Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Importance of Thank You

A lot of people forget the importance of the word "thank you." We all want to be thanked if we do something worthwhile. Sometimes, even if you don't receive it, you may want to repeat your gesture, but probably not.

I received my PhD from the Maxwell school at Syracuse University. I'm really proud that it's ranked number one among schools of public affairs, with Harvard's Kennedy school at number two.

But I'd taught at the Newhouse school of Syracuse and believed then, and still do, that it's a wonderful journalism school.

So in December I sent Syracuse University a check that was to be split between Maxwell and Newhouse. A week after my gift, I got a nice note from the people at Maxwell. I appreciated that.

Today I received a form from the Newhouse School. The signature of the Dean, who allegedly signed it, was preprinted.

Understanding a little of how fund raising works, I was  appalled and wondered about how the school was administered.

Next year, of course, the entire check will go to Maxwell.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Pied Piper of Hate

The famous social commentator from the early 20th century, H.L. Mencken, once described Donald Trump's appeal: "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."

A noted educator, whose family was in the Holocaust, recently remarked that Trump reminded her of Hitler.

Let's take a quick look at this man who has captured the support of so many Republicans.

While he likes to talk about his success, many have commented that if he had just put the money his father left him in a good mutual fund, he would have the same amount of money today. This is not a self-made man. This is not a Lincoln who read by candlelight to become a lawyer. This is the guy who is one of the scumbags that made some of the deals that put America into the great recession. He isn't known for scrupulous financial behavior. He will declare bankruptcy on one of his properties the minute it gets into trouble. He will use a government's power of eminent domain to throw people out of their homes so he can build a parking lot for the high rollers at his casinos.

It was America's immigrants who built this country. I'm a Mayflower descendent who knows that our country would not be great if we had inhibited the immigration of everyone from the Germans to the Chinese. America is a country of self renewal, where the newest immigrant with pluck and fortitude can produce something that will improve our nation.

Since ISIS now uses the screams of Donald Trump, railing against Muslims, as a recruitment tool, we should look closely at a man who most clearly represents the lack of compassion of the 1%.

You won't see Donald Trump at a soup kitchen making sure the unemployed will get needed sustenance. Instead, you'll see him on a stage trying to bring out the worst in the American people. He is the guy who organizes the lynch mob. This is the man who has people break into the jailhouse to pull out someone of color to be torn apart by the mob. He represents everything that is wrong in America. There are, however, too many uneducated, angry, white people who haven't figured out who the real enemy is. Let's hope they don't destroy our democracy while they follow the Pied Piper of hate.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

America and Its Changing Social Geography

America is constantly changing. For travelers from other countries who have views about what they want to see, it's important that they bring themselves up-to-date. For example no matter what the recruiters tell you, if you're Chinese you should never go to the University of Southern California, because the area is very dangerous. If you grew up on the Motown sound, you'd probably be surprised that Detroit is where the American dream ended.

When I was young, Stockton, California, was a great city.

Lodi, California, the next town over, was infamous because of the John Fogerty song:

                if I only had a dollar for every song I've song

                and every time I've had to play while people sat there drunk

                you know I'd catch the next train back to where I live

                O  Lord I'm stuck in Lodi again

Today, because Stockton is a city that declared bankruptcy and can't afford to pay cops the new joke is:

The best part of Stockton is Lodi.

Keeping up on a dysfunctional America is crucial if you're going to visit here. America, she'll keep changing on you

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Political HurricaneHeading For Our Democracy

If Bernie Sanders resonates with you, you have a problem. Many of the things he advocates, including a free college education, make a lot of sense to me. Until I think about paying for it. Getting rid of insurance companies and having the government be responsible for healthcare sounds nice. Then I remember how insurance companies and their support made Obama care possible.

In short, I would like to have a lot of things that Bernie Sanders wants but know that our right wing Congress would never let these things happen. A lot of us are angry at banks, at the 1%, and at how Congress is always pimping itself out.

So Sanders appeals to the young, who are being crushed under college loans and see how difficult it is a get a job with only a bachelors degree.

We can't nominate Sanders, because anybody who calls himself a socialist will get destroyed in the general election. On the other hand we have  the rabid right-wing of the Republican Party in full cry. The party establishment has lost control and we've seen a nasty man, who everyone in the Senate seems to hate, winning the Iowa caucus.

Democrats probably should've figured out how many people dislike Hillary Clinton before they anointed her as the person to beat. Every time the emails get mentioned, people are reminded of how the Clintons always thought they could have their cake and eat it too.

At this stage of the game, I've prepared myself to hold my nose and vote for Hillary. I'm going to pretend she didn't make all that money giving speeches to the big banks. I'm going to pretend she actually cares about America's middle class and its disintegration.

But if I have to do that, how many other people will decide they don't care enough to compromise. Ted Cruz, whose wife works for Goldman Sachs, is part of the Republican crowd that protects big bankers and the rest of the 1%. There are people in this country who deserve to be angry at the 1% and their unconscionable corralling of such a large proportion of American assets. Then there are the right-wingers who don't seem to understand that they're for a party that has no interest in helping them out with their financial problems.

This is not going to end happily, even if I hold my nose. There is righteous anger, as well as misplaced anger, that is heading  for our democracy like a stage 5 hurricane