The “Great” Debate …

I actually managed to watch the full debate last night without once trying to punch my computer or throw it across the room.  In fact, there were several points at which I laughed aloud, causing the girls to look at me in awe, for it is a sound they don’t often hear coming from me these days.  Typically, I think the value of the debates is far over-rated by the pundits, but it is an opportunity to see the candidates speak for themselves, see how they handle pressure under fire.  But, if I want to know what their platform is, I will go to OnTheIssues.org  which is the best place I have found over the years to get all the candidates’ platforms in one place.

What follows is only my takeaway from last night’s debate.  I have no doubt that others will have different opinions, but since I gave up two hours of my life that I can never get back, I thought the least I could do is opine just a bit.

There are six democratic candidates left from the 20+ that entered the race:

  • Bernie Sanders
  • Elizabeth Warren
  • Joe Biden
  • Pete Buttigieg
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Michael Bloomberg

The main reason I watched this debate last night … the first one I watched all the way through … was that I wanted to see how Mike Bloomberg handled the pressure of the questions he was inevitably going to get regarding his racist profiling in the stop-and-frisk policy he implemented in New York City, and the reports of sexist behaviour toward women in his businesses.  So, let me start with my take on Bloomberg’s performance last night.

The first word that comes to mind here is: arrogant.  His body language and facial expressions said:  I’m above all of this, I’m far above all these others, why am I even here?  Not one time did he actually smile, not once did he engage in any form of camaraderie with the others, and he rolled his eyes several times when asked a question that he felt unfair, or when critiqued by another candidate.  I sometimes think that body language and facial expressions tell as much as the words that come out of a person’s mouth.

But going beyond that, Mr. Bloomberg’s responses were unsatisfying, at best.  He seemed to defend his stop-and-frisk policy, though he has apologized for it.  But an apology is just words, and as they say, actions speak louder than words.  His defense of the reasons he started the policy was a turn-off for me.  Then there was the little matter of the treatment of women in his company.  Much of what women have alleged, Bloomberg denies, and yet … and yet, those women have been made to sign non-disclosure agreements.  One must ask why.  Elizabeth Warren called on Bloomberg to release the women from the agreements so the public could hear their allegations, but Bloomberg flatly refused.  According to much of what I have read, Bloomberg’s attitudes toward women, his vulgar language and crass remarks, are no better than Donald Trump’s.  If he wants transparency, what better place to start?

There were two candidates whose fire and genuine passion stood out last night:  Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  The media have declared Sanders the winner of the debate, but in my humble opinion, while they were both great, I’d give Warren the prize.  Perhaps this is a slight prejudice on my part, for I frankly think the time has come for us to steer away from the old, white, male image of the presidency.  Nonetheless, Warren showed us what she’s made of, and I liked it.

Joe Biden.  Sigh.  Poor Joe … by most standards, and judging by history, Joe Biden should be the #1 frontrunner.  He has the most applicable experience, he understands foreign policy in a way that not a single one of the others do, and he has good ideas.  What he lacks, though, is the persona.  He simply hasn’t got the passion, seems to have lost his way somewhere along the line.  Perhaps it is still the effects of his son’s death that have turned his world to grey, or perhaps it is the constant barrage of mindless accusations by Donald Trump that have taken the wind out of his sails.  Either way, he just wasn’t quite … there.

I like Pete Buttigieg, though perhaps not quite as much as I did in the beginning.  A few things stood out last night, but the biggest one was his almost continual attacks on Amy Klobuchar, some of which seemed unfair, to say the least.  The media, and Pete, have made much of the fact that when asked the name of the president of Mexico last week, she couldn’t remember.  It has been blown far out of proportion, and Buttigieg seized on it last night … unrelentingly.  Heck, there are days that I cannot remember my own name, let alone the president of Mexico’s!  Buttigieg does his homework, but it would have shown humanity to have let it drop.  He disappointed me in his attacks on Klobuchar. Buttigieg has a few things in his favour with me, though, and one is that while the other five have a net worth in the millions, or in Bloomberg’s case, billions, Pete Buttigieg’s net worth is approximately $100,000.  This impresses me far more than Bloomberg’s $63 billion.

I thought Amy handled the stress of Pete’s attacks fairly well, but a few times she did seem overly emotional, such as when she said, “Are you trying to say that I’m dumb?” Far too much has been made over a bit of momentary forgetfulness, I think.  Overall, I was impressed with Ms. Klobuchar’s heart.  I believe she cares very much about people and would be a strong advocate for human rights, but I have to wonder if she’s a bit too emotional and too thin-skinned for the job of president, for more than once it seemed as if she was near tears.

As for the debate itself … two main takeaways.  First, while climate change and the environment was briefly discussed, it was altogether too brief.  When the DNC refused to hold a debate focused solely on climate change, they made a huge mistake, in my book, for this is the single most crucial issue on the ballot.  While each candidate said one of their first moves as president would be to re-join the Paris Accords, that’s about all we learned.  I want to know details!  I want to know more than the 5 minutes or so that climate change was discussed last night provided.

Secondly, I was put off and rather disgusted by the structure of the debate.  Candidates had small bits of time to answer a question, then when time was up they kept on talking, while all the others on stage were rudely interrupting, and with six people plus the moderators all talking at once, the closed captioning was useless and it was impossible to discern what anybody was saying.  I don’t know what the answer to this is for future debates, but I do wish somebody would come up with one.  It would have been far more helpful if all the candidates had stuck with giving their opinions of the issues rather than their opinions of their opponents.

Overall, I was glad I watched for I got a bit of a feel for the personas of the candidates, but as I said in the beginning, if I want to know their platforms and ideologies, I’ll turn to another venue.   Unfortunately, the infighting is doing nobody any good, and it is almost certain that no single candidate will end up with a clear majority by the time of the nominating convention in mid-July, which opens a whole ‘nother can of worms.  Sigh.

Considering Michael Bloomberg And A Worry For Another Time

Greg is the other half of On the Fence Voters, though for a number of reasons, he has been unable to post for several months. But, yesterday he wrote a very thoughtful and thought-provoking post about Michael Bloomberg’s candidacy, and he brought up some points that I think we must all be willing to consider. Please take a few minutes to read this excellent post and let Greg know your thoughts! Thank you, Greg, and it’s great to hear from you!

On The Fence Voters

I’ve heard a lot of disapproving talk about Michael Bloomberg trying to ‘buy’ his way into the Presidency, and it’s certainly understandable.  It’s true that electing our president should only be about finding the best man or woman to lead our country.  It shouldn’t be about who can outspend all the others, but unfortunately that’s what it’s come to in America.  In this election year, however, our top priority must be in nominating whichever candidate seems most likely to defeat Donald Trump. We should be thinking of almost nothing else. Money in our politics is definitely a problem but I think this time around, it’s a worry for another time.

It doesn’t bother me so much that Bloomberg has unlimited funds to spend in his campaign because I think there are simply too many other pressing concerns.  I admit I’m looking for a savior.  Most people I talk to are…

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The Week’s Best Cartoons ⚡ 2/15

The past two weeks have certainly provided plenty of material for the political cartoonists, haven’t they? Our friend TokyoSand always seems to find the best of the bunch, and this week is no exception. These cartoons pretty well sum up the current situation … thank you, TokyoSand for this post, and for your kind permission to share!

Political⚡Charge

By Marc Murphy, Louisville Courier-Journal

Here are some of the best editorial cartoonists in the country (and a few from abroad) with their visual opinions about this week’s news:

Trump Seeks Revenge

By Morten Morland

By Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By Bill Bramhall, New York Daily News

By Banx

Barr Interferes with Justice

By Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

By Pat Chappatte

By Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

By Ann Telnaes, Washington Post

Image

By Mike Peters, Mother Goose and Grimm

By Jeff Darcy, Cleveland.com

By Matt Davies, Newsday

By Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

And Other News

By Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

ByJim Morin, Miami Herald

By Christopher Weyant

By Matt Davies, Newsday

By Matt Davies, Newsday

By Kevin Necessary

By Rod EmmersonNZ Herald

Want to get these political cartoon roundups every…

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Discord & Dissension — Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Discord & Dissension Part I Intro

Discord & Dissension Part II (a) How Did We Get Here?

Discord & Dissension Part II (b) How Did We Get Here?

Discord & Dissension — Part III — Where Do We Go From Here?

Discord & Dissension Part IV(a) Voting & Voters

Discord & Dissension Part IV (b) Voting & Voters

Discord & Dissension Part IV (c) Voting & Voters

Discord & Dissension Part V Corruption

Discord & Dissension — Part VI — Disinformation

 

Da Snippets Dey Be Snarky …

I remember the last day I was able to read the news without having to either take ibuprofen or check my blood pressure … it was June 15th, 2015.  The day before Donald Trump pompously rode down the elevator and announced that he was running for president of the United States.  The next day, I laughed.  I’m not laughing now.


A budget written by Abbot & Costello?

Trump’s latest budget was “unveiled” yesterday.  If Congress passes this one, then I shall recommend psychiatric evaluations for every one of them!  Surely, he doesn’t honestly believe he can get this one through!  It must have been written by a team of comedians.  A few of the key points:

  • Expands the 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations
  • Cuts Medicaid by $700 billion over the next 10 years
  • Cuts food stamps
  • Cuts farm subsidies
  • Cuts student loan programs
  • Cuts EPA funding by 27%
  • Cuts Social Security disability benefits and Medicare provider payments
  • Cuts foreign aid by 21%
  • Increases military spending
  • Increases NASA funding for ridiculous “space force” program by 12%
  • Allocates $2 billion for his wasteful, useless, hateful “border wall”

Notice a pattern here?  If it helps the 1% at the top of the wealth scale, he increases it, if it helps the 99% of us who don’t live in mansions and jet set all over the world, he cuts ‘n guts it.  Plain and simple.  Nancy Pelosi should do to this budget exactly what she did to his State of the Union speech.


Punishment for doing the right thing?  Only in the GOP …

More and more these days, I’m concluding that there is an intrinsic cruelty in some republicans.  I offer up as evidence the fact that Mitt Romney, the one lone republican who found the guts to vote to convict Trump of the impeachment charge of abuse of power that was more than proven, has been subjected to terrible treatment by those in his own party.  He has received condemnation, that there have even been calls for him to be expelled from the republican party!  WHOA, republicans!!!  The man did his job, he followed his conscience, he acted in the best interest of this nation, and you want his head on a pike???mitt-romneyThe latest, though, is just beyond ridiculous.  Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference, has “formally uninvited” Mitt to the Conservative Political Action Conference to be held the last four days of this month.

“We won’t credential him as a conservative. I suppose if he wants to come as a nonconservative and debate an issue with us, maybe in the future we would have him come. This year, I would actually be afraid for his physical safety, people are so mad at him.”

Wow … the man is being punished and threatened by his own party for doing his job, for being the only one with even half a conscience, for believing he actually owes something to the people of this nation in exchange for his salary.  See what I mean about some republicans?  They are just not very nice people.


And continuing along the theme that some republicans are not very nice …

Montana State Representative Rodney Garcia has a rather unique interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

Rodney-Garcia“So actually in the Constitution of the United States [if] they are found guilty of being a socialist member you either go to prison or are shot. They’re enemies of the free state. What do we do with our enemies in war? In Vietnam, Afghanistan, all those. What did we do? I agree with my Constitution. That’s what makes us free. We’re not a democracy, we’re a Republic Constitution.”

So, where did this guy get his education?  It’s true that the U.S. is not a pure democracy, but until recently was a democratic republic, not a “republic constitution”.  And as for his premise that the Constitution gives people like himself the right to shoot a person who is a socialist … well, I won’t even dignify that with a response.

I did some digging, because I really wanted to know where he went to school … Podunk University?  I didn’t find that out, but I did dig up something interesting.  He admits to having been convicted “years ago” on a domestic violence charge.  And … last year he attacked Children’s Protective Services (CPS) …

“CPS was a ruse…they violate the law. I think that they harm children. Child Protective Services do not protect the children. They kidnap them.”

He went on to say that caseworkers should be fined $1,000 per day for every child they “steal” and should be put in jail.  Then he continued, admitting that CPS had visited his own home when his children were young, investigating a complaint.  And, he further accused Planned Parenthood of “chopping up babies and selling their body parts.”

Now … needless to say, this man’s mental capacity is severely diminished, but what is equally disturbing is that … the people of his district elected this dolt!  The Montana Republican Party has called for his resignation, to which he replied …

“They can ask me to step down, but, no, I don’t think so. I’m going to run for the Senate and I’m going to win. People are going to have to eat their words.  I’m getting my head so big from people saying, ‘Thank you, Rodney, for bringing this up.’ If people don’t want me in the Senate they can say: ‘Well, I’m not going to vote for ya.’ That’s their prerogative.  The only way I would give my resignation is if God asked me to.”

People of Montana … please, vote this joker out, and then see if you can’t have him committed for psychiatric evaluation!


cheaters

The Choices We Make

This post by Rosaliene Bacchus is a spot-on summation of where we are today, after last week’s decision by the Senate not to uphold the Constitution. I could not have said it any better, and Rosaliene puts it all into perspective without ranting, without rancor. Thank you, Rosaliene for this excellent post, and for your permission to share it!

Three Worlds One Vision

Pen Scratch Verse 182 by American Artist Michael Caimbeul

February 5, 2020. This is the day that the United States Senate chose to acquit Republican President Donald Trump of the impeachment charges brought against him by the Democratic controlled House of Representatives. I found the evidence of his guilt compelling. Except for just one of its members, the majority Republican senators chose to stand firm behind their leader. The loyalty to their party is admirable. It’s a valuable commodity in our times of divisive politics. On the other hand, party loyalty doesn’t always align with the best interests of we the people. Ever since corporations gained personhood and began financing politicians, corporate interests have gained paramountcy.

Today, we live in a New Republic. The balance of power has shifted beneath our feet. All that remains for the President and his Executive Branch of loyalists to consolidate their power is to…

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Words That Frighten

For some time now, I have intended to write a post explaining the concept of “democratic socialism” – a term that has been demonized by republicans, used to scare voters away from certain democratic candidates – but obviously I haven’t yet gotten around to it. Meanwhile, our friend Hugh has revived an excellent post he wrote during President Obama’s presidency that makes some excellent points. Note what he says about Finland and also note that Finland ranks #1 on the World Happiness Index, while the U.S. is only at #19. Thank you, Hugh!!!

hughcurtler

I wrote this years ago and reblog it here because no one seems to have read it and the ideas I tried to clarify appear to be as relevant today as they were years ago — if not more so!

In every generation there are numerous words that take on pejorative overtones — many of which were never part of the term’s meaning in the first place. Not long ago, for instance, “discipline” was a positive concept, but it has become a bad thing thanks to progressive educators who ignore the fact that discipline is essential to clear thinking and the creation of art instead of junk. Another such term is “discrimination” which used to simply suggest the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff, good paintings and good music, for example, from random paint scattered on canvas or mere noise. Indeed, it was a sign of an educated…

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Bears Ears And Tears

They’re at it again, folks.  The greedy fools running this country (into the ground) have decided that … what the people want matters not.  In essence, they have said, “We will tell you what you want … now sit down and shut up … oh yeah, and don’t forget to pay us your tax money so we can waste more money on utter stupidity!”  Yes, Filosofa is in fight mode once again.  Damn these greedy bastards.

In 2017, Trump announced he would downsize both the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah, which would be the largest reversal of national monument protections in U.S. history.  Now folks … first of all, those aren’t Trump’s lands to do with as he pleases … they are OURS.  After Trump made that announcement in 2017, a public comment period was opened by the administration whereby fully 99% of the respondents opposed the decision.  We spoke … we said, “No, leave our beautiful land alone!” bearsIn addition to the people’s voice, there are numerous legal challenges still pending in the courts that have held up the implementation of the act.  But now, all of a sudden, the Department of Interior has announced that plans have been finalized to open up roughly two million acres of formerly protected land in southern Utah to the fossil fuel industry for mining and drilling.  Mining and drilling for the very things that are decimating our planet, killing wildlife, and ensuring the extinction of the human species.  Without permission from the owners of that land.  Without approval by environmental groups or the courts.

According to the Interior Department’s acting assistant secretary of land, materials and minerals management, Casey Hammond …

“These cooperatively developed and locally driven plans restore a prosperous future to communities too often dismissed and punished by unilateral decisions of those that would not listen to the voices of Utahns.”

bullshit

Wrong, wrong, wrong, and once again wrong.  Those “communities too often dismissed and punished” are the indigenous people of the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Pueblo of Zuni, and they are in a lawsuit challenging the dismantling of Bears Ears National Monument!  Don’t, Ms. Hammond, pretend you are helping the very people you are hurting!

We need more coal, oil and gas like we need fourteen more holes in our heads!  Oh, but wait … Trump did promise the ignoble oil and coal barons that he would give them carte balance to destroy the natural resources of this nation, didn’t he?  Silly me … how could I forget?

The Department of Interior is headed by none other than David Bernhardt.  Bernhardt’s past, like that of EPA head, Andrew Wheeler, includes serving as a lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry … in other words, his best buddies are in the oil industry, the very industry this asininity is designed to help.  His legal clients included the Independent Petroleum Association of America, which represents dozens of oil companies, and Halliburton Energy Services, the oil and gas extraction firm that was led by Dick Cheney before he became vice president to George W. Bush.  What a tangled bloody web!

earth-criesThis is yet another example of Trump & Co putting more money into the pockets of the already-wealthy, at the expense of the other 99% of people in this country.  Fossil fuels are on the way out the back door, globally.  Trump brags that the U.S. is now the biggest producer of oil.  Guess what?  That’s nothing to brag about.  It would deserve far more kudos if we could say we were the largest producer of wind or solar energy, that we had decreased our dependence on fossil fuels.  Whether Trump, Bernhardt or their cronies at Exxon-Mobil like it or not, coal and oil are rapidly becoming dinosaurs in the energy market.

Regardless of the pending lawsuits, the Trump administration intends to plow forward with its plans.  When questioned about those lawsuits and how they can move forward before those are resolved, Ms. Hammond replied …

“If we stopped and waited for every piece of litigation to be resolved, we would never be able to do much of anything around here.”

Much of this country has been decimated … skyscrapers rise to the clouds where animals once roamed free.  Oil derricks have replaced beautiful land in the west, and ugly surface mines have replaced what were once beautiful mountains in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky.  Where once there were life-giving trees, there are now ruins, devastation.  Where once streams and rivers ran clear, now they are filled with toxic sludge.

Soon, this …

Bears Ears-1

… will look like this …

oil-wellsIf Donald Trump and his cronies have their way, the entire nation will be covered in buildings, mines, drilling rigs, and waste dumps.  No more beautiful national parks, mountains, hiking trails, clean beaches, green valleys …

Which would you rather have?4k-wallpaper-beautiful-flowers-clouds-1266810

Or

pollution

The Never-Ending Snarky Snippets

It would seem that Filosofa never runs out of something to be snarky about these days.  Gee, I wonder why that is?  Well, tonight is no exception …


Trump’s revenge …

I knew that Trump was likely to escalate his bad behaviour for lack of a better word, once he was acquitted by the Senate.  Even I, the ultimate cynic, didn’t realize how quickly he would act.  Brosephus told us yesterday evening about the data the republicans in the Senate have gathered from federal agencies in just over a day regarding Hunter Biden and his travel.  Then, last night, I learned that Trump is planning to fire Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, for testifying in the House impeachment proceedings.  Yep, you heard right.  Revenge, pure and simple.

VindmanAfter his testimony in November, Vindman and his family received criticism and threats from Trump’s allies, including allegations of political bias and disloyalty to the US because of their refugee status.

There are laws against terminating an employee for testifying against a corrupt boss, but given that Trump has gotten by with breaking hundreds of laws already … well, what’s one more.  Who’s to stop him?  Not Congress, for the Senate doesn’t even have the cojones to censure him.  Not the courts, when all roads lead to Chief Justice John Roberts who didn’t have the courage or integrity to force a fair impeachment trial.

Apparently, Trump also plans to fire other National Security Council officials who he considers were ‘disloyal’ to him, and the White House is expected to say that it is part of a broader effort to clean house and decrease bureaucracy.  If this is the modus operandi of the government of this country, then it’s time we changed the government before we lose the ability to do so.


State of the Environment …

On Tuesday, a coalition of nine conservation groups issued a statement:

“Donald Trump’s administration has unleashed an unprecedented assault on our environment and the health of our communities. His policies threaten our climate, air, water, public lands, wildlife, and oceans; no amount of his greenwashing can change the simple fact: Donald Trump has been the worst president for our environment in history. Unfortunately, our children will pay the costs of this president’s recklessness. Our organizations have repeatedly fought back against these attacks and we will continue to fight to ensure that our kids don’t bear the brunt of the Trump administration’s anti-environmental agenda.”

The statement was offered by Alaska Wilderness League Action, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, EDF Action, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society.

Later that evening, Trump gave his circus-like State of the Union address, but the above statement seems to me far more meaningful.


Midnight in Washington

They are called Eleven Films, and according to their Facebook bio, they are …

Portland/Vancouver based media company founded on 11 November 2011, specializing in creative internet content, documentaries, news, music and film. Since 2018, Eleven Films has amassed over 30 million views across all platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube). Aside from their original films, Eleven Films has created ads for Presidential candidates, Senatorial candidates, PACs, Causes, New York Times best-selling authors and general business. Their ads have aired on MSNBC, CNN and Fox News.

Eleven Films’ content has been shared by celebrities, politicians, insiders and influencers including: Alyssa Milano, Rosie O’Donnell, Don Cheadle, Frances Fisher, Debra Messing, Justine Bateman, Martina Navratilova, Jon Favreau, Judd Appetow, Vincent D’Onofrio, Don Winslow, Adrian McKinty, Alice Evans, Adam Parkhomanko, David Yankovich, Nancy Pelosi, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ted Lieu, Eric Swalwell, Carolyn Maloney, Veronica Escobar, Mike Levin, Maya Wiley, Eddie Glaude, Joy Ried, Abby Finkenauer to name a few.

That’s just about all I know of Eleven Films, but tonight one of their ads crossed my radar and … I was stunned.  This is possibly the most powerful clip of its sort that I have ever seen.  The film, titled Midnight in Washington, is very short, only one minute, 26 seconds, but it packs a punch.  Please take 1:26 to watch this.  You may also want to check out some of their other works on their website.


Stay tuned this afternoon for the next installment in Jeff’s and my project, Discord & Dissension – Part V!

Filosofa’s 2020 State Of The Union

This evening, Donald Trump will present to members of Congress and anyone who cares to listen, the annual State of the Union Address.  Last year, as Trump was forced to cancel his planned January address, I wrote my own, thinking that perhaps I would be asked to fill in for him.  I wasn’t, but still, it was a good speech, so I’ve decided to prepare my own again this year.  Some things are the same as last year, some have changed.


Good morning, fellow humans.  This is called the State of the Union address because the purpose is to inform the people of this nation how the country is doing.

Environment

I regret that I must tell you that we have some very serious problems here in the U.S., and if we don’t address them very soon, the ramifications will be tragic.  We produce and use far too much coal and oil, for the fossil fuel industry has our government in a choke-hold that keeps us from doing everything in our power to promote renewable energy sources.  Far too much federal land has been opened to mining, drilling, and logging, and we don’t yet know the full extent of the environmental impact, or the level of destruction of wildlife.  The fossil fuel and logging industries are putting farmland and water supplies at risk.  In addition, we have rolled back so many environmental regulations that we are putting far more CO2 into the atmosphere per capita than any other nation on the planet, including China.  We have made little or no effort to reduce single-use plastics and other garbage that is polluting our land and waterways, not to mention the oceans.  This is the area that is most important of all the topics I will cover here, and yet we are doing the least to address the problems.

Economy

If one looks only at the Dow-Jones or the employment rates, the economy looks pretty fair.  But, there is more to the economy than just the stock market and employment rates.  When you look at such things as affordable housing, income inequality and minimum wage, the picture is far less rosy.  Then, factor in the national debt, which stands today at more than $23 trillion, and the budget deficit hovering around the $1 trillion mark, you can see that in truth the economy has some serious problems.  It may seem great for that upper 1% who are the beneficiaries of keeping wages low, tax cuts, and other benefits, but the majority of people in the U.S. are no better off than they were ten years ago.

Education

The average cost of a four-year degree ranges from $40,000 for in-state tuition at a public college, to $140,000 at a private college.  It is estimated that with rising college costs, that amount will nearly double over the next decade.  Few working-class families can afford that, so students must rely on financial aid.  Young people are leaving college already burdened with a mound of debt that would have purchased a nice home 15-20 years ago.  The result is that fewer and fewer students are attending college, for it is rapidly becoming available only to the wealthy.  This is alarming, for who will be the doctors, lawyers, accountants, scientists, computer programmers, etc. in the coming decades?

Global image

As I reported last year, we have lost the trust of our allies.  Since WWII, the U.S. has worked hard to be a trusted and valued partner in the global community, to develop alliances for the purposes of trade and security. But in order to maintain those alliances, we must first be a good friend, and we have let that ball drop. We have pulled out of treaties, imposed tariffs, been a poor trading partner, nearly started a war in the Middle East, and been critical of our allies for less than no reason.  At the same time, our leadership has gone out of its way to befriend our adversaries.  Is it any wonder, then, that a recent Pew research poll indicates that 64% of the 32 countries surveyed had very little confidence in the leadership of the U.S.

Domestic strife

The United States is more divided than at any time since the close of the Civil War in 1865.  We are divided along racial lines, religious ones, and more than ever before, along political lines.  The majority of the people do not trust our government, do not believe anything that comes from Washington.  When the people have lost all faith and trust in government, the nation has truly lost its way.  This is not a sustainable situation, but rather one that is likely to lead to serious trouble in the near future.

Guns

Already on this, the fourth day of February and 35th day of the new year, we have seen 28 mass shootings, resulting in 38 deaths and 112 injuries, for a total of 150 victims.  In total, in these first 35 days of the year, there have been a total of 3,618 gun deaths in the U.S. – 1,374 were homicides and the other 2,244 were suicides.  This figure, as much as any, tells the true state of the union.  No meaningful gun legislation was passed into law last year.

Immigration

While the majority of the people in this nation welcome immigrants, understand that immigrants add to the richness of our culture and contribute in countless ways to the well-being of our country, immigrants are being treated terribly.  Just last week, six more nations were added to the travel ban … nations whose people have never and do not now pose any threat whatsoever to the United States.  Funds have been siphoned from other areas to support the building of an unneeded border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border – over $10 billion in total – money wasted.  And children are still living in cages at the southern border, separated from their parents, perhaps forever.

Health care

There are now some 44 million people in the U.S. with no health insurance.  While there has been much talk, many promises, the only actions have been those which caused the cost of health insurance and prescription medication to rise, making it un-affordable for many.

Although I could go on, my time is up.  As you can see, the state of the nation leaves much room for improvement, however I would like to end on a positive note.  One industry in particular has seen positive growth.  Alcohol sales in the U.S. rose by some 5.1% over the past year!  If you’re looking for a place to invest a few dollars, I strongly recommend Jack Daniels or Budweiser!

Admittedly, last year’s ‘Filosofa’s State of the Union’ was better than this years, but consider that I’ve had an entire year of deterioration & detritus has taken place since then, and I think my gloomier outlook is somewhat justified.  I can only wonder what next year’s will bring!