Krugman on Truckers

In his May 23 blog entry Paul Krugman comments on the woes of truckers, at one time well paid middle level workers in America. Average incomes (adjusted for inflation) for truckers have fallen from about $32 an hour in 1975 to $21/hour in 1995 and have been stagnant since, (That’s less than $40,00/year.)

Krugman notes that many of the usual explanatioins for reduced worker pay, such as increased automation, do not apply here. He argues that the decline of unionization  since the time of Reagan is the reason.

I’ve noted that denunciation of unions is the most common mantra of so-called conservatives, along with praise of low taxes for the rich. What bothers me is that unions seem to be losing favor with traditional Democratic supporters under the barrage of conservative propaganda. I didn’t see NJ Dems coming to the aid of the teacher unions underincessant criticism by Gov. Christie. And then we had the sorry spectacle of Democratic leaders sucking up to Christie in his re-election campaign. It makes me question the window label on the back of my car – “Proud Democrat.”

Bacevitch Again

In an article in the current American Conservative –  “What Obsessing About You-Know-Who Causes Us To Miss” – Andrew Bacevich notes that “responsible jounalism’s” preoccupatioin with correcting Trump’s lies and distortions has resulted in an obsession on that topic and a lack of coverage of issues of greater importance. And so he proceeds to note and discuss 24 significant national security issues that he feels get little press attention. It’s worth reading, and thinking about.

Here’s my version of one of them. Trump has announced that our military needs an increase in its annual budget of $54 Billion. (I note that this will include $111M each for 74 F-35 fighters, a new pentagon boondoggle that is not yet able to meet operational requirements.) I have seen no discussion of the need for this increase in the press, with the Democrats acting like the usual sheep they are on military budgets.  Residents of New Jersey’s 11th congressional district will note that Rodney Frelinghuysen, while voting for the new Trumpcare monstrosity, for which he was condemned by the press, also used his influence to increase the current budget allocation to our Picatinny Arsenal. For this he was praised by the press, thus demonstrating why our military spending is never questioned.

Moreover, the last time (START-1) the Senate approve a treaty with the Russians to limit nuclear weapons, the Republicans in Congress held out for the ongoing trillion dollar modernization of our nuclear forces. The need for this has never been demonstrated, but the cost is comparable to the infrastructure rebuilding needs in the US. This, too, is always taken as a given and never discussed.

 

Those Trump Supporters

Thomas B Edsall had a fascinating article in the NY Times on Aprli 13 about those areas where Trump support is strongest.   It’s another world.

 

Nothing Exceeds Like Excess

It seems that Trump has indeed lifted the restraints on the military that Bush 2 and Obama had maintained. In the same week we have witnessed: (1) an attack on a Syrian airfield by 59 (59 Tomahawk missiles, with the result the destruction of 20 Syrian aircraft, and (2) The dropping of the 11 ton MOAB on a cave and tunnel complex in Afghanistan which resulted, we are told, in the death of 36 ISIS fighters.

The week’s activities could not do better to illustrate the futility of  our high tech military in the kind of asymmetric warfare that faces the US today. It was like a real-life SNL sketch.

It’s pretty obvious that the generals, restraints removed, took the opportunity to demonstrate their new toy, the MOAB. I don’t think that’s the wrong word to use in describing it. Remember the look of the conventional “iron” bombs of earlier wars and then compare to the polished, gleaming orange surface of the MOAB.  The thing had been prettied up! I’m surprised it wasn’t decorated with tinsel.

PS: 4/20 Today’s NY Times has an article by someone who tried to go to the site.

Bacevich on American Exceptionalism

Tom Engelhardt writes a blog (Tomdispatch.com) that is a higher-powered version of mine, in that it calls attention to other writings that may have general interest. This week he uses it to distribute an article by Andrew Bacevich on the subject of amerca’s putative exceptionalism.

Both of them take a little time getting to the point but I think it’s worth the effort. The allusions to The Church of America the Redeemer are worth it alone.

Interesting question for future

I remember a moment in early 1973. I had been following the stories in the NY Times about Nixon’s shenanigans during the election the year before. Suddenly the conviction came over me that Nixon would not be able to complete his second term.  It took a couple of years but eventually that turned out to be correct.

Now I have the same feeling about another newly elected President. I don’t see how the Trump farce can go on for a full 4 year term. I think everyone is beginning to realize that Trump is mentally disturbed and not capable of sustained rational thought. His erratic behavior could be extraordinarily dangerous.

This raises an interesting question. Nixon resigned under the prospect of impeachment, when there was finally proof that he had violated the law. What is the procedure for dealing with a president who is mentally disturbed? That is not a ground for impeachment, or is it?

P.S.   Jan. 31, 2017

I should have remembered bu David Brooks remins me that the twentyfifth deals withe the problem.

http://Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President. Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

Note that the Vice President seems to be the key agent.

Edsall again.

An interestring article by Thomas B Edsall in today’s NY Times. About the future of the Democratic Party, and with an interesting set of reactions from readers.  And those of you who don’t care about the Democrats, ask yourself who else is going to save you from Trump? The pitiful third parties of the election?

At least the disaster has been so complete that we’ll probably not have have to deal with the Clintons anymore. I still think you’ll learn more about what has been going wrong from Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal than any other source.

Going the rounds

Received from a friend:

Obama, Hillary and Trump are standing at the throne of heaven.

GOD looks at them and says, “Before granting you a place at my side I must ask you what you have learned, what you believe in. God asks Obama first: “What do you believe?”

He thinks long and hard, looks God in the eye, and says,
“I believe in hard work, and in staying true to family and friends. I believe in giving.  I was lucky, but I always tried to do right by my countrymen”.
God can’t help but see the essential goodness of Obama, and offers him a seat to his left.
Then God turns to Hillary and asks, “What do you believe?”
Hillary says,
“I believe in passion, discipline, courage and honor are the fundamentals of life. Like Obama I believe in hard work.  I, too, have been lucky, but win or lose; I’ve always tried to be a true patriot and a loyal American.”
God is greatly moved by Hillary’s high-pitched eloquence, and he offers her a seat to his right.
Finally, God turns to Trump and says, “And you, Donald, what do you believe?”
Trump replies,
“I believe you’re in my seat.”