Day 174: The Government is not a Business

Trump and his family are self described business folks. While their legacy in business is debatable, that they come from the corporate world not political becomes more obvious everyday. We don’t know yet if Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia last year but the Trump family isn’t making it easy for innocence to be considered. 
This week Donald Trump Jr. became the center of the Russian storm. After days of having his ever changing story disproven by leaks, he released the emails in question. They did not vindicate him. When asked if he would like information on Clinton gathered by Russia to aid his father, he says he would love it. He brought Kushner and Manafort to the meeting, the Russian lawyer ended up not having anything on Clinton. Leaving us in a situation where we know that the Trump campaign would have colluded but not if they did. 
Ignore the discussion of impeachment for a moment. What other implications are there? One is a revelation behind the curtain. Political operators have long been portrayed as ruthless anything goes types in movies but the real political world always had norms and bounds. I’m not saying they are knights of the round table. Yet even the Gore campaign called the FBI when someone leaked Bush’s campaign bible to them. This event shows the business world core of the Trump universe one where damning emails end in a fine and mea culpas but in politics things end differently just ask Abramoff.
The anti-left media keeps yelling Ukraine like its Benghazi (as a waste of time). A low level former staffer is not the same as a high campaign advisor and candidate’s child. Manafort did in fact lobby for pro Russia candidates in Ukraine and was unable to hide it. Whether the decision to remove support for Ukraine in its war against Russian invasion from the GOP platform came from Manafort is unknown. In the end, evidence from a foreign public investigation is not close to the same as a foreign nation stealing documents from a political opponent to aid a candidate. As Watergate taught us having your own countrymen steal documents is damning without foreign involvement. 
The emails aren’t a smoking gun for criminal proceedings but they without a doubt bolster Mueller’s investigation. One can only wonder what subpeonas will uncover.
-E.C. Fiori

Day 151: Found Them

Day 72: Donations Don’t Give Experience

Please see Day 15 for my thoughts on DeVos and school choice.
Today I want to talk about the disastrous confirmation hearing DeVos gave yesterday. It is one thing to hold a controversial view but another to push a viewpoint without basic knowledge of the subject. 
As I have mentioned before I am an American with disabilities. My medical condition doesn’t interfere with my job duties but I wouldn’t have been able to graduate high school without IDEA. It allowed me to receive an education that accommodated my physical challenges. I was lucky to be in a school district that truly supported their special needs students but I know not all kids are as lucky.
That DeVos doesn’t understand that IDEA, a 40 year old federal law exists while trying to be in charge of its enforcement is disturbing. Her boilerplate answer of states and “locales” rights to most questions leaves not an impression of a true conservative but an ignorant one who cannot defend their own arguments. Tim Kaine’s criticism that people should have to move states to receive a fair education is a valid counterpoint to a moorless statement that she repeated like a parrot in response. She would be in charge of ensuring critical thinking and analysis is being successfully taught. 
This isn’t about if money should be able to buy influence. This is about a system where money is equated to intelligence. That stems from the modern concept of the meritocracy. Just because people have resources the act of having doesn’t make them smarter or more deserving to be heard. Actions speak louder than dollars to both capability and understanding. Letting DeVos control American education because she wants a pet project moves us closer to a Banana Republic. 
-E.C. Fiori

Day 32: A Rose by Any Other Name

Identity politics has always existed. White Supremacy is perhaps the oldest modern form. In all forms it relies on tribal dogma to create a world view. This world view does not always conform to the world. In an piece for NPR, Tasneem Raja writes “why it’s never been more important to continue talking — and arguing, and complaining, and venting — about identity in America. To continue interrogating whiteness as a construct, even as we discuss the economic woes of many white Americans. To continue asking why so many of our superheroes are white and male, even as we push to better understand the defeat and humiliation felt by many flesh-and-blood white men in our country.” Superheroes aren’t real. Movies and television aren’t real. The media wastes an incredible amount of time watching other media and reporting on what the media tells them. No wonder we built our own echo chambers, the mirror that was journalism has become a fun house. There are serious deep seated economic ills that affect all Americans that creates a fear of the other. While diverse entertainment options are important. Everyone should be able to share their voice. Art is not as important as economic stability. Few liberals argue that many of the goals of identity politics aren’t noble, but the tactics are ineffective at best. As television moves from viewership numbers to subscriber totals, the actual viewership of any given program matters less. Thus the explosion of perspectives on pay or SVOD entertainment. These shows at their peak with the rare exception have a twentieth of the viewership of the classic model flagship CBS. If content can shape the viewership than the viewership matters. Identity politics by dividing citizens based on birth features encourages white nationalism. If being matters then Whiteness matters. If what was pop culture is white culture then the Whiteness of it matters too. In a country that is still majority white for the next three decades and depending on immigration changes longer, that demographic has power.

The average American white male was the loser of globalism. The Trump supporter is similar to a study on rats as written in the New York Times, “The best verified animal model of depression consists of social defeat. A dominant rat is placed in a cage with a younger, stronger rat from another group. When the dominant rat is defeated, several features emerge. The defeated rat is reclusive, hyper-vigilant, avoidant, and shows an incapacity to experience pleasure.” The Obama coalition was a moment for a future America. A moment of change. The now reviled and then reviled as well white American male was an important piece of the coalition, the Midwestern firewall. The professional class has always been dominant; the working class had their fiefdoms maybe not to the charm of a New Yorker but a loving community home to the residents. That has been stolen and the working class re-dominated. The recession recover deepened the destruction of their middle class world of the last thirty years. Longer than many of the preachers of Identity have been living. 2016 will be remembered as the year that Americans first had the chance to elect a government focused on all citizens but both Trump and Clinton relied on identity. Trump did the math and Clinton expected shame to continue to hold the peace. The basket of deplorables comment probably ended her campaign. Trump did a barebone dog whistle to be sure but Clinton attacked the one group she needed because of identity politics. Being a first isn’t an enough, a campaign is more than a self- esteem booster. That last part is intended to the Trump voters and the chaos they chose as well.

We are a broken people divided. The New York Times has an op-ed about not going easy on the failures of men.  Especially taking aim at the concept as men as the breadwinner and that being the sole responsibility. While I agree that men and woman should do portional housework based on earnings level. The problem is not just that men do less housework or are selfish about the tasks. It is that the stay at home dad is an undesired solution. Here is an interesting Dear Sugar on the subject. Women are more likely to cheat and divorce as the breadwinner. This dissonance is tearing apart our families. We cannot just shame a better tomorrow. So much of the strife and divisions center on money and for some luxury. I think if the pay ratio dropped from the average of 204: 1 CEO to worker to 50:1 at every company, we would see an American renaissance. I think that it would aid the race and gender and sexuality pay gap and earnings gap. I think it would ease the financial burden on families and save marriages.  It would rise up all peoples and exclude no American from the better tomorrow. New divisions will not heal the old ones. Shame is not persuasion.

-E.C. Fiori

Day 26: There is no House

Everyone knows the house always wins. The American republic may have an elite, but as this election show, they don’t own the system. Trump showed that for both media output, both left and right publishers endorsed Clinton. They might pay eighteen bucks to see a celebrity, but they won’t let that celebrity decide their fate. There is no house in America, just we the people.

-E.C. Fiori

Day 15: When Choice Hurts Liberty

Today Trump announced his decision for Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos. Not surprising considering how Trump campaigned on school choice. The idea of being able to pick the school you want for your child and keeping the tax benefits through vouchers is tempting. I believe it will expand education inequality.
Most schools fail from lack of resources and diverting the funding from them to private or charter schools exasperates the gap. Charter schools benefit from larger budgets while still receiving local, state, and federal funding in addition to private donations. Charters will less tax payer accountability are able to spend more on fundraising outreach and grant writing. Outside traditionally community control and owned by franchising corporations, Charters are run by the same political elites that enabled the Great Recession. There are great and wonderful Charter schools whose staff and administration care without end for their students and spread their success through a wide network of schools. There are also bad apples. More importantly Public schools with less funding don’t have the luxury of choosing their students. Even if school choice was funded, some students would remain at failing schools and poorly performing charters would operate outside of community input. Many areas don’t have multiple choices to begin with.

A reason to worry is the state of the education system for all Americans. A recent Stanford study found students including Stanford undergraduates both failed to recognize slanted or fake sources and failed to properly research or contextualized the content before them. In the age of unlimited information our libraries and their guardians have become more important. The assumption that Google is enough cannot continue. We need to reinvest in our public resources. Libraries and schools remain a central part of our public infrastructure today. If our fellow Americans are not given the chance to develop the high skill knowledge for today’s workforce both vocational and university. Our republic needs an informed citizenry in order to function. No American left behind.

-E.C. Fiori.