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121. Democrats Do Have Important Messages.

10 Sep

Republicans love to claim that Democrats don’t have positive goals and they are only interested attacking Trump. For example, Sarah Sanders says they “have no message” and only want to “attack people that support this president.”

I have studied politics for many years and I find this assertion to be absurd. Democrats have always promoted the following themes (with a reasonable amount of variation). Here is my version of Democrat goals.

1. All Democrats support improved health care coverage for our citizens.

2. Social programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc. have always been preserved and often improved by Democrats.

3. Democrats support the USA Constitution and traditional governmental institutions, including the FBI, DOJ, and all other executive branch agencies. They also support the authoritative press.

4. Democrats tend to promote the financial success of the middle class and discourage excessive and inappropriate financial support for wealthy people. Democrats favor fair tax programs and elimination of unnecessary subsidies for righ corporations.

5. Democrats believe in the importance of voting rights for everyone who is eligible. Laws that make it difficult for certain people (often low-income) to vote (voter suppression) must be changed.

6. Tax programs and other policies should be designed to increase average income for the non-rich (almost no change), while income has been steadily increasing for the wealthy.

7. Democrats traditionally support NATO and all of our other world-wide allies.

8. Our international trade policies should be designed to help our USA workers in terms of employment and improving their income.

9. Democrats are anti-torture, promote improved gun laws, and favor reproductive “choice.

10. Democrats promote inclusiveness, are against racism, defend the rights of lesbian, gay, and transgender people, and DACA (dreamers).

11. Democrats promote peaceful (and even generous) international relations and agree to war only in drastic situations.

12. Democrats support unions — the right to join them and organize.

13. Almost all Democrats accept American capitalism, but also believe in social programs and certain other limits. There is confusion over the word “socialism.” The few Dems that use this term actually mean support of “social programs” within a capitalistic system.

14. Democrats believe that campaign laws should emphasize equality; and those favoring the rich, like “Citizens United” should be abolished.

15. Democrats support efforts to combat climate change, regulate pollution, promote clean energy, and other efforts relevant to safety for our citizens.

16. Democrats generally support public education, more free education, and federal support for students.

A casual research of Democrat leader speeches and their websites will quickly show that there are many consistent messages and ideals.

In the past two years, Trump has purposely dominated the news with his outrageous tweets and policies so that many Democrat message are obscured. Trump has messages but they are extremely inconsistent, not factual, and change frequently. Most just serve his ego and many like “make America great again” are vague and meaningless. He attacks our basic institutions and our long-term vital allies, who are perplexed by his communications.

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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. 

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.