Archive | April, 2019

166. No Impeachment, Wait for Election?

28 Apr

A viewpoint of Fareed Zacharia and many Democrat leaders is to forget (or delay) impeachment and wait two years for the election. Here are the arguments for not doing impeachment (or a long delay):

Impeachment will make Trump supporters very angry.

Trump’s supporters will feel that his election was unjustly nullified.

Impeachment will lose in the Senate and we will be worse off because Trump will claim a victory.

It should be noted that the Mueller Report contains numerous details and evidence that can be used for creating articles of impeachment. Actually, even what is already in the public domain is convincing.

Now, here are the arguments  FOR  impeachment, as soon as possible.

Most important, the longer Trump is in office, the more damage he will do to the USA. Letting him wreak havoc for another two years is frightening and unacceptable.

Failure to impeach means Trump’s method of using fear is working. We can’t risk making Repubs angry? Republicans are always angry with Democrats and can’t be trusted.

Trump’s loyal “base” will be disappointed because a valid (?) election was nullified? Sorry, I cannot sympathize with gullible Trump supporters, Russian scammers who rigged the election, or unpatriotic Repub Congressmen who legislate for rich donors.

What about Democrats that will be angry and disappointed because we allow a tyrant like Trump to use fear and scams to control our country.

If we impeach, it is possible the Senate will convict. Here is why (from my recent tweet). It is very likely that many Republican Senators, secretly dislike Trump. If he reaches the cliff of Senate conviction, they may feel safe to vote against him. If Trump is convicted, he can no longer harm them. If conviction fails, do we really care what Trump says about it. He will lie no matter what happens.

Remember, it is possible that Trump will win the next election. Impeachment is another way this could be prevented.

 

 

165. Mueller Report Raises Constitutional Questions.

25 Apr

The Mueller Report and all of the gov investigations have made apparent, weaknesses in our system of government. Our system is better than most, but still could be improved.

First, consider that the USA Congress has 535 members. The Supreme Court has nine members. Universities have several regents. Corporations have a board of directors. The Federal Reserve board has seven members.  Yet, the USA has ONE President with great power (to possibly cause harm). Why don’t we elect a small group to make presidential decisions. For example, five “directors” could make all major decisions and the group could choose one member as “chairman” or President for ceremonial or communication purposes.

There are many parts of our governmental structure that could use revision. The above is one issue. Here are some others. There are two Senators from each state, regardless of state population. This is unfair to the people of California and other large states. We elect a president using an old system, the “electoral college.” Each voter in the USA should have an equal say in a presidential election, regardless of state borders. We have Congressional “grid-lock” because there are two houses of congress instead of one. We don’t need two houses to be cautious, we can simply have one body and adjust the number required for passage of a bill.

I am not going to make a detailed proposal for gov restructure in this blog. And, I know that major change is extremely difficult and unlikely in the near future. One reason why change is difficult, is that current leaders were elected under this system and so they favor the system that got them elected. And yet, unlikely things can happen, especially if the voters protest enough. 12 years ago, I would have said that a black president was very unlikely.

More closely related to the report, is the relationship between the President and the Department of Justice.  The DOJ must be more independent. One answer might be to elect the attorney general instead of the President appointing him/her.  Maybe the same for the Fed Reserve board chairman.

Another thought would be to have an “Independent Group” (IGroup) that would appoint federal judges, Fed Reserve members, the A.G., and maybe other positions. A state “IGroup” could also do state redistricting (Michigan is working on creating this kind of independent group). Any position that must be independent of the President should by chosen by that group. This IGroup could be elected, or could consist of reps from Repub and Dem parties chosen by nominated by party leaders. More IGroup members could be appointed by Universities. The duration for participation in this group could be short, say, 1 to 2 years. Shorter durations tend to prevent corruption. After completing this blog I was pleased to see reports on the Michigan “Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission” mentioned above. Do a search on this commission to see how this type of independent group might be composed.

We could certainly improve some legal definitions and procedures for dealing with impeachment and other issues of the presidency. Some of the areas needing better definition are “emoluments,” divesting business interests, nepotism, presidential obstruction of justice, conspiracy/collusion, rules for pardons, and rules for security clearance. Perhaps a President should not be able to override the decisions of career employees. Special Congressional committees or “IGroups” could play a more active role in these controversial issues.

Maybe the first step would be the formation of a group (from Congress and/or Universities) to start formulating a new more appropriate 21st Century system of government. Our current US Constitution is a great work, but it originated 1787 and has had 27 subsequent amendments. The aberrations of the current administration suggest all of the considerations listed here.

 

164. Mueller Report: Obstruction

18 Apr

I downloaded both parts of the approximately 400 page Mueller Report as a PDF file. There are extensive findings regarding obstruction of justice. I could find no evidence listed in the report that would disprove obstruction.  Attorney General Barr’s summary did indicate that there was no exoneration with respect to obstruction. He could have added that there is a sizeable amount of evidence that proves obstruction.

The parts of the report presented contained a considerable amount of important information. My impression is that the redactions were (at least mostly) proper. We probably can thank Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller’s participation for that.

There are several sections in the report that deal with different types of obstruction.  I found particularly interesting a section that starts on Volume 2 page 131, titled “Analysis.” The parties involved were Flynn, Manafort, and Cohen. For each of these, a considerable amount of information was provided. I have listed below some brief excerpts that reflect the arguments. The reader can download the Report from several sources, read the full section (and other areas) and make his own judgements. As opposed to what AG Barr stated, Mueller did feel he was limited in drawing conclusions because of the special status of “President.” This is noted in several areas. As a result, Mueller chose not to accuse Trump of obstruction and assumed that Congress could make that decision.

Michael Flynn.   Some excerpts:   “The President sent private and public messages to Flynn encouraging him to stay strong and conveying that the President still cares about him.” As Flynn provided testimony against him, Trump’s statements became negative.

Paul Manafort.    Some excerpts:   “there is evidence that the President”s actions had the potential to influence Manafort’s decision whether to cooperate with the government”,  “pardon was possible” for Manafort,  he “did not want Manafort to flip“, “the President called the prosecution a terrible situation and a hoax

Michael Cohen.  Some excerpts:  “The President publicly asserted that Cohen would not ‘flip’ and privately passed messages of support to him”,  “Cohen also discussed pardons with the President’s personal counsel”  Later, the President called him a “rat” and “suggested his family members had committed crimes.”

A President of the USA should know that remarks and promises made to a party under investigation are improper and certainly can affect testimony. 

I am still reading the long report. To understand it, you must realize that Mueller is considering strict interpretations of criminal law. However, Congress has much more leeway in making decisions and conclusions. Although some behavior does not fit the exact definitions of a specific crime, they can look at a constellation of illicit actions and make conclusions. The 400 page report documents numerous improper and possibly criminal actions. Regarding the complicated “collusion” concept, there are numerous documented interactions with Russians, many secret, that are highly suspicious. Several of my previous, older blogs cover these.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

163. Current Issues, Briefly, #4

18 Apr

This is the 4th 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.

Here is the very latest info regarding the Mueller Report presentation. Tomorrow, Thursday,  A.G. Barr will have a news conference at 9:30am. About two hours later, the redacted report will be available. Having the press conference before the report is provided, is illogical and without precedence — it is shameful. Reporters will not have the report to allow appropriate questions. Bill Barr is a feckless puppet of the President. Barr was hired to protect the President and obscure corruption.

In a TED talk by Carole Cadwalladr 2019, Trump’s relationship to rich people dedicated to corrupting voting in USA, UK, and other countries is described. Watch this talk to see how this works and see the suspect names involved. We must develop ways to protect voting from illicit influence.

Facebook role in BREXIT is the subject of TED talk by Carole Cadwalladr. Misleading covert Facebook ads turned a very close BREXIT vote, similar to how Trump was elected. Certain vulnerable voters are targeted. 2020 elections are vulnerable! Fight lies that influence voting!

Republican leaders want you to believe that “socialism” is bad. True, it is bad for millionaires (and more) as they would lose money, but good for you as you would gain. True socialism means everyone earns the same. Democrats  believe in capitalism mixed with a little socialism, like Medicare/caid. No one believes in pure socialism.

Rebuilding marvelous Notre Dame? Spending a billion or so, and decades of time in total restoration is questionable. There are reports that the whole structure is not optimally sound.  Perhaps it should just be cleaned up and its great workmanship preserved and exhibited in some way. What would exact restoration prove?  The money saved could be used in a Christian way to help poor people and to improve infrastructure. Another plan would be to fix the roof and other unsafe areas in an attractive way,  without an expensive attempt at exact duplication.

Bernie Sanders was attacked (on Fox) for not paying more tax, because he advocated a specific tax increase. Here is the logic: if everyone applicable pays more tax then no party has an unfair advantage. If only Bernie or Democrats pay more, then Republicans have a political financial advantage.

“Devil agent” Steve Bannon, who spawned Trump, is now attacking Pope Francis. His child-abuse argument is a deception. The attack is really based on the Pope’s liberal values. The Pope spoke against “trickle-down economics” and other bad ideas that affect the non-rich. The Pope that most favors ordinary people, and should be commended, is Pope Francis.

Republicans have been on a downward track for a long time. But it was bizarre and dangerous Trump that really triggered a broad and powerful Democrat effort for positive change. The new Democrat presidential candidates and elected officials provide us with a lot of realistic hope. I might add that a traditional Republican, Bill Weld, just declared his presidential candidacy. History suggests that this challenge to Trump could be very significant.

According to Itep, itep.org/notadime/, the Trump/Repub 2017 TAX cuts have allowed numerous highly profitable corporations to pay ZERO (or less) federal TAX. Examples are: IBM, Netflix, Amazon, GM, Delta, and MGM. The tax cuts by Republicans have greatly increased the national debt and greatly favored the rich, while the non-rich received only temporary small benefits. Because of the loss of income, Trump is now talking about reducing popular social programs like Medicare. In a short period after the cuts, the economy improved somewhat, but those gains are disappearing. In the end, it is only the rich Republican donors that benefitted. 

“Spies”, says Attorney General Barr, attacked Trump and staff. Hmm? How could “spies” get indictments, confessions, and convictions of the Trump crew. The biggest record of Trump is the amazing number of CRIMINAL associates, and staff turnover. Finally, Trump has a real A.G. puppet. Research has shown that Barr’s inaccurate summaries were also perpetrated many years ago. Barr is doing great disservice by undermining the FBI.

L. O’Donnell on MSNBC said that on the last day of office, Trump would pardon himself, and escape prison. But, what about STATE criminal charges. He can’t pardon them, and I will bet there are some.

Eric Swalwell is running for USA President. I have thought about his candidacy for some time. He is less experienced, but has many winning qualities, such as intelligence and charisma. He would be 40 at time of taking office. Although I like many of the candidates, Swalwell could have the best chance of beating Trump. Other candidates would lose some votes of racist folks. I hate racists, but it may take some to beat one.

Trump is threatening the “Mercury and Air Toxics Standards” rules. If modified, many people could suffer and die from toxins. We must impeach Trump or nullify him ASAP. He is a danger in many ways.

The childish method of Trump is simplistic and ignores all facets of a problem. He is mostly ineffective in what he does because he only relies on his instinct and ignores experts. Even worse, he imitates and befriends tyrants. His gutting of our government leaves it barely functional.

Trump’s main method of negotiation is deranged. He builds up our military and then uses threats to achieve goals. For example, instead of threatening Central American nations he should be supporting them. Obama knew that and he was better able to control immigration from there.

Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen resigned. Just another sad event in the defective Trump admin. Choosing staff only on the basis of loyalty to him, and then attacking them is just madness. Actually, some of his choices were not too bad, but the good ones were conflicted and left.

Right now, I am waiting to see the citizen-paid-for Mueller Report tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

162. Tired of Gridlock? Explore Easy-to-Read SCIENCE

16 Apr

Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump.  Tired of Trumpism, never-ending gridlock, endless speculation, and deranged  government??  To avoid this frustration and engage in something both beneficial and practical,  I suggest exploring recent findings of science. I have listed some fascinating and easy to read sources for doing this.

But first, here are some good general places to find current science facts. (Note: anything you read has the possibility of error or bias. If your research is important, use several sources.)

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), “today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues”  Sign up for free emails.

Scientific American and other science magazines. Scientific American has both easy to read and more technical articles. Its reputation is tops.

The New York Times Science section is excellent and tops. Many other good  newspapers have similar sections. The online NY-Times costs very little.

Kurzweil Newsletter. This is an excellent source for many science topics and has much special info on artificial intelligence. There are many other similar newsletters. Do a search on “newsletters on science topics” to see what might interest you. Most are free.

Curiosity Stream. For a small fee, this service has many interesting lectures for the layman.

Khan Academy is a free source of excellent tutorials for the layman. It started very simply as some rough tutorials by Salman Khan for his cousins. It was so good that it eventually got great financial support and now is much improved.

Wikipedia is a free source for everything, including science. I have used it many times and found it to be generally authoritative. The articles submitted are examined by a board of editors.

Here are some very excellent entry points for studies of science.

Manned vs un-manned space exploration is a current issue. First of all, for several years, the SETI program (see Internet) searches for electronic transmissions from intelligent species on other planets. Recently, it has been established that there are many more stars with planets than originally thought. Most recent space exploration (beyond our planet) has been done with un-manned space-ships and have provided very valuable info. This method is much cheaper and safer than exploring with astronauts. Non-scientists unfamiliar with this issue may support only manned missions.  Here is a good reference: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/robots-vs-humans-who-should-explore/   I should also add a fantastic tour of the international space station: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doN4t5NKW-k   The NASA website has much more information and inspiring pictures.

Studies of DNA and gene editing are producing incredible results. To see a broad range of topics for the layman, go to the “TED” website and select DNA (and/or CRISPR) as the topic. There are several wonderful presentations on gene editing for curing diseases and improving crops, super computers made with DNA, and studies of derived new life made with a modified (un-natural)  DNA structure. The advances are amazing and are already in progress. If you really study gene-editing you would support GMO foods, which will be more important Earth’s population increases. Nature modifies genes all the time (that is how evolution works). Scientist modifications of DNA are immediately known and can be tested, whereas natural changes could be harmful and go undetected.

Some of the most amazing findings are in the area of physics known as quantum mechanics. There is so much happening here, that I have decided to mention only one topic, “entanglement.”  This is seen with studies of the tinyest particles, such as electrons and photons.  Two electrons could be entangled: a change in electron A is also seen in a distant electron B. Recent research has eliminated any possible field interaction between the two electrons, which could be miles apart. See Wikipedia: “quantum entanglement” for a discussion. Also, there is a recent Scientific American article, December 2018, page 58, Hanson and Shalm, that supports the basic notion.

Meat can be grown from animal stem cells so that animals do not have to be raised at great cost, and then killed. See Scientific American, December, page 33, by Owen Schaefer. Currently, it is very expensive but research will bring the costs down — and people like it.

Here are some other exciting topics that can be explored using Wikipedia, TED, and general Internet searches:

Battery improvements that can enhance electric cars and green electric power grids. When green sources like windmills and solar panels are at low levels, energy stored in advanced batteries during peak functioning can fill in gaps.

There are many interesting studies of the human brain. One fruitful area is the way in which the brain recognizes human faces. Do a search on “biologist Doris Tsao” for details.

There is always something exciting in astronomy.  The latest is the very first  picture of a “black hole.”  (Search “picture of black hole.”)  Also read about “supernova.” This is an extremely powerful explosion of a star, which causes the production and distribution of heavy elements, necessary for human life and many structures.

There are many other topics for exploration, depending on your interests.  I suggest the following, for people that have little science education (see above). For interesting lectures, subscribe to the very inexpensive “Curiosity Stream.” Or, for actual education, the free “Khan Academy” works well.

Finally, studying science helps with understanding very important issues such as “climate-change”, health factors, green resources, stress reduction, and safety regulations. In practice, science is not always perfect, but it is devoted to finding truth and to rejecting bias and self-serving interests.

 

 

 

 

 

161. Democrat Strategy for 2019

7 Apr

Recently, much has been said and written about Democrat strategy. As Trump continues to damage our country in his effort “to win,” and erase all of Barack Obama’s accomplishments, our primary concern is to put more Dems. into office. This blog presents an outline of issues and strategies that I consider most effective for our goals.

Far left ideas should be on a wish list, practical progressive ideas should form platforms (as a general rule). Winning elections is our primary goal. I favor many far left ideas and when we are in power, these can be ardently developed.

The biggest scam perpetrated by Repubs is that giving more money to very wealthy people and corps, will provide benefit to the non-rich. This scam is often called “trickle-down economics,” and history shows it does not work. Claims are made that by lowering taxes for the rich, corporations will increase wages. This generally does NOT happen. The extra money is mostly used for stock buy-backs and executive bonuses — little if any extra for the workers. After our treasury is robbed by lowered tax for the rich, Repubs plead that funds for Medicare, Social Security, infrastructure, education, etc. must be decreased, because we just can’t afford them. It is simple:

RICH made RICHER > Less Gov INCOME > Cut VITAL Programs

This scam has been used for decades.

Emphasis for political speeches should be:  1. Climate Change,  2. Healthcare, 3. Income equality and fair taxes, 4. infrastructure repair and advances, 5. Education, 6. Green jobs,  7. Revisions to criminal justice system  8. healthy environment, 9. Immigration laws, and many other areas. Climate change and healthcare stand out, but other areas are also vital.

Here is an example of how to state our goals: “improving healthcare and insurance coverage is vital, and we will consider ObamaCare improvements, Medicare for all, and other ideas.” If our ideals are carefully presented to the voters, we will have success. Very socialistic ideas presented too soon, just provide ammunition for Repubs.

Here are some slogans that we should put on signs, hats, t-shirts, and billboards:

Good healthcare for all

Climate-Change disasters, already here

Repubs purposely damaged ObamaCare

Tax the wealthy, they can afford it

“Trickle-down” doesn’t work

Less tax for the wealthy does not help us.

Trump creates crises to scam you.

Trump rules and scams by stoking fears

Extra Border walls won’t stop immigration or drugs

Tax breaks for Wealthy are permanent, for us, temporary

 

160. Trump: Early Signs of Dementia

3 Apr

Being an older person and a psychologist, I have spent many hours studying “dementia” and Alzheimer’s disease. First, to clarify, “dementia” is a description of (mostly behavioral) symptoms, and Alzheimer’s is a disease of brain cells that can cause dementia symptoms. Dementia is not a sudden thing, but generally comes on gradually.  Minor symptoms may appear at 60 or 70 and increase with age so that there are severe deficits starting at 85 or 90. Some people never develop significant symptoms. (Recent research shows that a lack of sleep can make Alzheimer’s worse).  Here is a good reference on the whole topic:

http://www.healthline.com/health/dementia/early-warning-signs#symptoms

Also look at “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, By Bandy Lee MD”  It includes  27 essays by psychiatrists who provide diagnoses.

What triggered this blog was an interaction today of Trump with journalists on the occasion of a meeting with a Nato official. He suggested that the media look into the “oranges” of the Mueller investigation (he meant “origins”). He was also confused about the birthplace of his father. These errors, and many others, if you look carefully at him, are consistent with early-warning signs of dementia.

Here are some of the symptoms of early dementia:

Memory loss, especially short-term. An example might be when he forgot the reason for firing FBI Director Comey.

Difficulty finding the right words.  No clear example.

Apathy and confusion. In long speeches the disorganization suggests confusion.

Difficulty following storylines and conversing. Not clear

Difficulty following instructions and finding landmarks.

Repetition is common because of memory loss. This happens often for Trump

Difficulty in adapting to change. One could speculate that changing from a campaign mode to being president was hard for him.

REPETITION AND MEMORY LOSS ARE MOST APPARENT.  Some of his errors may be due to confusion or memory loss — or they could just be lies or poor scholarship.

I think he would consider resigning except that he would then be vulnerable to prosecution for crimes.