Closing Thought–30Aug17

Your Assistance Is Needed!

By now even the dullest of person has seen the disaster that is the Texas after math of Hurricane Harvey.

Many Americans will be compelled to send aid or donations to help these people…there are many organizations that will help and if one is so inclined then this article in the NY Times will help.

Explains the organizations that are in the mix and some tips on what to watch out for in the cons come out in droves…..

If you’re outside the affected area, here are options to help. (If you’re in Texas and displaced by the storm, here’s how to get help.)

If your choice is the American Red Cross then maybe this is something that you need to know…..

Hurricane Harvey has devastated Texas, and it’s natural to want to help. But don’t try to help by donating money to the American Red Cross, journalist and author Jonathan M. Katz writes on Slate. The disaster relief organization may be iconic, but it’s far from effective, Katz notes, running down a list of issues the ARC has had, starting with the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The ARC raised $488 million, but it couldn’t quite figure out what to do with the funds. “ARC isn’t a medical aid group a la Doctors Without Borders. It doesn’t do development work or specialize in rebuilding destroyed neighborhoods,” Katz writes. And what it does do best—provide immediate emergency aid like blankets and temporary shelter—didn’t come close to costing $488 million. Two years after the quake, just a third of the money had been committed.

The ARC has been similarly ineffective in responding to US disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. The truth is, the organization is great at raising money, Katz says, but it fails to inform the public it doesn’t actually need nearly as much money as it raises, and after the money has been raised, the ARC isn’t transparent about what it’s used for. There are multiple other issues, including the fact that no regular independent evaluations of the organization are done. Looking at the bigger picture, though, Katz argues that our entire way of handling disasters is wrong, and what we should be doing is working to prevent them, or at least mitigate their impact. We need to look ahead to things like “the growing risk of a major Oklahoma earthquake,” Caribbean tsunami, and other potential disasters and bring “lots of attention to helping those areas adapt for the future.” His full column.

That is one person’s opinion…..

Me?  I donated to Salvation Army and SPCA

Please help if you can these people are suffering and need our help.

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Tax Reform–Yet Again

It is that time of the year again……that time when the GOP has the grand plan for tax reform….a grand plan that changes little over the years.

The problem is that after all these years  the only people that benefit from these plans are the rich and corporations.  And yet they sell their crap to the average person with promises of more jobs, better pay and more prosperity for the Middle Class…..after decades of the same tired promises how has that worked out for the Middle Class?

Since the 1980’s the Middle Class has been on a downhill run to the bottom and all that time corporations are making so much cash that their CEOs are making obscene bonuses…..

Now we approach the newest edition of their grand scheme for tax reform….and there is NOTHING new!

“We have arguably the worst tax system in the industrialized world,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told a gathering in Hillsboro, Oregon on Wednesday.

He called the current system “complicated,” “paternalistic” and “condescending.”

Source: Ryan Plugs Tax Reform: Current System ‘Paternalistic,’ ‘Condescending’

He , Ryan, is right but the tax plan we have now is the child of the GOP and yet they want to stick it to the middle class again….

President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans seem to be on the same page about tax reform. Unfortunately for middle-class Americans, that means they both support a plan that is widely expected to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the rest of the country.

According to Politico:

The options include capping the mortgage interest deduction for homeowners; scrapping people’s ability to deduct state and local taxes; and eliminating businesses’ ability to deduct interest, while also phasing in so-called full expensing for small businesses that allows them to immediately deduct investments like new equipment or facilities.

The Middle Class can look forward to more downward pressure on their necks by the government…..once again corporations will make out…….. they will turn everything around with a lower tax bracket…..a lie that just keeps giving.

Nothing changes with the GOP……corporations come first the people are just an irritant they must endure…..if you are a working stiff then you are SCREWED!

But Trump will offer up his grand plan and after he does I will analyze it but I am not looking for anything but help for the rich.

USSR: What Happened?

Yes, I do like to take a look back at history…..it is interesting to see how a simple decision could have possibility changed everything.

Take the fall of the Soviet Union….the propaganda would have us all believe that it was Reagan and his mindless spending that helped the demise of the USSR.  That is a good story but there is more to the fall that some simple propaganda…..

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Communist Party, relives the last days of the USSR…..

There is one moment — a single decision — that some people still hold against Mikhail Gorbachev today, 20 years later.

Gorbachev, the last leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and last president of the Soviet Union, his wife and his closest confidants had survived the attempted coup by the KGB, the military leadership and the interior minister. They returned to Moscow from their house arrest at Gorbachev’s vacation home in the Crimean resort of Foros. Their plane landed in the capital at 2:15 a.m., local time, on August 22, 1991.

Source: The Gorbachev Files: Secret Papers Reveal Truth Behind Soviet Collapse – SPIEGEL ONLINE

There seems to always be more to the story than we are told…..

More on the fall of the USSR….

Three minutes after seven in the morning on August 19, I got a phone call from Ed Salazar, one of my political officers, asking if I had been listening to the radio. The radio had just broadcast the news that Mikhail Gorbachev had given up his office as president of the Soviet Union to Gennady Yanayev and that they had formed a committee on what they called an “extraordinary situation” and that Mr. Gorbachev was at rest in his dacha down in Foros in the Crimea.

Everybody assumed this meant they were trying to remove Gorbachev. This was the middle of the night in Washington, and so I suppose the initial government reaction from the United States was that of the embassy. Our own initial reaction was a degree of shock, because no one frankly expected this. There was also a degree of uncertainty about just what was going on because the announcement was made and nothing happened for a couple of hours. There were no military personnel to be seen—nobody showed up for a couple of hours. There were no tanks on the streets until later that morning. So nobody quite understood what was going on except what was on the radio and the fact that they had been making these announcements.

Source: Fall of the Soviet Union—The Inside Story – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

There are those alive today that know very little about the USSR….but a look into the reasons and events that lead to the downfall could very well be a learning moment for the world…..

A Look At War

After Vietnam I went to college and set my mind on the study of conflict (war)…..after experiencing it first hand I felt I need to take a look at it from all sides.

There are far too many people that view war from a distorted prism…there is nothing romantic or heroic about war…..war is barbaric, chaotic and ugly…..

I fear that policy-makers do not talk enough about the inherent ugliness of war. War is state sanctioned brutality, the outcome of which is death, destruction and suffering in order to achieve a political objective unobtainable through diplomatic means. It is a contest of wills settled through extreme violence where devastation is the rule, not the exception.[2] War is also based on a crude and cruel calculus where success usually relies upon the ability to both inflict and sustain greater casualties than the opposition. Its enduring features are friction, chaos, and chance; all of which lead to uncertainty, and none of which are natural allies of the delivery of precise violence or predictable outcomes, which seem increasingly to be what society, and in turn, policy-makers expect.

Source: War Isn’t Precise or Predictable — It’s Barbaric, Chaotic, and Ugly | RealClearDefense

We are sending more of our troops into a meat grinder and few seem to mind or even care…..has it become so common place that we brush off conflict with a flick to the channel changer?

American Religion Perverted

Below is a piece I read written by a theological professor….it tries to answer some questions that I have heard asked in the past.

Every election we hear lots about religion and its place in our society…..but just how much religion has been there in all of the 241 years of the presidency?

Source: God In America: God in the White House | PBS

Evangelicals continue to redefine religion in America.

If that is what religion has become, I want nothing to do with any of it.” This came from a young adult, speaking about the takeover of religion by the political right-wing that now owns the evangelical version of the Christian faith. My young friend is not alone. There are millions of young, and not so young, Americans echoing the same sentiment.

Source: American Religion Perverted | Articles | Senior Correspondent

I may not agree with parts of this article but I do believe that it should be read and questions answered.