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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.

 

185. Current Issues, Briefly #6

31 Aug

This is the 6th 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.

I have been following the career of Elizabeth Warren for many years and have always felt she would make a great President. Now she is rising rapidly as a candidate, and may well succeed. Biden is a nice guy, and would make a good president, but not great. Warren could successfully debate Trump!
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Great news! Fox Broadcasting is even more serious now in its independence from Trump in factual reporting. And his association with John Bolton seems to be eroding. An increasing number of Democrats is favoring impeachment. A few weeks ago I was feeling the stress of his administration, now I feel much more positive.
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It is great to see more Republicans becoming presidential candidates. These provide more voices that are critical of Trump’s attitudes and actions; and will help the Democrats. It shows that it isn’t only Democrats that think he is unpresidential,  untruthful, and dangerous.
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The following is a summary of one of my recent TED comments:
Brief answers to serious global problems: World-wide food supply can be increased thru scientific methods. Shortages of land space can be solved with vertical farms in city buildings and by improved crops.  Sun, wind, and similar can supply all the needed energy for the entire world. These methods are constantly improving. More difficult is this: well-educated voters can elect excellent leaders, but education tends to be controversial.  Here is a sardonic thought: Presidential candidates must be examined and pass IQ, science, and history tests before being able to run.
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Trump “loves” the  North Korean leader, Kim. But all his “negotiations” have not stopped their nuclear development. Now it appears that they are developing a submarine that can launch missiles, a great danger to the USA. Kim’s many short-range missile tests are a danger for Japan and South Korea, but ruthless Trump has ignored these. Obama warned Trump about N. Korea. Meanwhile, Trump plays with foolish tariffs.
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According to a variety of sources (e.g. University World News) American Science is in decline, while in China it is rising. Trump has been diminishing and interfering with science throughout his presidency. It appears that he has no interest in long term benefits for our country. He is only concerned with his personal needs and in supporting rich donors. He is also responsible for a general decline in USA world leadership.
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It would take only a very small percentage of our national budget to stop the torture of immigrants. Confining large numbers of persons in a small area for long periods of time is a major torture. Often basic needs for food and sanitary items are not met.  It does NOT matter what political goals are applicable, the USA doesn’t use torture for ANY reason. President Reagan (a Republican hero) believed this and he ratified the 1984 United-Nations Convention on Torture. How can Trump’s supporters not see his cruelty (or do they have the same flaw).
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A Febuary 2016 TED Talk by Ken Lacovara is brilliant and so applicable today. In his talk, he argues that a few chance events in evolution, like dinosaur extinction, led to brain development and eventually to our human species. Dinosaurs could not stop their extinction, but the destruction of our planet and human populations can be corrected by responsible citizens and leaders with integrity.
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Trump lives in a dream world. His trade policy is tit-for-tat. I raise your tariff, then you raise my tariff. Many farmers and manufacturers are negatively affected. He acts like an impulsive child, refusing to listen to experts and alienating our allies. Trade and other agreements must be a group effort! His Iran “deal” and his negotiations with N. Korea have failed. Ignoring climate-change will have catastrophic consequences for his children and all others throughout the world.
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Trump lied about and failed to produce any new wall on our southern border, and of course, Mexico refused to pay for it. His current efforts to get something done likely involve crimes and violations of law. The wall is so important to him, that at one time, he shut down the US government for weeks to force its support.
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On a happier note: “flash Mob” movie clips illustrate how universal the joys of life are. World-wide, you can see the music, dancing, and acrobatics of flash-mobs in, for example: US, Brazil, Russia, UK, Hungary, Azerbaijan. We have so much in common with people in other countries. Sad that the greed and ruthless ambition of national leaders screw things up.
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Jay Inslee (Washington State Governor) has ended his candidacy for President. This man would have made a fantastic president. His ideas, his record as governor, speaking ability, and his promotions regarding climate-change are exemplary. He simply was not well known, but I admired him for several years. Maybe next election will be his time; or maybe he can be part of the next Democrat administration.

 

183. The “Trump Experiment” Failed

9 Aug

After about 930 days in office, it is now more than obvious that the “Trump Experiment” has failed and we must do everything possible to protect our nation. There are three actions, with which to move forward: (1) Impeach, (2) Nullify, (3) Wait for the 2020 election. I believe that we should do everything possible in all three areas: full speed ahead on impeachment, nullify him in every way possible, and develop the best strategies for the election. Nullification includes various methods of preventing dangerous acts, such as California car milage regulations that override Trump’s rule.

I believe that our citizens need brief, clear statements of Trump’s failures so that they can effectively more forward.  Before continuing, I will acknowledge that a small number of Trump’s actions were beneficial, but usually were not significant. Here is my list (also see my previous blogs).

Failure to acknowledge global warming and to provide badly needed leadership in this area. There was a failure to provide international encouragement, relevant research funds, and to support exemplary efforts in industrial actions. The internet is full of info regarding this subject. This is a very serious problem and is recognized by the vast majority of nations

Failure to govern with dignity, morality, and reliability. Trump withdrew from several existing treaties and international agreements. He has failed to provide the promised improvements. Other nations now hesitate to form agreements with us because of his history of breaking agreements.

Trump often (thousands of times) lies, makes mistakes, and re-writes history according to his own agendas.

Trump has undermined our policing and intelligence agencies so that they can be influenced by his policies and agendas (see previous blog, 182). This is a clear and serious action, which is on the path to tyranny. The US Attorney General Barr is not independent and acts as a yes-man.

Trump has lied about his international tariffs: he says that the foreign countries pay for the tariffs, when it is the US importers that pay and pass on losses to our consumers. His trade policies overall have not been effective and other countries have countered our tariffs with their own. Resulting trade problems have seriously affected our farmers and manufacturers. Trump has not considered all of the possible negative effects of his policies. An important point is that he has tried to work alone, ignoring allies. For example, a group of nations would have been much more effective in dealing with China abuses.

The Trump administration is poorly coordinated and engages in petty quarrels. Calling other US leaders childish names does not engender respect. He is often at odds with his cabinet members and other staff.

Trump has admitted to favoring torture, and his policies regarding our Southern border illustrate his cruelty. He clearly supports racism and promotes hatred.

Trump did not “drain the swamp,” but swam in it. His staff includes wealthy Wall Street icons. His cabinet members were chosen from those opposing the goals of their agencies. He has encouraged the removal of regulations that protect us from pollution and toxins. A shocking number of his staff have been indicted for criminal actions. He has secret meetings with US adversaries, such as the Russian Putin. He has attacked our allies and NATO.

 

 

 

 

 

181. Mueller Testimony and Implications for Impeachment

25 Jul

Robert Mueller has just provided testimony (July 24, 2019) related to his Special Counsel Report, before two House committees. His performance has been described as weak and not inspirational. (Note that Mueller is a Republican.)

.       Mueller’s voice was weak, but what he stated was powerful.

Mueller is almost 75 years old. I am an older person so I have a personal understanding of the effects of aging, as well as considerable research. After age 70 or so, it is common to have a gradually progressive memory loss and other physical problems. A couple of years ago, when he started the investigation, Mueller was probably more competent. I am sure that at that time he was quite capable of hiring an excellent staff and providing good leadership and organizational procedures. His report was created by a group of about 17 experts in this area. I think the report is sound and although his current committee performance was not perfect, it was effective. If you look at what was actually said by him and questioners, you could feel very confident. The important features of the report were clearly defined, a list of impeachable actions was confirmed, and appropriate warnings about future election interference were provided. He emphasized that there were no exonerations, and that there were serious findings in the area of obstruction. Trump’s claims of no collusion and no obstruction were false.

It is now up to Democrat leaders to do what is right for the USA, and not focus on irrelevant imperfections. In this area, opinion polls are also irrelevant, and impeachment even without conviction, has the value of making a statement. Below, I have provided more detail on this point.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi  has taken the position that the House should not move forward on impeachment without major Congressional and public support. She is concerned that  Senate acquittal, which is likely,  would be seen as a win for Trump.

Here are possible fallacies of her argument. First, with or without a Senate conviction, Trump will always claim that he has won and is totally innocent. What Trump and Republicans claim cannot be controlled and should not be considered. Second, As actual articles of impeachment are developed, public and leadership support could substantially increase. Third, and most important, impeachment without conviction still makes a profound statement: that Donald Trump does not represent a majority of our people. It will help assure that foreign leaders and people will not view us as crude and erratic. For many years the USA has been a leader in advancing good government and ethics, and an impeachment will help to preserve this image. Impeachment will also serve to define and clarify the improper and criminal acts of his presidency.

One further point: impeachment must be for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” That requirement is satisfied by public reporting — even without testimony or the M. Report. But, I think Congress must also consider other acts of wrongdoing, which are not defined by criminal laws. I am not going to detail a large literature (including my own blogs) of such infractions, which include: failure to divest financial interests, numerous well-established lies, failure to produce income tax returns, prevention of testimony, chosing statements of Putin and others over our intelligence agencies, lack of traditional transparency, governing by tweet, secret meetings with foreign adversaries, major inconsistencies and reversals, and creating a staff with many criminals and unethical wealthy people.

 

180. Is the Real Trump Racist? (Revised)

18 Jul

What do we know for certain about our President Trump? Most clearly, he has a desperate need for flattery, for dominating, for loyal followers, and for winning. His obvious goals are to destroy the legacy of President Obama, win battles against most other nations, and keep a very strong “base” of mostly uneducated racist voters. Trump found a way to succeed (win votes), by attracting these gullible racist citizens.

There is some evidence for the fact that Trump does not actually have a racist “trait,” but uses racist ideas to form his voting “base” and maybe for other purposes. First, he supports racism against people of color, yet he hired African-American Omarosa Manigault, a former “Apprentice” contestant. Later she turned against him and he attacked her. It appears that Trump will work with anyone who supports him. His speeches after the Charlottesville riots also provide a clue. He said on two occasions that there were: “very fine people on BOTH sides.” The two sides were the neo-nazis (and KKK), and the protestors. He is afraid to lose ANY votes.  He praises anyone who flatters and supports him, and abuses anyone who is critical. When attacked, Trump complains that people don’t like him, and often does not address the attack issues. In the case of the four congresswomen (“the squad”) he confuses criticism of him, with criticism of the country. He just lies, when he says they hate our country.

       SUPPORTING RACISTS IS WORSE THAN BEING ONE

If you have no ideals (good or bad) in your brain, then you are little more than a robot. Although he may have been different many years ago, Trump appears to have no deeper thoughts. He just says and does things to win votes and satisfy his ego. He admires dictators. If he could kill his political rivals and critical press members, I suspect he would. Trump constantly changes his positions based upon his perceptions of popular opinions. Also, he is often uncoordinated with his staff. The rapid changes in position indicate a lack of any strong ideals and a simplistic mode of governing. The simple analysis of complex situations appeals to his base. But foreign countries no longer trust us because of these inconsistencies, and the USA is losing its status as the world leader in many areas. It is clear that his major policy is intimidation, and he has little skill in other methods of interaction.

Final word: under Trump leadership, the Republican party has deteriorated to a group of sycophants (yes-men), in some ways, very much like their leader. Those with more conscience and integrity have left the party. Let’s impeach this erratic robot and restore dignity, integrity, and anti-racism to our nation. 

 

179. If the Economy is Good, then Trump Can be King?

15 Jul

I talked recently to several Republican folks who were so impressed with the rising stock market and low unemployment rate, that all else did not matter. Trump said that if he had not been elected, the market would have crashed — ignoring the fact that the market rose steadily under President Obama. Obama took over when the US economy was a disaster and Trump benefited from Obama’s successful recovery program.

The scary thing is that many people look at the world in a superficial way and just accept what leaders like Trump tell them. Several years ago, before he became President, I wrote in a blog that Trump’s worst trait is the rewriting of history, so his terrible record is obscured. This makes it possible for him to form a political “base,” with lies about his successes.

Several of my blogs have detailed the dangerous policies of Trump and the reasons why he must not continue is office. He is clearly moving towards a tyranny. These previous blogs are most relevant:

171. Why We Must End Trump Now.

170.  1000 Prosecutors Can’t be wrong.

169. In the USA, an Emerging Tyranny?

Here are the most important ideas from the above and some of his current actions. It is important for people to recognize the gradual progression towards tyranny, so that they can fight these dangerous steps.

Here are the usual steps in the transition from president to king. Trump has done all of the following:

Step 1. Form a “base” of poorly-educated gullible citizens that can be manipulated. Trump’s base was formed by exploiting already existing racism and scapegoating. The base can be violent and aggressive, to create fear and submission by others. Later, better-educated opportunists may join the base.

Step 2Get elected, using the base, intimidation, scams, illicit coalitions and whatever else works. Trump benefited from help by Russians.

Step 3. Make the appointments of all government leaders, judges, generals and admirals based on loyalty rather than competence.  This cadre of loyal officials helps to keep a tyrant in office, but produces serious mistakes.

Step 4. Change the law to benefit rich friends. An example is a reduction in pollution safeguards that help manufacturers, but put the citizens at risk.

Step 5Fight all actions against you. This can be done by attacking and limiting the press, by re-writing history, emphasizing your successes, suppressing investigations, ignoring subpoenas, and other negative legal actions. Trump viciously attacks political rivals like Hillary (“lock her up”).

Step 6. Most dangerous is any attempt to increase term limits or in any way prolonging the stay in office. All of the worst despots were able to find an illicit way to win elections or abolish elections so that they remain in power indefinitely. He has proposed that the first two years of his office were ruined by investigation and he should be given an extra two years to compensate. Thoughts like this are vile and dangerous.

As this pathway continues, the abuses increase and can be devastating. 

Here are some very recent facts. The Mueller Report finds 10 examples of Trump’s obstruction of justice. Mueller stated in a speech that his report did not exonerate the President in any way. Trump attacked four female House Reps of color (the squad) and told them to go back to where they came from. He attributed to all four, the questionable and inexperienced statements of House Rep. Omar. Trump claims transparency, but ignores subpoenas and will not release tax records. Perhaps worst of all, he still is not supporting vital efforts to limit global warming. Although the US is only about 15% responsible for the world-wide  production of greenhouse gases, it can make a big difference in leadership and financial support of relevant climate research.