Clinton’s Lead in Electoral College is Falling

Clinton’s chances of winning are 58.5% as of July 22 according to Nate Silver’s blog 538 ( http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/) . 538 forecasted the 2012 results in every state, and only missed one state in 2008.

Clinton’s percentage has dropped steadily from the first predictions a few weeks ago when Clinton had over an 80% chance of winning. Since then Clinton was hammered by the critique ofthe FBI Director for her carelessness of handling emails with classified docuements and attacks from the Republican National Convention.

According to a recent issue in The Atlantic Monthly, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/07/how-american-politics-went-insane/485570/  on how American politics went insane, the profiles of the people who are backing Trump indicate they want to destroy Washington as it is and believe he can do it. He’s made money as a businessamn and is successful. According to the same article those same people also do not know how the political system works, but they know it’s rigged and it’s not rigged in favor of them. They angry and they’re out to destroy what’s there. They’ll take their chances on what Trump can build despite his history of lies and scandals.

Trump’s supporters believe they are his first priority.

Incredibly they are believers in light of his record that he has put himself first ahead of his partners, his students at Trump University, his stockholders, his eimployees and his bankers.

They believe him because he knows how angry they are and articulates their feelings well.  They see no other option.

It makes no sense to attack Trump.  His supporters have to hear and learn he has abandoned people in the past and is very likely to do it again in favor or himself. Their chance of doing well after the wreckage are very small based on his past performances.

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Rafe Esquith Has a Lot to Teach Us

Rafe Esquith is a fifth grade teacher who’s spoken to 100,000 teachers in China, and on May 15 was keynote speaker for over 500 Rotarians and guests at the Rotary District Conference in Yakima.

According to what he said in Yakima and what appears in his biography on the American Program Bureau website (apbspeakers.com), he’s had results teaching at a public school in Los Angeles from 1984 to 2015 in a crime plagued neighborhood where 80 percent of the students are Hispanic, 18 percent Asian and 2 percent African-American. Few speak English as their native language.

While he’s received numerous national awards and been featured in the PBS documentary film “The Hobart Shakespeareans” (pbs.org/pov/hobart/), the most impressive claim I heard him say and I confirmed in his biography, is his “students consistently score in the top 5 to 10 percent on standardized tests and most go on to attend the most prestigious colleges and universities.”

He told us he succeeds because he teaches difficult reading and historical literature combined with his artistic passions, Shakespeare and classical music. There’s more to it than that, so I read more to understand more.

He excels with at least six methods, most of which we could incorporate into our roles with children. 

* First, he convinces them they will be  better people for doing everything he has them do, never telling them, “Because it’s required.” I’ve violated that rule.

* He reads difficult classics out loud with emphasis, interpretations and explanations and has his students do the same. He believes reading instruction must continue past pronunciation and comprehension to include imagination and emotion. He’s inspired me to read to my lunch buddy even though he knows how to read.

* Esquith invigorates his immigrant students to understand U.S. history through trips to Washington D.C. every year, visiting such places as the Tomb of the Unknowns. He showed a video of a fifth-grader reading the memorable letter from Civil War Major Sullivan Ballou to his “very dear Sarah” before marching off to battle where he died a week later. A Congressional panel listened to the student display the feelings of love, patriotism and fear throughout the poignant love letter. (To read the letter go to tinyurl.com/nbz4n37.)

* He’s created the Esquith classroom economy module described in his book “There Are No Shortcuts.” He told us he uses it to teach economics and build incentives for students to earn classroom dollars for extra benefits. For example, he rents each student a seat for $2,000 per month and if they show up and perform they earn $1,800. In order to earn more money, they arrive early, do extra homework, clean up the classroom, take attendance, etc. You can read a discussion among teachers who are using his system at tinyurl.com/h456k2d.

* Students arrive at 6:30 a.m. and work until 5:30 to 6 p.m. Students benefit from increased “time-on-task,” a consistent predictor of better student performance. His student helpers allow him to spend more time teaching students, supporting them, correcting them and inspiring them.

* Finally, students spend the year practicing as Hobart Shakespearians to put on a fundraising production with their own classical musicians. They perform with a depth of meaning, attracting professional Shakespearian actors to support the play.

Despite his excellent credentials, Esquith got in trouble for alleged misconduct in the classroom and was terminated in October of 2015. He later sued the Los Angeles Unified School District for $1 billion in a class-action suit. He claims the board is on a “witch-hunt” to rid the school of higher-cost teachers with seniority. Esquith has not been charged with any crime, according to an online story from “Education Week,” published Dec. 10. His case and lawsuit are pending and both sides are not commenting.

The Rotary district governor and the chair of the District Assembly interviewed Esquith two weeks before the conference. Duane Monick of Yakima, who is the chair, told me Esquith said no student or parent has ever filed a complaint against him and every student in this year’s class has followed him to a local private school. 

Esquith has a lot to teach all of us.

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Why Middle Income Families Have Lost Wealth to Upper Income Families

From 1949 to 1979 the employers shared gains in productivity with all workers until 1980 (see the chart below from Atif Mian and Amir Sufi  at the House of Debt http://houseofdebt.org/2014/03/18/the-most-important-economic-chart.html.Productivity Sharing Since 1980 the wealth from productivity increases are going to higher income families while median family incomes have remained flat.

The dreams of economic success for middle-class to lower income families have been savaged since 1980. There are five reasons according to a book by Hedrick Smith titled Who Stole the American Dream?  Smith has won the Pulitzer Prize twice and Emmy awards for producing prime time TV specials.. He wondered why Americans were losing their dreams and he found out why. This article is a summary of his book and I hope to add more details in the coming weeks.

Business Lobbying Resources reduced equitable sharing. In the ‘60s Congress passed pro-consumer legislation, prompting businesses to expand lobbying offices in Washington DC from 175 in 1971 to 2,445 by 1981. In 1977-78 business lobbyists blocked consumer legislation and a plan to close tax loopholes. Instead Congress lowered the corporate tax rate from 49 percent to 28 percent. By 2010 business interests spent $2.3 billion on political elections while unions spent $89 million, $1 for every $25 spent by business.

Large businesses cut American jobs. Job Losses from multinational firms and visa programs cost workers high paying jobs. In 2009 after bank bailouts, Smith said, “3.9 million jobs in finance, IT, human resources, and back office functions have been lost in North America and Europe.”  From 2000 to 2009 U.S. multinationals hired 2.4 million people overseas and laid off 2.9 million American workers.

Tax cuts for the wealthy. In 1981 Reagan delivered tax cuts that favored the wealthy, adding $1 trillion dollars for the top 1 percent during the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. In 2001-2003 the Bush tax cuts benefitted upper income families because lobbyists claimed tax cuts would spur job growth. Instead, between 2000-2009 the U.S. had the slowest economic growth since WWII.

Stock options for CEO pay reduced family median pay. Businesses began to reduce sharing wealth from increased productivity by awarding stock options to CEOs in 1976. Stock options were not considered expenses that reduced profits according to SEC and accounting regulations. Switching corporate pay to stock options cut corporate expense and increased profits. All cuts in jobs and employee pay increased stock profits and prices. Workers weren’t receiving stocks and their flat incomes restricted stock purchases so weren’t sharing in the wealth. CEOs became so wealthy, Hedrick said, “In 1994 corporate executives overtook the inherited rich as the biggest portion of the nation’s richest 1 percent.”

401(k) Funds Cut Corporate Pension Costs. In 1978 Congress created 401(k) savings plans for supplemental executive compensation. Soon businesses used them to cut pension costs and increase stock prices. Businesses matched deductions from workers not receiving stock options. Employees went from paying 11 percent of their retirement costs in 1980 to 51 percent in 2006. In 2010 workers in their 60s had an average 401(k) worth $84,469. Half of baby boomers faced retirement without funds to cover their basic needs.

Banking deregulation transferred trillions of dollars to banks. In 1980 Regan promoted banking deregulation allowing credit cards to avoid state usury limits on interest rates. Consumers who didn’t pay off their monthly credit card debt began paying much higher interest expense. To make it worse, Reagan’s bill authorized banks to offer minimal payments on credit cards that didn’t cover the cost of the interest. Consumers were not warned that minimum payments increased balances on the credit card, increasing the interest owed the next month.

Regan’s legislation also approved risky mortgage lending options that were used in the subprime lending crisis. Tragically regulators didn’t intervene, because from 2005-06 more than 50 percent of the people who were sold expensive sub-prime loans were qualified for lower cost, less risky prime loans. Homeowner failures, costs of borrowing and fees transferred $6 trillion in value from homeowners to banks.

 

Posted in Community Building, Economics, Justice, Politics | 3 Comments

Daydreaming About Being an Advisor for Presidential Candidates

After watching presidential campaigns for six decades, I’ve decided to daydream about being an advisor to Clinton or Trump in the presidential campaign.

Trump is a celebrity showman driving the Republican campaign so my recommendation would be, “Don’t change.”

Not that he plans to. Campaigners’ repeated suggestions to act more presidential have been rebuffed.

He could win the presidency.  As he attacks his opponents he assures his supporters he will deliver for them. When I look at the adulation in men’s and women’s faces at his rallies, I see deep faith in him.

He watches news coverage intently until he gets a label with a kernel of truth and lethally strikes first. He called Scott Walker “slowwwwwww..”, blasted Bush as “low energy,” and belittled “Lil’ Marco.” To be honest, I’ve looked for those weaknesses and they appeared to fit.

He labels Cruz, “Lyin’ Ted, which is justified since Politifact indicates statements by Cruz are mostly false or worse two out of every three times. But Politifact says Trump’s statements are worse: mostly false or worse three out of every four times. http://tinyurl.com/npbypuz. Still, Trump’s believers believe him.

He endears himself as a bad boy and gains more supporters. After rude comments about Fiorina’s looks he said, “I’m not supposed to say that, but really folks, come on. Are we serious?”

Those comments convince supporters, “He tells it like it is.”

That faith spills over to Trump’s political promises to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it or redo the trade agreement with China (there is no trade agreement with China).

He’s also believable because he’s overwhelmed the money-hugging tycoons who backed the losing Republican candidates and is taking on the Republican National Committee by saying the delegate count is rigged. If he can stomp them, supporters believe he can strengthen U.S, positions with allies and enemies.

Clinton has to assume Trump will continue his attacks as a celebrity performer.

It’s his plan according to Roger Stone who told Janet Reitman of Rolling Stone magazine (http://tinyurl.com/zh9bww6) that he worked for Trump in the beginning of his campaign. Stone said, “I resigned because it became very clear that Donald had his own vision of how to do this. He was going to be his own strategist. But I will say he’s been proved right: you can do it for free—if you have the celebrity.

Clinton has to counterpunch, which she’s already done. Trump’s first attack on Clinton after her primary victories on April 26 was a flop. He said she won because she’s a woman. She embraced it effortlessly, citing all the causes she’s championed for women’s rights to cheers of women and men who support her.

She’s running videos of his statements, (http://tinyurl.com/h4e9km7) with the theme, “Donald Trump wants you to forget everything he’s said. Don’t.” He’s said, “I could stand in the middle of fifth avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any votes.”

She quotes Maya Angelou, “When someone shows who they are, believe them.”

She should announce she won’t schedule debates with Trump.

Pressured by reports to debate him, she should answer the same way: “Trump doesn’t debate. He’s a bully in scheduled debates who’s used trash talk. Debates would be a waste of time. Tell him, “Stay in your own garbage dump, Trump.”

If Trump promises to abide by debate rules. Clinton should say, “He’s lying, since he’s been a confirmed liar 76 percent of the time.”

This article hasn’t talked about issues, and deliberately so. Issues mattered in the democratic primary, but Trump’s celebrity style has pushed issues into the background.

My priorities for a president are experience, compassion and trustworthiness.

Trump has the least experience, lies the most and hasn’t demonstrated any compassion.

But in this campaign, the issue may be determined by, sadly, the most media savvy.

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Finding Nirvana as an ADHD Sufferer

On April 13 I wrote the following.

IMG_0248My daughter, bless her soul, suffers from dysfunctional ADHD which she inherited from me. I feel guilty about passing it on to her.

Or sometimes I feel smug.

For example recently I felt smug when she lost her keys because I’ve learned two rules to stop losing my keys. I didn’t explain my rules while she was tearful about losing hers, but maybe writing about them would work.

My rules to avoid suffering missing car keys:  1. Always hang keys on the same hook.  2. When I think of a better place to put them for whatever reason, never put them there and follow rule number 1. That’s simple.

Except it’s not that simple for me. I keep each key for our two cars on separate rings so each and fit snugly in my pockets.

But my key for Karen’s car is not on the hook right now.

I, like many ADHD sufferers, used to beat myself up for wasting time looking for my keys. A search would frustrate those around me. I would apologize and feel more guilty, which reduces the effectiveness of my search. It is not pleasant which is why I always follow my two rules.

Right now I’m not suffering because I’m practicing Buddha’s four noble truths to avoid suffering. As I understand Buddha’s truths, we suffer. The causes of suffering are desire and ignorance. I want my key and I don’t know where it is. I can reduce suffering by reducing desire and gaining knowledge of where my key is. Fourth, I need to follow the path to enlightenment.

My path is to deny desire for the key. I wonder where it is: in a coat pocket, vest, dresser or pants. I can’t remember the last time I drove Karen’s car, or gave it to her to drive us.

Last night I asked her if she knows where my key is and she said, “I hope I don’t have it.” She borrows mine because it takes up less room than her set of keys. I know her key is hanging on her hook because I’ve already checked.

She doesn’t appear to be suffering about my key either, so maybe she’s more enlightened by Buddha’s path than I am.

My path seems enlightened. I’m enjoying writing this and I’m curious about where my key is.

On April 14 I wrote the following. When I came home late last night, my missing key was hanging on its hook. Am I experiencing nirvana?

 

 

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Let’s Back Campaigns that are Guaranteed Winners and Save Lives

This is a story of politicians’ presidential campaigns compared to different politicians’ life-and-death campaigns for the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015.

On July 29 2015, 23 politicians had announced their candidacies for president.

July 30 Sen, Susan M. Collins (R – ME) announced her campaign to pass the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015 (S. 1911) co-sponsored by Chris Coons (D – DE),

“The purpose of our bill is to improve the health and well-being of women and children in developing countries. Every day approximately 800 women will die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. More than 17,000 children under the age of five will die each day of treatable conditions such as prematurity, pneumonia, and diarrhea, with malnutrition being the underlying cause in nearly half those deaths.”

She said treatments are low-cost life-saving protocols such as clean birthing practices, vaccines, nutritional supplements and handwashing with soap.

She explained the bill should stimulate international investments and reduce dependence on U.S. funding. She cited a commission from Lancet, a media group covering global health and medicine (http://www.thelancet.com), which “indicated that for every $1 invested, there is a return of $9 to $20 in growing the gross domestic product of the country receiving the investment.”

As the Senate assigned the bill to the Committee on Foreign Relations, the 24th candidate entered the presidential campaign.

On September 9 UNICEF reported “the number of children who die annually from mostly preventable causes before they turn five now stands at 5.9 million.” That’s a drop from 12.6 million since 1990. UNICEF said the millennial goal to eradicate these preventable deaths is achievable by 2035.

On September 10 senior columnist Jay Evensen in the Deseret News, called that drop in deaths “the greatest success story of our times.” He said the success “involves to a large extent, the U.S. government.”

He believes the bill is essential and free. “It would require USAID to develop a strategy that focuses on the most vulnerable and poorest people worldwide with measurable targets. It would require no extra money.”

On September 17 Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) became a cosponsor.

RESULTS, (www.results.org), a bipartisan non-profit that partners with organizations to prevent child deaths and provides research, indicates only Evensen’s article covered the bill in September. The presidential campaigns were had better coverage.

On October 7 Rep Dave Reichert (R-WA) sponsored HR 3706, the House bill cosponsored by a second Republican and two Democrats.

They sent a letter to their colleagues asking them to co-sponsor, saying, “The US government has a strong bipartisan legacy of leadership on maternal and child health. However it is clear we need to do more.”

In November, RESULTS reports seven newspapers supported the bill including the Seattle Times. The presidential campaigns had more coverage.

The House met for 22 days in November and December. At year-end Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Chair of the House Republican Conference, was one of 62.House cosponsors. Eighteen presidential candidates were still campaigning and media coverage.

As of April 7, RESULTS says the Senate had met for 44 days and the bill has 7 Republican and 7 Democratic cosponsors. The House had met 36 days and the bill has 110 sponsors (46 Republicans and 64 Democrats). That list does not include Rep. Newhouse. Will Boyington from Rep. Newhouse’s office called me to say, “Newhouse is interested in the bill and is reviewing it for sponsoring.” The bills are still in committee.

As of April 7, www.opensecrets.org reported the presidential candidates and super PACs had raised $1.031 billion. Five candidates remain after millions of dollars and time have been wasted on risky campaigns.

As of April 7, 253 days have passed since Sen Collins pleaded that too many mothers and children under five are dying each day.” Evensen later said, “It would require no extra money.” Reichert insisted, “We need to do more.”

These life-and-death campaigns are winning cosponsors. Let’s pass them immediately before we waste more time and money and lose more lives.

Posted in Community Building, Doing Justice and Having Compassion, Politics | 3 Comments

How and Why my Dog Haley and I Help Each Other

IMG_0213My dog Haley has Karen and me locked into a one- to two-mile morning walk that makes all of us feel better.

Rain, sleet, snow, cold, heat, wind or smoke are unacceptable excuses because we’ve been through all of them.

And I love it — even before we start and even more after we’re done.

I’ve wondered why. It turns out there is a medical reason that makes it more marvelously mysterious and it’s linked to our mutual gazing.

Animal behavioral scientists have discovered when we gaze into each other’s eyes our brains get increased levels of oxytocin. “Oxytocin (is) a hormone that plays a role in maternal bonding, trust and altruism,” according to an April 2015 article “How dogs stole our hearts,” published on sciencemag.org.

Can this experience truly come from a 14-pound brown and white beagle/terrier mix we bought from a rescue mission in 2011? I’d heard people with heart problems like I have healed faster with a pet dog. It’s working for me.

Haley’s excitement starts when she watches me head to the bedroom after breakfast. She jumps off the living room couch and charges onto our bed, where she spins around to lie down. She fixes her gaze on me and licks her snout as she ducks her head while whirling her tail around her rump.

The sciencemag.org article goes on to say, “Mutual gazing had a profound effect on both the dogs and their owners. Of the duos (dogs and humans) that had spent the greatest amount of time looking into each other’s eyes, both male and female dogs experienced a 130 percent rise in oxytocin levels, and both male and female owners a 300 percent increase.”

When I look at Haley, she’s watching my eyes and instantly her tail whips faster, her tongue licks faster and her head bobs up and down faster. That may explain why I’m feel peppier getting dressed.  IMG_0207

Besides, probably no other time during this day will I be so encouraged, so rewarded to complete a simple task.

Haley jumps off the bed and runs back and forth to the back door. She charges out underneath the rising garage door into whatever weather assaults her.

She won’t go into that same weather at night when I open the door for her to make a last pit stop, but before a morning walk, no problem.

I’m not ready to start and she knows it. When I bend over to tie my long shoelaces into double knots around the grommets of my boots, she hits her peak impatience. She zooms back to stick her nose into my knot-tying to lick my fumbling, exposed hands and face. I can’t discourage her. I muddle through.

I love it.

This unfathomably immense cosmos allows a 14-pound, four-legged mammal to bond with a 160-pound bimodal mammal — and make me feel marvelous before exercising and even better afterward. Science explains it’s because we’re increasing each other’s oxytocin levels by gazing into each other’s eyes.

That makes it feel more mysteriously miraculous for which I daily thank a divine presence.

 

 

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