Fox News, kneeling, and the #NFL

Took five seconds to watch a Fox News Facebook stream where the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security is discussing security for some event happening in Minneapolis on Sunday around 6:18 pm.

What I found interesting were the live comments in the timeline next to the video. Let’s just say that President Trump via his State of the Union last night has added to the attempts by many to equate “African American” with “anti-American.” A lot of the commenters expressed their displeasure with athletes who want to “kneel before Zod” versus placing their hands over their hearts acknowledging one nation under “God.”

It probably helped him that the Congressional Black Caucus was there to “stare racism in the face” as they did no clapping or standing for any parts of his speech while looking resplendent in all black and kente cloth. That was to be expected. However, in politics, optics always wins and in an economy where most Americans are not enjoying any upside from the surge in Wall Street (with the exception of the last two or three days), Mr Trump has provided certain factions of white America with an insidious excuse to point fingers ….

….fire rises….

The President’s 5G public works project

It is election year and President Trump is signaling that he is well aware that priming the economic pump to quench America’s thirst for growth in the economy may buy him some political capital while helping his fellow Republicans in the Congress and maybe a few Republican governors and state house members retain their seats. Today’s latest political proposal: construction of a nation-wide 5G communications network by the federal government.

Reuters reported earlier today that among the Trump administration’s initiatives to address potential Chinese hacks of America’s communications systems is the construction of a 5G network by the U.S. government. According to the report, the idea is still being considered among lower ranking staff within the Administration and proposals may not get to the President for another six to eight months.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai was quick to respond this morning to the 5G proposal. Mr Pai argued in his brief statement that construction of this latest generation of high-speed communications network was best left to the market. Rather than going down a costly and eventually unproductive path, the chairman recommended that federal policy stay the course and focus on getting more spectrum, that portion of electromagnetic waves necessary for making calls and moving mobile data, into the commercial space.

Again, Mr Pai demonstrated that he is one Republican that attempts to be practical.

Progressives haven’t come out one way or the other …. yet. Progressives have thrown support in the past behind the idea that initiatives on the part of municipalities to build their own broadband networks, premised on the need for access to affordable broadband in the face of a lack of supply by large carriers such as AT&T and Comcast. On first blush, Mr Trump’s idea seems to be nothing but municipal broadband on steroids, just on a national level.

I doubt, however, that advocacy groups like Public Knowledge or Free Press are going to jump on the opportunity to provide Mr Trump with any favorable optics on this issue. The last thing progressives want to risk is giving the Administration any type of lifeline that would help pull Mr Trump’s popularity into the respectable zone.

Mr Trump could have used the opportunity to make a political play based on economic stimulus a nation-wide project like this could provide. He could have sold it like his version of the Hoover dam, especially in rural or mountainous areas where broadband companies have dared not tread because of sparser populations and rough topography. The Deplorables in flyover states and the Forgotten that inhabit the insular territories of the Caribbean and the Pacific would have warmed up to Mr Trump’s goody bag of 5G services by 2021,especially if the idea is sold as another job creator.

Mr Trump will have to sell broadband access providers on the idea of falling on their swords and taking one in the national interest. According to NCTA, broadband providers have invested $1.4 trillion in constructing and deployong broadband networks. The cable industry alone claims to have made a $275 billion investment in broadband infrastructure.  They are not about to tell investors that future returns on this investment are about to be pushed aside by a public works communications project designed to keep China from eavesdropping on two ex-college room mates talking recipes for peach cobbler and the latest #MeToo campaign.

What happens when the State abandons black Americans?

In their book, The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age, James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg describe the demise of the welfare state with the political changes the information age will bring about. Those who can garner, manipulate, organize, distribute, and monetize information and use today’s digital technology to deploy this new capital from anywhere in the world will be able to achieve a level of individual sovereignty such that the protection services of the old nation-state will no longer be needed. The internet, cyberspace, will be their new jurisdiction, and with capital in the form of information, they will be able to carve out a minimized or tax-free environment in whatever physical jurisdiction they choose.

Information losers, according to Davidson and Rees-Mogg, won’t like this new world. This information-based economy will challenge their welfare state “employee” status. It is a welfare state employee status because in exchange for the “work” that they do at the polls i.e. their vote, information losers are awarded with transfer payments such as Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, and low-income housing. As the hoarders of the new capital, information, choose lower tax jurisdictions, information losers are left holding the bag containing reduced benefits, the result of a lowered tax base.

The recent tax reform legislation passed by a GOP-led Congress and signed by President Donald Trump is a small indicator of the leverage the wealthy have, especially those who make their income as sole proprietors or partners in a business where they are now beneficiaries of a 20% reduction in the taxes they would normally pay on pass-through income. Congress and the President will now have to reduce or eliminate programs made infeasible by a $1.5 billion tax cut.

There is no guarantee that tax cut goody bags will be continually given out in the future. If the GOP loses both chambers of Congress in this year’s midterms, then Democrats will pursue a rewrite of the tax reform, or at least put on a good show effort.  I say a good show effort because the response by the wealthy will be, “Remember the two trillion dollars we have stashed overseas? How about we keep it there?”

Black Americans are not in the information age game even though blacks over-index on social media sites and, as a proportion of their population, own as many smartphones as whites and Latinos. Black Americans are under-indexed when it comes to employment in information technology. In an article for The Huffington Post, Jamal Simmons noted that black women may be able to scrape up $36,000 for a tech start-up, but white males scrape up on average $1.3 million in start-up funds.

And while blacks and Latinos continue to represent low single-digit proportions of actual STEM employees (technologists, mathematicians, engineers), there are plenty of black consumers of entertainment content on Facebook and Instagram. This content is low value. It differs from information which can be used as an input for production.

You may ask, “Don’t blacks have a right to consume entertainment?” My answer would be, “It’s not about rights to consumer content. It’s about channeling as much time and energy into mining and distributing information that creates knowledge that solves the deep well of problems in the black community.

Meanwhile, the State apparatus that blacks have disproportionately relied on for economic support and political protection is becoming bankrupt. Based on this recent tax reform, one would not sound too cynical in concluding that the GOP was in cahoots with the plot to blow it all up.  The information winners will not think twice about leaving information losers behind.

Government defined by distraction

The past 85 years have created an illusion as to what American government is. In the 1930s, government became a fuel injector for the American economy where the Executive branch pumped money into public works programs designed to employ idle labor. New regulatory regimes were created to regulate away the excesses of speculation and manage the extraction and use of natural resources.

By the 1960s, government took on the additional role of social justice guarantor, crafting and delivering legislation designed in part to further incorporate black Americans into national society and to provide other social services including healthcare to children and the elderly.

Through its military and science branches, government continued its research, development, and investment into computer networks and outer space. It was out of these activities that the internet was spawned allowing my five faithful followers to read this blog.

It is no wonder that Barack Obama said in 2012 with some authority the following:

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

The reality is that government as a noble entity is a myth; that the past eight plus decades have been a distraction from what we should only expect from government; that it is an entity that expands its control over jurisdictions anywhere in the world for the benefit of its financiers. What we should expect from government should be more in line with Donald Trump’s views on Iraqi oil:

“If we kept the oil, you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place, so we should have kept the oil, but, OK, maybe we’ll have another chance.”

While many were taken aback at the bluntness of Mr Trump’s statement, the President honed in on the primary expectation we should have of government, an entity that acquires and manages resources.

Americans have an issue with ugliness being exposed. They are weary of the guilt-fest they have endured over the past sixty years in particular, from scenes of police dogs attacking black Americans in Birmingham, Alabama to American military personnel being accused of murdering civilians in Iraq. But in the words of Mr Trump, “There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. Well, you think our country is so innocent?”

Unbeknownst to him, Mr Trump summed up the core expectation of government; that of acquirer of resources. Any “noble” distribution is a response to the distractions caused by the powerless who are able to sneak into democracy’s nooks and crannies to agitate just long enough for social benefits that pale in size to the benefits flowing to the holders of government bonds. An irony, that there is distraction on both sides ….

 

Trump’s political calculus on Moore

Social media’s reeling over Alabamans support for Roy Moore increased with a firm endorsement from President Donald J. Trump. Mr Moore’s bid to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by now Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct with teen-aged girls almost four decades ago. The detailed analysis driven by in-depth reporting by The Washington Post should have thrown Mr Moore into the woodshed for a classic Alabama woodshed whooping, but recent polling, some of it questionable according to Politico, has Mr Moore still in the race.

This is after all the South, and Southerners have been showing a propensity to turn the eyeballs away from bad behavior if it means voting in a candidate that promotes good Christian values, such as keeping a replica of stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inscribed in your courtroom.

Mr Trump doesn’t have room to spare in the Senate where a couple moderate leaning types have shown some gumption for stirring up the legislative pot especially on health care and tax law reform. He will need as many reliable, steady Republican senators as he can get.

Also, a win here would send a signal that for all the reports that Mr Trump has lost some of his base, Mr Trump will have significant support going into the 2019-2020 campaign season.

A Moore win should also send a signal to the Democrats. Special counsel investigations and congressional hearings on Russia may not be enough to derail Mr Trump’s agenda much less get him out of office in 2020. They will still have to knock on doors in flyover country, an initiative that I have yet to sense any enthusiasm for from progressives.

 

 

Charlie Rose and the politics of pussy grabbing

I have been hearing the theme song from “Charlie Rose” playing around in my head since yesterday’s announcement that Mr Rose had been accused of sexually harassing women, some of whom actually worked for Mr Rose’s production company. The announcement caught many off guard given the genteel persona that Mr Rose exhibits during his show where he interviews high-profile figures including heads of state, writers, actors, and the occasional activist.

I was one of those that grimaced upon hearing the news. “Really? No way, man.” But pushing back a minute I had to say to myself, “Well. Why not him?” Mr Rose, given his decades as a journalist, is a powerful figure. A man whose brand is distributed by Bloomberg, PBS, and CBS has garnered considerable leverage over the years. One bad world from him could end a career before it even started.  He made a number of his employees feel apprehensive, trapped, and violated. His actions paint a textbook case for on the job harassment.

What is being downplayed is the increase in women coming forward with claims of sexual harassment by men. I saw a comment on Facebook posing the question, “Why now and why so many?” I believe there is a political motive behind what appears to be a recent rise in allegations, an emerging wave that started back on 8 November 2016. I believe what we are seeing here is a messaging campaign from the left that is now back firing.

Donald Trump’s crass attitude about women was put on display during the last election cycle when he was seen and heard on a video describing his “Grab ’em by the pussy” approach to women. This and other displays of perceived insensitivity to race and gender makes Mr Trump public enemy number one to progressives who have been calling for his impeachment before he even took the oath of office.

How then to get rid of him? In politics, the number one weapon is persuasion and I believe that the messaging machine is using sexual harassment as both fuel and output to paint a picture that America’s unsafe environment for women is the result of the man the Electoral College put in office in December 2016.

The messaging started with the protest marches in major cities with women’s issues including gender bias and harassment at the core. They then elevated to women coming forward and calling out powerful men for their low-brow deeds.

Unfortunately for the progressives, their messaging is causing collateral damage. They did not expect Hollywood to take a hit, the very same Hollywood that has been at the forefront criticizing the President for insensitive policies towards women, immigrants, blacks, and gays. They did not expect that the cancer of harassment was lurking behind their very walls where studio owners and producers would be called on the red carpet for their inappropriate sexual behavior.

Mr Rose’s behavior was no secret based on the accounts in The Washington Post, whose account of Mr Rose’s misgivings is very detailed and well investigated. Definitely not a hit piece written overnight which should be expected since The Post ended up exposing one of their own.

I think there will be more collateral damage. The accusations will not stop. The ultimate collateral damage will be incurred by progressives who thought that only old, fat white men who vote Republican would take the heat.