What Might Founding Fathers Say About Trump’s Seditious Conspiracy?

Those who lived in the 1970s surely felt that Watergate was the granddaddy of all political scandals. After all, a vast array of illegal activity that led back to the White House and into the Oval Office resulted in the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Many people after following the 2-plus years of news reporting and committee hearings about Watergate understandably felt there was no way a more sinister and underhanded person could be president.

Over the past week, large segments of the nation have been watching the January 6th House Committee hearings. What we are witnessing being fleshed out with testimony and facts is nothing short of stunning. After all that we have endured over the past six years, it might seem impossible to be confronted with anything that sets one further back on their heels. Even though the framework of illegal and unconstitutional actions by Donald Trump and those around him has long been known, having a congressional committee detail the actions was still very hard to stomach.

The nation is learning about the insidious and seemingly ever-sprawling plot to commit a seditious conspiracy against the United States. A duly elected president was to be tossed aside like a burger wrapper and Trump was to be installed as an illegal one. James Patterson could not plot a more devastating drama.

But what struck me to my core was learning Trump was so desperate to retain power and authority that he stated Vice President Mike Pence deserved to be murdered by the bloodthirsty mob at our nation’s Capitol. The reason Trump felt that way, of course, was that Pence refused to go along with sedition.

There is no doubt when it comes to political chicanery and illegal activities Nixon was a mere piker compared to the outlandish and outrageous actions plotted and undertaken by Trump. It seems almost unfair to place Nixon and Trump into the same editorial cartoons, such as those now being published as we near the 50th anniversary of the famed break-in.

From the night of the November 2020 election, Trump knew that his hold on power was ebbing away, and when the final count from several states, including Wisconsin, was reported no question remained he had lost his bid for reelection.

But rather than accept the election returns from the balloting by his fellow citizens he instead chose to become the first president in the history of our country to dishonor the peaceful transfer of power.

I want to stay on that point for a minute. I wonder what the Founding Fathers would say if they could be made aware of these events and able to be interviewed?

What might President George Washington, a former general who relinquished his military command, and stepped away from an office he was twice elected to so a civilian could take the reins of power have to say? What might James Madison, who history calls the Father of the Constitution, have to say about the blatant power grab and attempted usurpation of what we know as Madisonian democracy?

Ben Franklin, a journalist and newspaper owner, would surely have another line of inquiry.

On the day of a Jan. 6th committee hearing, with much of the nation following events, Fox News spent 45 minutes detailing a surgical procedure for Ozzy Osborne. The dismantling of the very fabric of our democracy was being detailed by members of congress and a major news outlet felt there was no need to inform their viewers as to the dangers faced by the nation.

Franklin, doubtless with a pithy tone, would demand to know why a news operation would willingly deflect from a story that cuts to the essence of our democracy?

Much of our nation is discussing the damning headlines about the plots and attacks on the very foundation of our constitutional government. It is easy to get inundated with the latest breaking news about this story. As such, I would hope that at some point we can, as a nation, reflect on the ideals the Founders sought for the nation. It is glaringly clear why our constitutional guardrails can no longer just be taken for granted.

World Must Not Cede Russia ‘Sphere Of Interest’

I have long self-described as an internationalist when it comes to my views about the role the United States needs to undertake around the globe in conjunction with other nations. I strongly view the footprint of the United States as a needed tool to further not only our interests but equally important the needs and desires of other people.

One of the deeper reasons for my rejection of Donald Trump was the result of his not being aware of, or showing any interest in our legitimate and needed role on the world stage. Not having been in any way engaged with international affairs as it relates to governing left him prattling nationalistic rhetoric and doing substantial damage to our national image and policy aims.

That came to mind, again, when reading the latest from Robert Kagan, someone I try to follow when new columns are published. He is an American neoconservative scholar and a leading advocate of liberal interventionism. His The Price of Hegemony in Foreign Affairs was illuminating and thought-provoking. These lines below summed up my views from 2017-until Jan 20th, 2021, relating as it did to what Trump did not know, or care to learn.

For the 70-plus years since World War II, the United States has actively worked to keep revisionists at bay. But many Americans hoped that with the end of the Cold War, this task would be finished and that their country could become a “normal” nation with normal—which was to say, limited—global interests. But the global hegemon cannot tiptoe off the stage, as much as it might wish to. It especially cannot retreat when there are still major powers that, because of their history and sense of self, cannot give up old geopolitical ambitions—unless Americans are prepared to live in a world shaped and defined by those ambitions, as it was in the 1930s.

One of the complaints I have with those who shy away from grasping the role the U.S. must continue to play around the world, is the way they lament how ‘rough’ the West was on the defeated remnant of the old U.S.S.R. The facts prove, of course, that the West did not bluster or threaten, provoke or prod Russia. Instead, the various peoples of the former Soviet Union, when given a chance to make their own way in the world, looked West.

Kagan demolishes the idea that Russia should be allowed to think they have been granted a sphere of interest, based on history. A flawed notion President Putin tries to stand upon.

The problem for Putin—and for those in the West who want to cede to both China and Russia their traditional spheres of interest—is that such spheres are not granted to one great power by other great powers; they are not inherited, nor are they created by geography or history or “tradition.” They are acquired by economic, political, and military power. They come and go as the distribution of power in the international system fluctuates. The United Kingdom’s sphere of interest once covered much of the globe, and France once enjoyed spheres of interest in Southeast Asia and much of Africa and the Middle East. Both lost them, partly due to an unfavorable shift of power at the beginning of the twentieth century, partly because their imperial subjects rebelled, and partly because they willingly traded in their spheres of interest for a stable and prosperous U.S.-dominated peace. Germany’s sphere of interest once extended far to the east. Before World War I, some Germans envisioned a vast economic Mitteleuropa, where the people of central and eastern Europe would provide the labor, resources, and markets for German industry. But this German sphere of interest overlapped with Russia’s sphere of interest in southeastern Europe, where Slavic populations looked to Moscow for protection against Teutonic expansion. These contested spheres helped produce both world wars, just as the contested spheres in East Asia had helped bring Japan and Russia to blows in 1904. 

Russians may believe they have a natural, geographic, and historical claim to a sphere of interest in eastern Europe because they had it throughout much of the past four centuries. And many Chinese feel the same way about East Asia, which they once dominated. But even the Americans learned that claiming a sphere of interest is different from having one. For the first century of the United States’ existence, the Monroe Doctrine was a mere assertion—as hollow as it was brazen. It was only toward the end of the nineteenth century, when the country was able to enforce its claim, that the other great powers were grudgingly forced to accept it. After the Cold War, Putin and other Russians may have wanted the West to grant Moscow a sphere of interest in Europe, but such a sphere simply did not reflect the true balance of power after the Soviet Union fell. China may claim the “nine-dash line”—enclosing most of the South China Sea—as marking its sphere of interest, but until Beijing can enforce it, other powers are unlikely to acquiesce. 

A most worthy article that deserves to be read in full.

Inflation Is A Problem, But Not Caused By White House

Anytime there are economic pains felt across the nation the attempt to pin the blame on the occupant of the White House is the first action taken by the party out of power. Politically, I totally understand that phenomenon. Except in a few cases, however, that is not a logical way to view the factors that move the economy.

One instance of cause and effect between a president being reckless and the economic downturn which followed was in the 19th century. In 1832, Andrew Jackson ordered the withdrawal of federal government funds from the Bank of the United States, an institution he railed about and carped on endlessly. His actions are noted for what resulted during the Panic of 1837.

The consequences of the international implosion of so many aspects of numerous economies due to the pandemic were always going to be followed by some degree of inflation. Just based on the struggle to align all the parts of the supply and demand sectors would doubtless prove problematic. Regardless of who ruled in China, Germany, or Washington.

In the newspaper today a few solid paragraphs written by Josh Boak of Associated Press put some logic to the larger issue of inflation angst.

Consumers account for most U.S. economic activity, meaning they steer much of what happens with their collective choices. Their role tends to get overlooked in political speeches, which generally reduce the economy to talk about jobs, factories and other forms of production. Biden has gone so far as to say that his policies to promote port upgrades and domestic manufacturing will lower costs by improving production, a long-term fix to an immediate problem that can be reduced, simply, to demand exceeding supply.

“Fundamentally, the problem right now is the opposite of stagflation — it’s regular inflation driven by an economy operating at or even above its potential, with consumer demand outstripping the capacity of the economy,” Stevenson said. “I’m hoping that people stop digging into their savings and cut spending a little — not enough to slow the economy, but enough to slow the price increases.”

Stevenson also acknowledged that gas prices in particular might be driving the broader dissatisfaction, such that overall inflation could fall and do little to calm public anxieties so long as prices at the pump are high.

“Cars seem to be important to people’s sense of control and high gas prices for some might feel like losing your ability to just hop in your car and go where you want,” she said.

Despite the spike in prices, consumer spending increased faster than inflation during the first four months of this year. Whether consumers can maintain such robust spending will largely determine how the economy fares in the coming months.

I do not expect anything other than the continued political heat about inflation right through the midterm elections. Yes, if the GOP were in power the Democratic pols would be singing the tune the GOP now is using in races nationwide. None of that is shocking.

But it does underscore what I preach with frequency. Along with civics and history, our nation needs more time spent on economics education, too.

Elvis In Concert, Live From Madison, At Dane County Coliseum On New 2-CD Set, RCA Recording Perfection

Finally, I have in my collection a live version of Blue Christmas sung by Elvis Presley. To make the smile a bit richer the recording comes from a concert in Madison at the Dane County Coliseum in 1976. Even better, that concert and the accompanying one from Pine Bluff, Arkansas were recorded by RCA, so the sound quality is nothing short of stunning.

Earlier this year Elvis Presley Enterprises made it known the 2-CD set was to be released this spring. My pre-ordered copy arrived via the mail and the stereo has been rocking as of late.

There are other concerts and recorded material that RCA has in their vaults. While I understand the commercial interests and focused releases of such music to coincide with larger events, such as the new movie in theatres about Elvis, starring Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker, fans worldwide deserve more of these concerts and musical moments to hear and treasure.

You can own your copy of the above by clicking here.

Thank ya very much.

Waste In America: 82 Million Covid Doses Tossed

It was a jarring number to hear reported on the national news Monday morning.

When calculating in pharmacies, the 50 states, American territories, along with the federal agencies it was discovered that over 82 million COVID does were discarded. The time frame for the disposal was from December 2020 through mid-May this year.

To add more sting to the news that means over 11 percent of the doses the federal government distributed were ‘flushed’.

There is no way to feel anything than angst and even outright revulsion, as we know poor nations are still very much behind in their efforts to vaccinate. Once again, Americans have shown an ugly side by having so much at our disposal, and not being wise enough to act for the greater good.

I understand that with the large effort at vaccination there is an estimated amount factored in for removal from the process, given the ‘shelf life’ of the doses once opened. But also we know our nation had the means to be vaccinated and truly engage, one with another, so to stem and more firmly break the hold the virus has on our national health.

But too many willfully refused to act responsibly.

In May, it was reported our nation passed a grim number when over 1 million of our fellow citizens had died from a virus that medical professionals and scientists had alerted us about, and also asked us to help prevent spreading. At every stage of the pandemic, some first denied the existence of COVID, worked against mask mandates, and rebelled against closing or curtailing social interactions, such as schools and universities.

So I guess, in fairness, it should not have come as any surprise that many would adamantly reject a medically-proven vaccine to assist in moving our nation past a medical and economic crisis. The far less than stellar vaccine rates around the nation turned into part of the narrative we have sadly come to accept.

Yet it was a whopping number of trashed doses to learn about upon waking today. Our government did not fail to do its part starting in late December 2020 to supply the national need for shots in the arms of the populace. Scientists did not fail to continue working when new variants were detected, nor did health departments when urging citizens to be steadfast about getting boosters, too.

In the end, Americans failed each other. Tribal politics and relentless advocacy for the most baseless and absurd claims by anti-vaxxers were repeated and fed to a segment of the nation, who then simply opted out of their role as good stewards of humanity.

There is no way to hear or read “over 82 million COVID vaccine doses wasted” and not feel an empty space in our national collective soul.

What Is Happening To Our Work Culture?

Friday, June 3rd, I stopped at my usual Madison grocery where I shop weekly, arriving at 7:45 P.M at the deli so to pick up some various lunchmeats. A young woman behind the counter had already spread out a plastic-type of sheet and was further expanding it over meats not yet covered.  I knew from experience the deli closes at 8P.M. There is even a sign noting that time on the top of the deli counter.  

When I asked for some meat, the worker told me she had met her 40 hours for the week and with tone and body language strongly inferred I should not ask for service. I asked that she be professional and honor the sign on the deli.  I then bought three types of meats at about a $20 cost.

Upon finishing the transaction, she told me she had now worked 8 minutes overtime.  I did not know how to respond to what was a rude comment for doing nothing more than shopping in a grocery store during open hours.  I am not sure if she was totally aware it is due to customers who shop at the store that then allows her to earn a salary.

I follow business news closely and know of angst among workers, issues of salary, and the great transitions underway in the workplace. I am sympathetic to some of the larger issues at hand. But I have never encountered a face-to-face service industry employee who exhibited such behavior that made me write a letter to the manager.

I know about working longer hours than expected, as I was a radio broadcaster where over-time Brewer baseball games from the West Coast would force the FM station to be on the air past our normal midnight sign-off. But I stayed and did the job even though I had passed my 40-hour work week, too. I would have been rightly fired had I just decided to cut the power to the station. Or place a plastic sheet over the studio microphone and cared not what the listening audience thought about the ongoing sporting event.

In 1984, I worked the board for a game that at the time was the longest OT to be played, with the league rules forcing a resumption of play the following afternoon due to the late hour. That was May 9th, when the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers played in a 25-inning game. The game was the longest in MLB History. On top of the very long night, I also note I am not a sports fan.

The episode Friday night leaves me pondering what is happening to the work culture in our nation when there is no longer regard for doing a job completely and with a determination at doing it properly.

“It’s All I Think About During The School Day”

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A mother and her daughter were walking a dog as I did a lawn project on Thursday. After a general conversation about the perfect weather, I asked the girl how many more days of school she had before every nice day could be enjoyed outside. The Marquette Elementary student shyly smiled and said 6 more days—with her smile growing as she got to the end of the sentence. She let me know she was glad to have summer vacation arrive.

“But not as happy as I am,’’ her mother stated. After I expressed that is not usually the sentiment of parents she added, “after this past week it’s all I think about during the school day.”

Her words did not need to add all the details for the message to be registered.

It was yet another example of the national dialogue that is taking place, yet again, after a painful and preventative mass shooting of children.

But as the country talked across fences, wrote letters to the editor, called their elected officials, and sadly started attending funerals for 19 school children in  Uvalde, Texas we read of more gun deaths.

News reports have alerted us that in just the past 9 days, 17 more people were shot to death, in Michigan, Colorado, California, Arizona, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania.

Thursday it was reported that the mass shooting which occurred in Oklahoma was the result of a gunman able to buy an AR-15 style assault rifle only hours before the weapon was used to kill two doctors and two others. That shooting was the 20th mass shooting since the 19 school children were murdered in Texas.

I do not need to write the obvious when saying the nation has taken more than its share of gun deaths and injuries due to the under-regulated sales and ease with which these deadly weapons are able to proliferate among the public.

President Joe Biden took to the national airwaves in a timely and profoundly important address aimed to urge Congress to do its duty to the American people regarding guns. It did not matter which political party anyone calls home, or how one cast a ballot in 2020. In what may have been Biden’s finest effort to connect with a nation often at odds, he presented the American problem with guns.

After Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after Charleston, after Orlando, after Las Vegas, after Parkland, nothing has been done. This time, that can’t be true. This time, we must actually do something. The issue we face is one of conscience and common sense.

According to new data just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, guns are the No. 1 killer of children in the United States of America. The No. 1 killer. More than car accidents, more than cancer. Over the last two decades, more school-age children have died from guns than on-duty police officers and active-duty military combined.

Think about that. More kids than on-duty cops killed by guns. More kids than soldiers killed by guns. For God’s sake. How much more carnage are we willing to accept? How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say enough? Enough.

Rational people know there is a need that calls out for concrete action to stop the death and blood-letting which can occur anywhere. The toll it is having on children, as an example, has been computed and compiled. Since 2019, more than 4,500 children have been shot to death in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive. That’s about the same number of US military members killed during the 17 years of the Iraq War.

The facts and data scream out for an American response to what is clearly known worldwide as an American problem.

For every one child under the age of 5 shot and killed in other high-income countries, there are 29 US kids under the age of 5 shot and killed. For every one child under the age of 15 shot and killed in other high-income countries, there are 13 US kids under the age of 15 shot and killed.

What more sobering statistics does an elected official need to have before knowing the kids in the nation need congressional allies before the gun lobby needs another sign of deference and servility?

Though I am an optimist about life in general and have always been attracted to political messages that lift up hope and speak to, as President Lincoln said, “the better angels of our nature” I have not felt this Congress can deliver a gun-control package. The reason being, as Biden said during his televised address, a partisan desire to do nothing.

The fact that the majority of the Senate Republicans don’t want any of these proposals even to be debated or come up for a vote, I find unconscionable.

The American public is watching Congress, and as we all know from our personal conversations, the revulsion about these shootings has reached an all-time high. Just how long do those wedded to the NRA think they can defy the demands of a nation?