Saturday, December 31, 2016

Here's Wishing You All a Happy New Year

by Nomad

I wanted to wish all of you copious amounts of positive energy, limitless patience, and emotional strength in the coming year.
I suspect we are all going to need it.

Out of curiosity, I also have a few questions for you:
  • What was the single best thing that happened to you this past year?
  • If you could pick three words to describe 2016, what would they be?

  • What was the most important thing you learned this past year?
  • What's the most important decision you had to make in 2016?

  • And finally, if you could go back 12 months ago, what advice would you give yourself about 2016?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Delightful Sport of Deflating The Donald

by Nomad

For comedians and cartoonists, the Trump Presidency will be boom years. Hopefully, for the rest of us, that won't be true in the literal sense.
Here are some that caught my eye. Hope you enjoy them.

Donald Trump Cartoon 1

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Why This 1967 Interview of Prof. A.J. Toynbee is Still Thought-Provoking

by Nomad

Toynbee
The observations of an esteemed historian from 1967 still hold true in our time.


More than a Historian

To call Professor Arnold J. Toynbee a historian is to fall short of the mark. He was called a " philosopher of history." 

His most famous work "The Study of History" is a staggering 12 volumes and took three decades to write. On a human scale, that's a lot of history right there.
Today, Toynbee is known mostly in academic circles but in his time, he was a widely read and discussed scholar in the 1940s and 1950s.
Sadly, for the anybody without a masters' degree, the work is not what most people would consider and "easy" read.

But that's not to say it is inaccessible. A later condensed version allows us mere mortals an opportunity to understand Toynbee's brilliance. Even then, there are moments when you look up from the book and wonder, what the heck did I just read?
(The Wikipedia version is perhaps the ultimate abridgment.)

To put it simply, Professor Toynbee studied what caused primitive societies to transform themselves into civilizations and the reasons why civilizations collapsed.
Toynbee's goal was to trace the development and decay of 19 world civilizations in the historical record, applying his model to each of these civilizations, detailing the stages through which they all pass: genesis, growth, time of troubles, universal state, and disintegration.
In a way, Toynbee turned a very wide angle lens on humanity. Toynbee, as dry as his works could often be, provided remarkable insight into where we are in the bigger picture. He also hinted at where we might be going.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sanity Break: Three Holiday Songs by Sufjan Stevens

by Nomad


I think it's time to take a break from politics for a few days and enjoy the holidays. Whether that means Christmas, or Hanukkah or a belated recognition of winter solstice, whatever, just consider this post a bit of relief from the relentlessly depressing political news.

To take our minds off of all that, I have selected the ever-quirky Sufjan Stevens who apparently has a particular fondness for this time of year. He has not one but two Christmas collection albums

Here he performs "Lumberjack Christmas / No One Can Save You From Christmases Past."



Thursday, December 22, 2016

What Americans Will Lose when Trump Takes Office: A Sense of Responsibility

by Nomad

President Obama
Americans are going to miss a lot of things when President Obama leaves office. The most important of these will be a president with a sense of responsibility.


Farewell

The editorial board of the Denver Post recently observed that the inauguration of a new president will represent more than merely the changing of the guard. We will be saying farewell to a president who has demonstrated a sense of responsibility.
The world, the article points out, seems increasingly unstable, with geopolitical tensions mounting in more and more places.

Next month a new leader will be faced with complex issues which will require tremendous intellect, subtlety, and heart. President-elect Trump has demonstrated throughout his campaign that he possesses none of those traits.

On the contrary, his remarks and actions have provided more than enough examples of his ignorance, his impulsiveness, and his frightening irresponsibility.

Just this week, we were given yet another foretaste of the Trump's problem. Only hours after the attack in Berlin and the cold-blooded murder in Ankara, Trump insisted on jumping to conclusions before all the facts were in.
It wasn't so much that he was right or wrong but that a wiser leader would know better than to launch a diatribe on twitter so soon after these events. By declaring these events as terror attacks so hastily, Trump had nothing to gain and, in terms of credibility, very much to lose.

His twitter account provides all Americans with a concise record of the future president's impulsive behavior. The attention-addicted Trump seems incapable of simply keeping his mouth closed.

That's probably one of the most essential characteristics of an American president; knowing when to not to interject an unhelpful remark.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Why Trump's View on Intelligence Will Leave America Blind, Deaf and Dumb to its Enemies

by Nomad

Blind

Trump's Wilful Ignorance

On Sunday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) pointed out that President-elect Trump's denial that Russia interfered with the elections was "deeply damaging."
That denial flies in the face of the verdicts of all 16 government intelligence agencies and at least three private security firms which have independently investigated the security breaches.

Schiff told ABC’s “This Week.”
“For the president-elect to continue to give the Russians deniability is deeply damaging to the country.”
Here we have a President-elect rejecting the findings of a majority of government intelligence agencies which have suggested that his victory owes a lot to  illegal interference from a foreign government.

As of last week, U.S. intelligence officials stood by their allegation of Russian tampering. In fact, senior U.S. intelligence officials now believe with "a high level of confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin became personally involved in the covert Russian campaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election.

Two senior officials with direct access to the information say new intelligence shows that Putin personally directed how hacked material from Democrats was leaked and otherwise used. The intelligence reportedly came from diplomatic sources and spies working for U.S. allies, the officials said.
Trump is adamantly refusing to accept that.

Only a decade ago (or perhaps less) these events would have been unthinkable. Today, the people who have long considered themselves red-blooded patriots and loyal Americans are numbly silent when it comes to the Manchurian candidacy of Donald Trump.
Who'd have thought it possible?

Schiff, the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said  
“By attacking the intelligence community basically, it’s going to make it that much more difficult for the current president to make attribution, for the American people to understand what they really need to about Russian involvement in our elections.
There's another dilemma facing the incoming president. By repudiating the work of intelligence agencies, charged with gathering, collating and analyzing vital information in defense of the nation, Trump has essentially shot himself in the foot. 
In times of crisis, President Trump will have to rely on the findings of these very same agencies that he has declared incompetent and untrustworthy.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Mobilization 101: How to Make Your Voice Heard

by Nomad

FDR quote


When it comes to politics, what is the best way to get your voice heard? One of the easiest ways is to contact your Congressional representative. It's not quite as straight-forward as it might seem. The slideshow below offers some tips from a person who is acquainted with what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the voice of the people.

The fact is, as with everything in a representative democracy, no matter how loud and persistent, and no matter how fair and righteous your opinion might be, a single voice is likely to be lost in the steady hum of Washington. You are competing with sophisticated lobbyists and special interests of all kinds.
So what can you do?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

These Three Tales of Open-Hearted Giving Will Make You Smile

by Nomad

Help
Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck once said that an act of goodness is of itself an act of happiness and that no reward coming after the event could compare with the sweet reward that went with it.

To illustrate that idea, I've found three stories. I present them with the hope they will reaffirm your faith in people.
Firstly, there's this lesson of how to turn good fortune into goodwill.

Anonymous lottery player drops winning ticket in Salvation Army kettle

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. - An anonymous Pennsylvania Lottery player recently deposited a winning instant ticket worth $1,000 into a Salvation Army red kettle. "The Christmas season often brings out the best in people," said Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko.

In another story of anonymous assistance in Pennsylvania, an unidentified man has paid off the overdue lunch bill of more than 40 elementary school children.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ultimate Risk: Why You Should Be Terrified About Trump's Finger On The Nuclear Button

by Nomad


Before the election, experts were warning that Trump was the wrong man to be in charge of America's nuclear arsenal. Now that he has revealed his choice of advisors, the full scale of the risk of catastrophe has become clear. 


The Missileers' Warning

An open letter was published in October should have sent a chilling warning to all Americans. It was penned ten officials who once controlled access to firing the nation’s nuclear weapons.
It was our job to turn keys to fire nuclear-armed missiles if the president so ordered us. Once we began alert duty, we took orders from the president and no one else.
Obviously, as the last link in a process which would seal the fate of humankind is a duty of the utmost importance. That's why they felt compelled to issue a warning to the world.

These former nuclear launch control officers, or “missileers” had come to the conclusion that the then-GOP nominee should not be given this responsibility. And they made that very clear in their letter.
Donald Trump does not have these leadership qualities. On the contrary, he has shown himself time and again to be easily baited and quick to lash out, dismissive of expert consultation and ill-informed of even basic military and international affairs – including, most especially, nuclear weapons. Donald Trump should not be the nation’s commander-in-chief. He should not be entrusted with the nuclear launch codes. He should not have his finger on the button.
As we all know, in a contested election, Trump went on to victory. The warnings were ignored and come January, the thin-skinned Trump- the person who cannot resist responding to any insult- will have the power to end civilization.
Too bad for us that nobody paid any attention to the warning letter.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Could the Electoral College Really Vote to End the Trump Fiasco?

by Nomad

Decisions sign
It's quickly becoming an election year cliche.
We are now in uncharted waters.

Who could say that's not true?
The circumstances of Trump's victory have been extraordinary.  Not merely because, against all odds, the tangerine tycoon won, but also because it was an unanticipated technical win.

Although he won the Electoral College vote, his opponent won the popular vote. It's not the first time this has happened, but Trump comes to office as the most disliked president-elect in modern US history. 
According to a Pew Research poll, even before Trump is inaugurated, 55% of those polled say they disapprove of the job Trump has done.
That 41% approval rating is lower than President Barack Obama's 72% in December 2008 and President George W. Bush's 50% in January 2001 -- in the wake of a disputed election. It's also lower than President Bill Clinton's 62% in January 1993 and President George H.W. Bush's 65% in March 1989.
FactCheck.org took a look at the vexing question: Could the Electoral College Elect the winner of the popular vote, Clinton, over the winner of the electoral college vote, Trump?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sanity Sunday- Two by Jack and the Weatherman

by Nomad

The two-man-band, Jack and the Weatherman, is an acoustic duo from Haarlem in the Netherlands. Both songs come from their latest album, Some Kind of Purpose.

First up is the song, "Rock Bottom."



This one is called "Stolen."



Friday, December 9, 2016

Listen to an Interview with France's Marine Le Pen, Leader of the Ultra-Conservative National Front

by Nomad

In this podcast interview France's Marine Le Pen, leader of the ultra-conservative National Front demonstrates why she could very well be the next French president.  


Meet Madam Le Pen

If you never listened or watched the BBC program HARDtalk, it might come as bit of a shock to hear what outstanding journalism actually sounds like. There's nothing to compare it with in American news. 

In this podcast, interviewer Stephen Sackur quizzes Marine Le Pen, president of France's far-right National Front (NF) Party.
According to polls held in October, a far-right or extreme-right National Front party leader Le Pen would win 30 percent of the national vote if elections were held today. As of last week, Le Pen has taken a sizeable lead over former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy.
According to one source:
Under the French election system, barring the unlikely possibility one candidate gains an overall majority in the first round vote, the two candidates with the most votes will contest a second and decisive round on 7 May.
Many of her policies have been compared to those of Donald Trump, in particular, her anti-establishment appeal to nationalism. Critics, (and Le Pen has many) claim her advocacy of anti-immigration is heavy laden with Islamophobia. 

Le Pen and Trump

Ms. Le Pen was recently asked about the comparison. She expressed her happiness about the Trump victory and declared that the stunning result of the election shows power is slipping from global "elites" who have "acted like carnivores" and "used the world to enrich only themselves."
(Given the very elite, very carnivorous Donald Trump's willingness to mix his business interests with his political responsibilities, Le Penn might have to revise that assessment.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dashed Hopes for Increase in Federal Minimum Wage May Be Just the Start of Hard Times

by Nomad



On 29 November, some 40 people were arrested at a protest outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Detroit. They had gathered to demand wage increases. With picket signs and a loudspeaker, hundreds of workers demanded a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour. Said one protesting worker:
“They are a multi-billion dollar company and they can afford to help us support our families. I cannot support my family on $8.50.”
On that day, there were similar demonstrations in hundreds of US cities, including the commercial hubs of New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
The protests were put together as part of the "Fight for $15," a US-based international movement seeking a minimum wage of $15-per hour for low-paid workers.
Given the outcome of the last election, few expect these nationwide protests to have any impact.

Efforts to raise the federal minimum wage may, in fact, come to a crashing halt the very moment President Trump is inaugurated. 
During the campaign, he made the off-hand remark that wages were too high. He said:
"Taxes too high, wages too high. We're not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is. People have to go out, they have to work really hard and they have to get into that upper stratum. But we cannot do this if we are going to compete with the rest of the world. We just can't do it."
It was a truly insulting thing for a man of Trump's wealth to say.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sandi Toksvig's Big Idea: A Political Party for Women's Equality

by Nomad


Writer, actor, and comedian Sandi Toksvig has a brilliant idea. As she explains in this lively TED lecture, her idea is a simple one but one which could change the world. 
Why not form a Women's Equality Party? 
We want to be the only political party in the world whose main aim was to no longer need to exist... We wanted to be the only political party with no particular political leaning. We wanted people from the left, from the right, from the middle, every age group. Because the whole point was to work with a simple agenda: let's get equality in every aspect of our lives, and when we're finished, let's go home and get the other chores done.
Data from World Economic Forum found that women will finally get equal pay in ...2186! Under the current system, she reckons, women are not going to get equal pay in my grandchildren's grandchildren's lifetimes.
Think of the shame of that.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Musical Sanity Break: Scala & Kolacny Brothers - Use Somebody

by Nomad



Originally this was a Kings of Leon song which sounds very different than this version. This rendition is sung by Scala & Kolacny Brothers, a Belgian women's choir.
Hope it brings you a little calm on this Sunday night.  

Friday, December 2, 2016

Open Source Podcast: What is the Appropriate Response to the Trump Presidency?

by Nomad


Despite our new age of open communication, intelligent and informed discussion is not always easy to find. It's hard just find civil discourse online and on television. If you don't prefer confrontation over explanation, aggressive cross-talk, and questions that never get answered, you may just want to turn off your television altogether. 

You might not have heard of this weekly podcast but Open Source is, in fact, the world's longest-running podcast. Hosted by Christopher Lydon, a former New York Times journalist, this radio program focuses on the big ideas in culture, the arts, and politics with the smartest people in the world. It has been called "an American conversation with global attitude.”


In this week's show, we examine the very different world in the aftermath of Donald Trump's stunning election victory. Even as the Left attempts to pick up the salvageable pieces, we need to ask ourselves what is to be done next?

Of special interest is the opening interview with the former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis who offers some advice for disheartened progressives. We should be very afraid of what Trump represents and what he could do.

However, he adds, we should not allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear. The time to come together to prevent erosion of civil liberties is now. 

Introducing the Nomadic Politics Corkboard

by Nomad

If you are observant, you might have noticed I've added something new to the blog. Right under the blog title, you will see a list of pages. 
Got it?
See the one between Home and Embedding Content listed as "The Corkboard"
Click on that. That's a feature that allows you the readers to easily add their own links, photos, videos, post ideas or whatever they feel like.  
Because there are so many trolls on the prowl, anybody who'd like to contribute can put their name on the list and I will be glad to add you. 
After that, it's super easy to figure out. How you want to use it up to you. Of course, the comment policy for keeping things respectful will still apply. 

Every month or so, (depending on the number of posted notes, I'll clear the board and we start fresh again. 
Tell me what you think.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

This Century-Old Article Recalls the Connection between Fair Wages and Freedom

by Nomad

Over a hundred years, this progressive essayist from asked a vital question: Can there be any meaning of the word "freedom" without economic independence?


A Voice from the Past

In many ways, the following essay about the vital importance of a living wage- as the first step to all progress for a nation- could have been written last month. In fact, it's well over a hundred years old. 
Journalist and novelist, David Graham Phillips published this article in The Arena in 1909, two years before his shocking murder in the streets of downtown Manhattan.
His phrase "the politicians of privilege" is an eerie reminder that progressives have fought  this battle before.


Economic Independence, the Basis of Freedom


It is true that we are a free people in name only. It is true that, in fact, we are no freer than if we had a king over us and a powerful nobility. But it is also true that our possession of the power of freedom, of the political machinery of freedom, makes us better off than if we still had that first step to take. If we were on our way down, this would not be so, but we are on our way up.

Freedom does not come from without, but from within. It is, first of all, a state of mind, an attitude of thought. We used to have more actual freedom than we have now, but it was a freedom insecurely based and it was swept away. 

It was insecurely based because it was merely a sentiment. We did not understand what freedom meant; we did not understand how to keep it; we did not understand that it had a practical value of the highest kind and was not a beautiful ideal only.

We did not understand that freedom meant a better house to live in, better clothes for our families, better food on the table, more leisure for amusement and improvement, more money in our pockets, better education and better prospects for our children. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Secret of Putin's Political Longevity? Old Soviet Wine in New Russian Bottles

by Nomad

Vladimir Putin

A St. Petersburg professor asks the question a lot of people have been wondering: How long will President Putin be able to hold onto power?


The Real Reason why Putin is Still Around

Professor of the Department of Economics at the European University in St. Petersburg, Dmitry Travinpoints out in an article for The Moscow Times, that, even though the corruption of the ruling authorities is "too obvious for thinking people to hold out any hope of progress" the Russian authorities have been effective at suppressing (or at least, discouraging) mass protests.
It would appear, Travin postulates, that Putin's expiry date will come when he himself sets the date.

But why? What could account for Putin's political longevity, which in modern Russia is the only measurement of success? 
The answer is something that many Americans long accustomed to a certain degree of political tranquility, (at least until recently) tend to overlook: stability.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sanity Break: Van Gogh Marbling

by Nomad

Where this technique of using oil paints on water has long been debated. Some claim it began in China around the late 900s. It is often called a "Turkish" art mainly because Istanbul was the place many Europeans first encountered it. The technique was greatly developed in Safavid Persia and Ottoman Turkish periods. 

Today the fine art of marbling is widely known as ebru and this tradition, requiring a steady hand and years of practice, continues to be very popular.

Here the artist uses the technique to re-create the works of impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh. 
Enjoy!




Saturday, November 26, 2016

Donald Trump and the Selling of Mitt Romney's Soul

by Nomad


Well, that certainly didn't take long, did it?


Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was the one defiant anti-Trump voice in the Republican Party. He was one of the only people in the Republican Party that stood up against the Trump campaign. It seemed as though the 2012 Republican presidential candidate really did have some backbone after all. 

I had come to believe that Romney was a weak sort, always craving to be liked or at least, respected. Hence the reason for his constant flip-flopping during his campaign against Obama.

In recent months, though, I began to question my opinion about Romney. Maybe I had been all wrong about Romney.
Even though Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Romney in 2012, Mitt Romney made it clear about a year ago what he really thought. Trump was totally unsuitable to be president. Romney caught a lot of media attention- and came under fire by the Republican party- for calling Trump “a fraud” and “a phony.”

Showing real character, he certainly didn't stop there. Romney's other comments were both painfully sharp and deadly accurate.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Trump's Nepotism? It's Just Business as Usual in the Swamp of Washington

by Nomad

Family Trump

Almost as soon as Trump was declared the winner of the 2016 election, allegations of family favoritism began to emerge. Here's why the charges of nepotism are probably not going to go away but also not going to matter.


Many of us have looked upon the first weeks of the approaching Trump presidency with a great deal of concern. Laws which were once well-recognized  are shrugged off. Things that were once prohibited have apparently been abandoned. The notion that president-elect would not do all in his power to avoid conflicts of interest now seems, for some reason, to be an archaic idea. It is now enough for Trump to make an imaginary blind trust in which his sons and daughter to run.

Nepotism as a Privileged Birthright

Another law that Trump is openly flaunting is the prohibition against nepotism, the hiring of relatives. You might ask why nepotism is considered a criminal offense when it is so routinely practiced in the business world. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Want to Be an Official Trumpling? Get Ready for Some Mind-blowing Hypocrisy

by Nomad


Following the nation-shattering victory of Donald Trump in the 2016- I never dreamt I would be typing those words- the transfer of power is now underway.
Already it has become obvious that we are soon going to be living in an upside and ridiculous world where nothing makes sense. The hypocrisy will be institutionalized and the contradictions will be impossible to ignore. 
This one, taken directly from his transition team page, is no doubt only the first splash of a coming flood.

Remedied by Divestiture

There's a web page for any patriot American who might be   thinking about serving in the new Trump administration. That page provides information regarding the application process and instructions.
A full FBI background check in which an applicants history of employment, personal, travel, medical, financial, legal, military and education background will likely take.
Consideration is taken for possible conflicts of interest. Financial holdings and sources of income must be disclosed. Any conflicts must be remedied by divestiture, the creation of special trusts, and other actions.
When it comes to conflicts of interest, Trump has simply ignored the problem. Just this week, his own daughter accompanied him on an official meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Why One Group's Stand on the Muslim Registry Should Make Every Jewish American Proud

by Nomad


Trump's campaign promises are making life nightmarish for his transition team. Last week, his plan to implement a Muslim registry created a storm of protest across social media and organizations. In a show of solidarity, the leader of a Jewish defense organization gave his defiant response to Trump's outlandish proposal.

Theodore Roosevelt once said that America would not be a good place for any of us to live in "unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in." 
We can assume by that, Teddy meant a good place for all races, religions, party affiliation and class. 
That noble idea is likely to be put to the test under President Trump. It's quickly becoming apparent that his campaign tactic of dividing the nation may also become Trump's strategy for governing the country. 

Muslim Registry Backpeddling

Last week, President-elect Donald Trump's team found itself in yet another tight corner when asked about a proposed registry of American Muslim. Jason Miller, Communications Director of the Presidential Transition Team explained:
“President-elect Trump has never advocated for any registry or system that tracks individuals based on their religion, and to imply otherwise is completely false."
That's not quite true.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Wall-to-Wall Absurdity of Trump's Folly

by Nomad

Wall

If President-elect Trump has his way, he will leave as his legacy one of the most embarrassing and expensive monuments to one man's vanity in American history. The Wall, otherwise known as "Trump's Folly."


The Folly of Donald Trump

In the 19th century, when some self-important character became transfixed by a foolish notion, the public would name it after him by calling it his "folly." It was a way of bringing home the public shame to a personal level. To use modern parlance, the fool would be made to "own" his act of stupidity.

President-elect Donald Trump has, for quite some time, been obsessed with his own particular folly- the building of a monumental wall between Mexico and the US, as a means of stopping the flow of illegal immigrants.   
"This will be a wall with a big, very beautiful door because we want the legals to come back into the country."
The idea was to first deport the millions of illegal immigrants in the US and then seal them out with a wall. Later, we could let them filter back in an orderly fashion.
(Now, even the mass deportation aspect seems to be undergoing a drastic re-think.)
"I will build a great wall -- and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me --and I'll build them very inexpensively.
However, the man who thinks going bankrupt is a clever business strategy has, according to the numbers crunchers, underestimated the costs of construction by perhaps a full half.

Friday, November 18, 2016

An Open Letter to Americans who Voted for Donald Trump

by Nomad

I have no idea who wrote this but it pretty much sums up how I feel after this election. 


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Living and Dying in the Arms of Mother Russia

by Nomad

Russia

Here's a peek into some of the reasons why Russians, men, in particular, have a hard time surviving until what we consider middle-age. Sadly for the Russian government, there's not a single reason but a multitude of them. 


Russia is no country for old men. And it's not all that great for old women either. That's not an opinion but a fact.
According to a recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), most Russian citizens will not see their 71st birthday. But how does that stack up against other countries, you ask?

The life expectancy in the former Communist country lags nearly ten years behind the average in developed countries. That's also lower than countries with similar income levels such as Turkey, Mexico or Chile.

Russia ranked 43rd out of the 45 countries surveyed. The average life expectancy in Russia in 2013 was 70.7 years. but the life expectancy for Russian men is just 64 years. (For U.S. men, the average life expectancy is 76.)
Experts have made some conjectures on why Russians have such a hard time staying alive past their seventh decade.

Up in Smoke

Lifestyle choices are blamed for the poor showing, namely high rates of alcohol abuse, and smoking.
Back in 2013, Putin signed legislation that placed an increased tax on cigarettes raising the price to approximately $1.50 a pack.
(A smoker's paradise compared to most Western countries.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How Stupid Can Washington Get? You Haven't Seen Anything Yet

by Nomad

Trump Supporter

Candidate Trump ran his campaign as a protest against Washington. He routinely castigated politicians and bureaucrats in the nation's capitol as being too stupid the run the country properly. It was, as far as a theme, a hit with his supporters. Now, as President-elect, the shoe is on the other foot.


Stupid is a Fun Word

From the clip below, it's fairly clear that Candidate Trump enjoyed calling everybody in government "stupid." To cheers and jeers, Trump regularly worked the crowds into a frenzy all along the campaign trail. Everybody in government was stupid, he told them. They said and did stupid things. Their policies were stupid. Washington was filled to the rafters with stupid, stupid people. 

Trump might have been short on specifics about his smart policies but what did it matter? Those subjects were too boring to discuss or understand. It was all about rounding off all the criticism to its common denominator, reducing it a single word everybody could understand. A virile sort of word loaded with strong consonants- Stupid.
  

Is Trump Already Flip-Flopping on His Campaign Vow to Mass Deport Illegal Workers?

by Nomad

For those who supported the Donald Trump's tough-guy approach on illegal immigration and his vow to begin mass deportation, it's starting to look more and more like Trump was all talk. 


Trump Re-Tooled by Ryan 


On Sunday, the president-elect and House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that, contrary to what Trump had said ad infinitum, there was no plan to begin mass deportations. 
With Trump and Pence sitting beside him, Speaker Ryan explained:
We’re not focused on, we are not planning on erecting a deportation force. Donald Trump’s not planning on that.”
Ryan stressed:
“We should put people’s minds at ease, that is not what our focus is. We’re focused on securing the border.”
Instead, they would be looking for "a solution that doesn’t include mass deportations, that involves getting people to earn a legal status while we fix the rest of illegal immigration.”

Earning legal status? Isn't that another way of saying those taboo words- conditional amnesty?  It all sounds suspiciously like what JEB! was proposing back in August  2016. 
His solution was described as
a rigorous path that requires individuals to pass a thorough criminal background check, pay fines, pay taxes, learn English, obtain a provisional work permit and work, not receive federal government assistance, and over an extended period of time earn legal status."
However, JEB! said, "any plan to address the status of illegal immigrants must be accompanied by a robust strategy to improve border security."

Post-election, Mr. Trump isn't looking so radical. Take away the mass deportation part and there's really not much difference between JEB! and Trump or Trump and Clinton. And make no mistake, mass deportation was the key variable of his campaign.

For all his bluster, Trump is turning out to be a run of the mill politician who makes a lot of promises but promptly breaks them the moment his jet touches down in Washington.
Compare what he was saying exactly one year ago.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Welcome to the New Realities of America's TrumpWorld

by Nomad

Trump Cartoon Future

Elections, as we all know, have consequences. Unfailingly, it is the one truism that voters seem to overlook. With reportedly 49% of voters opting out, this election, it is no different. 

Excuses

Logically, one would question the legitimacy of any election in which nearly half of the population refuses to vote. The New York Times reported:
Some people were barred from voting by law, and others were effectively blocked by the obstacles put up by new restrictions or stalled by the memories of bad experiences the last time around. For others, child-care and work demands proved too difficult to juggle with going to a polling place. Some decided not to cast a ballot on principle.
There were plenty who just could not be bothered. They found their private ways to rationalize it. Still others argued that between Clinton and Trump, there's wasn't much difference. It was just choosing between two evils. 
 As one voter told the NYT reporter:
“I couldn’t in good conscience vote for president.”
Now we just have to sit back and wait for such people to realize their horrendous misjudgment. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

President-Elect Trump Facing Court Date for Fraud and Racketeering Charges

by Nomad




Trump Heads To Court For Fraud And Racketeering Before Inauguration
Donald Trump may have thought that the 75 current lawsuits filed against him and the Trump Organization would simply go "poof" when he was elected president, but boy is this uninformed president-elect wrong "bigly." The Supreme Court has ruled that becoming president of the United States does not shield an individual from private litigation concerning matters…

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Superpower in Crisis and the Disgrace of Mr. Trump

 by Nomad

Win or lose tomorrow, Donald Trump has achieved one thing from his campaign. He has justified unspoken international concerns that the US is no longer a dependable ally.


Doubts and Worries about Donald

Even at a superficial glance, this year's election has been a fairly pathetic spectacle. There really haven't been any high moments. Only a dismal record of low points, which somehow defied expectations of how low the presidential race could actually go. 
Much of the blame for that must rest on the sloping shoulders of one man, Donald Trump.

Whether he beats the odds and becomes the next president or not, Mr. Trump has accomplished something quite out of the ordinary. Through his bombast and his vulgarity, through his extremely volatile populist rhetoric (accompanied by a remarkable ignorance about all things), this unlikely candidate has accomplished something that no other American candidate has done before.  

Trump, his history, and his manner of politics all have created a sense of doubt and suspicion amongst even our oldest allies. 

A “hate preacher” was how German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier described Trump. French President François Hollande said  that Trump’s “excesses” had produced “a retching feeling.” Members of the Britain’s Parliament have had an opportunity to exercise their wit at Trump's expense, referring to the businessman-turned-candidate as  a" “demagogue,” and a “buffoon.” 
And that's just the opinion of our closest allies.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Don't Be Fooled by Donald Trump's Big Fat NAFTA Lie

by Nomad



Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has condemned Bill Clinton's signing of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
"NAFTA is the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country."
To his roaring audiences, Trump likes to cite this agreement as the main reason why American workers have lost their jobs. President Bill Clinton is the villain, he tells them. And now, his wife is running for president. The horrorof it!
“I’m going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers,”
According to Trump, NAFTA is the culprit for destroying America's manufacturing sector. Today, there are about 12.2 million manufacturing workers, down from 17 million in 1994, according to the Labor Department. As we have seen in another blog post, this claim is extraordinarily misleading (even for Trump.) 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Poisoning The Well: How Satire and Spoof Have Become The New Way of Spreading Disinformation

by Nomad


April FoolAnother casualty of the 2016 presidential campaign, besides civility and sanity, has been the meaning of the word, satire. Today, satirical or fake news sites function as disinformation sources.  

 

When Every Day is April Fool's

Satire, sarcasm's helpful cousin, is a constructive form of mockery, "aimed at ridiculing those whom it is directed to." The dictionary tells us that its purpose is to "employ humor to instigate people towards positive change."

It's been around in one form or another since the earliest days of theater, back in ancient Greece. In fact, the first comedies were mainly satirical and mocked men in power for their vanity and foolishness. 
Men who took themselves too seriously. Men whose ignorance begged to be called out. In other words, men very much like Donald Trump. 

Later, Roman satire became "a vehicle for biting, subversive social and personal criticism." The key word here is "subversive." It was never normally the propaganda tool of the ruling class, but a sharp stick to poke at the social elites and the people in power. 

There's a famous story from the historian Suetonius, about the Roman emperor Vespasian who enjoyed his court jester making satirical jokes about the pompous men of society. The emperor said "What about me? Make a joke at my expense."
The wit, picking up on Vespasian's perpetual grimace and furrowed brow, said, "Oh I will.. as soon as you finish relieving yourself."

In modern times, satire has been a very effective tool to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society. A kind of social commentary through ironic humor. 

Of all the things that this election has torn asunder, one thing that has had little coverage has been the death of satire. That's an odd thing too since there has been a rise in the number of news spoof sites.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Why the Republican Party Must be Held Accountable for the Donald Trump Fiasco

by Nomad

Trump debates

If Donald Trump loses the election, as it appears likely, there's one thing we can be sure of: we are going to hear a lot of Republican excuse-making in the following weeks and months. And there will be blame thrown in every direction. 
Sadly, soul-searching isn't really a Republican virtue. Looking back and learning from mistakes just isn't something the Grand Old Party is very good at. But the question is: will the voters accept the inevitable excuses from the republican establishment or this catastrophe?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Tom Hayden- Radical Protest Marching into the Mainstream

by Nomad

Tom Hayden Protest Quote

Famed '60s anti-war activist Tom Hayden died on Sunday after a long illness. 
Once denounced as a traitor and a dangerous radical by his detractors, Hayden went on to serve in the California State Assembly and State Senate. For almost two decades, Hayden was a progressive voice on issues such as the environment, education and animal welfare. 
He once wrote about his days as a protester:
"I didn't want to go from beating to beating, jail to jail... There was an entire generation to arouse, primarily about civil rights but also about the larger issues."
Click here for his complete biography.

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