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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Random Tuesday Thoughts

(Wrongo and Ms. Right are away until July 9th visiting our CA family. Expect the next column to be posted then.)

The Daily Escape:

White Sands National Monument, NM – 2019 photo by Bernard-F

#1: Wrongo watched the video of Trump walking across the Korean DMZ. While most foreign policy professionals will have a cranky reaction to the event, it represents progress. Both sides had stopped negotiations and in fact, were not even talking, after Trump walked out of the Hanoi meeting.

Whether it is a breakthrough that leads to a deal remains to be seen. OTOH, Trump took his daughter Ivanka and Tucker Carlson to the DMZ, while sending John Bolton (who he called “Mike”), and Mike Pompeo on to other tasks. Anything that drives the GOP neocons crazy can’t be all bad.

The incoherence of Trump’s global strategy shows itself in extending himself to North Korea, a country that has nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them. The US has no agreement with NorKo to contain its weapons of mass destruction. We don’t even have a peace agreement after the War that ended in 1953, but we’re talking.

Contrast that with Trump’s walking away from the signed Iranian nuclear deal, which was negotiated to prevent an exact North Korea-type situation from happening. Inexplicable.

#2: Forbes has a very interesting article on new solar power capacity in California:

“Los Angeles Power and Water officials have struck a deal on the largest and cheapest solar + battery-storage project in the world, at prices that leave fossil fuels in the dust and may relegate nuclear power to the dustbin.”

Cheaper than fossil fuels, the new plant will be built north of LA, in Kern County. LA officials said that it will be the largest and lowest-cost solar and high-capacity battery storage project in the US. When up and running, it will operate at half the estimated cost of power from a new natural gas plant. The plant is expected to deliver its first megawatt by April 2023.

#3: Reuters reports that Trump’s “deal” with China may not be a deal at all. In their article, China warns of long road ahead for deal with US after ice-breaking talks, Reuters quotes the official China Daily, an English-language daily often used by Beijing to put its message out to the rest of the world. It warned there was no guarantee there would ever be a deal: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“Agreement on 90 percent of the issues has proved not to be enough, and with the remaining 10 percent where their fundamental differences reside, it is not going to be easy to reach a 100-percent consensus, since at this point, they remain widely apart even on the conceptual level.”

#4: Next, it’s that time of year again where Americans camp out for days in order to visit with a pop-up rural clinic nurse. Why? Because we have the most expensive “health care” on earth, and a system absolutely designed to keep it that way:

“They were told to arrive early if they wanted to see a doctor, so Lisa and Stevie Crider left their apartment in rural Tennessee almost 24 hours before the temporary medical clinic was scheduled to open. They packed a plastic bag with what had become their daily essentials after 21 years of marriage: An ice pack for his recurring chest pain. Tylenol for her swollen feet. Peroxide for the abscess in his mouth. Gatorade for her low blood sugar and chronic dehydration.”

A view from the volunteers:

“…a clinic volunteer….patrolled the parking lot late at night and handed out numbers to signify each patient’s place in the line. No. 48 went to a woman having panic attacks from adjacent Meigs County, where the last remaining mental-health provider had just moved away to Nashville. No. 207 went to a man with unmanaged heart disease from Polk County, where the only hospital had gone bankrupt and closed in 2017.”

With Republicans doing everything they can to break the Affordable Care Act, and then refusing to fix it, this is what their actions have caused. Rural hospitals are closing, people in rural counties have no health care. And the GOP tells them to blame Democrats. The reality is that Republicans in these states have cut funding for the programs that kept red state rural clinics and hospitals operating.

#5: Columbia University reported that scientists have discovered a gigantic aquifer of relatively fresh water trapped below the Atlantic Ocean. This undersea aquifer stretches from Massachusetts to New Jersey, extending more or less continuously out about 50 miles to the edge of the continental shelf.

The water was trapped in mile-deep ice 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. When the ice melted, sediments formed huge river deltas on top of the shelf, and fresh water got trapped there. It would have to be desalinated for most uses, but the cost would be much less than processing seawater.

See you next week!

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Should America Intervene in Venezuela?

The Daily Escape:

Bald Eagle on the Housatonic River, CT – February, 2019 photo by JH Clery

On Sunday’s Face the Nation, Trump was asked about Venezuela and whether he’d negotiate with President Maduro to convince him to exit. Trump put military intervention squarely on the table:

“MARGARET BRENNAN: What would make you use the U.S. military in Venezuela? What’s the national security interest?

DONALD TRUMP: Well I don’t want to say that. But certainly it’s something that’s on the- it’s an option.”

This seems to be part of a larger Latin American plan. The WSJ reports that the Trump administration’s plans include regime change in Venezuela, Nicaragua and eventually Cuba. This is a multiyear neocon project that has at least some bipartisan political support. It may require military force, as Trump indicated to CBS that he’s willing to consider. One thing that the WSJ reports is this:

“US law-enforcement officials say they have evidence Mr. Maduro directed state resources to create what they allege has become one of the most powerful international narco-trafficking operations in the world, and with links to Hezbollah, the Lebanese group designated by the US as a terror organization.”

So, there you have the first Western Hemisphere argument to “fight them over there, rather than fight them here”.

As we said on Saturday, nothing unites a country like a sovereign enemy on its borders. Venezuelans may hate Maduro, but they also hate the US. China and Russia may be worried about the $50 billion and $17 billion Venezuela owes each respectively. Turkey has also supported Maduro. Although they all are Maduro’s allies, it is unclear if they would be willing to help, should the US intervene.

The consequences of all of our former interventions should be screaming at us. But, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump seem deaf to the messages. Bolton said:

“We think stability and democracy in Venezuela are in the direct national interests of the United States right now…The authoritarian regime of Chávez and Maduro has allowed the penetration by adversaries of the United States, not least of which is Cuba.

Some call the country ‘Cubazuela’, reflecting the grip that Cuba’s military and security forces have on the Maduro regime. We think that is a strategic significant threat to the United States and there are others as well, including Iran’s interest in Venezuela’s uranium deposits.”

Maduro is no prize. The Economist reports: (brackets by Wrongo)

In the past five years GDP has fallen by half. Annual inflation is reckoned to be 1.7m%…which means that Bolívar savings worth $10,000 at the start of the year [will] dwindle to 59 cents by the end….People are malnourished and lack simple medicines, including antibiotics. Hospitals have become death traps for want of power and equipment. Blaming his troubles on foreign conspiracies, Mr. Maduro has rejected most offers of humanitarian aid.

Juan Guaidó, head of the Maduro opposition, and President of the National Assembly, has support from the EU, and the Lima Group of 12 Western Hemisphere countries (including Argentina, Brazil and Canada). The US recognized Guaidó early.

The question is, should we intervene at all? And if the answer is yes, how should we intervene?

The US is still Venezuela’s main trading partner. Last week, we imposed curbs on purchases of the country’s crude oil, and a ban on imports from the US of the diluents that must be blended with the extra-heavy oil from the Orinoco Belt to allow it to flow through domestic pipelines. The first hits Venezuela’s oil exports, while the second curbs their production. This will reduce revenue from oil exports by more than $11 billion.

By ordering that payments for Venezuelan oil be put in bank accounts reserved for Guaidó’s government, the US hopes to asphyxiate the regime, expecting that the armed forces will then switch sides to Guaidó.

Venezuelans face the dreadful task of having to topple their own government. This primarily means persuading their army to change sides. Other nations can pledge moral support to Juan Guaidó. But sanctions and US threats may prove counterproductive.

Venezuela poses no threat to US security. Since GW Bush, we’ve found excuses to attack Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. We’ve imposed economic sanctions on Russia, Iran and Myanmar. The gain for our security has been negligible.

Military intervention has become an occupational disease of America’s leaders.

The urge to help Venezuelans in need is natural. Doing nothing is painful and seems callous. But will intervening really help? Even states with despotic leaders are sovereign. They must make and correct their own mistakes, and ultimately, be strengthened by doing so.

Regime change in Caracas is one possible outcome of our intervention. Civil war is another.

It is a certainty is that American lives and money will be lost.

Trump must choose wisely if intervention is on the table.

Any bets on that?

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Saturday Soother – December 8, 2018

The Daily Escape:


Sunwapta Falls, Jasper National Park, Canada – photo by BlakeRandall

Ho hum. Another alleged Republican criminal is taking office,but there’s nothing to see here, so move on. The GOP wants to focus some more on Hillary’s emails.

What’s Wrongo talking about? The Senate is about to seat a Republican Senator from Missouri, Josh Hawley. Missouri attorney general. Josh Hawley was the Republican Party’s nominee to take on Senator Claire McCaskill, and he won. It seems as if he improperly used his old office to run for Senate. McCaskill raised this issue in the last days of the campaign, but Hawley won. However, Hawley’s problem didn’t go away.As Ed Kilgore explains:

On October 31, the Kansas City Star reported that Missouri Attorney General and GOP Senate nominee Josh Hawley had let his campaign staff coordinate activities with public employees on state property,violating a constitutional provision banning use of state resources for political or personal use….
Hawley’s out-of-state political consultants gave direct guidance and tasks to his taxpayer-funded staff, and followed up to ensure the tasks were completed, according to emails, text messages and other records obtained by The Kansas City Star.

Now, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has launched an investigation into the way Josh Hawley ran his office as Attorney General. Jay Ashcroft is the son of former US Attorney General and Missouri Senator John Ashcroft.

Kilgore says that Ashcroft lacks subpoena power, so it’s unclear how far his investigation can go, and it’s highly doubtful that a new election will be called.

With this, and the current fiasco over absentee ballots in North Carolina’s Ninth District, criminality is now a feature, not a bug, for Republican politicians.

At a minimum, the Republican who “won” in the NC Ninth, Mark Harris, is unlikely to be seated if the North Carolina State Board of Elections doesn’t certify the district’s vote.

And when Missouri’s Josh Hawley walks into the Senate, his fellow GOP’ers will circle the wagons to protect him from facing justice, unless and until the time comes (if ever), when it is no longer politically viable to support him.

The wheels of justice will grind pretty slowly on this, but a six-year term is a long, long time for a junior senator Josh to brazen it out.Unless, of course, Mitch McConnell is on your team.

In other news, Wrongo assumes that this week, you binged on the George HW Bush funeral. Maybe it’s just that it takes a few years to rehabilitate a reputation, but after 25 years out of office, why did America treat HW like he was Lincoln?

Time to move on to the weekend. Let’s unplug from Trumpworld, forget how many shopping days remain, and spend a few minutes detached from our responsibilities.

Here’s how we’ll do that: Start by brewing up a vente cup of Red RoosterCoffee’s new seasonal roasting, Holiday Sweet Blend ($16.99/12oz.). Red Rooster is an organic-certified micro-roaster focusing on socially conscious and high-quality coffee that The Wrongologist has featured before. The Holiday Sweet Blend is said to be a harmoniously balance of sweet, tart and savory flavors.

Now settle back where you can look out of a south-facing window, and listen to Fauré’s “Cantique de Jean Racine Op 11”, for choir and piano or organ. Here, it is performed by choir and orchestra, and doesn’t suffer.

Faure´ composed this as a student project when he was 19. It was first performed in 1866. At the time, using work by Jean Racine was frowned upon, and the clergy banned its performance, but here it is:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Thanksgiving 2018

The Daily Escape:

Turkeys on the fields of Wrong – November 2018 photo by Wrongo

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual”Thoreau

Our house is filling with the smells of today’s feast cooking in the kitchen. It’s also filled with the sounds of people, old friends and family, talking about their lives, and the world at large.

Thanksgiving is Wrongo’s favorite, because it is among our few secular holidays. No one commands you to do anything, celebration is subdued, and at least around here, it focuses on gratitude.

Here’s Wrongo’s thanks to the readers of the Wrongologist. He started this adventure nine and a half years ago, and this is the 1,563rd post. That works out to a little less than a post every other day. Maybe it’s a sad commentary on the world we live in, or just Wrongo’s luck, there seems to be no shortage of wrong things to write about.

So, to Monty, Fred, David, Marguerite, Kelly, Terry and the rest of those who read, comment and send me private emails saying the equivalent of “What’s wrong with Wrongo?”, I am grateful that you stick with it, and with me.

Wrongo is grateful every day for this journey he’s on. Sometimes, it seems like cynicism and despair is all we have. But, then there are days like today, a crystal clear morning, and at sun up, the temperature outside was 10°F.

We’ll have a fire in the fireplace, “Alice’s Restaurant” playing in a semi-continuous loop, along with good and grateful thoughts about our family, friends and the great country that we are privileged to live in.

Enjoy Thanksgiving Day.Facebooklinkedinrss

Limited Blogging

(There will be limited or no blogging until Tuesday, 11/20 since Wrongo and Ms. Right are heading to Florida for a family event. It doesn’t hurt that we are leaving snow and ice in the Northeast)

The Daily Escape:

Sunset, St Augustine Beach, FL – 2018 photo by Wrongo

 

 

 

 

 

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Russia and Kavanaugh

The Daily Escape:

Moscow supermarket – October 2018 photo by Wrongo

The two topics in the headline are not related.

Wrongo and Ms. Right are back in the US, jet-lagged, and at home in the Mansion of Wrong. Our Russia trip was an eye-opener. In St. Petersburg and Moscow at least, Russia seems to be a wealthy country by global standards. People seem to be well-informed about their history, and about the current geopolitical climate in the west. They are consummate consumers.

We saw quite a few churches, but the Russians we spoke with didn’t seem to put much emphasis on their faith. Increasing their income and getting ahead in a career sense seemed to be the primary thing that interested them. “Pragmatic” best describes the people we met. They are strivers, and hope that their government won’t screw up what the citizens finally have going for them.

Mostly, we were struck by how similar the Russians we met are to the average American. We had lunch with a couple in Uglich, a poor town of about 30k residents that is about 125 miles north of Moscow. The town hasn’t benefited from the 18-year economic expansion in the Russian Federation, and has unemployment in the 25% range. It also has a declining population, and crumbling infrastructure.

The couple we met had both lost their jobs in the 1985 Perestroika period under Gorbachev. Thirty-three years later, the husband has a part-time government job, the wife is unemployed. They grow most of their food in their ¼ acre garden. Their refrigerator is covered with pictures of the grandkids, who visit every few weeks.

Their message to us was that people everywhere have the same hopes and dreams, but the politicians always want to demonize the outsiders.

We returned to American just in time to start calling Brett Kavanaugh “Mr. Justice Kavanaugh”.

It’s not worth dwelling on his confirmation process, or repeating stale arguments. It is time to gather ourselves, to register non-voters, and turn out all the votes we can on November 6.

It also isn’t the time to overthink the closing arguments for November, despite polls that show Republicans being energized by the Kavanaugh confirmation. But, it is important to understand GOP messaging for the midterms. From the WaPo’s article, ‘An angry mob’: Republicans work to recast Democratic protests as out-of-control anarchy:

Weeks ahead of the midterm elections, Republicans have cast the Trump resistance movement as “an angry mob,” a term used by many of them to describe a faceless amalgamation of forces that they say threaten the country’s order and, they hope, energize their voters.

Think back to the Tea Party protestors who disrupted town hall meetings in 2009. From today’s GOP viewpoint, they were just good citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. And all those people who chant “Lock her up!” at the encouragement of their dear leader? They really don’t mean anything by that, they’re also exercising their right to free speech.

But when a few liberals pound on the doors of the Supreme Court, that’s mob behavior, and it can’t be tolerated. In Trump World, crowds of marching alt-right men with tiki torches = some very fine people.

And crowds of protesting women in Washington = angry mob.

We should remember that the American Revolution wasn’t a polite discussion; it involved mobs making a point, too.

Democrats are on the edge of winning the House. Before Kavanaugh, they had a long-shot chance at taking the Senate. Right now, Dems need to be smart. Richard Nixon won because he scared Middle America with pictures of immoral hippies who were demonstrating against the Vietnam War.

Let’s assume that those of us who are already energized to vote can work to figure out how to reach those who are only half paying attention, or who plan to stay on the fence all the way until Election Day.

It is clear that accusations of the type made by Dr. Ford don’t resonate with GOP voters. Roy Moore’s near-pedophilia didn’t seem to change any Republican minds in Georgia. Whenever a Republican is under attack by the liberals, it’s always the time for the rest of them to circle the wagons.

There is no single, lock-step message that Dems should use to take both Houses in November. The best antidote for those “Energized by Kavanaugh” Republicans is for the rest of us to get, or stay, more energized.

There is zero to be complacent about. The Dems could remain in the minority in both Houses after the mid-terms if they fail to turn out their voters in November.Facebooklinkedinrss

Review of: “Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World”

The Daily Escape:

Bayanzag Flaming Cliffs is a region of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Photo via Khaan Tours. In the early 20th century, these cliffs gained worldwide fame for an incredible collection of fossils.

While in Europe, Wrongo finished reading “Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World” a history of the Mongol dynasty written in 2004 by Jack Weatherford, a former professor of anthropology. It is a fascinating journey from the 13th Century through the 14th Century. His specialty is histories of tribal peoples.

Weatherford presents Genghis Khan and his dynasty in wonderful detail. But the book reads as much like an adventure story, as it does history. Wrongo’s view of Khan was shaped as much by Hollywood caricatures as it was by his degree in history. It turns out that Khan was not simply the ring leader of a group of barbarians, he unified the Mongols, forming them into a fighting machine that conquered nearly all of Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Europe.

The book shows the important role of the Mongols in creating a precursor to the modern world. Initially, through warfare. Their military innovation was the lightly armed warfighter on horseback. Charging horsemen went against foot soldiers often accompanied by a relatively small, heavily armored cavalry. Genghis Khan was the original inventor of blitzkrieg. Time after time, the Mongols’ disciplined horsemen, moving in coordinated units, defeated much larger armies. The Mongol armies were undefeated for nearly 100 years.

But Khan’s greatest achievement was the redrawing of the boundaries of the modern world. His armies united a dozen Slavic principalities and cities into a large Russian state. They created a single state of China, and unified Korea and India.

It was the Mongolian Khans, rather than the Han Chinese, who founded Beijing. Their Yuan dynasty ruled until 1368.

The Mongols captured both Baghdad and Damascus in two years, something the European Crusaders had been unable to achieve in two centuries. The last Mogul in India was removed by the British in 1857. The Russians took over the original homeland of the Khans in Mongolia, in 1920.

Weatherford tells the story of the rise of Genghis Khan from a yak herding slave to ruler of the greatest empire on earth. Along the way, he ended the Mongols’ feudal system of aristocratic privilege and birth, replacing it with a system based on individual merit, loyalty and achievement. In most countries, the Khans expanded both cultural communication and trade. They were the first builders of the “Silk Road”.

Trade was key to the empire. Silk was the apex trade item, but cotton and wool were sent both to the East and the West. The Mongols made culture portable. It wasn’t just trade in goods, whole systems of knowledge were sent in both directions. Persian and Arab doctors went to China. Chinese doctors went to the Middle East.

And Khubilai Khan, the Great Khan emperor of China, recognized the need for paper money to facilitate trade, so it was used throughout the empire until its collapse. There was a dazzling array of innovations that can be ascribed to his reign: in addition to paper money, printed passports gave access to the entire Empire. There was a synthesis of knowledge from all corners of the Empire.

The Empire was ultimately carved up between Genghis Khan’s grandsons. They held cross-ownership in each other’s territories of trade networks and manufacturing facilities, which moderated their desire to fight each other. But, once the Black Death erupted in their networks, the Empire collapsed. It took about 300 years to finally end.

Genghis Khan was tolerant of all religions in a conquered country. He abolished torture, and brought back to Mongolia the learned and skilled members of each conquered nation to help to build the skills of his empire.

But the Mongols weren’t saints. In each conquest, the ruling class was rounded up and killed. The peasants and professionals were spared if they swore allegiance to the Great Khan. Although there are instances of extreme violence, these are balanced by the thoughtfulness and care that the various Khans took to administer and improve their vast empire.

We learn that some of his family were practicing Christians. That there was more religious freedom in Mongolia than in Europe at the time. He was willing to learn from his mistakes, a quality rarely seen in today’s leaders. And his attitude toward women was also surprising: his daughters became leaders, right along with his sons in the empire.

You end with a sense of how visionary and complex Genghis Khan was: An illiterate who appreciated learning, a marginal person from an obscure corner of the world who led a global empire.

This is a marvelous journey through time, about an era we rarely think of today.Facebooklinkedinrss

Travels With Wrongo

The Daily Escape:

Budapest, Hungary – photo via @archpics

Wrongo and Ms. Right are leaving today, escaping to Hungary and Poland. We will return just before Memorial Day. You can expect blogging to be light for the next ten days.

Wrongo will try to post photos of Budapest and Warsaw when high speed internet is available.

Take a break from the mad rush, and listen to Philip Glass play his composition, “Mad Rush”. In 1979, the organizers of the Dalai Lama’s first public address in North America approached Glass to create a musical piece with one prerequisite: Because the Dalai Lama’s schedule was so vague, they needed a piece of music that could be stretched for an indefinite period of time without the audience realizing there was any delay to the start of the meeting. This provided Glass the inspiration for Mad Rush.

Mad Rush is based on alternations between two themes. One is peaceful and meditative, the other is fast and frantic. Glass says that the two themes represent the interplay of the wrathful and peaceful deities in Tibetan Buddhism.

In the 1960s, Glass became a practicing Buddhist. He is also a strong supporter of Tibetan independence:

May your peaceful and meditative side win over your fast and frantic side.

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.Facebooklinkedinrss

Monday Wake Up Call – April 30, 2018

The Daily Escape:

Church in Malawi

At least 50,000 teachers and their allies in red shirts flooded the streets of Phoenix on Friday as Arizona educators launched a statewide walkout for increased school funding and raises for all school employees. From Labor Notes:

“You have West Virginia who stood up, you have Kentucky who’s standing up, you have Oklahoma”, said Brittani Karbginsky, a sixth grade teacher in Phoenix. “Now you have us”.

When the cost of living is considered, Arizona’s teacher pay ranks last in the nation (but in absolute dollars, Oklahoma ranks last). Average teacher salaries in Arizona have declined by nearly $9,000 since 2003.

Vox tracked the amount of money granted to corporations through state tax incentives in Arizona and found that, according to data from the state’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee and the Seidman Institute at Arizona State University, the state lost out on roughly $5 billion in corporate tax revenue since 1993 (after adjusting for inflation). Funding per student has fallen by 14%.

Welcome to another Right-Wing trickle-down economics nightmare.

After insisting for months that 2018’s one percent raise for teachers would be followed by another one percent in 2019, Arizona’s governor Doug Ducey (R) announced on April 12 that he would grant teachers a 20% raise by 2020. But, Arizona’s teachers didn’t buy that. They pointed out that the raise wasn’t in the budget. They wanted a dedicated source of funding to make sure that they were winning more than an empty promise.

This seems to be a mainstream idea. An AP poll found that 78% of Americans think teachers are paid too little. Fifty percent said they favor higher taxes to pay teachers more.

But Arizona isn’t Kentucky or Oklahoma where teachers have also organized and marched for better pay. The Arizona teachers have been called Democratic operatives. They were called masterminds of a national socialist revolution. Or, architects of a plot to legalize marijuana. From Vox:

This backlash is fiercer than in other states where teachers have protested or gone on strike. And the comments aren’t coming from the ideological fringes of the internet. State politicians, lawmakers, and journalists are making these accusations to discredit teachers who are demanding higher pay and more funding for public schools.

And the state superintendent of education, Diane Douglas, threatened to investigate striking teachers and potentially revoke their license to teach in the state.

The right’s idea always seems to be that if you cannot argue your opponent’s facts, you go for the smear. Maybe the teachers should launch a full scale attack on the sponsors of those right-wing blogs and talk radio show hosts, the way Parkland’s David Hogg did with Laura Ingraham.

Last Thursday, the state legislature adjourned without introducing any bill to address school funding. They didn’t address the plan for a 20% raise that Gov. Ducey had proposed. They return today.

So wake up, Arizona! Blame the legislature, not the teachers. Stick by your teachers. To help you wake up, here is a 1941 tune written by the Almanac Singers, while working to organize the CIO. It is sung by Pete Seeger, who was a member of the Almanac Singers at the time:

Sample Lyric:

 

 Now, boys, you’ve come to the hardest time.

The boss will try to bust your picket line.

He’ll call out the police, the National Guard,

They’ll tell you it’s a crime to have a union card.

They’ll raid your meetin’, they’ll hit you on the head,

They’ll call every one of you a goddam red,

Unpatriotic, Japanese spies, sabotaging national defense!

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.Facebooklinkedinrss

The GOP’s Message and the Democrat’s Response

The Daily Escape:

Lake Blanche, UT – 2017 photo by exomniac

We watched the State of the Union (SOTU) speech at the Mansion of Wrong. Outside, it was 15° and very windy. That also appeared to be the climate in the House chamber during Trump’s speech, which Wrongo saw as largely a basket of glittering generalities; rhetoric without action; lies instead of facts; and marching band patriotism. Chants of “USA, USA” in the House chamber should be beneath our politicians, but sadly, some want us to appear to be a banana republic to the rest of the world.

Americans don’t ask their politicians for much, and apparently, willingly accept even less than that without a whimper.

Wrongo wants to focus on the Democratic response to the Trump speech. Roll Call says that there were at least five responses, of which two were “official”, in that they were authorized by the Democratic Party. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA), grandson of Bobby Kennedy, delivered the English-language Democratic response. Virginia Guzman, the newly elected, and first Latina to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, gave an official Spanish-language response.

Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California offered an unofficial response to the presidential speech, as did former Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland.

But the most notable response came from a sitting senator who isn’t a Democrat, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). He rebutted Trump’s remarks, and in some ways, rebuked Trump and his administration. This is the second year in a row that Sanders has delivered his own speech after the State of the Union. Bernie’s speech was shown on social media, and not on any mainstream TV outlet. You can read the text of his speech here.

Post-SOTU, the Dems are about to get worked over, largely because of their support of the Dreamers. If Chuck Schumer has his way, Democrats are about to charge up DACA hill once again. The outcome is likely to be the same. Wrongo thinks the Dreamers’ cause is just, but it isn’t a good idea to try to ransom them from Trump and the GOP as part of the immigration deal Trump has placed on the table.

Trump wants to alter our immigration system in a very unfair way in exchange for Dreamer amnesty. The question for Democrats is: Should they make the trade? Do they really think that the GOP will start deporting Dreamers in March? Do they think the videos of Dreamers in custody and on their way to homelands they never knew will help Republicans politically?

Take the Dreamers off the table. Proceed with other pressing issues, like funding the government.

And when the DACA protections lapse, there will be a price that Dreamers will have to pay, right along with both Democrats and Republicans, neither of whom would make a deal to extend DACA.

And when Trump wants an infrastructure deal, then Dems should bring up the Dreamers. Change the strategy. Let the “public-private” partnerships he touts for infrastructure be the way he gets his wall, and how Dreamers get amnesty.

It’s important that Dems are right on both the politics and on the merits. Compromise must come on big issues like immigration and infrastructure, and Dems shouldn’t take the first deals offered on either issue.

But to win in 2018 and beyond requires Democrats to offer a strong and compelling platform of their own, one based upon principles. Like health care being a right of citizenship. Like investing in education and infrastructure instead of spending on wars and weapons. Young Kennedy got close to identifying a compelling platform, but he isn’t the messenger for 2018.

There are many people in America who are hurting. Many are under-employed, and not getting the support they need. Simply pointing the finger at Trump is not going to inspire many to go to the polls. Democrats tried this in 2016, and it didn’t work.

People need a positive vision for the USA, and their place in it.

On Tuesday night, Trump would only speak of his plans in very general terms, because he doesn’t have the support in both Houses of Congress to get the job done. While MAGA is a successful campaign slogan, it isn’t a plan for a future that includes all Americans.

Democrats can be a part of the solution, if they find a way to prevent the GOP from taking and holding liberal issues hostage.Facebooklinkedinrss