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213. Re Virus: Expert Timely Action Was Needed

22 Sep

If our current president had acted early and thoughtfully, many lives lost to covid-19 could have been saved. Nations that worked very seriously on virus control had very few cases and deaths. Below, is a list of significant US actions and inactivity.  Our President was a businessman, with many business failures, and no government or medical experience.  How could he be expected to deal effectively with an extremely complicated issue like a major pandemic. 

The Global Health Security and Biodefense Unit was established by
President Obama in 2015 to deal effectively with problems such as viruses, like covid-19. Apparently, with little consultation and analysis, Trump abolished this unit. Just imagine how different our response to the danger could have been if this unit was in effect and Trump followed its recommendations. 

Trump failed to make early preparations for fighting this virus. Instead, he told everyone not to be concerned and the virus would soon be gone. The US could have been working on this problem early in January, instead, there were at least two months of  little activity. The only thing Trump did early, was to stop travel from China. If he had worked with experts, they would have discovered that travel from Europe was much more dangerous. Initially, New York was under very serious attack.

An effective US leader would have encouraged research and organized necessary supplies. We could have developed very effective methods, and we could have helped other countries in their use. It seems that Trump does not understand that helping others will also help the US.

IGNORING THE DANGERS.  From January 2020 to present (September) Trump has mostly minimized the dangers; presumably to make himself look better for the upcoming election. Journalist Bob Woodward presented to the public, tape recordings of his interviews with Trump. The recordings showed that he was very aware of the virus dangers, but “downplayed” them to avoid “panic.” An experienced leader would have concluded that it was much more important for the public to take the threat seriously, than to be concerned about panic. Trump stated numerous times that the virus will simply “disappear,” without any authoritative justification for this conclusion. He spoke of the development of a “herd mentality.” He actually meant “herd immunity,” which occurs when a high percentage of the population can no longer be infected.  Most experts believe that to quickly achieve herd immunity would result in too many deaths and so would be unacceptable.

FAILURE TO SUPPORT MASK USE AND DISTANCING.  With only a few exceptions, Trump has discouraged the use of face masks, social distancing, and avoidance of crowds. For a while, he was chiding people that wore masks. A responsible president would know that leadership and setting a good example is expected. Yet, for a long time, Trump would never wear a mask and often was too close to others. But what was more egregious, he held several large rallies where most were without masks, and people were crowded together.  Note that the Woodward tape recordings showed that Trump was aware of the airborne spread of this virus.

FAILURE TO PROVIDE EQUIPMENT.  Fighting a virus like covid involves the manufacture of massive amounts of equipment, including: advanced masks, hospital gowns, ventilators, etc. Trump refused to use the Defense Production Act, which could have forced the production of essential items. He could have organized the production of supplies, but instead said that governors would have to be responsible. It was several months before adequate equipment, such as PPE (personal protective equipment) was available. Meanwhile, doctors and nurses were being infected. 

RUSHING THE VACCINE.  Trump has often been in conflict with his medical experts, such as Anthony Fauci, MD. The experts say that it will take several more months before a vaccine is approved and that it will be at least six more months before it is generally available. Trump wants to rush the vaccine because it will help with his election. There are several problems with rushing.  The first is that it could take considerable testing time before harmful side effects are discovered. Safety has been a primary concern after the 1961 thalidomide tragedy, in which thousands of babies had birth defects or died. The second is that if the vaccine effectiveness does not reach a certain level (ranging between 50 and 70%), it is useless — and large quantities created at great expense would have to be destroyed. A third consideration, is that with all of the controversy associated with rushing approval, many folks will simply refuse to take it.

Early in the year I noted that medical experts estimated that it would take  at least a year or a year-and-a-half before a vaccine would be available. Current population of the US is 328 million.  At the assumed two-doses per person, this would require the manufacture, bottling, storage and application of about 500 million doses (some would not need it).  It is a huge project, and such projects usually take longer than expected because there are unanticipated difficulties. Developing virus testing methods will have similar problems. 

FINAL THOUGHT.  I am guessing that it will be two or three years before the virus will be at an insignificant level. The money spent in developing and applying vaccination and virus testing for most of the population will be colossal. We spend it, in order to save many lives, a worthwhile goal.  However, I fear that much of the money will be spent unwisely and wasted. Consider that many will refuse the vaccination and the virus testing. Both the vaccination and testing may have high error rates. Many will always refuse masks, distancing and washing. 

But I have had this thought, which may be way off base. What if we spent less money on the virus and used the savings for effective research and solutions to the climate-change dilemma, which also costs many lives, and in addition, the destruction of homes and property. My feeling is that we will waste huge amounts of money related to the virus, when more lives might be saved by increasing our efforts on the climate. As the years go by, the climate will be much more of a problem than the virus.

What do you think?

 

212. Trump Corruptions of the 2020 Election

14 Sep

Trump often complains that US elections are rigged. But it appears that most of the rigging is done by Trump himself or his associates (including Russian Vladimer Putin). Here are examples of this rigging:

In speeches, Trump has made numerous statements designed to scare or discourage voters. It is the clear duty of a President to encourage voting as a part of the democratic process. He claims that mail-in (same as absentee) ballots are not safe, which could discourage some from voting. He claims that if he is not elected, the process was rigged and therefore invalid. Note that Trump himself, uses the same type of mail-in ballot that everyone else uses, and lies that his are special. He hopes that if rigging can be established, that he can stay in office. In the end, it might take the Army to get him out of the White House, but foolishly, he recently insulted the military leaders.

Trump has discouraged or ignored attempts to make US voting safer from foreign attack. Major government efforts to fight foreign influence have been ignored by Trump.

The Trump impeachment was about a corruption of funding for Ukraine, in its fight against Russia. Funds appropriated by Congress were delayed until the Ukrainian President would agree to declare an investigation of the Joe Bidens son.

Post Office: Trumps man, Postmaster General DeJoy, slowed down mail delivery, through the elimination of sorting machines, variations in scheduling, and changes in personnel. Slowdown could benefit the
President in several ways. In one way, fewer Democrat mail-in ballots would be counted. In another way, the election would never be completed and presumably Trump would stay in office longer. Postmaster DeJoy is now under investigation.

Census. He attempted to cut down the time for Census completion so that fewer poor people would be counted. This would allow more federal funds and other benefits to go to Republican areas. The Census is provided for in the US Constitution and its corruption distorts many government functions.

Attorney General Barr meddled in the prosecution and sentencing of Trump criminal staff. Trump wanted his staff to look less criminal, better for election. Commuting sentences and hinting at pardons was used to discourage testimony against him.

Attorney General Barr undermined the Mueller Report by misrepresenting its conclusions. Barr stated incorrectly that there was a complete exoneration of the President, making him look better for re-election. Note that the investigative work of Mueller was limited to certain safer subjects and that Trump never gave actual testimony.

Intelligence Agencies. He forced the modification of intelligence reports to obscure Russian election interference. A whistleblower claimed that reports needed to change to be consistent with his policies.

CDC and Medical experts: Trump minimized the dangers of the virus. See Woodward’s voice tapes in which he confessed to downplaying the virus to prevent “panic.” But obviously it is not about panic, which he promotes in many other ways.* Virus deaths reflect poorly on his time in office and would harm his election success. He has downplayed the virus from its onset to today. It is reported that Trump associates have pressured scientists to alter reports so as to support his election needs

In many instances, scientists have been pressured or fired in an effort to improve Trumps election chances. For example, a report on climate-change would be altered to indicate less danger.

The use of the White House as a GOP convention backdrop is a violation of tradition and may violate laws (like the Hatch Act). The White House is supposed to be used for government purposes and not for any political functions. There are numerous violations in this area.


*Examples of Trump promoting panic: He tried to scare suburban people with the possibility that low-grade housing would be built in their neighborhoods; which only he could prevent. He tried to scare people by emphasizing violence, riots, and destruction of property. He falsely claimed that Democrats were responsible for the riots and that only he could prevent riots.

211. Faulty and Corrupt Political Thinking

10 Aug

Here is an outline of illogical and corrupt political messaging. Everything listed, I have observed in actual use. Some of these bogus techniques have been used many times. (It is obvious that I have in mind one particular person and one political party, although a few of the abuses are more widespread.)

Taking the extreme ideas from a few members of a group, and attributing these radical ideas to the entire group. An example is saying that all Democrats have extremely progressive goals.

Falsely describe a governmental system as failing, and then say how you will fix it. The promises for remedies are often not kept.

Sabotage a governmental system and try to privatize it. Privatize means a rich crony will make huge amounts of money, paid for by you and me. Sometimes, privatization accomplishes a goal, like voter suppression, or other interference in an election. There is some evidence that the USPS has been sabotaged. Also, possible is undermining of the FBI, DOJ, intelligence agencies, and various governmental departments.

Having an idea, but no source to verify it — so a source is made up. Or, someone says something you like and you repeat it as reliable info. The “someone” is not an established authority.  Sometimes, the source has good credentials, but is known to have aberrant ideas and is disreputable.

Misinterpret statistical figures, such as presenting numbers not normalized properly. For example, a number of deaths:  “per 1000 tests” instead of  “per thousand of the population,”  which is more meaningful.

If asked for a plan, say you will have it by the end of next week, or similar, and then present nothing and ignore the question.

Criticize someone for a statement, when the context that alters its significance, is ignored.

If someone criticizes you, attack the person, and not the idea. A wide variety of attacks have been used, including name calling.

Keep calling someone by a nasty name. Eventually, it might stick, examples: sleepy Joe, Pocahontas.

Investigate something over and over to create doubt, while nothing is proven. An example is the 10 investigations of the killings in Benghazi. The repeated and unfruitful investigations of Hillary Clinton unfairly damaged her reputation.

A reasonable mistake in a confusing situation is much different from a deliberate effort to deceive. Example: Dr. Fauci saying “don’t get masks.” This was said very early in the history of covid-19 and for a short time. The reason was because general use could diminish masks available for health workers.

 

 

 

202. Deaths and Traffic Lights.

2 Feb

There is an old saying going back decades: A corner only gets a traffic light, when there is a traffic death there. When I think about what is currently happening in our world, this saying comes to mind. In order for certain good things to happen, we need the impetus of a disaster. Many do not address issues, unless they perceive some sort of major risk.  We could say that the enemy of good government is complacency. 

.                        Complacency Leads to Dictatorships

The first application that comes to mind is the 2016 election of Donald Trump. Under past presidents, Republican or Democrat, people were not really alarmed. Of course, there were criticisms and complaints, but generally, most of us went about our business not particularly concerned. After a long period of questionable actions, concern really mounted. In the 2018 elections, Democrats finally became alarmed and massive numbers voted.  In fact the surge also led to an impeachment. Now, we clearly see the need for a “traffic light on the corner.” And, after a little hesitation, I will state that the President’s behavior has been so egregious for years, that even if you think the articles of impeachment are a little weak, they are still justified. I am sure that if the founding fathers were presented with our current facts, they would agree with his removal from office.

For many people, there is a complacency about climate-change. They might even believe the science, but in their narrow world they don’t feel the danger. It’s another variation of the traffic-light dilemma. No traffic light because my life is OK.

The traffic-light principle could also be applied to the errant evolution of the Republican party. It appears that after Trump was nominated, the Party was able to eliminate more responsible and intelligent members, and attract more transactional and financially desperate folks. The Repubs and Dems ignored the dangers and the errant drift was not prevented because there was no dramatic “death,” just a slow almost invisible decline. After the firing of Comey, the problems were more visible and a Special Councel, Mueller, was appointed.

I want to point out that the “traffic-light” effect is very common.  In one of the subdivisions I lived in, a minority faction was elected because the majority of residents, really did not care much. They were only concerned after the minority group did some inappropriate and expensive things for themselves.

I think if you look around the world, you can see how this traffic-light principle has had its effects. In many nations, there is an acceptance of government for a long time, and change (often bloody) only occurs at some breaking point. I think many of the “Arab Spring” nations went through such a transition.  In Russia, the initial effects of Putin’s leadership were beneficial. And so the population just did not get very alarmed about Putin’s gradual transition to autocracy. Hopefully, some day they will be able to put in the “traffic light.”

 

 

 

201. Current Issues, Briefly #7

20 Jan

This is the 7th of a series of blogs with brief discussions of current issues. The material is based on my Tweets (@RichardLeeWB), unpublished thoughts, and descriptions of various publications that I feel are valuable and worth emphasizing.

I just listened to Alan Dershowitz, stating that “abuse of power” is not a high crime. His extensive research trying to understand the thoughts of early leaders is really pointless, and not a justification for this confusion of issues. His problem is that he does not recognize different levels of abuse. Trump’s abuse was very serious, involving elections, delayed military support, and making Ukraine more vulnerable to Russia. Ukraine is like a buffer zone for us, limiting Russian expansion. It is frightening to think that Trump aids in Russian efforts to dominate.

.   Dershowitz Fails to Recognize Different Levels of Abuse-of-power

Famous attorney Alan Dershowitz says that Trump is King, in fact, even more powerful. Well, if Trump is King, then Dershowitz is the court jester. Trumpism is like a disease that infects everyone near him. Star Ken Starr is also participating.

The NY Times just endorsed Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. For many years I favored Warren, but recently her arguments with Bernie were a little discouraging. For the last year or so, I have been impressed by Klobuchar, who has high intelligence and good judgement.  I also think that Tom Steyer could make a good candidate and president, if elected. Note, any of the Democratic candidates would be a great improvement.  In the end, whoever gets the most public support is probably going to be our best choice for beating Trump. Another four years of him would be a catastrophe for all Americans.

Rachel Kleinfeld in a 2019 TED talk looks at the relation between politicians, gangs, and police; in an effort to understand high murder rates in certain surprising locals. She writes that several major US cities have very high murder rates. For example, in “New Orleans, more people per capita are dying than in war-torn Somalia.” Throughout the world, there are many small areas that have very high murder rates, surpassing those in wars. The ultimate cause for this, is various patterns of corruption. This TED talk is well constructed and fascinating, and the analysis is impressive.

It seems that every human system in existence for some years becomes corrupted. I just read that drug companies are manipulating patents to limit competition and raise prices.  See this December 2019 TED talk by Priti Krishtel.

Don’t be fooled by the RISING stock market. The market rises when investors believe that major corporations will be profitable. Increased corporate profits generally have little or no effect on middle-class wages. Most important: does a full-time salary cover reasonable expenses?  Also, under President Obama, the market was rising at a steady rate and when Trump took office the market simply continued this rise. Obama had major financial problems when he took office, while Trump had the benefit of Obama’s policies.

Imagine a president that encourages and supports scientific methods for improving our lives; rather than growing military, insulting our allies, withdrawing from worthy treaties, and using government for private enrichment. We need a President that works well with scientists and innovators.

Trump is desperate to win in 2020 because when he leaves office, he is very vulnerable. Briefly, the problem is that investigations of criminality will be easier and likely, tax returns will be revealed. Desperation led to the Ukraine extortion, aberrant  military actions, and other mistakes.

A sure sign of a dictator is that he uses government systems to attack his political opponents. Trump and Republicans have had numerous investigations of Hillary Clinton. The latest three-year investigation found nothing. Six Republican Benghazi investigations found nothing. These unethical investigations are not consistent with our traditional American values.

Major World problems are: climate-change and food-supply. Both can be solved with improved laws and methods for ocean fishing and policies. See TED Talks by Johnson & Davis: “Underwater farms vs climate change“.  And, see Savitz: “Save the oceans, feed the world.” National leaders must understand and use science to solve many of our problems, like depletion of fish and acidification of oceans. The same methods for increasing ocean food-supply, also help with global warming.

To Adam Schiff: Dedicated people like you should be proud to receive Trump insults. I would like to see a website that provides a medal for the most vicious Trump abuse. Adam, you are so effective and patriotic that he must attack. Keep up the great work.

Candidate Tom Steyer is becoming a top contender for US President. It is true that he has 1.6 billion and is spending much on his campaign. But that isn’t a negative because he has spent the last 9yrs on worthy causes, like climate-change and health care. Tom Steyer is a good choice.

How many Republican voting citizens have essentially said that domestic factors are great under Trump and the international policies don’t matter much. Well, Trumps disastrous dealing with Iran, which started with withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal, brings us close to a major war.

If you like people that really tell it like it is, then Steve Schmidt is your man. Earlier, he was a major Republican strategist. Starting June 2018, he has forcefully denounced the Republican party and Trump, in graphic terms. I also like the honesty in Morning Joe, and others.

Considering all aspects of the Iranian military leader assassination, it seems the dangers somewhat exceed the benefits. First, killing one official does not change government goals or policies. Second, Trump acted alone, ignoring Congress and allies. Third, major retaliation is likely. 
The Iran Nuclear Deal according to those involved, was working properly. But Trump, who is obsessed with winning and proving his superiority, decided to abandon it and impose more powerful sanctions. As a result, military actions are increasing and we are closer to war. Trump should have worked with allies on improving the treaty, rather than abandoning it. One reason for this serious mistake is that Trump’s unethical history requires him to find loyalists rather than competence.  Note that money given to Iran was mostly frozen assets that belonged to them. Some money was interest on a debt.

 

 

 

194. Increasing Dangers Force Speedy Impeachment

8 Dec

As I am writing this, I heard on the TV that someone who appears unqualified has been confirmed (for life) as a Federal Judge. She is Allison Rushing, a young 37, and a lawyer with almost no trial experience. Trump has already appointed 158 judges to the Federal bench. He and Mitch McConnell are a dangerous team that is gradually moving our country towards ruin, in several ways.  The appointment of extreme conservative federal judges and/or unqualified judges will continue as long as Trump is in office. Below I list many other dangers for our country that worsen almost every day.

1. A foreign policy that rejects our relations with traditional democratic allies in favor of traditional enemies such as Russia. The USA has enjoyed beneficial relationships for decades with: the UK, France, Germany, the E.U., Spain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, etc. Trump has warm relationships with Russia, N. Korea, and Turkey and says he admires their ability to control the citizens. He thinks like an autocrat and enjoys that type of company, while rejecting those most supportive of democracy.

2. Russia continues to develop methods of influencing our elections. Trump has received help from Russia, and has done very little in protecting our election process. We need a President that will address this issue.

3. Under Trump we are quickly moving towards even more serious climate problems, which he ignores. Under Pres. Obama, the US provided valuable international leadership in this area and support for relevant scientific research. The sooner Trump leaves office, the sooner we can work on these problems. In general, Trump has discouraged competent scientists so that other countries will exceed us in valuable tech and science projects.

4. Trumps new tariff policy has basically been neutral in terms of money brought in and money paid out to farmers that have lost business. However, when US importers must pay for the new tariffs, they must pass the cost to retailers, so in some areas, our citizens will be paying higher prices. Also, some manufacturers have lost business because of retaliatory tariffs by China and elsewhere. So the bottom line is that Trump tariffs have been mostly negative, producing higher prices, causing some businesses to suffer, and harming our allies. Trump failed in coercing China because he did not work with allies. For more info, see, for example, (search) NPR’s “Trump’s Tariff Bounty” article.

5. Foreign nations no longer respect the USA under Trump leadership. Many of our usual supportive nations are starting to look to China or Russia for leadership. Trumps own words are often inconsistent and may differ from statements by his staff.

6. Trump favors torture. Ronald Reagan and most other Presidents were against it. Trump supports cruel immigration programs for our Southern border and has terminated the humanitarian DACA program. He has ruined the careers of many associates because they spoke the truth about his policies.

7. Trump has undermined important federal agencies such as the FBI and CIA. In one situation, he favored Putin’s word over that of our intelligence agencies.

8. Trump has gutted major government departments, such as State and Education. He makes important decisions without expert help and often finds it necessary to cancel his orders. Generally, foreign nations no longer trust him.

9. Trump is destroying government safeguards considered vital by the founding fathers. He ignores oversight procedures by Congress and claims total power under Article 2 of the Constitution. His attacks on the “press” also suppress a most important democracy safeguard.

There are many other dangers, and of course, several books have been written about this. Fortunately, Nancy Pelosi, has recently stepped up and forcefully supported the impeachment process. If you look at all of the people and institutions that “hate” him you have to ask: is he really doing the right thing? Is everyone in the US so shallow, that they can only think in terms of who they “like” or “dislike” — instead of what is patriotic, or lawful, or well thought-out?

192. Impeachment: List All Clear Violations

16 Nov

In the articles of impeachment currently being developed, it is important to list everything convincing and with clear evidence! Anything not listed will be assumed by Republicans and others to be OK. It is not just one thing that makes impeachment urgent, it is widespread criminality. Listed below are my suggestions.

Bribery: Trump delayed release of $391 million in vital support to Ukraine, in exchange for Pres. Zelensky making a public announcement of a Biden investigation.  This is a clear deal (quid pro quo) with a foreign country. The Zelensky public announcement  was actually scheduled, but cancelled when the military aid was released as a result of investigations. Delay of this aid is likely responsible for military deaths.

Obstruction of Justice. In the articles, I would include the clearest obstructions of justice listed in the Mueller Report.

Obstructions of Congress.  List all orders by Trump to ignore subpoenas and requests for documents. Include requests for information sent to Trump.

Also consider witness tampering, failure to divest his businesses, possible treason in his support of national enemies and ignoring election violations, undermining agencies like the FBI and the DOJ, and violations of the US Constitution. I repeat, only include clear and convincing items with evidence.

The bottom line is: the major reason for impeachment is not just any one incident, but it is widespread Trump-administration criminality, including many criminal staff.  Also consider that if one item is rejected by the Senate, there are others that may be accepted. The more articles presented, the greater the chance of something being approved.  Impeachment, even without conviction, is so important, because it tells the world that this president does not represent the majority of our country.

 

 

 

191. Voters: Don’t let Trump Mislead you Again

15 Nov

It pains me to think that many voters have believed the false promises of Donald Trump, and in 2016 voted for him. Here is a list of his lies and distortions of facts that must be considered.

Trump said that when he took office, there would be a new Republican health care system that would replace ObamaCare. There was no Republican system and he and Republicans were going to abolish ObamaCare without a replacement. Fortunately, John McCain, by his one vote, saved us from a disaster.

Trump mislead voters about the wall for our Southern border. He did not say the truth, that a wall could only be built if the Congress approved it, and he did not say that Mexico was not likely to pay for it. He lied when he said it was the best plan for that immigration problem.

Trump told voters that he was so rich that he would never need to accept money from donors. A few months later, he started to do just that. He actually was not that rich and had to borrow money to survive. American banks did not trust him, but he managed to get loans from a foreign bank.

Trump said he would drain the swamp, but instead he swam in it. He hired billionaires from Wall Street. Most of his staff  and appointees were hired on the basis of loyalty, rather than expert knowledge and experience. He and his staff supported big business rather than the ordinary people that voted for him. His policies have produced a massive national debt, partially due to major permanent tax reductions for millionaires. He gave the middle class small temporary reductions. Also swampy is Trump’s profits from businesses he illegally promotes through his presidency. He even wanted (for a while) to have an international meeting at one of his golf clubs, Doral.

He promised to abolish regulations, but did not tell you that regulations are mostly for the safety of ordinary people, while rich manufacturers, of course benefit. There is a long history in the US of  toxins produced during manufacturing, that have killed many people.

Trump promised improved trade policies. What he did was poorly planned and damaged farming and other businesses both here and abroad. The final effect was small successes and major failures. He did not consider that every tariff he imposed could be matched by a foreign tariff. He lied that tariffs are paid by the foreign countries. A US tariff is paid by US importers and usually results in higher US prices.

Perhaps most serious of all, is that he mislead you on the dangers of global warming. Aberrant weather patterns due to climate change are already causing floods, fires, and farming problems. These dangers will soon become more widespread and will lead to major population migrations. Desperate people will likely cause wars and increased crimes.

He promised at times to become more “presidential” but, in fact, he still calls people names, has a ridiculous, large turnover in staff, and governs by whims expressed in tweets. He is more interested in personal winning than in the success of our country. Trump is in favor of torture (Pres. Ronald Reagan opposed this) and cares little for human suffering.

Maybe the real issue for many Trump supporters is that they like his policy of rejecting Mexicans, Muslims, and others. They will have to weigh these policies against all the harms that Trumps other policies will cause.  Also note that achievements touted by Trump, such as a rising stock market and low unemployment, were continuations of  remarkable eight-year trends established by President Obama.

 

 

 

 

 

 

190. Trump Bribery Facts

15 Nov

First, a little background: Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 seizing all of Crimea, a peninsula at the Southern part of the main Ukraine land area.  Russia also captured an area, 7%, of the main part, the size of Texas. The Ukrainians mounted a defense, but it looks like Crimea may be lost forever.
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The recent USA aid to Ukraine was valued $391 million and consisted of weapons, training and advisors. Javelin anti-tank missiles were included. This aid was vital to the existence of Ukraine and would save lives.
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May 23, 2019: Trump Administration notified Congress that the aid package was approved.
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June 2019: The White House directed that the aid package would be placed on hold. No reasons were given.
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July 25, 2019: Phone call to Ukraine President Zelensky containing bribery based on a demand by Trump and a delay in providing the $391m. The demand was that Pres. Zelensky must announce an investigation of the Bidens (Joe and son, Hunter). Joe Biden (former Vice-President) is a Trump political adversary. The aid would not be provided until the investigation was announced. After questions were raised,  the transcript for this controversial call was transferred to a special computer reserved for the most secret intelligence. At a later date, Trump himself provided a call “description” and vouched for its accuracy, but after a while clarified that it is not an exact transcript, but based on the memory of those listening to it.
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July 26, 2019 (Just in): There was testimony about a call to Trump from Amb. Sondland in a Ukraine restaurant.  The ambassador was asked about the investigations he was overheard to say: “The Ukrainians were ready to move  forward.” David Holmes, a US embassy staffer, overheard both sides of the call and will testify. The significance of this call is that it shows that Trump was closely following (and probably ordering) the bribery related to the Bidens.

August 2019: Ukraine found out about the hold on the $391m aid package.
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September 9: The whistleblower information was revealed. This person gathered evidence by talking to those who actually listened to the July 25th call, or who had other relevant information. Several Congressional investigations were immediately started.

September 11: The Trump administration suddenly disbursed the money. Several possible reasons for this were advanced. One was based on the whistleblower and resulting investigations.  Another was a threat to Trump of holding up part of his defense budget.
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There was testimony that President Zelensky did plan a recent CNN statement
about the Biden investigation. But just before the CNN statement date, the money was released by Trump and the CNN plan was cancelled by Zelensky.
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November 13, 2019: Start of public hearing on impeachment. The witnesses were William Taylor and George Kent. Both were long term dedicated government  workers, employed by both Republicans and Democrats. Taylor was a West Point graduate who had an outstanding military record.
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OTHER GENERAL FACTS
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On several occasions, Republicans demanded information on the whistleblower. This “outing” of the whistleblower would be totally wrong and inconsistent with the concept. This would discourage further whistle-blowing and an important   governmental safeguard would be nullified
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In several interviews, President Zelensky protected Trump by claiming that he was not pressured about the Bidens or anything else. Presumably, Zelensky made no complaints because he did not want to make Trump angry and lose support.
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At various times, Trump and Republicans claimed that all the impeachment  evidence was based on “hearsay.” However, Trump himself provided evidence of his crimes. For example, he said he would ask China to help him with his 2020 election campaign. Some witnesses did provide direct information. But here is the irony: it is Trumps (and staff) failure to respond to subpoenas that often limited direct information. Also, Trump himself, provided a “transcript” of the July 25 phone call, which included the statement “I want you to do me a favor, though.
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Testimony indicated that Ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his associates formed a secret alternate to the State Department. This unit was formed to provide secret actions to help Trump with his upcoming election. Although Trump might not agree, Giuliani claimed that everything thing he did was directed by Trump. This made sense because everything done, satisfied Trump’s needs. And Trump is known for making all major decisions.
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Ukraine Ambassador Maria Yovanovitch was removed from office for no valid  reason, and all (except Trump) agreed that her work was excellent. I am sure that Trump was  afraid that she would find out about his scam, and expose him. But this did happen anyway.

When I think about the entire Trump Presidency, I remember this quote: “oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” (Sir Walter Scott, 1808).

 

186. Origin of Trump Traits

3 Sep

There have been many analyses of Donald Trump’s character. Most extensive is a book by Bandy LeeThe Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, 2017, which includes essays by 27 psychiatrists. All contributors give him a psychiatric diagnosis, for example, narcissistic, which means, briefly, excessively self-admiring. Almost every day, a commentator on a news program tries to explain some of his behaviors. Many have no good answer.

I am a psychologist and my orientation is towards behavioral science (and also neurophysiology). Such scientists use terminology based on observable actions and tend to reject words that are more indefinite. Behaviors (anything we say or do) are based on our original structures (DNA, etc.) and even more upon all aspects of our environment, including parenting, formal learning, social interactions, observations, etc. Everything we experience can lead to behavioral patterns.

In my essay below, I list certain apparent traits. Each trait represents a set of observable Trump behaviors that are well established.

Intelligence:  I have given many IQ tests and would estimate his current IQ at around 119, which is somewhat above average, but, for example, well below what is necessary for a Ph.D. (IQ of 130). It is a typical IQ for a college student and his mistakes in judgment reflect this. Here are the considerations: he has failed at most businesses, he rarely studies anything written, his actions are simplistic and the full implications of an issue are ignored. When criticized, he rarely presents arguments, but just makes personal attacks. He almost never lays out complex plans or goals. He has guarded his college grades with the threats of lawsuits. When asked a more complicated question, he usually diverts to something else.

Values Money and Power. I am sure he learned this from his parents and his wealthy friends. Also learned in this way is his self-centered orientation. 

Revenge. No matter what the criticism, he usually responds by calling the critic a name or by insulting in some other way. It is pretty certain that this was learned through experience. When he did not respond, there was more criticism from more people. His counterattacks were mostly rewarded. Early on, when he presented counter arguments, he found these to be ineffective. 

Extreme Confidence. This is clear: he ran for President, he is a confident speaker, he has made huge investments, etc. The origin of this confidence is his birth into a very rich family and the financial backup of his father, when alive. Because he was effective in creating an image of great wealth, the confident actions always worked out.

Lies and Mistakes. Literally thousands of lies (some are just mistakes) have been documented. Some are accounted for by memory problems (see below), some are based on limited intelligence,  and the rest are just plain lies to achieve an image or agenda. Intelligent people write down facts and keep this info handy for speeches. This behavior is reinforced by his supporters and is rarely effectively challenged.  

Memory Loss. This is likely the result of mild (but increasing) Alzheimer’s and is typical in older persons. At one time he asserted that he needed little sleep, and it is lack of good sleep that promotes Alzheimer’s. Many of his mistakes appear to be due to memory problems, but that is not definite.

Torture and Cruelty. Many of his actions could be considered cruel. His treatment of Puerto Rican citizens, and his treatment of southern border asylum seekers, are examples. Trump was raised in a rich family and his friends were mostly very rich. He never was exposed to the real hardships faced by many Americans. His focus is on winning, elections, voters, and financial supporters, and little else.

Racism. I have discussed this in previous blogs. What appear to be racist traits may just be actions to keep the votes of his racist people. He definitely supports racist people, but may not be personally a racist.

To summarize, Trump started out his adulthood with a large fortune provided by his father. This made him overconfident and separated (aloof) from ordinary working people. As a general rule, various antisocial behaviors like lying and cruelty are usually followed by some type of punishment But in Trump’s world, these are ignored and sometimes even reinforced. Currently, Trump is severely threatened by investigations, substantial criticism, and failing policies. So unfortunately, we can expect even more erratic behaviors.