When I was growing up in Buffalo, we learned about current events from regulated media sources, including radio and television broadcasts.  These entities were regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), an entity which was created by the federal Communications Act of 1934 which combined and organized federal regulation of telephone, telegraph, and radio communications.

One of the critical purposes of the Communications Act pertained to national security, law enforcement, and intelligence activities.

In my household, we also subscribed to morning and evening print newspapers which were privately owned, independently distributed by subscription only, yet still subject to some limited oversight and regulation by the FCC.

The Telecommunications Act of 1966 updated much of the Communications Act of 1934 to encompass technology changes to include broadcast television and cable stations which had not been subject to laws governing the public airwaves.

Today, the FCC regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

The FCC is an independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress which serves as the primary authority for U.S. communications law, regulation and technological innovation, and it continues to serve as a primary resource for national security, law enforcement, and intelligence activities.

No one could argue that technology has evolved exponentially since 1966, with digital technology transforming the business of news, including profound implications for information dissemination, publishing and operations.

The most dramatic impacts on operating models have been in production and distribution, transforming from a single product to a multi-products array of channels and formats, such as:

  • Desktop, tablet, mobile and watch sites/apps;
  • Channels, including on-platform owned products; and off-platform (email, Facebook, text); and
  • Third party, off-platform (Snapchat, Apple news, Yahoo) formats: Video, interactive graphics, messaging, podcasts, and many more.

This shift in distribution flows through to production, including the shift from a process geared around the “daily miracle” of a print newspaper to a 24/7 digital news cycle and the use of data & analytics to assess performance and make decisions on both content and delivery.

How can it be that the FCC has been unable to adapt to these rapidly evolving technology changes?  The FCC failed us by not identifying, encompassing and including new and emerging means of mass communication delivered on the internet, including such social media platforms as Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Virtually all of the dangers the FCC was intended to protect us from have been incubated and nurtured on the internet, including: (a) promotion and amplification of conspiracy theories; (b) empowerment of fringe groups; (c) foreign influences into American politics; (d) infusion of false narratives into current events; and (f) cyber-attacks on electric-grid and other crucial infrastructure which have been confirmed in the US, the Middle East, Germany, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

Our national well-being depends not just on our confidence in our government but also on the integrity and reliability of private companies through which we lead our digital lives.

Recently, hundreds of armed, self-proclaimed militiamen converged on Gettysburg after a single Facebook page promoted the fake story that Antifa protesters planned to burn American flags there. Prior to the 2020 Presidential election, e-mails and videos which eventually were attributed to the Iranian government were sent to voters in Arizona, Florida, and Alaska, purporting to be from the Proud Boys urging recipients to “Vote for Trump or we will come after you.”

A physical wall along our southern border with Mexico is a great soundbite, but the 21st Century threats to our national security have little to do with migration of aggrieved and oppressed people who are clawing for survival and self-sufficiency.

The real threats to our national security are from conspiracy theorists; fringe groups; foreign influencers; religious extremists; the infusion of false narratives into current events; and cyber-attacks on infrastructure similar to those which have been confirmed in the US, the Middle East, Germany, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

Our Congress needs to shift its primary priorities toward critical strategic issues (i.e. regulatory oversight of national security issues), and to put less critical – but still important – issues into a secondary status.

Twitter currently has almost 400 Million users, about half of whom use the platform on a daily basis.

The announcement that Elon Musk will acquire Twitter is a wakeup call to our Congress.

This is no reflection on Elon Musk:  No doubt his intentions are honest and pure.  But:  What if the next entity which steps in to acquire a virtually independent and unregulated key strategic asset in our emerging 21st century communications infrastructure is a foreign entity, perhaps a foreign oligarch?

When will our elected officials draw a line between focusing on false narratives and trivia, and focusing in on critical national security issues?

Yes folks, it seems to be true. Ron has apparently changed his name to ‘Gaston’

Florida Governor DeSantis recently signed into law a “Parental Rights in Education” bill, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents. It was based on highly speculative and obscure ideas; it prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through 3rd grade.

In an ironic twist, it was reported that Gaston LeGume, the egotistical misogynist and racist villain from Disney’s Beauty and The Beast, recently assumed the identity of Florida Governor DeSantis.

No longer content merely to be the handsomest most admired man in town and everyone’s favorite guy, Gov. Ron “Gaston” DeSantis now seems to be on a quest to punish his creator – The Walt Disney Company — for gross intransigence.

Last week, DeSantis announced a move to take away Disney’s independent special district, the Reedy Creek Improvement District, created in 1966 as a Florida Special Taxing and Governance District.

Gov. Gaston went on to say, “When Disney denounced Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” bill, they crossed the line. As a family-friendly business it should understand parents not wanting young children taught about gender identity in public schools.” <Gaston then publicly abdicated any and all personal rights of succession within the Disney Empire.>

The Walt Disney Company responded quickly. “We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country” they said. “It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights.”

Last seen in The Villages, Gov. Gaston DeSantis proclaimed, ‘I am The Governor. Any and all executive orders, proclamations, and rules I proclaim shall have the full force and effect of law. There is no place in a civil and just society for elementary math textbooks which indoctrinate elementary school students with concepts like race essentialism. Furthermore, although the Citizens United decision gives corporations and certain special interest groups the right to unlimited spending on most political issues, it does not give any rights to corporations to create a regional environment virtually free of crime, mosquitos, weeds, trash and potholes which attracts tourists from international destinations.’

DeSantis further stated, ‘It is patently clear that The Disney Company operates in a physical environment which is well above the Florida ‘status quo’, much of that due to The Reedy Creek Improvement District which owns its utilities; administers its planning and zoning; defines its building codes; employs the inspectors; and maintains its own fire department, roadways and highways. It even has the authority to levy taxes.’

Currently, Florida has term limits for some elected officials. The Governor is limited to two 4-year terms.

The Walt Disney Company has served as an important magnet for tourism and economic development in Florida since it opened in 1971, and it has no term limits.

Florida’s tourism industry suffered an estimated 60.5% drop in visitors as the coronavirus pandemic hit hard during the 2nd quarter of 2020, with international travel off more than 90%. Disney World has mostly recovered, trending back to 50 million tourists a year and generating more than 70,000 jobs directly, making it the biggest single-site employer in the U.S. The millions of tourists visiting Disney World not only spend money at the resort but also across the Orlando region and the entire state of Florida.

We can pause and pay our respects to Florida’s elected officials – including the Governor[i] – who lost millions in potential political contributions from Disney when the Company decided to cease making political contributions in Florida. <In fact, ‘pay to play’ is illegal for very good reasons.>

Gov. Ron ‘Gaston’ DeSantis and his cronies have devolved into the Boss Tweed era of Tammany Hall, and it’s time that we stop them in their tracks.

“No one’s slick as Gaston; No one’s quick as Gaston; No one’s neck’s as incredibly thick as Gaston; For there’s no man in town half as manly”….

Ron “Gaston” DeSantis is an uncouth and unprincipled bully who has no place in public office.

[i] Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. made four contributions to the Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC from May 2019 to March 2021 for a total of $106,809.38.

Florida Governor Signs Financial Literacy Bill

Here is a summary of the recent Florida Financial Literacy announcement as I understand it,

‘On March 22, 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1054, titled the Dorothy L. Hukill Financial Literacy Act, which will require high school students to take a financial literacy course to receive a standard high school diploma.

The legislation will officially become a graduation requirement for students who enter high school in the 2023-24 school year, and will not affect students currently enrolled in high school.

“Financial literacy is an important life skill for a student to have,” said DeSantis. “Ensuring our students have the skills to manage their finances – and perhaps one day own a business – will pay dividends for our state. I am proud to sign this bill to support the future of Florida’s students and ultimately their families and communities.”

Students will be required to earn one-half credit in personal financial literacy and money management, including instruction on types of bank accounts, credit scores, taxes and managing debt.’

During my career in banking and financial services, I spent over 2 decades seeking solutions to our national intellectual deficit in the area of personal economic and financial literacy.

Much of what I learned relates to relevancy. Young people who grew up in a household where Amscot was the financial provider of choice won’t relate to traditional banks.  And, a young person with no job and no viable prospects for a future career which will generate a reliable income stream isn’t a good candidate for learning about bank accounts, credit scores, etc.

What I found in my practical research was that the very best solution to engaging students – probably beginning at middle school, and certainly at the high school level – involves thoughtful inclusion of economic concepts into the social studies curriculum.

Virtually everything in the history of mankind involves an economic component which can be carefully woven into the history itself.

The feudal system, which flourished in Europe until about 1500, continues to exist in the U.S. and other nations, disguised by new labels and promoted by clever marketing schemes.

Then, there was slavery. The underlying reason for the extraordinary prosperity of plantation owners in the southern U.S. states producing cotton, tobacco, rice, and sugar wasn’t due to their intelligence: it was completely due to slave labor.

Today, we have the overarching issue of student debt. Those who have been educated and informed about ‘opportunity costs’ are (at least) inoculated against the commissioned charlatans who offer promises of obscene salaries for completion of certain certificate or degree programs — with no real supporting facts – “just sign on the dotted line and you will never regret it”.

Today, we have a financial sector (“Wall Street”) which extracts tremendous costs out of each and every financial transaction. For virtually no value-added, an investment bank transaction takes at least 25% off the top, providing immediate (and arguably excessive) financial rewards to certain economic pirates — analysts, associates and managing directors — while adding zero benefit to our overall economy.

The recent ‘Great Recession’ (2007 – 2009) was enabled by a broad contingent of economically illiterate consumers who were duped by an equally inept cohort of financially and economically illiterate brokers. The common theme:  A relatively small group of mathematical practitioners – economic pirates — who created theoretical models which proved to be defective in practice.

The current frenzy centered on Cryptocurrency is likely another economic trap conjured up by economic pirates.  The underground economy has been somewhat stifled by a 1969 decision of the U.S. Treasury to discontinue $500 and $1,000 bills. Can you just imagine an illicit $500,000 cash transaction conducted using $100 bills?  Laundered money, converted into cryptocurrency, is the perfect medium through which to consummate the transaction.  Drugs? Weapons? Real Estate? The sky is the limit.

Best I can tell, nothing in the Florida bill addresses the basic issues which American adults need to be aware of.  A good understanding of fundamental economic principles is the foundation of a comprehensive financial and economic education, and I don’t think those concepts are imbedded anywhere in this Florida legislation.

Sadism in Tallahassee

March 5, 2022

Elected Officials Running Amok

Today, Florida is the third most populous state in the U.S.:   21.5 Million and growing.

Florida has an elected, part-time legislature that seems to evoke the historic governance needs back when Florida had a post-WWII population of 2.5 Million.

How can it be that a particularly malignant cabal of ignorant, callous and wicked creatures was elected to state office in Florida in 2021?

Satan apparently had a mission for them:  Enact atrocious legislation to further torment Florida residents who are poor and/or downtrodden.

The Florida Legislature meets in session every year for sixty consecutive days. That’s it.

In contrast, Tennessee has a population of about 7 Million, with an elected legislature that meets for 90 session days over a two-year period.

Arkansas, with a population of 3 Million, closely mirrors the Florida model, except it has a much broader scope of representation per capita.

The Florida Legislature managed to propose and pass a number of specious bills during their 2022 Reign of Error.

One of the most egregious bills passed by the Florida Legislature in its 2022 session – known as CS/HB 5: “Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality” – is a clever ruse orchestrated by hard-core religious zealots which will primarily have adverse impact on socially and economically disadvantaged women, generally members of a protected class.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, so it seems clear he is aware of the focus Harvard Law has placed on Reproductive Rights.  Through his legal education, he has been exposed to a deep and intimate knowledge of Disparate Impact, the legal theory which helps to examine the effects of laws or practices which appear on the surface to be nondiscriminatory, but which have in practice a disproportionately negative effect on members of legally protected groups.

Certainly Gov. DeSantis is entitled to embrace his own personal values, beliefs and opinions.  But, he is not entitled to use his position as an elected official to impose his personal values on the people of Florida.

We would expect that if CS/HB 5 <or a similar bill> should come to him for approval, he would veto it.

Yet, as of this writing, media sources predict that Gov. DeSantis will sign the bill into law.

Ron DeSantis: ‘We are right, and they are wrong.’

Ron DeSantis is a bully, and he has proved to be an awful Governor.

DeSantis thrives on political theatre, and he specializes in public events which use inflammatory tactics to rally a base of confused, uninformed and/or angry voters.

Since taking office in January 2019, DeSantis has:

  • Signed a sweeping voter suppression bill into law, citing baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 election.
  • Proposed a special police force to oversee state elections — the first of its kind in our nation — intended to protect Florida from nonexistent threats.
  • Opened pop-up COVID-19 vaccine sites in wealthy Florida neighborhoods where his donors live.
  • Let nearly a million COVID-19 tests expire.
  • Appointed a science and medical contrarian (Lodapo) as Florida’s Surgeon General.
  • Occluded Florida COVID-19 data by firing DOH scientist (Jones), then sending armed tactical police to raid her personal residence.
  • Actively promoted the use of monoclonal antibody treatments as an alternative to vaccine.
  • Consistently refutes FDA guidance creating confusion and putting Florida residents at increased risk from COVID.
  • Orchestrated a fundraising tour across America while the Delta variant sickened and killed Floridians.
  • Signed laws restricting abortion access (2020).
  • Supports an oppressive abortion bill (SB 146 and HB 5) like the one in Mississippi.
  • Urged the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
  • Refused to accept that climate change is an existential threat to our state.
  • Failed to prepare Florida’s coastal communities for rising sea levels and stronger hurricanes.
  • Ignored the “red tide” algae bloom that scares off tourists, risking the engine which supports 1.6 million jobs and contributes over $96.5 Billion to the Florida economy.
  • Actively and aggressively created tension in our public education system resulting in a mass exodus of teachers and staff from Florida schools beginning in spring 2020.
  • In 2021, he targeted eight large school districts for defying his order prohibiting schools from enforcing mask mandates, helping to create toxic conditions for school district superintendents. This led to highly politicized and public confrontations and an unusual exodus of qualified and experienced leadership.

This is Ron DeSantis. He currently is Public Enemy Number One in the State of Florida.

During my college years, I was introduced to the writings of Franz Kafka; that may help explain my rather bizarre sense of humor.

Day by day, week by week: The behaviors of many of these elected officials devolves toward the bottom, the base, the nadir.

A few weeks ago, I shared some thoughts about our current President and his economic credentials.

Donald John Trump was one of 366 student members of the class of 1968 who was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania.

Other than his bachelor’s degree and some experience working in the family real estate business, there is no evidence that Mr. Trump has pursued additional education, credentials or capabilities in the field of economics.

Trump’s paucity of bona fides in the world of economic theory and practice has not deterred him from taking an active role in testing new economic theories and concepts.

Below, I introduce a new chapter in my observations on Donald Trump’s economic strategy:
…………………….…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

July 31, 2019 (Wednesday):  Federal Reserve Chairman Powell reluctantly announced a 25bp cut in the federal funds rate, the first rate cut in over a decade (December 2008).  In his announcement, Chairman Powell cited, “implications of global developments for the economic outlook as well as muted inflation pressures”.  The Fed also referenced an apparent global economic slowdown; uncertainty around U.S.-China trade negotiations; and ‘stubbornly low inflation’.

August 1, 2019 (Thursday):  Donald Trump announced (in a series of tweets) that the U.S. would impose a new 10 percent tariff on certain goods from China beginning on September 1, 2019, following the news that trade talks with the China have failed to make sufficient progress.

These new tariffs will apply to the $300 Billion of Chinese goods which had not before faced a tariff. Another $250 Billion of Chinese goods will continue to be tariffed at a 25 percent rate.

This abrupt and unusual move roiled the equity markets, creating a major sell-off.

Since late 2018, the U.S. economy has been showing signs of slowing — bond markets are flaccid; GDP has slowed; new home sales are generally flat; and business investment is anemic, at best.

Virtually every main-stream economist agrees that Trump’s trade war is contributing to the domestic economic malaise, although it’s too early to determine by how much, and if the damage is permanent.

The Fed rate cut on Wednesday was accompanied by a caveat that one purpose was to help create a barrier to prevent Trump’s trade wars from toppling our domestic economy.

Thursday’s surprise announcement by Trump reveals a new, arbitrary, capricious and  unilateral decision by the White House which will result in higher taxes to Americans on imports; and further expand uncertainty for businesses which need significant time to manage their supply chains.

The agricultural sector in the U.S. – farms and ancillary industries, suppliers, manufacturers, etc – are already fighting the unexpected impacts of climate and weather on production.  Then, they were handed a potential death sentence by a White House which is guided not by strategy and planning, but by impetuous and arbitrary policy changes driven by Trump’s narcissistic compulsions.

If Trump’s Trade War battle plans were conceived within a coordinated environment (i.e. in concert with the Fed and the Congress) perhaps we would be able to see a pathway toward successful outcomes.

Trump is consistent in his bravado that he – and he alone – has the vision, wisdom and solutions to create equilibrium in the trade accounts between the U.S. and China.

According to a BBC analysis from May 2019, “Trump’s decision to take on China could lead to adverse effects for consumers in the US and in China, but also worldwide. An economic showdown between the world’s biggest economies doesn’t look good for anyone.”

Article I of the US Constitution vests the power to set tariffs in Congress, thus Congress has the power to stop this President from continuing his arbitrary and impetuous trade war.  The question remains:  Will elected officials in Congress wake up, do their job and use that power, or will they continue to abdicate legislative responsibilities to this President?

Some have said that Donald Trump is ‘a stranger to the truth’.

On a daily basis, Mr. Trump publicly provides a broad variety of ‘alternative facts’ to the world through twitter posts; impromptu press briefings; speeches at public events; and appearances at Trump rallies.

It seems clear that Trump resides in his own detailed imaginary world, sometimes known as a “Paracosm”.

Mr. Trump seems to have a complex and deeply felt relationship with his own subjective universe, which includes a rather large number of: imaginary characters; concocted occurrences; and untested political, economic and behavioral theories.

Trump’s particular recollection of 9/11 from the reservoir of his own personal Paracosm by itself is troubling; yet when combined with an endless river of similar and related public pronouncements over an extended time frame leads many of us to conclude that Donald J. Trump is probably unfit to carry out the duties of the Presidency

Today, Rudy Giuliani said he’s afraid his epitaph will say he ‘lied for Trump’

Rudy and Donald have a lot in common. Among other things, they were born in NYC; they are “Geminis”; and they are members of the “3 wives club”.

It does seem likely that Rudy may have taken up residence in the Trump Paracosm, the place where Donald’s mind has created an entire alternate universe.

The Trump Paracosm is a place where Sirens reside, Sirens who are able to use their enchanting music and singing voices to lure a percentage of political creatures to become residents of the Trump Paracosm.

Once in residence, Putin and his brother Satan are able to permanently infect the souls of those who refused to block their ears from the enchanting songs of the Sirens.

Rudy himself had a rather shady past; his legacy is further diminished and defined by his alliance with The Donald.

Emerging GOP Leadership?

July 28, 2019

The week of July 22, 2019 encouraged a new lineage of evil to emerge from the Republican dugout.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R, CA) has long been the lead mealy-mouthed obsequious patsy for Trump and his acolytes; Reps. Devin Nunes, Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan are consistently reliable venomous vassals who worship at the alter of Trump, and who can be counted on to viciously attack anyone who dares to question the rapidly evolving, confusing and often contradictory Trump doctrine.

One of the emerging subservient scumbags — based on his memorable performance at the Robert Mueller inquisition on July 24 — is Rep. Louie Gohmert (R, Texas) who distinguished himself as both a dubious orator and an accomplished reprobate as he admonished Mueller for never before imagined fantasy behaviors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8g1Ynhiyag

The inability to remain calm, cool and collected in a stressful situation is not an attribute worthy of an elected official at any level.

In closing, Mueller presented the world with a new and quite smart response to a Kellyanne Conway-worthy soliloquy: “I take your question.”

Yes, thank you Congressman Gohmert for emerging from the shadows and sharing your serious psychological impairments with the world.

Let us hope you are able to find suitable help and intervention before your GOP colleagues manage to entirely repeal the ACA.

Meanwhile, we extend our sincere thoughts and prayers to your constituents in the First Congressional District of Texas who are relegated to represention by you in Congress.

Vice President Mike Pence toured a Border Patrol facility in McAllen, Texas on July 12, 2019 where he observed hundreds of men standing in crowded cages.

“The stench was horrendous,” White House pool reporter Josh Dawsey wrote of the brief visit to an outdoor portal at the McAllen Border Station.

Dawsey reported that nearly 400 men “..were housed in sweltering cages so crowded it would have been impossible for all of them to lie down. Some of the detainees shouted to reporters that they had been held 40 days or longer and complained that they were hungry.”

“This is tough stuff,” Pence said at a news conference later.  “I was not surprised by what I saw,” he said. “I knew we’d see a system that was overwhelmed.”

This, on the eve of a planned siege in communities around Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco where representatives from the Trump Gestapo are poised to raid neighborhoods where suspected undocumented immigrants may be living.  The raids are expected to start Sunday (July 14) and continue through July 18.

Instead of fixing the existing system that is already overwhelmed, Trump and his thugs have doubled down with Satan to intimidate and dehumanize our newest neighbors, and to create, nurture and perpetuate an atmosphere of fear among residents in these communities.

Separate parents from their children?  Only Satan would approve of that.

Trump’s claim that the ICE raids are targeted to ‘look for bad players’?  In a press conference on July 12, Trump said, “We’re really looking for criminals as much as we can. Trying to find the criminal population, which has been coming into this country the last 10 years.”

He touted his administration’s removal of members of the violent gang MS-13, claiming he’d deported them “by the thousands” and further stated that ‘we are also looking for people who came into our country not through a process, they just walked over a line. They have to leave.’

I’ve lived in the U.S. for many years, and I’ve experienced a great deal of good, bad and ugly.

This entire Trump administration charade centered on MS-13 as a justification for extreme immigration enforcement is the ugliest of ugly – it clearly is directly connected to Satan (a.k.a. Beelzebub; Mephistopheles; Lucifer; Prince of Darkness; Ash-Shaytan; Diablo; Devil), and it is clearly disconnected from facts or reality.

Trump – true to form – is scapegoating any and all people with connections to Central or South American as ‘Undesirables’ (or worse).

Pick your label:  There is no place in American ideology which supports rounding up a class of residents and subjecting them to subhuman treatment with no process of law.

Mike Pence, who was raised in a religious household and educated in parochial schools, has described himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order,” and as “a born-again, evangelical Catholic.”

If Pence is unwilling or unable to step forward to demand a stop to these Satanic atrocities and to organize a strategic fix to our existing immigration enforcement system which is already overwhelmed, then it is clear that he has sold his soul to Satan.

How very sad….