Archive | February, 2016

46. The Candidates 2016

26 Feb

I just watched the latest Republican debate tonight (Feb. 25, 2016) and, being a Democrat, I felt really good about the Republican self-destruction. The press and the candidates all want to complicate the issues, but the fundamentals are really clear.

An examination of written budgets and various issues have indicated, for many years, that Republicans are primarily interested in making fortunes for very rich people and corporations. This is accomplished by lowering tax rates for rich people, simplifying tax code, abolishing regulations, gaining subsidies, etc. When you simplify tax code or reduce regulations, its easier for rich people to circumvent rules. The salaried workers gain nothing because the rules are already simple and fixed for them. Republicans are unashamedly committed to blocking the progress of Democrats and Obama, even if it results in destroying our country. It is Republicans that are dysfunctional, not Congress in general.

So Republicans have a fundamental problem. They can’t be honest and say to folks: “vote for us so that we can become even richer.”

Religion is just a diversion. Under both parties, there is no restriction on beliefs or place of worship. Both parties will provide a strong military, both will follow the Supreme Court and the established law. On the question of foreign policy, both parties are saying about the same thing. But I would assert that Democratic candidates are generally more thoughtful and careful in their decision making.

Here is my brief assessment of the highest polling candidates:

TRUMP: Impulsive, over-simplifying, unthoughtful, inconsistent and unprepared. He cannot be corrupted by wealthy contributors because he is already corrupted.   He is committed to all the negative factors listed above in my second paragraph.  He is a genius at making money for himself, but how does that help the rest of us. He panders to less-educated people. (Please see my previous blogs about Trump.)

RUBIO: Definitely a good candidate for high-school class president. Not ready for prime time. He may mature and be ready for the 2020 or 2024 election, but he does have the traditional negative GOP values.

CRUZ: He reminds me of the infamous Joe McCarthy, Senator from 1947 to 1957. Or maybe he is more like Pres. Nixon who presided over a culture of dirty tricks. I can picture him telling religious folks that they should plant a seed with him for $1000 and this will be returned, through divine intervention, with a 10-fold profit.

H. CLINTON: A really brilliant women who has the right ideals and has a long list of substantial accomplishments. She is quick witted and debates really well. She would make a very good President.  All of the GOP “scandals” are nonsense and strictly political.

SANDERS: Frankly, what Sanders is saying now, I have been thinking for many years, and it is wonderful to find someone who is enthusiastic about real change.  People like me need to have hope, and Sanders says the right things. If he were to become President, he might only accomplish half of what he is proposing, but even that would be marvelous. The sad part is that he is somewhat lacking in presidential charisma, which doesn’t bother me, but it could affect his success. I voted for him because I would like to give him a chance to show what he can do.

My dream for President and Vice-President is some combination of Clinton, Sanders, and the amazing Elizabeth Warren. I would like to see all of them working to restore our country to greatness: a true democracy, where caring for its people is the main goal.

45. Trump as “Statesman”?

19 Feb

Donald Trump lost a great opportunity to act like a statesman, which is a skill we expect for a President. The issue is the way Trump responded to the Pope’s negative remark about the wall. He immediately interpreted the remark incorrectly and made a childish rebuke. And further more, the rebuke tells you a lot about billionaire Trump’s real values.

Here are the key quotes:
Pope: “A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”

Trump: “for a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.” And then he said: Mexico leaders were “using the Pope as a pawn.

A real statesman is very careful to find out exactly what was said and responds accordingly. The pope did not say that Trump was not a Christian, and he did not question his faith. The words were “not Christian”, not “not a Christian.” He did not state, but only implied that Trump was not acting in a Christian way.

Trump lost a wonderful opportunity to say that: he agrees with the general idea that building bridges is better than building walls, but particularly in this age of terrorism, we need to pay more attention to our borders.  This simple response would have been good for both parties and would have established Trump as a reasonable and thoughtful person.  Of course, he would have lost some of his crazy fans.

But he did not even think of this because his foreign policy is more about beating down the enemy, than it is about “building bridges.” Ultimately, fostering alliances is more powerful than killing people. There is no question that ISIS must be eliminated, but impulsive and excessive force can create a new enemy for every presumed terrorist (or civilian) killed.

While we are discussing Trump’s Christianity, I have to point out the following unchristian policies. First,  a good Christian supports poor people. But, he favors the paltry $7.25 minimum wage.  His proposed budget lowers taxes for rich people and raises taxes for many of the non-rich. He wants to abolish the inheritance tax even though, only amounts over $5.4 million are taxed. He was born rich, his friends are rich, and he owns businesses that employ thousands of working people. Improving their income takes money away from him.  He advocates torture worse than water-boarding.  Mexicans, and Muslim USA citizens, watch out.  He is against the ACA, but offers no replacement plan for millions who would be medically uninsured.  If you study the teachings of Christ, you will see that Trump is at odds with most.

44. Is Trump a Spoiler?

14 Feb

Its Saturday, 2-13-16 and I have just seen a Republican candidate debate. This debate was probably the meanest of all their debates. The insults and accusations were flying so fast that the debate actually heated up and I swear I saw smoke emerging from my TV.  One wonders whether the GOP can survive such a disaster.

If you look at all the debates, tweets, and comments by the candidates thus far it seems that the worst agitator is the Donald. He gets very angry over different events and is most disturbed when any other candidate approaches his polling score. Other candidates are not blameless, but most of their aggressiveness is defensive.  To read more about Trump’s abuses, look at several of my previous blogs.

While pondering the debate, a funny thought emerged from the deepest realms of my brain.  Perhaps Trump is a Democrat spy who penetrated the Republican world just to cause it to fail. His utterances and attacks are so crude and bizarre that they just don’t make sense.  As I thought more and more about Trump and his destructive debate, I began to hear music and see dancing — OMG, its Hilary and Bernie dancing for joy.

43. GOP Tax Nonsense

14 Feb

Republican candidates of 2016 have promoted three main ideas for income tax rule improvement:

1. A lowered tax rate for all, but continuing the current general system.
2. Simplification of income tax code.
3. A single “flat” income tax for all.

Where details on plans have been supplied there are some variations within each plan.  All three ideas are seriously flawed and all three provide great benefits for the wealthy, which is why Republicans propose them. And they provide great benefits to their rich campaign contributors.

1. Any lowered tax rate for very rich people will result in either higher taxes for the non-rich or reduced services for them. Its always a see-saw: reducing one causes increase for the other. People at the lower end of the pay-scale pay little or no taxes at all, and so do not benefit. But lowering general tax rates always makes the rich richer.

2. Republicans always love a really simple tax code because they would avoid all of the rules that prevent them from abusing the system. Ordinary workers with salaries already have a simple code and can finish their returns in a couple of hours; or can pay someone a few bucks to do it for them. On the other hand, rich people usually have complex incomes, expenses, deductions, stock trades, salaries they pay, business entertainment, IRA’s, bonuses, subsidies, etc. Rich people like fewer rules because rules limit what they can get away with. It is similar to their dislike of regulations. The more flexibility they have in preparing their taxes, the easier it is to game (cheat) the system. It takes a lot of code to cover all the possibilities. For example, there are many ways to describe what constitutes a valid “business meal expense”. Buy one of those cheap, tax code summaries and you will see all of the situations that need to be covered. I personally ran two small businesses so I understand why the tax code complexity is needed.

3. Most Republican candidates have advocated a single “flat” income tax with a rate of 10 to 15 percent for all. With that plan, rich people greatly benefit: a reduction of the 35% rate to say, 15 percent. Poor people who can barely survive on what the earn, would pay more than their current zero payment. One Republican candidate said: that’s OK because everyone should have some skin in the game — and this candidate is an avowed Christian.

Finally, why is it wrong to make the wealthy wealthier, and the poor poorer? The main reason is that over the last few decades, as the rich profited, they were more and more able to “bribe” congressmen with contributions, so that they would create tax and subsidy laws to make the wealthy even richer. Another reason is that when extremely rich banks and insurance companies failed, the ordinary tax payers had to bail them out. It is also true that most very rich people use a lot of resources such as extra policing, government services, military protection, etc. And they have accountants and lawyers to help them make even more money. Its Ok to be rich, but when some people are homeless and/or starving, the extremely rich need to give some back.

42. Questions for Trump?

12 Feb

I have watched numerous interviews of candidate Donald Trump and I usually feel that the important questions are not asked. Mostly he is asked about his relationship with other candidates and bizarre statements like baning all Muslims from the U.S. Fundamental ideas like his general economic orientation or his general foreign policy are neglected. Here are a few questions that should be asked:

1. In your published proposed budget, you provide lower taxes for rich people. Does this seem right, given that rich people have done exceedingly well, while the rest of us are stagnant or at serious poverty levels.

2. Do you advocate a “trickle down” economic policy? For several decades we have had just that, rich people and corporations getting more and more money, but it never seems to trickle down to us non-rich folk.

3. You keep saying that you want to make “America great again.” What does that mean? We already have a military that is far superior to that of any other country, so it can’t be that. Would it be improved education, infra-structure, health-care for all, abolishment of poverty, better movies, more fashion shows, healthier people, lower cost of living, or what? It seems that greatness for you, is just a more powerful “Royalty Class.”

4. You criticize your fellow candidates, brag about your successes, ridicule anyone who opposes you, criticize Democrats, Obama, and many others — but we hear very little about how you will help and improve the lives of ordinary citizens. We can get some idea about your values, because you do not want to raise the minimum wage of $7.25. You have very little understanding of poverty, because you started life out with a “small” family loan of only one-million ($1,000,000). I guess you regret disclosing that “small” gem.

5. Like all GOP candidates you hate ObamaCare, but none of you make specific proposals or present a detailed replacement plan. And if you abolish ObamaCare, what will happen to millions of people who have gone from uninsured to insured, and are now covered with “pre-existing conditions” and with exceeded life-time limits, and all the other vital improved coverages? And even more important, why do we need a third party, the private insurance companies, who make fortunes by withholding benefits from unfortunate patients. How many people will die as a consequence of losing ObamaCare benefits? Does this make America great?

6. I suspect your best answer about America’s greatness would be: better manufacturing, better balance of trade, and lower national debt. But to achieve these goals, would the middle-class have to provide all the sacrifices?

7. You emphasize that being already extremely rich, you cannot be bought or corrupted by rich contributors. But commentators never say: so what! you already have “royalty class” values and it is clear that you will implement their goals. No need to corrupt you.

Final thought: Could it be that TV moderators and commentators are all part of media systems run by the rich Royalty Class.  And so are reluctant to ask questions, such as: should very wealthy people pay more in taxes (increased tax rates and/or closing loopholes)?   Being rich is Ok, but extreme wealth for the one percent, while many others are in poverty, is unconscionable.

41. Politics of Fear

7 Feb

I have to begin with a most wonderful quote, from the double (1903 and 1911) Nobel Prize winning physicist, Marie Curie:
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
See the following for this and other great Curie quotations.
           https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Marie_Curie

Republican candidates promote fear so that they can manipulate our thinking and voting. It is an old trick used by dictators throughout history.  Trump first builds up your fears by describing some terrorist acts committed by Muslims and then he says: vote for me because I will ban all Muslims from entering the country.  He also says love all police officers and that they have been unfairly disrespected. He totally disregards documented incidents of real police brutality (that you can see on film).  Like many complicated problems, the answer is to identify areas that are disfunctional and work on correcting them. Generally, we must provide recognition for good police work and censure for excessive brutality.  If our established methods are not working, then we must develop new measures.

How we deal with the horrible ISIS problem should not be based on hysterical fear, but by investigating their weaknesses and carefully planning their destruction.  War used to be easy. You defeated an opposing army by artillary, bombing, tanks, and infantry. Now you attack, and the enemy just scatters, only to return after you have gone. And attacks always kill innocent civilians, some of whom will become terrorists to avenge the deaths of their relatives and friends. Dealing with enemies like ISIS must take a new form involving coalitions of nations, local police, and militia; with the civilian population supporting the effort.  President Obama is using this strategy, and nothing has been proposed by Republicans to improve this process.

One more thing I need to say. I read about Marie Curie as young man and of course was impressed by her discovery of radium and other scientific facts. But in reading Marie Curie quotes and about her life in general, I am so impressed by how articulate she was, and by her great productive life. All of us should be concerned with understanding the world and trying to solve problems, rather than just hoping for spiritual miracles.  If Republicans really want to make America great, they should put more money for education in their proposed budgets. But then, GOP candidates actually fear education, because an informed and intelligent public will see through their deceptions.

40. Hindu NASA Astronaut

6 Feb

I just read a most amazing biography (in Wikipedia) of an American woman who is one of the most successful and productive of all USA citizens. She was born in Ohio of a Hindu Indian father and a lady with Slovenian ancestors.  She is not a Christian, and believes in a Hindu God.  Her name is Sunita Lyn “Suni” Williams, born in Euclid, Ohio, 1965.

As I read her biography I was impressed by her great success as part of USA Naval and NASA programs. She was a naval test pilot for many years, had four astronaut space missions and in the last mission was Commander of the entire international station. She has a record of nine honors and awards including space flight medals from NASA and Russia and a National Defense Service Medal (USA).

Now here is my main point, aside from my admiration for this person, I wonder how Donald Trump and other adamant Christian candidates would feel about this Hindu, not pure-white lady with a recent immigrant father. If she ran for President as a Democrat, would Trump be a “birther” for her and claim she is an Indian and not an American. If Ben Carson (who would not allow a Muslim born in America to be President), were head of NASA, would he have allowed her to be an Astronaut and commander of a space station? If an Indian person became a terrorist, would Trump try to prevent all Indians from entering our country until he figured out “what in the Hell” is going on?

This wonderful NASA astronaut recently made an amazing video of the inside of the International Space Station (htts://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doN4t5NKW-k).   It is sad that everyone in this country cannot accept and appreciate “foreigners”.