Helplessness, Hopelessness, and Despair

Helplessness, Hopelessness, and Despair – The Big Three

Ted Folkert

August 20, 2016

What am I doing? I wonder if I am doing the right thing. It seems like a question that I can never escape. And I can’t answer it.

Did you ever ask yourself that question – as a child, as an adult, as a parent, as an employee, as an employer, as an adversary, as a plaintiff, as a defendant, as a winner, as a loser, as a buyer, as a seller? How about as a politician or an elected leader?

What have we done? Are we doing the right thing? I wonder if we ever asked ourselves those questions as a country, as a group of countries, as adversaries, as allies, as victors, as world citizens, as the world’s self-imposed police force, as defenders, as invaders.

No one lives to see the ultimate answer to such questions. The end result really never comes because every action has an opposite and equal reaction with consequences that the perpetrator cannot or will not conceive of in advance. History is replete with pitiful examples of unexpected consequences, collateral damage, impoverished societies, leaderless countries, corrupt leaders, bankrupt economies, and lawlessness – all resulting from reactions to actions not well thought out. Hundreds of millions of people have been killed and many countries destroyed by warfare, political corruption, or adverse regime changes. Hundreds of millions live with no hope or path to escape helplessness, hopelessness, and despair.

And then more bad stuff happens.

As hunters and gatherers it was easier to survive without encroaching on someone’s territory. Now, with seven billion of us on the planet it has become a lot more difficult to all get along. Food, shelter, and clothing got more complicated. And then we add in education and recreation and buying “stuff” and the challenge got even tougher. Oh, and let’s not forget the incurable addiction of the incessant quest for “power.”

We believe that we live in the greatest country in the world. Maybe we do, but it didn’t come about without winning political wars and economic wars. And it didn’t come about without ignoring the question: “are we doing the right thing?”

Please excuse this superficial and inaccurate summary of recent world history, but here goes:

Did we do the right thing in Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, El Salvador, and Nicaragua? Or were we just serving the interests of our ambitious and pleading corporations by pursuing protectionism.

Did we do the right thing in Korea or were we fearful of “communism” enlisting more of Asia and ruling the world, a threat comparable to “the sky is falling”?

Did we do the right thing in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos or were we just mislead into thinking that defeating the threat of communism was worth the loss of millions of lives and trillions of dollars?

Now we can fast-forward to the Middle East. Have we done and are we doing the right thing in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Israel, Pakistan, Syria, and Turkey? Perhaps a better question is: are we doing the right thing in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman?

We don’t mean for these questions to be rhetorical but, as it turns out, they are. They are rhetorical because we will never know if we have done or are doing the right thing. We will have a hundred different opinions about “the right thing” but we will never know the answer. It will always be arguable by our future historians.

And now, how are things going in the Middle East so far? The war mongers among us demand that we send our military there and resolve things once and for all. That, of course, is laughable at best. The Middle East now is perhaps the armpit of the world, a conglomeration of border wars, regime changes, corrupt leadership, religious conflicts, ethnic cleansing – all of the wrong power and religious struggles to get involved in or to try to resolve.

As we speak, thousands are still being killed in Syria and millions of refugees who were forced to leave their homes and all of their possessions have overrun Europe looking for an existence, survival from warfare, a peaceful place live.

Egypt, having been led by long-term leaders Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak, settled on Morsi to replace Mubarak. Morsi was soon overthrown and replaced by a new regime under Sisi, a military general under Mubarak, who has packed the government with military leaders.

Iraq, thanks to US misguidance, got rid of the murderous and corrupt Saddam Hussein, the guy we supported when we found him useful as the USSR was attempting to spread their power and dominance over the region. Now Iraq is a republic struggling to hold on to a country devastated by years of warfare and complete destruction of the economy.

Afghanistan, a victim of retaliation for the 9-11 disaster in NYC, and the perceived mandate to destroy the training grounds of Al Qaeda, is now a struggling republic clinging to what is left of their country which is devastated by years of warfare and complete destruction of their economy.

Tunisia, the home of Mohamed Bouazizi, the struggling fruit and vegetable merchant who burned himself to death in the public square to protest the oppressive government which destroyed his livelihood, triggered protests in Algeria, Egypt, Oman, Jordan and many other countries – the Arab Spring – and even in the US –  and initiated the toppling of many dictatorships throughout the Middle East.

Yemen, an economically poor country, is a republic without strong military protection and close to anarchy.

Libya escaped the forty year regime of Qaddafi and is now virtually leaderless and with little hope of establishing a peaceful solution, close to anarchy.

The Kurds inhabit the mountainous areas of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey – Kurdistan. They have been known as fierce fighters in protecting their civilization for many decades and have been called upon to play an active role in defeating ISIS, which has invaded and murdered thousands of their people in order to consume some of their territories.

Iran, after changing regimes at the hands of the US in 1953 when the Shah was returned to power and again in 1979 when he was ousted by the Islamic religious leaders, is trying to rebuild their economy after years of economic sanctions. Now they are toying with cooperation with the US in order to pursue nuclear power and with Russia as a defensive measure, with little indication of their right choice.

Pakistan is torn between loyalty to the US or other opposing interests in the region and sits idly by with nuclear weapons and corrupt political regimes.

Israel, sitting right in the middle of all the most dangerous conflicts, under the shadow of Iran and other perceived potential threats, which would tend to make them trigger-happy warriors with nuclear weapons. They are struggling protectionists with little room to expand their population and an important ally of the US in the region.

Most of the countries just discussed are remnants of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after WWI as the empire was divided up by Britain and France. The borders have changed many times, as have the various regimes, but the conflicts seem to be endless and with no obvious resolution.

So, how are we doing so far?

Don’t try to answer that question because there is no answer. For every action there is an opposing and equal reaction after reaction after reaction after reaction. No one will live long enough to see the answer to all of the reactions to all of the actions that seemed to be the right thing to do at the time.

The question that we always seem to ignore, and perhaps the most fundamental question, is: what action will help to eliminate or treat helplessness, hopelessness, and despair? These are the roots of anger, violence, aggression, terrorism, and the horrendous suffering by the victims thereof. And there are roots to helplessness, hopelessness, and despair that are not being recognized, considered, treated, or eliminated.

What actions can we take that will evolve into reactions to assuage helplessness, hopelessness, and despair?  And what actions can we take to assuage the roots to the big three. That is the ultimate question. Don’t ever forget those three words.

Think about it!

Trump’s Trash Talk

Trump’s Trash Talk

Ted Folkert

What do we know about the candidate for President of the United States that the Republican Party offers us, not only offers us, but tells us that he is the best they have to offer?

Here are a few things he told us about himself:

  • No one is a better businessman than he is.
  • No one can make deals like he can.
  • No one is smarter than he is.
  • No one could do as good a job as he can.
  • No one is wealthier than he is.
  • No one is more handsome than he is.
  • Things will be great for everyone with him.
  • America will be great with him.
  • No one will pay as much taxes with him.
  • Everyone will be better off with him.
  • The world leaders will love him.
  • Putin will love him.
  • We will wall out immigrants with him.
  • We will deport immigrants with him.
  • We will kick ass all over the world with him.
  • We may use nuclear weapons with him.
  • We will tear up treaties and disregard commitments with him.
  • We will make the other countries bow down and pay homage to us.

Here are a few things we have learned about him:

  • He dislikes Mexicans.
  • He dislikes Muslims.
  • He dislikes minorities.
  • He dislikes most women.
  • He likes Putin.
  • He wants to kick ass all over the world,
  • He hates Hillary Clinton.
  • He hates Elizabeth Warren.
  • He hates Barack Obama.
  • He thinks prisoners of war should have been killed instead of captured.
  • He was a perennial draft dodger.
  • He is a bloviating bully behind body guards.
  • He bankrupted several companies.
  • He defaulted on numerous bank loans.
  • He is crude and rude to anyone who challenges him.
  • He makes up and tells lies about his opponents.
  • He disrespects the parents of fallen war heroes.
  • He makes racial slurs against African-Americans, Muslims, and other foreigners.
  • He slanders any member of the media who disagrees with him.
  • He has been rejected by numerous dignitaries from his own party.
  • He has nauseated the French president and other foreign leaders.
  • He accused Japan and South Korea of freeloading on defense.
  • He has questioned compliance with NATO agreements.
  • He threatens to tear up trade agreements.
  • The Mexican president has accused him of fascist tendencies.
  • Baltic leaders have been disparaged by him.
  • He was declared as unfit to be the American president by President Obama.
  • He vented anger at fire officials for doing their jobs at his rallies.
  • He called for investigation of a federal judge with a Mexican name for ruling against him.
  • He warned donors against him to watch out, that they better be careful.
  • He declares that he will issue illegal orders of punishment for political enemies.
  • He declared that Vladimir Putin is a better leader than Obama.
  • American foreign policy experts declare him to be unfit to be president.
  • He urged Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
  • He hinted at declaring the annexation of Crimea by Russia as legal.
  • He has challenged the importance of NATO.
  • He has called for using torture against political prisoners.
  • Former Republican Pentagon and State Department officials are supporting Clinton.
  • 121 self-described members of the Republican national security community signed a public letter pledging support for Clinton.
  • He declines to reveal his tax returns, stating that they are under audit.
  • Obviously, these returns are likely to reveal a predatory prowess that would again disqualify him from holding any control over the largess of the Treasury of the United States.
  • And, most recently, he suggested that “second amendment” supporters (gun control) maybe could prevent Hillary Clinton from appointing Supreme Court justices. Is this suggesting assassination?

If the above is insufficient to help you make a decision regarding the danger of such a person, who is obviously a “loose cannon”, having the capacity to wield the power of the presidency of the United States, just stay tuned. There will obviously be much more to come. His mouth is like a toilet that just keeps on running.

Think about!

Mind-boggling technology taken for granted

Mind-boggling technology taken for granted

Ted Folkert

June 23, 2016

Things to think about when holding that  communication device in your hand.

 It seems simple enough. We punch a few buttons or spots on the plastic face and can communicate instantaneously across town or worldwide. No big deal? Well, consider a few facts about how we got here:

  • $8 billion factories
  • A staff of thousands with special knowledge
  • Silicon wafers
  • Transistor miniaturization
  • Photolithography
  • Nanometer technology
  • Etchings and deposits – 2,000 times
  • Slicing and dicing
  • Particle-free air
  • Memory controllers
  • Input/output circuits
  • Cache
  • Cores (chips within chips)
  • Nanometers

I remember working at Western Electric Company back in the 1960s as a production programmer and later, while attending college, as a machine setter in the plant manufacturing electron tubes. Western Electric was the manufacturing and supply unit for the Bell System, a division of AT&T. They were on the cutting edge of communication technology at that time, slicing silicon wafers and manufacturing transistors in their early stages of development, among many other electronic components, including resistance lamps and cathode-ray tubes. A transistor is a switch which is turned off and on by electronic pulses instead of manually, one of the important early components of electronic miniaturization, a single function on-off switch. Western Electric had one of the early clean rooms, into which you couldn’t enter except under strict conditions of cleanliness and sterility.

In later years, after a stint in the military and then a return to the company in an office role, I encountered one of the early computer rooms, with large main frame computer processors, card readers and tape readers, all located in a large enclosed room. There was a constant stream of trays of cards being transported in and out of the computer room to record data in the archaic way that computerization was done in those early days. Punched slots in cards served as the on-off switches, which were later replaced with transistors.

The technology seemed amazing at the time but much more was soon to come as this technology evolved.

Now computerization is accomplished by silicon chips with a myriad of minute circuitry which is barely visible, if at all, by the naked eye. If you want to manufacture silicon chips you will first need to spend about $8 billion building a factory capable of the process. Then you start with a 12-inch silicon wafer, which costs about $300, create patterns on the wafer with photolithography and deposit super-thin layers of material on top of the wafer. These wafers are cleaned with the purest form of water possible. So pure that it could not be safely consumed by humans because it would absorb the nutrients from the body. This wafer is chopped into 122 Xeon E5 chips, which sell for $4,000 each. Each E5 chip has as many as 7.2 billion transistors. (Yes, 7.2 billion on-off switches). The chip in the original IBM PC had 29,000 transistors. It takes about three months to manufacture a single E5 chip. It requires about 2,000 steps of etching and depositing layers of materials, sometimes as thin as a single atom. The 12-inch wafer, when finished, will be worth more than $300,000.

A human blood cell is 7,000 nanometers across. Chip manufacturing works on a 14 nanometer scale, a tiny fraction of the size of a human blood cell. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. (39.37 inches divided by one billion – 39.37” ÷ 1,000,000,000 = .00000003739 inches). That is getting very small, not visible by the naked eye.

It takes five years to make a new computer server chip. It takes about three years for that chip to become obsolete. A chip design needs to generate $3 billion over the first two years to be economically viable.

In research and development and capital expenditures, it costs more to make a chip than to make an airplane.

A human brain has 10 billion neurons. By 2026 or so, someone said, your computer will have more than 10 billion transistors.

Think about it when you hold that personal data phone in your hand. How can they do all this amazing stuff and make it available to every living human in 50 years?


Think about it!

A Quiet Man with a Great Legacy

A Quiet Man with a Great Legacy

June 6, 2013 – republished on June 6, 2016

Homer Theodore Folkert. Today is his birthday, a wistful day for me. He would be 101 today but he only actually lived half that long. But what he accomplished in that half life he can be very proud of, believe you me.

He was six feet tall and skinny as a rail with dark brown hair combed straight back and parted in the middle, a receding hairline on each side, ruggedly handsome, muscular arms, had a slight build, probably never weighed more than 150 pounds. Most of the time he wore bib overalls and a small cap with the bill turned up. And he carried a lunch bucket. He had a rather low friendly voice which you never heard very often. He wore a hearing aid, without which he was difficult to communicate with.

As a small boy he had been bedridden with rheumatic fever for a period of time, which left him with a hearing deficiency. He had surgery when he was about 35 or so, called a double mastoidectomy, I believe. This apparently improved some painful headaches but left him with little hearing in either ear.

He was a hard-working man and spent about a dozen years as a hardwood floor sander and refinisher. He used to come home every evening with saw dust all over him from sanding floors all day. A man totally dedicated with trying to provide a comfortable living for his family. A quiet man, not vocally religious, but with a totally honest and generous nature, he didn’t attend church with us because he couldn’t hear what was said. He always had a good appetite, starting the day with cereal with cream, eggs over easy, bacon, toast and coffee with cream, probably a diet which led to his clogged arteries, which then was called hardening of the arteries, for which there wasn’t repair in those days. He was struck by this problem at about 45 years of age and was then unable to work and finally succumbed to a final heart attack just before his 51st birthday.

During a period of time when the six of us lived in a tiny house at 227 North Glenwood, a house with the water faucet in the front yard and the bath in the back yard, Dad spent lots of his evenings drawing building plans on butcher paper saved from Mom’s trips to the grocery store. They had purchased about a half acre of land across the street from our little house which sloped downhill from Glenwood rather steeply and it was there the he was planning to build us a home. After a few years he was able to borrow some money from the local bank, Fairmount Bank, and hired an excavator to dig him a place for a foundation and basement for his house. Then a few months later he ordered the pouring of concrete for the foundation. The next phase began a few months later with building concrete block walls for the basement. He was building a house that would be strong and enduring, using 12” blocks instead of the usual 9” blocks. These were heavier to handle but that was his plan. He used to work on his project every night after work until dark and all day Saturday and Sunday. It seemed like it took years, but he finally got the walls all up to the roof level. Then he ordered two steel I beams to support the roof and the future house above the basement. The beams were set in place by someone with a machine capable of handling them and then Dad started framing in the roof with 2 by 12 rafters to support the roof and house above, which was then followed by roofing paper and hot-mopped tar for waterproofing. Once this was completed he installed windows and a walk-in door beside the drive-in door opening, which was enclosed with plywood.

After a few more months he started doing the plumbing for the kitchen and bathroom and constructing a septic tank behind the house since the basement was too low to hook up to sewer in the street. Then came the build out of the kitchen counter and cabinets and divisional walls for a couple of bedrooms and the bathroom. Then the electrical wiring phase began and finally the installation of the furnace.

Bear in mind that was all done by one man in his spare time with his own hands and no help from anyone except me sometimes mixing and carrying concrete, concrete blocks and lumber for him.

But the basement was finally completed and we moved in and vacated the tiny house at 227 and became residents of 240 North Glenwood, a house with indoor plumbing and a forced air furnace, luxury at last and the successful completion of Dad’s years-long project. He had built a home for his family. A greater success than most of us will ever achieve in a lifetime.

But it didn’t stop there. He was committed to build the house on top of the basement and a few years later he started on that phase. This phase of his project took several more years and was completed as he had the time and money to complete it. He bought lumber as he had some cash and framed in the outside walls, the interior walls of three bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, dining room and a living room with a fireplace. Then came the construction of the roof, the floor, the outside walls, the exterior wood shingles, the windows, the doors, the stairs from the basement, the plumbing for the kitchen and bathroom, the electrical wiring, the ductwork for the furnace, the sheetrock, the taping and finishing, the build out of the kitchen, bathroom, dining room built-in cabinets, the fireplace and chimney.

This is really, really a long story made really, really short. This was one man building his house all by himself with his two hands, strong arms, intelligence and intestinal fortitude. This took guts and endurance and dedication and is a project that most of us would be incapable of and would lack the qualities to complete.

But he did complete it for the most part and the family moved upstairs. By that time my older sister and I were married and had moved on but my younger sister and brother and Mom and Dad moved upstairs and gained another rung on the ladder of living standards.

Dad got to enjoy his accomplishment for a few years before his poor health became too much, but Mom lived there for many years to come, along with the younger two siblings.

But that wasn’t all Dad did during those years, although it is hard to imagine that he had any time left for other activities. He always took us wherever we needed to go. With me it was Boy Scout meetings every week. He went along and became an Assistant Scout Master. With my brother he went to Boy Scouts and each and every sporting event for his entire little league, high school and college sporting years. And for the girls he was there them just the same in whatever they were involved in.

He was unselfish, honest, responsible and led and taught by example in his quiet and humble way. That is his legacy. What greater legacy could one leave or hope for?

Labor Party

Labor Party

Ted Folkert

May 7, 2016

These two words together “labor” and “party”, can seem like an oxymoron – like nice insult, or pleasant illness, or bad fortune, or sweet sorrow. We like to party for fun, but labor is something we do for food, usually not for fun.

But in the sense of what we don’t have and badly need, a Labor Party can mean a voice in the way we are governed, a voice for the working class, a voice now unheard from the invisible class, those of us who do the work to keep everyone in food, shelter and clothing – and streets, highways, fire departments and police forces.

This may come as a shock to some of us, but the working class has no voice in the way we are governed. Lincoln’s description of the way our government should function – “of, by and for the people” – has never been the case, was never meant to be the case by our founders, and has never been allowed to carve out a space in our political system. The original intent of our founders, who were pre-capitalist in those days, seems to have been protection of property, their property. What it became after the advent and massive growth of capitalism is a government of, by and for the corporations and the wealthy. This was no accident. It was by design. It was created this way to prevent an uprising by the people and an overthrow of the government, a plan that was not very Jeffersonian but merely the best they could agree to when considering the landholding and slaveholding interests of the planners.

They didn’t teach us this in the public schools. They taught us from the textbooks which were deemed pertinent to glorify the democratic intent of the founders and to give no hint of the intent of the consensus that resolved the issues.

Our primary focus has always been on our two party electoral system, the Democratic and Republican. What we have always been lacking, and which seems to place more emphasis on government of, by and for the people, is a Labor Party – a party of the working class as opposed to the aristocratic class which has always governed us. Our two parties are both controlled by corporate interest first and equality of opportunity interest last or not at all.

We were led to believe in my youthful years that the Democratic Party was the working class party. That was when labor unions were strong, when we had presidents like Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, (perhaps) Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and (perhaps) Richard Nixon. Unfortunately, since 1980 we have been saddled with conservatives – Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton and George W Bush. And, yes, even Barack Obama, who tries to be labor oriented but, unfortunately, got in bed with the bankers early on in order to get elected and reelected and has been repaying those debts ever since by looking past the felonies committed by these acclaimed pillars of society. His healthcare breakthrough has been good for the people but he skipped a great opportunity to reduce the overpowering control of equality of opportunity by the big banks. And perhaps, in all fairness to Obama, he could have accomplished much more if he had some congressional support, which has been zilch except for his first couple of years in office while he was still training for the job and getting acquainted with a few of the millions of employees suddenly under his reign.

As we witness in some European countries, from which our founders originated, Labor parties can be very effective. Political control of the various countries, such as Britain and France, seems to vacillate between the conservative and liberal leaning prime ministers. The British Labour Party, originally formed by the union movement, represents the interests of those who do the work, as opposed to the Whigs, who encourage a more constitutional form of government, and the Tories, who are in favor a strong monarchy. We see the leadership in France vacillate between conservative and liberal leaning prime ministers. In European countries socialist parties seem more effective than in the US. The fearsome term “communism” is not linked to socialism as it is here. French leaders are sometimes considered socialists, which would by definition be more labor oriented.

Of course, our unions took a devastating hit when Reagan showed up in 1980. He had been GE’s mouthpiece on the airways for years and knew all of the misleading arguments against collective bargaining as well as welfare for those less advantaged. He used his experience very effectively in the war against the workers and the needy. We should have formed a labor party then and there, while the labor unions still had funding capability. Instead the labor unions have linked with the Democratic Party, which has now become more of a Republican Party. We now have two likely candidates for president who are Republican by nature, Hillary and the Donald. And then there is the democratic socialist, Bernie, who could open a path to a labor party which could become an influential force for future contests for control of our government and our economy.

Yes, it is true. We have lost lots of wars the last few decades. We lost the war on drugs, the war of poverty, the war in Vietnam, the war in Iraq, and the war in Afghanistan. And the war that was never mentioned that was actually won, and the one that did the most economic damage, was the war on the workers. That one is still going on although the corporations and the rich and powerful won it a long time ago.

We need a labor party so we can get back in the action, rearm our troops, take back some territory and maybe lose the war on the workers in the future.

Think about it!

Clinton + Goldman, a lasting romance

Clinton + Goldman, a lasting romance

Ted Folkert

April 15, 2016

“Love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage, you can’t have one without the other.”

It seems we need new words for that song, such as: “K Street and Wall Street, go together for another repeat.”

Where is Sammy Kahn when we need him?

The repeat we are discussing here is the ongoing love affair of Wall Street and the Clinton family. As we all know, many marriages don’t work out. But this one sure has. It seems that this marriage started when Robert Rubin, Senior Partner of Goldman Sachs, fell in love with Bill Clinton in 1991 when Clinton was a presidential candidate. They became forever partners after he was elected, Rubin became Treasury Secretary, and both have profited handsomely ever since – a marriage made in heaven.

Just to mention a few examples of what transpired:

Rubin and other Goldman Sachs partners raised money to get Clinton elected.

Rubin became Treasury Secretary and led the financial deregulation that paved the way for the launching of the unregulated financial derivatives trading in the early 2000s, the reckless, abusive, and fraudulent scheme that nearly destroyed the banking system later in the 2000s and required you and me to bail them out with billions of our tax dollars.

After we bailed them out, they paid huge bonuses to the partners of the company.

Goldman was later deeply involved in the collapsing housing bubble, which was devastating for the working class and initiated years of investigations, charges, fines, and hand slapping of the financial perpetrators.

The U.S. economy suffered greatly, causing massive unemployment and loss of equity in housing and depletion of retirement savings for thousands of Americans.

Goldman was penalized thirteen times for negligent representation, securities laws violations, and fraud – some of the penalties were more than $300 million.

The Security and Exchange Commission fined Goldman $550 million for fraudulent marketing.

Recently Goldman agreed to pay $5 billion to settle multiple lawsuits for fraudulent marketing.

Just to mention a few examples of the reconciliation of the love affair:

Hillary Clinton received a $711,000 contribution for her 2000 Senate campaign.

Bill Clinton received $650,000 for four speeches to Goldman Sachs in 2004 and 2005.

Bill Clinton received another $600,000 from them between 2006 and 2014, including $200,000 in 2011 while the bank was lobbying Hillary’s State Department for changes in the Budget Control Act.

Hillary Clinton received $675,000 for making three speeches for Goldman in 2013.

If my math is correct, that totals to more than $2 million. Not bad for the Clintons and apparently a good investment for the financial fraudsters.

I didn’t make this stuff up. The figures were provided by the article “Clinton and Goldman: Why It Matters” by Simon Head, NYR Daily.

Quoting Simon Head: “As long as Clinton refuses to reveal the content of her Goldman speeches, the suspicion will remain that she has cast a blind eye on Goldman’s dark years and that her campaign pledge to “rein in Wall Street” cannot be taken seriously.”

So, I guess some things never change – love and marriage, horse and carriage, K Street and Wall Street, financial shenanigans by the big banks – and as they used to say in Missouri, “money talks and b. s. walks.”

Is this the government that we want to lead our country? A government controlled by Goldman Sachs and manipulated by the Clinton dynasty?

Think about it!

America – Land of Plenty

America – Land of Plenty

Ted Folkert

April 5, 2016

This has to be one of the most mind-boggling election years that I can remember. What to do? Who to support? How to avoid disaster? What about foreign policy? What about the economy? What about un-indicted known criminals? What about rebuilding the infrastructure of our country? What about our educational system and the massive student debt? – All critical questions for our future here in this land of plenty.

This is the land of plenty you know – plenty of ignored problems, plenty of inequality, plenty of ineffective leaders, plenty of underfunded essential programs, plenty of dishonest financiers, plenty of self-serving politicians, plenty of misguided governors, senators, and representatives, plenty of military hawks financed by the defense contractors, plenty of undemocratic election laws – yes, this is definitely the land of plenty.

Maybe this inspired the Porgy and Bess song: I Got Plenty of Nothing. Remember the line: “I got plenty of nothing and nothing’s plenty for me”.

There are probably thousands of people in this country capable of being very effective as president. But, none of them want the job or are capable of mounting a campaign in a country where the leaders can easily be elected by the highest bidder. So, all of these capable potential leaders choose to stay home and suffer the anguish of watching four or eight years of pathetic performance from the oval office. (Merely a prediction after consideration of the likely potential choices among the offerings as espoused by the self-appointed political prognosticators)

So, what are we left with? What are our choices this time around?

We have an arrogant, super-egotistical, economically challenged, foreign policy numbskull, a coward who walks around with his body guards as he insults women, Hispanics, Muslims, and everyone else that he abhors – the Grump. Did you ever see the guy smile? This is the loose-lipped, smartest-guy-in-the-world who has an unfavorable rating of 57%.

We have a mentally warped Texan who would take us back a century with his attitude regarding human rights, economic policy, education, health care, carpet bombing, or any other governmental responsibility – Texas Crude.

We have the wife of a president who took us down the path of financial disaster while he was convincing us how great everything was, while he embarrassed the nation by feeding his sexual appetite at the expense of a naïve young intern and trashed the meaning of marital fidelity in an egregious manner – whose candidate-wife touts his financial and economic acumen as her guide to financial prosperity. It seems the financial prosperity they are good at is their own, having amassed a fortune of tens or hundreds of millions in the last few years from the generosity of the same crooks that took us down the tube as a nation and have the table set to serve us more of the same for years to come. Yes, former Goldwater supporter, Hillary “I’m liberal just like Bernie” Clinton. Although she has now adopted many of Bernie’s popular beliefs she still has an unfavorable rating of 52% and is found by many as lacking honesty and trustworthiness.

Wait till the Republicans start displaying all of the hundreds of millions that the Clinton Foundation has amassed from foreign governments during her reign as Secretary of State. There may be nothing illegal there but it might not pass the smell test with the voters as they use the favorite lead-in of the Grump – “people are saying.”

And then we have the guy from Vermont – the Bern – who, throughout his political career of decades, always got involved in critical political challenges for the under privileged while ignoring making any money for himself. The guy the media has ignored because the former philanderer-president’s-candidate-wife is proclaimed to have the race all sewed up, as she gets angrier and angrier when asked embarrassing questions that she prefers not to answer. Sanders has a higher approval rating on honesty and trustworthiness than any of the above mentioned candidates. His disapproval rating was reported as 37%.

Sanders’ critics, primarily the prognosticators who yearn to sound insightful in their offerings, say that he can’t do all of the progressive goals that he proposes. Well, of course not, but you certainly can’t do them if you don’t get started. You certainly can’t do them if the people don’t believe that they should be done and can be done. You certainly can’t do them if the people don’t rise up and elect a congress that will support meaningful change for the benefit of the nation and not just for the benefit of a handful of the politically connected. Sanders wants all of us to be politically connected, and I like that idea.

If the prognosticators are correct, that Sanders doesn’t have a chance, then what are we left with? What we are left with is the pathetic challenge of electing the least of the evils we have to choose from, the hold your nose and vote candidate, the candidate with the least baggage to carry-on, the candidate that might do the least damage, the candidate that might keep us out of foreign wars, the candidate furthest removed from corporate and financial control, the candidate who might improve the plight of all the people instead of just the “chosen ones.”

Beyond Sanders, that choice will be a tough one. A choice that may not improve our land of plenty.

Think about it!

Think about our Land of Plenty!

Hillary Clinton for Republican nominee!

Hillary Clinton for Republican nominee!

Ted Folkert

March 22, 2016

The Republican dilemma about who to offer as the Republican candidate for president in order to avoid certain failure of the would-be dictator, Donald Trump, has now become clear. The Republicans should take the decision to their convention and nominate Hillary Clinton.

Yes, Hillary Clinton. She is running on the obvious failures of President Bill Clinton’s self-proclaimed economic successes. Bill Clinton, as it turned out, was an impressive Republican president. He has a clear legacy to prove it. His closest cronies and allies were none other than the Wall Street mavericks Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Sandy Weill. They taught him how to be a good Republican. They convinced him to eliminate the Glass-Steagall Act, the barrier to reckless gambling with our bank deposits, which was enacted to prevent such practice from causing another Great Depression.

Clinton actually declared himself an Eisenhower Republican, favoring lower taxes, free trade, and a strong bond market, not the policies that would benefit those who elected him. Under Clinton stock values rose to 44 times earnings, greater than the multiple prior to the stock market crash in 1929. This craze was driven by the dot-com boom, when Internet start-ups were raking it in with IPOs. This set the stage for the collapse of the dot-com bubble and the recession that ensued as soon as he left office, which, along with the tax cut policies of G W Bush, led us to the 2008 financial crisis, the Great Recession, which was then inherited by President Obama.

Clinton, through programs directly affecting those who needed help the most, reduced federal deficits to surpluses. He did so by reducing support for education by 24%, science support by 19%, Income security by 18%, and transportation by 10%. He promoted free-trade by passing NAFTA which helped American businesses but hurt the workers who lost their jobs to lower wage markets.

Between 1968 and 2000 the economy became 81% more productive but the minimum wage in 2000 was 35% lower in real value than in 1968.

Clinton then attacked the welfare program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, shifting the burden to soup kitchens and food pantries to provide for those in need.

The truth is that during the Bill Clinton presidency nothing was accomplished to improve conditions for working class people and the poor, those who he appealed to when asking for their votes.

So, is that Hillary’s economic strategy? No wonder Wall Street is so enamored with her, blessing her with many millions of dollars of contributions and paying her hundreds of thousands of dollars for her speeches to their people.

If Hillary is to follow her husband’s example as she proclaims then she could be a very effective Republican president.

Think about it!

Trumped Again

Trumped Again

March 18, 2016

Ted Folkert

David Brooks, brilliant writer for the New York Times, although someone I seldom would quote, hit it out of the park with his article today, No, Not Trump, Not Ever:

Some excerpts from Brooks article:

“ …… Trump voters are a coalition of the dispossessed. They have suffered lost jobs, lost wages, lost dreams. The American system is not working for them, so naturally they are looking for something else.

Moreover, many in the media, especially me, did not understand how they would express their alienation. We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it’s a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I’m going to report accurately on this country.

And yet reality is reality.

Donald Trump is epically unprepared to be president. He has no realistic policies, no advisers, no capacity to learn. His vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and he’s uninterested in finding out. He insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa.

Trump is perhaps the most dishonest person to run for high office in our lifetimes. All politicians stretch the truth, but Trump has a steady obliviousness to accuracy.

This week, the Politico reporters Daniel Lippman, Darren Samuelsohn and Isaac Arnsdorf fact-checked 4.6 hours of Trump speeches and press conferences. They found more than five dozen untrue statements, or one every five minutes.

“His remarks represent an extraordinary mix of inaccurate claims about domestic and foreign policy and personal and professional boasts that rarely measure up when checked against primary sources,” they wrote.

He is a childish man running for a job that requires maturity. He is an insecure boasting little boy whose desires were somehow arrested at age 12. He surrounds himself with sycophants. “You can always tell when the king is here,” Trump’s butler told Jason Horowitz in a recent Times profile. He brags incessantly about his alleged prowess, like how far he can hit a golf ball. “Do I hit it long? Is Trump strong?” he asks.

History is a long record of men like him temporarily rising, stretching back to biblical times. Psalm 73 describes them: “Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. … They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.”

And yet their success is fragile: “Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly they are destroyed.”

The psalmist reminds us that the proper thing to do in the face of demagogy is to go the other way — to make an extra effort to put on decency, graciousness, patience and humility, to seek a purity of heart that is stable and everlasting.

The Republicans who coalesce around Trump are making a political error. They are selling their integrity for a candidate who will probably lose. About 60 percent of Americans disapprove of him, and that number has been steady since he began his campaign.

Donald Trump is an affront to basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship. He pollutes the atmosphere in which our children are raised. He has already shredded the unspoken rules of political civility that make conversation possible. In his savage regime, public life is just a dog-eat-dog war of all against all.

As the founders would have understood, he is a threat to the long and glorious experiment of American self-government. He is precisely the kind of scapegoating, promise-making, fear-driving and deceiving demagogue they feared.

Trump’s supporters deserve respect. They are left out of this economy. But Trump himself? No, not Trump, not ever.”’

Read the article:

Think about it!


Trump Talk

Ted Folkert

March 16, 2016

Like they used to say in my old neighborhood: “money talks and b.s. walks”.

When Trump talks, money talks and b.s talks.

Some have likened Trump’s rhetoric and tactics to Adolph Hitler. Is that a stretch? Maybe so, but it would be interesting to see a comparison. He is obviously a mentally deranged, egotistical, loose-lipped, coward who hides behind his body guards while lambasting everyone who disagrees with him. Are we are right on so far?

He throws out meaningless generalities like ‘“everything is going to be so good with me as president”, “America will be great again”, “I’m so successful because I am so smart”, “I am going to replace Obamacare with something much better”, “I’m going to create so many new jobs”, “I will make Mexico build a wall”, “now the wall just got 10 feet taller”, “I will tear up that agreement with Iran and bring them to their knees”, “I will show these other countries who we really are”, “I will build our military so much stronger that everyone will fear us” ………………………. blah, blah, blah.”’ B. S. talks.

What a pathetic, cowardly, creep. He has given the Republican Party the death blow that they have been deserving ever since they gave us Reagan and the Bushes – who did their best to destroy our economy and the peaceful coexistence with the world that we all prefer. It may take more than the Kook Brokers or Seldom Ablesome to finance the rebuilding of the GOP after Trump gets done with it.

We are so totally focused on fighting terrorism that we can’t recognize terrorism when it is right under our noses, hiding in plain sight. Trump is a terrorist, a cowardly terrorist, like most of them are. If someone grabbed him by the shirt and he had no bodyguard around he would have to go change his trousers. He incites violence at his political gatherings and then encourages harsh treatment of protestors, which would be considered unlawful if anyone else did it. Now he threatens us with statements that suggest riots if he is denied the candidacy, another attempt to strike fear in the minds of detractors. How did Hitler deal with detractors?

This guy is a loose cannon. He probably doesn’t know what that is but just ask anyone who has been in warfare and they will explain it. The reason the Republicans are sticking with him is that they don’t have any other creep to offer to get the country back on track of failure like the last regime they gave us. Those kind of people are hard to find. But they found Trump and now they are stuck with him. All they can do now is hold their noses and vote for him. They must continue to support him while he throws around his school-yard expletives and criticizes the way his opponents appear or speak or think. He lies through his teeth and has no fear of legal challenges since he has more money and bigger bullies following him around than anyone else. Did Hitler have any bullies around?

He insults every woman who challenges him, insults minorities, insults immigrants, insults his opponents, insults Muslims, ignoring the constitutional provisions requiring freedom of religion, and lies through his teeth every time he opens his mouth.

Trump is certifiably narcissistic, totally absorbed and obsessed by his own wealth and power. He registers off the charts on the Richter scale of mental stability, practicality, and common sense. His reading doesn’t even register on the scale of the common good. To him the common good is what is commonly good for Donald Trump. Screw all of those other worthless, incompetent, under-financed, ugly, unintelligent, and insignificant losers. Does any of these characteristics sound familiar?

The GOP has been pulled so far to the right side of political thought that the thought of a balanced government is a thing of the past. It is the right-wingers way or the highway. No compromise, no consensus of opinion, no intelligent negotiation, no common sense, no common good.

Donald Trump is about to change the name of the GOP, the Republican Party, to the Party of What’s Good for Trump. We may be a one-party system in his aftermath for quite a while. And that may not be a good thing.

Think about it!