American Dirt

STEINBECK: GRAPES OF WRATH. Wraparound jacket of the first edition, 1939, of ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, John Steinbeck’s novel of ‘Okies’ forced to migrate from the Dust Bowl
American Dirt, Lydia and Luca

The title of this post is also the title of a book I am reading. A catch phrase by Don Winslow, a commenter, forced me to pick it up and check it out; the phrase, “A Grapes of Wrath for our times.” I loved the Grapes of Wrath as a story by John Steinbeck, and as a movie starring Henry Fonda. The story involves the futile migration of a family desperate to survive. Their story begins in the great flatlands of the midwest, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, or any number of states that are agricultural. The time frame is the Great Depression. Many farmers were poor share croppers, and during those years they experienced huge dust storms across the entire region causing them to lose their farms to banks. The Joad’s pile into their broken down truck and head to California to find work.

The story very explicitly details their experiences which get worse and worse as they head down the road like having to bury grandma along the road side. They reach California only to learn that the jobs they were envisioning didn’t exist, and the competition for the few that did was fierce. Locals treated them like garbage and made life even harder. The story had me hooked to the end.

America Dirt is a story about a family of two that must escape Mexico to remain alive. In this situation it is not nature that is causing the hardship it is a drug cartel led by a ruthless kingpin. The story is one which will grip you by the heart and keep you reading. The trouble the heroine undergoes trying to evade the cartel is relentless. She, however, stays strong and manages to evade the country-wide search for her. She has a bounty on her head, and can trust no one. Her trouble escalates as she proceeds northward toward the United States where she believes she will finally be free.

Many times, I have boasted about being a conservative and have written about the evils placed upon our country by the thousands of “illegal” immigrants sneaking across the border into our sacred space. Over the years, I have read numerous books extolling the cost of allowing these people to remain in the USA, and I even read one book about the life of a Coyote whose business it was to sneak these people across the line. This book, however is from the point of view of the immigrant. I have learned the conditions that have driven these people to flee. I am learning of the hardships they face to make the long trip across Mexico (as long as two thousand miles) to the border. I am finding that once they get to the border they meet another impediment in the form of a wall, ICE, US Border Patrol, and more.

I have not yet reached the point in the story to know what hardship they actually meet at the border, but the hardships along the trip are enough to change my mind about letting these people into our safe space. Anyone who can endure the difficulty of traveling with only the clothes on their back, shoes on their feet and perhaps a few dollars while dealing with the cartels, desperados, kidnappers, human smugglers and the many criminal elements all across Mexico have earned my sympathy. I am changing my mind about how we should deal with these immigrant people.

The problem I have is that all my ideas involve changing the criminal elements along the way. Control the cartels, eliminate local government and police corruption, establish migrant stations along the major routes. All of these things that I believe have to change are outside the periphery of US control. We the United States cannot move into Mexico and clean up their centuries of graft and criminal activity. Even if we were able to clean up Mexico we would then have to move into Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and the remaining Central American countries to clean up their acts. We would have to annex them into the country as states. The cost would be more than we can afford, although the cost of allowing the thousands of migrants coming through illegally is nearly as high.

Everyone who has a problem with illegal immigrants coming from Central America should read American Dirt to learn first hand what the problems are.

It would be easy for me to promote American Dirt as a learning experience except that it is fiction, not a non-fiction story based on facts and real experiences. Just like the Grapes Of Wrath chronicled the Joad’s moving through the dust bowl to the land of eden called California was fiction. Both stories have parallel themes which are based on realistic happenings, but they do not contain hard evidence to support the truth with facts. I do, however, believe that both John Steinbeck, author of the The Grapes of Wrath, and Jeanine Cummins, author of American Dirt had to have some living experience with the peoples who became characters in their stories. If not, then my hat goes off to each of them for having the imagination to write very believable and moving stories.

Now, I must post this essay and return to reading the end of American Dirt. Perhaps the end of the story will become a topic for another post.

Changing the World

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My latest book find from the library started out sounding like a drag. Most books on Political Science seem to be somewhat un-entertaining. Nevertheless I read them to learn. Jonathan Tepperman wrote this book and titled it The Fix, How Nations Survive and Thrive in a World of Decline. Right there the title caught my attention because I don’t believe the world is in decline at all. It is evolving onto a new era, but it is not in decline. In fact, I believe that to be stupid. As bad as the USA is at this moment in history it is no worse than previous generations. Yes, the USA is going through growing pains, but it is not in decline. We just have to catch up with the technology and information age. The last time the country changed phases was the change from an agricultural economy to the industrial one. That wasn’t easy either. The difference is we also experienced an amazing generation of people who were inventors and dreamers who fueled the change like Edison, Ford, Firestone, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, JP Morgan, and Rockefeller to name a few. Our current generation has a new group of these people namely, Jobs, Gates, Bezos, Adelson, Ma, Brin, Zuckerberg, Ellison, Musk, and many more. The difference is that these companies don’t employ as many people as the companies of the Industrial Revolution, and the country has a much bigger population to employ.  These companies are steeped in technology to be more efficient, or if they rely on manual labor they have moved manufacturing to the third world. The efficiencies require less manual labor, and our workforce has not caught up to this level of technology. How often have we heard that the USA worker does not want the types of jobs we have to offer them. Most of us think about labor to pick tomatoes or green beans, but many of the jobs we really have to fill require knowledge beyond high school and sometimes even a Bachelor’s degree. We don’t have enough picker jobs, and factory jobs to fill the huge number of low skill migrants that arrive daily. The real emphasis on immigration lies in getting educated migrants.

In the introduction to this book, Tepperman lists ten trouble areas causing the world to wane: 1. Inequality, 2. Immigration, 3. Islamic Extremism, 4. Civil War, 5. Corruption, 6. The Resource Curse, 7. Energy, 8. The Middle Income Trap, 9. Gridlock I, 10. Gridlock II.

For the most part I agree all ten of these points are trouble. I disagree in correcting inequality because no matter how much advancement we make there will always be a separation between those that have some, and those that have a lot more, it is all relative. I do agree that people who live on less than $2 per day are too far away from the one percent, and they can be raised to a level of decent living.

Tepperman then begins his work in earnest and convincingly chronicles how a number of places have raised themselves from virtual ground zero to healthy, growing economies, like Brazil, Canada, South Korea, Indonesia, Rwanda, Singapore, Botswana, Mexico, New York City, and the USA. In each of these places the problems encountered seemed insurmountable: corruption, lack of resources, lack of leadership, etc. What Tepperman realized as he researched is that in each instance a leader emerged who had a different approach to government. These people, men and women both, fell outside the mainstream political parties and used techniques and ideas totally unorthodox to conventional governmental systems. All through the narrative I kept getting visions of President Donald Trump. He too is in a difficult situation. The USA has become stagnant and no longer is able to resolve its problems with a corrupt (swamp) leadership and bureaucracy. Both political parties work against him because they believe he is not of the system. In each of the narrative situations Tepperman cites leaders who were faced with even larger swamps, and more massive corruption. Yet these individuals were able to lead their countries out of the quagmire and into the limelight.

By the end of the read, I was totally engrossed, in the micro history of these countries during periods of problem solving. I also developed a new respect for these countries and their developments.

If you enjoy Political Science this is an excellent book to read: five stars.

What Will She Do With US Treasury

More Criminally Corrupt Than You Thought You Knew
By Jack Kelly
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The Clinton Foundation is “the largest unprosecuted charity fraud ever,” says the investigator who uncovered the financial discrepancies at General Electric before its stock crashed in 2008.

It “wasn’t organized lawfully and it isn’t operating lawfully. There’s never been an audit,” says Charles Ortel, described by the London Sunday Times as “one of the finest financial analysts on the planet.”

“Any nonprofit professional in the U.S. can look at the (Clinton) Foundation’s own statements, tax filings and financial reports and see there is something wrong,” agrees Amy Sterling Casil, who worked for charities for many years. “The organization does little to nothing with measurable outcomes or deliverables. Its reported revenues are wildly at variance with what it says it does.”

Mr. Ortel has examined every public filing by the Clinton Foundation and its donors. He’s found major discrepancies between what the Clinton Foundation reported receiving and what donors say they gave.

For instance, between Sept, 2006 and Dec. 2008, the UNITAID consortium reported giving $100 million more than the Clinton Foundation reported receiving, Mr. Ortel told me in an interview.

Very little of the money the Clintons raised for Haitian relief after a devastating earthquake in 2010 actually went to the poor, notes Haitian journalist Dady Chery. Their disaster fund-raising is “predatory humanitarianism,” she says.

“The business model of the Clintons is to stand between misery and the donor community and allow millions – maybe billions – of dollars to get diverted,” Mr. Ortel says. “Where there’s misery, they figure out a way to profit from it.”

More than half the people outside government who met with Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state gave money to the Clinton Foundation, the Associated Press reported Aug. 23. At least 85 of 154 people from private interests donated as much as $156 million, AP says.

More than a few large donors are foreigners with shadowy pasts, such as Lebanese businessman Gilbert Chagoury, who was denied entry to the U.S. last year because of suspicion of links to terrorism.

Sixteen foreign governments donated up to $170 million after Secretary Clinton had meetings with their representatives, the AP reported.

“Why did the Saudi regime and other Gulf tyrannies donate millions to the Clinton Foundation,” wonders left wing journalist Glenn Greenwald.

“Hillary ran a hybrid organization—what we might call the Clinton State-Foundation—which served the needs of Foundation donors, in return for their… kindnesses,” says columnist Austin Bay.

Clinton-controlled groups events are “all about buying access,” says NPR host Adam Davidson. The Clinton Foundation has made Bill and Hillary “beholden to scumbags,” he says.

Journalists have expressed alarm about Donald Trump’s bromance with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and the megabucks his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was paid to promote Putin’s stooge in Ukraine.

They’ve given less attention to Team Clinton’s ties to the Kremlin. The Podesta Group, founded by Hillary campaign chairman John Podesta and his brother Tony, lobbies for Russia’s biggest bank, which is “functionally an arm of the Kremlin,” says former counterintelligence officer John Schindler.

We should be especially concerned with Hillary’s role in the Skolkovo Innovation Center, established in 2009 as Russia’s answer to Silicon Valley, says Schindler says.

“Of the 28 U.S., European and Russian companies that participated in Skolkovo, 17 were Clinton Foundation donors” or had hired former President Clinton to give speeches,” notes Peter Schweizer of the Government Accountability Institute.

Skolkovo is “a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research, development facilities and dual-use technologies with military and commercial applications,” says the FBI’s Boston field office.

Skolkovo has contracts with Kamaz, a Russian defense firm that builds armored vehicles. “The FBI fears that Kamaz will provide Russia’s military with innovative research obtained from the Foundation’s U.S. partners,” warned the Bureau.

Several senior Skolkovo officials are intelligence officers, a European colleague in the biz told Schindler. “It’s an obvious Kremlin front,” says a Pentagon intelligence official.

“Exactly how Hillary profited off deals with Skolkovo—and how much—is something the American public has a right to know before November 8,” Schindler says.

The Clintons are more crooked, more corrupt, and more criminal than you thought you knew. Do what extent do you think it is virtually treasonous to vote them back into the White House?

Jack Kelly is a former Marine and Green Beret, and was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force during the Reagan Administration. He is the national security writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Blue State Blues

flag-fireworks1In 2009 when I attended my first Tea Party Rally in Joliet, I met Adam Andrzejewski. At the time he introduced himself as a candidate for Governor of Illinois. I asked him point blank if he was a Conservative, he answered yes I am. Eventually, he ran against machine candidate Pat Quinn and lost big. However, he did not stop his effort to make a difference in Illinois politics. His next venture is a website called “For the Good of Illinois.” Adam regularly exposes corruption at all levels. More recently he has uncovered a huge rip off by College of DuPage President and his Board of Directors. Mind you, College of DuPage is a Junior college not a four year college. Adam has been campaigning to have the President step down from his position, and the board responded with a $762,868.77 severance package. This money doesn’t include his State pension, but will increase what he gets. What is really hard to understand here is why a Junior College President’s salary is so high as to command three quarters of a million dollars in severance. I worked for a top rated manufacturing company in a management capacity and I know what hard working people make. Even the owner of our company did not take an exorbitant salary.; he chose to reinvest his money in the company. I know what a CEO of a company has to do to keep showing a profit, and the job is huge compared to that of a College President. So why is there such a disparity? Most likely it is because a college doesn’t have to show a profit, and can ask for money from the tax payer simply by playing the sympathy card that they need more money. Sadly, our state government is sympathetic to this kind of extortion. My guess is that under all this college level corruption are a number of State Representatives who are in on the action. I copied the latest report from Adam’s website below. It may seem a little disoriented because I could not transfer all the format. I suggest clicking on the link to get to the site and see it as he presented it.

Many folks will say why should I be interested in what is going on on Illinois at a Junior College level? It is my contention that with some searching as done by Adam you will un cover similar if not more egregious examples of corruption within your own community. The folks have learned that they can extract goodies from the population through taxes and are in on the action. I don’t care how much you like your kid’s teacher, I guarantee there is graft going on within your School District. Start by looking at salaries within the District and begin asking questions about why there are so many high paid people in your school administrations? The teachers get Jack Squat, but their management team has potential for some real money.

I thank Adam of this dogged pursuit of opening the books in Illinois, and showing us what is going on within our communities.

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For The Good of Illinois
“There are no easy conversations left in America-
it’s going to take hard work.”

“There is no ‘right’ way to vote for a wrong
$762,868.77 severance package.”
Kathy Hamilton, Vice-Chairman College of DuPage
500 plus citizens showed up
ABC, CBS, NBC, WGN TV nightly newscasts
Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald, Suburban Life News, Naperville Sun wrote lead pieces
State Representatives Peter Breen and Jeanne Ives
Candidates for College of DuPage Board of Trustees- including Deanne Mazzochi, Frank Napolitano, Charles Bernstein, Claire Ball, Roger Kempa, Sandy Pihos, and Joseph Wozniak delivered public comments
Support for Medal of Honor Sgt. Robert Miller speaker- Bob Kaye
Band of Mothers founder, Beverly Perlson
Good Government Groups including Edgar County Watchdogs, Americans For Prosperity, DuPage United, IL State Tea Party, West Suburban Patriots, American Transparency, For The Good of Illinois and many others attended and spoke out
The College Of DuPage Faculty Association Glenn Hansen and Richard Jarman spoke
Attorneys representing many top-notch local and nationally branded law firms

Crowd Voices Dismay at College of DuPage Presidents Exit Deal
by Dick Johnson | NBC 5- Chicago
Watch the NBC broadcast report here
College of DuPage Trustees Approve Buyout,
Despite Community Outrage
By John Garcia | ABC News- Chicago
Watch the ABC broadcast report here

Over 75 regular people gave public comment for over three hours. Watch as I aggressively battled the legalities of this outrageous payment.

Our lawyers – Timothy Elliott, Charlie Philbrick, and Jordan Franklin – convinced Judge Bonnie Wheaton to force COD to open a large room to accommodate the 500 citizens. Read Chicago Tribune article

State Rep. Jack Franks (D- Marengo) threatened to withhold $1.25 million of state funding.

The pressure was intense on this college board… in fact, the board stood up (for the first time in three meetings) for the pledge of allegiance. The board blamed previous COD boards. Incredibly, Trustee Savage blamed the 500 citizens for not showing up– years earlier. Chairman Erin Birt repeatedly stated that she takes this stuff seriously. Really?

And then they rubber-stamped 6-1 the $762,868.77 severance package of the college President. Read Daily Herald recap story here.

The coalition united against this action was formidable and non-partisan. But, for many people in the audience, these were their supposed “friends” – a Republican majority board. The coalition feels sold out.

Last night, this board told the people that their voice doesn’t matter. In the April elections, three board seats are on the ballot. At the ballot box, the people must speak with their vote.

For The Good of Illinois.

ADAM ANDRZEJEWSKI
Founder & Chairman, For The Good of Illinois

Good Guys Become Bad Guys, and Bad Guys Become Good Guys

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American Hustler is a film which has a complicated plot. The story centers on Irving Rosenfeld(Christian Bale) a local man who chooses a vocation as a hustler even though he runs several successful legitimate businesses. Irving’s life changes when a young and eager to succeed FBI agent Richie Di Maso(Bradley Cooper), snares and arrests him. The FBI then uses Irving and his partner/girl friend Sydney Prosser(Amy Adams) as decoys to catch a local New Jersey mayor taking a bribe. The mayor, however, is a good guy who only wants to help make jobs for the people of his city by reopening an old casino. The young FBI agent uses Irving to entrap the mayor by introducing him to a fake Shiek from Saudi Arabia. The story gets more complicated though when a mafia man played by Robert Dinero, from Miami, enters the scene as a silent partner. The mafia man advises the mayor to find a way to make the Arab Shiek with the money an US citizen to make the deal legitimate.

The ambitious FBI man seizes this opportunity to entrap bigger fish because fast tracking a citizenship for an Arab will involve US Senators. Irving advises the FBI man to slow down and keep the scam small, but the FBI likes the idea of headline grabbing an US Senator.

The plot gets more involved as the FBI arranges meetings with Senators for the purpose of filming them taking money.

So a bad guy is caught by a good guy, but the good guy turns bad. The new bad guy uses the former bad guy in his scheme and ultimately the new bad guy becomes the villain while the former bad guy becomes a hero.

The story has a happy ending.

Oh, for the men, Irving’s girl friend Sydney Prosser(Amy Adams) has an affinity for wearing deep V-cut dresses without a bra. She certainly kept me awake. Irving’s wife Roslyn(Jennifer Lawrence) plays a perfect bitch who keeps Irving on her line by refusing to give him a divorce.

The film felt long because it is long. Yet, we were totally entertained by all the mayhem that takes place.

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