Tag Archives: government

123. Ford v. Kavanaugh * Revised

19 Sep

(Revisions are in blue)

As I was listening to commentators discussing the alleged sexual assault on Professor Christine B. Ford by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in high school; I heard statements that I think need clarification. But before I begin, I must emphasize that rape (and attempted rape) is a serious crime, is never justified, and should be severely punished. I think that Prof. Ford should be taken very seriously and given a clear opportunity to make her case. Since I wrote the original, a date was set Monday 9-24-18 (a week later) when both parties could testify.  Dr. Ford has requested an FBI investigation before testifying.

Here are my thoughts about Ford vs. Kavanaugh.

First, the argument that holding back this issue was based on politics is not supported by any facts. Prof. Ford wanted to maintain her anonymity. She decided to come forward when her name was leaked. Also, Sen. Feinstein early on, sent information based on the  Ford letter to the FBI. The FBI confirmed this communication.

It is well-known that lie-detector tests are not 100% reliable, but could be used in conjunction with other evidence in a “hearing” (but not necessarily in a court). Prof. Ford passed a lie-detector test and that fact should be given some consideration.

An FBI investigation may sound like a good idea but could be a waste of taxpayer money. It is extremely unlikely that any physical evidence would be discovered, and testimony after all this time might never be fully trusted. If anyone else has information about this issue, the publicity about it would stimulate a response, if there were willing parties. That may have been that Ford’s original intent.  After further thought, I think it is possible that further testimony could be obtained. 

It is a valid argument that serious errors occurring in high-school should not be given great weight and should not ruin the rest of a person’s life. No “criminal” charges were made at the time. The issues of this controversy are difficult, and I can see both sides, and of course, I sympathize with Prof. Ford’s trauma, then and the death threats now.

Brett Kavanaugh’s friend in the room would have to deny what happened, or else he could be considered an accomplice. So his denial would be expected and not of relevance (not exculpatory). On the other hand, if he jumped on Kavanaugh to help Ford, then he should get some credit.

My tentative conclusion is that, so far, this particular case against Kavanaugh is compelling, but not conclusive.  I feel that there are better reasons, already elucidated in the hearings, for rejecting his appointment to the Supreme Court.

Revision added: Dr. Ford’s request for an FBI investigation supports her claim and the Republican refusal is further support for her. Generally speaking, a person who lies would not want to be questioned by the FBI.

(Revisions are in blue)

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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.

120. Where Democracy is Dead

28 Aug

An article by Paul Krugman (NY-Times, 8-27-18) is so profound and insightful that I had to write this small blog. Krugman states that democracy is dead in Poland and Hungary, both members of the European Union. Both of these countries have powerful ruling parties.

In both countries, there are elections, but Krugman points out that they: “have destroyed the independence of the judiciary, suppressed freedom of the press, institutionalized large-scale corruption and effectively delegitimized dissent.”  

The effect of these aberrations is that it is likely that there will be “one-party rule for the foreseeable future.”  Krugman warns that this could easily happen here.

Our current ruling party and our current POTUS, are increasingly engaging in these anti-democratic activities. If the next election fails to reverse this process, the USA will further deteriorate to a point where recovery may not be possible. My previous blogs have discussed these issues in detail.  Briefly, I am concerned about: nominations to the Supreme Court, attacks on the FBI, emolument violations, threats toward the press, criminal actions by POTUS staff and consultants, gerrymandering and other interferences with our election process.

 

 

  

 

 

 

118. President Cornered

25 Aug

Today is August 24, 2018, marking 581 days of Trump presidency.
The case against Trump (and staff) is accelerating. In the last few weeks, there have been very significant events. I have tried to document the most important factors and much of the emphasis is based on Trump denial arguments. Here is my list.

A very significant event was back on April 9, 2018: Michael Cohen‘s (Trump personal lawyer) office was searched and documents confiscated. This influenced many of the events below and also the subpoena for Trump’s long-term accountant, CFO Allen Weisselberg in July 2018. Just added, Allen W. was given immunity.

The following all occurred within about a week.

Recently reported: White House counsel, Donald McGahn, was interviewed for 30 hours by the Mueller investigators, and provided extensive valuable information.

Trump has been accused of treasonous actions (for example, Steve Schmidt) in his dealing with Putin. Maybe worst of all is that he often did not recognize (or respond to) Russian attacks on our election system. There are claims that you cannot have “treason” without a war — but there is a very real and dangerous USA-Russian cyber war with ongoing covert battles.

Trump’s first supporter in Congress, Chris Collins (R-NY) was charged with
insider-trading. His second supporter, Duncan Hunter (R-CA), was indicted for misusing campaign funds.

August 21, 2018: Paul Manafort convicted on eight counts. He was Trump campaign manager starting June 20, 2016, although he worked on the campaign starting in March 2016. He resigned August 19, 2016. So, he worked for the campaign for about six months and was manager for two months. Trump had occasional interactions with Manafort since around 1980.

Trump, when in debt, likely earned millions by helping Russians launder money. It was done by Russians buying Trump-owned over-priced condos. This occurred over many years, but recently came to light in the writings of Craig Unger. Unger also describes possible interactions of Trump and the Russian Mafia. These Russian relationships may explain his strange favoritism towards Putin.

Omarosa Manigault just published a tell-all book “Unhinged” about Trump. She has tapes recording various interactions with Trump and staff, which she will make available to Special Counsel Mueller.

Michael Cohen confessed to crimes associated with Trump’s election, and implicated Trump as a director of illegal actions.

David Pecker, publisher of National Enquirer, and long-term friend of Trump, was granted immunity in the Michael Cohen investigation. He may have important info regarding Trump’s questionable activities.

Jeff Sessions (Attorney General) answered Trump back regarding recent criticism of his running of the DOJ. Sessions strongly disagreed with the assertion that he “never took control” of the department. He also praised its personnel and affirmed its independence. This is the first time that he has really defended himself from Trump’s numerous attacks.

Trump has recently admitted to criminal actions because he does not understand our laws. For example, he admitted to campaign expense violations because he thinks that the source of funds must be strictly from the campaign. Campaigns can be financed by many means including by the candidate himself.

Robert Mueller has indicted or secured guilty pleas from a total of 32 persons. Please note that Mueller is a Republican and highly respected by both parties.

Looking at all of the above, the Trump claim of “witch hunt” is ridiculous. He has a long history of shady practices (like Trump University) and he has illegally profited from his presidential status in several well-documented ways.

 

 

 

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. 

113. Do Good Candidates Make Good Officials?

13 Mar

For several years, I have been concerned about the nature of our USA election process. The traits that promote election, are not necessarily the same as those required for good governing. Successful candidates can have any or all of the following:  1. rich donors,  2. a powerful appearance,  3. an ability to convincingly lie and exaggerate,  4. an ability to say what people want to hear, such as subtle racism or anti-science sentiment.
Emerging from this process may be leaders lacking necessary experience, temperament, intellect, and/or decision-making skills. Focus is often on pleasing wealthy donors, instead of making life better for our citizens. The recent “tax reform” bill is an example of this.
Our current election process was formed by legislation, judicial decisions, and by questionable traditions. It needs revision.  We could start with election campaign laws such as those giving rich donors almost complete control over the election process. It would also help to have more voter education. There are no easy ways to reform elections, but we should at least make every effort to do this.

Blog 111. Trump Attacks The Press

24 Oct

In one small foreign country, its president owns all of the major banks, unfairly enriching himself by this corrupt practice. Similar corruption is found in many
large and small foreign countries.
Trump appears to have a similar pattern. He uses most of the methods that past and current tyrants have employed to maintain their power and control. Trump intimidates critics, admires other tyrants, and much of his communication is regarding his exaggerated achievements. Also typical is his use of office to promote his businesses. His hotels are advertised in his speeches and by his trips, and foreign leaders stay in Trump Tower rooms. He failed to divest his business interests and severely violates nepotism rules. He ignores huge areas of government, like the State Department and CIA. He whimsically establishes the most vital policies and makes little use the departments designed to help.

Trump’s attack on the press is very typical of authoritarians. Robert Reich discusses several methods used in such attacks, which helps to achieve greater control over the citizens. See:    http://robertreich.org/post/154819980595
Four attacks are described:
“1. Berate the media and turn the public against it.” See his speeches.
“2. Limit media access.” Example: almost no news conferences.
“3. Threaten the media” Examples: threatening to sue newspapers and revoke licenses.
“4. Bypass the media and communicate with the public directly.” Example: Tweets

Trump wants to rewrite history to support his programs and candidacy. Past USA leaders have been occassionally annoyed with the press and have criticized reporting. We have never had such a complete labeling as: all news is “fake” news. I am always amazed at how his supporters take his word over the most revered and reliable of USA newspapers, the N.Y. Times, with 120 Pulitzer Prize winners.
Trump has been rejected by many Republicans including: George Will, Past-President Bush, Joe Scarborough (now an independent), John McCain, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, and last but not least, his Secretary of State called him a “moron.” But he does have support from David Duke of the KKK who thanked Trump for “his honesty and courage.” Megyn Kelly, who feuded with Trump, left conservative Fox News and joined the liberal MSNBC.
Have you watched the N. Korean military lined up and clapping like zombies with their leader, Kim. You can see the same thing with Trump supporters. Each member of his cabinet tries to outdo the flattery bestowed by the others.