photo of classic Victorian era study and lounge

Writer’s Lounge – Trump To 911, Thanksgiving Retail Workers, National Debt

 

“I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine,” Trump said in July.  “They say CrowdStrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people … the server, they say Ukraine has it.”

 

This is typical Trump. Whenever Trump fastens on to some fictitious notion, it always takes the form of an abstraction. Therefore, you will never be told by him who “they” are.

“They”, without exception, are some nameless, faceless entity. I have always wondered why reporters assigned to the White House, never directly ask Trump, “Mr. President, who is this “they” you are referring to? Who told you this?” The answer would be as specific as “We’ll see what happens.”

Imagine Trump ever having to call police to report a crime. It would sound something like this,

Jupiter, Florida PD dispatch:   “Jupiter Police Department, may we help you.”

Donald Trump:   “Yes, I would like to report a crime.”

Jupiter PD:   “ Your name, sir?”

Trump:   “President Trump.”

Jupiter PD:   “Is this an emergency situation?  Is the crime in progress?”

Trump:   “It happened sometime in 2016.”

Jupiter PD:   “Sir, what happened in 2016?”

Trump:   “Ukrainians – political enemies of mine, hacked into the Democratic server.”

Jupiter PD:   “I’m sorry sir, but that is outside of our jurisdiction. You probably want to contact the Justice Department, the FBI regarding this.”

Trump:  “The FBI is Deep State. Can I at least have you take down some information and write up a report?”

Jupiter PD:  “Very well, Mr. President. Is there a particular Ukrainian, you suspect?”

Trump:  “I believe it is one of their wealthy people.”

Jupiter PD:  “Which wealthy person, sir? Do you have a name?”

Trump:  “Yes,  I told you, my name is Donald Trump, President Trump.”

Jupiter PD:  “I understand. I meant, do you have a name of a suspect.”

Trump:  “I don’t know in particular. That’s what I need to have looked into. Rudy Giuliani and Devin Nunes have been worthless so far and I haven’t gotten much cooperation at all from Zellinsky.”

Jupiter PD:   “The last person you mentioned – who is that and how is the name spelled?”

Trump:  “Zellinsky. He’s the Ukrainian President that I simply asked a favor of to look into the Bidens, before I released his defense aid package. Lot of corruption over there and now the fake media and the Democrats are making a big stink about it. Spelling is Zell-in-sky.”

Jupiter PD:  “First name?” 

Trump:   “Donald … oh, you mean Zellinsky?  I don’t know. I don’t remember. Starts with a V, I think.”

Jupiter PD:   “Who alerted you to this intrusion into the DNC server, Mr. President?”

Trump:  “They did.”

Jupiter PD:  “They? The DNC? Whom specifically? Do you have a name?”

Trump:   “Yes, I told you, my name is Donald J. Trump, President. Are you paying attention, or what?”

Jupiter PD:  “No Mr. President, I mean yes, Mr. President.  I mean the name of the person that told you that a Ukrainian hacked the server.”

Trump:   “I don’t know. It came up in a conversation. I can just tell you that they said it. That much I can tell you.”

Jupiter PD:   “Well, sir this was an interesting conversation, but – we do have a call coming in on the other line. Thank you for the information and we’ll write up a report for investigators and ‘we’ll see what happens’.”

Trump:   “I hear the Jupiter Police Department is having their annual charity event at Mar A Lago again this year. We always enjoy hosting law enforcement. And we have the best facilities, the best amenities – tremendous, unbelievable. No one hosts an event like we do. Keep up the good work.”

by Richard Cameron


1960's era stock photo depicting the archtypical White suburban middle class family sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner

 

Retail workers, wage slaving on Turkey-Day. “It just ain’t fair, I tell ‘ya.”

Again this year, a re-occurrence of a social narrative that brings together the strangest of bedfellows, the popular complaint about retail workers not being allowed to take Thanksgiving off. 

It is a sentiment shared by – are you ready for this, social conservatives and labor activists. There are even Facebook groups devoted to the opposition to stores remaining open on this inviolable national holiday. 

Let’s examine the object of their discontent that unites them in common cause with one another.  For those holding a particular view of Thanksgiving as a holiday with strong religious connotations, retail commerce is a high visibility affront to their sensibilities.

In fact, close to half the states in America (22 by last count) have what are known as “Blue Laws” pertaining to Thanksgiving and Christmas. While we ordinarily think of the prohibition of the sale of wine and spirits on Sundays, they also can pertain to the enforced closing of shopping venues. Blue Laws are indisputably neo-theocratic in origin and intent. 

An example is the Massachusetts Department of Labor’s regulation that retail stores may not open on Thanksgiving or Christmas, but restaurants, pharmacies and hotels are among the other establishments that are exempt.

Oddly enough, these laws persist in associating Thanksgiving with Christianity in some nebulous fashion, even though there is no particular observance of a specified day anywhere in the New Testament, identified as being set aside or mandated for the purpose of being “thankful”. Based on the evidence of the elements of the “Lord’s Prayer”, some have observed that gratitude is properly a daily function, not an annual one.

But the notion that Thanksgiving is inseparable from America’s identity as a Judeo-Christian nation, is fairly widespread. The Arlington Catholic Herald argues thus:

“The first Thanksgiving Day observance originated in Virginia. On Dec. 4, 1619, 38 English settlers arrived at Berkely Plantation on the James River near present Charles City. The settlement’s charter required that the day of arrival be commemorated as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

It appears that the Puritans reached back into the Old Testament for the pretext of that commemoration, seeing a corollary in their situation to the circumstances that culminated in the “Feast of the Tabernacles”

President Kennedy, commenting on the observance of Thanksgiving, referenced the religious connotation:

“Over three centuries ago our forefathers in Virginia and in Massachusetts, far from home in a lonely wilderness, set aside a time of thanksgiving. On the appointed day, they gave reverent thanks for their safety, for the health of their children, for the fertility of their fields, for the love which bound them together, and for the faith which united them with their God.”

The true irony in the argument that Thanksgiving comports with Christian theology, is that the Apostle Paul, while having no quarrel with gratitude per se,  rejects such practices as “appointed days” in the strongest of terms:

But now that you know God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you are turning back to those weak and worthless principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that my efforts for you may have been in vain.…

Galations 4:9-11

Despite this, for most religionists, Thanksgiving is part of a combo plate of tradition that demands a vigilant defense against secularism.

As public opinion is measured, a Morning Consult poll appears to reflect that a majority disapprove of Thursday store openings for a variety of reasons:

Graphic showing the result of a Morning Consult public opinion poll which asked respondents what they identified as the top 6 reasons they oppose retail stores remaining open on Thanksgiving day.

And stores not capitulating to the dictates of majority think, are viewed as opponents in the culture war. 

One of the most vocal retail chains about their policy of remaining closed on Turkey day, is Von Maur, whose president Jim von Maur, states:

“Some things are sacred, including spending time with family and loved ones on Thanksgiving and other holidays. We profitably run our business during the remaining 358 days of the year, so we don’t have to sacrifice tradition for the sake of sales. Our family-oriented focus has been the cornerstone of our culture since 1872, and that is never going to change.”

“Family oriented” is recognized by the religious right as a coded means of disparagement by contrast, of what they classify as deviants – anyone who declines to participate in established tribal conventions like the classic nuclear family and heterosexual only marriage.

But Mr. von Maur’s comments are representative of a certain species of virtue signaling that are fairly hollow on deeper examination. Von Maur is a luxury department store, with a very upscale clientele and there is scarcely a case to be made that their locations would be raking in significant revenue on Thanksgiving. 

The same can be said of many other retailers, who bleed sanctimony about their store closings on Thursday, and position themselves as morally superior to competitors who don’t. 

Then, there are on the same side of the retail store / Thanksgiving controversy, progressive labor advocatesDean Obadallah, writing in the Daily Beast, remarks:

“So instead of sitting down to a family dinner, corporations like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and others coerce or sometimes force hundreds of thousands of minimum wage employees and countless more shoppers to forego the federal holiday and instead work extra long shifts hawking cheap televisions, refrigerators, or Nickelback CDs.

The pressure to skip Thanksgiving is even greater on the hundreds of thousands of employees who work at big box stores. Many store managers make it hard or even impossible for their hourly workers to take off on Thanksgiving. Others who have tried to stand up for their employees have themselves been fired by corporate executives for not opening on Thanksgiving.”

And Adam Peck in Think Progress:

“But keeping retail stores closed on the holiday truly shouldn’t be a right or left issue. It should be one that, like Thanksgiving Day itself, unites all Americans regardless of political outlook, religion, or background. We should stand together in objecting to employees being forced to sacrifice their celebrations because the mammoth corporate chains have decided to open. And I say “forced” to work because let’s be honest: How many employees can tell their boss “no” when asked to work on Thanksgiving, when doing so could mean losing their job or hurting their career advancement?”

This harmonic convergence between the religious right and progressives on the sanctity of Thanksgiving is remarkable and cognitive dissonance inducing.  It’s also fallacious. Why? Well, don’t you find it curious that so much hand wringing over the scheduling of retail employees on Thanksgiving day, is not accompanied by deep concern and angst about the countless thousands of other laborers who are not exempt from work on that sacrosanct day.

To listen to the scolding voices of disapproval on the injustice of scheduling hourly workers to serve at department stores and malls, one would think that no one else with a job is working that day. Oh contraire, mon frere.

Here is a list – far from complete, in no particular order, of the many job categories representing a multitude of people that will not be staying home on Thursday:

 

  • Managers and clerks at Convenience stores at gas stations, keeping Thanksgiving travelers on the road.
  • State Patrol, Police, Sheriffs’ Deputies and firefighters.
  • Road maintenance crews.
  • Parking lot attendants.
  • Hotel personnel – (front desk, reservations, room service, housekeeping.)
  • Emergency response, EMT’s, ambulance drivers.
  • Medical center emergency staff, (admittance, physician assistants, surgeons, nurses, custodial services.)
  • Air transportation, (pilots, flight attendants, in flight meal preparation, air traffic controllers, flight maintenance, cargo transport, ground transportation, security personnel, ticketing, operations, passenger screening, etc.)
  • Uber, Lyft, Taxi and shuttle drivers.
  • Grubhub and Uber-eats deliver food orders.
  • NFL games on Thanksgiving. Three games, requiring; officiating crews, stadium maintenance, ticketing, concessions workers, television broadcast production teams.
  • eCommerce workers; IT system technicians, warehouse workers, delivery of items not shipped by USPS.
  • Restaurants. A remarkable number of national chains and neighborhood restaurants are open – some examples; Burger King, Applebees, Dunkin’ Donuts, Waffle House, Sonic, Wendy’s, McDonalds, Popeye’s, Little Caesars, Hooters (yes, they still have locations), Boston Market, White Castle, Denny’s, Cracker Barrel, IHOP and Subway.
  • Utilities maintenance personnel – water, electrical, natural gas
  • Credit card and bank card services, without which you can’t make purchases at home or on the road.
  • Insurance claims customer support.
  • Cellular network communications center and field technicians.
  • Search engines and browser network specialists.
  • Towing services.
  • News production, online and printed, plus newspaper delivery workers.
  • Broadcast – television and radio production, reporting and announcing.
  • Pharmacies. including CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid.
  • Home care workers.
  • Energy production – refineries, Nuclear plants, Hydro-electric.
  • Distribution centers. logistics and truck drivers.

I’m sure you can think of some other types of work that don’t come to a grinding halt on Thanksgiving, but the point is obvious. Why single out a particular class of worker to exempt from the scheduled labor activities, to the exclusion of so many others? As Mr. Spock would say to Captain Kirk, “it hardly seems logical, Captain.”

Beyond that, whether you believe in the Almighty God, the Universal Consciousness or the Flying Spaghetti Monster – why encapsulate your gratitude in one 24 hour period, when there is more than enough to be appreciative of day in, day out, month in, month out?

And how about let’s be honest about this. There is very little solemn contemplation taking place with all the sports games, the copious amounts of food, the online shopping and the family arguments about politics. Is gratitude expressed in self-indulgence? 

More than a few retail workers – perhaps many, don’t have the storybook, Norman Rockwell family gathering of popular imagination. More than a few, need the holiday pay to struggle by to make ends meet from paycheck to paycheck.

Maybe the community shaming of retail outlets that defy the open secret of the reality behind this holiday, is likely to harm, not help the very people who actually are the most exposed in this alleged “booming economy”.

by Richard Cameron


 

Here at National Compass, we’re partial to a lot of things that have or contain the word ‘National’ within them – with the notable exception of Nationalism. We don’t like nationalism. But we do like the National Debt Counter.

This is one that was recently installed on a digital billboard at the intersection of Interstate 43 and McKinley Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by the Peterson Foundation.

National Debt clock on a digitized real time updating billboard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by the Peterson Foundation.

We like it – if for no other reason that it illustrates how partisanism, is at its roots, a sham. For eight years, Republicans howled with exceeding lamentations, the growth of the national debt under the Obama presidency. The din of it was so cacophonous that one could set the hood vent over the stove to the highest setting, close all the windows tightly and raise the TV volume to levels posing a risk of hearing loss and still imagine hearing it.

But oh what a difference just a little under three years can make. Trump entered office with the debt standing at 19.8 Trillion and here in November 2019, not even three years into his presidency, it has increased over $3 Trillion.

Donald Trump has accelerated the growth of the national debt at a pace, that if it continues on its present trajectory, will make Barack Obama seem prudent in comparison. The reaction to this from the same parties that were so animated then, is so imperceptible now as to make a pin drop, jolting by comparison.

Trump’s budgets  would add $9.1 trillion during an eight year period, if he occupies the White House for a second term, according to the Balance.  It would increase the U.S. debt to $29 trillion according to Trump’s budget estimates.

The World Bank rates the debt factor of the health of national economies, with a benchmark of 77% debt to GDP (Gross Domestic Product) ratio.  Under Donald Trump, the debt to GDP ratio is, hold on to your seats, 108%!

Trump told us that, no worries, he would tackle the debt he inherited, by dramatically accelerating the GDP, boasting of 4, 5 and even 6% GDP.

There would be so much winning, he said, that you would become bored with winning. Trump’s GDP has only exceeded 3% marginally in one fiscal quarter and on an annual basis, has never exceeded 3 percent.  It was 2.5 in FY 2018 and is now tracking at 1.9 percent. Meanwhile the deficit exceeded $1 Trillion for the first time in any presidency. 

So much winning.  A little boredom would be quite welcome at this point.

by Richard Cameron

 


 

It seems that not everyone views the Thanksgiving situation with the jaundiced eye that I peer at it from.  That includes our contributor, Jennifer Keller Puebla, who has submitted this bit of better angels Schulz-ian perspective from the golden age of television:

Ms. Puebla has also recommended a recipe. I asked for it and I got it.  I’ll let her preview it.

I don’t often treat myself or make anything fancy when it’s just Paul and I unless I can blame it on an occasion. There’s probably a ton of psychology behind this fact that would bore you to tears. That’s one reason I love Holidays. I get a perfect excuse to make foods I wouldn’t everyday.  This recipe caught my eye and I can’t wait to see if it’s as good as it looks and sounds!

Here’s what these Sweet Potato Rounds with Goat cheese, Cranberries and Honey Balsamic glaze  look like and now that your mouth is saying “yesssssss!!!”,  to find out how to actually make these – you can check out the particulars, here.

photo of Sweet Potato Rounds with Cranberries and Honey Balsamic glaze

 

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