Sunday, November 29, 2020

Remembering Jack Dunfey - American Icon - Global Citizen Part 1

 https://soundcloud.com/user-90457918/nh-secrets-jack-dunfey-american-icon-global-citizen-part-1




“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ~ Jack Dunfey



Jack Dunfey

Jack Dunfey: American Icon - Global Citizen

Part 1: From Clams to Corporate Titan


Heroes come in many forms.

There are those who provide inspiration to us because they are thrust into the firmament by a single act or event; there are those associated with a movement - whether brief or sustained - who summon our better angels. 

Then there are those who live a life so exemplary- so filled with rich example - that the entire arc of their lives cries out for a deep appreciation of how a life, well lived, can lift us all to greater heights - inspiring us to live our own lives with greater purpose, clarity and impact. 

Jack Dunfey was just such a man.

From his earliest years, the middle child of 12 born to a recent immigrant family living in the Industrial hub of Lowell, Massachusetts. His  parents, Roy and Katherine Dunfey, working every free moment in the family business in the “Area” section of Lowell, Massachusetts; to his years as a fighter pilot and later flight instructor, having enlisted in the service following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; to his years as the spark plug that took the family from a single lunch counter to ownership of a Clamshack on Hampton Beach and then - one by one - to ownership of flagship hotels and restaurants that would eventually propel him to CEO of Dunfey Hotels and the international chain of Omni Hotels.

If only a career in service to his beloved country and ascension to leadership of one of the world’s premier hotel chains were the hallmarks of Jack Dunfey’s life that probably would have been sufficient to qualify him for hero status in the eyes of many. But the full story of Jack Dunfey was how he wove his dreams of social justice, peace and equality into this already tight tapestry with the enthusiastic participation of his parents and siblings to become a leader of a heroic family in an age where heroes were desperately needed and where their emergence would move mountains.

By the time that Jack Dunfey died at age 96 on June 22, 2020, he would stand at the side of Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu and celebrate a new beginning for South Africa; Rejoice a new day for the people of Ireland with John Hulme and George Mitchell; convince a stubborn Fidel Castro to free more than 80 political prisoners and to remove landmines from the war torn country of Angola.

He would also set an example for color and gender blind promotion and the ethical respect for employees that was the forerunner to today’s socially responsible business practices- not only because it was the right thing to do but because it was good business.







Burro Rider - Puerta Vallarta, Mexico



Ironing Adds Color to a Room


The Fountain of Life


The Painted Rhodie


Oak Rhodie Panorama



Egret Glow



A Ripple of Hope 


Clouds Over Mt Webster Poster - Click Here.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Joe Biden’s Bobby Kennedy Moment . . . and Ours



The View from Rattlesnake Ridge

Joe Biden’s Bobby Kennedy Moment . . . and Ours
Lessons on Common Humanity from A Radical Centrist

Common Humanity Must Be Our Calling


"Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.”

~ Robert F. Kennedy


Sleep cycles in the midst of a pandemic can be pretty crazy things. I’ve always been an early riser but lately 4am is usually my new wake-up hour. At 5 I head out for a walk.

Usually, I begin on the trails behind my home through white pine forest, meandering to the Welch Mountain trailhead before heading back along Orris Road.

The early start has introduced me to a wholly new phenomenon - the Red Squirrel bombardment.

Beginning in late July and continuing into September for 2 or 3 hours each morning - beginning at about 5am - the army of Red Squirrels who inhabit these woods are ensconced at the top of the forests canopy, freeing pine cones from the trees, resulting in a hail of debris. Then, almost as if by design, by 7 or 8 am the straffing has stopped completely and peace once again reigns. It makes walking through the woods at this time a bit of a challenge but something of an adventure as well. Picking my way through the woods as the pine cones rain down is something akin to trying to find my way through the flood of tweets and Facebook posts emails and Instagram posts that will greet me when I return to my studio with coffee in hand.

Will I be able to navigate the digital forest without being clipped by flying debris or being dragged down into a rabbit hole of some wacky conspiracy? Is the storm of detritus in my inbox ever going to subside? How many times will candidate x, y or z cry wolf before I stop paying attention?

Yet, like those Red Squirrels, I keep coming back. Because our survival as a nation depends on navigating the storm.

Let me be clear about this - if I have not already been - I believe that Donald Trump has been a train wreck for our nation and our constitution. Four more years with him as President will likely permanently relegate the United States to second-rate nation status. Yet there is still a chance that he will be able to win by capturing the Electoral College or by “stealing” the election. Just as worrisome is the mischief he is likely to do even if he loses, and the possibility that he will foment violence. All of this has been further exacerbated by the result of the first presidential debate: his refusal to condemn white nationalists and his interruptions that made it impossible for Joe Biden to deliver a clear and concise response.

In the past months, the nation’s divisions over racial issues have been deepened by the President’s efforts to pit one American against another, supported unashamedly by his Attorney General. What began as a strongly supported series of protests around the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others, has morphed into a deep division driven by small contingents of violent individuals motivated not by a yearning for justice but by their own selfish and violent intentions; far outnumbered by the peaceful demonstrators, but still creating discomfort among Americans of all colors, races, and religions.

Joe Biden has handled the task of speaking out on racism and justice admirably, but there is more that he can do - both now and especially after the election - and each of us can play our part as well.

Biden can begin by delivering a series of brief and cogent responses on the major issues where Donald Trump monopolized the moment and denied Biden the ability to clearly articulate his vision. In doing this he can also draw attention to the unhinged behavior of Donald Trump that made the debate a horrific experience for any thinking American.

I began this column intending to speak about one of this nation’s great Radical Centrists, Bobby Kennedy, and then the loss of John Lewis, followed closely by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg seemed to call out for their inclusion as well, since I see them both in that same light. All of them drew inspiration from the great feminist and spiritual leader Rev Pauli Murray who said “when others try to exclude me, I draw my circles wider to include them.” While I focus on Bobby - he was, for me, the person who inspired my own deep thirst for a just world - I hope you will see the examples of John Lewis and Justice Ginsberg in both the pauses, the words and the spirit.

Why does it matter that I view them as “Radical Centrists”?

A Radical Centrist is not an individual who embraces the “mushy middle”. Rather, it is a man or a woman who believes in the healing power of civility and dialogue and is “radically” committed to a set of moral and ethical principles, superceeding ideology or party, that guide them throughout their lives. A commitment to radical inclusion, innovation, and progressive ideals.

In June of 1968 Bobby Kennedy’s funeral train made its way from New York to Washington DC. All along the route Americans of every color, age, religion and social status lined the tracks to say goodbye. Likewise, this week we watched as more than 100 of Justice Ginsburg’s former clerks and Americans of all political viewpoints gathered to see her off. The outpouring of grief and gratitude from Americans as they celebrated the life of John Lewis speaks for itself.

On the night Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated Bobby Kennedy was scheduled to speak at a street gathering in Indianapolis - in what was then referred to as the “most dangerous neighborhood (read black) of the city. “ The Mayor and most of the city officials, even some of his own advisers - urged him to cancel his appearance. There was sure to be violence they said and they could not guarantee his safety. But Bobby was determined.

News traveled much slower in 1968. Most of those who would attend the event - at which Kennedy would speak from the back of a flatbed truck - had not yet heard about the assassination. RFK would be the bearer of devastating news. . . Never a good position for a political leader.

He began his impromptu remarks saying that he would only speak for a few minutes - that he had sad news.

When he announced the death of Dr. King an audible gasp rose from the crowd. He spoke without prepared remarks - from the heart. Paying tribute to the work of Dr. King and the things for which he had dedicated, and given, his life. His voice quavering, hesitant, soft, he expressed not only his empathy for the pain the crowd felt but the pain that was in his own heart.

“Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort.

In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black--considering that the evidence is that there were white people who were responsible--you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization--black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.

Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.”

“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.

So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love --a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

.. the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.”


That night, as cities burned all across America, Indianapolis was spared. Such is the power of words that heal and call us to a higher purpose.

On the day that followed, Bobby Kennedy kept only one speaking engagement- at the Cleveland City Club. In what historians consider to be one of the most powerful speeches in American history, He spoke only 10 minutes but his words echo down through the years to remind us of the common humanity we share and the path we must find to build a future together.

Cleveland Club Speech

“It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by his assassin's bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people.

Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.”

“For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all. I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies - to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community, men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear - only a common desire to retreat from each other - only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.”


As I have said before . . . “a storm is coming”. I hope that all of us will embrace our common humanity as we face it.



Links


Kennedy Library Archives - Robert Kennedy Speeches

https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/about-jfk/the-kennedy-family/robert-f-kennedy/robert-f-kennedy-speeches

Robert F. Kennedy's speech on the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/about-jfk/the-kennedy-family/robert-f-kennedy/robert-f-kennedy-speeches/statement-on-assassination-of-martin-luther-king-jr-indianapolis-indiana-april-4-1968



On the Mindless Menace of Violence - Remarks to the Cleveland City Club

https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/about-jfk/the-kennedy-family/robert-f-kennedy/robert-f-kennedy-speeches/remarks-to-the-cleveland-city-club-april-5-1968


Rev. Pauli Murray

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauli_Murray




Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The Phoenix Congress 2020 - Brian Winters Episode 18

 


The Phoenix Congress 2020 - Brian Winters 
Episode 17




A Blueprint for a Better America

"Covid 19 Has burned up the current social contract in America" according to Brian Winters, he's betting that - working outside the two-party system - he can convince Republicans and Democrats running for office to embrace a reform agenda that will address the income disparities, systemic racism and criminal justice reform. It begins with a simple enough premise: Don't wait on Congress. Write the law for them and bring them along. Can it work? Brian Winters is betting that it can. The next few months may just answer that question.



Brian Winters

https://phoenixcongress2020.com/

603-858-4103


From the Website:

 

IN 2020, WE'RE UNIONIZING THE AMERICAN ELECTORATE.

A union is a group of people working together to improve their lives through collective bargaining. During these turbulent times, with Covid-19 captivating the media, it's hard to follow the legislative and electoral process. Who's looking out for you in the 2020 election?

The Phoenix Congress wants to be your union representative. When five million people pledge to vote for our slate of federal candidates, irregardless of party, we'll deliver a legislative package for the American people.

End poverty with universal basic income.

End mass incarceration and the drug war.

End the endless wars and bring the troops home.

 

NEWS PROVIDED BY

Phoenix Congress 2020

August 02, 2020, 10:17 GMT

 

CONCORD, NH, USA, August 2, 2020 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Nearly 40 million Americans, a third of them children, would be lifted above the poverty line with legislation proposed by a new Super PAC. The legislative package, known as the Blueprint for a Better America, seeks to implement universal basic income of $300 per week, reform the criminal justice system, and reduce military spending.

 

Phoenix Congress 2020 PAC, founded by Brian Winters, a former New Hampshire state legislator, looks to bypass the gridlock of Washington D.C. by reversing the traditional model for enacting legislative reforms. By writing legislation and publicizing it prior to the election, voters could know exactly what to expect from elected officials when they cast their ballot. Typically, candidates for office make promises that go unfulfilled, in part due to a legislative process often described as “herding cats.”

 

“In the 21st century, we don't need to elect champions to sit a single room in D.C. and negotiate,” Winters said. “The American people can collaborate across the internet and produce better results.” He noted that unfortunately, one of the easiest promises for candidates to keep was one of non-cooperation. “The ideology of both parties has largely devolved into opposing what the other proposes.”

 

The legislative package seeks to eliminate poverty through universal basic income, styled as a jobs program. The creation of 300 million American Union Jobs would provide adults with an unconditional $300 per week, plus $100 per week for children. In 2019, the poverty line for an individual was $13,300, and $25,926 for a family of four, according to the US Census Bureau. The voluntary job duties, explained Winters, come from the opening words of the Constitution. “Establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. In short, your American Union Job will be a regular reminder to be a better American.” Americans will also be able to buy health insurance through their American Union Job, creating a public option.

 

The first of these duties, to establish justice, drives the second part of the legislative proposal. The United States has the world's highest incarceration rates, with more than 2 million Americans currently in jails and prisons around the country. Utilizing sentencing reforms and sentence reviews, and building on the First Step Act signed by President Trump in 2018, the Phoenix Congress 2020 PAC hopes to draw support from the millions of families with a loved one trapped by the prison industrial complex.

 

America has exceeded its mandate, Winters explained about the duty to provide for the common defense. According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the US spends more on defense than the next 10 countries budgets combined. Phoenix Congress 2020 PAC proposes spending cuts, as well as policy changes such as closing Guantanamo Bay Military Prison and ending the use of sanctions against civilian populations.

 

To achieve these goals, Phoenix Congress 2020 PAC invites Americans to join a block of swing voters, the American Union. Members of the Union agree to accept the five duties from the Preamble to the Constitution, donate $5 to the super PAC, and take a vow of self-improvement. “We make America better by starting with ourselves,” Winters said.

 

Similar to the 1994 Contract with America, the Blueprint for a Better America is a single legislative package offered to all federal candidates for office in the 435 Congressional districts, 35 Senate races, and for President of the United States. On October 15, 2020, all Americans are invited to participate in a national day of fasting to signal to accept the entire legislative package. When 3% of Americans pledge their votes, the group projects, they will be able to decide the balance of power between Republicans and Democrats. Candidates for federal office who want this support must participate in the fast as a pledge to enact the legislative package.

 

Based on candidate participation, a slate of endorsements covering all 471 races will be released. Incumbents who indicate their support will be expected to act prior to the election. “No credit or promises from politicians,” Winters said. “If Donald Trumps signs this legislative package on October 30, 2020, he will go down in history as the President who ended poverty, ended mass incarceration, and ended the endless wars. What a legacy that would be.”

Brian Winters

Phoenix Congress 2020

+1 603-858-4103

email us here

Visit us on social media:

Twitter






Loon Island Misty Mindscape


Birdhouse Blues


The Bridge at Chappy


Lories Dance



The Whisper of Winter Wood (Redux) Haiku

Mixed media image hand-painted monochrome with Haiku. This image is part of a developing series on climate change.

This image can be purchased in the following forms: 

A signed limited edition original with a certificate of authenticity. Edition of 25 prints on fine art rag paper with archival inks $495, Click here.

Open Edition print 12"x14 $20.00 Click here

Open Edition print 12"x14 $20.00 

Open Edition print 20"x23" $48.34 Click here

23" x 26" Poster  $34.34 click here

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Spring Colors in a Floodplain Forest

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Hitler's First Hundred Days: When German's Embraced the Third Reich and interview with author Peter Fritzsche


Peter Fritzsche

Hitler's First Hundred Days: When German's Embraced the Third Reich and the lessons we can learn from history are the focus of this interview with award-winning author Peter Fritzsche, the W. D. & Sarah E. Trowbridge professor of history at the University of Illinois and the author of ten previous books, including An Iron Wind: Europe Under Hitler and the award-winning Life and Death in the Third Reich.




Peter Fritzsche is the W. D. & Sarah E. Trowbridge professor of history at the University of Illinois and the author of ten previous books, including An Iron Wind: Europe Under Hitler and the award-winning Life and Death in the Third Reich. He lives in Urbana, Illinois. His latest book: Hitler's First Hundred Days is the topic of this interview and the lessons we can learn from them.

 

BornJuly 3, 1959 (age 60 years), Chicago, IL

EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley (1986)

AwardsGuggenheim Fellowship for Humanities, US & Canada

 

Contact Information

309 Gregory Hall, MC-466, 810 S. Wright St.

(217) 333-1155

pfritzsc@illinois.edu

 

Hitler's First Hundred Days: When Germans Embraced the Third Reich

Order the book here:

https://www.amazon.com/Hitlers-First-Hundred-Days-Embraced/dp/154169743X






Contact Information

309 Gregory Hall, MC-466, 810 S. Wright St.

 

(217) 333-1155

pfritzsc@illinois.edu

 

 

Recent Publications

Fritzsche, P. A. (2020). Hitler's First Hundred Days: When Germans Embraced the Third Reich. Basic Books.

Fritzsche, P. A. (2016). An Iron Wind: Europe Under Hitler. Basic Books.

Fritzsche, P. A. (2016). The Management of Empathy in the Third Reich. In A. Assmann, & I. Detmers (Eds.), Empathy and its Limits (pp. 115-127). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137552372_7

Fritzsche, P. A. (2015). Babi Yar, but not Auschwitz: What Did Germans Know about the Final Solution? In S. Schrafstetter, & A. E. Steinweis (Eds.), The Germans and the Holocaust: Popular Responses to the Persecution and Murder of the Jews (pp. 85-104). (Vermont Studies on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust; Vol. 6). Berghahn Books.

Fritzsche, P. (2015). Chateaubriand, selfhood and memory. In The Ashgate Research Companion to Memory Studies (pp. 39-48). Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

 

 

 A very interesting piece written by Bill Moyers in which he mentions Peter Fritzsche's book.



Moyers Piece

We Hold This Truth to Be Self-Evident: It’s Happening Before Our Very Eyes

BY BILL MOYERS | JUNE 5, 2020

We Hold This Truth to Be Self-Evident: It’s Happening Before Our Very Eyes

 

At 98, historian Bernard Weisberger has seen it all. Born in 1922, he grew up watching newsreels of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler as they rose to power in Europe. He vividly remembers Mussolini posturing to crowds from his balcony in Rome, chin outthrust, right arm extended. Nor has he forgotten Der Fuehrer’s raspy voice on radio, interrupted by cheers of “Heil Hitler,” full of menace even without pictures.

Fascist bullies and threats anger Bernie, and when America went to war to confront them, he interrupted his study of history to help make history by joining the army. He yearned to be an aviator but his eyesight was too poor. So he took a special course in Japanese at Columbia University and was sent as a translator to the China-Burma-India theater where Japanese warlords were out to conquer Asia. Bernie remembers them, too.

In time, we became colleagues on a series of broadcasts about the 20th century. As we compared the leadership of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler in an episode titled The President and the Dictator, Bernie kept reminding the team that the most cunning demagogues “are never more than a few steps from becoming dictators.” Not surprisingly, the subject came up again when Trump was elected. No, we didn’t think he was Hitler, or the Republicans Nazis, but both of us acknowledged a deep unease over the vulnerabilities of democracy, which had led to Trump’s election in the first place. Inspired by Bernie and unnerved by Trump, I decided to take a deeper look at democracy under stress and began reading what is now more than a dozen books on Europe in the 1930s. The most recent is a compelling and chilling account of Hitler’s First Hundred Days, by the historian Peter Fritzsche – a familiar story revisited by the author with fresh verve and insight.

Hitler was a master of manipulation, using propaganda, violence, intimidation, showmanship, and spectacle — and above all, fear. By demonizing “the other” – Jews, social democrats and communists – Hitler won the hearts and minds of the masses, consolidating his power, and turning Germany into a one-party Nazi state.

I had just finished the book when I received a short email from Bernie, who had been watching on television the events following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. He wrote, “All this open talk by Trump of dominance is pretty undisguised fascism. He’s inciting chaos to set the stage for the strong man to ‘rescue’ the nation.”

There was no doubt who would be Superman riding to America’s rescue. When Trump promised to end what he called “American carnage” – a crisis of “poverty in our inner cities, rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation, crime and gangs and drugs” — he did not ask for our help. He did not ask that we put our faith in each other or in our democratic values or even in God. Donald J. Trump would be our savior, the new Messiah — because “I alone can fix it.”

Bernie’s note triggered a recollection, sending me across the room to retrieve from a file drawer an essay written two years ago in The New York Review of Books by the American legal scholar Cass Sunstein. Reviewing three new books about ordinary Germans and the Nazi regime, he concluded: “With our system of checks and balances, full-blown authoritarianism is unlikely to happen here.”

I had admired Sunstein’s work for years and found reassuring his judgment that the rule of law would check a would-be tyrant. But many found that assurance disquieting. One dissenter was Norman Ravitch, emeritus professor of history at the University of California, Riverside. Responding to Sunstein, he wrote: “The normal concern of people of all sorts with their daily lives, family, work, leisure, and so on indicates that only those in certain areas of work and life could possibly notice the slow but relentless advance of authoritarian and totalitarian policies by the government. The Nazis knew how to appeal to people who did not have the ideological concerns but only normal human concerns. They knew how to conceal their real goals and how to make passive individuals active supporters.”

So does Trump. He understands that most Americans are concerned with little more than the economy, health care and jobs. They respond positively to politicians who promise action on these priorities, whether or not they know if those promises will ever be fulfilled. Ravitch pointed out that like Hitler and like Mussolini, Trump knows how to appeal to a variety of concerns with promises that can be both attractive and contradictory. Because no population is educated enough, sensitive enough, or ethical enough to see through the deception, “the danger is very great indeed. It may in fact be one of the chief weaknesses of democracy that democracy can lead to tyranny just as well or perhaps even more than other political systems.”

Two years have passed since that exchange between scholars, and in those two years Trump has doubled down. This president is no friend of democracy.

He has declared himself above the law, preached insurrection by encouraging armed supporters to “liberate” states from the governance of duly elected officials, told police not to be “too nice” while doing their job, and gloated over the ability of the Secret Service to turn “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons” loose on demonstrators — to “come down on them hard” if they get too “frisky.

He has politicized the Department of Justice while remaking the judiciary in his image.

He has stifled investigations into his administration’s corruption, fired officials charged with holding federal agencies accountable to the public, and rewarded his donors and cronies with government contracts, subsidies, deregulations, and tax breaks.

He has maligned and mocked the disadvantaged, the disabled, and people of color.

He has sought to politicize the military, including in his entourage the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs (dressed in combat fatigues), as his orderlies unleashed chemical fumes on peaceful protesters – all so that the president could use them as stage props in a photo op, holding up a Bible in front of a historic church, just to make a dandy ad for his re-election campaign.

He has purged his own party of independent thinkers and turned it into a spineless, mindless cult while demonizing the opposition.

He has purloined religion for state and political ends.

He has desecrated the most revered symbols of Christian faith by converting them to partisan brands.  

He has recruited religious zealots for jobs in his administration, rewarding with government favors the electoral loyalty of their followers.

He has relentlessly attacked mainstream media as purveyors of “fake news” and “enemies of the people” while collaborating with a sycophantic right- wing media – including the Murdoch family’s Fox News — to flood the country with lies and propaganda.

He has maneuvered the morally hollow founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, into compromising the integrity of the most powerful media giant in the country by infusing it with partisan bias.

And because truth is the foe he most fears, he has banned it from his administration and his lips.  

Yes, Bernie, you are right: the man in the White House has taken all the necessary steps toward achieving the despot’s dream of dominance.

Can it happen here?

It is happening here.

Democracy in America has been a series of narrow escapes. We may be running out of luck, and no one is coming to save us. For that, we have only  ourselves.

 


This Podcast is supported by listener contributions and purchases of images by the host. Thank you for your support!


Swans on Scamman Pond


A Child's Dream Among Lupine


Stinson Brook Mindscape

Albert Camus Quote


"In the depth of winter 

I finally learned 

that there was in me 

an invincible summer."

~ Albert Camus



Sunday, May 17, 2020

Ep 15 Ira Shapiro - Politics in the Age of COVID-19












The Radical Centrist: Ira Shapiro, Can the Senate Save Itself and the Country?
Ira Shapiro is the President of Ira Shapiro Global Strategies, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in international trade, U.S.-Japan relations, and American politics, which he founded in 2014.  He brings to the firm 40 years of experience in senior staff positions in the U.S. Senate, the Clinton administration, and private law practice.  He is also the author of the critically acclaimed book,  The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis, published in 2012. He has just released his newest book: "Broken - Can the Senate Save Itself and the Country?"






Author of:
  • Broken:  Can the Senate Save Itself and the Country?
  • The Last Great Senate:  Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis
Ira Shapiro Global Strategies, LLC
1200 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC  20036
Office:    202-419-3412
Mobile:  202-577-5789


ABOUT IRA SHAPIRO
Ira Shapiro is the President of Ira Shapiro Global Strategies, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in international trade, U.S.-Japan relations, and American politics, which he founded in 2014.  He brings to the firm 40 years of experience in senior staff positions in the U.S. Senate, the Clinton administration, and private law practice.  He is also the author of the critically acclaimed book,  The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis, published in 2012.
Mr. Shapiro came to Washington, D.C., in October 1975, to work as Legislative Legal Counsel to Senator Gaylord Nelson (D.-Wisconsin), probably the greatest environmentalist ever to serve in the Senate.  In his 12 years working in the Senate, Mr. Shapiro also worked for other Senators.  He served as Minority Staff Director to the Governmental Affairs Committee, Staff Director and Chief Counsel to the special Senate Committee on Official Conduct, counsel to Senator Majority Leader Robert Byrd, and the first chief of staff for Jay Rockefeller.
During the deep reces sion of the early 1980’s, Mr. Shapiro began to focus on America’s position in international trade.  He became one of a handful of Senate staffers seeking to define a new U.S. trade and competitiveness policy, working closely with leaders in business, labor, and academia concerned about the same issues.  When Bill Clinton became president, Mr. Shapiro became General Counsel to United States Trade Representative Mickey Kantor in February 1993.  As General Counsel, he played a central role in the negotiation and legislative approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the multilateral Uruguay Round that created the World Trade Organization and the current trade rules.
In 1995, President Clinton nominated Mr. Shapiro for Ambassadorial rank, which the Senate rapidly and unanimously approved.  Ambassador Shapiro served as the principal U.S. trade negotiator with Japan and Canada, helping to successfully resolve some of the most contentious bilateral disputes with America’s two leading trading partners: autos and auto parts, semiconductors and insurance with Japan, and softwood lumber with Canada.
Mr. Shapiro has experience in dealing with the European Union, Canada, Mexico and China, but he has focused particularly on Japan, and U.S-Japan relations.  He has 30 years of extensive and diverse experience in dealing with the Japanese government and business community.  He first worked with Japan as Chief of Staff to Senator Rockefeller and played a key role in the efforts to save Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel through a joint venture with Nisshin Steel of Japan.  After his work in the Clinton administration, as many other trade lawyers and consultants shifted their focus to China, Mr. Shapiro continued to concentrate his work on U.S.-Japan relations. In September 2012, Mr. Shapiro became the Chairman of the National Association of Japan-America Societies (NAJAS), the Washington-based organization that supports the activities of 36 Japan-America Societies around the country.   As Chairman, he speaks frequently about U.S.-Japan relations and the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, appearing in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, San Diego, Cincinnati, Chicago, Denver, Seattle and San Francisco.  On December 10, 2015, during a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the end of the War, Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., Ken-Ichiro Sasae, gave Mr. Shapiro the Foreign Minister’s Commendation, an award from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in recognition of his outstanding achievements in promoting friendship between Japan and the United States.
Mr. Shapiro is well known in Tokyo, where he has spoken regularly and been received considerable press coverage. In February 2014, he came to Tokyo at the invitation of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), and spoke to several leading business organizations, including Keidanren, the Japan Electronics Association (JEITA), and the Japan Foreign Trade Council.   In September 2013, his remarks at the Japan National Press Club attracted 45 reporters.  Mr. Shapiro’s interviews have appeared in Asahi Shimbun, Japan Times, Nikkei, and on NHK, where Tokyo’s best known interviewer, Kaori Iida, interviewed him for 30 minutes.
Mr. Shapiro has considerable experience working at the intersection of trade and health. From 2001-2003, representing the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, he played a prominent role in the negotiation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first global treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization.  He authored an article contending that cigarettes should be treated as an exception to the normal trade rules, because of their lethal nature.   Most recently, Mr. Shapiro served on a Council on Foreign Relations task force studying the spread of non-communicable diseases in the developing world.
Since leaving government, Mr. Shapiro has practiced international trade law in Washington, D.C., and been a partner in several major law firms, most recently Greenberg Traurig, LLP.  In August 2015, while continuing his own law work, he became a Senior Advisor to the Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG),  a premier consulting firm with tremendous global reach co-chaired by Madeleine Albright, Sandy Berger and Carlos Gutierrez.  He has specialized in WTO disputes, and played an important role in the landmark cases brought by the United States against China for copyright piracy, representing the motion picture, recording and publishing industries.
Mr. Shapiro has a long history of deep involvement in Democratic presidential campaigns, and was part of the legal teams that helped Bill Clinton and Al Gore make their vice presidential choices. Mr. Shapiro ran an unsuccessful, but widely admired, race for Congress in Maryland in 2002.  A local newspaper described his campaign as the “antidote to cynicism that he promised to deliver.”
He writes and speaks frequently about U.S. politics, and particularly the U.S. Senate.  After the publication of his book in 2012, Mr. Shapiro spoke in 19 states, including appearances at four Presidential Libraries (Kennedy, Ford, Carter and Clinton).  His articles have been published in the New York Times, Bloomberg Review, ccn.com, and local newspapers in Seattle, Detroit, and Portland, Maine.
Mr. Shapiro graduated from Brandeis University, magna cum laude with honors in politics, in 1969, received his Master’s degree in political science from the University of California at Berkeley in 1970, and his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1973.  Before coming to Washington to work in the Senate, Mr. Shapiro clerked for a federal district judge in Philadelphia and practiced law in Chicago.


Thursday, May 14, 2020

Roaring Back Economically - Now is the Time for a Basic Income and National Healthcare

American Spirit

The View From Rattlesnake Ridge
Ruminations from an Unabashed Optimist, an Environmental Patriot and a Radical Centrist


Roaring Back Economically
Now is the Time for a Basic Income and National Healthcare


In this age of Covid-19, I am unable to experience the day to day joys of sharing time with neighbors and measuring their sentiments, hearing their stories, and drawing on them for life lessons. There will come a time, again, when we will be able to do this, and again I will return to my perambulations among neighbors in search of their stories and sensibilities for this column.

For now, my walks and rambles are solitary. I am alone with only my thoughts, the sounds of the brook, the wind, the pileated woodpeckers hammering at the trees, the red squirrels chattering at me. Some days my thoughts are small and parochial. Some days they range like a mountain lion, covering ground like a river tracing its tributaries high into the rocky precipices.

Lately, most of those thoughts have focused on the tragedy confronting our beloved American family.  Today, my mind wandered to my other family, a proud part of the American family but also distinctive in its own way.

My Grandfather’s people, and by birthright mine, the Haudenausanee - also known as the Iroquois - in the early years of the republic would range well down into the Rattlesnake Ridge area from time to time, sometimes in search of game and other times empire. For 500 years before the birth of the United States, the Iroquois people nurtured and sustained the first and only democratic republican form of government. Long before the birth of Jefferson and Adams, even before John Locke from whom Adams and Jefferson drew inspiration, the Iroquois were gathering to make decisions collectively and democratically. There is evidence that Ben Franklin looked to the Iroquois confederacy as he helped craft the US Constitution.

Esheheman's Breath


One of the most striking aspects of the Iroquois Confederacy’s democratic deliberations is that they were required to consider the effect of their actions, not just in terms of their immediate needs, but in light of the effect on the next 7 generations before arriving at a decision. So today I am doing just that in my rambling ruminations.

This pandemic has laid bare many of the weaknesses in our democracy and our economy. A significant portion of the economic tragedy has its roots in an economy that for 50 years - since the early 1970s - has slowly drained wealth from the middle class, the working class and the poor. Only a year ago a report from the Federal Reserve found that 40% of Americans would be unable to cover a $400 emergency with cash, savings, or a credit card. This growing disparity of wealth had already begun to blossom into a crisis before we were struck with the Covid-19 crisis affecting every aspect of American lives.

The existential crisis of Climate Change has faded from the light of public discourse, eclipsed by an even more immediate crisis. But, like the Covid-19 Pandemic, Climate Change is a science-based crisis and if there is one thing that we have all learned - with the possible exception of the Trump administration - science-based challenges don’t respond to lies, bullying, and spin. Eventually, they will bite you.

The marginalization of communities of color has come into full public view as the numbers of cases and deaths among black, brown, and Indian communities dramatically outpace even the high numbers among the general population.

These and other challenges are mixed in the rich stew of partisanship and culture wars, cooked up by Newt Gingrich in 1994 and today boiling vigorously as Donald Trump turns up the heat in anticipation of the coming election. One need only count the number of times the President uses the words “I” and “me” when he addresses the nation or the media, and how little he uses the word “we”. His lack of empathy for the 80,000 plus Americans who have lost their lives is shocking and disheartening, but not surprising.



The good news is that American’s have come together as we always do in a real crisis. There are signs that the efforts of a small vocal minority supported by the President are causing even that rare unity to fray but polling shows that most people have taken their lives and their safety into their own (well-washed) hands and have stopped listening to the President and turned their attention to those who will tell them the truth.

Even Congress has demonstrated a willingness to push partisanship aside in the best interests of the American people. Let’s hope they continue to do so because the challenges ahead are going to require that they continue to step up and that the sacred cows of both the Republicans and the Democrats will be put to the test and found wanting.

This Pandemic raging around us has created the perfect storm for many Americans - a catastrophic convergence of forces over which we have almost no control.

Since the beginning of this pandemic, it is estimated that 27 million Americans have already lost their health care insurance and that number may rise to 45 million before the worst is over. Despite this, the Trump administration refuses to reopen enrollment in the ACA, otherwise referred to as “Obama Care”. Congress should immediately reopen the ACA enrollment. Furthermore, they should do something they have stopped doing for a long time - taking a page from the Iroquois Confederacy and looking for solutions that consider the next 7 generations of Americans. Americans deserve a national healthcare plan that covers every single American.

Over the course of the last few years I have made the case for an American Dividend, more commonly referred to as a Universal Basic Income based on the presumption that Americans have contributed to the wealth of the nation through their sacrifices, their labor, and their taxes - but have never been included as shareholders in the economic miracle. I won’t reiterate all of the arguments for a UBI here, but you can read previous columns about it and there are a lot of people of all political persuasions who are now talking about it and writing about it. What I will do is try - in a few paragraphs - to make the case for doing it NOW - even as a temporary measure - as the most effective way to drive our economy forward and find our way out of this pandemic while respecting and protecting one another.

As impatience grows for restarting our economy and for resuming some semblance of normalcy in our day-to-day lives we will continue to experience the push and pull between economic needs and health and safety needs. While we must let the science and data drive our decisions in order to minimize the rate of new infections and deaths, we clearly must begin making efforts where possible to reopen the economy and return to life in a new normal. However, the challenge we face is one at the confluence of science, psychology, and economics, presenting a significant challenge and the need for our leaders, and each of us, to exercise judgment. Even as our Governors and policymakers begin this process, carefully laying out rules regarding testing, tracing and isolation, social distancing, and other safety measures, many folks will not be comfortable resuming “normal” life without confidence that we have flattened the curve sufficiently to make venturing out safe. Furthermore, rebounding economically, especially for our small businesses, will be profoundly challenging at 25% or even 50% of their previous capacity. We need to find a way to harness the economic power of both those who are ready to venture out and those who are not. Here’s where a basic income for every American can drive a robust resurgence.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos makes $6.54 billion dollars per month. If he dines at the most expensive restaurant in America, “Per Se” Restaurant in New York City, it will cost him $685.00. In his home state of Washington, “the Herbfarm Restaurant”, located on the outskirts of Seattle will cost you a more affordable $285. But Jeff Bezos can only eat ONE dinner.

One month of Jeff Bezos income would cover a $2,000 basic income for three million two hundred seventy thousand Americans, roughly 1% of the entire population; men, women and children; roughly 2% of American households.

So here’s a simple question: What is going to have a greater impact on the US economy: a month of dinners for Jeff Bezos (at $8,550) or 10 million dinners purchased by American families from local grocery stores and restaurants? Which of these is more likely to help save small businesses on Main street?

Now I’m not picking on Jeff Bezos, whom I admire immensely, but last year any one single American paid more in taxes than Amazon, which paid no taxes because of a tax code heavily skewed to the wealthy in our nation.

Businesses don’t create jobs, CONSUMERS create jobs through demand and businesses respond by hiring labor sufficient to meet the demand. It’s simple economics.

Put a basic income of $2,000 per month in the pockets of every American for the remainder of the year and it will cost half of what any of the previous 3 “relief” packages have cost and you can bet that - whether they are sheltering in place or out and about - Americans will drive the economy and support their local businesses. With real disposable income, the free market will determine how that income is used and most of the businesses we know and love in our communities all over America will find a way through this crisis. Furthermore, you will see a flurry of new entrepreneurial activity as Americans find new ways to create jobs and generate income using some of that disposable income to launch startups. In addition to this the President, The Speaker of the House, and the Majority Leader of the Senate, should appoint a blue-ribbon task force to look at ways to fund a basic income permanently.

None of this should be construed to ignore the need for an aggressive, nationally-directed system of testing, tracing, and isolating. If we had a national service requirement, that most Americans - from all parts of the political spectrum - support, we would be able to activate that network of millions of Americans to do the testing and contact tracing. As it stands the use of Americorp and Peace Corps volunteers could be activated immediately to fill much of the need. If we do not aggressively develop such a system quickly, few of us will feel comfortable about emerging into a world where a simple, and desperately needed, embrace can end in tragedy.

Americans of all political persuasions have set aside their differences in this pandemic and we can hear the faint but growing sound of the American song rising from their efforts, as they cheer for our frontline heroes, as they check on elderly neighbors and greet one another walking in the park or on the trail, even in acts as simple as paying for the coffee of the next car in line at the Dunkin Donuts drive-through.

Keep singing. Don’t let tribalism and partisanship derail what could be the great American renaissance after we beat back Covid-19. Dream 7 generations ahead.


Wayne King is an author, artist, activist and recovering politician. A three-term State Senator, he was the 1994 Democratic nominee for Governor and most recently the CEO of MOP Environmental Solutions Inc., a public company in the environmental cleanup space. His art is exhibited nationally in galleries and he has published three books of his images with another, "New Hampshire - a Love Story", on the way. His most recent novel "Sacred Trust" a vicarious, high voltage adventure to stop a private powerline is available on Amazon.com. He lives in Thornton, between Rattlesnake Ridge and the Waterville Range. He proudly flies both the American and Iroquois Flags. His website is: http://bit.ly/WayneDKing
UBI, Basic Income, American Dividend, Roaring back, recovery, Pandemic, Covid-19, truth, testing, healthcare, insurance, national service

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