A half century ago, the Baby Boomer generation entered adulthood with plenty of energy and commitment to help make our world safer and better.  As they set forth to establish families of their own, careers and all of the rest, they faced some unexpected head winds.  The rapidity of technological change combined with growing economic and social divides put extraordinary pressure on these young families, and they became self-absorbed.

The direct socioeconomic impacts of American suburbanization didn’t really begin to take hold until the 1970’s.  The resulting economic and racial segregation shielded the next generation(s) of middle class young people growing up in suburbia, away from their less affluent peers who were left behind in urban neighborhoods. They lost touch with each other, not able to see common ground.

Somehow, things have begun to change for the positive.

Maybe Trump’s legacy will be as the unconscious ‘uniter’ of the people of good will — Americans who reject corruption, self-dealing and bullying — who regardless of hair color, height, weight, economics, gender, race, skin tone, religion, sexual orientation, learning and/or mobility differences, and many more… — refuse to participate in the Trump Swamp.

This emerging generation, evidenced by the Parkland students, are showing signs of unity under a new paradigm of The American Dream, where the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are honestly and equitably recognized and applied.

To date, Trump has certainly distinguished himself as the polar opposite of genuine American values.

While it’s still too early to celebrate any victories, I am betting on the young people who have taken an active role in the March For Our Lives movement — and the millions of their supporters (average age 48!) — to continue to energize and inspire the vast majority of U.S. citizens and residents who want to see common sense prevail.

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The majority of us know Saint Patrick as the Patron Saint of Ireland, and each year, many of us celebrate his Day — March 17.

Saint Patrick was active as a missionary in Ireland during the second half of the fifth century  — and each year which passes makes his legacy a wee bit more fascinating and powerful!

The Walrus — descended from primarily Irish heritage — has heard many stories of great and grand Irish heroes.

One individual we generally don’t talk about is Sir Charles Trevelyan, a 19th century British bureaucrat who worked as a colonial administrator. Trevelyan is remembered in the annals of history as the individual who was charged with administering relief to the many thousands of Irish peasants who were left starving due to the impact of The Great Famine.

About one million lives were lost to the Famine.  At it’s peak, Trevelyan described the Famine as an “effective mechanism for reducing surplus population” and “the judgment of God”.

“Dependence on charity,” Trevelyan said, “is not to be made an agreeable mode of life.”

Fast forward to the 21st century: the year 2014 to be exact.

Paul Ryan, a fifth generation Irish American, is a congressman from Wisconsin.  In a speech during the summer of 2012, Paul Ryan said, “You know, back in the 1850s, the potatoes stopped growing in Ireland, so our great-great-grandfather, with the shirt on his back, made his way to Boston, worked his way on the railroad to get enough money to buy a farm.”

Today, Saint Patrick’s Day 2014, is a heavy day because Paul Ryan has besmirched the Irish people with his arrogant and dismissive talk about school lunch programs, suggesting that supporting programs to feed hungry children might create a setting which could result in ‘a full stomach and an empty soul’ in the very children it was expected to benefit.  And, he has gone on to chastise “inner city men” who he claims are not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.

It is disappointing — that in losing sight of his past — Paul Ryan has distanced himself from the very realities of human behavior gone awry.

This is not a new or unique situation.

History reveals plenty of examples of bad human behavior which began with a glib and facile individual who possessed that magical ability to convince and influence others.

Very early in his presidency (1969), Richard Nixon appealed to the ‘Silent Majority’ — the mainstream citizens who he believed generally stood on the sidelines rather than take a position on issues.

In the late 1970’s, Jerry Falwell was credited with founding the “Moral Majority” — a euphemism for the Christian Right.  There are dozens – hundreds – of current and historical examples of religious and/or ideological cults, often led by a charismatic individual who cultivated extraordinary public speaking skills.

The saga of Jim Jones and his “People’s Temple” which culminated in the death of 900+ followers has been memorialized forever with the phrase, “Don’t drink the Kool Aid.”

The current Tea Party movement is slightly different because the message, direction and money comes from behind the curtain — the Koch Brothers and a few others. They have found several eloquent spokespersons — Paul Ryan, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann are some — and somehow, they’ve managed to create a message powerful enough to steal the hearts and minds of a small but vocal group of people who: (a) desperately want the outcome of the Civil War to be different; (b) believe that hedge funds, investment bankers and other ‘pirates in suits’ create value in the economy (and create jobs?); and (c) believe that Mitt Romney gives to charity.

I fear the probability of coaxing the truth to the surface is bleak, unless we can mobilize enough critical thinkers to say, “Enough of this crap!”

Let’s stop paying attention to marginal mindless fools.

Let’s live up to our legacy as ‘The land of the free, and the home of the brave!’

Paul Ryan is at it again.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/12/paul-ryan-inner-cities_n_4949165.html

Paul Ryan was born in 1970 in the small city of Janesville, Wisconsin: population 60,000 of whom 95% are white.

He is a product of great intentions gone off course.  Brown vs. Board of Education (1954) was intended to eliminate racial and (by association) economic segregation in public schools across the U.S.

Who could have predicted that post-war U.S. euphoria would bring suburban sprawl, fueled by the automobile and the feverish building of highways which enabled the exodus of primarily white, middle-class families out of central cities into first-ring suburbs.  By 1960, about half of Americans lived in suburbs vs. city centers, a dramatic shift from pre-war demographics.  So, as the population shifted to suburbia, economic and racial segregation became even more pronounced than prior to the Brown decision.

I suspect that when Paul was growing up, attending Parochial Schools in Janesville, he never had a black friend, never spoke with a black person, and was virtually isolated from people who didn’t go to his church and didn’t look like him.

It’s hard to imagine, but I think Paul is probably a decent guy who has been deprived of the opportunity to get to know other people, and to develop an understanding of their culture and the insidious, subtle and generally invisible battles they fight every day.

No excuses here.  Just a dose of reality.

Back where I come from they used to say, “Never criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.”

Despite the grand intentions of the Brown decision, other factors have crept in to render the decision impotent, and Paul Ryan seems to be the poster child for a societal problem we need to fix before the pot boils over and destroys our society.

According to Reuters, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress this week he is ready to ease monetary policy further if economic growth and inflation slow.

The central bank has already cut interest rates to near zero and last month completed a $600 billion round of bond-buying designed to lower borrowing costs still further.

Asked whether the Fed would be willing to launch another bond purchase program if the economy slumps, Bernanke said on Wednesday: “We have to keep all the options on the table. We don’t know where the economy is going to go.”

Bernanke listed several potential easing options, some of which he also included in a more detailed speech he made in August 2010.

Meanwhile, Tea Party Republicans in the House and the Senate reiterated their mandate to “…rock the credit and stock markets and force up the interest the federal government has to pay on its bonds.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the debt problem belonged squarely in Obama’s lap.

McConnell said, “Republicans will not be reduced to being the tax collectors for the Obama economy. Don’t expect any more cover from Republicans on it than you got on health care. None.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), told reporters that he thought Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s so-called “last resort” option for resolving the debt ceiling stalemate should be left on the table.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) has emerged as a key player in the negotiations between the Congress and the White House in talks over how to resolve the debt problem. And, not in a very productive or popular way…

“Eric, don’t call my bluff,” President Barack Obama warned late Wednesday after a dramatic back-and-forth with the Virginia Republican that made some in Cantor’s party wince. “Enough is enough.”

One has to pause and ask, “Did growing up amid Republicans in Richmond, Va., the capital of the Confederacy, somehow taint Rep. Cantor’s ability to deal with modern diversity and reality?”

And, Donald Trump (with Sarah Palin close by his side) was heard weighing in on the rancor in D.C.

Apparently not at all impressed by congressional Republicans Eric Cantor and John Boehner and their brand of negotiating, Trump appeared on Fox News to proclaim, “…the Republicans are doing another ‘el foldo’. This is incredible. It is unbelievable what is going on. The fact is, they are terrible, terrible, frightened negotiators. And I just can’t believe they are doing this.”

It all leaves me thinking that maybe the Civil War never was really resolved.

Here we have a President from Chicago — clearly north of the Mason-Dixon line — surrounded by some of the most capable and best educated economic experts in this country, working to fix an economy which tanked due to bad decisions which took place between 2001 and 2009, doing battle with Southern Republicans, many of whom are newly elected on the Tea Party platform.

I keep hearing Billie Holiday singing “Strange Fruit”.

Am I missing something here?

Some amazing stuff going on in Washington this week.

According to an article published in the Wall Street Journal today, “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) unveiled a proposal that would allow President Barack Obama to raise on his own the federal borrowing limit by $2.4 trillion in three installments before the end of 2012, unless two-thirds of Congress votes to block it.
Mr. McConnell’s proposal to allow the president to raise the debt ceiling came after he said in a Senate speech that the country cannot solve its fiscal problems with Mr. Obama as president. “After years of discussions and months of negotiations, I have little question that as long as this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable,” he said.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) suggested they consider temporarily lowering corporate tax rates as a way to offset revenue increases from closing tax loopholes, a Republican familiar with the discussion said.”

All of this rhetoric has the 21st century tingle of the Billie Holiday song, “Strange Fruit.”

Every time I turn on the radio, I seem to hear a Republican Senator or Congressman representing a state below the Mason-Dixon line denouncing our President as though he caused our economic dilemma.

Bear in mind: The last time our country had a balanced budget was in 2001.

Prior to Mr. Obama taking office, we experienced almost a decade of overspending, compounded by tax cuts.

Today, July 13, 2011, Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), rejected the McConnell plan to give President Obama the authority to raise the debt ceiling.

So, we have various factions of the white male republicans from south of the Mason-Dixon line in dispute over exactly how to derail the Obama administration.

Should we lynch him? Shoot him? Starve him?

Stand by for more in the early morning news….