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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 The material is based on my Tweets, unpublished thoughts, and descriptions of various publications that I feel are worth repeating and emphasizing.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.

 

 

 

 

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

 

157. Current Issues, Briefly, #3

29 Mar
This is the third 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.
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AOC wants a “Green New Deal,” Trump wants a “Greed New Deal”
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Here is a recent comment I wrote about Clinton, Lewinsky, and special reports
I like both exPres. Clinton and Hillary (who would have made a great president). Both fine people.  Powerful articulate leaders like Bill Clinton at their peak are constantly approached by women who want an intimate connection.  I don’t blame anyone in the Lewinsky affair. It is just natural and many good leaders indulge.  Hillary was great for her understanding and loyalty.  Angry Republicans and eager reporters made a mountain out of a mole hill. Re the Mueller Report, wait and see what it really says. As the investigation progressed, it became more and more corrupted by Trump and it looks like Mueller decided to finish early. But he and others will actually continue for quite a while.  Additional note: What a president does as president, should not be affected by personal matters, like affairs. 
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Latest: Trump says the Republican party will be “the party of health care.” Really? The Dems developed a plan with numerous benefits for all citizens and has been in effect for many years. Millions of additional folks were covered. ObamaCare, which could have had a better record, was sabotaged by the Repubs.  The Republican party has never agreed on a final health care plan in the form of a Congressional bill. They have only had several competing ideas. Clearly, Trump would end ObamaCare without replacement as he promised over and over. If that happened, literally many millions of people would greatly suffer and many would have died (estimated 25,000 dead per year). He does not care about us, he only cares about destroying the Obama legacy, proving his superiority, and supporting his rich friends with tax cuts and subsidies.
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Today,  Adam Schiff, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee was attacked by Repub members and asked to resign because he investigates Trump.  Schiff made an excellent reply citing various well-known events, such as the Trump Tower meeting (June 9, 2016) including Trump family members and a Russian agent. Schiff has a calm intelligent confidence that should be an example for us all. Send him a nice letter or donation.
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As I watch Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (akaAOC) in action, she is very impressive. As she gains more experience, she will be an even more powerful force for the right causes. She is very likable and persuasive.
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Mueller could have continued his investigation but decided to quit early.  He could see that Congressional and State probes would now be more effective. His investigation was taken over by those being investigated. The Democrat House committees, SDNY (district court), and other agencies will get more answers.
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Trump touts his election win and basically says Mueller is a nothing because he was not elected. Really? More people voted for Hillary than Trump. When Republican Robert Mueller was chosen as Special Council, Repubs like William Barr (now AG) were highly pleased. Special Councils are never elected. Mueller was FBI director for 12 years and was a medaled Marine. Mueller was not elected, Trump argues, but are all elected people good citizens?
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Regarding the UK Brexit, the real message of the Theresa May plan rejections, is that what the Parliament really wants is another vote. After recent experiences, more people may be changing their minds. Personally, I would like to see the UK rejoin the EU. The EU is a powerful force for good in the world, and pre-Trump, a highly valued friend of the USA.
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Mitch McConnell prematurely brought the “Green New Deal” to a vote before any discussion. Dem senators voted “present” as a way of showing their contempt for this trickery.  The Green New Deal, AOC said, was meant to be a “vision document” and not an actual bill. I generally like the plan, but much of it is for the distant future and provokes ridicule. It would be better to have a more acceptable plan for an actual bill and have more controversial ideas as a platform or something else. “Visions” are great, but they must not interfere with voting down Trump and his Greed New Deal.
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115. Voting in Desperate Times

1 Jul

Our democracy ordinarily works in wonderful ways, but as the founding fathers anticipated, could be corrupted. It is now on a dangerous path. Republicans and their top leaders (Trump, McConnell, Ryan, etc.) are quite willing to sacrifice our ideals, integrity, and world leadership, to survive, and to support their wealthy patrons. The “desperate times” are caused by the factors described below.

In order for Republicans to survive, they feel that they must tell lies, create havoc, and engage in ruthless character assassination. An example is the many repetitions of the investigation of Hillary Clinton and Benghazi, which NEVER resulted in significant findings. The basic reason why Republicans must lie is that they cannot say “vote for us, so that our extremely rich donors can be made even richer.” They fool people by saying that their financial programs will help the middle class, but history shows that they do not. The often used “trickle-down” concept is not supported by fact (even the Pope stated this).

Below I will discuss voting, but it is important to first really define the Republican problem so that the urgency will be apparent. Here is a list of current and future dangers:

1. Alienation of our long-standing and faithful allies (example: NATO and G7 members) in favor of Russian Putin and other ruthless dictators. Difficult international decisions are best made with the support of allies.
2. Encouragement of racism through lies and false data. On two occasions, Trump provided some support for Neo-Nazis, saying “some were very fine people.”
3. Creating an ultimately unfavorable world trade policy, that is not good for us and creates world leadership openings for China and Russia. All of Trump’s tariffs were countered by foreign equivalents. The final result was a loss of many USA jobs. 
4. Shattering our reputation for honesty. World leaders never know where we stand because Trump frequently and impulsively keeps changing his mind.
5. Judicial appointments are based primarily on loyalty to Trump rather than appropriate reputation and experience.
6. Failure to seriously deal with Russian attacks on our election system and also Republican gerrymandering, voter suppression, and other election scams.
7. Failure to separate politics from the functioning of the FBI and other agencies. Inane attacks on the FBI will have long-term effects on its important functioning.
8. Abolishing government regulations that protect us from various forms of pollution, and from financial scams that are often aimed at the elderly and those poorly educated.
9. Degrading government agencies that were established to improve international relations and decisions, such as the State Department.
10. Failure to fill important offices. We lack ambassadors, judges, agency leaders and experts, etc. Republicans want to blame the Democrats, but there is a failure to present nominations, and those nominated are often unqualified and simply Trump sycophants.
11. Disorganized border procedures keep worsening and are establishing rules that will negatively affect border policy for many years. Desperate decent people that are seeking asylum are locked up like criminals and have had their children taken away. It is well-known that certain Latin American countries have been essentially taken over by criminal gangs, and that decent people have needed to escape. Some of the money spent on their jailing could have been spent on helping these desperate countries.
12. Failure to support the problem of climate-change. This could be the most serious problem in the list. Eventually millions of people may die, and the mass migrations due to changes in rainfall patterns, could be horrendous.
13. Policies that negatively affect education and science can ultimately have serious harmful effects. Every nation needs educated people and will benefit from scientific research. Republicans fear education because knowledgeable voters will see through their schemes. Science is discouraged because some manufacturers may lose a little money in doing the right thing.
14. Future Supreme Court justices could be disreputable Trump loyalists that will create laws that a majority of Americans don’t want.
15. Corruption of the Census rules likely will eliminate non-citizens from being counted. This will have a negative political impact.
16. In general, current USA policies emerge from impulsive, simplistic decisions – often by Tweets. Frequently there is little study of all possible outcomes and all relevant factors when a decision is made. The traditional and effective process for making decisions based on hearings and the knowledge of experts is ignored. An example of poor judgment is the very biased tax-cut bill, which will affect infrastructure repair and other important programs. Trump’s advisors are mostly his friends, relatives, and yes-men rather than experienced leaders in relevant fields.

Now that the very real dangers have been described, we know that the most effective way (not the only way) to deal with all these long-term dangers is by voting Trump and Republicans out of office. Voting is critical.

Voting is so important now, that we must consider certain factors. It is sad to say that voting is often based on superficial subjective features like appearance, familiarity, religion, attractiveness, speaking voice, appearance of strength, etc.
We must choose candidates that will get maximum votes.
Of course, candidates must also be intelligent, well-educated, reliable, and supportive of the best policies.
What to avoid in getting maximum votes:
1. A certain number of people will not vote for those with foreign names and accents.
2. People that appear weak. Many voters require an appearance of physical strength.
3. People that lack charisma and a really fluent speaking ability.
4. I hate to say it, but a tall, white, Christian, articulate man is optimal. No one in the USA will reject someone like this, but someone lacking some or all of these features will definitely lose some votes.

A final thought:
I must admit that when the leading Democrat candidates for the presidency were Hillary and Barack, I was worried. Still, it was a great joy for me when Barack Obama emerged, and overcame these petty limitations. (I would also have been very happy with Hillary C.)
There are some really good trends now that hopefully will prevail. For example, women are more and more capable of getting votes. I see really good leadership ability in women like Elizabeth Warren. 

106. Health Care for All

30 Jul

It is already a basic USA value to help everyone with at least some types of health problems. If a homeless person is lying in the street with severe injuries, he will at least get minimal care. Covertly, Republicans might not agree with this, but on the record they would have to support it or be castigated.

Given this premise, that in practice, everyone will get health care if needed, then it does make sense to require everyone pay for it. The simplest and most agreeable implementation is Medicare for all. Remember that our POTUS promised health care for all at good rates, in his campaign.

I suggest that we greatly increase taxes for rich folks by having higher rates and by closing tax loopholes. If you are extremely rich, then your taxes will be extremely high. If you have no income, then no tax. If you have a small regular income then you could have a very small increase. As income increases, then the percent allotted to health care expense also gradually increases. Lower and middle class people will pay a little more and wealthy people a lot more. Why should wealthy people pay a lot more: because they use a lot of resources and because much of their wealth has been gained by unfair influence on Congressional financial (tax, subsidies, IRA’s, etc.) legislation.

Note that I am not against people who become rich through hard work and intelligence. It is extreme wealth and wealth unfairly gained that bothers me; particularly when there is substantial poverty in our nation. Many very wealthy people have stated that they would not object to increased taxes.

Countries with universal health care include: Austria, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom (see Wikipedia).

 

105. Balancing Rich vs. Poor

8 Jul

Our country (USA) now has a certain established income (mostly from tax), and established expenditures. An increase or decrease in any source of income or expense will, as a general rule, either raise or lower the nation debt. To keep the budget constant and free of debt increase, you must keep all parts of it about the same, or set up see-saw rules: up in one area, down in another, and visa-versa. (These rules hold in general, but there can be minor complications.)

So if someone proposes more military spending then there will be less for other areas, for example, infrastructure spending. If we take away huge amounts of income by lowering taxes for the rich, then there could be less for Medicaid, education, environmental protection, or something else.

Trump and Republicans have always proposed decreasing our national income by lowering wealthy taxes. This by itself would increase the national debt. Further, Trump wants to greatly increase military spending. So now we have a lot of spending, with the consequence that other programs will suffer. Rich folks will buy more luxury items, and will be more effective in influencing Congress. And poor people will suffer as their special programs (such as Medicaid) will be diminished. There is a clear ethical problem: less luxury for millionaires (even billionaires) versus the deaths of people who lack health care.

For Trump, having a powerful military is very important because it is helpful in coercion, forcing other countries to go along with his plans. After all, his political and negotiating skills don’t seem to be very good, so he needs a very powerful military to get his way. Also, his political mistakes can be minimized by showing off his military might — similar to the displays of armaments by North Korea.

Another bonus for very rich people would be eliminating the inheritance tax. The cut-off for this tax is the inheritance of five-million dollars so it only applies to rich folk. The vast majority of U.S. citizens support the continuation of this tax.  I have noticed that when Trump mentions inheritance tax, it is very quickly and with a lowered voice.

If the Republicans can achieve the above goals, which make wealthy people even richer, then these are some of the areas that could be adversely affected:
education, health care, State Department functions, Planned Parenthood, Medicaid, Medicare, infrastructure improvement, scientific research, medical research, various tech programs, environmental protections, etc. Let’s ask Trump to do with the Military, what he has proposed in other situations — lets hold the extra spending and make it more efficient instead.

 

101. Worldwide Chaos?

26 Apr

Is there “worldwide chaos” or is it normal to have a certain amount of danger, struggle and warfare. I feel that recently, chaos has taken a step upward,
and there is more to be concerned with now — particularly in the USA — than in the last several years.

Here is a list of factors that currently are particularly disturbing:
1. Endless war in Syria and the resulting massive migrations.
2. Our current leader, Trump, is unprepared for high office, and lacks “ideals.”
3. Brexit: Britain leaving the European Union.
4. Russian attack of Ukraine.
5. Israel and Palestinian endless conflict.
6. Worldwide terrorism, including the dangers of ISIS, Taliban, others.
7. Failure of many leaders to recognize climate-change danger.
8. In some countries there is assassination of reporters and dissidents.
9. Greedy leaders scam the citizens, promoting personal wealth for a few.
10. Significant interference in USA elections by a foreign power (Russia).
11. Christianity and Islam sometimes are compatible, but often clash.

The search for chaos “causes” can take many forms, and for most important events, there are many factors that can be causal. There are many places to start the search. I believe a good point is the industrial revolution, usually dated from about 1760 to 1830.

As governments and technology developed, there was a parallel evolution of greed and corruption. The basic principle is that in any society or nation, a few aggressive and intelligent citizens will become leaders. As they improve their political skills, they learn how to communicate with citizens to achieve power, and to make use of rich donors. Congressmen are “bribed to help the wealthy with tax breaks and loopholes, and subsidies, creating a financial cycle: rich donors support desirable legislation and in turn, get even richer.

Once in office for a few years, they also can become adept at increasing their personal wealth. It is a matter of “learning” and of the eventual irresistible temptation to become richer. Those in office gradually separate from the people and form what could be called a “royalty” class. In many cases, a leader that starts out with good intentions will eventually fall into corruption.

The end result of this process of corruption is often violent or non-violent revolution. Excessive greed at the top will produce more poverty and more poor people. This has taken place for centuries, but recent improvement in communication, like the Internet, focused on this oppression, and helped with the organization of protest. One result was the “Arab Spring”, which began in Tunisia around 2010. Revolutions in Egypt and several other countries followed. Syria was the worst case, resulting in a disastrous deadlock between rebels and its President.

So a basic cause for much of the current world crisis is the rise of a greedy “Royalty Class” in many countries (even in the USA). The Syrian disaster became a basic cause to many other international problems. War in Syria resulted in a massive migration to other countries. This refugee problem I see as the major cause of BREXIT, the rise of Pres. Trump, and perhaps the rise of ISIS and other terrorist activity. In the US, the fear of refugees was recognized by Donald Trump, and promoted by him.

Here is a summary of some major (not all) causal links:

The rise of technology was accompanied by gradual governmental corruption.
Greedy and corrupt leaders exploit the citizens and increase poverty.
Citizens, helped mostly by the Internet, discover the corruption.
They are able to organize and revolt in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya, etc.
The revolution in Syria caused massive migration and associated fears.
Migration fears caused Brexit, the rise of Trump, terrorism, ISIS?, etc.

Final thought. I have condensed what could be a whole book, into a brief blog.
My purpose here, is to promote thought and analysis. As ordinary citizens better understand the world, it can become a better place.