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ReesClark.com
Momentum
Blogus clarkensis: Just a few observations and the occasional modest proposal. If you'd like to participate or comment on my mad ravings write to me. If it gets weird, consider that weird attracts search engines, and the site is really a test of search engines and of our system features. (Many images can be clicked for a larger version.)
More Illegal Foreign Emoluments for Tr*mp
One wonders where the so-called Tea Party is hiding as Tr*mp directs taxpayer funds to his Doral resort to shore up his biggest white elephant.

The lame claim by Mick Mulvaney that the TOrg will not profit is an Big Lie of accounting. Covering what would be another losing summer month's losses is the full equivalent of profit.

Trumpeteers, weren't you listening when your grandparents repeated that a penny saved is a penny earned.
History Museum in Johnstone Scotland on our Platform
Gavin and I are supporting an online history museum in Johnstone, Scotland, whence came my maternal grandmother's parents in the early 1880s. The local history society sent us this kind acknowledgement.

A Scotland History Connection
Since 2013 I've been working with some associates in Johnstone, Scotland, on a website for the local history society (http://johnstonehistory.org/).

Johnstone is in Renfrewshire near Paisley, where my maternal great-grandmother Lavinia Fleming Goodwin began spinning thread at the Clark Thread Co. (no relation) around 1865 at age six.

In 2015 I ran across this ad from the 19th Century, which suggests a more idyllic life than she probably led, though those Clarks were more progressive than many mill owners, in that child workers did get a free half-day of school while working the other half (How many hours? Your guess is as good as mine).

My grandmother, who would have been the daughter of a girl like the one in the image, became a first-rate seamstress and made a good portion of the clothes I wore as a boy, including some that got me teased by my friends.

Here is Lavinia in 1896, with her husband Thomas McKee Goodwin and her surviving children. The children are Thomas and Rachel, standing, and seated L-R are Vina with father, Edna with mother, Anna (my grandmother, Anna Goodwin Davis, wearing the black dress), Elizabeth, and Mabel.

The Johnstone History Society

Fable Dies Tragically in Spelling Accident
A promising parody died today in an accidental lapse of diction by its author. The fable "The Devil Made Me Write This" by an unnamed satirist best known for his frequent Facebook jabs at Donald Trump, succumbed to the effects of mistaking fair for fare and later child baring for childbearing.

In a necropsy of the experience, the writer's former diction and spelling coach Esmeralda Effingham of Pennsylvania observed, "we always knew he'd come to a bad and," which comment lent perspective on the recent faux pas.

Other commentators observed that either mistake alone might have been overlooked but that the presence of ambiguity in both the introduction to the piece and the socko finish were in the aggregate too much to bear. (The Big Bear Aggregate Co. of Hardrock, AZ, had no comment but said it had referred the matter to counsel.)

Film at 11.

Ed. note: Child baring is an offense in 17 states.
Tr*mp and the Bahamas
Trump supporters have been praising the president for having donated $1 million to "the Bahamas relief fund" (whatever that is, no specific reference found). If true, we say good for him.)

But note that is 0.01% of the $10bn net worth he has (probably falsely) claimed in the past, which equates to $8.60 from a 2019 estimate of the average household's $86,000 net worth.

In terms of income, assume he is earning 10% on invested capital of the $10bn. One day's income is $2,739,726.02. One million dollars could easily and of course hypothetically be recouped by, say, stiffing some contractor or understating income on a tax return while overstating the same income on a loan application.

Unfortunately, The Donald is under audit and cannot show anyone the receipt.

If instead we were to participate in an international disaster relief fund that collected $1/year from the top 20% of world citizens, that fund would have in ten years $15.4bn. Invested conservatively at 3% per annum, it would earn about $450,000, which could—if matched by savings and insurance of affected countries—come close to funding relief for a Dorian-sized disaster every year.

If each US household donated the $8.60 mentioned before, we could fully fund the disaster relief organization in only a couple of years. If this were a truly international effort, the contributions should be adjusted to local incomes, and the fund should be administered by an international body of experts not under political control. Might Americans pay more than others? Probably, but I'd feel pretty good about that, wouldn't you?

Of course, we'd still be on the hook in case of a multiple disaster as happened a few years ago with multiple hurricanes in short order. None of this would reduce the emotional pain felt by direct victims, but we could be responding in hours, not days, as the funding would be less of an issue.

Within such an organized approach to recurrent disasters, we could just do the needed repairs, care for the injured and get on with life. Showy donations that seem large to the average person would not be necessary and might even seem a bit like conspicuous consumption.
Putting United Health Care (UHC) "Security" to the Test
Today I called United Health Care (UHC) customer service. The call was answered by a nice lady, "E" in Texas.

She suggested we use the UHC website to coordinate. I tried to re-establish my existing online account. It found my ID from phone and other info and transferred me to a login page. I tried to sign in using pretyped ID supplied by system and the password recorded in my old manual records; used to work, but...

System asked for answers to "security" questions: Some security; this is what websites were doing in the 1990s. I estimate there are scores if not hundreds of old friends who could correctly guess my answers. (One was what was my first phone number, so I gave it as it then was, seven digits, as I'm much older than area codes.) "Secret questions" are, of course, a security technique that went out with high-button shoes.

After my several attempts with correct answers, it bailed out and locked the account with the following:

"Error: We have no record of your email address, phone number or security questions, so we’re unable to find your account information. Please call us at 1-877-844-4999 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with any website or technical questions or issues."

I was still simultaneously on line with "E", who confirmed that all that data was in fact on her screen.

(BTW, It's OK to spam call those numbers, as the response time is already so bad that no one will notice the difference.)

During several on-hold periods, I learned that E's father shared my birthday. Sadly he's passed away, so we cannot celebrate together.

Was transferred by "E" to tech support. We started over.

First thing was to go to the website. She sent me to one that responded with an instruction to update my Flash plugin. I don't allow Flash within a mile of my computer for security reasons, so I refused. She then sent me to another URL.

Gave it the login name and clicked the lost password link; it gave me the same "security questions" but this time I asked the agent whether they were case sensitive. She said Yes. I typed my old password, substituting a Capital for one of the letters as stated in their new instructions (of course I have no idea what it required a decade ago when I set up the account).

System responded that I could not re-use an old password. Now, if it's case sensitive, it was not the same string, so either it is not C-S or someone was lying.

So I made up a new password, created new "secret" questions and finally got signed in. Elapsed time: One hour, 50 minutes at last look, actually more.

These are the folks protecting the integrity of my health care and other personal data and that of millions of others. Need I say more?
Is America Dead?
John Pavlovitz recently published the following commentary. I find myself lamenting the same behavior that infects many of my fellow citizens.
America is Dead

JULY 16, 2019 / JOHN PAVLOVITZ

America is dead.

Not the America that I idealized as a boy; not the glittering beacon of equality I imagined it to be through the vaseline-covered lenses of my maleness and straightness and whiteness; not the star-spangled stuff of towering billboards, celluloid dreams, and black and white movie reels—promising every human being open-armed welcome and the unencumbered chase of life, liberty, and happiness.

That America, I’ve come to learn, never really existed. Its freedom and abundance were never fully available to everyone here. It had been built on the land and the backs of people who saw only a fraction of the promises made by the anthems and the slogans. I grieved the passing of that America long ago, like a childhood myth you one day wake up and realize you’ve outgrown and can’t fool yourself into believing anymore, as much as you want to.

The America that I came to know as real, was deeply flawed: erected on supremacy, steeped in misogyny, forged through force, and polluted with prejudice—but still beautiful in what it aspired to. Despite its fractured and ugly parts, that America was a place where I believed most people were trying really hard to make space for difference, to defend the vulnerable, to listen to someone else’s story.

The America I accepted as real, was a place where our leaders were expected to be public stewards of the dream. They were supposed to be the ones leading us to our better nature. They were there to steady us in turbulence and to bring clarity when confusion reigned. They were the people, at least on the surface—declaring the inherent worth of every human being and working to make each person feel seen and safe and welcome here.

The America I accepted as real wouldn’t tolerate an unrepentant racist at its helm.

That America is dead.

Our leaders no longer even need to pretend.

They can hate with impunity.

It is not lamented by their supporters, but celebrated.

From our most revered platform they can openly and with great enmity, declare the inferiority and inhumanity of an entire group of human beingsand it is simply amened by a choir of like-hearted loyalists; defended on talk shows and buttressed by political partners and boosted on bumpers: no, you are not welcome here—no, America does not want you.

Leaders can tweet out unthinkable cruelty and abject lies, and hurl every kind of otherizing slur about people and place those people directly in harm’s way—and no objections are raised by those who once would have held them accountable. They can lobby for people’s removal and eradication, and it is deemed acceptable, even Presidential.

In the presence of unapologetic bigotry from the very highest levels of our Government, millions do not bat an eye, they speak not a word of dissension, they do nothing to demand an elemental level of human decency—they expend no energy protecting vulnerable life.

And most heartbreaking, men and women who profess faith in a dark-skinned, itinerant, middle eastern rabbi who preached love of neighbor—are now the greatest perpetuators of violence against the poor and the assailed and the marginalized. Their silent complicity and vocal support is perhaps the worst of these recent deaths.

I used to look at my country and even when I saw its many deficiencies, I believed the people around me were at least attempting to be the best version of themselves and striving to do no harm. I no longer believe that about many of them—not because I want to believe that, but because they are telling me that. They are regularly and loudly pronouncing the America I once believed in to be dead.

Now I’m attending the funeral of another version of the country I love and trying to find reason to keep going. My only comfort is found in those who do grieve alongside me, those who are also disgusted by the malevolence so many have embraced, those who refuse to accept the unacceptable. They are the ones who will keep the idea of America from dying in the country called America.

I only hope that I can avoid not letting the dream of a better nation—one where everyone is truly welcome and treasured and given the chance to thrive—die in me.

(After https://johnpavlovitz.com/2019/07/16/america-is-dead/ via LMJ @ Facebook. Too important to let ads and superfluous graphics get in the way of the message.)

Original Article

Keep the candidates coming; challenge their stamina
None of the "front runners" presents much of interest beyond their canned speeches. I enjoyed listening today to Andrew Yang and Marianne Williamson on CNN. Yang would be the most fun, and he seems able to think in large numbers. Would love to hear round robin debates between the newcomers of both parties, plus some of the more thoughtful (R)s like Adam Kinzinger, who'd be running if not for Tr*mp.

The more I think about round robin debates the more I like the idea; perhaps like baseball; mostly in their own league (party) with occasional interleague play. Once a week from July to May rotating among broadcast and cable networks, followed by a national "jungle" or "top two" primary with runoff as necessary in June followed by a national election with all states pledging their electoral votes to the national majority winner as 11 states already do. (If you're afraid of the latter you don't believe in democracy, admit it.)
National Internet Access Program Needs Net Neutrality
I note the T administration has come out in favor of universal access to the Internet. Wahoo! At the same time they want to allow ISPs to ration service and decide which content providers get preferred access. Learn more by searching "Net Neutrality" in your browser.

BTW, most other industrial nations have had national universal service policies for decades. It can only be done with government support, as there are vast areas with sparse population and without the required infrastructure, in which there is no potential profit in offering the service. Both democracy and free markets depend on universal access to information and ideas.
How long, Lord?
Today's history lesson: Darius III knew more than his generals and assumed field command before the onslaught of Alexander and the Greeks; he fled the battle and was murdered by his own commanders. The Achaemenid Empire ceased to exist.

Napoleon knew more than his generals and invaded Russia before leaving his army lying frozen in the marshes. While France continued, it has ever since been a second echelon power—albeit with great wine and cheese.

Adolf Hitler knew more than his generals and dithered during preparations for invasion before Eisenhower and the Allies achieved the D-Day invasion, whereafter suicide soon became his only option. Nazi Germany ceased to exist.

Donald Trump knows more than our generals and will soon abandon our few remaining Middle East allies—especially the Kurds and potentially the majority of Afghans—to their fate, just as Nixon and Ford did in the case of the Montagnards and Hmong of Vietnam. The US survived the latter but the shame lingers; who now will stand with us when we next need help?
Words fail...
It's no surprise that children have died in custody of the US government, the latest being a 7-year-old girl who walked into NM from Mexico and probably expired from heat-related causes TBD).

The gut instinct of EVERY SINGLE ONE of the administration toadies was to defend the policy. NOT ONE—from DHS Sec. Krysten Cutiepie right down to the grunts at the B.Patrol—interviewed today opened with sympathy or commiseration but went directly to blaming the victim.

The whole thing suggests a new group label. We have a flock of geese, a murder of crows, and now an embarrassment of executives.
Trump: A reasonable request
Donald Tr*mp does not speak for all Americans and cannot expect to stifle violence by "all" who would perpetrate it. He can, however, influence his followers. All we can ask — but probably cannot expect — of him is a statement something like "if you think you are acting in my name or the name of causes in which I believe, you are wrong, and I repudiate you and all like you and do not want your support or your vote." This should come without his characteristic attempt to confuse a situation like today's Pittsburgh shooting by diffusing blame so thinly that we cannot assign responsibility, thereby pointing the finger away from himself. We all know whence this came.
A wee pun is a bit o' fun


Rural America in Crisis Due to Tr*mp Tariffs
Writing in the New York Times, Robert Leonard says "The most poignant evidence of the depopulation of rural [America] over the last three-quarters of a century is the lily. Drive any highway or rock road in the state about this time of year and you will see that about every half-mile, the ditches are full of beautiful orange lilies.

"Behind the lilies are hundred-acre fields of corn or beans, and if you park your car and wander the field behind the lilies, you will invariably find nails, broken crockery and remnants of life where a farmhouse once stood. The lilies are all that’s left of the dreams of the optimistic family that planted the lilies and made a farm and a life on the land generations ago, only to see it lost.

"The destruction of a way of life cuts as deep now as it did back then, especially when it comes from this president. The only thing he knows about food is that it always comes served to him on a silver, or maybe gold, platter."

NYT Article

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