There couldn't be a more perfect ending to the NFL's season of political controversy

By Allan Smith
Business Insider
February 4, 2018

An NFL season rife with politics from the start is set to be capped by a Super Bowl in which the participants occupy clear spots on either side of the political spectrum.

On one side are the New England Patriots, the sports franchise most closely tied to President Donald Trump. On the other are the Philadelphia Eagles, with multiple players who represented the other side of Trump’s months-long crusade against the NFL.

As the league entered the third week of its four-month regular season schedule, Trump waded into what was a growing controversy — players kneeling during the national anthem prior to the start of games.

Wouldn’t it be nice if owners said, “Get that son of a b—- off the field right now, out,” Trump said of players who kneel during a September rally in Alabama.

Trump doubled and tripled down in the coming days and weeks, turned the NFL into a hot-button political issue. Players, owners, league officials, and fans were in many cases pitted against each other.

Meanwhile, the original intent of the anthem protests became overshadowed by Trump. Beginning in 2016, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the anthem to highlight police brutality and the mistreatment of black Americans by the criminal justice system. Kaepernick became a divisive figure as a result, but the story of the anthem protests exploded tenfold once the sitting president decided to take aim.

Trump’s team

The perennial champion Patriots feature star quarterback Tom Brady, head coach Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft, who have all flattered Trump since he began his bid for the White House in 2015. At the pinnacle, during a New Hampshire rally just days prior to the presidential election, Trump read a letter written to him by Belichick, praising the then-Republican presidential nominee.

“Congratulations on a tremendous campaign,” Belichick wrote. “You have dealt with an unbelievable slanted and negative media, and have come out beautifully — beautifully. You’ve proved to be the ultimate competitor and fighter. Your leadership is amazing.”

At the same time, Kraft was attesting to Trump’s character.More recently, he called Trump to thank him for passing the Republican tax plan.

And Brady for years has been close with Trump, famously sporting a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker at one point during the presidential campaign.

But Brady did not join the team for its trip to the White House to celebrate last season’s Super Bowl victory, and both he and Belichick have been more quiet about Trump since his comments about the anthem protests.

The three all subtly criticized at Trump after those remarks. Kraft, who was one of seven NFL owners to donate at least $1 million to Trump, said he was “deeply disappointed” in the comments, while Brady called them “divisive.” After more than a dozen Patriots took a knee during the anthem after Trump’s comments and were subsequently booed by Patriots fans, Belichick released a statement expressing his “immense respect and admiration for our players.”

‘Are you kidding me?’

The upstart Eagles have been at the forefront of the anthem debate. Safety Malcolm Jenkins is the leading figure of the NFL Players Coalition, which lobbied Capitol Hill on criminal justice reform and won concessions from the league related to the protests. Linebacker Chris Long, who was a member of the Patriots last season and skipped the White House visit, donated his entire base salary to charity and won praise from former President Barack Obama.

Long said earlier this week that he would skip the White House visit again if the Eagles win.

“Are you kidding me?” he said when asked if he’d go.

The Eagles offered swift responses after Trump’s September statement.

Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith said following a September game that “nothing he ever says surprises you.”

“You can’t do that. He’s very divisive. I don’t know who runs his Twitter handle, but it’s really all be through social media, a lot of the stupid things he says. It’s sad for our country,” he said.

As the head of the Players Coalition, Jenkins was on the front lines of the anthem debate. He raised his fist during the anthem in October and November, becoming an iconic image of the 2017 NFL season. He and the coalition have met with all sorts of leaders in the criminal justice arena — including police, lawyers, and lawmakers — while visiting prisons and courts.

He ended his protests after the league agreed to invest $89 million in causes the coalition backed.

“The goal is not to make everyone comfortable and happy,” Jenkins told The New York Times. As players, we had “to understand the noise is just part of the deal, and if you’re going to get involved, you have to be tough enough to ignore that, and eventually our words and actions will answer all the questions people have.”

Right now, everyone loves the Eagles

A Marist College poll showed both Democrats and Republicans — and even Trump supporters — favor the Eagles over the Patriots. That’s likely a factor of the Patriots playing in their ninth Super Bowl since the start of the millennium, while the Eagles have never won the big game.

Marist found that 45% of Democrats are cheering for the Eagles, while 27% are rooting for the Patriots. Among Republicans, that number dips to 36% for the Eagles and 30% for the Patriots. Trump supporters support the Eagles at a 35-to-30 clip.

While Trump made his presence well known as a looming figure over the NFL season, he will be the first president in more than a decade to not participate in a pregame interview.

And asked Friday to pick a Super Bowl winner, Trump punted.

American Values Word Cloud 2/1/18


The wage gap is expressed as a percentage (e.g., in 2013, women earned 78.3% as much as men aged 16 and over) and is calculated by dividing the median annual earnings for women by the median annual earnings for men. Some argue that no matter how it is measured,  womenearn less, on average, than men do. When statisticians look closer, they find even greater disparities based upon race, ethnicity, age and education level. Others argue that the gender pay gap is a myth and does not accurately account for the differences between wages and pay. For those that are interested in reading more on this topic, I’ve included links to the American Association of University Women’s (AAUW)annual reportThe Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, Spring 2017 Edition as well as a link to the Labor Force Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website where you can find data tables on the earnings of employed persons derived from the Current Population Survey (CPS). Both sides of the argument are also highlighted in the videos below:

  • There Is No Gender Wage Gap
    Professor Christina Hoff Sommers, a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise & PragerU
  • Wage Gap
    Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • What People Miss About the Gender Wage Gap

Executive Order 9066

During World War II, over 120,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry were relocated to concentration camps.

Fearing that Japanese Americans were a security risk if the Japanese were to invade the mainland coupled with anti-Japanese sentiment, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in February 1942 ordering the relocation of all Americans of Japanese ancestry to concentration camps in the interior of the U.S.

Once the order was signed, evacuation orders were posted in Japanese American communities giving instructions on how to comply with the executive order. Because many families were forced to sell their homes, stores, and other assets quickly they were often sold at a fraction of their true value.

Almost two-thirds of the interns were Japanese Americans born in the United States. It made no difference that many had never even been to Japan. Even Japanese-American veterans of World War I were forced to leave their homes.

One of those interned, Fred Korematsu decided to test the government relocation action in the courts. In Korematsu v. The United States, the Supreme Court upheld the executive order as a wartime necessity. In December 1944, President Roosevelt suspended Executive Order 9066. Those incarcerated were released, often to resettlement facilities and temporary housing, and the camps were shut down by 1946.

In 1988, the  Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) recommended legislative remedies consisting of an official Government apology and redress payments of $20,000 to each of the survivors; a public education fund was set up to help ensure that this would not happen again (Pub.L. 100–383). On August 10, 1988, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, based on the CWRIC recommendations, was signed into law by Ronald Reagan. On November 21, 1989, George H. W. Bush signed an appropriation bill authorizing payments to be paid out between 1990 and 1998. In 1990, surviving internees began to receive individual redress payments and a letter of apology. This bill applied to the Japanese Americans and to members of the Aleut people inhabiting the strategic Aleutian islands in Alaska who were also relocated.

For additional information on Executive Order 9066 read:

Remembering Executive Order 9066, the ‘Single Act’ that Began Internment
by Stephany Bai
NBC News, January 30, 2017

Japanese American internment camps created 75 years ago Sunday
by David Ono
ABC7, February 19, 2017

Marvel & Politics

Marvel Comic’s 10 Greatest Political Jabs Ever 
​by Graeme McMillan, WIRED,  April 3, 2014

Slavery & 3/5 Compromise

Civil War What-If Scenarios

When discussing the Civil War, there were some what-if questions that were raised. What if the Confederacy had been victorious during the Battle of Gettysburg and ultimately won the Civil War? While we may never know the answer to this questions, there are several books and shows which hypothesize what the world would be like. For those interested in alternate Civil War histories I would recommend If the South Had Won the Civil War by MacKinlay Kantor and C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, a 2004 mockumentary directed by Kevin Willmott.

Executive Branch of Government

President Trump’s Executive Actions: The Complete List So Far


Overpopulation – The Human Explosion Explained

Executive Branch of Government

From What Now? Choosing Your Cabinet by:Stephen Hess
For more information on The Cabinet, Executive Office of the President, Senior White House Leadership and other Advisory Board click here.

Trickle Down Economics

Can Trump Make ‘Trickle-Down’ Economics Work?
By Paul Davidson
USA Today
November 13, 2016

If 1981 hits such as Endless Love and Bette Davis Eyes are suddenly bubbling to mind, it may be that Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential race evokes images of Republican predecessor Ronald Reagan, if you’re of a certain age.

His win is resuscitating the decades-old debate over whether the supply-side — derided by Democrats as “trickle-down” — tax policy Reagan championed can jump-start the listless U.S. economy.

The theory: Lowering taxes for businesses and wealthy individuals leaves more cash in their pockets, spurring more investment and hiring, and the faster growth generates enough new tax income to pay for the cuts. The top tax rate under Reagan was slashed to 28% from 70%, and business deductions became more generous. About 16 million jobs were created during his two terms, and the economy grew as much as 7.3% in 1984.

Trump proposes chopping the top individual marginal rate to 33% from 40%  — as well as more modest cuts for those with low and moderate incomes — and the corporate rate to 15% from 35%. The many small-business owners taxed at the individual rate also would pay 15%.

“That’s going to be a job creator like we haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan,” Trump said in his first debate with Hillary Clinton. “It’s going to be a beautiful thing to watch.”

Clinton scoffed, saying such cuts simply benefit the rich. “I call it trumped-up trickle-down because that’s exactly what it would be. That is not how we grow the economy.”

Or is it?

Absolutely, says Ike Brannon, senior visiting fellow at the Cato Institute and economic adviser for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., during his 2008 presidential run.

“If you make it cheaper to invest, ultimately, companies are going to grow and hire more people,” he says.

Nonsense, says Jared Bernstein, former chief economist for Vice President Biden and a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. First, he says, it’s not clear that tax cuts are what juiced the economy in the 1980s, noting Reagan spearheaded massive increases in defense spending — from $325 billion in 1980 to as much $456 billion in 1987 — that rippled across the economy.

The lower taxes and higher military spending nearly tripled the national debt to $2.8 trillion by the time Reagan left office, stoking inflation fears that contributed to the  recession under President George H.W. Bush in 1990-91.

President Bill Clinton “significantly raised taxes and had bigger job gains than Reagan,” Bernstein says. About 22 million jobs were created in the eight years Clinton was in office, and the economy grew an average 3.8% a year, helped, in part, by a tech boom that turbocharged business productivity.  Despite tax cuts for the wealthy,  the economy slipped into a deep recession in George W. Bush’s term.

Bernstein says sharp tax cuts made more sense in the Reagan era. The 70% top personal tax rate was far higher than the current 40%, so the massive reduction could have unleashed much more pent-up demand for investment than Trump’s plan would.

Besides, while interest rates are near record lows and many companies are awash in cash, it’s not as if they don’t have easy access to funds for capital spending, Bernstein says. Yet, he says, many have chosen to buy back stock and fatten dividends.

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, says tax cuts do lead to stronger investment and job growth, but those benefits “are generally overstated.” He says they “do not pay for themselves” through additional tax revenue, citing the ballooning national debt during Reagan’s term.

That doesn’t mean slicing business taxes doesn’t have advantages.  Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter says lowering the corporate tax rate — highest among advanced economies — would make the USA more competitive as a location for multinationals.

2016 Presidential Election and What the Polls Got Wrong

Why 2016 election polls missed their mark
Pew Research, November 9, 2016

4 Possible Reasons The Polls Got It So Wrong This Year
By Danielle Kurtzleben
NPR, November 14, 2016

The Polls Missed Trump. We Asked Pollsters Why.
By  and 
FiveThirtyEight, November 9, 2016


Plan to Divide California

Honest Abe

Not-So-Honest Abe
By Gabor Borritt
The New York Times
February 15, 1998

Honest Abe Wasn’t Honest About Drinking: Lincoln’s Alcohol-Fueled Diplomacy
By Noah Rothbaum
The Daily Beast
February 13, 2016

‘Honest Abe’ wasn’t above raucous debates, savvy politics
By Harold Holzer
March 14, 2016

Ranking of U.S. Presidents
New ranking of U.S. presidents puts Lincoln at No. 1, Obama at 18; Kennedy judged most overrated by Brandon Rottinghaus and Justin Vaughn

Impeachment of President Bill Clinton

Legislative Branch

Regulated Federalism – Real ID Act
During our discussion of the Real ID Act (2005) and Regulated Federalism there was a question that was raised as to what do states do when issuing licenses to immigrants. Currently, only twelve states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to allow unauthorized immigrants to obtain a driver’s license. Under current law, any state has the ability to issue a license to anyone. However, if that state wants the federal government to recognize that license for certain official federal purposes (e.g. domestic air travel), the licenses must meet specific requirements. For more information on the Real ID Act click here.