177. Foreign Policy Failures by USA Government

22 Jun
Here is my latest tweet (@RichardLeeWB) regarding the Iranian attack on US drone  (with some clarifications):
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According to most sources, Iran did order the drone attack. That this was an accident, unintended, is not likely. As a response, approved by his staff, Trump ordered an attack on missile-launch sites in Iran. He then changed his mind, based on an estimate of casualties. Note that a real military planner would have had that info, early in the discussions. One source said he actually was informed on calualties early in the discussion.
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I suspect that Trump’s raid approval and cancelling was a preplanned strategy.  He wanted to make a point without risking further conflict escalation. He intended to show what could be done (air attack on Iran) and then cancelling to show great humanity — a “saber-rattling” as the answer to downed drone. This could be the only good thing he did regarding Iran.  On the other hand, if this was not a pre-planned strategy, then it is a miserable display incompetence. 
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The first and most serious mistake was Trump’s withdrawal from The Iran Nuclear DealAccording to every expert in this situation, Iran was conforming to rules that would prevent them from developing nuclear weapon’s.  All of the several countries involved in this deal still support this effective deal, but with Trump’s withdrawal, Iran is threatening to resume construction of nuclear weapons. The deal was limited to nuclear development and nothing else, because after many years of negotiation with several major powers, this was all that could be achieved. It is true that Iran causes trouble elsewhere, but what would have been better, would have been to add additional  agreements, without cancelling the valuable nuclear part. 
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Now, the disaster of Trump is becoming more apparent. He has put the USA in an untenable position where he cannot start a war, cannot respond to Iranian attacks, and cannot control Iran nuclear development. He also has lost the trust of other nations involved in the deal.
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Trump has performed poorly in other areas of foreign policy. His trade policies have alienated some good allies, have caused losses of jobs, have increased costs for our  manufacturers, and have cause increased prices for our citizens. He has been “in love” with the North Korean president, Kim, who has achieved his goals of nuclear weapon development while Trump got nothing in return. Another mistake was not recognizing that short range missile development would be threatening to South Korea and Japan. Kim manipulated Nobel-Prize dreamer Trump with flattery.
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He got into a destructive trade war with China, that holds much USA debt. Because of trade agreement changes, China has gained in international leadership, while the USA is diminished. Perhaps even worse, Trump’s numerous mind changes and lies have lost the trust of many nations.

176. Impeachment: Current Issues

16 Jun

President Trump impeachment is probably the chief issue of this time, June 16, 2019. Although such issues as “climate change” may ultimately have more impact, the Trump presidency affects all major issues. For clarity, I have outlined two broad categories: possible procedures, and popular arguments.

Procedures relevant to impeachment.

Immediate all out effort to Impeach.

Impeach when there is overwhelming public support for it

Impeach when there is likely a favorable Senate vote.

Start with “investigation” and optionally move to impeachment

Impeach if new solid criminal findings appear.

Never impeach and no further investigation.

Arguments related to impeachment.

Republicans generally disregard Mueller Report findings and argue that impeachment is purely an unwarranted Democrat attack. The Democrat counter argument is that Mueller clearly stated that he was not exonerating the President on any major charge. About 1000 USA prosecutors argue that there is clear evidence for obstruction of justice, and the Report provides substantial evidence.

Even if impeachment does not lead to conviction, it makes an important statement: that Trump does not represent the majority of Americans. Foreign leaders will take note and will view the USA more favorably. And, Republicans not voting for conviction will be held responsible for Trump’s failures.

Immediate impeachment is argued, because the damage to our country by the President is worsening day by day and he must be stopped. In several previous blogs, I have listed all of these negative Trump actions and his tendency towards tyranny. Briefly, the major negative areas are: judicial appointments, eliminating safety/pollution regulations, and failures in foreign diplomacy (most apparent is that his inconsistency lessens trust).

Citizen support for impeachment has now reached almost 50% and will certainly increase as evidence accumulates, and there is additional testimony.  Simply having Special Counsel Mueller reiterating his findings could be powerful.

Many Republicans secretly want impeachment, and if given the opportunity will vote for it — since when out of office, Trump can no longer harm them. This could swing the Senate in favor of conviction.

Impeachment is difficult, so instead, nullify Trump through new congressional laws and judicial rulings. State governments and laws can mitigate bad Trump actions. An example is states backing climate-change, which he has opposed.

Why bother to impeach because he will surely lose the next election. The counter argument is that it is possible for him to win, and impeachment is another opportunity for definitely removing him from office.

For a while, some argued that Trump wanted an impeachment. This was found to be false when he clearly stated it was a big negative.

Recently, Trump has blocked all testimony and provision of documents related to the investigation of his administration. He has advised his associates to ignore subpoenas. This alone is clear evidence of obstruction.

Although gathering more evidence of impeachable actions is helpful, there is already ample evidence from public presidential actions and from the M. Report.

My take on what Democrats should do is: develop  a list of actual quotations (with page citations) from the M. Report, that could lead to impeachment. This one to two page list could be published in a variety of ways to affect public sentiment. Methods to publicize could be: YouTube, massive mailings, billboards, newspaper ads, TV ads, political speeches,  etc. In other words, make a convenient short list of impeachment facts for massive distribution.

 

 

 

175. Current Issues, Briefly, #5

14 Jun

This is the 5th of a series of blogs with brief discussions of current issues. The material is based on my Tweets, unpublished thoughts, and descriptions of various publications that I feel are worth repeating and emphasizing.

Just out: the list of 20 presidential candidates for the first debate. All things considered, I think Elizabeth Warren is the top choice. Almost all the candidates would do a good job and would be a thousand times better than the current POTUS. Some other great people have disadvantages such as being too old. I must remark that being old is not just a number; it is well known that when all people reach about 70 or 80 they begin a progressive reduction in mental ability and in memory. Most also acquire physical maladies that can be very distracting. (Trump is 73.)

Dems need all votes possible, and some great candidates will automatically lose the votes of racist and other jaded voters; sad to say. If candidate leader Joe Biden, 76, (age 80 during first term) were nominated, I would certainly support him, and he could do well for four years by gathering a group of great consultants. But Warren, age 69, has every feature needed for great leadership. I must add that it is gratifying to me that all of the candidates support climate change actions.

Poetic justice: Sarah Sanders (proven liar) is leaving office and Kellyanne Conway is the subject of a Federal watchdog agency inquiry. This is justice for two pathetic sycophants. Trump’s staff is mostly criminals, scofflaws, and blatant liars.

THOUGHTS ON IMPEACHMENT.            Impeachment has been discussed in a variety of ways. But the main effect (given a Republican Senate) is a very important statement: that Trump does NOT represent the goals or ethics of a majority of USA people. Foreign leaders must wait for a decent, responsible USA President.

Tom Steyer has the right idea, impeach the President now. As the process moves forward, the evidence will increase and become clear to the US public. Support will increase. It is the right thing to do. The Trump tyranny and destruction must end ASAP.

The process of impeachment must begin ASAP. Trump is constantly causing serious trouble for the US. Clear evidence regarding OBSTRUCTION is in the Mueller Report, and has been confirmed by a 1000 former prosecutors. Currently, there is a shift towards more public support.

Impeachment is “a dirty, filthy, disgusting word,” according to Trump. This proves to me that, contrary to some opinions, he definitely does not want impeachment. Also, I don’t think impeachment will lose Democrat  votes. It makes the “right” statement here and abroad.

Justin Amash is a real hero. He is a Republican Congressman that provided excellent arguments for Trump impeachment. He is the only Republican doing so and faces a storm of protest. Hopefully, other Repubs will follow. Bravo!   —————————————–

Our narcissistic President is controlled by flattery. Kim Jong Un has beaten Trump by continuing his weapon development. Trump ignores the safety of us, Japan, and S. Korea. He “loves” Kim. Pathetic and dangerous!

Elizabeth Warren has a long and consistent support for the USA “non-rich” class. For many years she was my top Presidential  choice. Now she is surging. She has strength, enthusiasm, high intelligence, humanity, relevant experience, etc. What a great choice.

Read the whole Mueller Report? Nonsense. Democrat leaders should publish one or two page summaries with important quotes (with page references). When the M. Report was published, I skimmed it, picked out important quotes, and made a blog about it. Finding relevant facts is easy, just an hour or two.

Like a child with a new toy, Trump imposes (or threatens) tariffs, even on our most loyal allies (such as Mexico) to solve world problems. He and staff lie about who pays;  actually the USA consumer, through higher prices. Importers pay the tariffs and pass on costs to sellers and manufacturers.  Ignored are the negative US economic and employment tariff effects. Trump likes tariffs because this money (effectively a tax) helps support his self-serving agenda.

For years, the only person that really troubled me was the President. Now I feel that same way about our Attorney General Barr and Senate Majority Leader McConnell — three men that have no shame.  Maybe I should add most Republicans. Barr totally distorts the role of A. G., which should be an independent office. McConnell blocks all legitimate legislation (much of it passed by the House) that is not strictly supported by Trump. An irony is the “transparency” of their bad deeds. They openly do unethical things, except that Trump does have secret meetings and communications, mostly with authoritarians.

Justin Amash is a real hero. He is a Republican Congressman that provided excellent arguments for Trump impeachment. So far, he is the only Republican doing so and faces a storm of protest. Hopefully, other Repubs will follow. Bravo!

Michael Cohen (former Trump lawyer) stated to House Intelligence  Committee that Jay Sekulow (Trump attorney) instructed him to lie about Trump Tower, Moscow. Sekulow emphasized that Cohen is a liar. But it is significant that Cohen lied as a Trump loyalist, supporting a USA President. All facts considered, I think Sekulow and Trump are the genuine liars, who have no excuses.

Trump’s simplistic strategy with Iran is just another example of how his major method, US coercion, is not effective. Iranian people are being devastated by sanctions, but the leaders are not yielding. He should have kept the Nuclear Deal and built on that, using allies & talks.

Article1 Section8 of US Constitution states: “Powers of Congress, to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations.” Why is Trump setting tariffs and making trade rules when Congress is explicitly required to do so? Here and in other areas, he claims that his actions are required because of emergencies, a mis-characterization.  Why isn’t this aberration subject to Federal Court action?

A private prison at North Lake, Michigan is opening again, after major political contributions to Trump and others. Private prisons make big profits for the owner and often reduce funds for decent inmate care. North Lake is for immigrants, and the remote area makes finding legal counsel difficult.

Trump criticized Obama for the Iran nuclear deal, and he cancelled it. This deal had the support of most major nations and was proven to be stopping Iran’s nuclear development. It is true that the deal did not prevent all illicit actions by Iran, but it addressed the most critical area and was of great value. If Trump wanted an improvement he could have left this important feature intact and tried to add further rules But he did not, and has achieved nothing with his nationalistic plan that ignores allies and stokes military actions. This is just another area where arrogant Trump acted alone, without appropriate consultation, and did not seek the support of allies. Often Trump’s goal is just to nullify everything Obama achieved.

Most of the Republican/Trump tax bill did not live up to its promises (for first year), according to Heather Long of the Washington Post (4-15-19, see Tax day 2019:).  Further, as time goes on there will be less middle-class and USA benefit. Corporations spent much of the extra money on stock buybacks instead of higher wages. Meanwhile, the tax cuts have greatly increased our US national debt.

 

 

 

 

 

174. Our Education Affects “Reasoning” Ability

8 Jun

I was recently reminded of a problem in education: that children (and adults) are actually trained in what I call “magical thinking.” The reminder was a recent TED talk by Kate Bowler, entitled “Everything happens for a reason” — and other lies I’ve loved.  Many people could benefit from her illuminating piece.

Most of us are trained in various types of magical thinking. Examples are that life has “purpose” and “meaning” and that our actions should be guided by pleasing a higher power.  This is supported by the fact that ANXIETY is so much a part of our biological makeup. We create comforting attitudes to decrease our fears. Like many others, Kate Bowler‘s magical thinking was not questioned until faced with a horrible disease;  she got cancer. The bottom line is that this kind of thinking generally makes us feel better, and so is reinforced, just like we eat to avoid hunger and drink to avoid thirst, we pursue faulty thinking to avoid anxiety.

Being highly educated and logical is more difficult than “magic,” but it also works, and we are not so shocked when bad things happen. My solution is better education, which emphasizes logic and science. Many people have found joy in really understanding how the world works. When you study the origins of the Universe and the origins of life, science helps in understanding these issues. We don’t have final and exact answers for these “origins” but what is known suggests plausible explanations. When the above author, Kate Bowler, was young, what if some authority figure had asked her this question: how can you be sure of your beliefs and understanding of life? Where is the evidence? What are the details? Can we live without unsupported beliefs and just focus on what is observable and logical? (Note, although logic and science are important, I also recognize the role of love, kindness, sports, arts, music and other human factors.)

Along these same lines, I would ask this question: can we really make decisions and think in ways that are truly independent? Or, are we totally controlled by our original structure (DNA, etc.), all of our learning experience, and various environmental influences? For most people, beliefs are learned from parents, teachers, religious leaders, and/or peers — and regardless of events, may persist for entire lives.

 

173. Sensual Fun vs. Rigid Belief

21 May

Contrast these two extremes. (1) A nightclub where there is loud, exciting music, flirtation, women in revealing outfits, people dancing, and generally, a lot of happy fun. And (2) devoted people praying in a religious setting. (Note: this blog deals with character traits, without making value judgements. I do respect religion.)

For a long time, I have noted that there is a spectrum, ranging from my 1 to 2, from uninhibited rhythmic wild joy — to rigid beliefs in God’s higher plan. This is not a simple distinction, and many people fit at different points along this spectrum. Some people start out one way and end up at the other extreme. In a few cases, a person could even have both traits simultaneously.

The reason why this is so important, is because this distinction forms the basis of some governments, conflicts and even wars. Osama bin Laden’s 911 attack on New York City is an example of this distinction. Much of Bin Laden’s philosophy is based on the writings of Sayyid Qutb (pronounced coo’tub). Qutb was an Egyptian writer that lived for a while in Greeley, Colorado, about 1950. He had a “vision” that God wanted humans to manage the Earth in a respectful, controlled, and “harmonious” way. He described the people of Greeley to be crude, brutish, obsessed with jazz, and the women flaunted their bodies. Qutb definitely did not fit in and if you look at his pictures, you can see why. He could have ignored this “crude” world, but he decided that it should be destroyed, a “Jihad.” The hatred, I think, is based on being unable or afraid to participate in the fun. I suppose that women in general found him undesirable. I suspect that Osama bin Laden, who had five wives and more than 20 children, had a good bit of fun, but many of his followers did not and had the Qutb type of hatred.

Let’s call this spectrum from wild-fun to rigid-beliefs. I see this contrast within the people of the USA. One type of person is deeply religious, is devoted to God, and deep down in his heart is jealous of the fun-loving types. I believe that the leaders in Alabama that want to make abortion totally illegal, are way into the rigid God-Plan end of the spectrum. Examples at the other end are Presidents Clinton and Obama. Sexy Clinton played the sax and enjoyed many women. Obama clearly enjoyed Al Green’s “Let’s stay together” song, a definite proof. He even sang, in public, a little of the song.

The above analysis, of course, is an over-simplification, and there are many human traits and spectra. I have written this blog for two reasons. The first is to understand why certain religious groups hate the fun-loving people so much that they want to kill as many as possible. My guess is two reasons: one is jealousy and the feelings of rejection. The other is that it tends to undermine their beliefs: people are having fun and many are ignoring God and religion. They might think, “I am being good, and defending God, and praying to make God feel good, and is all that for naught?

The other reason for this blog is that I want to define a certain character trait. It could be called “sensual rhythm.” I think that most healthy and attractive people, living in a peaceful community (and without Asperger’s syndrome) would have that trait, at least to some extent (both sexes). People with this trait usually like parties, sex, flirtation, love songs, Afro-Cuban music like Santana’s pieces, etc. People without this trait can lead joyful lives with other values, such as, intellectual accomplishments, art, or different kinds of music. Many take great joy in church and charitable activities. I am not making value judgments, just trying to better understand human behavior. I welcome comments and expect some nasty remarks from some people.

172. Tariffs Explained and Tariff Lies

15 May

JUST IN: Wall Street J. states that tariffs generally drag down ALL economies in the world, including ours. All markets have gone down. Trump’s tariff war with China is a poorly-planned  effort, which does not consider Chinese strengths and financial skills.

A tariff is a tax or duty to be paid on a particular class of imports (or exports). The tariff is paid by the importer. For example,  if we put a tariff on imports from China, the tariff  is paid by the US importer (not China). The tariff money does go to the US Treasury. So it is true that the US Gov does get increased income. I suspect that part of Trump’s need for tariffs is to make up for the disastrous loss of gov income due to wealthy tax giveaways.   Major blog points, below:

CHINA DOES NOT PAY TARIFFS IMPOSED BY USA
ALMOST ALL TARIFF COSTS ARE PASSED ON TO US CONSUMERS
ONLY CHINA CAN SUPPLY CERTAIN GOODS AT LOW COST
TARIFFS USUALLY RESULT IN MORE “TAX” FOR US CITIZENS

The Gov gets tariff money, but the US importer passes on the cost. The retailer, like Amazon or Walmart pays more for the product and so will pass that cost on to the customer. It is like an extra tax that WE pay.

Re US tariffs on Chinese goods, Trump says that you can get around the higher cost, by buying non-Chinese goods. The problem with that argument is that China has much lower prices than USA and other country’s manufacturers. Also, China provides us with special parts that would be difficult to find or develop elsewhere. So in the end, American customers will be paying more. The higher prices will decrease purchases and that will have a negative effect on our retailers and could cause general economic negatives. The trade war with China will be costly for our people and may well be  unsuccessful in its ultimate goal changing China policies.

Now let’s look at the other side: retaliatory tariff increases by the other country. In the case of China, every tariff imposed by Trump has a carefully targeted Chinese tariff imposed on our exports to them. If Chinese importers must pay a tariff then they are less likely to buy American products. This can negatively affect USA farmers and manufacturers. In fact, farmers and workers here are already suffering from the China tariffs.

The headline reads: “Soybean Farmer Loses From Retaliatory Tariffs With No Bailout Funds In Sight.”

The general fact is that Trump himself benefits from tariffs, but many US workers will suffer. Of course, the totally reliable Trump says he will pay the farmers for their losses (good luck to them). But won’t reimburse citizens for higher prices.

The Trump tariffs may have some positive effects (pure speculation) but there are already losses for the people. The China tariffs are an attack on China and the start of a trade war is not generally supported. And remember that China owns a lot of US debt. Tariff effects are complicated and can have negative effects on our citizens and on foreign respect for our government. Between trade wars and withdrawal from vital foreign agreements, who can trust the USA under Trump.  Also, I must bring up Trump’s withdrawal from the TPP (Pacific) trade agreement. This agreement was carefully developed under Obama to strengthen US trade relationships with Asian countries. Trump’s withdrawal has opened the door to China to become a leader in this world area. 

Trump and Republican tax law changes have resulted in a huge loss of revenue, which has promoted discussion of decreasing social programs like Medicare. Trump may like tariffs because they can make up for a little of the loss. It can be viewed as a further tax on the non-rich, so that the rich can have even more money.

Under Trump, there have been some improvements to our economy, but what is very important, many middle-class wages are stagnant and still very low.

171. Why We Must End Trump Now

14 May

In my various writings, I have encouraged immediate impeachment because I see terrible dangers in letting him continue in office. Here is more detail on those progressing dangers, many of which cannot be reversed for many years.

Perhaps most important is the trend towards tyranny. In my previous two blogs I have detailed this process. In my Blog-169, I have showed step by step how a tyrant gains power, and Trump is well along in this process. In one area, his obstruction of justice started slowly, several years ago, and now he has gone full force and will not cooperate at all with ANY investigation.

When you consider the global effects, equally important is his ignoring climate-change (global warming). We are running out of time in dealing with this problem. He has terminated many of Barack Obama’s efforts in dealing with this monumental problem and withdrew us from the international Paris Agreement, signed by almost every nation in the world. There are several government and UN reports on this problem, which he ignores. We need to replace Trump so that we can put more money and effort into research and production of climate corrections.

Trump’s only method of negotiation is to build up our military and try to scare other nations into doing what he wants.  This is a negotiation at its worst. A good negotiator will see the big picture and explore all of the implications of a strategy. Trump cannot deal with any complexity (and has no attention span for research). His tariff conflict with China illustrates this. First, he lies and says China is paying for the tariffs. Then he ignores the fact that such tariffs, which may be greatly increased, can put some of our manufacturers out of business and will definitely cause price increases for our people. If he really was a great negotiator,  he would accomplish our goals with China in a congenial way.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) has strengthened our trading relationships with many Asian nations. It worked well. One of the first things Trump did when taking office was to withdraw us from the agreement. Now China and other nations will dominate is this area and we will be insignificant. This is one factor in diminishing the US as a world power for good.

With regard to the Iran Nuclear Deal, he withdrew from a very effective (but limited to nuclear) agreement, which included many major world powers. The is the best that this group of nations could do with Iran, and it did at least stop their nuclear bomb program. Now Trump is trying to get a better deal, but is only exacerbating international discord. I do acknowledge that he could succeed, but most likely not.

His work with North Korea is a total failure, because he refused to listen to previous negotiators. He lied a few months ago when he said that the N. Korea nuclear-development problem was ended. They have now resumed missile testing and have started to deal with Russia. However, Trump and Kim have “endless love.”

His appointment of judges and Supreme Court Justices is a disaster and every month in office will make it worse.

Trump continues to ruin our relationships with allies and to weaken trust. Many nations will not make agreements with us because of Trump’s record of breaking past agreements. He is simplistic and does not understand the full consequences of his actions.

Trump’s continuing affection for Putin must be stopped. Russian has interfered with us in many ways, including our elections. It is likely Trump profits from this favoritism, if only to get their help with his elections.

Briefly, a good President would be dealing with various other important issues. He has failed to come up with a good border and immigration plan, he has not developed a way to improve infrastructure, he and Repubs continue to sabotage our health care plan, and he continues to engage in criminal and illicit actions. He continues to support the rich and appoints rich loyalists to implement this goal. Many of his cabinet appointments are people that have a history of fighting the goals of the agency involved. He continues to encourage racism and violence.

We cannot let him continue. It is often best to do the right thing, and not simply assume that it is impossible. Even if impeachment is not approved by the Senate, it still makes an important statement, here and globally. Just recently reported, a poll says that the public now favors this action.  Please see my recent blogs for more information.