Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Alternative Facts

Threat Against Democracy (TAD).  The events of this past weekend were so amazing that they deserve comment.  The high point, of course, was the women’s march.  What an amazing display of peaceful demonstration and the power of coordinated action.  It was a global event and I found it inspiring.  And, did you happen to watch SNL?  The opening monologue was thoughtful, responsible, and captivating.  Then there was the inauguration and the subsequent reaction by the administration. It started with Trump’s unbelievable statements to the CIA.  Then, on his very first appearance in the White House Propaganda Room the Chief Disinformation Officer, Sean Spicer, flat out lied over a trivial matter – how many people attended the inauguration.  Next, on Sunday, Kellyanne Conway suggested that she would need to rethink her “relationship” with Chuck Todd if he kept asking hard questions. Then the quote of the weekend about “alternative facts.”  Social media loved it with posts such as “I’m not gay - I’m alternative straight.” and “It didn’t rain on the inauguration - That was alternative sunshine.”  Fun, but there is something very serious here.  There will undoubtedly come a time when some situation occurs and the administration will need the full support of the American people.  They won’t get it though because they will have so thoroughly ruined their own credibility that they won’t be believed.  And that’s a huge TAD.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Trump Card

Threat Against Democracy (TAD).  I watched the inaugural speech on January 20th.  I was prepared to be disappointed, but it was much more disappointing than I had even expected.  Of course, what I took away are my perceptions and I could be wrong.  His statements about America first and protectionism sounded to me like he wants us to step away from our role as the leaders of the free world. 

He said protectionism will lead to prosperity.  That seems counter-intuitive to me.  Also, I’m not sure what it means to recognize the right of all nations to put their interests first.  If Russia thinks it’s in their interest to retake Ukraine, is that all right?  What about China and Taiwan?  

Whether you believe America is great or not, we’d probably all like it to be even greater, right?  But what does that mean?  Well, from his speech and prior statements, I think it might mean less unemployment, job growth, economic growth, reduction in trade deficits and low inflation.  So, to try track whether America is getting greater, I’m developing what I call the Trump Card.  It will probably change over time, but for now I’m going to compare the following statistics from the last 8 years (where available) with how they perform under Trump.

Unemployment: It went from 9.1% in January 2009 to 4.9% (Estimated) in November of 2016 (the most recent I could find).
Years of GDP Growth 2009-2015: 6 out of 7 (2016 isn’t available yet)
Average Rate of Inflation: 1.375
Average Annual Trade Deficit: (2009-2015) $488M
Monthly Jobs Growth: Positive 79 out of 96 months (including the last 74)
Are there other stats you think I should include?

As for the rest of the speech, did I find it concerning?  Oh yes, a TAD.          

Sunday, January 15, 2017

State Sponsored Intimidation of the Press?

Threat Against Democracy (TAD). Fake news is an insidious and dangerous thing.  When a man takes a weapon to a pizza shop and fires because he believes a fake news story claiming there was a child sex ring operating there we should all be concerned.  But, when the president-elect attacks the main stream media with assertions of fake news over stories that depict him poorly, it is much more serious.  That begins to look like state-sponsored propaganda aimed at intimidating and undermining the press and even the right to free speech.  This should cause all of us to take notice.  More than just a TAD.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

One Person One Vote?  Seems like a simple enough concept doesn’t it?  Yet, in North Carolina elected officials who are displeased with the outcome of the governor’s race are taking action to diminish the voice of the people by taking away authorities previously granted to the governor.  One of their egregious actions is to remove the governor’s influence from the redistricting process.  Seems that a fairer redistricting might threaten to produce districts in which there would be real competition for legislative positions.  Apparently one person one vote is okay as long as the district boundaries ensure that the votes of people who disagree with these elected officials have little chance of counting.  CNN reports that there is a temporary restraining order against implementation (, but whether the law is thrown out or not, the legislators’ actions ultimately threaten citizens’ rights.  This concerns me a lot.  Certainly more than just a TAD.