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Loyal Citizens and Executive Power.

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I cannot help being amused by the misunderstanding most people have about power—that presidents or anyone else with executive power merely sat in their offices and decided what should be done next, then their eager minions hurried out and turned these whims into fact. In truth, managing or ruling anything, let alone a large country, is a process of learning about and reacting to hundreds upon hundreds of small problems, problems, some of which would quickly become larger problems if left unsolved, and then persisting with them until they had been solved or at least reduced from crisis to mere irritation. And standing between a president and these solutions is not a horde of loyal citizens waiting only to be told what to do, but thousands of individuals, each with his own plans and wants, most of them quite willing to break the rules if they could get away with it, and yet each of them also furious at any idea their own rights might be somehow abrogated. And of these citizens, the wealthy are the worst, prickly and full of righteous demands. And alas, it is these wealthy, whose wealth allows their voices to clammer the loudest, who, more often than not, get heard first — generally to the dismay of everyone else and to the disadvantage of the nation.

(Thanks to Tad Williams (The Witchwood Crown) from whom much of the above is adapted)

God, one of the guys:

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“As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from the nations that are round about you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property.”
Leviticus 25:44

Leviticus also seems to say that if guys get it on with guys, they should be put to death. Why would God consider it ok for gay guys to have slaves but not sleep with another guy? I wonder if God thought it was acceptable for guys to sleep with the slaves of either sex, but not with a non-slave of the same sex. I am pretty sure some of the slave-owning patriarchs did, didn’t everyone? Perhaps it was not necessary for slaves to “increase and multiply.”

By the way, did you notice that the sly old God did not prohibit women sleeping with women? Perhaps like most guys He liked to watch.

 

Within 150 Days Donald Trump Successfully Ends the World Order in Place for 80 Years.

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It is true, as Donald Trump claims, that he has accomplished more in the first 150 days of his presidency than any other president during their entire term. At least in foreign policy that is so. And, no, it is not because he managed to become the laughing stock of the entire world. While that is certainly an accomplishment of some sorts and no other president can touch his level of success in that endeavor, I am thinking of something else.

In a few short months, he has managed to destroy the world order that has been in place since the beginning of WWII. It was a world order led by the US and supported by a community of nations more or less democratic and more or less prosperous, to resist those nations both large and small they saw as less democratic or wedded to an economic dogma inconsistent with their own.

It was a world order more or less agreed upon by the two major political parties in the United States. The Democrats tended to exercise American leadership more through International economic development and assistance to both friend and foe who were not bound to our perceived adversaries. The Republicans preferred strong military development and reduced economic aid. They were generally less concerned with commitments to democracy and economic improvement than in a commitment to oppose those adversaries and a willingness to engage in the vigorous development of joint defense arrangements.

In practice, it was often difficult to see the policy differences between the two parties. In fact, there often were not any differences that those we were allied with and supported could perceive in the actual programs that carried out those policies. It is also true that for the most part, those programs were far more beneficial to our own interests than to those of our allies.

 

It was a world order despised by both extremes of American political thought, the extreme right, and the extreme left. The extreme left often saw this as merely a cover for the exportation of regressive American economic and social policy, the support of fascist dictatorships and opposition to legitimate desire of the people of a country to change a political system they saw as repressive. The far right saw this policy as a creeping commitment to Internationalism and reduction of our national independence. They both were right in some ways.

Nevertheless, despite the cynicism and self-interest (as there is in any significant socio-political initiative), there was the glimmer of an ideal upon which the people of the world and their governments could rely. That ideal was that a great power, rather than subjugating the lesser states, would commit their wealth and power, at least in part (and often grudgingly), in alliance with like-minded nations to make things better and assume the burdens of leadership in their mutual defense from those they saw as a threat to their way of life. That underlying confidence had remarkable historical consequences. Political systems changed, most for the better, international cooperation blossomed, economies flourished, and the arts and sciences advanced. This order produced a golden age like none other in history with more people than ever enjoying its benefits.

In a scant 150 days, Donald Trump has managed to utterly destroy that world order and it shall not rise again in the foreseeable future. Why did he do it? I doubt even he knows for sure. Why will it not arise again after he is gone? Because no government and no people can ever again rely upon America to exercise trustworthy leadership. It is the old confidence issue. How can any level of confidence be regained by a government or its people when that trust has so rapidly been shattered in the past?

I do not know whether it may or may not be a good thing that, as a result of this, the smaller nations of the world combine into blocks to try to effectively deal with the two remaining active super-powers and far off United States should it ever again attempt to engage its historical allies in any manner other than as an adversary.

I do know, however, that although Donald Trump has failed to “make the US great again” in his first 150 days, in international relations he certainly has made us mostly irrelevant.

 

JERRY SMITH:

 

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On May 7, 2017, Jerry Smith passed away. He had been my boss and a great friend. Jerry had been a California State Senator when I worked with him. He was the lead legislative author and carried the California Coastal Act of 1976 to passage. As his committee consultant, I was responsible for shepherding the bill drafting and negotiating with the various interest involved. Together, we also passed a major revision of CEQA, Victims of Crime rights, and several other significant pieces of legislation.

Following eight years in the Senate, he was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the Appellate Court. Upon his retirement from the court, Jerry became a consultant to countries seeking to reform their judicial systems.

Later, he became a well-known local sculptor whose work appears in many public places in Santa Clara Valley. In the photograph below, Jerry stands near his bronze sculpture of St. Cardinal Bellarmine at Santa Clara University. I think of everything, he loved being an artist best.
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TODAY’S CHART: The rise of non-productive businesses and the fall of manufacturing in the US.

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While the timeline on this chart is too brief to demonstrate a trend, is does show something that has been occurring in the American economy for over a decade. Manufacturing continues to decline while the highly unproductive finance and insurance sector massively increase,

TODAY’S CHART: The Inappropriate Use of Antimicrobials.

 

This chart is very frightening. For someone like me, whose childhood saw the vanquishing of those plagues that have hounded humankind throughout history and that could kill more in a few decades than all the wars of history, finds it heartbreaking that now at the end of that life those plagues, now resistant to all our antimicrobials may soon hound the people of the earth again. Only last year, the last effective antimicrobial was proven impotent against a mutated resistant organism it was designed to kill. Somewhere in the world today there exists mutated organisms resistant to one or another antimicrobial successfully used to halt plagues of the past. They are awaiting only the appropriate conditions to spread death and anguish across the globe

There are some still fighting to protect humanity from this threat. (The US Department of Defense considers the potential spread of drug-resistant organisms to be a national security issue) They should be honored by us all. Alas, like first responders, and other selfless people like them, there are few if any parades in their honor, nor many Facebook and similar remembrances. It saddens me that we publicly honor those trained to kill to protect us from real or imagined enemies but rarely those who daily put their lives on the line or dedicate themselves to protect their fellow humans from disease, injury or death.

 

Estimated proportion of inappropriate antimicrobial use by type of health care service
Inappropriate use of antimicrobials
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The inappropriate use of antimicrobials is perhaps one of the most threatening forms of wasteful clinical care because it encourages the development of antimicrobial resistance. Inappropriate use represents about 50% of all antimicrobial consumption by humans, but may be as high as 90% in general practice.

 
More rational antimicrobial consumption can be achieved with behavioral change interventions, notably antimicrobial stewardship programs which combine multidisciplinary activities to steer both prescribers and the public towards appropriate use of antimicrobials. Mandating the use of rapid diagnostic testing can help clinicians target their antibiotic use. Economic incentives for providers and care seekers can also encourage appropriate antimicrobial consumption.

 
Note: Numbers in brackets indicate the number of studies used to determine the range of inappropriate use. Source: OECD analysis of available evidence published in the literature.
Source: Tackling Wasteful Spending on Health, OECD, January 2017.

A Counter-attack in the War against Women.,

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For the past 100 years,  around the world women have made great strides in pushing through the economic and social barriers that have shackled them for millennia. Along the way, setbacks occurred. About 30 years ago, in the MiddleEast, the drying up of the region and the depredations of unfettered greed destroyed grasslands many families depended upon driving young men to find work in nearby communities. Finding none, unfortunately,  some flocked to an ideology that, as one of its principle tenets, required the re-subjugation of women. That particular element of ideology has since then found fertile ground among the unemployed and underemployed males around the world.

Recently, within the past three years or so, that recidivism seems to have penetrated many countries even some of the world’s most prosperous and liberal democracies. Even more disturbing, it has prompted a world wide assault on women with power.  Just take a look:

In Brazil, there a right wing coup replaced the female president and in Argentina, a liberal woman president was driven from office.

In Southeast Asia, in Thailand a military coup deposed the woman serving as prime minister and in the Philippines, the female democratic Head of Government was replaced with a decidedly autocratic male thug.

In Germany, Angela Merkel’s reign is threatened.

In America, the 2016 presidential election pitted a misogynist racist against the first woman to run for the Presidency as a candidate of a major party.  In the election, the misogynist racist, running on a platform that included a commitment to roll back many of the advances women have made over the past century, attracted enough of the nation’s predominately economically disgruntled male voters to support his candidacy with sufficient missionary zeal to eke out a victory in the election despite losing the popular vote by a substantial margin.

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