Tag Archives: government

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. 

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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.

110. 260-Days of Trump

11 Oct

What is the state of our union after 260 days of D. Trump (DT) in office?

The most serious situation that our nation faces, is the threat of a war with North Korea, and even worse, the path to a World War III. What Trump says in this respect, may be the usual scattered thinking. But a possibility is that he is truly focused on bringing the greatest possible pressure on KJU to back down and stop making nukes. That is why he was angry with Rex Tillerson because negotiation efforts would dilute the powerful pressure. But as usual, no one really knows exactly what DT was thinking.

Diagnosing Trump has become very popular. One of the latest contributions to this topic is a book by Bandy X. Lee et. al.: The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. Dr. Brandy Lee (no relation to me) is a forensic psychiatrist and a member of the Yale faculty. She and her co-authors have distinguished careers. Needless to say, this book documents abnormalities and makes recommendations regarding his use of our nuclear arsenal. As I have stated in previous blogs, I think that DT has at least a moderate Alzheimer’s disease, and according to recent research, his confessed lack of sleep would be a major contributor to this condition. Sleep is the only time that waste products in the brain are washed out. When your brain is full of waste, Alzheimer’s progresses. This involves a gradual loss of memory and mental functioning.

An extremely destructive goal of Trump is to attack the legacy of Barack Obama. DT does not have any goals that benefit our country in general; his emphasis is only on winning and keeping foolish campaign promises. The first repeal and replacement of ObamaCare by the House was labeled by DT as “mean.” Later he wanted to pass a similar Senate bill at any cost, regardless of content. With no regard to the terrible effects, he has worked to destroy such Obama accomplishments as Iran Nuclear Deal, the Paris Climate Agreement, various trade agreements, DAKA immigration order, and various orders and legislation related to financial regulations. He also is reducing science research funds and changing science policies, which can affect our world leadership in this vital area. On the other hand, China is increasing its science budget and may take over world leadership in this area. Since much of manufacturing and related research is based on science, this would give China (and maybe other countries) a major financial advantage.

An ongoing and shabby situation is that Trump’s cabinet members are often at odds with the President. His staff has traveled all over the world trying to assure leaders that Trump will back them up and accept existing treaties. Failures in this area are dangerous and can cause some allies to join with Russia or China. Many feel that the major role of several cabinet members is to “contain” DT and keep him from making destructive statements and tweets.

A few Republican Congressmen are starting to directly attack DT’s  competence. Senator Bob Corker has been blunt is his criticism and Senate leader Mitch McConnell has supported Corker.

Polls have indicated a decreased voter support with respect to trust and accomplishments. His only clear accomplishment was not legislative, but was the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice (Neil Gorsuch) — a trivial thing since the Senate is GOP controlled.

Trump has alienated and belittled numerous Republican leaders that are necessary for passing legislation he backs. There are many more than the few mentioned above. He has also insulted a Gold Star family, numerous reporters, and black athletes that are trying to fight unfair treatment by police. On the other hand, his condemnation of Neo-Nazis, KKK, etc., was weak and only approached what is appropriate, when reading speeches prepared by others. His instinct to keep all supporters regardless of character supersedes any moral imperative.

Certainly, one could write a book about these first 259 days in office. I see this period as a steady decline of effectiveness and general support — and legitimate polls agree. Recently, I have been wondering whether the election of Trump represents a fate for the USA, like the fall of the Roman Empire. Avoiding this “fall” could be impeachment, but having Mike Pence as President could be worse, and the impeachment process is long and debilitating. What is already happening and may increase is to contrive legislation and a cabinet structure to contain and ignore Trump actions. But “containment” will not prevent the confusion and alienation caused by his Tweets and spontaneous utterances. Although disadvantageous in many ways, I do advocate impeachment.

Just in, as I am writing this blog! Relevant to USA downfall is more information on Russian ads that influenced the election. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all were used by Russians and all the CEO’s have attempted to suppress this info. Our survival is truly affected the influence of foreign powers. When will DT and Republicans awake and put our country on the right track?

108. Imminent Danger of POTUS

28 Aug

The investigation of Trump and his associates is going slowly (as expected), but the dangerous actions already taken, and worse decisions in the future, are so dire that we must think about quick action. Congress must consider the consequences of his continuing in office. Below, I have listed some of these grim possibilities:

Naive and blatant coercive interactions with certain countries, such as North Korea and Pakistan (and even China and Russia) can move us closer to disastrous situations and even horrible world wars.

Further reductions of government regulations, which could result in serious health factors due to air and water pollution.

Other losses of regulations affect the financial stability of major banks and investment houses. When there are failures, ordinary taxpayers lose money by bailing them out.

Failure to raise the debt ceiling will cause the USA to default on loans. The
consequence of this would be:
1. A lower credit rating will cause an increase in the interest the USA is paying on its loans, and the result is that we, the taxpayers will lose.
2. With less trust in the US dollar, we could lose our Reserve Currency status.
Reserve currency is the money used for international trade, which currently is the US dollar. There are numerous benefits to this status.
3. The US is a world leader in many ways. With a poor credit rating, world respect would diminish.

Trump has alienated many of our traditional allies by egocentric dealings and accidental insults. Allies are helpful for many kinds of international problems and conflicts.

Trump encourages alt-right groups, so that our world-wide reputation for the respect of human dignity is being diminished.

Our traditional system of free public education could be compromised and human resources would be diminished. He sets a bad example for children, by his support of violence and his aberrant actions.

Failure to support climate change remedies can lead to disastrous and costly human migrations, storms, floods, and the formation of new deserts.

Trump has allowed Russians to infiltrate our society and elections. He tends to ignore or even support Russia and has made little progress in fighting cyber-crime.

Trump re-writes history according to his own needs. He tells blatant lies and fails to coordinate with assistants, which causes confusion and distrust at home and abroad.

His attacks on the press undermine a system that is vital for any democracy.  This encourages ruthless leaders abroad to attack, jail, or even murder reporters.  It is telling that so many media organizations are critical of him.  He should be supporting traditional reliable sources like the NY Times, CNN, and the Washington Post.

105. Balancing Rich vs. Poor

8 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

104. Underemphasized Political Facts

5 May

I listen to a lot of political commentators and government leaders. It disturbs me that many important factors are rarely mentioned. Here is a list of very important facts that should affect political judgments:

1. The inheritance tax (a.k.a. death tax) is only for very rich folks and starts at $5.45 million. So when GOP people want to end it, it is done to support millionaires and take money away from us.

2. Tax simplification does not help ordinary folks, as their tax is already simple. It helps rich folks cheat, because there are fewer rules governing their very complex returns. Fewer tax categories are always designed by Republicans to make rates lower for high earners, not you and me.

3. When highly respected conservative George Will says a fellow Republican, Donald Trump, cannot “think and speak clearly”, it is significant.

4. Scientists have found that lack of sleep seriously promotes Alzheimer’s disease. Pres. Trump brags about the little time he devotes to sleeping.

5. Those who believe that Bill Clinton’s affairs tarnish his wife Hillary, should recognize that Trump, the actual candidate, has worse transgressions.

6. In Trump’s recent interactions with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he was the losing negotiator. Trump was forced to reverse his accusation of currency manipulation while China only reinforced previous policies.

7. Our House of Reps. just passed a healthcare bill for which there was little time to read and discuss, and was not evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office. This bill is also not consistent with Trump’s many promises, which proves he has no ideals and just supports rich Republicans and himself.

8. There is a tendency for commentators to look for one cause for each result. The recent Dem. loss by Hillary is one such case. Most likely, is that a combination of 7 or 8 factors (mostly “dirty tricks”) lead to the defeat. Please see my Blog Number 95.

9. Trump would have lost most of his followers if he told them in advance of his cabinet choices of several Wall Street billionaires, and his extreme conflicts with personal business interests. He has not done any divesting.

10. In the last 50 years or so, Republicans have always favored very rich folks over ordinary citizens. This is clear if you go to GOP candidate web-sites and examine their U.S. Budget plans. Current plans are to increase U.S. debt by lowering taxes for the rich, and offset this with reductions in services and programs for the rest of us.

11. FBI Director Comey has excuses for making announcements of Hillary investigations, but the bottom line is that he violated Justice Dept. rules. Almost all FBI investigations are secret and not announced until the final result. Investigations of Republicans were secret.

12. Republicans want to decrease regulations because that helps their rich industrial donors and Wall Street.  But most regulations are designed to protect the citizens from air and water pollution, hazards in the workplace and elsewhere, and taxpayer bail outs for bankrupt financial institutions.  Regulations are based on actual abuses and now are being eliminated in a secretive way.  There are supposed to be hearings on such matters.