Category Archives: Uncategorized

We need a “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” moment

America sorely needs a moment like the one that ultimately quieted the rants and bullying of Sen. Joe McCarthy. Maybe a debate moderator or a network interviewer or a whole cadre of pool reporters will step up and begin peppering every interaction with Trump, McConnell, and the thousands of their supporters with a simple new slogan built upon Mr. Welch’s question in 1954– “Have you no shame?”

New Hope

Yes, I had been becoming increasingly cynical about the state of our world. From the quagmire we created in the Middle East to Brexit to Donald Trump to the disaster of global warming, it seems that our world is in a terrible state and doesn’t have much hope for improvement. Those and many other factors have challenged my hope for the possibility of leaving a better world for the generations that follow, for feeling that my generation (largely Baby Boomers) have made a lasting positive impact on our planet.

I don’t like despair. I don’t like feeling that we’ve fucked up. But that was where I’ve been headed, especially since the 2016 twin blows of Brexit and Trump.

But now there’s the blossom of a new hope. A sense that maybe, just maybe, the world will be OK and that it is actually moving toward greater justice, greater equality, greater liberty, greater progress. And what better a promoter of that hope than a younger generation? After all, it was the young Baby Boomer generation– to which I belong– that last sparked an inspired hope across the world.

Whether it’s the students of Parkland High in Florida, AOC, or the inimitable Greta Thunberg, we suddenly have a cohort of activists that are getting it right. That are challenging the status quo and are loudly showing that we can do better.

God love them and may we all applaud and stand ready to help them!

For Whom is the Economy Good?

I have to wonder why some folks think our current economy is so good. It’s primarily the economists who say that plus the highly partisan political leaders on the right.  My guess is that the average American doesn’t feel that way– whether it’s because they think taxes are too high or because they think wages are too low.

My question is: If our economy is so good, why aren’t we doing more to share its goodness with the general population? Why don’t we embrace Medicare for all? Why don’t we payoff the massive student debt? Why don’t we spend as much on education as we spend on the military? Why have we not made any dent in the numbers of homeless or the people below poverty?

A related observation is that it seems that our global threats these days are economic, political, and technical. We are not being threatened by invasion of murderous hordes, unlike some of the world’s countries, despite the rhetoric and policies of the Trump administration. The threat of some rogue country sending atomic missiles at our heartland and major cities is minimal. We simply are not facing threats that call for a large military equipped with high-tech toys. The U.S. GAO recently released a study showing that the greatest threat to our weapons systems is not more advanced systems from other nations but rather cyber-hacking.  Russia or China or even ISIS don’t need large missile and weapons systems to attack and immobilize the U.S. armed forces– they just need a smart high school student with access to a Raspberry Pi and wifi. The money spent on weapons systems and large items like fighter jets and submarines is being wasted on tools that can be readily hacked and disabled.

So I guess that’s two issues that I wonder about: 1) by many accounts our economy is strong and therefore we should be able to afford projects that improve the lives of our citizens (e.g., health care, education, efficient transportation); and 2) we’re spending trillions now on military hardware and forces when those tools are not what we need and should instead be spending that money on education and life-improvement for those who threaten us.

There is a better way.

Core Issues in the Trump Resistance

In an earlier post, I suggested I wasn’t happy with a reject everything posture for resisting the Trump empire.  So here are my initial thoughts on what my core issues are that will capture my attention over the next 4 years:

  • Universal Healthcare
  • Free Public Education
  • Strong Personal and National Security
  • Strong Communities and Neighborhoods

Jobs and infrastructure are important but they can also be seen as byproducts of the core issues.  To expand access to healthcare, to improve education, to strengthen personal and national security, and to provide strong communities and neighborhoods all require more quality, reasonable paying jobs.  The will also require improvements and ongoing sustaining of our infrastructures.

International trade is a nonissue.  Do we in the U.S. worry about trade across the artificial borders of states?  Of course we don’t (at least not that much).  So why worry about trade across the artificial borders of nations?  It does seem that expanded free trade truly does help raise all boats.  So make it a nonissue, one that requires no debate beyond insuring that it is done fairly to all parties and in an open manner.

But equally important to those issues is the question of how we organize our resistance to Trump and the GOP.  I don’t have a clear answer for that yet but it is my focus.

RIP hitchBOT, Long Live hitchBOT

So hitchBOT apparently met it’s demise in the city of Brotherly Love. But it did what it set out to do:

“We want to see what people do with this kind of technology when we leave it up to them,” Frauke Zeller, one of the creators and an assistant professor in professional communication at Toronto’s Ryerson University, told the AP. “It’s an art project in the wild — it invites people to participate.”

And as hitchBOT itself said, “I guess sometimes bad things happen to good robots!”

I fully expect that hitchBOT Jr. will rise soon. After all, that is the pattern of the humans who originally brought hitchBOT to our presence.

Thank you hitchBOT for your wonderful journey and thanks for what has been and what will become!