At the RNC Convention, in July, you Ooh’d and Ahh’d over the four adult Trump children—so unnaturally in awe of their father that they seemed programmed to act just like Daddy—arrogantly ignorant. Or, is that ignorantly ignorant? Tiffany, age 22, however, has remained out of the spotlight and, perhaps, has not been indoctrinated into the family business yet.
Ivanka (age 34) helped Donald present his Maternity Leave Program. The Plan
is decidedly lame: it only provides for six weeks maternity leave, applies to married women only, and is funded through participant child care spending accounts. Since only 35% of households itemize deductions, and they are skewed somewhat away from younger people of childbearing years, the full tax savings would be lost on them.
Ironically, Ivanka who influenced Daddy to, at least, offer something for New Moms, has not similarly used her influence on the company that makes her brand products. to do likewise. Women there must use vacation days for any time-off.
Contrary to Donald Trump’s false assertions, Secretary Clinton has had a Paid Maternity and Health Care Plan posted on her web site for a year and a half. Her Plan provides up to twelve weeks paid leave to care for a new child or a seriously ill family member. Both men and women are eligible—married or not—and it is funded by higher taxes on the wealthy, since they are the primary beneficiaries of the Economic Recovery. Hillary Clinton’s plan, unlike Trump’s, was formulated with input from various child support groups.
Donald, Jr. (age 38) seems be the Alt-Right coordinator, and seemingly enjoys saying things in a most abhorrent way. He claimed that, if Trump did half the things that Clinton did, they’d be warming up the gas chamber. Then, adding to the abhorrence, he said that it was a Capital Punishment, not a Nazi Joke. “Joke”, Junior, really?
Moving right along, Junior then posted a picture on Twitter comparing Syrian refugees to poisoned candy. “If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful?” the image read. “That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”
Perhaps, growing up in an entitled lifestyle, the Trumpkins don’t seem to have any empathy for those who must endure actual pain, suffering and, possibly, “In-Coming!” artillery shells. But “Junior”, what if those refugees were: Sergey Brin (Google), Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX) and Pierre Omidyar (eBay)? Or, how about Alfred Einstein, Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell? Two scoops?
Eric (age 32), who is less involved with Things Trump, also demonstrates his detachment from the real world. On FOX “News”, he received a skeptical smile from host Julie Roginsky when he said that his father: “…came from just about nothing.” It’s fairly well-known, although maybe not by the Trump Kids, that their father was raised in a similarly entitled lifestyle, DID receive significant financial backing from Fred Trump, his father, early on in his career, and considerable tax considerations from the NYC City Hall, due to his father’s clout.
Eric also stated that his brother, Donald, Jr., is his mentor, and mostly raised him, since he was seven. He added that Ivanka was like a second mother to him. This close sibling relationship was brought about because his father worked 24-hour days. Isn’t it too bad that Daddy couldn’t afford a Nanny? In essence, the Trumpkins seem to have inherited their father’s same consistent regard for honesty.
Trumpeters might just treat these actions as childish and foolish; but the scary part is that the Three Trumpkins appear to be Donald J. Trump’s most trusted advisors. Remember that he could not decide on a Vice Presidential running mate without flying the three of them to Indianapolis to help him vet Mike Pence!
Of course anyone is better than the Trumpkins’ back-up: Governor Chris Christie (the Bridge Guy), Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliana (the Genius who put the Police and Fire Command Center at the top of the WTC), and “lively?” Dr. Ben Carson.
It seems that America has continued to have many instances of police officers killing black men. Surely, there are occasional run-ins with other minorities, even women, but it is mostly black men who are shot and killed. And in some cases, the police officer, doing the shooting, is also black. I have known many police officers and federal agents over the years, and they are all good men? So, why are there all of these fatal black-white confrontations?
The law enforcement officers that I have known come mostly from the working class. Sociologists have suggested that some members of the middle-income group, especially from families who have worked their way up, tend to be more resentful of upward-mobile members of lower-income groups. And thus, they might carry subconscious characterizations of various minorities, even though they are not personally aware of that fact.
Additionally, over the past few years, the Justice Department has been investigating certain police departments—such as Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland—to determine whether they may be some systemic reasons why blacks are treated more harshly than whites and, perhaps, denied their Constitutional Rights. But, something apparently does happen, at least when some officers put on that badge and uniform.
The recent shooting death of a black father-of-four, in Tulsa, Oklahoma is a good case in point. Several police officers, responding to a call, came across Terrance Crutchfield, age 40, whose vehicle had stopped running in the middle of a one-lane roadway. Several of the officers had their guns drawn, when a white female police officer fatally shot Mr. Crutchfield. Police body cameras, from various angles, indicate that the motorist was standing in the middle of the road, and was clearly holding his empty hands high in the air.
Obviously, there are always details which are generally unknown, except to the police at this time. Media reports, however, cited such police radio comments as: he looks like a bad dude; he might have a gun; and he looks like he’s (high?) on something. After the officer shot Mr. Crutchfield, she said that he didn’t get down on the ground when she told him to. A motorist with a stalled vehicle?
Would Mr. Crutchfield, looking at several police pistols directed at him, really want to get into a gun fight—at point blank range? What does it mean that he looks like a bad dude? Police departments have roadside checks for DUI; but that shouldn’t result in being shot! Also, Mr. Crutchfield does have a police record, dating back to his teenage years, and he did serve four years in prison, ending in 2001. But, that is not justification for the use of lethal force.
Consider the comment by the police officer who killed Mr. Crutchfield, after she shot him: “He didn’t get down on the ground when I told him to!” This is truly a case of Racial Profiling gone awfully, awfully bad. Personally, I surely wouldn’t have gotten down on the ground either, even if ordered by a police officer, when they were responding to my stalled automobile. But, I wouldn’t be dead; because, I am white!
Surely. there are other, more capable people who are trying to get their arms around this problem—both in Tulsa and numerous other cities around the nation. But, there also needs to be better screening of police officer applicants, to include: psychological screening for temperament; establish some acceptable minimum of racial and ethnic intolerance; the ability to think rationally under stress; investigate why an officer was fired from a prior police department; and adequately understand an applicant’s over-enthusiasm about our Second Amendment Rights.
NOTE: Perhaps even veteran officers need to go through such screens, say every yen years or so, to prevent burn-out and the negative results of job stress.
Wells Fargo is just the latest member of Corporate America to get caught with its hands in its Customers’ pockets. Wells’ opening of non-authorized credit cards, and other accounts, generates increased revenue for the company. You might have noticed questionable additional charges on your utility bill, received the hard-sell to accept unnecessary options when you bought a car, or were charged for unnecessary “extras” on your cell phone bill. Unfortunately, this happens everywhere today, it seems.
Many employees have noticed that the corporate contribution for their health care, retirement and other so-called employer-sponsored benefits (if they have them, at all) have been reduced, as the workers are now expected to pay even more. In essence, Corporate America has been pulling-back those benefits that attracted employees to begin with. Yes, the cost of those benefits do eat into corporate profits; but, the commitment of those same employees, to the corporation’s success, hasn’t diminished one bit!
There’s a new Sales Paradigm in many companies that’s intended to fill the vacuum for employees taking greater ownership of their own benefit programs. More and more, a greater portion of employees’ compensation is based on meeting sales and referral goals, which can actually improve their livelihood in the long run. So, let’s focus on the Banking System for a moment, since this is where many in Congress are fighting against the interests of the American People.
Much has been written, blaming the overall Banking Industry for The Great Recession, which was caused mostly by the larger banks, just eight years ago. Sub-Prime Mortgages, Credit Default Swaps, rating agencies benefitting from fraudulently-assigned Bond Ratings, illegal currency trading, etc, abounded throughout the Banking Community. But, schemes like the Wells Fargo credit card scam are now invariably part of everyday Corporate America.
When corporate executives change the method of paying employees—away from salary-only to include a significant bonus option—there will always be some employees who figure-out how to enhance their take-home pay. And, once the landscape changes within a company, the malfeasance can spread, and become ingrained.
Intermediate managers also benefit from the increased revenue, which the new paradigm generates, and probably have goals for their departments, as well. Perhaps, some managers, in turn, might be most happy to point-out the higher incomes of some employees, to others who didn’t seem to “get the message”. All of such managerial encouragement is, no-doubt, subliminal, but absolutely necessary for this to work. The whole corporate executive food chain, however, benefits from the new Sales Landscape.
In July of 2010, President Barack Obama signed the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act” into Law. Dodd-Frank was designed to rein-in the American Banking System, and to prevent it from ever again engaging in such illegal activities. In fact, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) brain-child, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a vital component of that Bill, was specifically intended to protect American Consumers against scams such as the opening of unauthorized credit card accounts.
The Banking Industry has been working overtime to de-fang and, perhaps, repeal Dodd-Frank. Their Republican Allies in Congress have graciously accepted campaign contributions in order to accommodate the bankers’ goals.
Back in the 1940s, notorious bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks. Sutton responded: ““Because that’s where the money is!” Well, now we know why!
Much of the political rhetoric spewed against Islamic State currently seems mostly based on the racist anti-Muslim agenda of certain politicians. The strategic planners in our Defense Department place ISIS toward the bottom of our potential National Security risks. Russia and China, by far, are at the very top of the Pentagon’s List of Risks.
Surely, terrorism will always be a risk in any peaceful country. It always has been, and always will! An advantage that we, in America, have is that our anti-terrorism activities are coordinated through one governmental entity, the FBI, as compared to 30 national defense entities across Europe. Also, the Muslim Community here is somewhat better assimilated. Again, terrorist attacks, by groups such as ISIS, are at the bottom of our Defense Department list of priorities.
The planning for Future Wars is coordinated by Deputy Secretary of Defense, Bob Work. The so-called “Third Offset Strategy”, is fully-integrated with the knowledge and cooperation of our allies. The First Offset (or Advantage) Strategy was initiated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in the 1950s, and it used nuclear power to compensate for the Soviet Union’s manpower advantage. At the height of the Cold War (1970s and 80s), the Second Offset Strategy emphasized: long-range, precision-guided weapons: stealth aircraft; and new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
Currently, as our list of potential adversaries has increased, the Third Offset Strategy has classified our anticipated sources of danger as follows: Russia and China are the very highest priority; then Iran (an exporter of terrorism) and North Korea (only because Kim Jong-Un is unstable and has primitive nuclear weapons); and various rogue states and non-government organizations, such as ISIS, are at the bottom. Although they all pose dangers to America and our allies, it always are makes sense to prioritize risks.
Over the past fifteen years, as the U. S. military was distracted, fighting two wars, and depleting its Defense Budget, Russia and China were able to narrow the gap with our technological superiority. Both have grown their budgets substantially, increased their technology development programs, and they were able to observe both what our military did well, and notice its weaknesses. Also, their cyber-intel warriors were able to hack into our computers, and steal technology—saving themselves time and money.
The T-O Strategy will include more coordination with our NATO Allies, as well as encourage them to increase their own defense budgets to the agreed-upon two percent of their respective GDPs. In the future, research will be mostly carried-out in a combination of academic and commercial labs, rather than in government facilities. Future weapon development will be developed and funded similar to how Boeing and SpaceX have taken on the mission of re-supplying the International Space Station with the rocket systems, which they funded and developed.
Besides traditional battlefields, look for: greater use of miniature air, land and sea-based drones; continued stealth technology; ships with lower manpower requirements; advanced manufacturing, to include robotics and 3-D systems; and guided bomb and missile systems. Future wars will also make greater use of cyber-technology, not only in hacking to gain intelligence, but in jamming, providing false intelligence or even, planting viruses to incapacitate enemy systems. As in our daily lives, the advantages of digital technology can harm us when they become inoperable or malfunction.
Traditionally, the U. S. has had the unquestioned quickest and most comprehensive system of technology management, from development to useful application. That requires: a combination of government-funding, as necessary; a rational regulatory environment; and the coordination of academia and corporate management. It seems like Academia and Industry will be ready to go; but, the question is: Will Congress?
This Sunday, we commemorated what took place at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93, where passengers purposely crashed their terrorist-controlled airliner into a rural Western Pennsylvania field, rather than be sacrificed in that act of piracy. Donald J. Trump, however, might have been one of the few who were actually celebrating at Ground Zero today, since one of your real estate projects—40 Wall Street—qualified for a small business re-construction grant of $150,000, even though it suffered no damage
Yes, Donald, you have been vowing to build a Wall; but, one already exists. You might not know that among the three locations, which were savaged that day, there were people from all over the world—Americans, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Europeans, Muslims, Women, Disabled, etc. But, they came together. They helped each other try to escape, and some comforted each other, when they realized that their fate was sealed. And, that included many of the first responders—running into danger, against all common sense!
A week or so ago, it had been one year since that three year-old Syrian boy’s body washed-up on the shore in Greece. His mother and five-year old brother drowned, as well. Germany gave the father asylum. Did you see it, Donald? He looked like he was sleeping, like many children, head down and rump in the air. But, I didn’t see a terrorist—even a future one. All that I could see was a littler boy sleeping, just like my three year-old grandson does.
Perhaps you view all of these refugees as terrorists, drug traffickers and murderers; but, have you ever really thought about them? In most cases they are just trying to escape gang-controlled cities with some of the highest murder rates on the planet. Do you really think that coming to America, to be a migrant farm worker, is a great career move? They are just seeking a better life for their families!
Two years ago, I described the unbelievable love and kindness shown by the Great People of Gander, Newfoundland. I have linked that blog post as a note, below. This time, however, I have linked a column from the Washington Post, the title of which I believe says it all: “On 9/11, a tiny Canadian town opened its runways and heart to 7,000 stranded travelers.” Its linked as follows: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/on-sept-11-a-tiny-canadian-town-opened-its-runways-and-heart-to-7000-stranded-travelers/2016/09/08/89d875da-75e5-11e6-8149-b8d05321db62_story.html.
You see, Donald, many great things happened that fateful day in 2011—as they have every day since. All the world declared they were American that day. The colors of our flag were displayed on great buildings around the world, flags everywhere were at half-staff. moments of silence were held, for those who died. But, I believe that that love, and that humanity, that the Great People of Gander, Newfoundland displayed that day personifies the very Wall that, perhaps, you have been seeking to find.
But, Donald, the Great Wall of Humanity is there for us to see. t’s all around us, everywhere we go. Granted, we do have to accept the bad with the good, which is much much greater. But, you can see that Wall, Donald, and you just have to look for it!
A great book about what happened with all those planes, running low on fuel, having just crossed the Atlantic, read: “The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland”.
by Jim DeFede.
On Friday, the U. S. stock market had its worst day in two months, with the Dow, S & P 500 and NASDAQ Indices dropping, by 2.13%, 2.45% and 2.54%, respectively. The markets seem to have attributed that steep decline to the Fed; however, there is little room to complain; because, prior to perhaps 15 years ago, our Federal Reserve was totally cloaked in mystery. And now, members may speak openly!
It’s important to keep in mind that the Federal Open Market Committee, which sets monetary policy, is composed of twelve members. And like any group of professionals, these economists all have different interpretations of the same basic facts, and what their recommended course of action would be. On Friday, two were interviewed on CNBC-TV, and each had different concepts of the economy. So, what’s new?
Last December, the FOMC raised the short-term bank-lending rate from a range of 0.00%-0.25%, to 0.25% to 0,50%. Prior to that time, the so-called “Fed Funds” rate had not changed since 2009. There is also danger in any central bank, not just the Fed, from maintaining extremely low rates, and for such a length of time.
About an hour before the stock market opened on Friday, Eric Rosengren, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and a member of the FOMC, was interviewed. It was pointed-out that, in years past, Mr. Rosengren had been “dovish” in the sense that he was normally in favor of lower rates. More recently, however, he has been a rate “hawk”, by recommending higher rates. On Friday, he said; “…risks to the forecast are becoming increasingly two-sided.” By that, Rosengren meant that while a slowdown overseas remains a concern, the U. S. economy has proven resilient, and could even overheat if Fed ;policy remains unchanged.
Then, just before mid-day, Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo, suggested in his interview that there may be a rate hike sometime this year; however, he said that he would prefer to see an inflation rate closer to the Fed’s 2.0% target rate, as well as a bit higher employment. Tarullo also suggested that it is difficult to determine what “full employment” is in today’s economy. He likewise pointed-out the need to consider the slower economic growth overseas.
A key concern that the Fed has is that, if the U. S. raises rates at a time when most other countries are lowering them, or maintaining a near-zero bank lending rate, the resultant strong dollar would hurt our export economy by making our products more expensive. Additionally, the higher rates would siphon some foreign investment away from weaker economies that need such funding.
All is not gloom and doom. When the Fed holds its next monetary policy meeting, on September 20-21, if it raises rates, they would still be quite low on a historical basis. Also, such a rate hike generally implies that it is necessary to keep an improving economy in check. And, aside from early market volatility, those three major stock indices—the Dow, S & P 500 and NASDAQ—are all up Year-to-Date, at 3.79%, 4.10% and 2.37%, respectively. But, always review your own investment portfolio in multi-year periods in order to even-out unusual volatility–both positive and negative!
Donald J. Trump continually talks about how quickly, and how forcefully, he is going to eliminate ISIS. This is a theme, however, that he brought over from the Republican Primary Debates. But considering all of the various adversaries that the U. S., and our allies might face, Islamic State doesn’t pose one of the most serious threats!
Our Defense Leaders at the Pentagon are constantly preparing for Future Wars, which the Pentagon currently refers to as the “Third Offset Strategy”. Knowing your enemy is the first consideration in warfare planning. Russia and China are, far and away, at the top of that list followed, after a large gap, by Iran and North Korea (only due to the nuclear-armed lunatic, Kim Jong-Un), and toward the bottom are rogue states and non-government organizations, such as ISIS.
Islamic State, however, is in total disarray. The Jihadist fighters have been decimated, their weapons and equipment have been destroyed, its captured territory has diminished greatly, and the oil wells that financed the Caliphate are no longer functional. Also, with the arrival of Turkish forces, the Syrian border with Turkey has been sealed, thus ending the flow of Jihadi recruits and supplies to ISIS.
At present, ISIS remains a Caliphate in name only, and it can no longer claim any authority over the Islam that it had highjacked. Following the loss of its potency in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has been carrying-out its terrorist attacks beyond the Middle East, either by fighters sent back to their home countries, or by radicalized Muslims in their local areas. But, as any belief in the Caliphate fades, so too will the charade that it ever truly existed.
Rather than address the most dangerous threats to our security, Donald Trump choses to focus on ISIS, perhaps because it is much easier for him to sell to his followers. There are no wonky details, such as cyber-warfare and the Nuclear Triad, to deal with. Besides, his assumed danger-of-choice remains in play: Muslims and terrorists, as well as his racist tendencies. That means that Trump’s supporters are already prepared for his chosen War on Terror!