UA-43475823-1

The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Monday Wake Up Call – November 21, 2016

Broadway attacked Mike Pence, not with sticks and stones, but with words. Mr. Pence went to see “Hamilton”, but was greeted with boos, and then the cast addressed him after the performance from the stage:

We, sir, we are the diverse Americans who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us…But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values, and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.

Maybe it would have been appropriate for Mike Pence and Brandon Dixon, the Aaron Burr character who addressed Pence, to just duel out on Broadway after the play. But The Donald stepped in to protect Pence by dueling with the cast of Hamilton instead. As part of a tweet storm, Trump tweeted his demand for an apology. Get used to it, there will be many, many more demands via twitter by your Orange Overlord. This from Trump:

trump-apologize

If this got under Trump’s skin, maybe Hillary was right. Pence was professional in the low-key way in which he responded to the confrontation at the theater. Trump of course, was not. He could have seized the opportunity to assuage the fears of Americans who are afraid of what may be coming after January 20th.

He could have made it clear that his election night promise to be “A President for all Americans” actually meant something

Trump must know that the theater is a place to be challenged. NO one goes to the theater thinking it is a safe zone where their precious little Fe Fe’s will be safe. It is the nature of theater and the arts in general to challenge us, to force us outside of our comfort zone, to make us consider alternate ways of viewing the world. From Bob Lefsetz:

This is what artists do. They speak truth to power. They make people uncomfortable. And when there’s a reaction, they know they’ve done their job.

The negative social media response to Trump’s tweet went viral. More from Lefsetz:

…we’ve got a President-elect who uses social media to get his message across…Isn’t it funny that a contrary opinion is now being spread through the same platforms? My inbox and Twitter were ablaze last night after the “Hamilton” kerfuffle. Word spreads fast these days, and the last ones on it are the mainstream media, who go to bed at 11 when we live in a 24/7 world.

There were lots of comments supporting DJT’s tweet, that what the Hamilton cast said was “inappropriate” or was said in the wrong venue. So the Hamilton team has no right to speak up? Hogwash. So where do we go from here?

Have we ever seen this kind of spontaneous pushback right after a presidential election (other than Lincoln’s, which precipitated the Civil War)? There is demonstrable national unrest, people are pissed. And Trump now demands that people just lie down and take it?

Trump isn’t getting an apology.

Trump said that he wants to be president of all Americans. But post-election, he is acting as he did while campaigning. He expects to preside over all, attempting to quell dissent by forcing people who disagree with him to toe the line. If you want to be part of Making America Great Again, you will treat him and his administration with decorum and proper respect. Like this:

cow-healing

Yea, No. Time to be inspired to speak truth to power. Time to perfect your message of dissent. Time to develop a message that wins in 2018 and beyond. Let the Hamilton cast inspire your actions. Inspire others so that it is clear where the Orange Overlord is taking us. The time for revolution is here.

It’s time to wake up if you think that giving Trump a chance to heal America is a good idea. Healing requires a two-way street of thought and communication. But all that we are likely to get from the Orange Overlord are tweets that say get back in line, or here come the cops.

To help with your morning wake up, here is the late Mose Allison, who died last week, with his song, “Your mind’s on vacation but your mouth is working overtime”. It was said that Allison was a social critic before Dylan and a musical satirist before Randy Newman. His music has influenced many artists, including Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, the Yardbirds, John Mayall, JJ Cale, and the Who.

Here is “Your mind’s on vacation but your mouth is working overtime”.

Sample Lyrics:

You’re sitting there yakkin’ right in my face
I guess I’m gonna have to put you in your place
Y’know if silence was golden
You couldn’t raise a dime
Because your mind is on vacation and your mouth is
Working overtime

You’re quoting figures, you’re dropping names
You’re telling stories about the dames
You’re always laughin’ when things ain’t funny
You try to sound like you’re big money
If talk was criminal, you’d lead a life of crime
Because your mind is on vacation and your mouth is
Working overtime

Does this remind you of a certain orange someone?

For those who read the Wrongologist in email, you can view the video here.

Facebooklinkedinrss

Monday Wake Up Call – November 14, 2016

We just can’t seem to stop talking about Trump winning the election. Pundits have sliced and diced the data from November 9, and so far, the major trend remains poor turnout.

From 538: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

The raw number of votes rose: About 1.4 million MORE Americans voted in this year’s election than in 2012, a total which itself was down from 2008. But the electorate was growing in the meantime: About 57% of eligible voters cast ballots this year, down from 58.6% in 2012 and 61.6% in 2008, which was the highest mark in 40 years.

The total number of votes was up, but the percentage of actual voters to eligible voters was down. This says that, in 2016, people cared less about the outcome of the election than they did in 2012. 60% of Millennials failed to vote, 6% less than in 2012. The 65+ cohort dropped most dramatically, down 12% from 2012. From Carl Beijer:

The major trend in 2016 was one of increasingly apathy. Within that broader trend, the demographic patterns are muddy. Deviations in relative support from group to group don’t map well onto the standard media narratives that dominated this election; for example, apathy grew more among women and voters of color than among men and white voters. Among the candidates, Clinton either broke even or lost support among every single demographic group, while Trump won support among voters of color and boomers.

And if we look at states that were key to Trump’s victory – Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, all but Pennsylvania and Florida had lower overall turnout. And in the case of Ohio and Wisconsin, turnout was much lower.

While it’s too early to say that we saw a populist revolt, it is clear that the slimy campaigns and the unattractive candidates probably depressed turnout.  And it isn’t clear yet whether voter suppression laws had a significant impact on the outcome of the election, but America’s gotta wake up.

When 43% of eligible voters don’t bother to vote, we risk surrendering our democracy to a well-organized minority of Americans. Nobody should be complaining if they failed to vote.

To help the non-voters wake up, we will listen today to Leonard Cohen. Wrongo mentioned Cohen’s death yesterday. His dying wasn’t a surprise, since he said in last month’s profile in the New Yorker that he was “ready to die.” Yet, on October 13th he told an LA audience:

I think I was exaggerating. I’ve always been into self-dramatization… I intend to stick around until 120.

That didn’t come to pass. His final album, “You Want It Darker” came out on three weeks ago. In it, he waves goodbye to us with grace. Asked often about his process for songwriting he usually replied:

I’ve often said if I knew where the good songs came from, I’d go there more often.

But we remember him today with “Everybody Knows”. It probably has been overplayed this week, but it is appropriate for the revolutionary week we had:

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

Sample lyrics:

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

Doesn’t that kind of sum up where we are heading for the next four years?

Facebooklinkedinrss

Sunday Cartoon Blogging – November 13, 2016

Has this been the worst week ever? And then we learned that Leonard Cohen died last Friday. We will devote Monday to him, but we should be glad that Janet Reno died thinking that Hillary had it in the bag. Wrongo promised some comments for Veteran’s Day:

If we can’t care for the ones we have, perhaps we should stop making new veterans:

cow-known-soldier

Supporting the troops needs to be more than lip service”

cow-support-the-troops

The Dems now need to do what the GOP did in 2012. Of course, they will probably ignore the findings too:

cow-autopsy

We need to change perspective regarding our differences:

cow-big-wall

 Trump’s infrastructure plan ties everything together:

cow-new-infrastructure

Comey’s boys played their part:

cow-get-our-man

We leave you with the lyrics to a Steven Stills song:

There’s something happening here

What it is ain’t exactly clear

There’s a man with a gun over there

Telling me I got to beware

 

I think it’s time we stop, children,

What’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

 

There’s battle lines being drawn

Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong

Young people speaking their minds

Getting so much resistance from behind

 

It’s time we stop, hey,

What’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

 

Paranoia strikes deep

Into your life it will creep

It starts when you’re always afraid

You step out of line, the man come and take you away

 

We better stop, hey,

What’s that sound

Everybody look what’s going down

 

See you on Monday.

Facebooklinkedinrss

Election Wrap-Up Linkage – Saturday Edition

In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”George Orwell

Feeling blitzed by the election? Science has an answer. Research by neuroscientists have led to a list of 10 songs which reduce stress. According to Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International, which conducted the research, “Weightless” has been named as the most relaxing song ever, which reduces a person’s stress by 65%. Your mileage may vary.

The most interesting thing so far in the analysis of who voted is the number of Democrats that didn’t vote:

popular-vote
While America hasn’t counted all the votes yet, Clinton’s total vote is down significantly from both Obama elections. On the margin, people apparently thought that they didn’t have sufficient reason to show up for Clinton. Everybody knew what Donald Trump’s top three issues were. Despite an issue-laden website, nobody knew what Hillary Clinton’s’ top three issues were, they just knew she was against DT.

Krystal Ball (yes her real name) was a candidate for Congress in Virginia a half dozen years ago and has been writing since. She has a column up at HuffPo: The Democratic Party Deserved To Die in which she says the following:

In 29 states, truck driving is the number one job and it is one of the few jobs left that can provide a middle class living for high school grads. What will happen to the 1.5 million families who get their daily bread from a truck driver when all of those jobs are eliminated by driverless trucks? It’s not a matter of if but when. Are we going to teach all those drivers to code or retrofit windows or whatever other pathetic nonsense we’ve held up as a solution? This new reality is upon us. The markets are not going to magically fix it.

Stronger Together” meant nothing to all these people that felt that they were left behind by globalization, free trade agreements and technology. Democrats have been on an 8-year slide from electing a President with veto proof majorities in Congress to holding zero power in DC. Maybe this will reignite the revolt in the party to ditch its leadership and get back to its roots.

Orange County CA among the most Republican counties in CA, finally votes for a Democratic Presidential candidate, and the rest of the country pulls up the ladder. WTF?

On Election Day, most voters use electronic or optical-scan ballots. Nearly half of registered voters (47%) live in jurisdictions that use only optical-scan as their standard voting system, and about 28% live in DRE-only jurisdictions, according to Pew’s analysis of data from the Verified Voting Foundation, a nongovernmental organization concerned with the impact of new voting technologies on election integrity. Here is how votes are tallied in America:

type-of-voting-machine

 

 

 

Facebooklinkedinrss

Election Day 2016: Closing Argument

“I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.” –  John F. Kennedy

JFK said that at Amherst College less than a month before he died. He wasn’t running for reelection yet, but that quote shows how he towers over the two presidential candidates in front of us today.

We could ask: “What does wisdom have to do with being president?” And our answer should be “everything”!

Some Americans are angry. Some are mainly angry with Washington. Many are impatient, unable to keep a long complicated idea in their heads to a conclusion, saying things like: “bottom line this for me” after less than a couple of minutes of talk. People are overwhelmed with information, much of which is patently false, so they do not know what to believe. The simply angry people will not help us solve anything, and they may not even accept a solution designed to help with some of their problems.

This is the context for today’s election.

The best case for Hillary Clinton is that she represents a continuation of Obama’s policies, with a few slightly more progressive ideas forced into the mix by Bernie. If Clinton is president, she will continue to have the same fights with Republicans in Congress that Obama had, but since Trump wants to enact policies that are destructive, some of which will be enthusiastically supported by Republicans in Congress, wisdom indicates Hillary is our best option this year.

Over the next four years Clinton is unlikely to do anything domestically that makes the lives of most Americans worse, and any Supreme Court justices she picks are likely to be reliably liberal on social issues, assuming Republicans are willing to confirm any nominee offered by a Democrat.

Her foreign policy is hawkish. This is the one place where Trump seems to be to the left of Clinton. How we handle Russia, China and the Middle East will be a huge challenge to the next president, but the leader of the free world cannot be an impulsive know-it-all.

What about the arguments against Clinton?

Emails are Hillary’s quicksand. Win or lose, Congress will keep worrying on that bone for a long, long time.

What about the paid speeches, the relationships with Wall Street and foreign governments? None of that is unique to Clinton. Her neoliberal positions and affiliations are common in both Parties. Obama, both Bushes, Bill Clinton, and Reagan have all taken money from most of these same groups through the campaign finance system.

Money and influence are the business plan for all American politicians. There’s nothing particularly revelatory about that, and it doesn’t make her any more corrupt than most other Democrats and Republicans who have run for president.

Arguments for Donald Trump:

The best argument for Donald Trump doesn’t rely on any of his policy positions, some of which are unclear and many of which are completely detached from evidence-based reality. Instead, the argument for him is that he will shake things up, and possibly, change some things.

Arguments against Trump:

A Trump presidency would be risky, since his ideas and temperament could easily make things worse than the current situation. He’s been called many names, his own ghostwriter for the book “The Art of the Deal” called him a sociopath. Many words describe Donald Trump, but here are a few that do not: Thoughtful. Serious. Presidential. So, wisdom argues that we not elect Trump.

People are looking for change. For them, it’s disheartening to settle for someone like Clinton who seeks gradual improvement, but is not a change agent.

America needs change, but it has to be a positive kind of change. That means it’s better to stick with the lower risk candidate unless there is a political alternative who really might make things better.

There will be better messengers for left-driven and right-driven populism down the road. When that happens, we will have more chances to pick a workable political alternative to the neoliberalism of both establishment parties.

Be patient, while we wait for a better alternative.

And vote today, if you haven’t yet.

Facebooklinkedinrss

Monday Wake Up Call – Election Eve Edition

It is less than 36 hours until someone loses the 2016 presidential election, and the FBI has again cleared Hillary Clinton of any criminal wrongdoing related to her private email server.

But the damage is done. James Comey caused this and must resign, assuming Clinton is inaugurated. He tried to sabotage her campaign, he stalled her momentum, and caused quite a few people who planned to vote for her to have a false and negative impression of her honesty.

No American should have faith in Comey’s impartiality. But, once again, it is “mission accomplished” for the GOP, they used the go-to Republican tool of character assassination.

It works every time if it involves a Clinton, and the media is always happy to oblige.

In other news, the Pant Load just renewed his lease on the Trump Tower of Ignorance. On Saturday in Florida, he questioned the current mission to recapture the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS. He again criticized the US leaders involved in its planning. From CNN: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

The Republican presidential nominee knocked US officials as a “group of losers” for not launching a “surprise” attack and said he was convinced the offensive — which is led by the Iraqi military — was launched “for political reasons” to benefit his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. He suggested she would get “credit” for its success.

This was after his Friday musing in Hersey PA, where he questioned the core rationale behind the military offensive, which is central to defeating the terrorist group in Iraq:

Who benefits by us getting Mosul? You know it’s going to benefit Iran. We’re not going to benefit. Because Iran is taking over Iraq.

Trump misunderstands the goals of the US program to defeat ISIS, which he claims to support. Retaking Iraqi territory from ISIS is key to that goal.

Trump also misunderstands military strategy and tactics. He says we shouldn’t announce plans to attack Mosul, but US military officials say it is impossible to move tens of thousands of troops and the associated materiel into position without alerting the enemy. They also stressed the importance of warning civilians of the coming battle.

And despite forces pushing ISIS back around Mosul, Trump said on Saturday that the offensive has been a “disaster,” directly contradicting accounts from our military leaders.

Trump’s ego tells him that he knows more than the generals about military operations, that he knows more than economists about economics, that he’s an incredibly virile 70 year old man, and that he was the greatest athlete in NYC during the 1960s.

If you haven’t voted yet, go vote, because otherwise, no one will want to hear your pathetic excuses about why you didn’t go to the polls. Please don’t talk about why you chose to cop out, or to cast a third party ballot, when the actual choice before us this week is as stark as we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes.

A popular rationale to justify not voting, or voting for a third party, is: “I don’t like either candidate, they’re both terrible.”

The thing is, there are no perfect leaders. We have never had a flawless president. There are always weaknesses, foibles and scandals. It takes decades before we really understand who the great leaders were, and even then, most had defects that would diminish them with today’s scandal-focused media.

So, undecided voters, look into your soul, and find that part of “us” that’s within you. Remember that while dystopian nightmares are fine in the movies, you really don’t want to actually experience one firsthand.

And, when you wake up on Wednesday morning in a country that hasn’t turned into a hellish wasteland overnight, pat yourself on the back for having done the right thing.

It’s time for America to wake the F up! With one candidate, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. With the other, you have no idea what you’re going to get, but, as his Mosul comments show, you can be sure he doesn’t know shit from Shinola about anything other than real estate.

To help America wake up, here is Sunnyland Slim with “Be Careful How You Vote”. Sunnyland was a patriarch of the Chicago blues scene from the 1940s to the mid-1990s when he died. Slim was in his mid-70s at the time of this recording:

Don’t be buying Trump’s lies about “building a wall” or “bringing back manufacturing jobs“. Neither will ever happen. Be careful how you vote.

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

Facebooklinkedinrss

Sunday Cartoon Blogging – Presidential Election Edition

Here we are, the Sunday before Tuesday’s presidential election, and the time change just added another hour to our long national nightmare.

The contest between Clinton and Trump has become uncomfortably close since the FBI’s intervened in our political process.

Can we build a wall around the FBI? It will be the best wall, and we’ll get James Comey to pay for it.

The WaPo reports that it has moved Ohio from “toss-up” to “leans Republican” and moved New Hampshire and Arizona from “leans Democratic” to “toss-up”. This leaves Clinton with 290 electoral votes. CNN, as of Friday morning had Clinton below 270 electoral votes for the first time in a long time.

This election reminds Wrongo of 1988. That was George H. W. Bush vs. Michael Dukakis. In July, Dukakis led Bush by 17 points in a Gallup poll. In fact, Dukakis led Bush by comfortable margins into August, but things went badly for the Democrat. A number of false rumors were reported, including the claim Dukakis had been treated for mental illness. Then came the ridiculous picture of Dukakis in a tank, and the Willie Horton ad, and Dukakis’ goose was cooked. Bush took the popular vote by nearly 8 points, winning 40 states and 426 electoral votes.

Let’s hope we are not witnessing the second coming of a Dukakis loss in Hillary’s inability to close out Donald Trump.

This means we need an extra helping of cartoons. Something has to give us a smile before the crying starts on Tuesday. Face it, one team or the other will be crying.

Cubs win, Cubs WIN:

cow-cubs-win-2

Some voters will definitely have some ‘splaining to do:

cow-answer-to-st-pete

When you think that all the choices are bad, what are ya gonna do?

cow-vote-anyway

Views differ on Comey:

cow-comey-is-wonderful

FBI Director takes on a new meaning:

cow-the-director

If Trump wins, some are going to Canada, others are just going:

cow-advance-directive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it’s all over, we’ll call it a “Wave Election”:

cow-wave-election

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebooklinkedinrss

Clinton Is (Not) The Issue

As we go down the stretch to Tuesday’s election, the political dynamic has switched from being a referendum on Donald Trump to a referendum on Hillary Clinton.

It seems fitting that in the final stretch of a presidential campaign that has been completely indifferent to policy issues, from Russia, China, and the Middle East, to jobs and income inequality at home. Our news outlets are now focused on an apparently impregnable story about the Pant Suit’s private e-mail server, and the Clintons generally.

Since FBI Director James Comey’s announcement, we’ve seen the drip, drip of musings by the cableistas about whether Clinton can hang on to her lead, or if Trump can win on Tuesday.

There have also been a series of leaks by the FBI that appear to be designed to damage Hillary Clinton and benefit Donald Trump. An anonymous source leaked to the Wall Street Journal that there was an FBI investigation  — including “secret recordings” —  into the Clinton Foundation.

Fox News reported on Wednesday that the FBI is intensifying an investigation into the Clinton Foundation over allegations that it traded donations for access to Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State.

And there’s more. Judd Legum reports that the FBI’s Inspection Division is launching an investigation into why its FBI Records Vault Twitter bot re-released the files on Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich.

The FBI Twitter account was inactive from September 2015 until October 8th. Then there were a flurry of tweets, concluding with the Marc Rich tidbit. It has not been active since that tweet, so:

Candice Will, Assistant Director for the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, said she was referring the matter to the FBI’s Inspection Division for an “investigation.” Upon completion of the investigation, the Office of Professional Responsibility will be referred back to the Office of Professional Responsibility for “adjudication.”

According to Marcy Wheeler, the Inspection Division and the Office of Professional Responsibility doesn’t have statutory independence from the rest of the FBI, which means their investigation can be influenced (or quashed) by FBI executives. So, nothing will be done, despite the fact that Federal law and FBI policy prohibit employees from using the power of the department to attempt to influence elections.

Now, we read this in the Guardian:

Deep antipathy to Hillary Clinton exists within the FBI, multiple bureau sources have told the Guardian, spurring a rapid series of leaks damaging to her campaign just days before the election.

Current and former FBI officials, none of whom were willing or cleared to speak on the record, have described a chaotic internal climate that resulted from outrage over director James Comey’s July decision not to recommend an indictment over Clinton’s maintenance of a private email server on which classified information transited.

“The FBI is Trumpland,” said one current agent.

This was also confirmed to Wrongo recently by an in-law who used to work for the FBI. It’s as if the ghost of ole J. Edgar showed up early in October, and has decided to hang around for a while, even though Halloween is over.

The FBI has now entered parlous political territory. This is law enforcement trying to force its will on civil authority. We need to put a choke collar on this dog, before it tries to bite us all.

We all should care about how FBI’s apparent misconduct is affecting the election.And if the FBI is this politicized, it is an enemy of We the People, and will remain an enemy, even if Comey is ousted as Director.

Wrongo is now beginning to think of Comey as another John Boehner, a guy with decent instincts who is completely ineffective at controlling his team, with disastrous results for the country.

Imagine how The Donald as president, would use a vast public police force that is comprised of Trump true believers.

Facebooklinkedinrss

The World Series and the Election

From Bob Lefsetz, who all of you should read: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

…tonight’s game was an epic finish that not only rekindled your belief in the game, but America too….The most valuable player was a Jewish egghead who never took the field. Theo Epstein reversed the [World Series] curse in Boston and then brought a championship to Chicago.

Maybe Theo should be a candidate for president. After all, he has fixed two underperforming organizations, and the US certainly underperforms. Sadly, Epstein’s success is based on using analytics and a plan to achieve a goal.

Facts and a plan. How could THAT possibly work for the country? Where would Trump and/or his boy, Mitch McConnell, fit within that concept? Trump speaks in broad generalities and platitudes, inflaming the passions of his followers, and obliterating any possibility of reasoned discourse or debate. He’s done nothing to inform America of the details of how he plans to make America a better and stronger place.

More from Bob:

And the teams are a rainbow coalition of ethnicities. It’s a white supremacist’s nightmare, not only are there various colors, but immigrants too! And somehow they all get along, they come together as a team, they’ve got a common goal, victory!

Ain’t that America?

But, one candidate thinks that he can win by scapegoating many of the kinds of people that were on the field last night. How can so many Americans support a candidate steeped in racism, religious bigotry, Islamophobia, homophobia, sexism, and misogyny, when we just saw such a great example of winning by working together?

And Lefsetz makes a final great point:

What is the common goal in America today? The telecast was riddled with political ads that made one wince. Duplicitous candidates utilizing subterfuge to try and win. Whereas the baseball players had shaggy haircuts, some tattoos, and had to play by their wits, there was little time for thinking, you had to make decisions.

The metaphor can be extended further. The Series went to the full seven games, and then into extra innings before a narrow one-run victory. The 2016 presidential election will go down to the wire, and who will win isn’t very clear. Both candidates have flaws, and yet, both are able to score points against the opposition.

We hope the election doesn’t go into overtime, but we need to understand that regardless of which candidate wins, it is just the restart of a protracted contest.

Unlike baseball, where the season ended last night.

A final word on Trump and his supporters. The Pant Load talks a good game, but his policies will not help his supporters. He promises to bring their jobs back. But, as Tom Friedman says: most of their jobs didn’t go to a Mexican. They went to a microchip: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

The idea that large numbers of factory jobs can be returned to America if we put up a wall with Mexico or renegotiate our trade deals is a fantasy. Trump ignores the fact that manufacturing is still by far the largest sector of the US economy. That our factories now produce twice what they did in 1984 — but with one-third fewer workers.

This trend in robotics and intelligent machines is well under way worldwide since the 1990’s, and no world leader, including Donald Trump is going to stop it. More from Friedman:

I understand why many Trump supporters have lost faith in Washington and want to just “shake things up.” When you shake things up with a studied plan and a clear idea of where you want to get to, you can open new futures. But when you shake things up, guided by one-liners and no moral compass, you can cause enormous instability and systemic vertigo.

Baseball is over for this year, but America’s need for leadership and teamwork based on a vision and a plan continues.

How can so many Americans willingly settle for a candidate who is more caricature than qualified or capable in a world where only talent and vision matter?

Facebooklinkedinrss

Turkish Democracy

Let’s pause in the ongoing discussion about the perilous state of US democracy in 2016 to focus on how far and how fast Turkish democracy has fallen.

Wrongo visited Istanbul in March 2013. At that point, Turkey seemed to be the better example of two Muslim-majority democracies that existed in the world (the other is Indonesia). Then came the Gezi Park demonstrations a few weeks later that left six people dead and 8,000 injured.

In July of this year, Turkey had an aborted coup attempt. In the three and half months since, Turkey has fired or suspended more than 110,000 government employees. They launched a military incursion into Syria, and have repeatedly threatened to do the same in Iraq.

So far, one third of Turkey’s highest-ranking military officers have been dismissed. Almost every major institution—military, judiciary, media, education, business—have been affected. And 170 newspapers, magazines, television stations and news agencies have been shut down, leaving 2,500 journalists unemployed.

Rights groups say the scale of the purges show Erdogan is using the coup attempt to crush all dissent. Erdogan has successfully manipulated the full-throated “patriotism” that the Turkish people showed after the attempted coup to create a constitutional change that would give him near-total executive powers.

The arrest and detention of judges, mayors, teachers, military personnel, civil servants, journalists and political opponents has shown that Erdogan is moving even further away from a pluralistic society.

On October 29, Turkey celebrated the 93rd anniversary of the founding of the Republic, but just two days later, the 92-year-old newspaper Cumhuriyet (The Republic) became the latest target in a crackdown on opposition media. The government continues to use the state of emergency following the July 15 coup attempt as a pretext for silencing Turkey’s few remaining critical voices.

The Istanbul prosecutor’s office said the staff at the paper were suspected of committing crimes on behalf of Kurdish militants and the network of Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric that Erdogan accuses of masterminding the July 15 coup attempt. The HuffPo reported that the state-run Anadolu agency said: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

Journalists at the paper were suspected of seeking to precipitate the coup through “subliminal messages” in their columns before it happened,

Accused of using “subliminal messages.” This is the code language of authoritarian rule. Say goodbye to a democratic Turkey, it’s Erdogan’s country now. Such a sad turn for a nation full of bright and interesting people.

But it doesn’t end there. This week, also saw the State Department tell US Consulate family members to leave Turkey. The State Department has ordered the families to leave Turkey due to increased threats from extremist groups targeting US citizens.

Erdogan’s increasingly bellicose stance on the world stage has alarmed NATO (Turkey is a member) and the US, since it is becoming an ever more unpredictable partner, one over which we have decreasing leverage. From Reuters:

Erdogan warned this month that Turkey “will not wait until the blade is against our bone” in going after its enemies abroad and has hinted at a possible incursion into Iraq if a U.S.-backed assault against Islamic State in the city of Mosul causes sectarian strife which threatens Turkey’s borders. Frustrated that it has not been more involved in the Mosul operation, Sunni Muslim Turkey says it has a responsibility to protect ethnic Turkmen and Sunni Arabs in the area, once part of the Ottoman Empire. It fears Shi’ite militias, which on Saturday joined the offensive west of Mosul, will provoke ethnic bloodletting.

A Turkish ground operation in Iraq would be dangerous, risking embroiling its military on a third front as it pursues an offensive against Islamic State in Syria and against Kurdish PKK militants in its own southeast.

We need to think about how our two US presidential hopefuls would react to this mess once in power.

Whoever wins can’t just sloganeer about what to do with Turkey or about its ambitions in Syria and Iraq, any more than they can ignore what Russia’s and Iran’s objectives are.

Aydin Selcen, a retired Turkish diplomat who was consul general in Erbil, Iraq, the capital of northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, said:

History is like a huge supermarket where you can find what you want. You can choose a historical perspective created to rally the masses. But you can neither build a foreign policy nor a military strategy based on that…

Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump should stay out of the supermarket of domestic public opinion as well. The answers to dealing with Erdogan and the attack on Turkish democracy while simultaneously dealing with a hostile member of NATO will not be found in “The Art of The Deal.”

Facebooklinkedinrss