Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

On Demanding Dignity

In 1968, when Richard Nixon called for Law and Order, a term used by Goldwater in 1964 and Reagan in 1966, he was appealing to working-class voters who would normally be expected to vote Democratic but were becoming more and more uneasy about a perceived increase in crime and frequent stories of protests in the streets. In 1968, the real domestic issue was the economy, but that was far too complicated for American political discourse, and, besides, this group might have found Nixon’s and the Republican Party’s real thoughts on economic policy unsettling. While Johnson had waged a War on Poverty to end a very real poverty in America, Nixon would wage a War on Crime to stoke fear and paranoia. Though economics, poverty, and crime are inextricably linked; that wasn’t a connection he was going to be making publicly lest he affront one of his Party’s most sacred cows. Catchy phrases and slogans can win elections; the under the hood stuff like economic policy might turn off voters; is best left for think tanks, universities, and board rooms. Richard Nixon was not above appealing to baser instincts; both the Law and Order and War on Crime phrases intentionally connoted racial overtones. Besides, there was the specter of George Wallace. Wallace an overt racist, nominally a Democrat, was in reality a Dixiecrat, aka Southern Democrat; one of those Dixiecrats who did not switch over to being a Republican after the Civil Rights Acts of 1964. Getting the vote of those yet and former Dixiecrats was all a part of Nixon’s and the Republican Party’s Southern Strategy. As a consequence of the success of these strategies, we would see more and more of this fine art of appealing to baser instincts being practiced by Republican candidates in the coming years. No more of that aspirational stuff for the once GOP, thank you. The once GOP was soon to become a Republican Party controlled by southern white Republicans, née Dixiecrats, who brought along with them their attitudes toward democracy. In the 1968 presidential contest, George Wallace carried Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Thanks mostly to his friendship with Billy Graham, Nixon got 69% of the national Evangelical Christian vote. — Evangelicals felt that Nixon would protect the nation against Catholicism. Became gatekeepers to nomination.

When Reagan gave his ‘Birth of a Nation’ speech in Philadelphia Mississippi in 1980; he was telling white segregationist Mississippians, some yet Southern Democrats/Dixiecrats and some recent converts to the Republican Party, that it was OK to think about race the way they thought about race. In doing so, he validated their racism, and abetted their mendacity; accorded dignity to their odious opinions. By pandering to their racism and bigotry, he had, to their minds, legitimized their racism and bigotry. Reagan stooped for, welcomed, their votes.

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Now

WWII was America’s finest hour. Before that, her multitude of sins had always been covered up by her bounty of natural resources, her yet unsettled land, … her offer of opportunity. There was room to grow, chances for people to start over, … In the lead up to, and during, the War, America stepped up. Then, the situation was well defined. Usually, it’s hard to discern what is going on at a given time; what is going on ‘now’. Before the War, we sometimes got away with not knowing what was going on ‘now’; could and did attribute success or failure to fate, to an invisible hand, … . Then, working class Americans couldn’t expect much more than the ‘short brutal life’. After the War, returning veterans weren’t willing to let their government off the hook that easy. They had fought and died for their Nation; now their Nation owed them, had to do better by its people. During the War, working class Americans who had been unable to find gainful employment during the Great Depression found gainful employment; learned that they were quite capable, knew what it meant to have money to spend. A new generation of leaders who had met people from all over the world, had seen how other people lived, stood ready to take over.

During those first few years after the War, America was blessed with her industrial capacity being left intact. She was production-ready when no one else was. Working-class Americans had money in their pockets from all those wartime jobs. They were looking to buy. The world; needing everything, looked to America. In the years following the War, the wealth generated by her production was plenty enough to pay off the War Debt and have some left over for the worker’s savings.

During the 1950s, there were warning signs; like recessions and stagflation. But defense, aircraft and automobile manufacturing, and all those exports, were still generating enough wealth to go around.

By 1965, Europe and Japan were becoming more and more self-sufficient. America, manufacturer to the world, began losing her markets; That was what was going on ‘now’, then. So, what to do?

In the 1960s, it wasn’t uncommon to hear or read that the economy needed war. Business was inclined to blame it on the unions or taxes. Loss of markets was seldom heard. Meanwhile, the war in Vietnam raged on, costing dearly in ‘blood and treasure’. Then, as now, to most politicians, the economy is magic, works on fairy dust called forth with buzzwords; will self correct, …, … . LBJ may have been the best President since FDR at knowing what was going on ‘now’. He foresaw the consequences of 6.5 million southern blacks being displaced by the mechanical cotton picker. He knew that the time had come for Civil Rights, Medicare and Medicaid, The Clean Air Act, … He blew it with Vietnam; came from looking through the lens of the past, I suppose.

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Why It’s All Dr. Fauci’s Fault

Photos emerged last week of students, with very few wearing masks, in a crowded hallway in North Paulding High School, in Dallas, Georgia. Dallas, about 45 miles NW of Atlanta, is in Paulding County. Last week, Paulding County recorded 214 new cases of COVID-19 and an infection rate of 1,036 per 100k population. Nearby by Fulton county, home to Atlanta, had 1789 new cases and an infection ratio 1,922/100K. According to a CNN story, a sophomore student named Hannah posted the photos on social media, because, “I was concerned for the safety of everyone in that building and everyone in the county because precautions that the CDC and guidelines that the CDC has been telling us for months now, weren’t being followed,” she said.

On 16 July 2020, Georgia Governor Kemp sued the City of Atlanta for trying to enforce Atlanta’s mandate to wear masks in public.

Back in May, Trump has strongly urged states to reopen. Against CDC advice, Georgia was one of the first places in the US to allow nonessential businesses to reopen, with nail salons, massage therapists, bowling alleys, and gyms allowed to open on April 24. They were followed on April 27 by limited dine-in service for restaurants, movie theaters, and other entertainment venues. By May 4, some shopping malls had also reopened. By the end of June, Georgia’s hospitals were at maximum capacity. According to a Johns Hopkins Report, during the week Georgia set another all-time high for new cases. Governor Kemp said that he was of a mind to stay the course.

Since the pandemic struck, Georgia has suffered at least 4,177 deaths from COVID-19. During the week of 2-8 August, Georgia has seen at least 18,992 new infections and suffered at least 292 deaths from the virus.

On August 5, 2020, Dr. Fauci revealed to reporters that he has received death threats and that his daughters had been harassed.

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Necessity of America

If not the US, who?

In order to get it right, it is so important that we know what is going on now. In the midst of a pandemic, overpopulated, ever more marginalized by Global Warming, beggared with inequality, and sorely lacking leadership; the world is indeed going to hell in a handbasket.

Take a look:

An index of Fragile States:

Less than 10 States are shown as being Sustainable. A comparable number are shown not Sustainable but Stable. Together these groups, Sustainable and Stable, constitute about a third of the States. Below Stable, another one-third of the States are shown as being at Warning. The last one-third are shown to be at the Alert level. The US is barely in the top 20% on the index.

An index of Inequality:

In 2019, we were 28th out of 150 on the index.

We used to be the leader of the ‘Free World’. Is this current state of the world, in part, due to our abdication? What if some other nation takes that role? As the leader, we just may have gotten some things right. We made alliances, provided assistance, served as a role model. Today, the Greatest Nation on earth isn’t really. If not the US, then who?

After us, who else will give so freely of their capital? —

We hear that we are not a policeman to the world, or, that at least shouldn’t be. Then who else is going to restrain Xi? Erdoğan? Putin? Who else will keep India and Pakistan from annihilating one another?

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Privatization

Fear and Loathing

On the 17 July 2020, episode of Counterspin, Fair’s Janine Jackson interviewed True North Research’s Lisa Graves about attacks on the US Postal Service. ‘A Combination of Forces Puts Our Postal Service at Grave Risk‘ Jackson leads off talking about the recent appointment of Louis DeJoy, a big Trump donor, to be the new head of the US Postal Service. Upon being appointed, DeJoy promptly issued a series of memos calling for operational changes that many felt were intended to slow down mail delivery. Other recent Trump actions appear to also be intended to sabotage the US Postal Service. In that Trump has made Vote by Mail a big issue, some fear that he might try to nullify his losing the election by claiming that a slow vote count equals an indication of fraud, etc.

Graves’ research into attempts to sabotage the US Postal Service disclosed that for more than 50 years none other than Charles Koch has been funding efforts, at first to abolish, later to privatize, the US Postal Service. In addition to Koch, DeJoy, and Trump; Ronald Reagan, Reagan Administration official James C. Miller, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and George W. Bush have all taken a hand at this sabotaging and/or privatizing of the US Postal Service. Former Reagan Administration official, former American Enterprise scholar, James Miller, was later appointed to the Postal Board of Governors by George W. Bush with significant help from Senators Collins and McConnell. In 2005, Senators Collins and McConnell both helped push through the prepaid benefits requirement meant to sabotage the Postal Service. To date, some powerful actors have expended a lot of money, time, and effort attempting to abolish, privatize, or sabotage the US Postal Service.

What it means to want to abolish or sabotage something seems clear enough. The wanting doth bespeak an animus. Did these people hate the US Postal Service so much? Or, did they fear that it might succeed?

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