Passover: A Moment To Reflect On The Perils Of Being Jewish

This year Passover and Good Friday fall on the same day. Jews will celebrate their liberation from tyrannical rule while Christians lament the day that Jesus was crucified to save mankind.

Unfortunately there is great intolerance around the globe for members of all religions to this day. Practitioners must continue to be diligent about threats from hate groups.

But why is there more venom directed at Jews than all other religions? This is a question scholars have been asking for thousands of years. Religious tolerance has had its ups and downs in history. But Jews, in particular, always seem to become the target of discrimination whenever a society is in turmoil.

Jews have bounced back and prospered from targeted extermination on a number of occasions. The Holocaust is the greatest example of the resilience of these people. Perhaps it’s because their religion and culture are linked. It gives them the courage to face the worst oppression.

After Hitler came into power in the early 1930s he needed a cause to unite the German people. His country suffered an embarrassing loss in World War I, an economic depression and overwhelming dissatisfaction with Weimar leaders. Hitler reminded his people that Germany was once great and could be again. He targeted Jews to help him achieve his goal of global domination.

Hitler convinced Germans that Jews were responsible for all of the evils and bad times in Germany society. It’s startling that such an advanced culture actually believed that Jews were a plague.

Nazis attempted to cleanse Europe of Jews by establishing concentration camps in which Jews were imprisoned, humiliated, starved and gassed. In 1933 there were 9.5 million Jews in Europe. In 1950 3.5 million remained. In Poland the country with the most Jews before World War II, the statistics were 3 million in 1933 and, incredibly, 45,000 in 1950.

Jewish leaders responded by establishing the State of Israel after the war where persecuted members of the faith could seek asylum. Israel now serves as a sanctuary country for Jews from around the world.

Anti-Semitism still abounds. It’s difficult to pinpoint the reasons for continuing animosity towards Jews. After all they are mostly European. And, most are very productive members of their communities. Yet, as the years pass Jews have become somewhat less concerned with the potential risks around them, particularly in the US. They feel secure in their homes, on the job and in their synagogues.

But in America most Jews live in urban areas that are usually more tolerant than rural places. Nevertheless every day Jewish watchdogs across the nation, and in other countries, respond to outrageous acts such as the desecration of burial sites, anti-Semitic graffiti and hate crimes.

There were two troubling stories in the New York Times yesterday. In India a book was published that had a list of world leaders who “devoted their lives for the betterment of their country and people.” Would you believe Adolph Hitler was one of the leaders cited? The book is no longer being sold after an uproar from the Jewish community.

In France two young men killed an 85-year old woman and Holocaust survivor because she was Jewish and “probably had valuables in her apartment.”

The world is anything but safe for Jews, so they should continue “to look over their shoulders.”

America has welcomed every kind of person into the country over the years. But it has not always been easy sailing. Each new group experienced discrimination from groups that preceded them. Why would any racial group discriminate against Jews when they were in the same situation a short time ago?

The freedom of religion is baked into our Constitution and our laws. Discrimination based upon religion is illegal. Yet there are narrow-minded people who feel compelled to bully and make life miserable for others.

I hope this holiday will be peaceful and joyous for all Jews.

Children Died, Children Marched, Now It’s Time For Sensible Gun Control

Thousands of young people across the country protested the proliferation of guns in America this past weekend. Kudos to all those that feel strongly about this issue and want to use legitimate means to make changes. Surely there are too many guns in our country, but to think that there will be a radical reduction in the number is misguided enthusiasm.

Young people need to manage their expectations and march for changes that have a realistic possibility of implementation. The greatest impediment to decreasing guns in America is none other than the US Constitution, which clearly indicates that owning guns is a right of every citizen. The second most important impediment is the National Rifle Association, which defends the right to bear arms with extensive lobbying of Congress and cash to our political leaders. Because of this, protesters against guns need to be very focused on what is really doable at this moment in history.

Existing, former and new millennials are becoming an increasingly larger part of the population of the US.   There were 75.4 million people ages 18-34 in 2015, or 20% of the total population. This represents a gigantic bloc especially considering that the number millennials is growing every year, and the ones that are ageing out of the group are of a like mind with the base group.

Today it’s unrealistic that lobbying against guns by young people could make a significant impact politically. Keep in mind that some young people are ambivalent politically (as is half the overall population in the country) and not every youngster is against owning guns, especially in the heartland.

What can be done now is limited, but would still be a huge improvement in efforts to protect children from mass murderers like the ones that have plagued children in recent months and years.

Automatic and semiautomatic weapons could be banned even though it would be a great challenge and strongly opposed by the gun lobby. These weapons are meant to be used to kill other human beings. They are not sporting weapons by any definition.

Bump stocks could be banned. They enable a weapon to fire bullets faster, much like an automatic rifle. Murderers have used this device to increase their kill rate.

Large magazines could be prohibited. As with bump stocks this device enables killers to shower more deadly ammunition at a crowd of people.

More intense background checks would hopefully decrease the ability of impaired people and felons to buy guns legally.

Increasing the age of buyers from 18 to 21 would put guns into the hands of more mature people.

The blowback on these simple, yet effective, proposals will be monumental. The N.R.A. will fight tooth and nail to stop any new laws that impede the ownership of guns. Just months ago it would have been an impossibility for any of these proposals to be successful. With the current level of enthusiasm, changes that will increase the safety of young people could become a reality. It would be a mistake to bite off too much because legislators will need the support of moderate gun owners to legislate new laws for the items mentioned above.

Perhaps in a future generation there will be a meaningful reduction in the number of guns in America. For the time being all those of us who want fewer guns in our society will have to be satisfied for some smaller gains. It would be a mistake to not take advantage of the strong sentiment for some common sense legislation that will make our children more secure.

Facebook Will Be Scrutinized By Congress

The current imbroglio involving Facebook was bound to happen. The company is being criticized for violating the privacy of thousands of it users in the US and abroad. There are two principal issues at play.

First, Facebook did not properly inform users that their personal information could be shared with third parties. The second is the incomprehensible desire of Facebook users to pour their hearts out regarding every aspect of their private lives in posts on the site. This could lead to serious issues if the information falls into the wrong hands.

Facebook offers information to companies that are constantly searching for data that predicts the behavior of consumers, voters or whomever.

For instance if data determines that people living in Minnesota have a preference for the color blue, an automobile company might be interested. It could begin to use more blue automobiles in its advertising in Minnesota to increase sales.

Analytics companies determine preferences of large groups of consumers that are then targeted by consumer products companies. Politicians also retain these companies. The data provided by Facebook might indicate that voters in a city are partial to educational issues. If there were turmoil in a citywide school district, the analytics company would be sure to tell a candidate for local office to emphasize this issue in public comments.

The Trump campaign received information from Facebook through an analytics intermediary. There was nothing illegal or unethical about acquiring such data, so long as no one’s privacy was being invaded. The question is whether Facebook clearly indicated that personal information might be used in a political campaign to sway voters.

From the beginning of the Facebook era many skeptics have wondered why individuals would post very private information on the site. Disreputable characters and predators could use information about your lifestyle, where you live, where you vacation and where your children go to school for nefarious purposes.

The assortment of shady individuals is infinite. Every thing from burglary to identity theft could be in play. Yet, to score a high number of “likes” from friends has driven users to reveal too much.

When this questionable activity actually results in a problem, the same people who posted information will complain that their privacy has been violated.

The Facebook business is harmless in a general sense. People form groups on line and share their lives with friends and acquaintances. They try to show that they are interesting, happy, prosperous and cool. This is typical human behavior. But, there are risks and bad people waiting in the weeds to take advantage of unsuspecting Facebook users.

Facebook earns a lot of money by providing data to third parties who slice and dice the information. They look for trends and preferences that can be use to make money and/or influence people (like voters). It’s important that Facebook subscribers understand that their personal information is valuable to Facebook and its business clients, and they are giving it away without being compensated.

Can this trend create huge problems prospectively? We will find out because Congress is going to investigate and ultimately try to regulate companies that disseminate personal data (Google, Instagram and Twitter). It will be interesting to see if Facebook users will continue to post private information after hearing about all the perils of doing so.

 

The Erosion Of Political Discourse In America

The atmosphere in Washington and around the country is toxic. Politicians, government bureaucrats and partisan Americans are abandoning generally accepted standards of free discourse. This phenomenon has the potential to diminish our country unless there is a serious change in attitudes.

In the past Americans respected their leaders and lawmakers even if they were not politically aligned with them. The two-party system effectively prevents any one from overstepping their authority. The opposition party has very real power to prevent tyrannical actions by the party in power. Politicians are given ample time to debate the most controversial issues. In the past this was done in a collegial manner, and cocktails were served after the voting ended. No more is this the case.

The venom that each of our political parties has for the other is disgraceful. After all we are all on the same team and want only the best for America. Stereotyping of and mud slinging at opponents is the norm. It’s no wonder that fisticuffs have not taken place in the halls of Congress. During every political cycle competitors spend billions of dollars attempting to destroy the reputations of their opponents.

Disrespect flows between the executive and legislative branches of our government as well. Both groups need the other to create laws and policies to secure America and make it great. Without cooperation our government will remain in a perpetual state of paralysis.

Ironically social media has made it possible for an angry, self-centered president and sanctimonious partisan lawmakers to hurl epithets at each other and spread false rumors 24 hours a day.

The success of our nation is dependent upon compromise. An original issue facing our forefathers was the tension between federalism and states right. It was a bloody battle in which politicians fought over the division of power. In the end they worked it out with compromise. For the most part the federal government has had a balanced relationship with the states resulting in orderly rule of the country.

But recently some states and cities have unilaterally decided to spurn federal laws pertaining to illegal aliens. While the feds attempt to round up felons and troublemakers, local officials have provided sanctuary to all people who have entered the country illegally, and make it difficult to root out the bad apples.

To date the president has acted with restraint. There are many Americans that would like to see arrest warrants issued for local officials who intentionally violate federal law.

There is a relatively new craze among politicians and bureaucrats that is dramatically changing the landscape in Washington. It is called “leaking information.” Political hacks use this oft times illegal technique to spin situations to benefit their affiliates. In many situations the spin contains bold-faced lies or at a minimum omission of relevant facts.

With the election of Donald Trump leaking hit epic heights. Confidential conversations and information is disseminated to the press moments after meetings end. Sometimes it endangers agents and allies of the US. Our law enforcement officials are even leaking information in an effort to embarrass their political opponents. Investigations at the FBI are not kept secret. It appears that there are scores of officials with direct links to media. It is sad to see the liberal press participating in illegal passing of information without any real threat of sanctions.

Telling the whole truth is another rare commodity, even under oath. Perjury charges are being issued every day. Government officials lie without hesitation. Telling the truth in a courtroom environment is the cornerstone of our judicial system. No longer should liars be excused even if they are high ranking officials.

In personal settings it has become risky to discuss politics. These sessions have become gigantic grudge matches that often end in bad feelings pitting American against American. Liberals are trying to “help” conservatives see the light. When they don’t succeed, which is most of the time, liberals call their conservative opponents idiots. Of course the situation is often reversed.

Discourse leads to new ideas and progress. Americans not of similar political persuasions are no longer able to sit around a negotiating table or a dinner table and trade perspectives. The long-term impact of such a destructive environment could be significant.

And finally the media must be called out for violating sacred journalistic responsibilities and abetting great animosity in the country. The First Amendment protects the press from virtually any effort to constrain their activities. The continuation of this protection is dependent upon the press reporting the news in a fair and balance manner.

The evolution of commentary and op-ed sections of newspapers and on-air broadcasts gives the press the opportunity to express personal opinions. Yet reporting should be made without bias.

When reporting is fraught with bias it becomes counterintuitive to the objectives of our forefathers. It creates a risk for the press and invites governmental and legal interference.

Never in the history of the country has the press been as vicious and one-sided in its reporting. Major newspapers have allowed reporters to cross the line from pure journalism, and reporting of facts to educate readers, to personal commentary.

The most disappointing events in recent years have been the attacks on free speech on college campuses. Universities should be a place where all perspectives are tolerated and not censored. Berkeley, one of the bastions of free speech over the years, prevented a conservative speech.

When you consider all this degradation of national character and the death of comity in the country, you should be concerned. Americans must remember that they have the ultimate sledgehammer at the ballot box. Unrestricted dialog is important because it enables voters to make better choices with more information.

Black Holes and the Afterlife: How the work of Stephen Hawking made me think about mortality

Stephen Hawking died last week after living an exceptional life despite overwhelming physical problems. His contributions to issues relating to gravity and the universe will continue to inspire other scientists. No doubt Hawking will also stimulate much more conversation about life, death, heaven, hell and God.

In a nutshell Hawking studied the nature of gravity and the origin of the universe at Cambridge. Black holes were a very important aspect of his prognostications. They are bottomless, gravitational pits so deep and dense that light cannot escape them.

Hawking proclaimed that black holes are not black. They fizzle, leak radiation and particles and finally explode and disappear over eons. They do not destroy matter. Rather, they create matter, and recycle matter that they attract with great gravitational power. Anything that goes into a black hole will return in some other form, per Dr. Hawking.

Over the years Hawking proposed theories about the evolution of our universe and whether a higher authority is controlling our destiny. Interestingly Hawking indicated that his god was the physics of the universe, not the ubiquitous creator depicted in so many religions and art forms.

It’s impossible for humans to fully appreciate a universe with no beginning and no end. Religion encourages us to believe that evolution emanates from a superior being, who sets everything in motion. God planted the seeds that eventually became man.

What about the vast and infinite expanse beyond Earth and the Milky Way? Cosmologists tell us that Earth is only an infinitesimally small part of a larger landscape. To think that there are no other life forms in the universe as advanced as humans is absurd.

These same scientists indicate that civilization began about 7,000 years ago and man began to evolve two to six million years ago. The universe is supposedly 13 billion years old. During all this time, is Earth the only place where living creatures evolved and built a civilization?

Hawking’s work is very esoteric and beyond the comprehension of most people. Yet we can appreciate the more simple concepts. He bases a lot of his research on the existence and role of black holes. Simply, they are spaces or objects that attract other things with gravity.

If Earth had a gravitational pull exponentially greater it could theoretically act as a black hole. Physical elements would be attracted to it, assimilated and converted into other matter.

As a deist, I find it hard to believe that when huge rocks floating around the universe are attracted to each other, the event might somehow result in life. Hawking’s vision of life needs more explanation relating to DNA and other material that can evolve into a life form that can think, love and hate, in my humble opinion.

For this reason I’m standing pat with the current theory of creation. It’s a tidy package that I can get my arms around. Logically every cosmic event needs to be encouraged, and I believe a supreme being is that catalyst.

Most theorists affiliated with the major religions don’t relate to Hawking. Christians believe in a supreme being, and that He sent his son to Earth to save it from original sin committed in the Garden of Eden. It’s all faith-based. Most consider this theory of evolution to be simplistic and easy for everyone to accept, even the most uneducated among us. Jews have no heaven, hell or afterlife. Yet most believe in a supreme being and in creation initiated by God.

Other religions believe that humans will be reincarnated into different living creatures. This is a recycling of consciousness, I suppose. It’s a convenient theory because it essentially supports the afterlife and bridges past life to future life.

The most depressing thing for most humans is the thought of oblivion. We live, we learn and we love for about 80 years, and then all the knowledge we amass is shut down at death. We live in the future only through our legacies and accomplishments.

Personally I think belief in an after life helps humans deal with the eventuality of death. Up to the moment of passing we can hope that we will live on in the afterlife and see God.

The desire to be with God effectively drives many humans to lead noble lives. Some religions (the heaven and hell crowd) live honorably, in great part, to be a part of a happy existence after death. Good guys will see God and bad guys will face eternal damnation with Satan. It’s a simple and effective system.

Atheism and pragmatism have attracted a great following in recent years. This is best personified by well-educated individuals who have examined the evidence and doubted. They concluded that 6,000 years of religion is irrelevant. When atheists pass they are given back to the Earth, and it’s over.

In this regard one cannot help but think about where we were before we were born. Is there an eternity backwards and forward? Somehow atoms, molecules and DNA reacted together and we were born with emotions and free will. But is it all a ruse? We get to find out at the time we die. I think.

In any case thank you Dr. Hawking for your perspectives. Rest in piece. Also thanks to TK for inspiring this essay.

Early Marriage And Divorce

From personal experience I know that marriage at an early age greatly increases the odds that a relationship will not be successful. For this reason I always advise young people to live together, mature and defer their marital plans.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2001, found, “that 48% of those who marry before 18 are likely to divorce within ten years, compared to 24% of those who marry after age 25.”

Forty to 50% of marriages end in divorce in the US. The average marriage lasts for eight years. Fifty percent of marriages last 15 years, 33% 25 years and 6% 50 years. This essay will consider the impact early marriage has on these dismal statistics.

There are many reasons why marriages break up. Here is one list:

  • Infidelity
  • Money
  • Lack of communication
  • Constant arguing
  • Weight gain
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of intimacy
  • Lack of equality

 

There are many other qualitative things that have contributed to increased divorce rates during the past half-century. Consider the greater power and expectations of women, less religious pressure to remain married and the big ones- it’s a hell of a lot easier to get divorced nowadays and it carries far less social stigma.

Young people are generally not mature enough to ensure marriage longevity and stability. Most of these relationships are overly dependent upon unrealistic expectations relating to romance and emotion. Little thought is given to the realities of living with another person and facing him or her every day for the rest of your life.

In many situations young people say, “to hell with financial issues, we just want to be together.” Well everybody’s got to eat and live some place. Where is the money going to come from to put food on the table and build a comfortable home? Hint: parents and family. Dependence on family members is a recipe for disaster. If you can’t afford to be married, wait until you earn enough to support yourself before you walk down the aisle.

There is wide disagreement about the reasons for infidelity. One opinion is that infidelity is a symptom rather than a cause of a deteriorating union.

For instance if a couple begins to have fewer and fewer intimate moments, one of them might be vulnerable to temptations outside the home. Or if one spouse doesn’t spend as much time being concerned with their personal appearance, it could be motivation for the other spouse to look elsewhere.

There are also numerous situations relating to the intellectual growth and emotional stability of a spouse that could also lead to disloyalty. The expression “the husband (or the wife) has outgrown the wife (or the husband)” is a trite way to say that one spouse is doing exciting things at work with exciting people, while the other is just feeding and caring for the children.

The metamorphosis that an individual experiences in the decade ending at 30 years of age is significant. The first ten years of marriage, starting at 20, could be impacted significantly by responsibilities affiliated to raising a family and earning a salary that enables a family to thrive.

The pressure of providing financial and emotional support to a spouse and children can be overwhelming for any young adult regardless of their upbringing. When that pressure is coupled with greater responsibility at work and one of a million other problems a person may face, it could lead to aberrant behavior.

Making a transition from total freedom in all aspects of one’s life to providing for a spouse and children is a perilous journey. Decisions can no longer made based upon one’s private and innate desires. The rent must be paid, everyone must be fed and one must be accommodating to his or her spouse’s needs after a hard day’s work.

Would the world be a better place if young people married after, say, thirty? I think yes. Relationships would be tested for longer periods before a permanent commitment is made and most would defer decisions to have children. There would no legal or religious reasons to stay together if it is not in the best interests of both parties to do so.

Equally importantly is that fewer children would be subjected to a life with one parent. The tragedies of one-parent families are too long to list.

During their 20s most young people spend an inordinate amount of time trying to succeed at work. With more seasoning individuals are better able to cope with the stress and effort needed to simultaneously have a successful marriage and be a good parent.

An important issue not frequently considered is the number of unsuccessful marriages that are not terminated. The reasons for unhappiness are abundant and include financial issues, unfulfilling sexual relations and a growing schism between spouses that often develops over the years. The point is that breakups alone do not accurately represent the true damage of early marriage.

Many social scientists would say that a person changes extensively between the ages of 20 and 30. Change can be a good thing in a marriage or it could seed the destruction of a loving relationship.

Over the years a marriage becomes more lasting when both spouses participate in the evolution of the relationship. To say it another way, a spouse should be make their significant other a better person, parent and partner. When the contributions of either become unbalanced problems may be afoot.

And finally the children. The benefits of having two parents at home working together cannot be overstated. The contributions to the development of children should be relatively even. Sure a stay-at-home spouse will deal with mundane, but very important issues. But the working spouse should seek to have many quality moments with the kids as well.

There will never be a law that bars marriage before a certain age. But parents would be wise to advise their children against early marriage. Waiting may be a bit counter intuitive to the notion that 21-year-old moms have safer births than older moms, but other benefits offset this dichotomy.

Trump Is Universally Disliked, But He Is Delivering

Despite President Trump’s inability to create strong personal ties with other people, including his staff, Congress and world leaders, one must concede that his performance has been impressive.

One of the biggest issues for Trump is his escalating conflict with Congress. It’s clear that Democrats abhor him and would initiate impeachment proceedings if they had the votes to do so. Every day Trump foils assail him by branding him in the vilest manner.

It may be that Republicans bear a similar level of frustration and animosity towards the president. Most do not express their feeling publicly because of certain retaliation. But it’s likely that an increasingly larger number of Republicans would cut him loose in a heartbeat if the opportunity arose. This could lead one to believe that Trump’s desire to capture the Republican nomination in 2020 is in jeopardy.

Trump doesn’t have a real support group in at the White House. Even his most ardent aides are frequently shocked, embarrassed and furious with is off-the-cuff style. He admonishes his most important advisors in tweets and flip-flops on important issues as part of his deal making “acumen.”

You would find few Americans who would want to have a beer with this man, much less work for him. He is, arguably, one of the most disliked men to ever hold the office of president. In fact he has not been able to halt the mass exodus of aides and advisors. The allure of working in the White House for a president is not enough to retain the most intelligent and highly ambitious young people.

Yet Donald Trump’s performance is impressive. He has put points on the board.

The ill-conceived and incredibly expensive Obamacare was his first target. Trump was not able to shut it down as promised, but it is slowly imploding much to the delight of conservatives.

Tax reform has created a great attitudinal change in the country. Many people have become much more optimistic about their future, financially and otherwise. Trump promised to put more money in the pockets of the middle class, and he did it. Also he decreased the tax burden on corporations and made them more competitive globally. The result includes a vibrant stock market and greater consumer confidence.

Trump’s generals have masterfully dealt with the craziness in the Middle East without incurring any significant increases in US casualties. Al Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban have been stymied to a great extent. These successes have decreased the chances of additional terror attacks by foreign nationals.

Trump has deftly handled the Syrian calamity. Unfortunately Russia and Iran have entered the fray and supported the Assad regime. But increased carnage has not spread outside of Syria to any great extent.

Trump is likely to win most of his points in the immigration imbroglio. His negotiating technique is unorthodox, yet he has painted Democrats into a corner. At some point he will get financing for the wall and eliminate migration and lottery abuses in exchange for amnesty of nearly two million innocent DACA aliens. Democrats will not be able to resist this political opportunity.

Regarding illegal aliens and sanctuary cities and states, the administration is appropriately taking action against local governments that are thwarting the efforts of immigration officers to protect the country.

The latest ray of hope is North Korea. It’s far too soon to expect the Little Rocket Man to give up his nukes. He, his father and grandfather have bamboozled previous US presidents. But direct negotiations and very damaging sanctions could temper this existential threat.

On the other hand expectations for sensible gun control and a reduction in domestic violence are unlikely. The NRA is too strong, and Trump is probably going to cave to the lobby. Whatever minor common sense changes are made will not be enough to protect our children.

There’s a lot more going on that could alter the increasingly positive political landscape. The scandal investigations will go on forever (it seems), Russia and China are becoming more aggressive and new tariffs could impede world economic advances.

In any case Trump has delivered. We may not like the man, but results are results. In the opinion of this writer, there are no successes that will enable the president to be reelected in 2020.Trum

History Shows That Economic Issues Will Make Or Break Trump Reelection

Many Americans are wondering whether President Trump will run and win reelection in 2020. He’s already declared his candidacy three years in advance, a bizarre action, but there are issues that could change Trump’s plans voluntarily or involuntarily.

This essay will look back in history at presidents who lost reelection along with the reasons for their defeat. You may be surprised by what you read.

There have been 45 presidential administrations in American history (Grover Cleveland gets counted twice because he didn’t serve for eight consecutive years). Of those, nine presidents were unable to get reelected to a second term. Here is a list of them along with the issues that thwarted their campaigns.

  1. George H.W. Bush-#41- 1989-1993. Bush had many successful military and diplomatic achievements. A decisive victory in the war with Iraq was offset by discontent affiliated to a failing economy, high federal deficits and increasing violence in the inner cities. His famous “read my lips, no new taxes” statement had a profound impact on Bush’s campaign.
  2. Jimmy Carter-#39- 1977-1981. Carter’s administration was greatly impacted by the 14 month Iran hostage situation. Additionally inflation, high interest rates and economic issues plagued his presidency.
  3. Gerald Ford-#38- 1974-1977. Inflation, stagflation, the oil embargo and energy shortages were Ford’s downfall. Ford also pardoned Richard Nixon, a very unpopular action.
  4. Herbert Hoover-#31- 1929-1933. Hoover presided over the 1929 stock market crash and the ensuing Great Depression. He was branded the “callous and cruel president” as he insisted that food and shelter for down and out Americans was a local issue.
  5. William Howard Taft-#27- 1909-1913. Taft alienated his fellow Republicans who later formed a new political party. He implemented unpopular tariffs in the Payne-Aldrich Act.
  6. Benjamin Harrison-#23- 1889-1893. During his administration a Treasury surplus evaporated and prosperity ended. After the 1980 sweep of Congress by Democrats, Harrison’s party abandoned him.
  7. Grover Cleveland-#22, #24- 1886-1889,1893-1897.
  8. Martin Van Buren-#8- 1837-1841. The economic panic of 1837 “punctured prosperity.” Van Buren blamed the panic on businesses and excessive credit.
  9. John Quincy Adams-#6- 1825-1829. Adams was accused of corruption and “public plunder.” Most importantly the popular Andrew Jackson defeated him.
  10. John Adams-#2- 1797-1801. Adams was a federalist who         lost to Jefferson who advocated states rights.

In the aforementioned, economic problems that each of the presidents encountered were highlighted. It is no coincidence that eight of nine presidents (excluding Cleveland) had serious economic issues. Prosperity is a president’s best friend and economic distress his worst enemy.

Currently Donald Trump is riding high on the economy. For the most part Americans are feeling optimistic about their future prospects. The tax cuts and their impact on the economy are Trump’s most important achievement from a reelection perspective. How will new tariffs impact this situation (Taft lost his election in great part because he implemented unpopular tariffs)? It remains to be seen.

An equally important question is whether Republicans will support Trump. This blog speculated that Mitt Romney might oppose Trump in the primaries. Given the growing animosity towards Trump relating to his personal style, tariff threats (Republicans oppose them) and immigration (Republicans oppose general amnesty), it seems the president is on thin ice.

All the above, however, is moot if economic prosperity continues. History has proven this to be true. It will mitigate almost all of Trump’s warts. Of course we still need to hear what the Special Counsel has to say about Trump involvement in any nefarious activities.

 

 

“Sexualization, Racialization, Polarization and Politization”

Groups that are representing special interests are tearing our society apart. The genres of this “-ization” craze include “sexual-ization,” “racial-ization,” “polar-ization” and “polit-ization” of the issues that face our country.

By far the most wide spread “-ization” is sexual-ization that is greatly attributable to the exploits of Harvey Weinstein. The sexual-ization of the behavior of men over the centuries has come to the forefront. Weinstein’s extensive sexual resume was the last straw for women across America. He is the personification of the legions of men that have abused women, past and present. The public excoriation of Weinstein is well deserved and occurred after several brave women went public about their relationship with the film maker. And now the fate of his work, along with great accomplishments of other men who have battered, abused and raped women over the years, is being debated.

Even great painters like Picasso and Caravaggio, widely recognized abusers, are being blackballed by the most radical elements of the sexual-ization corp. The questions are: should great works be diminished if womanizers created them, and should they literally be taken down from the walls of museums around the world?

This hunt for sexual abusers is widening and now prevalent in almost every aspect of America. It started in Hollywood and has spread to corporations, organized religions, sports, government and academia. Americans should be prepared to ostracize many more men for transgressions that occurred last week and decades earlier. Dead abusers will not escape the wrath of sexual-ization detectives.

Racial-ization has become more rampant. Ironically this has occurred despite significant gains by people of color during the past 50 years. [Note: much more needs to be done to finally wipe out overt racism and covert bigotry.]

Gains in civil rights courts have not materially changed the economic hardship of people of color. Many are still on welfare and millions are unemployed or underemployed. Aid for these Americans is now being reevaluated as the nation experiences greater deficits. Many think it’s time that the emphasis of this group should be recalibrated by encouraging every able-bodied individual to work.

The frustration of these groups of downtrodden people has reached a heightened state and their leaders are encouraging racial-ization of more and more issues. Every act by authorities that even approaches legal limits is being showcased as a form of racial discrimination and subjected to protest.

Polar-ization regarding controversial parts of our lives has rarely been greater. Conservatives and liberals do battle every day in Congress and in the media. Sides have been taken as Republicans seek economic fairness while Democrats simultaneously rail about economic inequality.

Every contentious event and important issue is being subject to polit-ization. Gun control has pitted the survivors of mass murderers against the N.R.A. Members of Congress are speaking out about aggressively about their perspectives on gun ownership in the country. The controversy is going to become much more pervasive as opposing sides debate what our forefathers were trying to accomplish with the Second Amendment.

Every proposal by the current administration is politicized. The schism between the two political parties is great and rivals the Civil War era. It’s so unproductive that compromise and effective government are elusive. Democrats openly despise the president, and he hates everyone that dares to defy his rule.

So how can we rectify this current state of affairs?

As far as the sexual revolution is concerned, progress will be defined by the outing of all predators of yesteryear, and the prevention of sexual abuse moving forward. Progress will be achieved only when women obtain equal opportunity and pay and safe working conditions.

Racial equality has been a work-in-progress since the mid 1800s. Unfortunately the progress in this area has been slow. Some feel the leaders of the civil rights effort have been off track in recent years. As mentioned earlier it is becoming more difficult to fund the needs of all Americans as more and more do not work, pay taxes and fend for themselves. Work for aid and pay will redeem those that have suffered for so long.

Polar-ization is the unhealthy and unproductive tactic of anarchists, racists and bad politicians. We are all on the same team. Solving problems through compromise is the best path for America.

And finally polit-ization. The current generation of leaders and lawmakers has failed America. They personify everything that is wrong with this country. Both political parties are flawed by egotistical, sanctimonious, pseudo-intellectuals who are concerned about nothing but retaining their positions of power. Elections have never been more important as they are the path to rid the country of people undeserving of our respect and support.

Trump’s Trade Gambit Will Generate Political Turmoil

President Trump has kept yet another campaign promise to install tariffs on aluminum and steel being imported into the US. The move has many scratching their heads, including investors that are trying to understand the unorthodox management style of Trump.

The implications of the new tariffs go far beyond the ultimate impact of the moves on prices in the US. Sure, higher costs for raw materials will increase the cost of goods sold of manufacturers of products that contain aluminum and steel. But the US economy is so large that the consumer will see very little in the way of price inflation.

The more important issue is whether the tariffs will cause a massive retaliation by larger exporters of these metals to the US. Canada, China and the EU may attempt to punish US exporters of products being sold in their countries.

The stock market responded as if the tariff gambit was the onset of Armageddon. Aluminum and steel producer stocks climbed higher. And all the major companies that use these metals to make their products fell precipitously.

Trump’s move to even the score with importers was not a surprise. He’s railed against trade actions by other countries long before he became president. In fact the unfair support of domestic industries by other countries has hurt the US economically for many years. Frankly this retaliatory action was deserved in a number of cases.

But the really important issues are the execution of the tariffs and the effect they will have on the country politically.

The US cannot operate effectively with a president who shoots from the hip without heeding the advice of his advisors that are supposed to be guiding him through very complex issues. Trump makes sweeping policy changes in tweets. Short comments by him sans detail are being made without consultation of his cabinet or his allies in Congress. The impact of this method of operation could be devastating.

The response of congressional leaders is going to be problematic. How can such a dramatic trade policy be announced without support of lawmakers? How can such a broad sweeping policy be delivered to the world without consensus among Trump’s advisors? Why did Trump create such firestorm before the details were worked out?

The aforementioned will erode Trump’s legislative options and support and result in massive frustration and greater turmoil in the Trump administration. In this regard the revolving door at the White House has been spinning nonstop. Americans are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with an unstable group of people advising an unstable president.

When one considers the political fallout of Trump’s impetuous way of governing, it suggests that the president will not be in the White House for an extended period of time. He’s sowing the seeds of his own demise. Let’s hope he doesn’t do something really damaging to or economy or to global peace.