America’s New Vulnerability

America’s New Vulnerability
By T. Edward Westen

President Trump has played fast and loose with treaties, agreements, trade, and relationships with allies, trade partners and international organizations around the world. He has asserted that treaties, agreements, trade, and relationships with allies, trade partners, and international organizations are “bad deals” made by predecessors in the White House. The empirical evidence and facts do not support his assertions. Regardless, his actions have negative consequences for Americans as well as those nations party to those treaties, trade arrangements, and international organizations with which he unilaterally terminated.

When President Trump assumed office, he did not sell his businesses and put his assets into a blind trust. This opened him to accepting money from his fellow Americans, the United States government, foreigners, foreign governments, and international organizations whenever staying in his properties. By returning monies to the U.S. Treasury for profits his accountants attribute to stays by U.S. government employees, President Trump is attempting to avoid prosecution and impeachment on the charge of violating the emoluments clauses in the U. S. Constitution (Art. I Section 9, Clause 8). But, he is also admitting that he profits when anyone stays in his properties.

Since President Trump is in a position to profit from his business, especially his properties, he is also in a position to incur losses from those properties. Also, since the properties are so dear to him, they represent a way to get President Trump’s attention. President Trump’s properties are America’s newest vulnerability.
I can think of at least a half-a-dozen, legal ways to exploit that vulnerability to get President Trump’s attention by focusing on his properties. But, I am relatively confident all those who have been impacted by his reneging on treaties, agreements and trade have better imaginations than I.

     If you are not an American, forward this to your foreign minister. President Trump’s weakness may not be visible to non-Americans. If you are American, get your creative juices flowing.

 

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Awash in a Sea of Money — Or — Unemployed Money is not a Good Sign

 

 

I got an offer in the mail to take out a 2nd mortgage on my house yesterday.  I get offers to refinance at least once a week personally addressed to me, but the letters all have the same salutation” Dear Home Owner.  Combine these offers with the figures I hear being spent on elections, the profits banks made in the first quarter and all of the advertising for investment services and I conclude there must be one hell of a lot of money out there looking for a place to go to work.  Now for money to go to work, it simply has to earn a return, not actually do useful work mind you, but the language of money had settled on “money going to work.”

 

While I suppose it is nice to have the opportunity to increase my debt load, given the offer I received to take out a 2nd mortgage, what this sea of money looking for work tells me the unemployment rate for the average dollar is rather high (and that does not count the ones I and little old ladies put under our mattresses because we grew up with parents who grew up during the Great Depression). Under the current regime of creating money, the unemployment rate of money has generally signaled boom which is followed by a bust.  Not the attractive kind of bust an artist might sculpt for museum placement, but the kind that leaves lives shattered.  Indeed, at the present time in the US alone we have more people on the verge of homelessness despite working two or more jobs and indenturing their children. (OK, I am dramatizing it by asserting the indenture of children, but am I?)

 

That offer I got to take out a 2nd mortgage on my house is actually a desperate act by someone who holds more money than they know what to do with.  They have run out of creative ways to “put their money to work.”  So they are relying on complete strangers to think that increasing one’s debt burden is a good idea.  The simplistic economic wisdom behind putting money to work is the basis for trickle-down economics. Things will be OK if we give the rich enough money so that some of it comes our way.  Unfortunately, when it comes out way in the form of an increased burden of debt, it typically does not harm to us debtors than it helps.

 

So, by my way of thinking, it is more evidence that we need to change to way we create money.  Under the current system, we put money into the hands of those who already have it or the assets it can buy in hopes that they are greedy enough to invest some in productive activities (job creation) or that they are spoiled enough to actually buy something.  Well, it isn’t working.  So, time to put my plan into action and create money by giving it, yes, giving, to citizens just because they are citizens.  Us common citizens spend.  We get very little money, and we have had to learn to spend wisely.  However, if given a windfall, we will spend it.  Unlike the rich who insist on a return on their expenditures, we just go out and buy a beer, or a popsicle (depending upon our age and religion); to hell with the returns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One day I would like to be a writer

One day I would like to be a writer. I am almost 74 years old so if it is going to be, it will have to be sooner rather than later for my ‘laters’ keep getting fewer with every passing day. In December of 2016, a blogging friend convinced me to write fiction. I quickly got into writing science fiction novellas-time travel. I wrote the novellas in episodes. My goal for each episode was 1,000 words. 1,000 words a day took between 90 minutes and 3 hours. The time variance was due to which platform I used to write: tablet or smartphone or computer. The computer was fastest. I may have missed writing as many as seven days in that time, never two consecutive ones until three weeks ago. Three weeks ago, I finished the draft of my 8th novella. Buried n the Park, https://www.amazon.com/Buried-Detectives-Batan-Philipson-Cases-ebook/dp/B07C6ZN9FX/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1523889455&sr=1-1&keywords=buried+in+the+park
and started to proofread and self-edit it I chose the 8th novella to proofread and edit because it is the easiest to put in a form to self-publish. The other seven have some idiosyncratic writing problems with which I need to deal and to polish (knock off some rough edges and sharp corners). I assumed the 8th would have the fewest rough edges and corens to knock off. The combination of proofreading and editing is the first thing that has interfered with what you might call my creative, productive, writing flow these sixteen months.
Proofreading and editing one’s own work is a bear. A large hungry, irritated, motherbear with two cubs. A Grizzly Bear with sharp teeth and claws. The first time through, I read it out loud. That slows me down enough, so I don’t get back into the story and forget what I am doing-proofing and editing. Reading what one writes out loud is more likely to show the author, me in this case, grammar, syntax and tone problems. It also allows me to catch some typos and innovative autocorrect substitutions. The second and third time through I used Grammarly, an app or software package that reminds me that the English language has two voices and I should be in the active one. It also ferrets out all those comma-based errors I have learned to make in my years of casual, non-reviewed, non-propofed and non-edited writing.
I do need to get back to daily writing. Not just any writing, but project writing—say another novella. I write to an old friend every day. Indeed, I use that as the basis for a blog to which I attach episodes of my novellas. But, daily letters to my friend and his wife don’t count in the writing part of my life—they are important but not done to write. Back in 2014 my friend was hospitalized and diagnosed with cancer. I live some 2,000 miles away and started daily letters to keep my spirits up and his chin up while he was down. That is a whole different category of using words than writing fiction. However, using my daily letters to him as a blog and appending my daily episodes to the blog resulted in my having four readers: my friend and three bloggers who read and comment on my episodes every day.
You have heard that writing is an isolated, lonely profession. It well may be. But, I have three readers who comment daily. If you write, you know what a boon that is. You know how that can lift your spirits. Someone is reading. Yes, 158 other people have signed on as followers of my blog. So technically I am writing for them too. And, on a good day, six to eight may like my post. But, the three who comment, are priceless. Occasionally, one will comment on something amiss in my writing. Many Thanks to them. They comment on the flow of the story, the prospects for one or more character in the story or tell me someone in the story did something of which they approve, disapprove or the like. The important thing is they read and comment. Having regular readers, as I have, has been one reason I have churned out somewhere around a half a million words and has been one of the main motivations for my continuing to churn out 1,000 or so words a day. So, if it is possible, get a reader or two who comment on the story. My readers never give me technical writing comments. Rather they tell me how they feel about characters. Accordingly, I have used the same characters in any story where appropriate. One of my characters, a woman of indeterminant age I once described as wearing tweed like Jane Marple, as portrayed by Margret Rutherford in films of Agatha Christie novels, has been in every one of my eight novellas and the eighth one is not science fiction!
35 years ago, I heard, “Know and write to an audience.” If someone is reading what you write and making comments, your job of writing to an audience is much easier. I got lucky as three readers became my audience.
I started writing by doing a short piece of fiction about a policeman seeing a four-year-old girl jump off a swing in park He took her and to police headquarters because she was an unaccompanied juvenile out after dark. That is story from the policeman’s point of view. I then wrote the story from the little girl’ point of view. Finally, I wrote it from the relevant adult in the little girl’s life’s point of view. Those three pieces required a novella to explain what happened. That became Amanda7, my first time-travel novella and the one I am now editing and proofing for self-publication.
My next six novellas were, to my mind logical places to take the stories of the characters developed in Amanda7, indeed, the epilogs to each of the third through the sixth novella led into the fourth through seventh novellas. You could say, the end of one novella leaves something unaddressed that requires more writing. A starting point for the next project. Indeed, since I write each novella in episodes of about 1,000 words, I make it a point to leave something that must be addressed tomorrow or later. My readers occasionally have commented on my leaving Pauline tied to the railroad tracks with a train coming full speed—cliffhangers or as I remember them from the 1950’s Saturday Morning Movies at the theatre, a stagecoach going off a cliff TO BE CONTINUED.

Cliffhangers not only keep the kids coming back to the Theater next week, and my readers coming back tomorrow, they keep me writing. I want to know what happens next too. Now since I write an episode and publish it before I write the next episode, I have written myself into many a corner. Using this approach turns writing into a challenge for an author. I neither recommend it nor would dissuade one from writing this way. I simply am telling you there are other ways to write than the experts tell you.
I read some posts and lots of the comments on those posts about writing, it seems to be a very popular blogging topic. I thought, writing is idiosyncratic. Here is what worked for me for 16 months. Check out deartedandjody in a few months from now and see if it is still working.
Now that Buried in the Park is available on Kindle, along with thousands of other ebooks, how do I let more readers know and entice them to at least sample it (Amazon provices for a taste of each book)?

I thought I would post the information about my book on Facebook and ask my friends to share it. I was surprised that two immediately shared and eight others liked but did not share and three bought the book. I wrote long emails to two friends who showed encouragement and tell me they plan to buy the book. I have a few more friends to write to, but this is not marketing. I suppose next I need to send a letter to the local news paper. However, this is still not a marketing plan. So, I need an inspiration for marketing that does not cost more than the royalties it will generate. At 33 cents a book that does not leave a big budget.
Any suggestions?

Warmest regards, Ed

 

Big Brother Wants to Keep Tabs on the Press and More

I heard an NPR report this morning that make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I could not find it under NPR, but was able to find the same report at MSN https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/homeland-security-database-would-track-journalists-media-influencers-report/ar-AAvzXl3
Essentially, I conclude the worst when it comes to any branch of any government collecting information except to apportion the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The twit has declared war on the free press in this country with his casting the charge of fake news at any report he does not like. While the White House Press Office is in a contest with FOX opinion shows for originating the second most fake news stories in America today, the twit’s tweets are in first place, it is disturbing to see Homeland Security get into the data collection business of writers, editors and other purveyors of information in America. Homeland Security collecting data on “identifying ‘any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event”’ smacks of Big Brother, or the KGB, or the Gestapo watching in their authoritarian contexts.

I can well understand the desire to protect Americans from influence from foreign nationals in elections. However, given the position that twit has taken on ‘no collusion’ and his anti-Muller Investigation, this effort by Homeland Security cannot be viewed as an effort to protect American voters from false influence, but rather an opportunity for the right wings in the administration to attempt to stifle the free exchange of ideas and reporting by making those using free speech and press look over their shoulders to see who is watching. With information comes more opportunities to threaten, intimidate and suppress. Are we returning to McCarthy Era attempts to control others by accusation and black balling? This data base and the specifications for the “contractor do no remove my fears that we are not.

Gerrymandering and Court Standards for Redistricting

 

Gerrymandering has been in the news especially since the recent Pennsylvania Special election where the winner would have to run in a different district this fall because of the Penn. Supreme Court throwing out the gerrymander set of districts they currently have. Then too I read an article where the US Supreme Court was a bit hassled with the prospect of being a policeman on redistricting in the computer age.

It has occurred to me over the years that what the Court needs to do is hire a mathematician to determine if their constraints of compact, contiguous, and equally sized (in terms of population) districts are able to generate a unique (single) solution for a geographic area (a state) with a population density that varies (the real world). If not, what models could be used to generate districts without taking voting patterns into account?

Often state legislatures claim they district the way they do to preserve community representation. If one looks at the relative geographic sizes of urban versus rural districts in any state, the notion of representing communities comes into question. A district in the heart of NY City compared to a rural upstate district belies the notion of community. So, it may be possible to meet the constitutional standards set by the court and have the smallest variance in geographic size of districts as well.

In short, let a mathematician see if he or she can prove the Supreme Court standards are possible (a theorem proof). If so, the Court would not have to police redistricting issues, but simply require the states to apply the model. If a mathematician cannot prove the standards are possible then let the mathematician demonstrate algorithms, free of voting patterns, that come the closest in any given state.

Yes, I realize how ridiculous my approach is, but then it doesn’t smack of partisanship and the evils thereof.

 

One Constitutional Issue After Another

March 28, 2018

I was some what amused yesterday with the talking heads and the twit’s administration proposal to add a question about citizenship to the Census. I heard all sorts of nonsense from left and right but somehow the talking heads on the two segments I watched on two networks missed an actual reference to the words in Article One I stipulating that all Free Persons and Indentured Servants were to be counted for the purposes of apportionment. These talking heads are paid, right? If they had stipulated the purpose first, perhaps their blithering about their points of view would have been tolerable.

I got to thinking about my comments on the 2nd Amendment and realized that the articulated reason for that Amendment was to reassure the voters of NY that they could keep their guns to fight off a tyrannical central government if it came to that. So that makes the back ground for the Second Amendment at odds with the provision under law, U.S. Code › Title 18 › Part I › Chapter 115 › § 2385, that it is illegal to advocate the violent overthrow of the US Government, much less actively attempt it. My my we are a conflicted nation.

I would observe that the frequency with which Constitutional Issues come to the fore today is probably a testament to the fact that the twit has not read the document and if quoted to him, he clearly does not understand its words—some of them are just too big for a self proclaimed genius to wrap his genius head around.

I did note that Nicole Wallace yesterday in addressing the Stormy Daniels news said, in effect, ‘if this guy can’t negotiate a hush agreement with a porn star how can we trust him to negotiate with North Korea?’ (I am paraphrasing).

 

What happened to the first thirteen words of the 2nd Amendment?

While none of the gun advocates have responded, I keep asking “What happened to the first thirteen words of the 2nd Amendment?” (“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,”). As I recall, when given a condition before permission, the condition needed to be fulfilled. For example “If you clean your room you can go play basketball.” Every parent understands that the condition must be met or no basketball. Yet those same parents are some of those who keep yelling that they have a right to have guns because of the 2nd amendment. Indeed they argue self-protection. hunting and sports as the reasons the 2nd Amendment gives them the right to own guns. Never have I heard anyone in the NRA or its fellow travelers argue the right is to keep the state secure by having a well regulated militia. In the context of the time that the language was written a well regulated militia involved regular drills and a structure with officers chosen, usually by election. How is it that we do not insist that well regulated militias be maintained as a prerequisite to citizen gun ownership? Hell, if Chicago had well regulated militias, one might argue that the gangs would be driven out of the city by those militias. I suspect the gun advocates do not know there are 13 words in the 2nd Amendment before the bit about citizen’s rights to keep and bear arms is mentioned.
As I recall, the 2nd Amendment was added as the people at the time were afraid of a big central government, you know like the one in London at the time. There was a real concern that a standing army and a central government would impose tyranny upon the people and states. So far that tyranny manifest itself by a central government here in the good old USA stamping out first, slavery and then bigamy. That tyranny also imposed integration. Well, we seem to be taking steps backward of late, so perhaps it is time to remember the first 13 words of the 2nd Amendment and resist the current tyrant and his regime. I wonder how the NRA and fellow travelers would feel about that use of the 2nd Amendment. Regardless it is impossible to have an intelligent discussion about guns as long as the advocates of more guns seem to have missed the point entirely and don’t even acknowledge the 2nd Amendment has those awkward first 13 words.

The Twit’s Tariffs — a bad idea, he should try thinking once

Let’s examine the twit’s justification for the tariff on steel and aluminum. There seem to be three threads. 1) we need to have this capability for national defense, 2) We need to keep jobs in America, and 3) we are being treated unfairly by other countries and taken advantage of by them.

By imposing a 25% tariff on steel, this means that the 180,000 or so steelworkers and the handful of corporations will indeed remain n business and perhaps even grow a bit. However, the imposition of the tariff will increase the steel components across every industry in American that uses steel by 25%, a cost that is passed on to the buyers of these goods and services. Let’s suppose this impacts 1,000,000 workers directly and indirectly. The employment in those industries will decrease by at least 180,000 jobs and the costs of products will go up with fewer people purchasing them so there will likely be even more unemployment in those steel and aluminum using industrious. So, to maintain the capacity for national defense, the twit has ensured that we will have lower overall production and employment and higher costs, not to mention the increased costs of all goods using steel. It would be cheaper for the country if we simply subsidized the steel industry and kept the production levels where they meet defense needs and stockpile their output until needed, if ever. By subsidizing steel and aluminum we would not incur the unemployment in industries using steel and aluminum as inputs and increase the cost of their goods which increases the cost of goods to the American Consumer. Subsidize is the more rational and economically sound approach to maintaining steel and aluminum production capabilities for national defense (armament) purposes.

Keeping job in America is a hot-button issue. Unfortunately, when tariffs are involved, fewer jobs remain in America as they are lost not to foreign competition but to increased prices of the output of those jobs remaining here that need the tariff to protect them. So, under the guise of keeping jobs in America, tariffs actually increase the decline of jobs. Reread the prior paragraph.

The twit alleges often and loudly that foreign countries are taking advantage of America and that there isn’t an even playing field. However, I have never heard him explain how foreign countries are taking advantage of American in trade. The closest the twit has come to illustrate this is to point at the trade deficit that results when we spend more in country x than country x spends here. What that means is that country x uses its resources and labor to produce things that we get from them in exchange for our currency (probably electronic bookkeeping entries). So we get real things and they get money. Remember there is nothing backing our money except faith that it is money. So we get something for an idea (money) of value. Unfortunately, if the countries with a positive trade balance of our dollars ever figure out they are giving us something for nothing in return our easy life will come to a sudden end. The twit is really not quite understanding that we win when we have a deficit, we win big. And he wants to put a stop to that by claiming unfair trade practices that he can’t explain or name.

 

The Twit’s Tariffs

 

Another day, another tariff as the twit in the White House tries to reduce the US trade deficit. Unfortunately, things are often not what they seem nor as bad as they sound. Specifically, trade deficits are not what they seem nor as bad as they sound. Unfortunately, the twit in the White House, who claims to be a rich guy, does not seem to understand money. He seems to think our dollars paid for China’s development to our detriment. Let’s look at the facts.

 

 

China sends good to America in exchange for US Dollars. The goods that China sells in America require raw material inputs and labor to fashion them. Since we run a trade deficit with China that means they sell us more goods than we sell to them so the extra goods they sell to us require we ship them US Dollars (a good percentage of which are electronic entries in financial accounts. the rest of pieces of paper with printing on them).

 

 

Take a look at a US Dollar. What backs it up, Gold? NO, nothing backs it up. You will find that the law, as printed on the front, mandates that ‘this note is legal tender for all debts public and private.’ It is fiat money. It is money because the US Government says it is and because almost all Americans think it is money. However, the law requiring one accept it as payment stops at our borders (and the borders of countries using the US Dollar as currency). Yet, the Chinese and almost all other nations accept our US Dollars in payment. If you think about it foreign nations and nationals accepting US Dollars in payment is very strange.

 

 

The US issues a lot of US Dollars on a virtually continuous basis. One would think that would create inflation. However, sufficient US Dollars go to foreign entities who sell us goods and services in exchange for those dollars. So, one break on inflation is the sheer volume of dollars flowing overseas. Then too, some exchanges (market) are traded in US Dollars, oil springs to mind. The international oil market is cleared with US Dollars. With a significant portion of the US Money Supply tied up in the international oil market, we have another break on inflation.

 

 

So let’s take the twit’s logic and stop the flow of money abroad. That means we will enter an inflationary cycle. America will be awash in money, as the twit calls it, coming home. The domestic value of the US Dollar will plummet (and so will the value of the dollar in financial markets).

 

 

At the same time the twit’s tariffs will kick in and the price of goods Americans, individuals and firms, will increase by at least the value of the tariffs (not to mention the inflationary impact of the flush of dollars driving all prices up, remember, inflation?). Americans will be able to afford less of the goods they have been purchasing. When prices go up, standards of living go down and Americans can not afford the domestic products the tariffs are supposed to generate.

 

 

Obviously there is more. But this is enough for today.

 

Deregulation Kills and Costs

Yesterday morning, I read an article in the newspaper about a new problem/danger to Flint, Michigan’s water supply. Waste contaminants from industrial pollution. However, it does not just apply to Flint.  It is a growing problem in America.  Earlier in the morning, I had heard an NPR report on the dismantling of offshore drilling and fracking regulations by the Trump administration. Oil industry lobbyists have explained to anyone who will or will not listen that these regulations on what chemicals they can put into the ground and must report for a variety of reasons are expensive—drive up their cost of obtaining oil and consequently our price for using them to fuel cars. What the lobbyists fail to tell people is that what they are providing us are more Love Canals. But then most people are not old enough or have long enough memories to remember the billions of dollars the government (you and I as taxpayers) paid to clean up toxic sits (and some are still toxic). So they fail to tell you that for every dollar you save at the pump now it will cost you hundreds or even thousands later to clean up, isolate or work around the toxins they use under relaxed regulations. Besides, the people who live near these sites and get sick and die don’t own stock in the companies. What the lobbyists don’t tell you is that you are making short-term profits for their bosses and keeping the Members of the House, Senate and 50 state legislatures in office with their donations. Relaxing regulations have consequences for you that are not good, for the corporations that are profitable, and keep the best Members of the House and Senate that corporate money can buy in office.