Trump – Gangland Rules

Long ago, I was a policeman both in Scranton, Pennsylvania and upstate New York. Even in the distant sixties and seventies, gangs and the ‘mob’ were realities of urban life. In my travels around the globe, I encountered areas where criminals and their fellow travelers operated and sucked the prosperity out of an area.

In Northeastern Pennsylvania, where I grew up, mob corruption is fairly well documented in the book, The Quiet Don by Matt Birkbeck. The economic impact of criminal activity is long lasting and still affects the area. Talk about the high cost of government and taxes; you have seen nothing compared to the high costs imposed by the corrupt.

Gangland Rules:

During his campaign, Trump mirrored the loudmouth politicians and public figures that fronted for mob leadership. Donald Trump acts as if he is the boss and in charge. We shall find out. However, based upon both my observations and experience, here is what the world can expect from a Trump Administration.

1. Lying at each and every level. Even the cabinet members will never know what is happening or coming next. Lies are the coinage of mob and gang power. We saw this during the campaign in Trump’s conflicting lies on Iraq war support. Being the boss means never having to say you are sorry or you made a mistake.

2. Absolute obedience to the boss is required. Every member of the gang is expected, without excuse or exception, to attack any opponent. All orders must be obeyed without question. Rewards will be dribbled out to followers slowly and never with any certainty. Trump’s cabinet appointment testimonies display an admirable independence. Many will soon hear the infamous, “You’re Fired”, or they will surrender all independence.

3. Fear of retaliation, public or private, will threaten every waking moment for his gang and the public. All perceived slights or insults will bring immediate punishment to them and theirs. If they have family, they too will be punished by association through loss of employment or business. Revenge and retaliation will be the normal mode of operation as in the recent Meryl Streep and Representative John Lewis incidents. No person can be allowed to display courage or resistance unscathed.

4. Foreign Policy will be based upon the gangland rules of fear and dividing up turf. Trump may extend professional courtesy to Putin as another ‘strong leader’. Trump does not understand much but he does understand power and apparently fears Putin for being the ‘real man’ that Trump knows he is not. Expect Trump to deal with nations as any mob boss would deal with rival gangs – submit or face retaliation.

5. Every transaction must benefit the leader. Those benefits should be hidden from view. The reason for the hidden tax returns and numerous corporations and business ties is to hide what lies beneath. With too much power, the leader develops no discipline and many whims and phobias. However, this weak man fears being dethroned and will become ever more erratic when confronted with competition.

Countering Gangland Rules:

1. Never, ever accept a favor or benefit from a gang leader or his lieutenants. One tiny favor will cost you dearly. Few have ever avoided the slippery, slimy slope that follows. You will owe them and you will pay dearly.

2. Just as cockroaches hate the light, mob bosses and gang leaders fear public scrutiny. Trump and his associates are the same. Here is the reason Republicans tried to weaken house ethics and Reince Preibus threatened the ethics chief on public television. The future of the nation and our alliances will depend on information, congress and the press. Without brave and courageous people in elected office, the nation will be seriously and perhaps irreparably damaged.

3. Strength matters; gangsters are cowards whose pettiness and unpredictability are notorious. Mob and gang bosses love strength and threats as long as they can remain immune. We must steal their immunity and target both the minions and leaders openly and loudly. Use the courts and legal system as they do – often. Mob boss power rests upon illegal acts. These bosses will use the courts to tie up and cost opponents dearly. Citizens and governments must confront threats directly with politics and the justice system. It is no mistake that Trump attempts to delegitimatize the press, the intelligence community and private citizens; he fears all of them.

4. Successfully corrupt bosses will co-opt the legal system from police to lawyers to judges with subtle threats and offers of ‘generous’ financial gain through the use of retainers or business partnerships. When confronting mob bosses, always demand over the top concessions; bosses will lie, cheat and generally not fulfill any agreements without constant pressure and confrontation. While Putin and the Mexican gang bosses offer the choice of silver or lead; US political corruption seldom resorts to this crude choice of take a bribe or be shot.

With a Trump Administration, the United States government appears to be going under new rules, gangland rules. The taxpayers will pay dearly. The nation’s safety will be weakened. The extent of the damage and the costs will be determined by how well the media, the politicians at local and state level and citizens force action at every level. Mob and gang bosses are defeated by strength and the resolve of honest people. Will the majority of Americans fight back or surrender?

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Democratic House Needs Cleaning

The Democratic Party failure did not begin with this election. For decades, party poohbahs have been protected behind old barriers of power. Revamp the Democratic Party right down to the county level. Time to put someone in charge of the party who fosters drastic (correct word) change at the state and local levels. This change must include establishing local rules to force maximum inclusiveness right down to the real grass roots. Replace non performing old leaders and failed coalitions with new leaders whose younger ideas have been stifled too long.

For decades, state and local levels of the Democratic Party failed to act, allowing Republicans to rule at the state level. How many states have Republican legislatures and governors? For years, the party has moaned that the Democrats don’t turnout in off year elections. They never asked why or what leadership was required to organize them to show up in off years. The surprise this election is that this failure was so long in coming.

Is it time to organize alternative approaches to the parties at the local level? In primary elections, citizens should select slates of candidates offering real solutions to real problems. Such actions would force the parties to change or become historic relics. Conservatives swamped a Republican Party that opposed Trump, many right down to election day. If national leadership is too slow or too resistant to change, the local voters must act. They did in this Presidential election.

As always, big elections are about ideas. At the very root of the grass roots, the Democratic Party had no ideas other than the status quo. Party leaders sat around year after year, as they lost state legislative seat after seat with governors to follow. Growing fat and lazy on their union and old people laurels, many local parties ignore everyone else. The irony is that the union base was voting ever more Republican. The successful county party will address and solve LOCAL issues. Currently, many local parties ignore the local issues, or worse, are invested in them.

Now is the time to organize people of all persuasions locally and within the states. Howard Dean got this idea part right with his fifty state strategy. However, seeds need fertile ground to sprout and many county Democratic and Republican local parties are far too insular to contain the least bit of fertility. Low turnout in midterms is dramatic proof of this reality and the results are disastrous. Change will come and the grassroots are where this change must develop, if necessary, without the political parties. Most often successful elections are about ideas. Begin to organize locally around developing solutions to the most pressing local challenges facing citizens. Ideas and solutions matter. The party or group providing them will prevail.

One promising approach is local people, including many individuals who actually donated time and energy to campaigns, organizing online and on the ground. Millennials and people who came out and knocked on doors can form a powerful group to drive change. People like this can identify three big issues facing their community or county; develop workable solutions to those issues that appeal to a majority and energize voters to show up at the polling stations.

Armed with these powerful tools, groups can recruit strong candidates for state and local offices to contest primary elections while offering workable solutions to real problems. The size and enthusiasm of the voter group should deliver winning majorities at the polls. Increased voter turnout and high quality elected candidates dedicated to actually solving real problems facing citizens should provide good government.

Where do the political parties fit into this approach? They are the tools. The issues based groups use party primaries to run candidates for offices where no candidates exist or to challenge candidates who refuse to develop real solutions to real problems. Political parties should remain completely neutral in primaries. If an incumbent or favored candidate cannot win in a primary, they are unlikely to long prevail in an open election. If the political party backs a candidate in a primary, large enough groups of organized people taking coordinated action can nullify the party support.

Change must come and here is a pathway toward making political parties responsive to local voters and improving government.

Trump – Sad End of White Male Dominance

The world is changing. The masses are no longer willing to allow white males to play the game of life, as one woman phrased it, ‘on the easy setting’. The conservative elements of US society are not handling this changing America well. In grade school, we jumped under our little desks practicing for nuclear attack. Ever present were white male leaders being strong. They sent us to wars relying on a compliant population and the draft. The draft was the tipping point.

Serving in the military during the Vietnam and Cold wars, I really expected our male leadership to go out with a huge, nuclear bang. Thankfully, my expectation seems in error. White, male dominance in the US is going out with a whimper, a whine, and screams of rage that the system is rigged and life is not fair. Destroyed by Donald J Trump and his allies.

President Obama said Tuesday that Donald J. Trump should “stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes.”

“I have never seen in my lifetime or in modern political history, any presidential candidate trying to discredit the elections and the election process before votes have even taken place,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s unprecedented. It happens to be based on no facts.”

Historic barriers do not come down easily or neatly. Coming out of a major world war, society sought and created a stable, hierarchal society following the turmoil of war. Women were driven from their jobs in every sector and into the home. Men were expected to work. Women were expected to be ‘homemakers’. Government, industry and religious leaders were respected and obeyed with little push back or question.

But this stability contained the very seeds of its destruction: education. Large numbers of young soldiers returning from World War II attended college and went on to change the world. Their children, the baby boom generation, came along with them and the colleges had the infrastructure to educate both men and women. The greatest threat any education poses to a system is teaching people to ask the question: why. Youth asked why and opened US society to vast change and greater freedom for all.

Raised to expect opportunity and equipped with the tools to grasp it, the baby boom generation continued the equal rights work started by the greatest generation. In the United States, everyone deserved equal opportunity to succeed. The established power structures in government and religion demanded the status quo. They lost every battle. The respect and power of institutions crumbled along with their integrity. Asking why came with costs.

White male leadership struggled to survive last century. The baby boom generation blew it up. Our generation, Trump’s and mine, fought the battles to end segregation and increase equality for all. We entered space, expanded lifespans, reduced global violence (yes, the world is a much less violent place) and helped knock down minority barriers held in place since the nation’s founding. Modern youth were not going to war without great reason.

Also, America’s youth fought foreign wars bravely and fought domestic wars at home to end the draft and a suffocating societal demand for conformity. Products of our upbringing, we made mistakes and struggled. It was a learning process that continues today. The best of our generation gave their all to create a better world. Conservative pushback was strong.

In the face of continuing change and turmoil, conservatives decried change as wrong. The old conservative mantra going back to loyalist and Confederate days of strong military, strong religion and strong leaders did not and does not give up easily. America is still saddled with the high costs for these conservative failures.

Massive military overspending coupled with a never ending demand for more, while social and physical infrastructure collapses from lack of maintenance and modernization is but one example. Lamentations over the loss of ‘moral fiber’ and preaching to return to a god whose preachers lost much credibility denying evolution, biology, and science. Even today, attempts to maintain beliefs proven wrong are transforming many religious leaders into silly old men.

For it is men fighting back hardest. Conservative men demanding a return to a period that never existed except in myth and on television. The men who are unable to accept that a nation is stronger because of equality. That everyone, men, women and minorities of nearly every stripe, bring a resilience and strength to society that is difficult to deny.

Many conservatives forget that perhaps our greatest military victory was never fought on the battlefield. The structured, inflexible Soviet Union spending massive amounts on defense was unable to compete successfully with the prosperity generated by diversity and flexibility. We in the military provided a strong shield to defend a society that crushed opposition by embracing education, diversity and change.

Donald Trump represents the type of conservative leader offered this century as an answer – old white men fat on privilege and thin on capability. Unless the US electorate loses its collective mind this election, Donald Trump and his ilk will find no solace in our society. They will not be missed.

Guns, Death And Destruction In America Today

excellent

Rcooley123's Blog

Recent events in this country have seen an escalation in gun violence both by and directed towards police. Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, MN, both black men, were shot dead by police officers under circumstances which were not only questionable at best, but were widely broadcast as a result of Facebook and cell phone video technology. In the wake of these shootings, nationwide protests included one at which an individual (not one of the protesters) shot several Dallas police officers, killing five and endangering many others.

These incidents are similar in nature to other killings in recent years dealing with African American males and police which have merited national coverage and discussion pertaining to both police procedures (as well as accountability) and gun control legislation. There are, however, some details which add significant wrinkles missing from previous discussions.

After previous renditions of police…

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Veterans Befuddle Trump

Military and their families are different. Last month, I attended an American Veterans Committee event with the World Veterans Federation. Full disclosure, I am a senior advisor to AVC. Mr. Dan Viggo Bergtun, President of the federation, briefly addressed the gathering. President Viggo Bergtun’s remarks were a powerful reminder of what military veterans hold in common.

“Nearly every military veteran sacrificed for a country, belief or cause.” Mister Bergtun pointed out. My varied military career provided the opportunity to break bread with, and in some cases, live with, foreign military and their families. We held more in common than what divided us. A greater purpose drove our lives. This sense of dedication seems to be generally alien to many Americans.

Veterans realize that it is not all about them and that they cannot do it all on their own. Surviving in a war zone means that you are strong, supported and lucky. When a large segment of the US public embraces an individualism that undermines efforts to build a better nation and society, some veterans can lose their way.

The old recruiting slogan ‘An Army of One’ was a running joke and punchline. You are only as good as the person beside you and the people behind you. You would give your life if necessary to protect others. On 9/11 many questioned that unarmed fighter aircraft could be ordered to ram an airliner heading for Washington. Fighter intercept training covered just such a last ditch maneuver to prevent enemy aircraft from reaching a target. The vast majority of fliers would have executed the order. Most Americans were astonished and many horrified at that reality.

Now, compare that willingness to work and to sacrifice together with a private sector that often denigrates attention to any goals other than profit. The vulture capitalists and quick buck artists that pillage solid companies loading them with debt and taking the cash often leave behind crushed workers and towns. The vultures would call those companies, workers and towns losers, just as they do Trump investors. The majority of Americans would never behave this way but cheap buck artists like Romney, Trump and Toomey most certainly do, often receiving high praise; unless, it is your job, town or business.

Our long standing American values are epitomized in the best of our public servants from military to emergency responders to teachers and healthcare professionals. Denigration of public service and servants leads to a culture of selfishness and destruction. Is a lack of required public service tearing us apart? What made this nation great was not our private sector. Many nations had thriving private sectors but what set this nation apart was recognition that we need our brightest and most capable leaders in education, public service and government as well as business and trade.

Two Gold Star Mothers understand the disease infecting many Americans and for which Trump is a poster child. In referring to Trump’s recent veterans skirmish, Michelle DeFord, Gold Star mother, VoteVets.org supporter, said; “Mr. Trump hasn’t the slightest notion of what the word sacrifice means. His grandiose gestures about giving money to our vets is purely for the benefit of the media.” Karen Meredith, Gold Star mother, Military Families Liaison, VoteVets.org, said:

“As a Gold Star Mother, I listened in horror, as he said that he ‘liked people who weren’t captured’ in war, as if they were losers for not completing their mission and coming back. I thought of my son, Ken, who lost his life in service to America, and couldn’t even imagine what Mr. Trump really thinks about him, and all those who didn’t come back alive.”

Perhaps the difficulties many veterans encounter in PTSD counseling is partly explained in Matthew B. Crawford’s New York Times review of Sebastian Junger’s new book, Tribe.

“…Post-traumatic stress disorder is a medical term for a cultural problem: the basic impossibility of digesting the experience of combat as an isolated individual among other isolated individuals, each devoted to pursuing his or her private interests. There is no tribe. To risk one’s life for the common good is to declare oneself outside this cultural logic of acquisitive individualism; the veteran is an outsider to us by definition, and no amount of yellow ribbons can change that fact….”

Apparently, many Americans do not understand veterans. Besides fighting for each other, perhaps veterans should redirect themselves toward creating a national and global society based upon their personal values and work with other veterans to build a society where peace can grow. Clearly, the task is beyond the capabilities of many politicians.

Follow Hal Donahue on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/haldonahue

Ryan Endorses Trump; Trump Endorses Clinton

great summation of the state of the nation

Rcooley123's Blog

Since word went out through the media that Donald Trump had effectively exceeded the committed delegate total needed to win the GOP Presidential nomination, some weird stuff has been happening involving his campaign. The vast bulk of Republican office holders fell in line supporting Trump. True, the Bushes and Mitt Romney did not, and House Speaker Paul Ryan held out for a bit. But even Ryan broke down and endorsed Trump…right before the shit started hitting the fan (hence the title of this essay).

On Tuesday morning, I was sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office when I noticed a TV showing Trumps glorious press conference being carried live on CNN. He was basically castigating all of American mass media in the course of explaining the sordid tale of the distribution of funds raised for and distributed to various Veterans’ charities during the media circus he created to…

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Righteous Rage: 3 Things Feeding Trump/Sanders Success

Too big to fail companies are not limited to the financial sector. Entire swaths of the economy are dominated by large corporate entities encountering very little competition. Three forces drive voter rage.

1. Private Sector Misfeasance

Corporate consolidations coupled with heavy legislative lobbying at state and federal level force workers to do more for effectively less. The minimum wage is not adjusted for cost of living while employers feel no competitive pressure to increase wages.
Truck drivers, much like other U.S. workers, chose to become effectively serfs. Once long ago, I was a card-carrying member of the Teamsters Union. Back then truckers generally drove the proper speed; had very good pay and much respect.

Then the government forced deregulation and allowed unions to be literally crushed. If workers refuse to join together, they will hang separately which is precisely what happened. Once the government allowed a race to the bottom in wages and safety regulations, nearly every company was forced to join the race to bottom wages and high corporate profits for survival.

Republicans and conservatives in Congress allowed corporations to force policy changes on individual states removing any chance of safe and sane laws. What works on the high plains with straight roads and little traffic does not work in crowded, older, urban areas with narrow roads and high volume traffic.

2. Stagnant or reduced wages and pensions — fear

Yes, Donald Trump feeds the monsters of hate and division. However, his real success is built upon worker outrage. Conservatives and others see their dreams of retirement fade away as the years pile up and their savings dwindle. Bitter indeed is the worker who bought the anti-union rhetoric and toiled in the factories and workshops of Middle America believing that their ship would come in — too many ships, not enough ocean.

Many Americans are facing pensions that may be a meager social security check and little else. Their children, many of whom believed conservative elites that college was not needed, now see younger, better educated people grabbing the high paying jobs. Of course, those same Republican and conservative elites sent their children to the finest colleges available.

3. Higher state and local taxes coupled with artificially higher private sector costs

Industry “consolidations” enable entire sectors of the economy to increase profits while decreasing wages and benefits.

Loan industries, from so called payday loans to education loans, are seen to be rapacious. Working class people are essentially saddled with debt for most of their lives. Senator Bob Casey, sponsoring the “In the Red Act” legislation to address college affordability, provided this information:

Low-income graduates (those who received a Pell Grant while in school) borrow at far higher rates–and in higher amounts–than their middle- and upper-income counterparts at both two- and four-year institutions, regardless of the type of institution attended and despite receiving thousands of dollars in grant aid.

A full 84 percent of graduates who received Pell Grants graduate with debt, compared to less than half (46%) of non-Pell recipients. This shift places an unequal burden on communities that have historically been denied an opportunity to gain and leverage wealth.

Being lower income is expensive but not just for education.

Both cable and telephone conglomerates effectively stifle competition and divide markets between them. An example in my region, Verizon Fios is not available in the entire market area while cable companies reign nearly supreme. The result is a less economically competitive business environment. Local economies become competitively disadvantaged through “less than highest speed” internet; communications companies maintain high profitability. Politicians are silent in the face of deliberate inaction by corporations.

U.S. airline companies and their partners appear to have eliminated real competition in both U.S. and foreign markets. The result is high profits but even higher costs and worse service for their customers while employees’ wages and benefits are crushed — they have nowhere else to go. The passengers are often in the same situation.

In the absence of either unions or a government maintaining a level playing field, we reap a nation of serfs. It is not just trucking but nearly every industrial sector from retail to aviation where quality suffers yet profits soar. Why Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders? Why not? If government will not respond — shake it hard. This is why Trump and Sanders are getting so much attention.

Wage equity is not enough. Competition, government regulation and/or a combination of both is necessary to restore the US economy and pride. The trouble with laissez faire capitalism is it fails faster than communism, ending in oligopoly. Here we are. What happens next?