A different perspective of age

Travels with Epicurus by Daniel Klein

This book is about an old scholar revisiting a Greek Island of Hydra that he embraced in his youth.   He questions and embraces the winter of life as it appears in different cultures. The reflections of time play a different tune than most Americans listen to.

When I was young many old timers said to me I wish I should have done this or that when I was young. I figured that I would take their advice and do it. As age sets in the twilight has a different sense as it opens up new ways of seeing. No regrets, only a child’s thirst for being curious.

This is a fun book that just might make you think.

Should the press be more regulated?

Should the free press be put in chains along with citizens for their own good? How much regulation does it take for the citizens to revolt?  Do we need to ask permission to turn the TV off?  Why are people willing to accept controls on their freedoms and liberty? Does government support and safety nets trump a life worth living?  Why is being responsible for your own actions such a problem for many people? Why are we not teaching personal emotional self control? Has marketing and consumption, manipulation taken over our schools and government?  When will we take a stand?

Secede? Is Mississippi really that stupid?

One of every 8 Mississippians is over 65 and the US Treasury sends them Social Security checks each month. Will the HARD CORE CONSERVATIVES increase their state taxes enough to replace those checks? One in 5 Mississippians is living below poverty and the US Treasury funds them also. How much will taxes increase to cover that cost? When Mississippi’s DOT builds a road the US Treasury pays half the cost. Will the secessionists fund that cost? Those taxes will be significant or the state will be facing austerity more severe than Greece. Those who pushed for secession in 1860 were ideological idiots, that is quite obvious. And the secessionists of today are likewise lacking good sense. The Tea Party Republicans of Mississippi are the ones who will cut off their nose to spite their face. WAKE UP FOLKS.

Chicago Power Corrupts

He was thought of as potentially the first black American to become President.   A reported Civil War buff he now has made his own history. Jesse Jackson Jr. has resigned his seat in the House supposedly to fight Bi Polar disorder, but that is not all the story.

With a special election  victory in 1995 this South Side, the son of Rev. Jessie Jackson was expected surpass his famous father and ultimately become President. This past week he threw in the towel and sent Congress his resignation. Junior has been under an ethical investigation by Congress since the election of Obama in 2008. The congressman aggressively pursued the Senate seat given up by Pres. Obama. His resignation is supposedly tied to a deal in an unrelated  criminal investigation involving campaign funds used to renovate his home. In his resignation he said  I am stepping down “to focus on restoring my health. —–I am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities and I am doing my best to address the situation responsibly”

Jackson assumed office in 1995 in a special election to replace Representative Mel Reynolds who left office after being convicted of sexual assault of a teenage volunteer worker. Chicago politics, aren’t they interesting.  In the mean time State Senator Obama was serving in Springfield and Junior was headed to Washington. Maybe to much was expected from the son.. In addition to the federal probes he has been accused in the past of an extra martial affair with a Washington D.C. waitress. He left Washington in July this year for a leave of absence from the House of Representatives. Though he never told his constituents until after his re-election. He won without campaigning. Not the first “vote for me” or hand shake. So much for the name. At one time Junior had lobbied Illinois , now in jail, Governor Blagojevich for Pres. Obama’s Senate seat. In fact some suspect  that the lobbying was overly aggressive to the extent of being excessive and a House investigation is still ongoing. After the public began to have questions Jesse Jr. developed “Bi-Polar” disorder and has committed himself for treatment more than once. Seems like every politician that develops problems goes into rehab to let things blow over and re emerges squeaky clean. This resignation seems to me to be a part of a plea deal. Do we have a former Governor in jail because of the son a the good Rev. Jackson?  Jesse Jr. had so much promise. Power is a difficult thing to handle, particularly in Chicago. The more you get the more you want. Power can corrupt. Junior isn’t the first to find this out and unfortunately will not the last.so

Recent Releases

Recent releases I found worth reading.

The Power of Politics by Bob Woodward

If the “Fiscal Cliff” interests you this is a must read. Bob Woodward of Watergate fame follows the  inside story of President Obama and the U.S. Congress’s attempts to find a fiscal policy that reduces debt and results in stability. It covers the three and a half years of conflict and inside deals. Weather you are a Democrat or a Republican this book tells it all as it is. Crafted from meeting notes, interviews, documents, working papers and interviews with key players we get a peak at the secret world of Congressional deal making. Like sausage making, not always pretty. In fact after reading and seeing what is going on today not much has changed. Everyone is dug in. Preliminary it was Obama and Boehner negotiating. Majority Leader Eric Cantor is in the background undermining negotiations with the blessing of the extreme right and Tea Party as things begin to fall apart. Does Boehner actually represent the Republican caucus? At one point there was a chance at a $800 billion deal only to fall apart. Now the President wants $1.6 trillion. Everything is documented and the firsthand accounts show how the broken relationships between the President, congress and the Senate have driven the U.S. economy to the fiscal cliff.  It makes me sorry that any of the House and Senate candidates got elected. We have no leaders in Washington. Read and see if you can find one.

 

The Years of Lyndon Johnson, the Passage of Power by Robert Caro

This is book four in the story of LBJ. The time covered is 1958 thru his Vice Presidency and the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1964 when he assumes the Presidency. In 1958 LBJ begins to position himself for a run at the Presidency in 1960. The Presidency was not in the cards. As  Majority Leader LBJ  trades one of the most powerful jobs in Washington for the least powerful. Vice President of the United States. I was aware of the dislike Bobby Kennedy had for LBJ but never knew that it bordered on hate. The day JFK asked LBJ to be his VP on the ticket,  Bobby was running up and down the stairs trying to talk him out of acceptance. There were rumors on the convention floor of a  fight to get anyone other than LBJ.  The truth of the matter was JFK knew that Lyndon could bring Texas and the southern states electoral votes with him thus making a win for JFK and the Democrats a possibility. Without Texas and the south JFK could not win.  As Vice President, Johnson was humiliated by the Kennedys and left out of almost every decision including the one committee he was supposed to chair. One of the questions after  the assassination, and while Johnson was on Air Force One awaiting word of  the status of JFK, was who could administer the oath to swear in Johnson. Did Johnson call the Attorney General bobby Kennedy to ask. Should he be sworn in in Dallas or wait several days or until after the funeral. Should he take Air Force One to Washington and what about the dead President and Mrs. Kennedy? Would all of JFK’s staff stay with him or leave him high and dry. What about his nemesis Bobby Kennedy. Keeping the players on board would give him creadibility.  We see Kennedy’s assassination thru Lyndon B. Johnson’s eyes. Great historical read.

 

The Oath by Jeffery Toobin, The Obama white House and the Supreme Court.

From the  best selling author of The Nine comes the story of a tense and confrontational relationship between the President and the Supreme Court. From the very beginning with the swearing in. Chief Justice Roberts started the swearing in, Obama jumps the gun, Roberts got confused and in the end the question is asked by the President’s staff, “Is he really the President?” At the request of White House staff the next day Justice Roberts comes to the White House to re do the oath. Of course Obama was President, but given the tenor of the nation towards Obama and a questionable birth certificate the staff wanted no question. So from the very outset there was an antagonistic relationship. While Obama felt that his biggest obstacles would come from Congress he gave little thought to the 5-4 margin Chief Justice Roberts held on the Court. The battle has often been bitter and public as when the President criticized the Court in his 2010 State of the Union message bringing up the decision in Citizens United.  Bush appointee Justice Alito mouthed the words “not true” when the President publically disagreed with the decision. With an election coming the court accepted many issues near and dear to the conservatives. The court rendered decisions on women’s rights, gun rights, the right to sue, freedom of speech, the death penalty and finally healthcare reform. The two most important individuals in these opinions, the President and Justice Roberts were front and center.  Jefffery Toobin is a writer for the New Yorker and a legal analyst for CNN. I met and heard him discuss the Affordable Care Act at a health care conference last year in Baltimore. What treat. He is truly a student of the Supreme Court and a great word smith.

These are interesting reading if you like reading about the plaayers in government and how it does and does not work. My present reading is The Creative Class, Revisited  and the newly released “The Tupelo Man” the biography of Tupelo resident and owner of the Daily Journal and The Create  Foundation, George McLean.

 

One Solution

One way to success is to model things before we do them. A good model will predict success and failure of actions when we input the correct datum. Values and probabilities are based on past history.  You also need an excellent understanding of mathematics. Some of the things Mississippi lacks are good mathematicians because our schools lack the ability to recognize each student’s individual way of understanding math. Using a one size fits all approach to teaching math has been a huge failure yet the education system has not used a working model to change it. They depend on following the path that yields the most money to the state rather than the path that leads to success.

We have a cultural divide in our schools which is not addressed or adjusted to different learning styles. The divide extends to the parents generation after generation. The rest of the world is beginning to understand the problem from our very models and is not only gaining on us but is now eating our lunch. The way to maintain and accelerate our position as leaders is to use models to make decisions and not emotions based on cultural differences.

Tupelo could start a special school for all ages focused on success and the heart would be model construction. This is not a new idea it is being done all over the earth by people that care more about humanity than being consumers. What is quality of life?

Test

Here is a…   TalentDficit

Viva La Difference

How far left can one person go until he is further left than left? Is that possible? Yes. KY Congressman Rand Paul , true to his Libertarian roots and a future Presidential candidate came out Tuesday in favor of a path to citizenship for the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country. No self deportation, no rounding up all the illegals based on who is in school, employed, unemployed, have children that are legal citizens etc. What a refreshing thought. Just not spending the effort to arrest and deport 12 million people should save billions in man hours. It is said it costs $40,000 a year to keep a person in jail. Assume an illegal immigrant spends just six months in jail awaiting deportation. That is a savings of $240,000,000,000. Not including all the expense of finding them, going to court and transportation out of the country. This country has always been about immigrants and opportunity. That is why people risk everything they own to come to America. Some legal and others risking a leaky boat ride and their lives floating from Cuba. When they get here most become taxpaying workers. Yes their children go to our schools and use services offered by the national, state and local governments. They pay employment taxes, sales taxes and fuel taxes just to name a few of the taxes we all pay. They even pay social Security which they will never collect. The jobs they take are mostly service jobs and construction. They are hard workers. They are willing to work in jobs with long hours, that others won’t work, to make ends meet. They are looking for a better life not a hand out. Most are moral and religious people attending church, donating and contributing to those less fortunate by becoming involved locally. Those that are employed want to own their own business and homes. They work with their children to improve their academic success and get them into college. Yes, in Tupelo we are better off by having the diversity offered by our Latino amigos.  And yes our next Mayor needs to be open to all diversity. The Creative Class enhances all our lives and creates jobs and makes all our lives richer . May they all join us as citizens of the United States of America. Viva La Diversity en Tupelo!!!!!

Cat Fight

A fellow sends a picture of himself topless to a married female friend. Female friend later starts  to receive “threatening” emails from an unknown source. She calls her friend and ask for help. One of the emails says. “I saw what you did, touching under the table…” A real threat. Reminds me of the  movie “I saw what you did”.  The friend takes the request for help to his cyber friends and they start tracking things to the source. Turns out the source is another married female who is guilty of more than touching under the table. Is she jealous? Nothing like a good cat fight. The cyber investigation begins to expand because the sleuths find new goodies involving an affair between married female number two and a high ranking official. Meanwhile an election campaign is going on and the shirtless wonder begins to feel that his buddies are not pursuing things hard enough or fast enough. Several months go by and he decides to help the Republicans embaress the Democrats. He mentions the investigation to a couple of Congressmen. No one tells the head guy. Then the day after the election is over the high ranking official resigns his post. Hundreds of questions are being asked. Who knew what and when? The high ranking official resigns and the other political party sees cover up and starts circulating the idea that the Demos got rid of the high ranking official to keep him from testifying  to Congress about what he knew about an attack on one of out Embbasy’s in which Americans are killed. Meanwhile a second high ranking official that just happened to be conducting a war is found to have been sending 20-30,000 emails to the first married woman. (40+ per day for two years) What kind of war was he in charge of? Now that is  a book of fiction. Sorry it is not fiction, it is the sequence of the former CIA Director David Petreaus, his biographer, another friend of his in Florida and her FBI friend and a Commanding General in Afghanistan. This would be  unbelievable except that it has been going on since last summer. The sad part is that all involved parties are smart people. How soon will the hearings begin, then the book will follow and then the movie.  Stick around this is going to get better. A lot of people have questions to answer and ask including the Commander in Chief/ President of the United States.

The Fiscal Cliff

There is a train coming through that tunnel, I see the light, and Superman is not around.  No, superman is not disguised as that mild mannered man in the Oval Office who has the power to stop it short of the cliff. Revenue bills originate in the House, period. Yes there is negotiation between the House and the President. Congressman Boehner and the President have been talking. The key is to understand Congress Speak. The President, “will not raise taxes on the student, elderly and middle class”. Translation… the upper class will sustain a tax increase or else I will not sign the reconciliation bill”. Congressman  Boehner says “I will entertain increasing revenue”. Translation is I will not raise taxes on anybody. Ky.Republican Mitch McConnell says he wasn’t sent to the Senate to raise taxes on anyone but loopholes are a good source to “raise revenue”. He stands for relection in 2014 and the possibility of  opposition by a  Tea Party candidate. Same words, raise revenue, no tax increase. NV. Sen. Reid says raise taxes on the upper income earners and close loopholes.  The other interested parties having their own ideas and constituency are Congressmen Eric Cantor and Congressman (former Vice Pres. candidate) Ryan.

 

What I am leading up to is the recently released Bob Woodward book “The Power of Politics”. This is the factual story of the 2011 negotiations to raise the budget limits and how the negotiations got us to the “Fiscal Cliff”. Read the book. Available in hardback or Nook or Kindle. This time around the rhetoric has not changed so far and it is the same players forecasting the same dire consequences. Despite what is being said there is no new plan to solve the differences in philosophy. Will raising tax rates on anyone stifle the economy? Who you believe will tell you where you stand philosophically. Do you want your cake and to eat it to? The reality is that we need to raise taxes, close loop holes and reduce spending on entitlements as well as the military industrial complex.  What will happen is a modified plan to get the Cliff kicked down the road to give the players three more monnths to come up with a plan. Reading the book will allow you to keep score because so far this is a replay of the previous game. Same story second half. Who will blink first? Thinking about the prospects, I don’t care who blinks first. Lets just get on with the nations business and in the process think about what do you want Tupelo taxes to do for you. When you consider this disfunctional Congress how can anyone expect them to oversee the CIA, FBI, Department of Defense, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and FEMA.  WHO IS IN CHARGE?

Dansette