Beware What You Wish For!

If you had asked me a few days ago, did I favor removal of Trump from the Presidency, I am quite sure I would have said YES!

Since then, while he has done nothing to change my mind, common sense entered my worried head and I now think ‘we’ all should have second thoughts on that question. Do not worry. I have not gone soft on Trump.

IF Trump is dumped, Pence obviously becomes President. He appears to be a steady, calm man, but his views on too many subjects are too far to the right: e.g. abortion, taxes, health care, immigration etc. AND, he and the Republican leaders in Congress likely would get along beautifully and enact what they can NOT with Trump as President.

On the other hand, if Trump remains in office, he in all likelihood will continue to roil the waters with his nutty tweets, alternative facts etc. That will continue to get in the way of much that the Republican leadership wants to achieve in Congress. And, on balance we will continue to experience three more years of fatiguing wrangling but probably less long term damage than if Pence became President.

AND, an even bigger reason to leave Trump in office now is that with him and the Republican leadership prancing around the maypole, the chances grow stronger that the electorate in 2018 may have become so disgusted, that they will turn a lot of Republicans out of office, which could lessen future political damage in 2019-2020. But, if Pence is President during that period, things could become boringly predictable and conservative, which quite likely would help congressional Republicans in the elections in 2018 and 2020.

I strongly suspect that a lot of folks will disagree with me because they so hate Trump and in different ways trust Pence even less, but it cannot hurt to give real consideration to this thought process.

In addition, the odds still are that Trump will remain in office without any new  ‘forbearance ’ from Democrats, to the point that the Republican leadership may themselves take the bull by the horns and wrestle Trump out of office, just to get to the Pence option?

Strange world that we live in?

The Brain of Stephen Hawking Speaks Loud and Clear

Perhaps the only person alive who captures the world’s attention as the smartest person since Einstein is Hawking.

His recent observation that MAN should hasten to begin colonizing another habitable planet—anywhere and however reachable—before it is too late and all the product of man’s invention, science and genius is swept up and away from Earth in tidal waves of global warming must become a number one goal and objective IN THE NEXT 100 YEARS!

If that is not a wakeup call, I do not know what could be?

Of course, there is some hyperbole in his 100 years. But, whether it be 87 or 213, it is less than a blink even in the scale of human time and needs to be taken very seriously!

Hawking apparently did not specify why he thought the problem was so immediate or so tragic.

Immediate has, of course, a lot to do with the priority of really attacking the problem. If our national leadership continues to disbelieve that global warming has anything to do with human behavior, then we are doomed for sure if Hawking is right. Given only about 100 years, it is unclear whether there is anything man can do enough of in that time to make a difference.

Then there is the question of who cares? If 100 years from now the cataclysms occur and we become like what we see on Mars today, who would be left to either know or care—here or wherever?

One World Government?

On August 10, 2010 I wrote that there likely would be ONE worldwide government by 3010 that would help manage life for the benefit of all citizens of the globe. I added then that one of the main functions of such government would be the allocation of global resources and expenditures in support of global goals.

The achievement of such a governance process obviously would have been the ultimate elimination of local global conflicts and military clashes. That most likely would have come about as a consequence of a real global need both to desist from the waste of local conflicts and focus global efforts on ultimate universe survival.

In the last few months, we in the US have been up in arms about Russian interventions in our democratic election processes. Very recently the same problem occurred in the French election, though it fortunately did not prove decisive.

It probably never occurred to you that those interventions may in due course lead to a good thing: global governance for everyone’s benefit.

Historically, elections were localized because of obvious limitations on communications. Today, there are essentially no such limitations. Digital communications penetrate all corners of the earth.

At the same time, governments everywhere have realized that the politics of another nation will have massive consequences beyond that country’s borders. The obvious next step is a degree of participation in the internal politics of other countries.

Because we celebrate freedom of speech, we have a hard time saying we are not open to hearing whatever we hear, whether the source is CNN or Le Monde. Witness Barack Obama’s endorsement of Emmanuel Macron for a more positive version of multi-national politics.

We are still a long way from 3010, and this entanglement of democracy processes across national boundaries is still very young. The interventions are naturally, and also properly, still worrisome to some. I am not suggesting for an instant that Trump’s alleged campaign effort to invite Russian intervention into our election was legitimate or a good thing. I absolutely do not think that at all.

But I do think that we should begin to think where all this is headed and how to manage it in the best way for the long term.

3010 is after all really not that far off!

Deaf Symphonies

An interesting, thing is going on today all around the world.

The other day, I was at a dinner with several interesting people—experts in science, the Middle East, social sciences, criminal justice, and children’s issues. Though they were mainly conversing about the need to get more young people to understand the sciences and think scientifically, each expert was pretty much singing independently—partly because their average age was about 88 and almost everyone was more than a bit deaf. The result was independent strands of thoughts trying to weave themselves into a symphony of understanding.

It occurred to me in the next days that something similar happens on a larger global and national scale. Our political situation (both in the United States and the world as a whole) seems to be an ever rising crescendo of insanity and crisis. Unlike dinner table strands of thought, however, I suspect that the current state of conversations around the world is not so much a result of world leaders being unable to hear, but of their being unable to listen.

Consider Korea, Syria, France, Russia, the Mexican border, the US tax system, global warming, and US healthcare. All are important and complicated. All require a lot of hard thinking and serious consideration.

Often today it seems that the really serious issues are no longer receiving the disciplined thinking that they sorely need and deserve.

What can be done about that?

I have an idea.

Dinner party conversation does not need to reach a conclusion. It is sufficient that the participants go home better informed and a bit wiser.

Perhaps the leaders around the world could agree to devote sufficient time in public (on TV) to air and analyze each relevant issue at a single time in group settings that could shine light on that issue for them and the publics they serve.

That way, each issue might become better illuminated and all the parties might go away better informed—to the extent that they were capable of listening and taking on board new information.

Musical symphonies can be magical experiences.

And well informed and balanced conversations at a dinner table, or even on nightly news, can leave many people better off for the experience.

But when there is too much dissonance and if the various sounds and voices are not really heard, the result can be both meaningless and even counterproductive.

People who truly “talk together”, both HEARING and LISTENING, walk into better futures together.

March ON!

Never Say Never!

The world is in the middle of the 100th Anniversary of WWI.

That war was known at the time as the “war to end all wars”. Little did the world know then that neither had we—the allies—won and/or that they—the Germans—never accepted that they had lost.

WWI pretty much resumed 20 years later in 1939. Because of the failure of the Versailles Treaty, hyperinflation in Germany in the early 1920s followed by the depression (in part due to extreme reparations) the political flood gates were opened to an extremist called Hitler.

WWI began with the German Scheifflin Plan to bypass the French border, but the plan failed, largely because there was insufficient blitzkrieg at that time. Quickly, things bogged down into trench and artillery warfare in which both sides fought back and forth over as little as 1000 yards at a weekly cost in the tens of thousands of lives.

Looking back one hundred years at several gruesome historical sites of mass slaughter recently helped clear my mind of current issues but also cast an interesting perspective on the past, present, and future.

The past: the degree of insanity, stupidity and lack of sensibilities of the political and military leadership on all sides at the time perhaps exceeds anything in history including WWII.

The present: the political leadership currently in the developed world appears to be unconsciously trying to rival the degree of misdirection during WWI.

The future: Unless Europe and the US come to grip soon with the type of free fall of political and military leadership which led in the 1920s and 1930s to hyper- inflation in Germany, depression everywhere in the 1930s, and WWII in the 1940s, we are bound to experience something like a repeat of those catastrophes.

Obviously, there are also many differences between today and the past. But, deep down, when political, economic, and military behavior and leadership become so distorted and misdirected, as they are all over the world today, conditions get so tangled and distorted that humans lose all perspective and judgment and end up killing everyone that comes within their gunsights.

Optimists say never again can that happen—human experience makes that impossible.

Sadly, memory becomes confused and distorted.

Best to say “never say never”, and get to work unpeeling the tear inducing onion of reality we are struggling with today.

Not for Nervous Eyes and Minds

Most of us are cringing with embarrassment, aggravation, and concern about how the Trump Administration is shaping up: from his failure with Health Care to his ‘care-less’ treatment of the world, including his own constituents and supporters.

One thing that stands out with particular significance is how Trump deals with failure and criticism: denial, deflection, and rejection of fact.

He has consistently demonstrated that he cannot accept the reality that he has any blemishes or faults. There are many facets to extreme narcissistic disorders. One of them is the inability to see and/or accept reality.

One of the biggest threats we all face today is what happens if (or when) the charges regarding Russia close in tight AND when (not if) a showdown arises with North Korea, particularly if those events come close together.

The BIG concern is that he may not be able to see reality [good or bad] about his role in either or both issues.

To date, he has attempted to deflect every issue as someone else’s fault.

Is it possible that the psychological profile he presents is so risky that he could— unknowingly—take risks that might not only literally be his end but also the end of the world as we know it.  His disease is such that he may be deranged to think that “if I cannot have it, the world will end for me and thus it may just as well end for everyone else too at the same time.”

Yes, this is a very scary, crazy thought process. And, crazy is very hard to predict and control.

While the Russian dragnet continues, North Korea threatens more every day/month.

Every congressperson and Senator owes it to all their constituents to reflect hard on these admittedly extreme concerns.

What If There Are Simply Fewer Canaries?

Some of us have been trained all our lives to try to read tea leaves. When one is out in a sail boat it is important to smell the wind and weather both for safety and fun. The canary in the coal mine can save lives. Looking over your shoulder on city streets at night can save your life.

Also as a professional investor I am always looking for signals that may indicate changes in the world that might have a bearing on what one should think about what is going on out there.

Since about the first of March we have noticed a significant reduction of traffic in midtown Manhattan. Uber trips that routinely took 25 minutes now regularly take 12. The mid-town Manhattan bridge traffic that backs up everything around the east side at 59th Street has been surprisingly less congested. And, more evidence has been piling up. It is not constantly less traffic but the overall impression over about a month is that there has been noticeably less auto traffic. This view is buttressed by a number of friends and at least a dozen taxi and Uber drivers.

WHY and HOW?

To my knowledge there have been no special holidays, new traffic regulations or other significant changes in the economic climate in NYC. Several people have wondered out loud whether it might be related to concerns about conditions in the White House and DC. While that may be conceivable, it seems highly unlikely at this point.

Then yesterday an Uber driver made an interesting observation. He said he has been unusually busy particularly with picking up people above 125th street where they had parked inexpensively after driving into the city. He thinks that the ability to get ‘a taxi or uber’ in out of the way locations, where taxis have always been sparse, has so improved and the costs are so low that more people are simply no longer driving into mid-town.

If that should ultimately prove to be the case, it would be quite a wonderful development for the city and all of us that move around in mid-town as part of our daily lives.

NYC should love that development and encourage more like it.

Uber, though they deserve no one’s help or sympathy because they are so arrogant, would gain ever more support for being an important change agent in  transportation needs of urban living everywhere.

Feedback with any relevant observations would be very interesting. Fewer canaries in the coal mine either tell miners there is no risk OR that disaster may be just ahead because if the canaries are already dead, why?

And, if anyone can talk to a person at Uber, it would be interesting to know what they think and what their computers must already know.

Perhaps people are avoiding the environs of Trump Tower??