action becomes apparent, the duly elected congressional members may very well reconsider their actions since it could cost them their lucrative positions. The lucrative benefits they realize from the public treasury, which they have so benevolently bestowed upon themselves, would be hard to match in the world you and I live in. I am sure these chosen ones think about that every day when they wake up.

George W. Shrub (where is Molly Ivins when we need her) had a Republican Congress for six years but the planned attack on the livelihood of the working class was not so well defined then, hence no great uprising of the electorate. This time may be different. Bush came from a long line of clever politicians. Trump came from wealth. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, as my mother would have said. When he got in trouble his daddy bailed him out. He is a spoiled brat who is intolerant with not having things his way. And that is what he has planned for the country, his way, the path to greater riches for he and his kind.

We need a plan too. Our plan must be impeachment or, lacking that possibility, changing control of the House and Senate in two years. And perhaps the thought of that will engender some reluctance on Congress to follow their purportedly treacherous leader.

It looks like we have dug ourselves into a hole. Someone smarter than Trump told me one time that “If you are in a hole and you want out, the first thing to do is stop digging.” So, let’s stop digging and start climbing out of this hole in which we now reside.

Think about it!

Martin Luther King, Jr. & What’s Going On

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ted Folkert

Monday, January 16, we honor the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, born in 1929, a leading civil rights activist engaging is nonviolent disobedience, led the Montgomery bus boycott, helped to found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led protests of segregation in Albany, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama, organized the 1963 March on Washington where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. He was one of the great orators of our time who spoke with heartfelt compassion and emotion, and with unwavering passion for improving the lives of his downtrodden people.

He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968 by a white assassin, James Earl Ray, who was probably hired by some racial radicals who felt compromised by blacks seeking higher wages and better treatment, with opportunities to improve their lifestyles.

Apparently, those responsible for his death were more comfortable when the African Americans were brought here in chains in the holds of ships and enslaved for more than two centuries to make American farmers wealthy without hiring labor to raise their crops. This started about 1620 and continued unabated until after the Civil War. The slaves in the rebel territories were freed by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, after almost 250 years without interruption.

After another 150 years it is still a work in progress, a better situation in many ways, but equal opportunity for the African Americans still has a long way to go. The evidence is hiding in public view everywhere you look, as we blame them for their lack of progress while we deny them a level playing field.

Watching the African American Music and Stories that Changed America on ABC TV the other night with the remembrances of music and episodes, including Marvin Gay’s 1971 song which is still popular today “What’s Going On.” Marvin Gay isn’t still around to sing it to us but the words he sang still resonate and are still valid today:

“Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, eheh

Father, father
We don’t need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, oh oh oh

Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
Oh, what’s going on
What’s going on
Yeah, what’s going on
Ah, what’s going on”

 I believe Martin Luther King, Jr would approve of that song. Let’s think about him today on MLK Day. This song is still going on thanks to Marvin Gay and, perhaps for some of us, with MLK in mind. He paid the ultimate price for his ultimate cause and moved progress forward in the process. His death was a waste of great talent, but his life was not wasted. He brought progress to his cause with the courage of his convictions and fearlessness of the consequences. A worthy role model for anyone.

That’s what’s going on today!

 

Trump’s Intelligence

Trump’s Intelligence

Ted Folkert

January 9, 2017

The words: Trump and intelligence should not appear in the same sentence. Those two words should be declared mutually exclusive. He has no intelligence. Yet he has the arrogant audacity to criticize our intelligence department – a department of trained employees who work diligently the world over to protect our country from harm – and not without an element of danger on their part, sometimes fatally dangerous.

What right does Trump have to question the country’s intelligence? He doesn’t even have an operable level of intelligence. His intelligence consists of insulting anyone who disagrees with him or exposes his lack of intelligence. Like a spoiled child who lacks discipline and runs to his mommy to put his face in her lap and throw a tantrum. He never grew up. He is not an adult. He is an unconscious adolescent, an ostrich with his head in the sand.

His intelligence was obvious when he was an average to below average college student with a rich dad. He had better things to do.

Then, later he became a cowardly draft-dodger. Like Dick Cheney, he had better things to do.

His intelligence was obvious when he was discovered to be a failing business man even though he started with enough wealth to last him forever.

He showed us his intelligence when he declared bankruptcy numerous times due to stupid business decisions, which he survived by conning his father into signing his multi-million dollar bank loans. Bank loans that he would eventually be unable to repay as agreed and then escape in bankruptcy, stiffing the bank that tried to help him in his business endeavors.

He showed his intelligence when he figured out how to con he US government by not paying income taxes, by deducting the losses of his investors in his business endeavors, not his losses, their losses. He says that makes him a smart guy.

His intelligence is exemplified every time he opens his mouth or sends out one of his childish tweets slandering someone or some organization that pointed out his childish and uneducated intelligence.

He shows his intelligence when he declares economic war on numerous US trading partners without even the elementary step of understanding the situation and considering the ultimate consequences of such action.

He shows his intelligence when he buddies up with one of the most vicious tyrants of our time, an international trouble maker who accumulates billions of dollars while ignoring the plight of the people he is supposed to be leading. Now he says he wants to work with Putin. How can you work with a venomous snake? If you try to shake hands with him, he bites you with poisonous fangs. Trump wants to work with him because he is invested in both Putin and Russia. Like Leonard Cohen sang: “Everybody knows.”

His intelligence is obvious when he cons career minded students into taking advantage of his brilliance by paying him enormous sums of money to learn how to be successful like him, and then delivering nothing of consequence in return. That isn’t intelligence. It is fraud. It is a pathetic result of avarice of the worst kind. It should be treated as criminal behavior. Intentional fraudulent activity of a lesser kind has been prosecuted many times with the perpetrators punished by fines and incarceration, but not The Donald. No, he gets a pass and is allowed to repay a portion of the money scammed from the victims and keep the balance in his pocket. Whoever said that crime doesn’t pay? It pays everyday with guys like him. He has proved it many times over.

And then our misinformed electorate decides he should be the leader of the free world. Go figure!

That is worse than shooting your-self in the foot. What can his voters have been thinking about? How could they have been so horribly misinformed? Many of the victims of his policies will be the previous supporters of his wrath against the proletariat. Buyer’s remorse will be rampant among us, but with no return policy.

How many times have we heard the phrase that he initiated among his supporters: “Build the Wall?” What a ridiculous statement, which is yet another example of his lack of intelligence. Of course, he was just feeding red meat to the pit bulls that provided his cheering section during his campaign. If you want to enter the US from Mexico you don’t have to climb over a wall. There are plenty of other ways to enter and plenty of smugglers willing to get you through the border.

If Trump wants to show some intelligence he should keep his mouth shut for a while. Every time he opens it, trash comes out. And he should reconsider the billionaires he has selected to make life better for the working class in this country. The rich are rich enough. They don’t need a tax break. They have been rewarded sufficiently by “we the people,” who have provided a healthy business environment and the educational, political, economic and transportation infrastructures necessary for them to accumulate their massive wealth. It is time for the rich to pay for rebuilding the infrastructure, not to accumulate more wealth that they could never spend.

We must hold his feet to the fire and not let up. Tenacity is the trait we must demonstrate to this would-be tyrant of our great country. It will drive him nuts and keep him from focusing on his quest to destroy our economy and our quest for equality of opportunity. We must interrupt his plan for an aristocratic society and total control by the rich and powerful.

Think about it!

“Common Good” becomes “So Far So Good”

“Common Good” becomes “So Far So Good”

Ted Folkert

The slogan: So Far So Good, was made popular by a joke about the guy falling from a 10 story building, as he passed the 5th floor, saying: “So far so good.” And, of course, it can be applied to so many occurrences in our own lives. Well, it can certainly apply and perhaps is our only hope of what to expect from the eminent regime of the “Great One”, the one who tells us that the reason he doesn’t need any briefings is: “I am a smart guy,” the guy whose cabinet appointments kind of scare the pants off of most of us as we consider the possible outcomes for the proletariat, the working class, those who make life happen and continue to happen. We can’t seem to imagine anything to come from the Donald that will make life better or even keep things as good as they are now for most of us.

The Great One has threatened so many facets of our lives already, even before taking over his throne, that reading or listening to the news sends us into another sense of bewilderment. He has no common sense about how the government runs, what departments do what, what his function is, what he can and cannot do as president. He has no conception of who will be affected by his moronic decisions, how devastating many of his plans are as stated by his un-thought out remarks.

He has never considered how his proposed protectionist and isolationist foreign policy will affect our international relationships, how his purported trade policies will trigger a trade war that could devastate our economy as well as that of many other countries. He doesn’t know that when you fall from a ten story building it isn’t the fall that kills you it is the sudden stop, the crash.

“So Far So Good” used to be a sort of humorous name for a boat I owned. It is a funny line for the old joke mentioned above. It could be an appropriate epitaph for those who consider themselves agnostics when it comes to religion, but it is only an idle hope for the likely hopeless situation we expect to encounter as powerless citizens of a country which has gained enormous progress over the last eight years under a progressive president, in spite of a conservative Congress.

Our only hope is for a regain of some balanced control of government in two years at the midterm elections. In the meantime we must join hands and find some meaningful ways to hold the Donald’s feet to the fire as he tries to figure out how to perfect his plutocracy and stumbles through his effort to make us an entirely aristocratic society with little opportunity for anyone except the rich and powerful.

All we can think now is: “so far so good,” as we suffer bewilderment, uncertainty, defenselessness, and seem to be at the mercy of a government willing to ignore the words: society, social, community, populace, and last but not least, “Common Good.”

Think about it!

 

A Room with a View

A Room with a View

Ted Folkert

December 30, 2016

The novel by this name took place about 1908, a love story of two people in love with each other. It has been the basis for movies and stage productions for generations.

This story is about hundreds of millions of people in love, not with each other, but with going places.

From the southwest corner – seventh floor office at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Beacon Street in downtown Los Angeles, if you have binoculars, you can see the activities of upwards of several million people every day. You can see all the way from the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the large hill to the south near Long Beach, to the Santa Monica Mountains on the west, to the Hollywood Sign in Hollywood Hills to the northwest. Most of these people are in their cars going and coming, coming and going. Like a roulette wheel, round and round it goes and where it stops, nobody knows. People are constantly, one plane load after another, descending to land at LAX.  They are whirling by in numerous helicopters each day. They are driving by on the 110 Freeway, traveling north and south, to and from downtown and to and from places to the south toward Long Beach and Orange County in a steady stream of hundreds of thousands of cars per day. They are traveling east and west on the 10 Freeway to and from downtown and to and from the Pacific Coast in a steady stream of hundreds of thousands of cars per day. They are traveling east and west to and from downtown on Olympic Boulevard and dozens of other streets and thoroughfares in cars numbering hundreds of thousands per day. The view at night turns into a sea of headlights and taillights dominating the view in every direction.

Where they are going and why doesn’t matter an iota. What does matter is that they are all, either willingly or unwillingly, burning hydrocarbons and exhausting the remains of the spent and unspent fuel into the atmosphere, the atmosphere which enabled we humans to evolve on the planet initially hundreds of thousands of years ago, and enables us to continue to exist today. And they are all, either willingly or unwillingly, shortening the length of time that humans will continue to exist on the planet. Not those of us causing the contamination of the atmosphere, but those who will try to breath the air in future generations. Let’s face it, it is easy to ignore something if it doesn’t affect you personally or presently. I guess that is what we call human nature.

This description of the view from one small office, in one building, in one city represents only an infinitesimal amount of the problem. You can multiply this by millions when expanded to identical views the world over, every hour of every day of every year, the world over. We not only emit this pollution from our vehicles into the atmosphere but the incessant demand induces the exploration, capture, removal, and distillation processes of the fossils planted in the earth millions of years ago, to make the fuel available – all of which geometrically exacerbate the pollution problem. And the magnitude becomes greater every year as more and more of the planet’s population become mobile in their own vehicles in India, China and other developing countries.

And preventative and corrective measures available and under research and development get inadequate consideration from those who could bring them about, simply because there is no immediate reward for such action. Oh, there are solar panels and electric vehicles, but even these measures require hydrocarbons in their development, manufacture and use. There are simply no market forces with monetary rewards driving the demand for the salvation of the planet, so nothing substantial gets done. Our leaders are not elected because of save-the-planet measures, they are elected because they say they will create more jobs or raise the standard of living for those of us who are causing this pollution problem or build more weapons of mass destruction to be used against uncooperative neighbors.

Can we expect any movement in the direction of corrective measures soon? It seems either unlikely or impossible for the next few years since we so astutely elected a “useful idiot” (as Paul Krugman would call him) to be our president. Trump thinks global warming is a hoax and is packing his cabinet with wealthy moguls who either believe likewise or don’t give a hoot about the matter since it doesn’t presently effect their enormous personal wealth. Besides, if they did want to do something about it they couldn’t bear the thought of being taxed for part of the cost. So, screw future generations, that’s the attitude we can expect in the Trump future.

It’s too bad this love story couldn’t end like “A Room with a View” did in 1908, with everybody living happily ever after.

But this one may end with no one living at all ever after. From this room with a view there may be no one left to view it. Not a happy ending of a love story. And any movies made about it will be tragedies, not romances.

Think about it!

Helplessness, Hopelessness, & Despair Revisited.

Helplessness, Hopelessness, & Despair Revisited.

Ted Folkert

December 27, 2016

Perhaps we could take a few moments away from our winter vacation or our quest for that new home, new car, or sixty-inch smart TV, and consider the challenge of those without such good fortune.

Let’s consider helplessness, hopelessness and despair – the big three – the causes of desperate measures to seek a better life, a life with subsistence, safe-haven and survival – the sought after big three of a peaceful and abundant life.

A four-part series of articles in the Los Angeles Times has just exemplified this compelling struggle, the enormous commitment and the dangerous journey undertaken by many of our fellow world inhabitants to seek relief of the miserable conditions in their homeland.

We have followed the desperate struggle for survival and a livable environment by the millions of migrants from the Middle East countries over the last few months as they escaped endless warfare and untenable living conditions, but there are other stories less publicized and closer to home.

This glimpse of a small segment of the global migration of people fleeing poverty, persecution and endless war is provided by Alexandra Zaris, Kate Linthicum, Patrick J. McDonald and Shashank Bengali – not from the comfort of their offices, but on the ground in Tijuana; Turbo, Colombia; Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico; and Sylhet, Bangladesh.

In addition to the more than 40,000 Cubans and Haitians who have shown up at our borders seeking asylum this year and to the thousands of Latin Americans each day, this story tracks the treacherous migration from such places as: Nepal, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Haiti, several African countries, as they travel through Thailand and Malaysia to seek passage to cross oceans to South America, or across India to Dubai, then across the ocean to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Then across Brazil to La Paz, Bolivia, then to Lima, Peru, then to Quito, Ecuador, then to Panama City, then to Tapachula, Mexico, then to Mexico City, then to Tijuana, then to the San Ysidro border crossing. They encounter dangerous jungles, cross rivers, cross mountains – in their trek through Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala, seeking immigration into the United States. They travel this treacherous journey by plane, foot, bus, boat and donkey across ten borders. They encounter robbery, killings, rape and drownings and pass many dead bodies along the way. Their families often have sold their homes and borrowed money from relatives to give their loved ones an opportunity to attempt this challenge in hopes of a better life.

About 15,000 migrants from outside Latin America passed through Baja, California this year. At least 55,000 people from outside Latin America attempted to enter the US through our southern borders without proper documentation this year. The migrants who have tried to enter the US illegally in the past year number more than 200,000.

Statements like we have heard from our president elect, such as: “people pouring across our borders,” are outlandish. Of course, there are illegal immigrants, but statements such as this fail to give proper credit to the border crossing employees who deal with thousands of entries and attempted entries each day. The number of those desiring to immigrate here is endless and has been for many years. We have rules and limitations on immigration and enforcement is a major challenge considering the lengths of our northern and southern borders and the thousands of miles of seashore on our east, west and south coasts.

Unfortunately, for most of those who survive this treacherous journey described above, the answer at the US border is a trip back home due to lack of legal basis to enter the US. The only other alternative is to seek a way to enter the US illegally. There are hundreds of corrupt smugglers ready, willing and able to assist in an illegal entry, often predatory smugglers who steal the migrant’s money and other possessions and leave them in a helpless situation. At this point the migrant’s only hope is help from home to return there, having failed in their attempt at immigration and nothing gained from the sacrifice of their loved ones who provided them the opportunity.

So, is this just a current situation which will soon go away? Or is it a sign of things to come? It seems that the incidents of migration have been on the increase for many years. Maybe due to poverty and seeking of better economic opportunities. Maybe due to persecution by tyrannical dictators. Maybe due to the hopelessness of endless warfare. Maybe just various examples of the result of population increases on the planet which exacerbate the challenge of feeding and housing the population. Or is it the incessant quest for power and the exercise of privilege?

Unless we know the cause, it is difficult to impossible to find a solution.

Or is there no solution?

Think about it!

Will there be a Madman in the Whitehouse?

Will there be a Madman in the Whitehouse?

Nobody knows!

Ted Folkert

The speculation, prediction and uneasiness are rampant here in the US and around the world regarding the anticipated economic and political effects of a Trump presidency. The problem is that “nobody knows.”

The players on Wall Street, many of whom were nervous due to Trump’s idle threats to crush the criminals on Wall Street, are now licking their chops after he quickly appointed a few of their most vicious fraudsters to cabinet posts, particularly the Department of Treasury. That’s where the money is, you know. Willy Sutton said that was the reason he robbed banks, that’s where the money is.

Trump has tried to soften his tone, which was violent rhetoric while he was feeding red meat to his right-wing pit bulls during the election campaign. Then we began to breathe a little easier with his more mellow tone to the news media and to his Twitter followers after the election. That is, until he started making cabinet appointments. Now it looks like we will have the most far-right-wing government in many decades. Elizabeth Warren stated: “the president-elect has doubled down on racism and bigotry since his victory.”

Trump’s appointments to run the government will tell the story:

He appointed for Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, who served as his campaign finance chairman, a former Goldman Sachs executive with deep roots in Hollywood and no government experience.

This is the guy described by Elizabeth Warren as a man who “had actually been one of the people who helped do all of those lousy mortgages that not only broke the economy, but broke millions of families. And then after the crash, a guy who turned around and bought a bank that then became infamous for how hard it squeezed families that had already been cheated and was the foreclosure machine following that.” “What Donald Trump is doing is he’s literally handing the keys to the Treasury over to a Wall Street banker who helped cause the crash,” she said.

He appointed for Transportation Secretary, Elaine L. Chao, the former Labor secretary under President George W. Bush, who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fixture of the Republican establishment in Washington.

He appointed for Health & Human Services Secretary, Tom Price, a six-term Republican congressman from Georgia and orthopedic surgeon who has led opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Price has said the law interferes with the ability of patients and doctors to make medical decisions.

For Commerce Secretary he has appointed Wilbur Ross, an investor whose fortune is estimated by Forbes to be $2.9 billion. Mr. Ross has said the United States must free itself from the “bondage” of “bad trade agreements,” and has advocated threats to impose steep tariffs on China. It seems that some type of agreements worked out okay of Mr. Ross while he was amassing his fortune.

For Education Secretary he has appointed Betsy DeVos, a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and an education activist who is a passionate believer in school choice, as his nominee. “School choice” is a nice word for privatization, and the elimination of, public schools.

For United Nations Ambassador he has appointed Nikki R. Haley, the governor of South Carolina, as his nominee. The daughter of immigrants from India, she was a prominent and frequent critic of Mr. Trump early in his run and backed Ted Cruz. She is an opponent of abortion rights.

For C.I.A Director he has appointed Mike Pompeo, Representative of Kansas and a former Army officer as his nominee. Mr. Pompeo is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and was a sharp critic of Hillary Clinton during the congressional investigation into the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

For Attorney General he has appointed Jeff Sessions. A Senator of Alabama, who is a strong proponent of strict immigration enforcement, reduced spending and tough-on-crime measures. His nomination for a federal judgeship in 1986 was rejected because of racially charged comments and actions.

For National Security Advisor he has appointed Michael T. Flynn, the retired Army lieutenant general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. General Flynn has been outspoken about his view of the threat posed by Islamist militancy.

For White House Chief of Staff he has appointed Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Reince Priebus told Fox News that climate science denial is Trump’s ‘default position.’

 For Chief Strategist he has appointed Stephen K. Bannon, a right-wing media executive and the chairman of the president-elect’s campaign. Many have denounced the move, warning that Mr. Bannon represents racist views.

Of course, there are many more to be selected, but we can see how it is going. Not good for “we the people” and not good for our allies around the world. Not good for “being thy brother’s keeper”, not good for the working class, not good for minorities, not good for educating our children, not good for the health and welfare of those in need of a helping hand, not good for elderly healthcare, not good for retirement funds, including Social Security. And the list goes on!

I think it will be good for Donald Trump and all the other mega-rich people that he says he doesn’t even like but keeps appointing to key governmental positions.

It will be an interesting couple of years until we get a shot at the Senate and House in the midterm elections. That is our only hope right now for returning our leadership to an attitude of “we the people.” Maybe that threat will be a mellowing agent for tempering their apparent attack on the general welfare and the strengthening of the aristocracy which our governing policies have allowed to fester and become dominant in our distribution of, and lack of redistribution of, the income and wealth of the country.

Think about it!

Life & Death on Planet Earth

Life & Death on Planet Earth

Ted Folkert

“ …… I’ve seen the future and it is murder” – Leonard Cohen

Do we know how we fit into the universal picture? No, not Universal Studios, which is exciting, but the universe of celestial bodies wherein we reside, which is not very exciting. And, do we know where we stand with the ability of the resources of the planet to sustain the population we have amassed and the way of life we have created with our ability to invent, design, and manufacture comfort, pleasure, and longevity?

I don’t think so!

The scientists tell us that Earth is a little over 4.5 billion years old. That cannot be confirmed by any living humans. Not only is no one that old, not even Methuselah, but we are told that there was no life on the planet initially and that life on Earth began about 3.8 billion years ago, initially with single-celled creatures, such as bacteria. Later, over a billion years later, multicellular life evolved.

All the evidence upon which we rely in this aging process is derived by carbon dating of fossils found in archeological and anthropological explorations.

It is only in the last 570 million years that the kind of life forms we are familiar with began to evolve, starting with arthropods, followed by fish 530 million years ago, land plants 475 million years ago, and forests 385 million years ago. Mammals didn’t evolve until 200 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the planet. Our own species, homo sapiens, evolved only 200,000 years ago. So, we humanoids haven’t been around for very long. 200,000 years out of 4,800,000,000 years. Merely a tiny fraction of the age of the planet.

Estimates from our scientific community for the evolution of the planet:

  • 4.5 billion years ago – Age of Earth
  • 3.8 billion years ago – Life on Earth
  • 570 million years ago – Familiar life forms
  • 530 million years ago – Fish
  • 475 million years ago – Plants
  • 385 million years ago – Forests
  • 50 million years ago – Lemur fossil
  • 30 million years ago – Ape-like fossil
  • 20 million years ago – Anthropoid apes
  • 14 million years ago – Fossil with flat teeth
  • 5 million years ago – Relatives of man
  • 200 thousand years ago – Homo sapiens

Note: These estimated ages may differ with different sources, however, they serve to support the context of this discussion.

If you drew a line 12” long representing the age of the Earth, early life forms would have taken place about 2 inches from the start of the line and all other life forms would have taken place in the last inch of the line, with homo sapiens showing up at the very end of the 12” line. So, although we have been around for 200,000 years, it is an infinitesimal fraction of the existence of the planet.

It seems that establishing exact ages of evolutionary events is not crucial to an understanding of what transpired in the evolution of humans, but the time from the existence of the planet until the existence of humans emphasizes the thousands of archeological and chemical events that led to our existence.

So, if these figures are correct, the planet was here 4,799,800,000 years before we showed up to rule the world and consume all the life-sustaining minerals and natural resources created during these billions of years. And to do it in slightly more than 200,000 years is quite an impressive feat in the world of planetary achievements.

So, the Earth survived almost 4.8 billion years without humans and since then we have grown from a few migratory hunters and gatherers to more than 7 billion people all looking for a better life. We have gone from a land area of millions of acres per person to probably less than 5 acres per person. Considering that much of the land on Earth is not arable land, we have less than 8 billion acres, little more than one acre per person of arable land. Considering that perhaps half of that acreage is used for roads, highways, airports, railroads, parks, cemeteries, commercial buildings, factories, homes, golf courses, etc., then we probably have one-half acre per person to use for producing enough food required for adequate nourishment. That amounts to about 20,000 square feet each.

Can you raise enough crops and animals on one-half acre to provide adequate nourishment for one person? Two or three meals per day, 365 days per year?

I don’t think so!

Maybe people who live near to ocean could live on fish for their protein but still it seems like a stretch to feed everyone on Earth on a few billion acres of arable land. And the problem with that scenario is that the oceans are being over-fished at a faster depletion rate than the repletion rate.

And a further problem with this exercise is that the world population is still growing. In 1800 we had 1 billion people on Earth. By 2000, 200 years later, it was 6 billion. Now it is 7 billion. And it is projected to reach 8 billion people by 2030, 14 years from now, and 9 billion by 2050, just 34 years from now.

So, this causes a problem that perhaps Leonard Cohen was contemplating in a poetic comment in one of his songs: “….. I’ve seen the future and it is murder.”

There is little solace to be offered in this dilemma. We just elected a president who thinks this is all a hoax. Why does he think that?

Answer: probably because he fears the adverse effect on his business enterprises if we believe this stuff and demand action to change course, which is probably the only logical reason that he and other supposedly intelligent people subscribe to climate change denial. No concern for the future, which would seem to some of us our duty.  The climate change deniers only concern is for the here and now and sustaining personal pleasure and comfort.

How much personal pleasure can one absorb? Therein lies the hoax.

Think about it!

Masters of Soulful Poetry

Masters of Soulful Poetry

Maya Angelou & Leonard Cohen

We lost two of the great soulful and expressive poets of our lifetime of late – Maya Angelou in 2014 and Leonard Cohen just last week. Their politically-conveying messages, lessons, and thought-inspiring contributions to us are deserving of our gratitude. No tribute could give worthy credit to the works of art they created for our enjoyment and solace.

Maya Angelou’s mastery included this life’s lesson, brought to our attention by Pat Hininger, in view of the white, Anglo-Saxon, bigot to whom we just handed the reins of our government:

STILL I RISE – Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter twisted lies
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words.
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness.
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise?
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of huts of history’s shame
I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide.
Walling and swelling I bear in the tide,
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise

Leonard Cohen, in his unique mastery of soulful and playful poetry gave us this life’s lesson:

EVERY KNOWS – Leonard Cohen

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

And everybody knows that it’s now or never
Everybody knows that it’s me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you’ve done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe’s still pickin’ cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it’s moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you’re in trouble
Everybody knows what you’ve been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it’s coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Oh everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows

Just one example of each of their life’s work. There are lots more equivalent contributions of their legacies.

 

Times they are a changing

As Bob Dylan sang to us many years ago and still today: ” … times they are a changing.”

As was stated yesterday, “now we get to see which philosophy dominates the American psyche.”

Now we know!

What was it someone once said? “We don’t always get the leaders we need, sometimes we get the leaders we deserve,” or something like that. Now we have an interesting two years or four years ahead. Let’s hope it isn’t as non-democratic as some of us predicted. Trigger happy is a dangerous military stance in this world now and abuse of presidential power could be a polarizing and paralyzing governance.

Our hope now should be that our new president will forget all the statements and policy stances that he campaigned on and govern with more intelligence, foresight, and compassion. And let’s hope that he will get over his gender bias and insulting demeanor and do the right thing for the country.

President Obama’s talk this morning provided the right message. He had complete transition cooperation from the George W Bush administration when he took office and his administration will provide the same to our new president.

We may not all like the changes forthcoming, but we elected new governance. Our only path to policy change is at the polls again in two years and four years. In the meantime we will have to live with the changes forthcoming.