Monday, October 17, 2016

Trump and the Polls: It's Not Over until the Fat Lady Sings!

These are tough days and nights for Donald J. Trump, GOP candidate for president. Polls indicate his chances of winning are fast fading. His only consolation, and the only consolation of his fans, seems to be “knowledge” that the polls are all rigged.

And if that isn’t enough, Democrats are going to turn out millions of deceased voters for their side. The 2016 election is going to look like an episode of The Walking Dead.

Trump should be winning, as all his loyal supporters know, because Trump says he should and Trump knows he has run a perfect campaign. His fans realize he should actually get 106% of the popular vote, if only the media didn’t hate him so much. They know he won all six debates so far, including the one against Abraham Lincoln. Trump has polls (not rigged!) proving he did. In fact, he was recently chosen “America’s Most Handsome Man” by an unbiased panel of Fox News talking heads. Furthermore, all the Republicans jumping ship, or refusing to board from the start, are part of some nefarious conspiracy. 

Four of the last five men to run for president on a GOP ticket say they won’t support Trump George H. W. Bush: 1988, 1992; George W. Bush: 2000, 2004; John McCain, 2008; Mitt Romney, 2012). These men are all terrible people.

Paul Ryan is a scumbag too.

Trump would win all fifty-two states if it weren’t for these traitors.

Considering all the bitter tears being shed, perhaps we might look at a few assorted facts. The same polls Mr. Trump insists are rigged today once showed, during the GOP primaries, that he was always ahead.

Remember those glory days? Remember how, in just about every speech, Trump bragged about his poll numbers?

In those days the polls weren’t rigged!

Well, when did the fix first come in? Consider a few trends that bode well for Hillary Clinton. For some odd reason, Hispanic voters (not illegal immigrants—but living, breathing citizens who can and will cast ballots) don’t like Mr. Trump. In Arizona, on September 13, these voters favored Clinton by 68% to 18%.

In Florida the numbers were 53-29%.

Then again, these numbers were reported by an actual newspaper—the Washington Post—a part of a vast conspiracy to throw the election to Hillary Clinton. Hispanic voters really loved Trump—because Trump insisted they did. (Hispanic voters also went for President Obama in 2012 and did so in even greater numbers.)

Then, there’s more rigging—this time by Pew Research—to show that voters with a college degree or higher favor Clinton over Trump by 53-29%. (Obama won the same group, but only narrowly, four years ago.)

Let’s look at some more awful rigging! Fox News—Trump’s safe spot when he needs to cry on Sean Hannity’s shoulder—admitted Trump was unpopular with African Americans. In August, Clinton had 85% support among this demographic. Gary Johnson polled 7%.

Trump had 1%.

Again, the rigging has been “clear” for years. John Kerry, who lost in 2004, won 88% of the African-American vote. George W. Bush pulled 11%. In 2012 President Obama swept Mitt Romney aside with 93% of this vote.

So: no, Mr. TrumpRemember those glory days, Trump fans? Remember how, in just about every speech, Trump bragged about poll numbers?

Sure you do! In those days the polls weren’t rigged!

Well, then, when did the fix come in? Consider a few trends that bode well for Hillary Clinton. For some reason, Hispanic voters (not illegal immigrants—but actual living, breathing citizens who can cast ballots) don’t seem to like Trump. In Arizona, for example, on September 13, these voters favored Clinton by 68% to 18%.

In Florida the numbers were 53-29%.

Then again, these numbers were reported by an actual newspaper—the Washington Post—just a part of the vast media conspiracy to throw the election to Clinton. Hispanic voters really loved Trump—because Trump said they did. (Oddly enough, Hispanic voters also went for President Obama in 2012, and did so in even greater numbers. So the polls must have been rigged then.)

Then, there’s more rigging—this time by Pew Research—to show that voters with a college degree or more favor Clinton over Trump by 53-29%. (Obama won the same group, but only narrowly, four years ago.)

Let’s look at some more awful rigging! Fox News—Trump’s safe spot whenever he needs to cry on Sean Hannity’s shoulder—admitted Trump was unpopular with African Americans. In August, Clinton had 85% support from this demographic. Gary Johnson polled 7%.

Trump got 1%.

Again, the rigging has been “clear” for many years. John Kerry, who lost in 2004, won 88% of the African-American vote. George W. Bush pulled 11%. In 2012 President Obama swept Mitt Romney aside with 93% of this vote.

(Trump does, however, seem to have the KKK vote locked down.)

How about women? John Kerry narrowly won with American women, 51-48% in 2004, but lost by a slightly larger margin among men. Obama won the female demographic 56-44% in 2008 and 53-44% in 2012. (Damn rigged voting numbers!) Maybe the GOP could do better if they started supporting equal pay for women, came up with an actual health care plan to replace Obamacare if they do manage to win, and stopped insisting women who are raped have to carry any pregnancy that results to term. Republicans have been losing with women for years—and the Trump “outreach” plan isn’t helping. 

Bragging about grabbing pussy isn’t exactly a strategy to win.

How rigged are the polls? Apparently, very, very, bigly rigged. Last December 59% of American women had an unfavorable opinion of Trump. By March 2016 that number had ballooned to 73%. You could argue loudly—and Donald Trump always does—that all these numbers are rigged; but the same kind of polls consistently report Hillary Clinton’s own problems. Clinton is the second most-disliked major party candidate ever to run for president. Rigged poll after rigged poll, by the dozen all this year, has shown Clinton with a negative “favorability” rating. Current results average out to 43% favorable, 52% unfavorable.

You can look it up

This proves something, of course—in the confused thinking of Donald Trump and his confounded fans—that he absolutely has to be winning!

Only the same polls show the tangerine-colored candidate to be the most disliked candidate in American history. His negative favorability marks are even worse. Currently, 35% of the American people view him favorably.

His “unfavorable” mark is 61%.

Consider the sheer stupidity of this entire Trumpian position. Polling data from Arizona indicates Trump has a narrow 1 point lead over Clinton, as of today. Similar polls showed Mitt Romney would win that state easily four years ago—and he did, 54-44%. The polls that show Trump narrowly leading today show John McCain (not a hero!!!!) up by 16 points on his Democratic challenger. The numbers in Ohio are similar, indicating how poorly the polls are rigged by Democrats and the media and various left-wing body snatchers.

The most recent poll of Ohioans shows Trump up 1 point, 42-41%. But the trend of the five most recent polls shows Clinton up 1.6.

Meanwhile, Senator Rob Portman, a Republican running in the same battleground, is winning with ease. If the election were today, Portman would clobber his opponent, Ted Strickland, by 16 actual mathematical points.

You can find ample proof that the polls aren’t rigged, if you keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut. 

In Florida, “Little Marco” is polling ahead of his opponent. Rubio is up 5. When Donald Trump is involved, polls go back to being rigged, and he’s down 4.

The “rigging” is even worse if we dare turn to FiveThirtyEight, perhaps the most highly respected polling website. Here Nate Silver has Trump trailing nationally by 6.8 points. (Silver called all fifty states correctly in 2012, whereas the talking heads at Fox News got it almost all wrong.)

Even more ominously,  for fans of Trump—who apparently hate percentages as much as they hate taxes (not that Trump actually pays), Kenyan Obama and Crooked Hillary—Silver believes polls show Clinton ahead in every one of ten main battleground states.

Rigged polls? Really? 

As recently as July 30, Silver had Trump slightly ahead (briefly) and hanging close as late as September 26, the day of the first presidential debate, the day Trump turned in his “winning” performance. (This was followed up by Trump spending a week focusing on how fat a former Miss America really was.) Of course, Trump never admitted he lost the first debate—or lost the second. And if he said in this third debate on Wednesday that he planned to torture critics if elected, send political opponents to military trials in Guantanamo, have patriotic supporters beat up any protesters and bragged that he could get away with grabbing Rudy Giuliani’s wife’s crotch…well…his loyal fans would still love him.

The problem, however, for Trump fans is that there aren’t enough of them to form a majority in three weeks.

It’s not impossible that Trump can still win—because math is math—and it’s never over until the fat lady sings (probably an unfortunate analogy, considering Mr. Trump’s penchant for insulting American women)—but it’s highly unlikely. 

If you don’t believe me, check the betting line in Las Vegas today. The odds makers say, 6-1, Hillary comes out ahead. 


P. S. Elections are controlled almost entirely at the state level—polling places, early voting times and dates, absentee ballot notifications to voters, even whether or not felons can vote (in Ohio they can). In the following battleground states, Republicans would have to do the rigging since they control the state houses: Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin.

And did anyone notice that when Democrats were “stealing” the last two presidential elections, and now a third, they somehow proved unable to steal off-year elections in 2010 and 2014 when the GOP took back control of both houses of Congress?

If Donald Trump loses this election—and, like Las Vegas bookies, I’m betting he will—he’s going to have no one to blame but himself.

The Democrats ran a flawed candidate and the Republicans had an excellent shot all along to win. Then Trump started shooting himself in the foot—and the ass—and last and certainly not least, right in the nuts.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Donald Trump's Brilliant, Really Good Tax Plan!

“It’s going to be yuge,” Donald Trump told Sean Hannity’s on his Fox News show last night. His tax plan, he meant, not his giant ego. Trump promised as president he would change the United States tax code.

“I have the best plan. The best ever. Brilliant! I mean, who better to fix the tax code than the guy who pays no taxes whatsoever?” 

“Make sense to me,” Hannity agreed, like a fair and balanced version of a ventriloquist dummy.

Trump paused a moment before admitting fat Americans would see taxes rise. “Rosie O’Donnell is going to pay. Bigly,” he sneered.

“Can you believe it,” Trump continued. “People believe I called Alicia Machado, that beauty queen, ‘Miss Piggy.’ I don’t insult people. Sniff. Probably, a bunch of Mexican rapists spread that lie. Or reporters, the lowest form of life. Sniff. Or that Gold Star family, who, and I am not saying this, but many people are saying this, the father is a supporter of ISIS. I would never say anything insulting about a beauty queen. Maybe if she had a face like Carly Fiorina, I might insult her.” Sniff.

“I know you don’t like to insult people, Donald,” Hannity readily agreed.

“We’re going to make America great again! So great! So great! My face will be on Mount Rushmore,” Trump explained. “Naturally, it will be gold. I am going to create so many jobs, more than any president in history, more than all the other forty-three combined. I have a really good brain. You know who my three top advisers are?”

Hannity appeared momentarily perplexed.

“Me, myself and I,” The Donald said. “I don’t count Obama, by the way. He was never really president. He was born in Hawaii, the capital of Kenjah.”

Hannity grinned vapidly and ran a hand through his thickly-gelled hair.

“Here’s my plan,” Trump added. “Billionaires and multi-millionaires will pay no taxes! Not a dime. David and Charles Koch? Zero. The Walton family? Zero. I will pay zero. Well, I already pay zero, so that’s no yuge change. Sheldon Adelson will pay zero. That way he can keep donating tens of millions of dollars to GOP politicians to make sure they keep passing tax breaks along to make sure people like us never pay taxes. That lady who jacked up the price of the Epipen—needed to save children’s lives—by 700%? Zero taxes! Think of all the jobs she created for emergency room nurses.”

“You are brilliant Donald,” Hannity agreed.

“I am a great businessman, the greatest ever, greater than Martin Shkreli, Ken Lay and Bernie Madoff rolled into one. I created bazillions of jobs, at least in years when I’m wasn’t losing $916 million dollars, or years when I wasn’t declaring bankruptcy four times. Have I mentioned how smart I am?”

“I don’t think you have,” Hannity replied.

“Obama!” Trump spit out the name and grimaced like a man having a difficult bowel movement. “We are going to grow the economy by 10% annually. Yes, restaurants are going to get rid of unattractive women. But those 2’s and 4’s can work in telemarketing, so I won’t have to look at their faces. All the women who work in my White House will be 10’s! Did I mention my plan will create 25 million jobs! In a decade! That’s almost ten years! I am going to make America great again.”

Hannity had just seen Bureau of Labor statistics that showed President Obama had been creating jobs at almost that same exact pace, 2.46 million annually since 2011; but he apparently decided not to mention it to Fox News viewers.

“I’m going to use other people’s money,” Trump assured his host. “The money of the America people! It’s the art of the deal! Just like when I was stiffing thousands of workers and companies who had done business with me. Just like Trump University which no longer exists. The super-rich won’t pay any taxes. Then they can use the money they don’t pay to hire more workers, often at minimum wage, and those workers will pay more taxes, and there you go. Federal budget deficit wiped out!”

“Genius,” Hannity said.

“You know who else won’t be paying taxes? Rupert Murdoch, head of Fox News! The top twenty-five hedge fund managers who took home a combined $13 billion last year! And John G. Stumpf, who runs Wells Fargo. That guy is a job-creating maniac. That’s what we need in America. Business people should run everything. As president I will make Stumpf my Secretary of Treasury.”

A good-looking female intern interrupted the telecast briefly and handed Mr. Hannity a memo.

“That’s a ‘10’ there,” Trump leered as she left. “Boy, if Roger Ailes was still here, he’d be hitting that. Great guy, Ailes. Got yuge TV ratings. He’s advising my campaign now, helping win back the female vote.”

Trump offered a few more details. “I am going to use the taxes paid by hotel maids—probably illegal immigrants—hair dressers, bus drivers, auto mechanics, secretaries—hopefully really hot ones—farmers and factory workers and make America great again. Do you know we don’t win anymore in this country, Sean? We haven’t won since George Washington beat the redcoats at Gettysburg.”

Again, Hannity only grinned.

“By not paying taxes—well, my plan will be the greatest ever,” Trump insisted. “Billionaires will use their savings to pay for more expensive paintings and fancy cars and giant houses and gold-plated sinks and toilets. This will create more jobs for artists, workers in Ferrari plants and gold-plating workers. And those workers won’t belong to unions, either, because wages in this country are already too high. My three top advisers all tell me I’m right. When one of us talks the others nod in agreement. ‘That guy is the smartest ever,’ that’s what we say to ourselves.”

Hannity continued to grin; he was doing his usual fine job.

“I am really smart,” Trump added. “I have stamina. Stamina that Crooked Hillary could never have. I can stay up till 3:00 a.m., flailing away on Twitter, and looking at sex tapes. I will be the best president ever. The best. Melania says I will. All my children agree. I am going to appoint Ivanka as Secretary of State. I am going to make all my sons generals.”

“Won’t people protest?” Hannity asked. Hannity prides himself on asking the tough questions, after all.

“Not when I am president. I will order guards to punch them in the face. I will create more jobs by having more guards. You know who is a really strong leader! Vladimir Putin! That guy is better than Obama. He invaded Crimea. His pals shot down a civilian airplane with 298 people on board, including 80 children. That’s strong leadership right there! And my guards will wear brown shirts—creating jobs in the garment industry, even if those jobs are located in Bangladesh. I will create more jobs for torturers because we are going to torture suspects in terrorism cases, including American citizens, especially Muslim American citizens, and make America great again. I have a plan to defeat ISIS. I can’t tell you what it is but it will only take, like, fifteen minutes. Once I am in the Oval Office, we will begin sending American citizens to Guantanamo to stand military trial. We are going to stop and frisk African Americans in every corner of this land, because they want law and order and we have to protect the Second Amendment, but the Fifth, not so much. We are going to create so many jobs, for stop-and-friskers and tax lawyers for the ultra-rich, and hot women, and wall-building Americans, it will be great.”

“Aren’t you worried,” Hannity asked, “that if you don’t pay taxes ordinary Americans might wonder why they have to themselves?”

“They’ll never know. I’m not releasing my taxes! I have a yuge brain. Also a yuge penis. We let the not-smart people pay taxes. Firefighters can pay taxes to support police, police can pay taxes to support soldiers, soldiers can pay taxes to support teachers, and teachers can pay taxes to support police. This is called trickle-down economics, Sean, and it is proven to work. Everyone is better off in the end, especially the top 1% who are already doing great.”

“Do you have a name for your plan?” Hannity asked as he brought his nightly show to a merciful end.

Trump said he did.

“I call it the Trump-Chump’s-Pay-Taxes-Tax Plan. And it comes with free Trump hats for everyone.”

Vote for Trump. You'll pay taxes. Billionaires won't.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Donald Trump and His Magic Wall

I can’t stand it anymore. If not one person reads this post, I still don’t care. I must vent or my head will explode.
First, let me say I consider Donald J. Trump the most un-American candidate ever put forth by a major political party. Strom Thurmond in 1948 was worse, and George Wallace in 1968, but neither had a remote chance of winning. Trump’s for torture.Trump’s for trying American citizens in military courts. (Combine those ideas and see where it leads!) He called reporters the lowest form of life,” typical of his repeated dehumanizing comments, and hints at a desire to curtail freedom of the press. He’s for suppressing the right to protest and punching protesters in the face.

So you wonder. If Trump is in favor of the Second Amendment, what about the 1st, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th?

I taught American history for thirty-three years. I understand there are two sides to any argument—or four—or five thousand. I get why white, working-class Americans, without a racist thought in their minds, still support Trump. If my job was in danger of being outsourced to Sri Lanka, I’d be fuming too.

Come to think, I’ve been fuming about what has happened to American workers for three decades and more. That’s why I’ve generally voted Democratic since I was first old enough to vote in 1972. I watched as Republicans crushed labor unions in the 80s. They said union workers were too greedy. Then Big Business folks shifted jobs from Ohio, Michigan and “Rust Belt” states to low-wage states like Tennessee, Texas and Alabama, where GOP politicians were in control. 

Conservative thinkers proclaimed: “This is good. This is free enterprise at work. We are jacking up profits and CEO pay (now 300 times higher than that of their average employee). While you’re at it how about some tax cuts for Big Business folks, so we can create even more jobs!”

No one seemed to notice that no jobs were actually created. Jobs simply shifted from high-wage to low-wage states.

Meanwhile, workers’ wages stagnated and actually went down during the early 80s, when Ronald Reagan was in charge. (See Figure 3; below; and link here.)

Some Americans are doing very well; probably not you.

In fact, since 1979, the only significant gains for workers came during a seven-year stretch, during the presidency of Bill Clinton (1994-2000), when the bottom 90% saw income increase by 14%.

What happened next? 

Naturally, workers in Tennessee and Texas and Alabama began demanding higher pay. So the Big Business folks scratched their heads and consulted their bank accounts and began hiring as many illegal immigrants as they could. Democrats didn’t do this. The Big Business folks, heart and soul of the Republican Party, did. 

Donald J. Trump did.

According to Time magazine (August 25, 2016), in an article based on thousands of pages of court records, in 1980, when Trump was building his famed tower in New York City, he pulled an “art of the deal” move, and used hundreds of illegal immigrants from Poland to do demolition and prepare the building site. As the Time story makes clear, those illegal workers were willing to put in twelve-hour shifts without overtime pay, to do the job without safety equipment, to hammer and smash at a lower hourly rate, and not protest if contributions to social security or pensions were not made. In fact, when contractors hired by Trump stiffed the Poles, they were in no legal position to complain.

Now: let me say before continuing that I do not believe immigrants ruin America. I do not believe all illegals from Mexico are “rapists.” In fact, you can make a sound argument for a wall on our southern border—and you can make it without sounding like an ignorant bombast, as Trump so regularly does.

And what about that magic wall? 

Let’s say Mexico does pay for the wall, as Trump assures supporters it will. Will it keep American jobs IN? Will it create a fiscal force field of some kind? Where have all the good jobs been going? Who has made them disappear? We know millions have been outsourced to China in the last fifteen years.

President Obama—the guy Trump tried to delegitimize for years—didn’t ship a single job to China.

Big Business folks did. (This is why we should choose a businessman for president, I guess.)

By 2012, for example, Apple had shifted all product assembly work overseas, 700,000 jobs to China. Why? Workers in China can’t unionize. (The GOP salivates over that.) The workers in China put in 100 hours a week and companies gyp them out of overtime pay. (See: Trump Tower, above.) Chinese workers earn only a few dollars per day. (See! No minimum wage! Republicans love that too!)

Indeed, it’s easy to predict that Republicans aren’t going to lift their little fingers to help the average worker, even should Trump win. And even a wall 10,000 feet tall on our southern border won’t keep jobs in. The Big Business folks have been bamboozling white, working-class workers with sham promises for years, while screwing them out of their jobs. “Oh, we will protect you,” they say. “The evil Democrats want to take away your 300 million guns. Oh, the evil Democrats want to force you to attend gay weddings and eat rainbow cake. We, the Big Business folks, even promise you a tax break!”

For decades, hard-working Americans fell for this bait-and-switch. They took their tax cut crumbs, $500 here, $1,000 there.

The jobs still disappeared.

Don’t believe me? Read what the Wall Street Journal, mouthpiece of Big Business folks, once had to say. In 2011 the paper noted that during the 2000s corporations cut 2.9 million jobs in the United States while increasing employment 2.4 million overseas. Who were some of the big names in this leave-American-workers-behind rush: Caterpillar, Microsoft, General Electric and Wal-Mart.

The same sordid tale played out across all states, involving workers in all areas of production. Alcoa outsourced jobs. 

Caterpillar decided to build bulldozers overseas. 

Levi Strauss began producing jeans in Indonesia. Check out their employment website for that country today! 

Oklahoma Joe’s joined the exodus—Boomer Sooner in reverse—and shipped jobs to China. (See below.) 

Should they still call themselves Oklahoma Joes?

And those iconic Chuck Taylor tennis shoes I wore when I was a lad—made by workers here in the United States? Those shoes are today produced overseas in Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam.

I follow these stories closely—I’m a Democrat, see. I know Trump’s magic wall won’t keep jobs in; not when Big Business folks ship them out every single day. Yet, I would argue you could produce grills and jeans and Chucks here in the United States, if the Big Business folks actually cared. The Big Business guys don’t care. 

They bleed green, not red, white and blue.

The GOP has favored out-sourcing jobs—first to low-wage states—then overseas—for decades. The Walton family stuffs their Wal-Mart stores with cheap foreign-made goods, while spending tens of millions to elect GOP tools to state and federal offices. They fight incisor and claw to keep employee wages and benefits low, and howl at the thought of any increase in corporate tax. Meanwhile, Jim, Alice and S. Robson Walton watched their wealth grow to a combined $97.8 billion in 2016. Sheldon Adelson had enough cash stashed under his bed ($25.2 billion as of today) to allow him to donate $150 million in 2012 to elect GOP politicians, including Mitt Romney, he of the famed 47% speech.

In that speech Romney talked about the blessings for businesses of investing in China. (That part of the speech was generally missed.)

So here’s my prediction. If Trump is elected, the GOP will continue to push trickle-down policies, like the Bush Tax Cuts (2003), promising pie-in-the-sky, always promising—really, this time we mean it —millions of good jobs will result.

(Maybe: jobs in Bangladesh!)

The super rich will get super richer; even when GOP policies fail, as they surely will, to benefit the average worker.

Here, I think it might be relevant to consider a bit of recent evidence. In 2003, with Republicans in control of the White House, net jobs added for the year (with all those great tax cuts) totaled a measly 113,000.

Over the next four years (2004-2007) an average of 2,163,000 jobs were added annually, good, but not great.

Then the economy, with the GOP and the Big Business folks riding high, went into the tank. During 2008, on into January 2009 (before Obama took office), we saw a net loss of 4,360,000 jobs, meaning that during his last six years in the White House President George W. Bush, despite fat tax cuts for fat cats, produced 3,548,000 jobs. 

In the next eleven months, till the end of 2009, we suffered a net loss of 4,279,000 more jobs.

It may be convenient to blame those losses in 2009 on President Obama; but to do so you have to ignore the laws of physics and know little to nothing about the challenges of climbing out of deep recessions and near-depressions.

You have to be a chump.

You should also remember that many of those jobs weren’t “lost” at all. They were shipped overseas by the people who run Wal-Mart, J. C. Penny and Hanes. According to a report by Harvard University, Big Business motivation was clear. In places like Honduras, desperate workers would take any job no matter how low the pay. 

In fact, many new employees were children. According to the Harvard research team:

The children report being routinely slapped and beaten, sometimes falling down from exhaustion, forced to work 12 to 14 hours a day, even some all-night, 19-to-20-hour shifts, often seven days a week, for wages as low as 6 ½ cents an hour. The wages are so wretchedly low that many of the child workers get up at 5:00 a.m. each morning to brush their teeth using just their finger and ashes from the fire, since they cannot afford a toothbrush or toothpaste.

Then, in 2010, a more positive trend developed. During President Obama’s next six years—even with taxes on the richest Americans slightly raised—even with Obamacare in effect—even with Big Business folks still shipping jobs to Mexico or overseas—conditions gradually improved.

In 2010, 1,135,000 jobs were added to the American economy—not great, but a turn of the red fiscal tide.

Over the next five years (2011-2015), 12,306,000 jobs were added to the economy, an average of 2,461,000 annually, better than anything the GOP managed in the halcyon days of George W. Bush.

Indeed, this healthy trend has continued this year, with an additional 1,452,000 jobs added in the first eight months.

Oh, yes. I forgot.

Donald J. Trump says everything is rigged—from unemployment numbers, to thermometers, to polls, (except when he’s winning), to elections (before they’re held), to the peanut butter and jelly sandwich he had for lunch (not enough jelly; and by the way, did anyone notice that waitress was fat!). Yet, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we’ve had 71 consecutive months of job growth under Obama. New unemployment claims have been under 300,000 for 81 weeks, the longest stretch since 1970. Consumer confidence today is the highest since before the Great Recession. Oh, and the stock market has more than doubled with a Democrat ensconced in the Oval Office.

Not bad for a guy born in Kenya, right Mr. Trump?

Oh, wait, no.

You said in the recent debate that Hillary Clinton pushed the birther claim in 2008. You didn’t have anything to do with it. You were as innocent as a babe.

She pushed it in 2008. So you can’t be blamed because your lips kept moving for the next five years, saying, even in February 2015, that you didn’t think President Obama’s long-form birth certificate was real. And you didn’t bother to correct the hate speech of a person at one of your September 2015 rallies, when a questioner said: “We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American.” 

You didn’t respond as any fair-minded American would. You didn’t say, “We don’t have a problem with Muslims. We have a problem with terrorists who are Muslim.” 

You didn’t respond to the man in your audience: “Sir, do you realize that the U. S. Constitution says there shall be no religious test to hold any public office. So, if President Obama is a Muslim, it doesn’t matter.”

You responded: “We need this question.”

You pedaled birther lies until just last month, when you realized it was hurting you in the eyes of fair-minded Americans, who make up by far the great majority of the general electorate. Yes. Mrs. Clinton was wrong about that. She said half your supporters were deplorable. That’s not right.

Still, your slippery bigotry—and the hard line bigotry of a chilling fraction of your core constituents—add to the repellent nature of your candidacy; and that’s another sad story for another sad day.

Who shipped millions of good American jobs overseas?
Not President Obama and the Democrats. Big Business did.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Limited Efficacy of "School Reform:" Drugs

I don’t know about anyone else; but I must say I often find myself thinking that “school reform” fails for the most basic reasons. 

It fails because school isn’t the place where many problems in schools take root.

(See, for example: absenteeism.)

Today my focus is on drugs, on the catastrophic damage done to hundreds of thousands of children every day in their homes.

I learned my first bitter lesson back in 1976, when I was a brand new teacher. One day, Carolyn (all names changed), a young lady in my second bell, was missing. I had been working with her, as best I could, but wasn’t having much success. She was absent repeatedly, exhausted if she did make it to school, and often caused trouble, for me and for peers.

On this morning she wasn’t in history class at all.

During third bell students and a colleague filled in the outlines of a sad tale. Carolyn had ingested some illegal substance on the way to school. In first period Language Arts her speech slurred. Her teacher grew alarmed, but before she could act, Carolyn began wobbling in her seat. Moments later, her bodily functions failed. She soiled herself and toppled from her chair. The school nurse was summoned, then the Life Squad, and a troubled 14-year-old left school on a stretcher.

Carolyn survived that day—only to die hitchhiking a few years later—but even four decades ago I had to wonder. What could we, as educators, do to help young people like her? 

I never did come up with a satisfactory answer.

Over the years, I did what I could, but what I could do was never really the issue. I gave any student who was doing poorly in class as many chances as needed to raise their grade. I sacrificed a thousand lunches to talk to teens in need of counseling. I provided my home phone number to parents and students. After spending a good part of an evening talking to parents I recorded these surprising results in my diary:

Spent 1½ hours on phone tonight with five parents. Bill -----’s mom has him in AA three nights a week and says he’s rated chemically dependent. (Cheryl, his sister, is also in the program on a limited basis.) Bill’s dad started him drinking at six—Bill got into his father’s cocaine. She says Walt and Rick [two other eighth graders] are dealing.

In 2008 I retired. But last summer, waiting a turn in a chair at the Glendale Barbershop, I had another one of those flashes of insight when it seemed clear the foundation of the argument for “school reform” rested in quicksand.

A front page story in the Cincinnati Enquirer caught my eye. A pretty young woman, Samantha Gibson, 26, had just had her day in court. Her offense was minor, this time, so Gibson was soon going home. But she outlined her problems for a reporter. “I can’t get through the day without heroin,” she admitted.

Then, the detail that hit hardest of all: Gibson had three kids.

According to the Enquirer, “more than 13,000 heroin users spent time in Greater Cincinnati jails [in 2014].” Not all were parents, but far too many were. 

Some had been arrested after leaving their children “alone at home or in cars because they were out trying to buy heroin.”

The Enquirer went on to explain that there were medication-assisted treatment programs available. Unfortunately, these were costly and even under optimal conditions only 50% to 65% of users got clean. 

Despite a stunning rise in drug overdose deaths across the nation, county governments in Ohio and other states had been cutting budget since 2008. Treatment was expensive and counties “rarely have millions of dollars available to pay for it.” In-patient programs, most expensive and successful of all, were prohibitively costly. Treatment, one expert told reporters, “is medical first;” but there weren’t enough doctors willing to help. Gibson tried to find care in 2014 but all the programs had long waiting lists.

Now a reporter watched Ms. Gibson as she was released. He followed as she left the building—saw her light a cigarette—dig in her purse—pull out $25.

“That’s all I have to my name,” she told him. She might just as well have added: “So, my three children are screwed.”

I was fortunate to teach for thirty-three years; and I loved working with kids. Still, I saw how often drugs ruined young lives. I remember once, asking Joey what his father was like. Joey and I had a good relationship but he was struggling in school. “My dad is a useless meth head,” he replied with a smile. And then I understood why Joey might not always be focused on his marks in history. I remember Sam, too, who turned it around at 13, partly with help from a dedicated student teacher. Only Sam didn’t stay turned around. He died three years later of a drug overdose, choking in his own vomit.

In those very same years, Congress was busy promising every child would be proficient in reading and math by 2014. I kept reading stories about “dropout factories” and listening to cable news anchors talk about “failing American schools.”

I rubbed my eyes in disbelief; but I could clearly see trends in our nation were working against kids. By 2009, in Scioto County, Ohio, one in every ten babies born had illegal drugs in their blood.

Across the nation, by 2015, one baby was born every hour, suffering from opiate withdrawal. That’s 8,760 newborns per year, with the average cost of their hospital stays $53,400. USA Today referred to children “born into suffering,” but the school reformers and the politicians never blinked. They kept faulting educators for not undoing the terrible damage done by too many parents, to too many kids, in too many homes.

Time and again, I could only shake my head. I read about a Pennsylvania mother, 22-year-old Sarah Kessler, who died of an overdose in her apartment. Before she was found her 9-month-old son starved to death.

I read, in 2014, that cigarette smoking was in decline among teens—but 1 in every 17 high school seniors admitted smoking marijuana daily.

(And it should come as no surprise that students who abuse drugs are far more likely to drop out.)

I read about gang violence in Chicago, tied to the drug trade, about Tyshawn Lee, a 9-year-old boy, who was lured into an alley and gunned down during a battle over turf. I read that dozens of young people in that city were shot and killed every year. 

And the numbing numbers kept piling up. The death rate from prescription drug overdoses, in the age group, 12-25, reached 7.3 deaths per 100,000 in 2013. That was more than double the rate in 2001.

Then, in January 2016, I read this: MaryAnn and Wesley Landers brought an infant daughter to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for emergency care. They left an older child at home. What they didn’t leave at home was their heroin stash. Shortly after their daughter was operated on, mom and dad decided to shoot up in their hospital room.

A nurse discovered them sprawled on the linoleum at 11:34 a. m., but by then MaryAnn was already dead.

I read these stories, and many more, and switched on the cable news and heard experts insist that "school reform" was the key to fixing our nation’s ills. Listening to the experts, you might have imagined educators had magic wands.

I taught for many years. So, I knew they didn’t.

I certainly cant claim to have all the answers. But I do know what I’d be saying if I were U. S. Secretary of Education. I’d be arguing we’d be better served if we took the money wasted on standardized tests and poured it into vastly expanded drug counseling and treatment for adult users and their kids.

I’d be arguing that every school should have more counseling and psychological services for parents and children.

I’d be making the case that every school should have a nurse practitioner on site and a clinic where young people could get quality care.

I’d urge lawmakers to push for reform and stop jailing non-violent drug offenders. The annual cost of keeping one inmate in federal prison comes to $30.619.85 per year. I’d let non-violent prisoners out.

Then I’d use the money saved to target problems that effect youth. 

One of those problems: the 2.7 million kids in this country with one or both parents behind bars.

I’d tell the school reformers to stop talking in circles. I’d tell them to stop blaming all of society’s problems on educators. I’d make it clear to all who cared to listen that America’s schools weren’t failing at all. 

I’d make it clear that far too often they’re overwhelmed.


I cover this and other topics in greater detail in Two Legs Suffice: Lessons Learned by Teaching, now available at

There's no school reform there there.