a quick word

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Quite a few years ago I taught at a school that had the Alpine Club. Once a year the members would go up to Ellenville, New York to explore the ice caves in the mountains there. The other big trips were white water canoeing in various rivers in New York State.

One of the best of the latter trips was a section of the Delaware River where there was a dam that held the river water back all night, but in the morning would open and produce the areas electricity from the water that would then rush through the turbines. We would line up the canoes a little downstream from this dam where the water was so shallow that the bottoms of the canoes sat on the river bed. Novices on their first trip would wonder where the excitement was until from behind you could hear the roar of the approaching water as the dam was opened. From that moment on as the canoes got lifted by the rushing water, the river was one big white water current. People further down river would also be waiting as the river filled and waters ran .

The excitement that was going to happen ahead was greatly influenced by what happened behind. Put another way, since we lined up closer to the dam, our past and what happened because of it was still in the future of those further downstream, but like us, it would have an influence on it.

I mention this because the morning after the first presidential debate, I was channel surfing to see how the various commentators were assessing the results.

On one channel a young woman was bemoaning what she perceived as Hillary Clinton’s obvious lack of relevance to Millennials because she had mentioned ‘Trickle Down Economics” that was history to millennials, and, therefore, had no relevance to them.

That’s when the memory of the river came to mind.

It seem that she would be a person who waited down diver for the rushing waters, but was convinced that as the dam was perhaps a mile or two back from her, it was there, but it had no relevance to where she was.

Yes, Trickle Down Economics began under Reagan, perhaps before she was born or when she was very young, but having begun back then it does not mean its effects are not being felt now.

Here are two ways that Trickle Down does affect you, dear Millennial.

Back in the 1980s tax rates were cut for the people at the top of the pay scale and for corporations. The theory was that once these people got to keep more of their money they would have the capital to create jobs. And in the intervening 40 years, this was the reason that more tax cuts were made and we were told it was necessary for the job creators, or they could not create those jobs.

One of the problems millennials have is that there are no jobs.

The highest income people, who made much of their money through investments and playing the stock market are yet to create the jobs they were allowed to keep more of their money to create.

In the meantime prices rose, but the Trickle Down acolytes in Congress would not raise the minimum wage, and the job creators found that the less they paid in salaries, the more they could keep to buy that third vacation home, fancy car, or yacht, and working class people, needing jobs to earn an income would have to take what was available or be called moochers and anti-American. So the working poor were shamed effectively by the use of faux-patriotism to accept their fate.

Have you noticed that the most patriotic people are the ones who earn the least amount of money and are still waiting for that trickle?

The non-existent jobs now, are because of the job creators then.

But, hey, that’s history to the millennials, so it means nothing.

But the U.S.A. still had bills and money had to come from somewhere, so a boat load of money was taken from the Social Security Fund as a loan that has yet to be paid back, and without the principle, the SS account could not make the amount of interest it could have if the money were left alone.

So the talk now is to put off your retirement and wait to start collecting what you have paid into, and you will not be able to retire as “young” as you parents could, so your working for old age means you are working to be retired for less time, and the longer you work the closer you get to death.

Here’ a parallel you may want to consider.

Whoever wins the presidency in November will have the job at least for four years and will be able to nominate a number Supreme Court Justices. The justices hang on for years, and their decisions live much longer than they do.

What is decided this November will have ramifications for years, and the grand kids of millennials will not be able to just look the other way because the election and its aftermath are part of history, and, therefore, have no relevance to them.

Yes, Trickle Down Economics began in the past, but you are living with the results of it, and are complaining  while not learning that.

 

 

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His own reality

 

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At Monday night’s first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton said that Donald Trump lives within his own reality.

As an example of that, when Clinton pointed out that he had begun his empire, not singularly from his own hard work, but because he not only got a substantial loan from his father, but had continued to refuse to pay people who had worked for him, Trump responded that the money he got from his father was very little.

This is apparently the story he has drilled into his children, that he started with nothing and built an empire, and the story he hoped his supporters would believe as they would convince themselves that if he could do it, he could make it happen for them.

Trump created his own reality, convinced his children it was the real one, and has been rather successful recruiting people to accept it as well.

This is the crowd, by the way, that votes against its own self-interest because Trickle Down economics will eventually touch them- a hope they have clung to for over 40 years.

It is the story his son Eric either believes and promotes, or simply promotes because it might pay off.

Speaking to millennials, Eric Trump Eric said of his father,

“He’s been an entrepreneurial guy. He’s built an amazing company. He’s become the epitome of the American dream. He’s gone from just about nothing into, you know, a man who built an unbelievable empire.”

My idea of nothing obviously differs because if my father had given me a $1million loan like Donald Trump received in 1978 from his father, I  might not have considered that nothing.

Eric Trump added,

“He’s epitomized what America is all about ― opportunity and working hard and being able to achieve your dreams”. 

But beyond the initial loan, Trump also benefited from numerous loans and loan guarantees from his father and from some lucrative trusts that provided steady income. He was bailed out by his father with a $3.5-million casino-chip loan that was illegal when he became overextended in the casino business.

He was also able to qualify for $9 million borrowed against his future inheritance.

As far as the $1 million loan, he is on record as explaining it as,

“I started off in Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars.”

And people are supporting him because one day they will, after he makes America great again, get those same things, and their lives will take off from there.

Insult me wife will ya? Why I oughta

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Republicans were not pleased when Ted Cruz gave a rousing speech about voting one’s conscience at the Republican National Convention without endorsing Trump, and he explained he spoke as he did because he is not a “servile puppy dog”.

He also explained,

“I’m not going to get into criticizing or attacking Donald Trump, but I’ll give you this response: I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.” 

During the Republican Primary Trump tweeted a split-screen meme with Heidi Cruz next to a shot of his wife, Melania, with the tag lines “A picture is worth a thousand words”, and “No need to ‘spill the beans’ the images are worth a thousand words.”

The last implying that there was some deep, dark secret about Mrs. Cruz that was best not to come out.

Cruz responded by calling Trump a “sniveling coward.”

Heidi’s reaction was,

“You probably know by now that most of the things Donald Trump says have no basis in reality. So we are not worried in the least – we’re focusing on our campaign and we’re going to continue to do that.”

Ted also said,

“It reveals a lot about class — that Donald’s instinct is to try to attack my wife and sully her, that should be beneath Donald, but the reason he’s doing that is he had a very bad night. If Donald wants to get in a character fight, he’s better off sticking with me because Heidi’s way out of his league.”

All of this was because just before the Utah primary vote, which Cruz won an Trump lost, a group supporting Cruz has published a rather risqué picture of Melania from her modeling days bearing the legend, “Meet Melania Trump. Your next first lady”.

At one point he even told reporters,

“Sadly, I wasn’t surprised. We have grown to see a pattern with Donald. When he’s worried, when he’s upset, when he’s scared, he begins reacting predictably. He begins screaming, he begins yelling, he begins often cursing and then he tried to attack and bully people and that’s his pattern he does over and over again. Now I will say, even for Donald, he reached a new low. It’s one thing to try to attack another candidate, it’s another thing to come after my wife.”

Forget the attack on the wife, though, because now Cruz has endorsed Trump.

Why?

“I have had many, many disagreements with Donald Trump. And some of them you’ve catalogued. I don’t think it’s productive to criticize the Republican nominee today.”

Yet he admitted that Trump had not apologized to his family, but explained,

“My faith teaches me to forgive, with or without an apology.”

In other news, Heidi Cruz’s self-esteem left town.

An now a word from the good cops to the bad ones.

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I have to confess that whenever a story appears on the news about a teacher abusing  or molesting a student, I have two responses along with the correct one, the correct one being angry that a teacher, using their position of authority, harmed a student under their care and should be punished for that.

The other two responses are based on my having been a teacher, and being a Gay man.

I know that once the news about that teacher spreads, all teachers, based solely only on their being teachers, will be looked at and treated as if they too are that teacher. Generally, there is a time period when they will all be guilty by professional association, and there are changes in the attitude of students toward them with the worst example being a student warning them that he or she would report them for abuse for something as simple as a routine act of discipline such as telling the student to stop talking during a test. They know that as false as the accusation might be, it certainly would make life miserable for a while, and some students love this.

The second reaction is more personal than professional, although there is an overlap, hoping that regardless of the gender of the teacher, the victim is of the opposite sex. You can imagine the public outcry about a same-sex molestation. The lives of Gay teachers become hell.

So I can image, although not fully experience, what happens among good police officers when one of their own acts foolishly.

Considering the number of police, somewhere between 700,000 and 900,000 local, state, college, and sheriff, the places they patrol, and the number of citizens in their areas, the number of actions of rogue police officers  is minuscule, but they are usually very public and very sensational.

I was pulled over once and informed by the officer that I had a back light out. He acknowledged that unless someone told me that, there was no way I would have known, and he was the one telling me. Rather than give me a ticket, he gave me a written warning that I had 30 days to change the light and call a certain number and notify them it had been changed noting that if I did not call, the warning would become a ticket. He further suggested I buy more than one bulb in case it was more of an electrical problem than a single bulb one, which I did.

When I changed to bulb the light fixture was filled with water, it had been a real rainy season that year, so having extra bulbs was a good idea if some leakage had caused the problem and could cause a future one.

Months later, again after a particularly rainy spell I was pulled over by another police officer who gave me a very angry lecture about endangering others by having a rear light out, and while he railed about drivers like me having no regard for others, wrote a very expensive ticket.

Same problem; two different approaches.

Most of my interactions with police have been the former, but the latter stood out.

Not all police are bad. The problem is that those who are, need to be retrained, and new ones properly trained.

But if we lump all police, good and bad, into the same category, then we will not be looking for the specific signs that could help the problem get solved. We will not be looking for that common denominator with those cops who go bad.

And people who exacerbate the problem by posting memes that set up the you-either-love-all-police-or-you-hate-them-all, and that there are those who don’t love police officers as much as they do need to stop.

People who instantly bad mouth all police because of the actions of a demonstrably small few need to take a deep breath before acting, especially if they really don’t have a gripe, although some might.

And police need to be more self regulating and come up with programs that will assist their peers when they notice a pattern of behavior or a growing shift in attitudes from reasonable to less so.

Just as with people’s attitudes toward Gay people who are all perverts except the ones we know, we may notice that we could fall into the crowd who says all cops are bad except the ones we know.

through my jaundiced eye

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I am very familiar with the practice, having been subjected to it for a number of years, where, when one excuse for a disciplinary action is offered but then proven to have no basis, another is then put forward.

If not checked, the chain continues until someone accepts the last excuse offered, thereby making it the last excuse offered.

As a matter of fact, I have a large leather courier bag filled with memos that illustrate this practice very well in my pantry, and even have audio recordings of meetings where in the middle of them, when the supposed reason for a disciplinary action was shown to have been false, my supervisor immediately came up with a new and unrelated “justification” preceding it with a “Yeah, but…” and a long pause before she cast her fishing line.

When all was said and done, and things led to a case in District Court in front of a judge, one of my supervisors testified under oath that at a certain point in my employment, she had decided to put a case together for my dismissal, and so, looked only for negatives while actively ignoring anything that did not support her predetermined plan, and this constantly switching of “reasons” for disciplinary actions was necessary to build a pattern of negative behaviors that would have been a candle to the sun if she had also noted the positive behaviors.

At one point in this whole process, I was accused of something that had been shown to be impossible and, therefore, an invalid claim, and that the requirements were changed every time I was found in compliance, yet later my having been accused became the supposed evidence of my pattern of behavior. Basically, I was guilty of having been falsely accused of something which did not provably happen, but having been accused it somehow became my action.

In front of the school board this charade had been successful, but in District Court, where the judge was not friends with my accusers as members of the Board had been, the game was seen for what it was and the case fell apart.

That is why I look with one huge jaundiced eye at what happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this past weekend.

First, a man was shot who had had his hands up, while a police helicopter pilot and husband of the police officer on the ground who shot radioed that the man looked big and threatening, when in reality be was just a large Black man.

Terence Crutcher’s car had stalled in the middle of the street, and for some reason four police officers and a police helicopter responded. The police officers had their guns drawn.

Anyone who has a car die on them, I did once or twice, is glad to see a police officer pull up, and, in some places I lived, use the big rubber bumper at the front of the patrol car to push the car to the side of the road where AAA or some local garage could be safely called.

However, obviously with guns drawn when exiting the patrol cars, the driver could easily assume a simple push might not be automatic. The big scary Black man got out of his car, raised his hands, and walked the distance between his car and the patrol car.

Within seconds, and later claiming he had reached through what was a closed window to retrieve what could have been a gun, Officer Betty Shelby shot him.

I know some very good police officers, active and retire, who make up the majority of police officers, the good police officers who do protect and serve, and I can only imagine the groan that came from them as they saw the video and knew people would now be angry with all of them.

As a teacher, I, and others cringed whenever some moron abused his or her position of authority over students, and abused them, knowing full well that until things calmed down, we would be treated like we were all that person.

Video footage was released and it showed Terence clearly cooperating with the officers.

Why not just shoot him in the leg if they felt treatened as he walked back to his car with his hands up?

Hours later, after the video was seen by thousands, a new detail emerged that a vial of PCP was found in the car.

Even if Mr. Crutcher was, indeed, high and could have been a threat, a blown away knee-cap could gave slowed him down some.

Grazing the New York City bomber on the same weekend is proof that that was a possible approach.

Sadly, a man who only looked big and mean gets killed, while someone who planted bombs around New York City lives to explain himself, if he has an explanation to offer.

Crutcher didn’t get that opportunity.

And as far as Crutcher being on PCP, we will be asked to accept that the police officer assessed his PCP behavior, found it merited death, and many people will not accept that no matter how true.

Had that been the case, why did Officer Betty Shelby not say that initially, but rather go with what is apparently, now, a false rationale that we were expected to believe then, and this, hours after the car was at headquarters and out of public view.

I might be a little biased in my opinion of things, but experience is a good teacher.