Blog Notes, February 12, 2017

What are the real issues facing our country?

They’re not, I believe, the subject matter of the President’s tweets. They’re not the porous Mexican border to the South. For bad people and drugs are never stopped by border walls. Nor are they the whereabouts of the Islamic terrorists. For how many Americans have ever encountered a member of ISIS, let alone been blown up by one?

These and other non issues that the President would address, first at the loud and raucous rallies during the campaign and now daily in his tweets are red herrings that function to keep his followers if not the whole country away from any real path to any real solution to any real problem.

Does the President even realize just how far from the real needs of the country are his own pieces of fake news, the wall, ISIS, the millions of illegal immigrants? Probably not. In any case his concerns probably stem from no research of his own, which he apparently never does, but come from the same small clique of advisors who got him elected in the first place, from the two Stevens, Bannon and Miller, from the  two former United States Senators, Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions, along with their choral director, Kellyanne Conway, and  principal soloist Sean Spicer..

This is not a President who reads. I take the following excerpts from Jane Mayer’s New Yorker article, Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter, Tony Schwartz , Tells All, of July 25 of last year.  “The Art of the Deal,” says Meyer, made America see Trump as a charmer with an unfailing knack for business. Tony Schwartz helped create that myth and [now] regrets it.
Schwartz believes that Trump’s short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance…. That’s why he so prefers TV as his first news source—information comes in easily digestible sound bites….I seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.”   During the eighteen months that Schwartz observed Trump,  he never saw a book on Trump’s desk, or elsewhere in his office, or in his apartment.

During 18 months he never saw Trump with a book! Is it safe to assume that this guy does little if any independent reading of his own and in his ignorance may even believe that the porous wall on our Southern border and ISIS together are the biggest threats we face. And he may even believe what he’s always repeating that his first job to assure the nation’s security (by the extreme vetting of refugees??!!).

What terrible things haven’t been done, even in our land of the free and the brave, in the name of national security? Right now, daily, we read how our agents, not my agents, Trump’s and Miller’s and Bannon’s agents? are separating long term illegal residents, who are not criminals, from their own children because they are a threat to our national security?

Trump may be a bit closer to a real problem when he talks about job losses, but he’s completely wrong about their causes and solutions. In fact jobs never stay in one place for long, other than those, say, of being a mother or father. Maybe it was at one time that one could spend a lifetime at the same job, but not any more.

Jobs are always changing and the changes, what some call job losses, result because  we are always finding more profitable ways to do things. Would Trump really want us to go back to burning coal, thereby giving some permanency to miners working under ground in the West Virginia and Kentucky hill country, that life itself being for the miners a kind of living death? Also, would Trump really want to return living people to the factory assembly lines in order to replace the non living robots that had earlier replaced them?

When Trump talks about bringing things back to the way they were, or, as he sees it, making things great again, does he even know what he means by that? When were things ever great, and what would they look like if they were ever great? Does anyone know?

Hasn’t happened. Nor could we know if it did happen. The bottom line is that things are probably greater now than they ever were. Trump at his Mar-a-Lago Estate and castle must know this. If nothing else there’s more food on the table, his table for sure and the tables of most of us, enough to feed more people than there ever were.

And furthermore how about the fact that the present unemployment rate of 4.7% is the lowest since the last years of the presidency of George W Bush, and this in spite of the fact that there was nothing done during the eight years of the presidency of Barack Obama to either close our Southern border with Mexico or to prevent our manufacturing plants and jobs from being transferred overseas? Here again Trump seems to completely ignore the facts.

So what’s left to our President in the way of real issues and problems? Is there anything there of substance? Perhaps in regard to health care (or education) But about both of these he has little  of substance to say, other than that Obama Care has been a disaster (as has public school education, as has NAFTA, as has the Iran Nuclear Deal, as has….) He has few ideas of his own about what to do to correct the disasters, be it Obama Care, NAFTA or the Iran Nuclear Deal, or even, as in one of his tweets, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s term at Celebrity Apprentice.

China, Russia, Iran, do they represent big trouble needing big attention? In regard to all three no one knows what’s on Trump’s mind, if anything much, other than perhaps lately and little by little coming around to the thinking of his predecessor in the Oval Office, Barack Obama.

There have been other things, problems, trivia? that have got his attention. There was the project to send Hillary to prison but Trump abandoned that effort soon after being elected. (And for this he may have lost a good many of the thousands, if not millions of followers who at his rallies would shout following his lead, “lock her up.”)

Then there are nearly daily in his tweets, what he describes as the “fake news stories,” mostly those made up by the Trump haters, to put him down, and eventually perhaps to bring him down, the Times and the Post being most often the creators of these fake stories, attacking him and his family, as the other day when the Times and the Post handled the fake story of Nordstrom’s dropping Ivanka’s “stuff” from their shelves and displays.

Trump’s multiple daily tweets make it clear what’s important to him. If you read them you will quickly see that the most important thing for Trump is winning, is being always right, is being recognized as being always right. And for him to always be right others have to be wrong. His now hundreds, thousands of tweets are either putting someone (John Lewis, Judge Robart) or something (the NYTimes) down, or putting himself and his family, his followers, the Trump name and the Trump businesses up. There’s nothing in between.

I will need to post something just on Trump’s tweets. For tweets are his most favored manner to communicate with us, with the people. If we would know what he thinks we have to read his tweets. Here’s the link. Otherwise he doesn’t write himself. And as we’ve seen he doesn’t read. And when he speaks it’s most unoriginal, in clichés.

Let me conclude this post with a real issue that confronts us, that confronts our country. I take the chart below from an op ed writer at the Times, Thomas Edsall, who is in just about every respect the opposite of Donald Trump. He reads a lot. He thinks about what he reads, and he learns from his reading as he should, and what he learns he shares with us. His columns usually appear a few times, if not once a week, a month and most often he writes about American politics, inequality, campaign strategy and demographics.


His latest column, Integration Works. Can It Survive the Trump Era?, contains the chart that I post below:

achievement-gap


This chart. by itself shows all too clearly why the country is struggling, and its not the Wall nor ISIS that should disturb us. It’s the fact that in this chart the math SAT scores are segregating our highschool seniors by race as much or more than did Jim Crow in the first half of the 20th. century.

In many respects we overcame the unequal world of Jim Crow. We haven’t yet begun to face up to the, in some respects, even more unequal world of the math SATS. (Edsall didn’t give us the results of the literature SATS, but they too were probably segregated by race.) Knowledgeable people have been aware of this situation, in my own experience, forever. Knowledgeable people have never ceased, almost from the first day some 200 years ago, to reform our schools, to make them places where everyone could be successful, but the reformers have never succeeded.

In the language of Trump our country has never been great in respect to utilizing the talents of all our citizens. Somewhere around half of our people have always been left out, have not had the fulfilling lives that a more thoughtful, more sensible, and more sensitive organization of both school (rather than school, places of learning) and society could have provided.

Edsall’s chart shows just how greatly not so much that we have failed, but that we have allowed what are at the moment anyway “natural” differences to get all the attention. And we have neglected, have done little or nothing to foster and develop the more natural ways that young people are all alike if not the same.

We need a world where SATS are not as now the determining factor in a young person’s future. And this, of course, would require much more than a reorganization, one more reform of our schools. We really need to walk away from it all and begin again. (Something that maybe a Trump like person could have done if he himself hadn’t had so many character defects.)

Imagine a learning place or situation when kids, all kids could be a part of whatever was going on, instead of as now when so many, through no fault of their own, are being left out of much of what is going on.


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