Tag Archives: Torture

194. Increasing Dangers Force Speedy Impeachment

8 Dec

As I am writing this, I heard on the TV that someone who appears unqualified has been confirmed (for life) as a Federal Judge. She is Allison Rushing, a young 37, and a lawyer with almost no trial experience. Trump has already appointed 158 judges to the Federal bench. He and Mitch McConnell are a dangerous team that is gradually moving our country towards ruin, in several ways.  The appointment of extreme conservative federal judges and/or unqualified judges will continue as long as Trump is in office. Below I list many other dangers for our country that worsen almost every day.

1. A foreign policy that rejects our relations with traditional democratic allies in favor of traditional enemies such as Russia. The USA has enjoyed beneficial relationships for decades with: the UK, France, Germany, the E.U., Spain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, etc. Trump has warm relationships with Russia, N. Korea, and Turkey and says he admires their ability to control the citizens. He thinks like an autocrat and enjoys that type of company, while rejecting those most supportive of democracy.

2. Russia continues to develop methods of influencing our elections. Trump has received help from Russia, and has done very little in protecting our election process. We need a President that will address this issue.

3. Under Trump we are quickly moving towards even more serious climate problems, which he ignores. Under Pres. Obama, the US provided valuable international leadership in this area and support for relevant scientific research. The sooner Trump leaves office, the sooner we can work on these problems. In general, Trump has discouraged competent scientists so that other countries will exceed us in valuable tech and science projects.

4. Trumps new tariff policy has basically been neutral in terms of money brought in and money paid out to farmers that have lost business. However, when US importers must pay for the new tariffs, they must pass the cost to retailers, so in some areas, our citizens will be paying higher prices. Also, some manufacturers have lost business because of retaliatory tariffs by China and elsewhere. So the bottom line is that Trump tariffs have been mostly negative, producing higher prices, causing some businesses to suffer, and harming our allies. Trump failed in coercing China because he did not work with allies. For more info, see, for example, (search) NPR’s “Trump’s Tariff Bounty” article.

5. Foreign nations no longer respect the USA under Trump leadership. Many of our usual supportive nations are starting to look to China or Russia for leadership. Trumps own words are often inconsistent and may differ from statements by his staff.

6. Trump favors torture. Ronald Reagan and most other Presidents were against it. Trump supports cruel immigration programs for our Southern border and has terminated the humanitarian DACA program. He has ruined the careers of many associates because they spoke the truth about his policies.

7. Trump has undermined important federal agencies such as the FBI and CIA. In one situation, he favored Putin’s word over that of our intelligence agencies.

8. Trump has gutted major government departments, such as State and Education. He makes important decisions without expert help and often finds it necessary to cancel his orders. Generally, foreign nations no longer trust him.

9. Trump is destroying government safeguards considered vital by the founding fathers. He ignores oversight procedures by Congress and claims total power under Article 2 of the Constitution. His attacks on the “press” also suppress a most important democracy safeguard.

There are many other dangers, and of course, several books have been written about this. Fortunately, Nancy Pelosi, has recently stepped up and forcefully supported the impeachment process. If you look at all of the people and institutions that “hate” him you have to ask: is he really doing the right thing? Is everyone in the US so shallow, that they can only think in terms of who they “like” or “dislike” — instead of what is patriotic, or lawful, or well thought-out?

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.

 

182. The Erosion of Policing and Intelligence under Trump

29 Jul

Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence,  may soon resign. Coats has a key role in coordinating all of our intelligence agencies. He is highly respected by all and his replacement by Trump could dangerously politicize these agencies, which have already been weakened.

This event calls into question the efficacy of our national policing and intelligence agencies. Weakening and controlling such agencies is a key step towards autocracy. Here are some of the considerations.

In at least one case, Trump revealed agency secrets to Russian officials, causing the distrust of our agencies by similar agencies of our foreign allies. Trump has generally ignored our agencies and instead supported foreign leaders like Vladimir Putin of Russia. He valued Putin over our agencies.

The office of Attorney General was filled by a Trump sycophant William Barr. Barr has supported Trump’s policies and interests and has disregarded the truth. Mueller has challenged him regarding his false characterizations of his report. The whole Department of Justice has been tainted by Barr.

The FBI has been attacked many times by Trump and his staff. The FBI, of course, plays a vital role in protecting all of us. Many have lost confidence in the FBI due to these attacks on specific agents and agency policies.

Trump has attacked unfairly the Special Counsel numerous times. He does not mention that Special Counsel Mueller is, in fact, a Republican. Trump has no respect and makes personal attacks with little substance.

Committees of Congress responsible for oversight of government agencies have been attacked by Trump. In addition to personal attacks of committee chairman and members, he ignores all requests for documents and testimony. He lies about their findings. He is also ignoring subpoenas.

A related problem is the appointment of radically conservative federal judges. Law enforcement is limited and weakened by these appointments.

Policing of our southern border has been eroded by Trump demands for harsh treatment to discourage attempts for asylum. No matter how many immigrants are involved, there is no excuse for what amounts to their torture by extreme over-crowding and unsanitary conditions. A good illustration of serious incompetence is the wrongful incarceration for 23 days of a US born citizen carrying a birth-certificate and drivers license. He and many others have reported horrendous conditions.  

Trump has gradually undermined and taken over  policing and intelligence agencies. This is a major step towards tyranny. Please see my Blog 179 and others for a comprehensive list of all such steps. We are getting close to a point where Trump’s take-over (autocracy) will be almost impossible to reverse. Control of the FBI, for example, would allow Trump to fulfill his dream of arresting political opponents and  members of the press.

 

 

 

 

50. Trump, Torture, and Aging Inhibition

11 Mar

Former President Ronald Reagan sent the following to the U.S. Senate:

“… I transmit herewith the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Convention was adopted by unanimous agreement of the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1984 … The United States signed it on April 18, 1988.”

All the GOP candidates and most other Republicans revere President Reagan. He, John McCain, most national leaders, the United Nations, a group of 43 retired U.S. Generals, and developed countries all over the world accept the prohibition of torture.

But Donald Trump, who would love to punch out rally protesters, thinks torture is desirable. Although he is energetic and talks really fast, this, and many other strange positions makes me wonder if, at the age of 69, some critical brain cells have deteriorated.  He is well into the range at which Alzheimer’s  can begin.

As I pondered Trump’s strange utterances, I remembered some research on aging and inhibition.  An internet search revealed several relevant medical and psychological studies.  Recent scientific research has shown that older people often lose their ability to inhibit speaking socially unacceptable ideas.  An example of one such study is:   https://www2.psy.uq.edu.au/~uqwvonhi/vH&D.P&A.05.pdf.     (with many good references).  Although Trump can be excused for what he says under pressure, sad-to-say, it does reflect what he is actually thinking.  I also think that being extremely rich his entire life has shielded him from the realities that most of us have suffered — especially minority groups.  To really understand this, when Trump was confronted about his early family support, he remarked that it was only a “small loan” of a million dollars from his father.

 

48. Morning Joe “Trickles Up”

8 Mar

I was about to totally condemn Joe S. when I did some research and now I have to mitigate the criticism. I am retired and often stay up late at night. So late, that I often watch the early political show “Morning Joe”. This morning I decided to denounce Joe for his advocacy of torture and for his overly aggressive interaction with a female guest. His badgering reminded me of O’Reilly who is a master at suppressing his guests with fast, loud talk.  [Added later:  I changed my mind about Joe’s badgering, when on March 15, he made a gallant defense of Hilary Clinton’s record.]

That would be that, but as I did some research on Joe S., I discovered to my amazement that he condemned “trickle-down” economy, which is advocated (in a subtle way) by the vast majority of Republican leaders. This approach, also called “supply side” economics, says that the way to support non-rich citizens is to give more money to rich people and corporations. This extra money to the rich will make stronger corporations and promote hiring and better wages for the workers. In actual practice, however, this does not happen, and the rich simply enjoy the extra money. Instead of supply-side economics, Democrats tend to advocate a “demand-side” economy. If wages are raised, there will be more spending and the “demand” for goods will increase. Increased demand will promote production and hence economic growth.

For a few decades, now, we have had “supply-side” economics because more and more money has been diverted to the rich.  And everyone accepts the finding that income has substantially increased for rich folks, while for others, income has been stagnant. Every published budget by the GOP candidates has included lower taxes for rich people. In previous blogs I have presented more details.

47. A Republican Policy of Revenge

6 Mar

According to a Republican candidate, it is important for our agents to use serious torture in interrogating possible terrorists. We must do this to get revenge for the beheading of our citizens that were kidnaped by ISIS.  Of course ISIS would claim that they are getting revenge for what we did to Muslim captives at the Abu Ghraib prison. (More gruesome photos of this were just released.)

So we must think up tortures even more horrible than beheadings if we want discourage them and teach them a lesson. And when they find out what we are doing, they will make a real effort to capture more Westerners and do things that are even worse. I am sure we will end up with public whippings or worse by both parties, and the newspapers will be filled with horrible pictures of what we have done to terrorists and people only suspected of being terrorists. And because in some cases, family members of terrorists had some involvement, we must also torture them.

I wonder how the people of more peaceful nations would feel about this escalation of brutality. Maybe they would not want to have alliances with us or trade with us. Or, they might not even send tourists here because if they were arrested for some minor offense, they might be subject to horrific interrogations.

So an escalating “tit for tat” will be the new policy, with each side devising more horrid procedures in an attempt to intimidate the other side. This will take the place of President Obama’s ridiculous plan to do the right thing, set high ethical standards, and follow widely accepted international laws.  And completely ignored is the general finding that advanced interrogations without torture are more effective.