<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN"> <HTML> <HEAD> <META HTTP-EQUIV="Content-Type" CONTENT="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1"> <META NAME="GENERATOR" CONTENT="Mozilla/4.06 [en] (Win95; U) [Netscape]"> <META HTTP-EQUIV="PRAGMA" CONTENT="NO-CACHE" /> <META HTTP-EQUIV="EXPIRES" CONTENT="-1" /> <meta name="twitter:card" content="summary" /> <meta name="twitter:site" content="@sandboxpete" /> <meta name="twitter:title" content="Pete's Sandbox" /> <meta name="twitter:description" content="The contents are my own." /> <meta name="twitter:image" content="http://petes-sandbox.com/images/turkey3.png"> <TITLE>300 Words</TITLE> <style type="text/css"> h1.center {font-size: 110%; text-align=center} h2.center {font-size: 100%; text-align=center} p {font-size: 100%} p.center {font-size: 100%; text-align=center} td.left {text-align=left} td.center {text-align=center} td.right {text-align=right} .indented { padding-left: 20pt; padding-right: 20pt; } </style> <script language="JavaScript"> function changeFrame(newRef) { parent.pkcontent.location.href=newRef } function popWindow(w) { window.open(w,"popup"); } </script> </HEAD> <BODY> <h1 class=center><b>300 Words</b></h1> <p> I write letters to the editor of my local newspaper. The newspaper arbitrarily limits letters to 300 words, and the newspaper web site strictly enforces the word-limit. At first I was annoyed, but annoyance turned to satisfaction when my letters became more concise and more effective. </p> <p> Some of these letters do not reach a newspaper, but all follow the 300 word limit. </p> <a name='huckfinn'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Why 'Huckleberry Finn' is still important. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=huckfinn" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(huckfinn) The Story in <i>Huckleberry Finn</i></b></h2> This essay was posted on 8/15/18. <p> While growing up in rural Maine after World War II, my experience with black Americans came from TV shows like <i>Amos & Andy</i> or movies like <i>Gone With the Wind</i>. I remember the character Rochester from the <i>Jack Benny Show</i>. None of these portrayals would be called realistic, but they shaped my early experience. </p> <p> I remember one black man who lived alone in a woodsy cottage. He created the most amazing hooked rugs that depicted scenes from rural Maine. </p> <p> I also read <i>Tom Sawyer</i> and <i>Huckleberry Finn</i>. I didn t get all the way through <i>Huck Finn</i>. It was repetitive. The dialects were confusing. I didn't get it. </p> <p> A couple years ago, I tried to read <i>Huck Finn</i> again. It makes more sense now, and I have a different perspective. Among the scenarios and the poetic descriptions of the Mississippi, <i>Huck Finn</i> weaves a story about the relationship between Huck and Jim. It starts with Jim as the runaway slave and ends with Jim as Huck s friend and equal. </p> <p> As onerous as the N-word is, there is a reason why the word appears at the beginning of the story, and there is a reason for its absence at the end of the story. The presence of the N-word and the absence of the N-word mirror Huck s attitude toward Jim. </p> <p> Despite Mark Twain s protestations, there is a message for everyone in Huck Finn's story. </p> <a name='enemies'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Who are the enemies of the people? by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=enemies" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(enemies) Enemies of the People</b></h2> This essay was posted on 8/9/18. <p> It seems that everyone has an opinion on the relative freedom of the press these days. Some of that talk is making news. CNN journalist Jim Acosta questioned White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders whether the press was the enemy of the people. Sanders would not answer the question. Maine columnist <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.pressherald.com/2018/08/05/cynthia-dill-sarah-huckabee-sanders-maintains-dignity-in-face-of-jim-acosta/')">Cynthia Dill defended Sanders</a> and questioned Acosta's motives. </p> <p> Acosta's persistent questioning of Sanders had a purpose. Acosta was trying to create a John McCain moment by provoking Sanders into admitting that the Press, while it often disagreed with the President, was sincere in its efforts to be accurate, but Sanders wouldn't bite. </p> <p> Meanwhile Donald Trump drones on about how he is a victim of the press and how the press pushes fake news on everyone. Trump insists that purveyors of fake news are enemies of the people. Where does that leave the press, and what are Trump's motives? </p> <p> The Press remains free, though much of the press coverage of Trump comes from replays of Fox News interviews. So what is the problem? </p> <p> The problem with the fake news charge: Too many people believe it. The fake news claim has been made the requisite one thousand times, so it has become true. When people believe that the news media spews nonsense, they stop believing that Russia is messing with our election process. They stop believing that the immigrant children problem is still an issue. They stop believing. </p> <p> Instead people start believing in the nonsense of <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a22646546/q-anon-trump-conspiracy-theory-explained/')">QAnon</a> and its outlandish conspiracy theories. They start believing that a group of globalists will take over the world. They start believing that three million Mexicans came across the border to vote for Hillary Clinton. They believe anything. </p> <p> All of this is taking place while we argue whether CNN is fake news. </p> <a name='secret'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Why Donald Trump's undocumented meetings should stop. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=secret" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(secret) The Secret Meeting Problem</b></h2> This essay was posted on 7/31/18. <p> Congress could learn a simple lesson from standard accounting procedures for <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.accountingtools.com/articles/2017/5/17/cash-receipts-procedure')">depositing daily receipts in the bank.</a> The accounting procedure is a multi-step operation full of checks and balances and lists and totals, but the last step is the most important. Someone other than the cashier reconciles the bank deposits with the daily receipts. Everyone likes and trusts the cashier, and everyone wants to keep it that way. The simple rule: Make it easier for the cashier to be more company-serving than self-serving. </p> <p> Like the cashier, the President should not be self-serving, at least from a personal perspective. Congress is responsible for overseeing the President, and the President should follow some basic rules of order. Making international agreements is a great example. The traditional approach starts with experts from each country in a negotiation process that exposes strengths and vulnerabilities. The agreement moves to the next step only with the President s approval. This process is open, transparent, and reviewable. Congress can advise and consent or reject the agreement. </p> <p> Donald Trump has taken the unusual approach of negotiating directly without a preliminary process and without known goals. Trump s meeting with Vladimir Putin used Trump s lone wolf approach. <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/17/politics/trump-putin-russia-claim-military-agreements/index.html')">Apparently there was an agreement.</a> The Russians described one, but the agreement has no credibility. Trump s cloak of secrecy makes any alleged agreement unverifiable. </p> <p> With no verifiable agreement, Congress can t perform its oversight role. Without oversight and without a check on the Executive Branch, Trump is a king. Congress needs to resurrect its role as the President s traffic cop. Congress should block any executive action coming from the Trump-Putin meeting until Congress better understands what the hell is going on. </p> <a name='baltics'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Why Donald Trump needs to stay in NATO. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=baltics" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(baltics) Trump, Putin, and the Baltics</b></h2> This essay was posted on 7/25/18. <p> The history of Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, from the 18th century to the present time is a story of subjugation by Russia under the Tsar and by Russia under Communism. The Baltic States strongly prefer their independence, and they have taken steps to protect it. They joined the EU and NATO during the 2003-2004 period. If only the Baltic State seaports were not so important to Russia. </p> <p> In 2014 the Russian bear awoke from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. They began a campaign of restoring their lost influence by making inroads in the Ukraine and by annexing Crimea. In 2017 the Russians raised concern in the Baltic States by carrying out military exercises near the Baltic border. </p> <p> The Baltic States depend on Article 5 of the NATO agreement as a deterrent to Russian aggression. An attack on the Baltic States, according to Article 5, is an attack on all NATO countries, including the United States. But don t confuse words with reality. The US has the most powerful military force in the world. NATO forces outmatch Russian forces when the US plays a dominant role, but Russia is more competitive and NATO is less aggressive when the US stands aside, as Donald Trump has threatened to do. </p> <p> Vladimir Putin s actions show that his goal is the restoration of Russia's political borders to those enjoyed by the Soviet Union prior to 1991. Only NATO and the US stand in his way. Trump is helping Putin by his complaints that NATO is obsolete and by his position that the US won t defend countries that won't protect themselves. </p> <p> Trump s policies align with Putin s goals too perfectly to be a coincidence, and that should concern everyone. </p> <a name='trumputin'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Why Donald Trump's clerification doesn't work. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=trumputin" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(trumputin) Trump Putin Meeting</b></h2> This essay was posted on 7/19/18. <p> Trump s performance at the meeting with Vladimir Putin could be his biggest blunder. Trump clearly and openly chose Putin's word over US intelligence reports of Russian meddling. Trump's pronouncements echoed Putin at every turn. Trump s pro-Russian words brought smug grins to the faces of Putin and his cohorts. The poker game was over. Russia won the pot. Russia owned Trump. </p> <p> Republican criticism of Trump was swift. Even the pro-Trump Republicans were in damage-control mode. John McCain said it best: "Today's Press Conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American President in memory." However, Newt Gingrich's comments were just as noteworthy. He called Trump's performance "the most serious mistake" of his Presidency. Gingrich added, "President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin." </p> <p> The criticism worked. Trump tried to clarify his statements in prepared remarks by admitting he misspoke. He fixed his remarks by changing one word, "would" to "wouldn't", but this change didn't fix anything. Trump now accepts US intel reports on Russian meddling, but he never says he agrees that they are true. And Trump never recanted his approval of Putin's request to investigate US citizens. Trump continues to follow Putin's lead. Only one word changed. Nothing else changed, except that Trump's remarks are even more bizarre. </p> <p> Trump's one word repair job brought on a parade of former Republican critics who echoed support for Trump and were assured now that his statements were "clarified". Congressional Republicans have abetted Trump in probably the most devastating lie in American history. </p> <p> If the Republicans are going to lie about losing American Sovereignty to the Russians, why wouldn't they lie about more mundane things like taxes or tariffs or healthcare or the fate of immigrant children? </p> <a name='detroit'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Help Detroit's schools by helping the kids. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=detroit" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(detroit) Helping Detroit's Schools</b></h2> This essay was posted on 7/11/18. <p> Some Detroit schools are bad enough that <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/07/no-right-become-literate/564545/')">even students are mad.</a> They are suing the Federal Government over such poor perfromance by their schools that the students would do as well if they never attended. Their suit, however, was dismissed by Federal District Judge Stephen Murphy, who said he needed guidance from the Supreme Court. </p> <p> Federal law and the Federal Constitution don't have explicit education guarantees. Those guarantees are found in State Constitutions. The Michigan Constitution has such a guarantee, but, unlike most states, Michigan only guarantees access to education. The Michigan courts say the Detroit kids have access to schools and won't hear the complaint. </p> <p> The Detroiters appear to have a case. Compared to a nearby mostly white neighborhood, the Detroit schools in question are dramatically substandard. The schools even have a rat infestation problem, according to the kids. At least on the surface, a discrimination claim can be made. </p> <p> Delivering good education is not like delivering an ice cream cone or a new sofa. There are many factors contributing to school performance including; teachers, educators, students, parents, the community, and <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/education/education-gap-grows-between-rich-and-poor-studies-show.html')">the wealth of the student's family.</a> Wealth expands opportunities for extra-curricular activities such as weekend sports, ballet lessons, music lessons, etc. Wealthy people apparently have more time and more opportunities to enrich their children. </p> <p> Maybe the Detroit case is focusing on the wrong problem. Maybe the kids would be better off if they jazzed up a community center and encouraged civic-minded volunteers for help. It might not cost as much as you'd think. </p> <p> Detroit is not the only place with troubled schools. Poorly performing schools is a national problem looking for a national solution. Maybe there are other kids who could use better access to extra-curricular activities. </p> <p>In any event, the rats need to go. </p> <a name='civility'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Why civility is needed when governing. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=civility" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(civility) Civility and Governing</b></h2> This essay was posted on 7/3/18. <p> The inspiration for this essay comes from the book <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/562246/how-democracies-die-by-steven-levitsky-and-daniel-ziblatt/9781524762933/')"><i>How Democracies Die</i></a> (HDD) by Stephen Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. </p> <p> MSNBC host Chris Matthews uses the relationship between President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O Neill as an example of collaborative legislative practice that has been lost. While they disagreed, they always tried to close the deal. </p> <p> The art of compromise and civility has been mostly abandoned. HDD marks the end of civility with the rise of Newt Gingrich, who advocated a more combative form of politics. </p> <p> Gingrich's combative governance reinforces the belief in party superiority. Combative governance uses extreme measures that tend to destabilize government. Two extreme measures are partisan gerrymandering and voter suppression laws. Both methods artificially help ensure the perpetuation of the party's control in Congress and State legislatures. </p> <p> Once it is entrenched, reversing the combative approach is very difficult, because change needs the approval of the dominant party, which will resist giving up its authority. Change is even harder when the dominant party also controls the Presidency. </p> <p> Our current predicament includes a legislature that has abused and then abandoned the filibuster, for example, because winning is now more important than governing. The current domination by Republicans in Congress and in the White House only compounds the problem. </p> <p> Reining in Washington is now the responsibility of the Supreme Court and the voting public. Voters should elect people who will restore congressional norms and restore Congress's role as a check to the Executive branch. The Supreme Court should reconsider its votes on voter suppression laws and partisan gerrymandering, because they destabilize our democratic institutions. </p> <p> We have a crisis in Washington that was fostered by an uncivil approach to governance. If we repair Washington without restoring civility, then nothing will change. </p> <a name='children2'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Migrant smugglers keep busy while Donald Trump exploits the children. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=children2" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(children2) The Real Migration Problem</b></h2> This essay was posted on 6/26/18. <p> The news is preoccupied by Donald Trump's draconian zero-tolerance policy used by US government border officials in their attempt to lower the flow of Central Americans into the US. The Central Americans, meanwhile, keep coming because they fear for their lives if they stay in their own countries. They don t see any good choices. </p> <p> American politics is consumed by immigration. Democrats and Republicans have such divergent solutions that they can t seem to compromise on a plan, and when they get close, Donald Trump rejects it. Trump seems to prefer chaos, maybe because he rules in the land of chaos. </p> <p> Meanwhile commercial trucking vehicles keep coming into the US from Mexico, largely unchecked. Some of them are chock full of immigrants. The CBS news show <i>60 Minutes</i> replayed the <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.mysanantonio.com/entertainment/article/60-Minutes-revisits-deadly-San-Antonio-12743959.php')">immigrant smuggling news story.</a> The Border Patrol manning the truck lanes does what it can, but it is undermanned and under pressure to keep the trucks moving. Too many trucks get through with human cargo. </p> <p> If I wanted to smuggle criminals across the border, I would not have them approach a legal port of entry and declare themselves to be refugees. There are too many legal impediments, and I would not want my cargo identified and logged in. I would try a different approach, like stuffing the people in trucks driven by willing Americans. </p> <p> The US government is putting too much energy into stopping refugee families while the more dangerous human trafficking goes on elsewhere, with much less public scrutiny. </p> <p> If Trump really wants to shut down immigration, why does he waste his time terrorizing children, when there are bigger fish to catch? </p> <a name='children'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="How the GOP can manage Donald Trump. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=children" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(children) Managing Trump</b></h2> This essay was posted on 6/19/18. <p> During the 2016 election, Barack Obama described Donald Trump as lacking temperament to be President and called Trump uniquely unqualified. Now we know that Obama s warnings went largely unheeded by Trump's followers. The strategy failed. </p> <p> Three aspects of Trump s temperament are in play today. First, Trump reacts to advice and counsel the same way anyone would react to fire ants at a picnic. Trump ignores all advice except his own. Second, Trump will do and say almost anything to win. Third, Trump resorts to bullying tactics almost instinctively. </p> <p> Trump is showing his warts with the new immigration wrinkle. Probably the most important thing in Trump s life is his wall on the Mexican border. He wants to win, and he will sacrifice children to get his wall, especially if the children are sons and daughters of immigrants. Trump is using the <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/18/politics/immigration-trump-congress-family-separation/index.html')"><i>zero-tolerance immigration policy</i></a> to bully Democrats into conceding Trump s wall and other restrictions on immigration favored by his base. </p> <p> Short of impeachment, there is only one way to manage Donald Trump s frequent spells of bad behavior; Congressional action. Congress has the power to control Trump. Congress needs to send a message to Trump that the lives of children should not be exploited in the making of legislation. Fixing and passing a compromise version of the <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/3036/text')"><i>Keeping Families Together Act</i></a> would send that message. As I write this no Republican has shown any substantive interest. </p> <p> It is clear, that Congress cannot persuade Trump to do anything, and Democrats can t do anything without Republican support. A few Republicans have spoken out against the consequences of the zero-tolerance policy, but talk is cheap. Talking won t work with Trump. Republicans need to remember that their primary purpose is to manage the President, and they can t do it by just talking. </p> <a name='elector'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="The Electoral College and the Senate need to change. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=elector" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(elector) Changing the Electoral College</b></h2> This essay was posted on 6/12/18. <p> The Electoral College is a puzzling piece of statecraft that befuddles Americans and keeps us unique among nations. Many want to scuttle the Electoral College and elect our President with a popular vote. It is a good idea, but it comes with consequences. </p> <p> During the Revolutionary War, the colonists considered themselves to be a confederation of separate states cooperating for the purpose of freeing themselves from British control. They succeeded but the confederation they set up did not. </p> <p> The US Constitution fixed the flaws in the Articles of Confederation that preceded it. Two fixes designed to keep large colonies in check were the Electoral College and the addition of the Senate. </p> <p> Both fixes still do their job. Large states like California are underrepresented requiring over 700,000 citizens per electoral vote, and small states like Vermont are over represented requiring 200,000 citizens per electoral vote. Senators coming from the least populated states control half of the Senate votes but represent only 16% of the US population. The small states are extraordinarily over served. </p> <p> We may call ourselves the United States. Our armed forces fight and sacrifice for one country, but we are still a loose confederation of states in many ways. </p> <p> We blame our politicians for a lot of the division in our country, but our system of government also contributes to the divisions because the political system drives the ground rules under which politicians operate. </p> <p> If we change the way we elect our President from an Electoral College process to a direct election by popular vote, we will move some of the power centers from small states to large states and from rural areas to urban areas. Our nation will change in ways that we don t expect, but I think the time for change is here. </p> <a name='pardon'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="How Donald Trump abuses pardons. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=pardon" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(pardon) Donald Trump and Pardons</b></h2> This essay was posted on 6/7/18. <p> If you have been convicted of a federal crime and feel that you deserve a pardon, you can file a request to the <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.justice.gov/pardon/pardon-information-and-instructions')">US Pardon Office.</a> The Pardon Office takes its work seriously. They review the reason for the pardon. They check arrest records. They check credit status. They check the seriousness and circumstances of the crime. They check character references. They check personal background. They check current status. They check the level of community service. Any approved pardon that sustains this kind of review should not be up for debate. </p> <p> There is a reason for the high level of review in the pardon process even as the Constitution doesn't explicitly require it. It is best described in a <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_Two_of_the_United_States_Constitution#Clause_1:_Command_of_military;_Opinions_of_cabinet_secretaries;_Pardons')">1927 Supreme Court decision that sets the modern standard:</a> </p> <p class='indented'>  [a] pardon in our days is not a private act of grace from an individual happening to possess power. It is a part of the Constitutional scheme. When granted it is the determination of the ultimate authority that the public welfare will be better served by inflicting less than what the judgment fixed. </p> <p> The primary purpose of a Presidential pardon is to serve the public welfare. </p> <p> Four out of five of <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.justice.gov/pardon/pardons-granted-president-donald-trump')">Donald Trump s pardons</a> were not reviewed to determine the impact to the public welfare, because Trump bypassed the Pardon Office. Trump's pardons appear to have political motivation, but the threat to use pardon power to stifle the Russia probe definitely has political motivation. </p> <p> President Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon did not get a full review either, but the pardon brought closure to a dark period in US history. Trump should not pardon any Russia probe target, because it is far too early for closure in this current dark period in US history. </p> <a name='globalism'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Why globalism is our future. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=globalism" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(globalism) Globalism vs Nationalism</b></h2> This essay was posted on 5/30/18. <p> The rise of Donald Trump s brand of nationalism brought two problems to the surface looking for solutions  climate change and the exploration of Mars. Both problems resolve themselves better when they are approached with sincere international cooperation. The political and technical problems by themselves call for international solutions, but the political ramifications make international-based solutions necessary. It was in the context of these two problems that <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.ted.com/talks/yuval_noah_harari_nationalism_vs_globalism_the_new_political_divide')">Yuval Harari s Ted Talk</a> on nationalism and globalism spoke to me. </p> <p> Harari distinguishes between nationalism and globalism by the problems they solve. Besides climate change, Harari suggests that the Internet, Bioengineering, and Artificial Intelligence are all problems better suited to a global approach, because the solutions all have international scope. He points out, for example, that people who favor nationalist doctrines are more likely to be climate change deniers. </p> <p> To my surprise, Harari points out that wealth inequality is a global problem. Wealth inequality can t be fixed by tax policy alone or by imposing tariffs. American companies will take advantage of cheap foreign labor at the expense of American workers. If you want to stop American companies from manufacturing in South East Asia, you need to negotiate a treaty like TPP that calls for higher wages and better working conditions in South East Asia as a criterion for a trade deal. </p> <p> Harari is asked if we will go back to the nationalism that stoked the fires of World War I and World War II. Harari suggests that humans are capable of that much stupidity. It seems that nationalism is better suited to the problem of starting a war. </p> <a name='rcv2'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="The Ranked Choice Voting Saga in Maine. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=rcv2" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(rcv2) Ranked Choice Voting Redux</b></h2> This essay was posted on 5/23/18 and posted online at the Portland Press Herald on 6/9/18. Ranked Choice arrived in Maine over two years ago. <p> I am not a fan of Ranked Choice Voting <a href="javascript:popWindow('http://www.rcvmaine.com/faq')">(RCV).</a> Voters need to study all the candidates more than they do now in regular elections. Winning an RCV election process after finishing fourth in the votes would create the same kind of dissatisfaction that occurred in the 2010 election. </p> <p> The RCV initiative started after conservative Paul LePage was elected Governor in 2010 without a clear majority in a five-way race. LePage received only 38% of the votes. RCV was conceived as a way to get around the Maine Constitution s rule that the plurality candidate is the winner in statewide elections. In 2016 a people s referendum made RCV the law in Maine. </p> <p> After the Maine Supreme Court issued an advisory ruling that it would find RCV unconstitutional, the Maine Legislature passed a bill that defers implementation of RCV until 2021 and provides time to fix the Maine Constitution. </p> <p> Supporters of RCV reacted to the legislation by initiating a people's veto referendum designed to save the new voting measure. The vote will be on June 12. </p> <p> The Constitution needs fixing. I suppose that the framers of the Constitution, being frugal New Englanders, decided that one election was good enough. In today s more complex society with a fractured electorate, plurality winners are no longer good enough. </p> <p> We now have time to make a change to the Constitution by adding runoff elections in selected cases when a plurality winner occurs. With all its problems, at least the results of a runoff election are clear and unambiguous. The majority candidate wins. The losers just need to try harder the next time. </p> <a name='moadodo'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Why the safety of isolation is an illusion. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=moadodo" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(moadodo) The Perilous Safety of Isolation</b></h2> This essay, posted on 5/16/18, was inspired by Rachel Carson's <i>The Sea Around Us</i>. <p> Moas and dodos are extinct birds with a lot in common. Neither species was capable of flying, and both species lived on remote islands, isolated from predators until humans invaded their island paradise. Each bird was virtually extinct in less than a hundred years after humans arrived. </p> <p> The remoteness and isolation afforded these luckless birds kept them alive for years but did not prepare them for the deadly change created by the arrival of a super alpha predator. The changing world did them in. </p> <p> One of the major change agents of the 20th century is <a href="javascript:popWindow('http://www.worldbank.org/en/about/archives/history/past-presidents/robert-strange-mcnamara')">Robert McNamara.</a> After his controversial role in the Vietnam War, McNamara headed the World Bank. It was there that McNamara made an impact. He made raising global poverty a priority as a way to avoid ruinous wars. Sound familiar? Under his leadership the World Bank became a driving force in that effort. McNamara left the World Bank in 1981, but his poverty program continued. </p> <p> Poverty has not been defeated, but <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.economist.com/international/2017/03/30/the-world-has-made-great-progress-in-eradicating-extreme-poverty')">great progress has been made.</a> Worldwide poverty dropped from 42% in 1981 to 11% in 2013, about the same as the poverty level in the US. The world did not eliminate poverty, but the so-called third-world countries have almost disappeared. </p> <p> Donald Trump is leading us down a path of nationalistic isolationism. He is retreating from the global activism started by George H. W. Bush with NAFTA and continued by each succeeding President. Much of that involvement is a direct response to the emerging world marketplace fostered by McNamara and the World Bank. </p> <p> Trump s pivot to a more isolationist attitude may seem safe and familiar, but it is as doomed as the dodo, because it refuses to fly with the rest of the world. </p> <a name='irannuke'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Why dropping the Iran deal is worse than keeping it. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=irannuke" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(irannuke) The Iran Deal</b></h2> This essay was posted on 5/10/18. <p> Donald Trump s decision to drop out of the Iran nuclear deal is based on a clumsy lie. Trump wrongly implies that Iran is secretly developing a nuclear bomb. He bases his lie on <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.vox.com/world/2018/4/30/17303576/netanyahu-iran-deal-speech-amad')">Israeli Prime Minister Netenyahu s disclosure</a> of Iranian malfeasance that actually occurred as much as 15 years ago and took place before the Iran deal was even negotiated. In fact, the revelation of Iran s secret program was a major reason for making the nuclear agreement with Iran. </p> <p> Trump knows he is lying, as do the other members of the Iran deal, including UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China. They know it is a lie, because Iran has been open to a robust inspection process, and Iran has kept its part of the bargain. Iran has not tried to cheat on the deal. </p> <p> Iran also knows that Trump is lying. <a href="javascript:popWindow('http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-iran-nuclear-deal-reaction-20180508-story.html')">Iran says it will try to remain in the deal</a> with the five remaining signers, but if the deal doesn t hold, Iran intends to restart its uranium enrichment program. In simpler language, if the deal fails, Iran will build a bomb. </p> <p> Trump can t let Iran build a bomb if he wants to maintain any influence over North Korea. If Trump wants a shot at the Nobel Peace Prize, he needs to have a successful negotiation with North Korea and he needs to keep Iran s nuclear ambitions bottled up as well. </p> <p> Those pesky sanctions against Iran could uncork the bottle. Trump needs to ignore his own bluster and implement weak sanctions against Iran -- sanctions that will not hurt Iran but might appease his base. </p> <p> Trump is playing a dangerous game, and he is the novice among a slew of veterans. Unfortunately, he is the one with the biggest gun. </p> <a name='adhominem'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="This may make you think twice before believing a political attack ad. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=adhominem" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(adhominem) <i>ad hominem</i> Arguments in Politics</b></h2> This essay was posted on 5/2/18. <p> Two weeks ago, I commented on a positive <a href="javascript:popWindow('http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/esp_sociopol_fed04.htm')">review of the book <i>The Creature from Jekyll Island</i>.</a> I noted that the reviewer is associated with the John Birch Society, a very conservative organization, and I was called out on my <i>ad hominem</i> statement. I questioned the reviewer s politics instead of his review. </p> <p> <i>The Creature from Jekyll Island</i> is about the formation of the Federal Reserve in 1913. I needed to find out what this book, which has an ardent following, is all about. After reading some of the drama, I skipped to the chapters on the economics of currency. The book waxes about the positive values of the gold standard and blames inflation on our current currency also known as fiat money. I saw the connection between the John Birch Society and this paean to economic ideas that don t work. </p> <p> My initial comments on the <i>Creature</i> book seem like an <i>ad hominem</i> argument on the surface, but the book is political as is the John Birch Society. My review of the book s contents is consistent with my initial reservations. I am not a fan of the book or the John Birch Society. </p> <p> I may revert to the messenger more than the message sometimes, but the king of the <i>ad hominem</i> argument is Donald Trump. He questioned Barack Obama s citizenship. He referred to Ted Cruz as  lyin Ted . He attacked  Little Marco . Then he went after  crooked Hillary . Trump called the former FBI chief James Comey an untruthful slimeball. He accused the FBI leadership of bias against him even though the FBI arguably contributed to his victory. Donald Trump consistently attacks the messenger and not the message. </p> <p> The real problem with an <i>ad hominem</i> attack: It turns an honest debate into a popularity contest. </p> <a name='rcarson'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Rachel Carson's warnings take on a new urgency. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=rcarson" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(rcarson) Remembering Rachel Carson</b></h2> This essay was posted on 4/26/18. <p> The March 26 issue of <i>The New Yorker</i> contains <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/03/26/the-right-way-to-remember-rachel-carson')">Jill Lepore s article</a> about Rachel Carson and Carson s environmental activism. Carson was a marine biologist with a unique affinity to the sea, but she is best known for her book <i>Silent Spring</i>, which lamented the environmental destruction caused by DDT. </p> <p> Carson s activism helped launch a flurry of environmental bills including: the Clean Air Act, the Wilderness Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. <i>Silent Spring</i> was also instrumental to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. </p> <p> The makers and purveyors of DDT worked in a world full of chemistry labs and books, and the scientists felt they could manage nature. They didn t understand that robins are vulnerable to DDT through nature s food chain, and we are as vulnerable to DDT as robins. </p> <p> The Trump administration is working hard to <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/03/how-trump-is-changing-science-environment/')">scuttle 50 years of environmental progress.</a> Besides rolling back government programs on climate change, the administration is attacking a broad range of programs including: clean water regulations, car emission standards, mine waste disposal rules, protection of endangered and threatened species, and air quality standards. </p> <p> In a parting shot to Rachel Carson s legacy, EPA chief Scott Pruitt recently <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2018/04/24/epa-chief-scott-pruitt-delete-decades-of-science-in-the-name-of-transparency/#59967d3f7afa')">removed landmark scientific studies</a> on the health impacts of air pollution and pesticides from consideration when making new rules. </p> <p> How ironic that Donald Trump s administration is trying to resurrect the oil-friendly 1960 s and Rachel Carson, dying of cancer, wanted to write another book. LePore ends her article with Carson s own words: </p> <p style='indented'>  We live in an age of rising seas. In our own lifetime we are witnessing a startling alteration of climate. </p> <a name='debtmyth'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="How to get real about the national debt. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=debtmyth" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(debtmyth) Facing the National Debt</b></h2> This essay was posted on 4/18/18. <p> Republicans kept insisting that $20 trillion is way too much debt. Then they passed legislation that immediately shot the debt to $21 trillion. Republicans tend to perpetrate myths about the National debt. </p> <p> The first myth: $21 trillion is just too much debt. Claiming that $21 trillion is too big totally discounts the effects of inflation over the years. I remember when 2 bucks bought 6 gallons of gas. Thanks to inflation 6 gallons of gas now costs about $16. In 1960, an average family earned about $6700. Today, the average family earns about $59,000. Inflation lowers the buying power of the dollar, so $21 trillion is smaller than it looks. </p> <p> The second myth: Austerity reduces debt. While austerity reduces debt in a typical household, the same trick doesn t work in government. Government spending props up the economy so reduced spending leads to a shrinking economy and lower tax revenues. In the end, austerity fixes nothing. Look at recent history. Austerity is failing in Greece. It is failing in Italy. It is failing in the UK. Austerity will fail in the US. </p> <p> If the debt is still scary, it can be fixed with a simple change. Change the currency to a new dollar that is worth ten old dollars. The price of gas would be about a quarter and family income would be about $5900. The debt would be about $2.1 trillion. Society would continue to function as it does today only with different value markers. </p> <p> There is just one problem. Donald Trump would not be a billionaire. </p> <a name='tradedef'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="After reading this, ask yourself if Nike is paying enough taxes. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=tradedef" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(tradedef) China's Unbalanced Trade</b></h2> This essay was posted on 4/11/18. <p> Donald Trump s latest whipping boy is the nation of China. Trump complains that the $500 billion trade deficit with China needs to be fixed, and he claims that tariffs on Chinese goods are the answer. Trump overstates the trade deficit with China. It is actually about <a href="javascript:popWindow('http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2018/mar/28/donald-trump/did-us-have-500-billion-deficit-china-2017/')">$375 billion.</a> Putting the tariff debate aside, the large trade deficit with China isn t as big of a problem as Trump makes it out to be. </p> <p> Nike footwear tells a different story. <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.statista.com/topics/1243/nike/')">Nike generates $21 billion</a> selling footwear worldwide. Nike makes the footwear in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. While Nike contributes to China s trade surplus, its non-US sales account for about 60% of footwear revenues. Nike s <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://solecollector.com/news/2014/12/how-much-it-costs-nike-to-make-a-100-shoe')">markup over manufacturing costs</a> for footwear sold outside the US about covers the trade cost for footwear sold in the US. Sure, Nike sends a lot of money to China, but it recovers most of it from other countries offsetting the trade imbalance with China. So what s the problem? </p> <p> One problem is China s substandard working conditions and low wages. During the 1990 s Nike became a leading example of sweatshop abuse at its Asian factories. After some very public protests, Nike changed its tune enough to acknowledge its problems and improve its factories. However, problems still remain, and Nike still takes advantage of substandard working conditions and low wages. Nike likes the arrangement in China because it makes Nike more competitive in the worldwide market. </p> <p> Trump claims that tariffs against Chinese imports will make a difference. Don t count on it. Companies like Nike have a market base large enough to absorb the extra cost for goods sold in the US. Tariffs may satisfy Trump s base, but tariffs will only lead to higher prices. Who knew? Trade and tariffs are really complicated. </p> <a name='ptsd'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Check out why outsourcing at the VA is a bad idea. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=ptsd" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(ptsd) Outsourcing at the VA</b></h2> This essay was posted on 4/4/18. <p> I recently tweeted about David Shulkin s dismissal from the VA and suggested that outsourcing services would not improve the VA. Unfortunately, my tweet was inelegant, and I received some pushback. One critic reminded me that 25% of returning veterans suffer from PTSD. The comments brought me back to an event that I witnessed 40 some years ago in a bowling alley. </p> <p> On that night a young man stepped onto the bowling lane and aimed his ball at the pins. As he took a step toward the foul line, a loud bang resonated through the building. Another bowler who was older but not wiser purposely dropped his own ball. The noise rattled the younger bowler. He approached the older man red-faced and yelling. His teammates and family constrained him when he lifted his own ball and tried to throw it at the instigator. The young man was led out of the alley. His bowling was over for the night. </p> <p> Another bowler standing next to me knew more about the two antgonists. He said in a low voice.  Why does he keep doing that? He was referring to the older man, the instigator. </p> <p> David Shulkin is out at the VA, and a large-scale outsourcing strategy is likely to begin. The VA has had its share of problems, but I think its main goal concerns the veterans. I fear that an outsourced VA will be more like the older bowler and less like the teammates of the young man, the one who needed the most help. </p> <a name='drugwar'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Check out this strategy for not losing the Drug War. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=drugwar" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(drugwar) The Drug War and Oxycontin</b></h2> This essay was posted on 3/28/18. It also appeared online at the Portland Press Herald on 4/6/18. <p> Richard Nixon declared the <a href="javascript:popWindow('http://www.drugpolicy.org/issues/brief-history-drug-war')">war on drugs,</a> but Ronald Reagan really got things started by greatly increasing the number of arrests for drug-related crimes. The 1980 s also saw large increases in prison terms for drug offenses. The war on drugs changed many lives but it did not stem the rising tide of drugs in America. </p> <p> Now Donald Trump wants to double down on drug enforcement by making the sale of drugs a capital offense and by increasing anti-drug enforcement. The checkered history of anti-drug enforcement since the Reagan years has not worked, and Trump s booster shot will probably fail as well. It is way past time to start addressing the problem instead of the politics. </p> <p> A sound alternative to incarcerating drug users are more <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/recovery-blog/drug-rehab-success-rates/#gref')">drug rehabilitation centers,</a> but do they work when only 1 in 5 patients remains sober? While drug rehab programs don t have great statistics, they match up well with other rehab programs and generally improve the lives of those seeking treatment. Drug rehab programs may be frustratingly ineffective, but the alternate way to get out of the drug cycle is an overdose. </p> <p> Drug overdoses have always been a problem, but the <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates')">frequency of overdoses</a> started to skyrocket around 2010, and the rising number of deaths may have been caused by a change to the new gateway drug <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.michaelshouse.com/oxycontin-rehab/history-of-oxycontin/')">Oxycontin.</a> In 2010 Oxycontin was reformulated, making it harder to crush and snort the drug. The new formula and subsequent restrictions to the manufacture and sale of Oxycontin led users to other, cheaper drug sources such as heroine. </p> <p> Fixing the drug epidemic will need a balanced approach between vigorous, legal enforcement and drug rehabilitation programs. It will take time, but it will take longer unless we close Pandora s box of codeine-based pain-killers made for the mass market. </p> <a name='trumplies'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="How Donald Trump's lies hurt us. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=trumplies" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(trumplies) Donald Trump and his Lies</b></h2> This essay was posted on 3/20/18. <p> Donald Trump is a self-proclaimed liar now that he admitted to a group of donors in Missouri in which he told Justin Trudeau that the <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/03/15/why-trumps-admission-that-he-made-stuff-up-to-justin-trudeau-is-particularly-bad/?utm_term=.6e3ecf148315')">US has a trade deficit with Canada</a> when he had no idea what the facts were. He just made it up, he said. When Trudeau objected, Trump defended his lie by making up timber and energy numbers. One undeniable truth about Donald Trump: He is a damn good liar. </p> <p> The actual trade numbers makes Trump s lie more interesting. The US has a $23 Billion deficit in traded goods but a $25 Billion surplus in traded services. Trump s lies mostly exposed his complete ignorance and lack of preparation about trade between the US and Canada. </p> <p> Trump also told the Missouri donors that <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-was-only-joking-about-japanese-bowling-ball-test-cars-n857111')">Japanese regulators</a> dropped bowling balls on American automobiles to keep them off the market. Trump later claimed that he was joking, but observers noted that Trump s demeanor didn t indicate joking. It doesn t really matter. Trump s history of torturing the truth is so well established that everything coming out of Trump s mouth gets fact-checked. </p> <p> Trump s lack of veracity makes him a dubious diplomatic negotiator. His lack of credibility will make any favorable outcome in the NAFTA negotiations unlikely, potentially leading to US withdrawal from NAFTA with a consequential loss of trade and jobs. Trump s lack of credibility will also make a favorable outcome to negotiations with North Korea unlikely, potentially leading to a war in the worst case. </p> <p> Trump has lied himself into a corner with virtually no way out. I do not see any good ending if Trump insists on playing a leading role in US diplomacy. I sincerely hope that I am wrong. </p> <p> Postscript: Kathleen Parker suggests in her column (3/20/18) that the conversation between Trump and Trudeau might not have happened. </p> <a name='coinsorter'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="How banks get so unpopular. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=coinsorter" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(coinsorter) The Friendly Bank</b></h2> This essay was posted on 3/14/18. <p> When we moved we joined a new bank. It was the friendliest bank, at least according to the bank. They had lollipops and free pens and a coin sorter that was free to bank customers. </p> <p> The coin sorter featured a friendly game. If you guessed how much money you were sorting, you got an insubstantial gift like a refrigerator magnet that had the bank s phone number on it. We used the coin sorter a couple times. We always guessed the value, but we were never even close. There is an art to guessing the value of a pile of coins. Count them first. </p> <p> On about the third visit to the coin sorter there was a sign indicating it was no longer available for use. We were curious, so we asked the manager why they pulled the coin sorter. He said that commercial customers were abusing the privilege, so they had to discontinue the service. We continued on as customers, but we took our coin sorting business elsewhere. </p> <p> A few months later I noticed a small article in the paper. The friendly bank was caught skimming a small percentage off of each batch of coins. The bank was pretty safe as long as the customer didn t know the exact value of the coins. I then understood the purpose of the little guessing game. The bank wasn t quite as friendly any more, and it probably never was. </p> <a name='nodeal'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Why Republicans should be nervous about Donald Trump. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=nodeal" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(nodeal) Donald Trump's Republican Deal</b></h2> This essay was posted on 3/7/18. <p> In 2016 before the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump appeared to have wrapped up a first ballot nomination. There was talk about a rules change that would have freed delegate first-ballot obligations as a way of circumventing a Trump victory. Subsequently, Republican leaders <a href="javascript:popWindow('http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-pol-republican-nomination-rules-20160714-snap-story.html')">met with Trump in Washington, DC.</a> I remember Trump s motorcade driving to the meeting place. It made good press. Apparently, Republicans made a deal to back Trump. What were they thinking? </p> <p> Donald Trump never met a deal he couldn t break. He shafted rent-control tenants. He reneged on promises to Trump Shuttle airline pilots. He didn t pay numerous contractors. He left casino investors hanging out to dry after he milked the resorts into bankruptcy. In Donald Trump s world Trump always wins in a deal. The other side isn t important. </p> <p> Republican leaders still support Trump, because he is appointing the judges they want and putting forth the legislation they want, but there are signs of frustration. Trump isn t listening to them on NAFTA and on Tariffs, for example. In both cases, economists predict an economic downturn that would be hard to explain to voters. </p> <p> Another Trumpian trend is unsettling. Trump s foreign policy moves seem to coincide very closely with a big monetary advantage to Trump or to a family member. The Qatar incident is a prime example. A Qatar bank denied a loan to Jared Kushner s real estate business, and the Trump administration subsequently backed a blockade of Qatar and jeopardized US troops stationed in Qatar. In crime and politics, there are no coincidences. </p> <p> Redirecting Trump down a more conventional path is not just unlikely. It is inconceivable. Republicans are mistaken if they think they can control Trump. Sadly, there could be a lot of losers in this deal. </p> <a name='liheap'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Funding LIHEAP and how we can fix it. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=liheap" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(liheap) Funding LIHEAP</b></h2> This essay was posted on 3/1/18. <p> The Low Income Home Energy Program (LIHEAP) has been a government service for a very long time. LIHEAP provides limited energy assistance to cash-strapped households trying to stay warm in the cold winter months. Maine has a lot of cash-strapped households, and LIHEAP is an important part of Maine winters. </p> <p> The LIHEAP program has been unfairly criticized as unnecessary because energy providers are required by law to provide enough fuel to customers in the winter. The criticism is only partly true. In reality, adequate service by energy providers is not possible without some form of compensation. That is where LIHEAP helps fill a need. </p> <p> LIHEAP has had its ups and downs over the years, but it is still helping Mainers. So far this year over 40,000 Maine households have received fuel assistance from the program. The program manages to serve all qualified LIHEAP applicants, and there are indications that more households could use the help but, for some reason, don t apply. Clearly, LIHEAP is good for Maine, but that might not be the case next year. </p> <p> LIHEAP is one of many cuts in President Trump s budget next year. The LIHEAP cut leaves too many people out in the cold and needs to be funded by Congress. </p> <p> Making home heating more affordable is a best way to reduce annual LIHEAP costs. Two simple approaches are: One, lower heating costs by encouraging renewable energy investment. Two, raise low-end salaries by raising the federal minimum wage. </p> <p> Government doesn t need to buy fuel oil for people, but government should ensure that everyone can be warm. </p> <a name='snowwars'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Staying cool under the chaos of Trump. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=snowwars" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(snowwars) Fighting the Snow Wars</b></h2> This essay was posted on 2/20/17. A reader pointed out to me that the Cleveland snowfight actually occurred in 2015. The essay has been modified slightly to reflect that.<br/> -- Peter (2/22/18) <p> During a snowstorm two Clevelanders got into a <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/snow-wars-ohio-neighbors-battle-over-sidewalk-shoveling-dispute-n317161')">heated dispute over fallen snow</a> that ended with an assault charge. I tweeted the news feed with the added comment: </p> <p class='indented'> "This looks like someone trying to emulate Trump's confrontational attitude" </p> <p> As with many comments in the Twitter Universe, this comment was a spontaneous expression of my feelings, though it represented my strong disapproval of President Trump s polarizing campaign style that evokes too much anger and fear in the electorate. During the campaign, the fear and anger often turned into fighting between Trump supporters and protesters. Now the anger and hostility is showing up on a snowy street in Cleveland. </p> <p> Among the responders to my comment, an apparent Trump supporter Joe Shlabotnik replied: </p> <p class='indented'> Joe Shlabotnik <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://twitter.com/GSCK702')">@GSCK702</a> Feb 11<br/> Replying to @sandboxpete @NBCNews<br/> Identify the Trump voter in this video. </p> <p> I usually respond to a thought-provoking comment, but I didn t know what to say. After thinking about the response and talking about it to my wife, I replied: </p> <p class='indented'>  I don't know which one is the Trump voter, but that is the least relevant issue. I know many Trump voters who would behave better. Donald Trump's angry, confrontational posture incites both sides of the political spectrum. </p> <p> I was curious, so I visited Joe s Twitter page. Joe s page is liberal enough that I needed to frame his challenge in a new light and with new depth. </p> <p> Joe reminded me to really look at someone before you try to figure him or her out. </p> <p> I was also reminded to check the dates of the story. The snow fight occurred in 2015. It was more of a harbinger than an outcome. I should have looked closer. </p> <a name='security'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="What is the real security risk in the White House. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=security" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(security) White House Security</b></h2> This essay was posted on 2/14/17. <p> The Rob Porter scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. Sure, being custodian to many of the country s most important secrets is a big deal, and Chief of Staff John Kelly should have done a better job of managing the situation. Rob Porter should not have remained on the job so long. But that is not the end of the story. </p> <p> Donald Trump s son in law and close adviser Jared Kushner also <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.salon.com/2018/02/14/trumps-white-house-has-a-big-security-problem-jared-kushner/')">does not have full security clearance.</a> The reasons for failing to give Kushner a clean bill of health are not clear, but there are a lot of possible reasons. For starters, Kushner has had suspicious contacts with Russians including an attempt to set up a secret back channel to Russia and a meeting with a Russian banker closely associated with Vladimir Putin. For some very real reason, Kushner is in the same boat as Porter. He is a legitimate blackmail target and has no business in the White House inner circle. But that is not the end of the story either. </p> <p> Thirty to 40 White House staffers are handling secret documents <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/09/politics/trump-officials-pending-security-clearances/index.html')">without proper security clearance.</a> With this many security risks, it is highly likely that someone ensconced in a White House job is shuffling secret documents to the Russians already. But again, that is not the end of the story. </p> <p> What about the President? Trump has more allegations of sexual improprieties against him than I have fingers. There are allegations of money laundering through Trump apartment buildings. And there are business deals with Russians close to Putin. If Trump were vying for a job in the White House, he would probably not get full security clearance. That is the elephant in the room. </p> <a name='russianleak'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="How Russian leaks disrupt Donald Trump's politics. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=russianleak" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(russianleak) Russian Leaks</b></h2> This essay was posted on 2/7/17. <p> The Russians have behaved in puzzling ways in their dealings with Donald Trump or Trump s inner circle. </p> <p> Take Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who has close ties to the Russian government. She is <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.reuters.com/article/legal-us-otc-veselnitskaya/how-did-russian-lawyer-veselnitskaya-get-into-u-s-for-trump-tower-meeting-idUSKBN1D62Q2')">willing to testify,</a> according to a Bloomberg interview, that the Trump Tower meeting was set up to pass  damaging information about Hillary Clinton to the Trump campaign. Why would the Kremlin let Veselnitskaya snitch on Donald Trump, Junior? </p> <p> Then there is the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. He <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/russian-ambassador-told-moscow-that-kushner-wanted-secret-communications-channel-with-kremlin/2017/05/26/520a14b4-422d-11e7-9869-bac8b446820a_story.html?utm_term=.5afe803180b4')">reported to Moscow</a> that Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn wanted to set up a secret back channel to the Kremlin to shield pre-inauguration discussions, according to US intercepts. Why would a veteran diplomat throw members of Trump s inner circle under the bus on a line that was bugged by US Intel? </p> <p> Don t forget head of Russian Foreign Intelligence, Sergey Naryshkin, who has been sanctioned and banned from entering the US. Naryshkin and Russian spy chief Alexander Bortnikov flew to the US and <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/russian-spy-chiefs-met-in-washington-with-cia-director-to-discuss-counterterrorism/2018/01/31/0b761976-068b-11e8-94e8-e8b8600ade23_story.html?utm_term=.d23d8af2504b')">met secretly with CIA director Mike Pompeo</a> on or about January 23. On January 30, the Moscow embassy announced the meeting with a tweet, which alerted US media outlets of the meeting. Why would the Russian government and Russian-controlled news outlets announce a meeting that Trump tried to hide? </p> <p> The motives behind these Russian leaks are unclear. They might be understood better if we knew what Vladimir Putin and Trump discuss at their frequent private conversations. Until then, I am left with the nagging feeling that Putin is sending Trump the message: Why don t you get rid of those pesky sanctions. </p> <a name='sanctions'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Why Trump should issue those sanctions. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=sanctions" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(sanctions) Donald Trump's Sanctions Problem</b></h2> This essay was sent to members of Congress and posted on 1/31/17. <p> In July of 2017 and by a combined vote of 517-5, the US Congress overwhelmingly passed bipartisan legislation calling for new sanctions on Russia as a reaction to Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election, but President Trump s response has been missing in action. </p> <p> Trump let the sanction deadline pass without implementing them. He said, unconvincingly, that the legislation by itself was deterrent enough, so there is no need to issue the new sanctions. </p> <p> Trump is wrong. Russians continue to meddle in our politics and future meddling in our elections is inevitable unless the US acts forcefully. Failure to issue the new sanctions is a sign of weakness that we cannot afford. </p> <p> The failure to implement the sanctions is a strong indication that Trump has unhealthy conflicts with Russia, and the conflicts are interfering with his ability to carry out his duties to an extent that is impeachable. Forget about collusion and obstruction of justice. Trump s continued inaction is unacceptable. </p> <p>If the threat of sanctions can cower Russia as Trump seems to indicate, then surely the threat of impeachment can make Trump act Presidential at least once. </p> <a name='russia'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="What could be the real Russia problem. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=russia" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(russia) The Real Russia Problem</b></h2> This essay was posted on 1/24/17. <p> The number of allegations surrounding Donald Trump is growing and becoming a growing concern. The allegations include laundering money for people connected to the Russian government, helping the Russian campaign against Hillary Clinton, and obstructing justice. All of these allegations suggest that Trump has something to hide and could be easily influenced. By now Robert Mueller probably knows whether Trump is vulnerable, and others could know as well. </p> <p> The person that shows up in the news is Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump and Putin have a cozy relationship that seems to border on a bromance. Trump can t say a bad word about Putin. Trump is in a state of denial about Russian tampering and has not lifted a finger to prepare for this fall s off-year elections. Then there are those sanctions. Trump can t come to grips with the idea of sanctioning Russia. While no one is charging Trump with anything, his actions toward Putin are a problem. </p> <p> Vladimir Putin is not the only person who could profit from Trump s allegedly spotty past. A group of Washington insiders could potentially do more damage than Putin, because they could influence Trump every day, and they could potentially jam a destructive, self-serving agenda through Congress. Someone inside the beltway pulling Trump s strings could act invisibly with virtual immunity. </p> <p> When I see the Washington scene evolving, I remember the clever construction of our government with its explicit separation of powers and built in checks and balances. Our government is strong, isn t it? Then I wonder why all those Republican members of Congress try so hard to protect Trump. </p> <a name='racism'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Why Donald Trump's racism needs to stop. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=racism" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(racism) Donald Trump's Racism Problem</b></h2> This essay was posted on 1/17/17. <p> Donald Trump calls himself the least racist person you will ever meet, but he continues to use racially charged words and actions that stir up emotions in his followers and in the targets of his abusive attacks. Last week Trump cited  shithole countries in Africa and the Caribbean, according to Senator Durbin, and ignited angry responses all the way from Africa s Republic of Ghana to Haiti in the Caribbean. </p> <p> Trump may not be a racist in the same way as the racism of the American Nazi Party, whose racism is built on hate and fear, but his long, well-documented history of race-baiting remarks and actions tells a different story. </p> <p> Trump s form of racism has a darker side. He uses racism to further his self-interest. Trump prevented black apartment seekers from renting in his buildings to mollify his white tenants. Trump smeared a Mohawk Tribe to prevent them from opening a competing casino. Trump questioned Barack Obama s citizenship to set the stage for his entry into politics. Trump characterized Mexicans as drug dealers, criminals, and rapists to set the stage for his presidential campaign. Now he disparages a whole continent of people to justify killing the DACA bill. </p> <p> As President, Trump s inherent racism is more dangerous than the racism of the American Nazi Party because it diminishes America s influence in the world. Trump s racism disrespects the office he holds and disrespects the Constitution he has sworn to uphold. Trump s racism disrespects every single American including each and every one of his most loyal followers. </p> <a name='voteridlaw'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Why voter fraud is not the biggest election threat. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=voteridlaw" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(voteridlaw) The Voter ID Problem</b></h2> This essay was sent to Maine State Legislators and posted on 1/9/17. <p> I urge you to reject Governor LePage s call to renew voter ID laws in Maine because there is little or no evidence of voter fraud in Maine or the US, voter ID laws are not designed to prevent many of the rare, documented cases of voter fraud, and voter ID laws discriminate against elderly voters, young voters, and minority voters. </p> <p> Washington Post writer Scott Thistle found only <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/08/06/a-comprehensive-investigation-of-voter-impersonation-finds-31-credible-incidents-out-of-one-billion-ballots-cast/?utm_term=.4bb85ee4f240')">31 cases of voter fraud</a> in 1 billion votes cast in recent years. Even so, voter ID laws are not reliable at preventing voter fraud. For example, Wisconsin s voter ID law would not have prevented a specific case of voter fraud, according to a Wisconsin court. </p> <p> Instead of trying to solve a non-problem, the State of Maine should investigate our vulnerability to being hacked. The problem is real. The electronic evidence is conclusive. Attempts to hack and alter voter registration files occurred in many states. A hacking expert claimed that he accessed a voter registration file and modified data. He said that he restored the data before he exited. Russians continue to spread fake news items on the web. And they will be back at our voter files more prepared than in 2016. </p> <p> Our voting systems should have paper backup and our voting machines should be isolated from web access. Electronic voter registration files should also be protected from unauthorized access and manipulation. </p> <p> The State should take the lead now that little help will come from Washington this year. It will be almost impossible to recover voter confidence in our elections if we leave ourselves open to an attack. Protect the voting booth and the voter and say no to Governor LePage s voter ID law. </p> <a name='1styear'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Collusion with Russia may not be the biggest problem. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=1styear" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(1styear) The Collusion Problem</b></h2> This essay was posted on 1/5/17. <p> President Trump s actions in his first year of office are proving the prescience of Barack Obama s criticism that Trump is uniquely unqualified. A partial list of Trump s questionable activities: </p> <ul> <li> Excessive public Tweeting of inappropriate diplomatic messages </li> <li> World-wide business entanglements that interfere with Presidential business and create conflicts of interest </li> <li> Excessive profiteering from the Presidency </li> <li> A too-cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia </li> <li> Direct interference with the DOJ; a practice avoided by his predecessors </li> <li> Egregious attacks against mainstream media </li> <li> Failure to adequately staff Federal Departments </li> <li> Flagrant nepotism in the White House </li> <li> Failure to acknowledge Russian interference in our elections </li> <li> Episodes of erratic and irrational behavior </li> <li> An often-used pattern of making impulsive decisions without consulting anyone </li> </ul> </p> <p> I believe that Trump colluded with Russia either directly or through proxies, and Trump is trying to obstruct the Mueller investigation. There is too much circumstantial information. Members of Trump s inner circle should not forget all 19 Russian government operatives they met last year, for example. These impeachable offenses do not make the list because Congress is preoccupied with collusion and obstruction and ignoring impeachable offenses that pose a much more immediate danger to the US. </p> <p> Congressional Republicans are hanging onto Trump, apparently because he supports their conservative agenda, and they are under the misguided belief that they can control Trump. This strategy has a history of disastrous results. </p> <p> Democrats are in a corner with no allies, except a public willing to take the streets, but the public needs more direction. So far, the public forum and Congressional Democrats do not appear organized as well as they could be. </p> <p> There is a madness in Washington today, and the madness does not end with the White House. </p> <a name='bynum'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Should Democrats stick to the issues or to Donald Trump? by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=bynum" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(bynum) Issues Oriented Politics</b></h2> This essay was posted on 12/29/17. <p> The 2018 congressional elections will soon dominate the news cycles, and one question remains. Will Congress become blue or stay red? A lot depends on the Democratic strategy. Will the Democrats attack the issues or will they attack Trump? The answer may dictate the outcome of the election and the possible outcome of the Trump Presidency. </p> <p> Tulsa Oklahoma mayor <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.ted.com/talks/g_t_bynum_a_republican_mayor_s_plan_to_replace_partisanship_with_policy?utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=button__2017-11-30')">G.T. Bynum may have the answer.</a> The Republican upstart defeated the Republican incumbent by 17 points by appealing to the issues while his opponent used a standard partisan campaign that included a series of ads that attacked Bynum s character. </p> <p> Bynum s winning strategy stuck to the issues important to Tulsa voters. Bynum s issues were not typical Republican issues. They focused on civic needs such as raising per capita income and raising Tulsa s population. Bynum s nonpartisan strategy attracted Republicans and Democrats. In Bynum s words he replaced partisanship with policy. </p> <p> President Trump s 39% approval rating, according to Real Clear Politics, is low enough that he appears to be an easy target in the 2018 election. Hillary Clinton s lack of success even with the help of Barack Obama and Joe Biden suggests that there might be a better way. </p> <p> Modeling a campaign strategy after Bynum s successful one could be a good answer for Democrats. The issues seem to favor the Democrats. Polls indicate that voters want more healthcare coverage; not less, and they want to preserve Medicare, for example. Democrats can build campaigns around these and other issues and ignore the elephant in the room. </p> <p> Partisanship peaked in 2016, but too many politicians still don t know it. Bynum s experience suggests that voters don t want the same old partisan politics. They are ready for some real change. Politicians who start asking the right questions will ultimately succeed. The rest will ultimately fail. </p> <a name='3hurricanes'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Something the three hurricanes tell us about Donald Trump. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=3hurricanes" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(3hurricanes) Three Hurricanes</b></h2> This essay was posted on 12/19/17. <p> Three massive hurricanes hit the United States this year causing devastation in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. </p> <p> Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and the surrounding area about the size of the State of Maine. Little progress has been made in the last three months. Too many people remain homeless, and many of them may never return to the Houston area. </p> <p> Hurricane Irma struck Puerto Rico, whipped through the Florida Keys and continued along Florida s West coast. Canals in the Florida Keys are still littered with wreckage after three months. </p> <p> Puerto Rico is still trying to recover from Hurricane Maria. The devastation is so great and the recovery is so slow, that accounting for all of the dead is virtually impossible. After three months, over 30% of all Puerto Ricans are still without power; according to MSNBC journalist Chris Hayes. </p> <p> The US was hit by three storms of the century in one year. While the federal government response varied in the three storms, the one consistent pattern was an inability for the government to do its job, and government s lack of responsiveness in Puerto Rico is particularly noteworthy. </p> <p> President Trump is slow to spend money on hurricane relief. His tax reform bill calls for massive tax cuts, so he doesn t want to compromise the passage of the tax bill with a huge, hurricane relief expenditure. </p> <p> Then there is the global warming issue. Trump says global warming is a hoax. He won t acknowledge the plain fact that these storms are the most destructive storms in many years, and he won t acknowledge the expectation that massive storms will happen routinely. To ameliorate Trump, the storm victims will just have to wait. </p> <a name='catalyst'/> <a href="https://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Why we need to keep the Dodd-Frank bill on banking reform. by @sandboxpete" data-url="http://petes-sandbox.com/300index.asp?essay=catalyst" data-show-count="false">Tweet</a><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <h2 class=center><b>(catalyst) Importance of Dodd-Frank</b></h2> This essay was posted on 12/12/17. <p> The catalysts for the last two great economic disasters were two kinds of speculation, and they involved a lack of banking oversight. </p> <p> A stock market bubble triggered the great depression in 1929. The stock market bubble was fueled by the dubious practice of buying stocks on borrowed money. Too many luckless investors did this. When the market peaked, all of those loans became worthless, and banks were not prepared. </p> <p> A housing bubble triggered the great recession in 2008. The housing bubble was fueled by the dubious practice of issuing mortgages to buyers who could not afford them. Banks bought those mortgages on the false premise that they were solvent. Once again, banks were not prepared. Fortunately, the US government was in a better position than in 1929, so they avoided a devastating depression, but too many homeowners became homeless. </p> <p> Donald Trump wants to ramp up opportunities for speculation by repealing Dodd-Frank and removing regulations on borrowing that were put in place after the 2008 economic downturn. In Fed chairman <a href="javascript:popWindow('https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/25/us-central-bank-boss-janet-yellen-rebukes-trump-over-plan-to-lift-regulations')">Janet Yellen s criticism</a> of Trump s deregulation plans, Yellen wants to keep those regulations because they make the financial system  substantially safer. </p> <p> The regulations have a purpose other than penalizing Trump s friends. They are designed to forestall a major economic downturn by preventing the kind of shenanigans perpetrated by the mortgage industry prior to the 2008 debacle. If Trump gets his way, hold onto your hat and watch out for your retirement savings. </p> <p class=center> <script language="JavaScript"> document.write( "This page last updated "+ document.lastModified +""); </script> </p> </BODY> </HTML>