Three Queasy Pieces
On December 30, 2015, on the campaign trail, candidate Donald Trump said, “I know words, I have the best words.” A March 18, 2016 Washington Post article by Justin Wm. Moyer noted a study from Carnegie Mellon University entitled: “A Readability Analysis of Campaign Speeches From the 2016 US Presidential Campaign,” found that Trump’s vocabulary was at a 7th grade level and his grammar was that of a 6th grader. Despite his insistence that he’s “very smart” and is “Ivy League educated” (after transferring in from Fordham, btw), we have seen time and again how limited this man’s speaking (and thinking) is. Our most recent example occurred this weekend, as he and the “First Lady” handed out pre-packaged lunches to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston. As reported in Business Insider reported on September 2, 2017:
While visiting the Houston area on Saturday to meet with survivors of Hurricane Harvey, President Donald Trump told reporters that he is seeing "a lot of happiness,"
"It's been really nice," Trump said of the visit. "It’s been a wonderful thing. As tough as this was, it’s been a wonderful thing, I think even for the country to watch it and for the world to watch. It’s been beautiful."
And as he was leaving the NRG Center, Trump told survivors to "have a good time."
Re-read those sentences several times and consider the setting. Houston: ravaged for days by a horrendous hurricane, hundreds of thousands of people displaced, homes lost, lives lost, devastation. And what does our “President,” the one with “the best words” have to say about it? “It’s been a wonderful thing.” He saw “a lot of happiness?” And then told survivors to “have a good time?” This is beyond the lack of empathy we’ve accused Trump of --- this is insensitivity, and thoughtless vocabulary, at best. But then, what should be we really expect from a man with middle school grammar and vocabulary, right?
2. More Russian Intrigue
While I know not everyone follows the sport of tennis (as I do) I took note of something interesting as the first week of the United States Open wrapped up in Flushing, Queens, this weekend. We know, of course, our “President” is from Queens and we also know that he seems to have some kind bizarre affinity for all things Russian --- so much so, in fact, that they may have helped tipped the 2016 election in his favor. While Russia may be benefitting in many ways that are not apparent to us, as a result of Trump’s victory last November, it is becoming increasingly clear that one of the “perks” Putin received for his help was a clear leg up at the U.S. Open this year. As I surveyed the “Round of 16” players in the Men’s and Women’s Singles competition here’s a list of the players who were still in the running to win the United States Open in tennis: Sevastove, Sharapova, Kvitova, Kasatkina, Kanepi, Svitolina, Safarova, Pliskova, Dolgopolov, Rublev, Zverev, Shapovalov. I know, I know, some of you nit-pickers are going to say: “Not all of those players are from Russia!” but I’ll point out that the FSB (formerly KGB) has agents in every country in the world so the “country” that these players say they’re from isn’t necessarily the nation to which they pledge their allegiance, if you get my drift. That’s an awful love of “ova’s” and “Ina’s” for one tournament, don’t you think? AND for a United States Open Championship? Put two and two together, my friends --- no conspiracy theory here, the writing’s clearly on the wall and it’s in the Cyrillic alphabet!
3. Labor Day
The Labor Day holiday became an official Federal holiday in 1894 (even as Pinkertons were shooting labor rights protesters) and, according to the Department of Labor website, “is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.” There are probably only a few folks who actually think about this day off in relation to workers, unions, and what our history in that field is. At its peak, in the 1950s, about 35% of American work force was unionized (we now stand at around 10.7%) and most economists agree that unionism’s rising tide did, in fact, raise all boats. Because of union wages and benefits being prevalent in over 1/3 of the work force, the entire work force benefitted and, for a brief time (the 1950s through the late 1970s) the U.S. A. had a thriving middle class. As we have watched union membership decline (it was 20.3 % in 1983) and seen one administration after another, as well as one state after another (ironically calling themselves “right to work” --- read non-union) do away with unions and unionizing we have seen the income equality gap grow wider and wider. The “middle class” has essentially disappeared and the rich have successfully convinced the poor to vote against their own best interests in one election after another.
So, on this Labor Day, consider the long gone “Labor Movement” and think back to when workers earned a decent living, with good benefits, and could honestly claim to be part of the “middle class.” Those days may be gone but let’s hope they’re not forgotten as we forge ahead and try to renew the values --- and the reality --- of the American Middle Class.