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98. Teen Trump Discovers Healthcare

28 Feb

During my long life, I have had a number of contacts with teenagers. Some of the brighter ones recognize that they have much to learn, and others just assume that when they discover something, no one else knew it.  I think that most older adults are familiar the “know-it-all” teenagers.  It is sad to say that our 45th president, often having the intellect of a know-it-all teenager, has just discovered Healthcare.

Before he talked about it, teen Trump could have spent just an hour or two in research and immediately figured out that our healthcare system is extremely complicated. He could have asked specialists who wrote the ACA (Obamacare) law and others, to explain it’s intricacies. Instead, after making numerous remarks about immediately abolishing the law, he now says:

“Nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated”

I think even the “know-it-all” teenager would not say something as naive as this.
Here are a few more teen Trump assertions:

“I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone”
“I know more about renewables than any human being on Earth”
“Nobody knows banking better than I do”
“I understand money better than anybody.”
“There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.”

(Please see Aaron Blake, Washington Post, October 4, 2016 as a reference and for more examples.)

Why didn’t his original supporters realize that the Presidency is not an entry-level position and that it’s not OK to serve with on-the-job training? Well, I guess we have to accept the fact that many of them are not knowledgeable  — and they were caught-up in the thrill of racism, violence, and over simplification. They knew and teen Trump knew that foreign policy, military actions, trade laws, treaties, education, technology and so forth are all trivial, and a great builder of buildings can master anything in a few hours.

After just a few weeks in office, teen Trump has made a mess of most everything he has done and the few positives, like the Carrier Co employee situation, are just tokens, having no substantial value. He has come up with incredibly valuable plans for making America Great, and defeating enemies like ISIS, but alas, cannot reveal any of the details. The most serious mess is his cozy relationship with Russia’s Putin.  Blackmail and election interference are possibilities that need investigation by fully independent parties.

97. Trump’s Extreme Hypocrisy

25 Feb

Trump loves to dramatize his speech, like we need “extreme vetting”. He said that he was going to “win so much, you’re going to be sick and tired of winning.”

I just heard Trump complain at CPAC, about the news media using anonymous sources. Frankly, I laughed out loud. During his adamant “birther” period, on numerous occasions he referred to unnamed sources searching records in Hawaii about to prove that Barack Obama is not a citizen. This pattern of stating unsupported “facts” (aka alt-facts) has been repeated numerous times.

In fact, I would confidently venture to say that Trump himself referred more times to unknown sources (or did not name a source) than any other president. Here are a few examples:

Trump said that Hillary won the popular vote (by a margin of almost three million) because of illegal voting.  In fact, “all the illegal votes were for her!”  Does he think that all of us are incredibly stupid, or is this stated just for his hardcore fans?

The crowd for inauguration was much larger for Trump than for Obama.  No proof for this assertion was provided, but plenty of photographic evidence was provided for the opposite.

He stated that he won more electoral college votes than previous presidents — false. No sources for this were named, and after questioning, admitted his error.

We gained nothing from the Iran Nuclear Deal and the money paid could have been used for infrastructure work. He failed to say that the money paid was actually Iran’s money that was confiscated and could not have been used by us.

There are many other types of extreme hypocrisy. A really good example is Wall Street abuses. Trump complained on numerous occasions about Hillary’s relationship with such companies as Goldman Sachs Group. He said that Clinton is “nothing more than a Wall Street puppet.” But after his election, he named former Goldman President, Gary Cohn to head his National Economic Council. Former Goldman partner Steven Mnuchin was chosen Secretary of Treasury. Chief Strategist Steve Bannon once worked for Goldman Sachs. Trump is also working on reducing safeguards aimed at avoiding investment company failures. After pledging to fight Wall Street he has been doing everything to support them. His promises to help the working man are shameless lies.

After talking so much about Clinton corruption, the following has just been reported. The Republican chairmen of two intelligence committees have admitted that a member of the White House staff approached them. They were asked to tell reporters that no illegal contacts of the W.H. with Russians were discovered.  And at this time,  the committee work was not even finished.

There also is evidence that a report on the “Travel Ban” countries was tampered with. The original report (leaked to press) stated that the seven banned countries posed no particular threat. Country of immigration origin is not a good predictor of terrorist activity. The final report was altered to say the opposite.   See this website:  http://www.msnbc.com/maddowblog   for supporting details for this paragraph and the one above.

All of which brings to mind my greatest worry — that Trump will not only fail in many ways, but he will re-write history so that the Democrats are blamed for the failures. He actually blamed Hillary for the “Birther” movement!

95. A Combination of Factors Sunk Dems.

17 Feb

Whenever a Republican is questioned about a “dirty trick” like Russians influencing the election, they always say something like: well it may have happened but certainly could not have affected the final outcome. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority leader said approximately that. Here is a list of factors, each of which may be too small by itself, but COMBINED certainly could have swung the recent Presidential election:

1. Suppression of voters resulting from Republican state-government legislation. One method was to decrease the number of voting days, which caused a decrease in minority voting. A Republican supreme court recently abolished rules to control voter suppression laws and red state governments rapidly took advantage of this. This factor by itself may not have swung the election, but combined with all the other tricks, likely did.
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2. Republican FBI director Comey interfered with the election process. The first problem was his assessment of Hillary as “extremely careless.” He has no baseline, no data from other similar officials, to make this conclusion. Maybe if other leaders were examined in detail, they would have been worse. The next problem was his announcement of an additional email investigation, 11 days before the election — violating agency rules. Comey and many FBI officials are Republicans. It is well established that there were FBI-agent leaks and excessive investigative actions. This factor by itself may not have swung the election, but combined with all the other tricks, likely did.
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3. I mentioned above the Russian influence. All the major U.S. intelligence agencies agree that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee. They then chose to release a number of private emails by high ranking Democrat officials. There was nothing illegal in the emails, but private conversations can be misinterpreted in a negative way. This factor by itself may not have swung the election, but combined with all the other tricks, likely did.
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4. Hillary was dogged by numerous unjustified and redundant congressional investigations, which ultimately led to nothing. This factor by itself may not have swung the election, but combined with all the other tricks, likely did.
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5. Women that Hillary’s husband had affairs with were paraded in the audience during one of the debates. This factor by itself may not have swung the election, but combined with all the other tricks, likely did.
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6. Online web sites that pretended to be valid news sources spread lies about Hillary and her campaign. This was a serious problem, as many voters get most of their info from such social Internet sources. This factor by itself may not have swung the election, but combined with all the other tricks, likely did.

The Democrats did not run a perfect campaign, but the six factors above, when combined certainly could be enough to change the outcome. It is a nasty trick to focus on one factor and say that it could not have had an affect. Many Democrats are fighting for justice, but Republican tricks are endless. I could have mentioned gerrymandering election districts, fear mongering, numerous lies, and self-serving exaggerations. Look at the Supreme Count nominee that Pres. Obama put forward, that was not even given an up or down vote.
As I think about the first month of Trump’s Presidency, I am reminded of John Dean, the White House Counsel for President Nixon, and his prophetic remark in 1973 that there is a cancer on the presidency.

94. Katy Tur Wins a Medal

15 Feb

As a political blogger, I listen to many news programs every day. I am disappointed with the vast majority of interviewers and interviews by a basically liberal or moderate newsman who misses the important points and is pathetic in allowing false statements to go unanswered.

Today (2/15/17), Katy Tur (MSNBC early afternoon) put all the others to shame in an interview with a republican Congressman. A major part of the interview was concerned with Michael Flynn and leaked news. She was not perfect (who is?) but was right on the mark 95% of the time. The Congressman was forced to pivot and was clearly beaten on the main points.

I invite Katy Tur to come over to my place for a medal presentation ceremony. I haven’t yet bought the medal, but if she agrees to come, I will find something metallic and shiny. Kidding aside, Katy is a hero, courageous, and an outstanding journalist. Our fearless President knows it and that is why she is a recipient of some of the worst attacks. Bravo!

When we see the Republican attacks on the U.S. press, the fourth component of our governmental system, we know that our democracy is fully functional.

86. Common Current Conceptions Corrected

23 Jan

When I watch the news talk shows and listen to commentators, there is a great effort to understand Trump’s ideals, Putin’s motivation, Hillary’s loss, etc. in terms of abstract political and historical principles. I think the obvious basic interpretations are often lost in a sea of overly-complex irrelevant theories. Here are some specifics:

1. Trump has no lofty ideals. If you listen carefully to what he says, you can see that his overwhelming interest is in making himself feel good and he is not embarrassed to talk about it. He wants adoration, flattery, winning, and hero worship. He constantly compares himself to others, putting them down, and lifting himself up. Of secondary interest is the promotion of his own financial interests and to a lesser extent the success of his extremely wealthy friends. Like all Republicans, his financial plans involve making rich people richer and the rest of us will receive a few token benefits. He will try to give the impression of saving jobs, like bribing Carrier Corp. to keep 800 workers in the U.S., ignoring the millions already gone and in the process of leaving. His motto “America First” really means hero Trump first.

2. Why does Trump paint a terrible (carnage) picture of the current USA? Most news people ignore or don’t understand the obvious. If everything is wonderful at the beginning of his term, how can he show any accomplishments? Four years from now he wants to say what a great job he did, so the beginning must be a low point. In all likelihood he will re-write history to tell his version of events. He hates the fact that the offiial unemployment rate is now 4.7%. His press secretary tries to hide this fact by quoting anecdotes and non-standard numbers. Even more absurd, he says that the numbers do not matter, stories tell the whole thing.

3. What does Putin really want? If you listen to what he says, it is obvious that his main goal is to restore the “Soviet Union” of Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic States, and others; a total of 15 republics. Like Trump, he wants to be the hero by making Russia great again. He works on achieving this goal by overt aggressive actions like annexing Crimea, and also covert actions like cyber attacks. He is influencing Trump for his ends, through flattery, release of hacked embarrassing emails, and perhaps even blackmail (unsubstantiated).

4. Why does Trump support Russia? See the discussion above. The clearest factors are flattery (saying Trump is brilliant) and refuting Russian election hacking, which calls into question the validity of his election.  The following are other possibilities: business marketing considerations, financial help through loans, and blackmail.

5. There are a lot of theories as to why Hillary Clinton lost the election. Most news people want to focus on one cause, and critics of the one-cause idea are probably right. People that search for causes (such as scientists and doctors) know that complicated conditions often have multiple causes. But I have yet to hear anyone say that it was a combination of small factors that led to her loss. Briefly (see previous blogs) these include: Russian hacking, FBI director Comey electioneering, suppression of voters, numerous unjustified congressional investigations, and bogus Internet “news” sites (which may have been created by Russians). I could add that Hillary was a good candidate, not a great one, but I voted for her and most important, she would have done a great job as president.

6. It disturbs me that certain misconceptions are repeated over and over, without correction or even argument. For example, Joe Scarborough just said that President Obama did nothing in response to Syria crossing the chemical- weapon red-line. Obama was reluctant to further participate in the hopeless Syrian conflict and bombing would kill many civilians. He asked Congress for approval of U.S. bombing and (as he suspected) they rejected that. Secretary of State Kerry urged Syria to dispose of the chemical weapons. Shortly thereafter, Russia volunteered to take charge of the weapon disposal. The problem was solved and everyone benefited. How can anyone complain about Obama’s thoughtful and cautious resolution to this difficult problem. Just like the ridiculous Benghazi political issues, detractors have distorted the red-line incident and used it for an attack. Republicans even used the red-line issue to attack Hillary Clinton, who held no governmental office at the time and only gave opinions as a friend.

7. Kellyanne Conway said in effect: ignore what Trump says and look instead “at what’s in his heart”. Others have said in many variations, that we need to ignore the words. Personally, I would prefer a president that truthfully says what is in his heart. When Trump gives orders to the military, should they obey the orders or have an abstract discussion for a while on what he really means. “You said attack the enemy landing on our shores, but in your heart you really meant be kind to the them, maybe?”

8. Hillary Clinton is often blamed by Republicans for everything negative that took place in the last 30 years. Do I really have to say that major national decisions are made by presidents and Congress and not by first-ladies, individual Senators, or Secretaries of State.

9. A common misconception is that simplifying tax code and reducing taxation categories will benefit ordinary citizens. Just the opposite is true: it only helps very rich people. For the non-rich working man/woman, tax code is already simple. By removing all of the details applicable to the very rich, you make it easier for them to take unfair advantage and reduce their tax payment. If you actually read the tax proposals written by Trump and Republicans in general, you will see that all of them benefit the rich. And if rich people pay less tax, then the rest of us will pay more and/or have decreased benefits.

10. ExPres. Obama did not lie about “ObamaCare.” This legislation is very complicated and new systems almost always have unforeseen problems. To think that an honorable person like Barack Obama purposely lied to the public is absurd. Unanticipated problems led to some mistakes in some small areas representing about one-half of one percent of the U.S. population. Obama has always recognized that there would be problems, and that these could be corrected by Congress. But the Republican Congress put forth nothing that could help.

I could add many more “corrections”, but these I think, are most important.

82. Result of Abysmal Trend: Trump

28 Dec

Does the election of Donald Trump represent a continuing trend towards a crude, simplistic, and tyrannical U.S. government? After observing Trump post-election, I see a dismal continuation of all his bad habits, talk, and actions. How did a person like Donald Trump achieve his success? Not a total success, of course, because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost three million.

If you study global and USA political trends, there is a common dangerous pattern for many nations. Very rich people become skilled at manipulation of government and corrupt the system to make themselves more powerful and even richer. There is a flagrant disregard for ordinary citizens except for callous brainwashing and meaningless promises of: compassion, America greater, trickle-down benefits, etc. This trend also has a crude factor which emphasizes simple and often violent solutions to complex problems that should be solved by careful planning and negotiation. Examples of this crude approach is: “bomb the hell out of  ISIS”,  “ban all Muslims from the U.S.”, and torture presumed terrorists.”                                                                                                                               .
Although some Democratic leaders are imperfect, it is the Republicans that have led the growth of the billionaire conspiracy. In my previous blog, “Dirty Tricks win Election (blog 80)”, I have discussed some recent examples of this conspiracy, which includes election interference by a Republican FBI director, Russian hacking of DNC email , and suppression of voting by minorities.

I have thought a lot about how and when this trend started. I could note that after the election of Ronald Reagan (1980), there was a significant rise in income for the top one-percent, while after 1970, income for the bottom 90% remained essentially constant. So 1980 could be considered the beginning of our abysmal trend. But if you study history, you can see similar trends going way back to ancient days. I should also note, that some countries, such as those in Scandinavia, have done better in this respect, and they should be used as an example.

Here are some key events that have contributed to this erosion, distortion and inequality of the USA democratic system:

Large corporations, like railroad companies formed unfair mergers that led to anti-trust laws in 1890 and 1914. Rich businessmen often team up covertly to raise prices, increasing their wealth and taking money from the middle class.

Reduction of bank regulations like the Glass-Steagall Act (1933) led to major financial failures.  We also need more laws like the Dodd-Frank Act (2010) and better enforcement.

After the election of Pres. Obama in 2008, major Republican leaders, in a meeting, pledged to destroy his presidency, by ignoring everything he proposed or supported, including legislation and judicial appointments. Never in U.S. history has the obstruction of legislation been so blatant. In spite of this, he did a remarkably great job.

                GOP unpatriotically pledged to destroy Obama presidency

Formation of the Tea-Party branch of Republican Party in 2009 was a major negative influence. This was an angry group that supported rich leaders and worked against the middle class. In efforts to reduce federal spending, they caused serious problems, such as holding up important budgetary legislation, which resulted in a disastrous lowering of the USA credit rating and higher USA-debt interest rates that affects us all.

In 2010 there were two court cases brought by Republicans that allowed almost unlimited contributions to political candidates. These rules let the very rich dominate our election system and were implemented with “super PACs”. Previously, there were severe limitations, like a $2500 maximum donation for individuals and no corporate donations. The best known case was brought by “Citizens United”, and another by Speechnow.org.

The end effect of all these events was the election of Trump. He won with various “dirty-tricks” (see above) and a campaign based on lies, re-writing history, impossible proposals, and a policy of lowering taxes for very rich people. He ran on the principle that he could not be influenced by rich donors, but, ironically, much of his current cabinet is composed of extremely wealthy businessmen. Some will be directors for agencies that they had vowed to eliminate when running for office.

The success of Trump was based on a faulty fundamental “belief”, that only Republicans should be considered for office, and that a non-politician must be selected for president. Only Trump matched these considerations. People were correct in feeling that Congress was grid-locked, but failed to realize that it was the GOP that blocked progress. Search the record and you will see that Republican leaders blocked many court nominations (including Supreme Court) and blocked almost every bill proposed by Pres. Obama, even if it was based on GOP ideas.

The corrosive trend that I have discussed will be difficult to defeat. We can try to promote more general and political education. States can develop beneficial laws, such as raising minimum wage, that the Federal government will not consider. In general, we must all work harder to explain our ideas, to educate, and to support better approaches. And in the future, we must try to get the most charismatic, scandal-free, and articulate people to be candidates.

81. All Complex Systems are Corruptible

18 Dec

I research medical matters, politics, science, economics, artificial intelligence, manufacturing, and many other topics — mostly because I just enjoy learning. As a result, I see our world as a fascinating collection of complex systems, some natural and some man-made. But in the last few years, I have been impressed by the fact that corruption is everywhere. An interesting and symbolic illustration is contained in a TV series, Life After People showing the deterioration of buildings and other man-made structures — if humans suddenly disappeared. We see how nature insidiously destroys our prized cities, buildings, roads, bridges, etc. Our world is a combination of new amazing structures like the International Space Station, and, all too often, tragic deterioration like the devastation of Aleppo.

Challenge: Name one large complex system without some corruption

Here is my brief list of important corrupted complex-systems:
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1. Life. Almost all living species have corruptive elements. Everyone is familiar with the effects on life of viruses, harmful bacteria, and human mismanagement.
Anti-corruption forces: doctors, other healthcare providers, and the people, themselves.
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2. Computers. At an early stage, computers and their attackers began to evolve together. They are attacked by a variety of viruses which function very similarly to animal viruses. In both cases, viruses modify existing control elements (DNA for life and circuit logic for computers) to reproduce themselves, and to destroy what they have infected.
Anti-corruption forces: numerous anti-virus commercial programs and government and private agencies.
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3. Internet. There are hackers that steal and alter private information, web-sites that promote false political information, various scams, utility disruption, etc. Like the computer topic above, corruption evolved as the Internet evolved.
Anti-corruption forces: specific government agencies, police units, and some commercial and private operatives.

.        Worldwide, governmental systems are replete with corruption

4. Governments. Worldwide governmental systems are replete with minor and major corruption. Aggressive and often ruthless people are able to become presidents, prime ministers, congressmen, agency directors, tribal chiefs, etc. It is a natural process for such people to gradually take more and more for themselves and provide less for the people. In most nations, a greedy royalty class” emerges that is devoted to increased power and wealth. In many of my previous blogs I have discussed various details of this type of corruption. Very rich people find ways to increase their riches by corrupting officials. Corrupted leaders often lie about things that concern them and re-write history according to their agendas. They often discourage public education, education in general, and attack the press.
Anti-corruption forces: The responsible press, bloggers, ethical politicians, and informed voters.
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5. Businesses. These have several types of corruption. Within a business, competition for advanced positions can be ruthless, and in order to increase profits, faulty or even poisonous products can be sold. Business leaders often corrupt congressmen to benefit themselves and their organizations. Many lobbyists are the vehicle for corruption. Anti-trust laws, first developed in 1890 and 1914 illustrate ongoing USA private enterprise exploitation. The Enron Corp. disaster of 2001 is a lesson in corruption.
Anti-corruption forces: special police units, ethical businesses and politicians, informed citizens, whistle-blower employees, etc.
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6. Sports. A wonderful example of a corrupted complex system is organized sports. Gamblers have bribed athletes to promote their betting. Athletes take potentially harmful drugs to promote their performance. Even governments have participated in this type of inappropriate drug activity. Olympic Game officials have been prosecuted for illegal practices.
Anti-corruption forces: the press, governmental units, police, informed citizens, etc.

.    Corruption is a part of every large system — because it is profitable

There are so many susceptible systems that I cannot cover them all. A few more are healthcare practices, hospitals, schools, and religious organizations. Just added today, foreign interference in elections.

Conclusion. The several examples listed above suggest the universality of complex system corruption. An interesting development is “blockchain” which is a new way of recording and operating almost all financial interactions — and could be effective. It is touted as the ultimate international financial system and as being incorruptible. But history tells us that clever hackers will probably find a way in. It is clear to me that any system created and operated by humans, where it is advantageous to do so, will be negatively exploited. Why is corruption so ubiquitous? — because it is profitable.

After my final editing of this blog, I sense the excessive negativity that I have created. So I want to encourage the reader by saying that the world is also full of safe and enjoyable experiences that we can explore and must expand.