Posts

Short Bits 01

Here's the first of what I hope will be regular posts containing small nuggets of fact-checked info you probably won't find on the news source of your choice, whatever that choice may be...For a mid-term election, 2018 showed a very high turnout of at least at 116 million voters, which is about half of the voting-eligible population. By comparison, only 83 millionpeople voted in 2014 and some 135 million in the 2016 presidential election.
Some Republicans including Trump tend to demonize rich guy George Soros, but in 2004, Soros lent Donald Trump a cool $160 million to help with the construction of Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago.  Steven Mnuchin also worked for the George Soros-backed SFM Capital Management and for Soros Fund Management LLC. 
In 2009, the  Trump Foundation gave $100,000 to the William J.Clinton Foundation. The following year Trump’s foundation gave another $10,000 to the same foundation.
The U.S. National Security Agency collected 534 million re…

The Label/Tag Culture War

Hi there. I’m a Label. My entire political and social philosophy is built upon Label principles. My friends are all Labels, too, because I only like people who think like me. I agree with everything our Leading Labels say. I never publicly disagree with another Label even if I disagree in private, which almost never happens, because Labels always have the best ideas. I get my news from Label news sources only, because the others only tell lies. Labels are the true American patriots. I always vote for fellow Labels, and I don’t really care what they say or do as long as they promote Label philosophy. I avoid having any conversations with a Tag. Tags are not like labels in any way. They think completely different than Labels, and Tags all believe the same things. They slavishly listen to Tag Leaders even though those leaders are always wrong. They only watch Tag news, which is always wrong or deliberately false. Tags don’t love America the way Labels do, and some of them are actually evi…

A Wall Of Drones

Donald Trump wants to build a wall along the full 2,000 miles of our southern border with Mexico, because he promised he would. Trump also promised Mexico would pay for it, but he doesn't say that anymore. What is currently planned is actually more of a fence, but "wall" is a much stronger word, so Trump uses that instead. Plan A for the wall called for it to be 30 feet high and extend six feet underground, made of solid concrete. That's not gonna happen. Plan B is a fence at least 18 feet high that can't be cut with common tools, but no requirement for underground security. The price of doing such an unlikely thing is quite clear – $25 billion is today's estimate, plus whatever costs come later for regular maintenance. There's one major complication. Much of the Texas-Mexico border is actually the Rio Grande River, which wanders through a wide desert valley in different places at different times. We'll need to acquire a lot of private land on our si…
Fake News and a Free Press
On Aug. 11, the Boston Globe editorial board called on newspapers across the nation to speak out against President Trump'sdescription of the American news reporting industry as "...enemies of the people". Here's a contribution from one former newspaper editor...
Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, "I have spent half my life trying to get away from journalism ... a low trade and a strange, seedy world full of misfits and drunkards and failures." After more than two decades working in and around the newspaper business, I pretty much agree with Thompson. That's one reason why I'm no longer an editor. But journalism is also a world populated with truth-seekers and idealists and patriots and believers in our Constitutional right to speak freely. They get stories right more often than wrong. They seldom tell the whole story because they are rarely given enough time or space to do so under the assumption that only a few people care enoug…

Us vs Them

Politics is not a sport. Good governance is not a game of winners and losers. People's lives are at stake when politicians make decisions. Far too many of those we elected have forgotten that truth – if they ever realized it at all. But it may not be their fault, really. We elected them, after all, so if they focus on making life a little better for a chosen few instead of for everyone, We the People deserve at least half the blame. We've embraced a false division between Us and Them, and we blindly support those of Us who choose to demonize Them. America once was deeply divided by skin color and ancestry, and those divisions have not yet been healed. We share that history with the Romans, by the way, and we haven't learned the lessons their experience offers. Today, political differences and material wealth represent the two most obvious divisions that we handle badly. In a multitude of ways those differences ignore our common humanity and encourage groups of people to demo…

The Secure Elections Act

Scrap electronic voting systems and get back to paper ballots

A bipartisan group of six Senators just introduced legislation called the Secure Elections Act that seeks to eliminate paperless voting machines from American elections. Led by Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, the senators have focused on two major changes that have broad support from voting security experts. The first objective is to get rid of paperless electronic voting machines. Computer scientists have warned for two decades that these machines are vulnerable to hacking and can’t be meaningfully audited. States have begun moving away from paperless systems, but budget constraints force some to continue relying on insecure paperless equipment. The Secure Elections Act would help fund a return to more secure systems that use voter-verified paper ballots. The law’s second goal is to encourage states to perform routine post-election audits based on modern statistical techniques. Many states today only recount in the event o…

And the losers are...

Alabama election changes nothing

After the special election in Alabama to fill the state's empty seat in the US Senate, there's been a lot of talk about what the result means, what it predicts for the future, who is to blame, and on and on. None of those discussions have pay much attention to the actual numbers that matter.
Almost 3 million registered voters live in Alabama. Yet despite all the attention and hype and televised drama leading up to Election Night, only 1.3 million voters bothered to submit a ballot. Less than half of the folks who could have participated actually did.
Granted, special elections historically have a low turnout, but we didn't learn what a majority of people think or feel about the choice they offered. This was not a referendum on either person or party involved. All we learned was a confirmation of what we've known for a long time – there is no People's Democracy when less than half of the people are willing to take ownership of it.

It's the total turnout that will matter in Alabama...

The highly anticipated special election in Alabama is coming up on Tuesday, and the results will be used by either Republicans or Democrats to claim some kind of symbolic, long-term trend or another. Sadly, there will be no talk about the most important result of that evening – how large will the voter turnout be?
No national election in America can be used as a true gauge of the desires of the American people, as we have not had more than 65 percent of the eligible voters participate during the past half-century. Some years barely even half the electorate bother to do their civic duty. Now, after more than five decades of poor voter turnout, we really have no idea what the majority of voting-age citizens believe is the best way to govern ourselves.
What's worse, we don't know for certain if the votes in certain states are being counted honestly. When a digital system is used to collect votes and tally them up, that system is highly vulnerable to being hacked or manipulated in…

The Cost Of War

"If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem." — George W. Bush, Jan. 2001At the start of his presidency George Bush spoke the truth, although that didn't stop him from launching more "nation-building missions" later on. With only a few exceptions, nothing stops an American president from launching any military action they desire. The only change is that now we're never sure where our soldiers are being deployed or why they are fighting and dying. Next year's military budget will start off at $700 billion, which is more than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, France, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom altogether spend. As our defense budget increases every year, our knowledge of how that money is spent diminishes. We're ignorant of the economic truth behind our military empire. Too many of us are OK with that, but our 'ignorance is bliss' attitu…

Private profits from taxpayer dollars

Here's six good reasons why we need to reform government spending before we think about reducing taxes. This fellows run companies that contract with the US government for services. This information was first published in 2014...
 1. George Zoley, CEO of private prison giant GEO Group, made $22 million in compensation between 2008 and 2012. GEO Group makes 86 percent of its revenue from taxpayers. GEO Group writes language into private prison contracts that forces taxpayers to keep prisons full or else pay for empty beds. GEO Group has faced hundreds of lawsuits over prisoner deaths, assaults, excessive force, and more, which have led to secret court settlements.  2. David Steiner, president and CEO of Waste Management, took $45 million in compensation from 2006-2012. Waste Management makes about 50 percent of its revenue from taxpayers, says Goldman Sachs.  3. Ron Packard of K12 Inc. made more than $19 million in compensation between 2009 and 2013, despite the alarming fact that onl…