Tag Archives: voting

165. Mueller Report Raises Constitutional Questions.

25 Apr

The Mueller Report and all of the gov investigations have made apparent, weaknesses in our system of government. Our system is better than most, but still could be improved.

First, consider that the USA Congress has 535 members. The Supreme Court has nine members. Universities have several regents. Corporations have a board of directors. The Federal Reserve board has seven members.  Yet, the USA has ONE President with great power (to possibly cause harm). Why don’t we elect a small group to make presidential decisions. For example, five “directors” could make all major decisions and the group could choose one member as “chairman” or President for ceremonial or communication purposes.

There are many parts of our governmental structure that could use revision. The above is one issue. Here are some others. There are two Senators from each state, regardless of state population. This is unfair to the people of California and other large states. We elect a president using an old system, the “electoral college.” Each voter in the USA should have an equal say in a presidential election, regardless of state borders. We have Congressional “grid-lock” because there are two houses of congress instead of one. We don’t need two houses to be cautious, we can simply have one body and adjust the number required for passage of a bill.

I am not going to make a detailed proposal for gov restructure in this blog. And, I know that major change is extremely difficult and unlikely in the near future. One reason why change is difficult, is that current leaders were elected under this system and so they favor the system that got them elected. And yet, unlikely things can happen, especially if the voters protest enough. 12 years ago, I would have said that a black president was very unlikely.

More closely related to the report, is the relationship between the President and the Department of Justice.  The DOJ must be more independent. One answer might be to elect the attorney general instead of the President appointing him/her.  Maybe the same for the Fed Reserve board chairman.

Another thought would be to have an “Independent Group” (IGroup) that would appoint federal judges, Fed Reserve members, the A.G., and maybe other positions. A state “IGroup” could also do state redistricting (Michigan is working on creating this kind of independent group). Any position that must be independent of the President should by chosen by that group. This IGroup could be elected, or could consist of reps from Repub and Dem parties chosen by nominated by party leaders. More IGroup members could be appointed by Universities. The duration for participation in this group could be short, say, 1 to 2 years. Shorter durations tend to prevent corruption. After completing this blog I was pleased to see reports on the Michigan “Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission” mentioned above. Do a search on this commission to see how this type of independent group might be composed.

We could certainly improve some legal definitions and procedures for dealing with impeachment and other issues of the presidency. Some of the areas needing better definition are “emoluments,” divesting business interests, nepotism, presidential obstruction of justice, conspiracy/collusion, rules for pardons, and rules for security clearance. Perhaps a President should not be able to override the decisions of career employees. Special Congressional committees or “IGroups” could play a more active role in these controversial issues.

Maybe the first step would be the formation of a group (from Congress and/or Universities) to start formulating a new more appropriate 21st Century system of government. Our current US Constitution is a great work, but it originated 1787 and has had 27 subsequent amendments. The aberrations of the current administration suggest all of the considerations listed here.

 

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. 

107. How Voters Find Truth

20 Aug

While politicians are the immediate cause of our country’s problems, the primary, ultimate cause is bad decisions by voters.

One problem may be that our government and social system have evolved faster than the general skill of voters. Highly educated people probably do a good job, but the most poorly educated can make disastrous mistakes. It’s similar to the ordinary person trying to understand current technology.

I suspect that many voters have a difficult time deciding who is telling the truth. In the past, great newspapers like the NY Times and Washington Post, for example, were highly trusted. And also certain news people, like Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite and several others were considered authorities.

Compare Trump with these traditional sources. Trump never apologizes or corrects errors. The best he can say is that he was joking or being sarcastic. Major newspapers, on the other hand will print corrections if necessary, and the record shows that they do. They never state after a few days, that they were joking or being sarcastic. It is incredible that I have to say, that the words of a US President must be serious and correct. And yet, some voters just don’t care.

Here is a list of ways to determine whether a leader is truthful:
1. Is there a reasonable amount of consistency in similar statements made at different times? (See Trump’s reasons for firing FBI James Comey.)
2. Is there consistency between himself and his staff? (Trump’s attack on NATO was not supported by his staff.)
3. Does he correct errors. Everyone occasionally makes a mistake. (No corrections.)
4. Are his promises realistic (“Mexico will pay for the wall”, really?)
5. If a leader says the press is always “fake,” and he is the only source of truth, isn’t that a little suspicious. After all, the press includes a wide variety of orientations from way left to far right (even alt-right).
6. It is easy to check (with a little bit of searching) how he quotes other people.
7. Does he accurately portray established historical facts? (See what Trump says about the childhood of ex-president Obama.)
8. Does the leader appear to have a good understanding of complex issues.
9. Does the leader tend to avoid directly answering questions by the press.

I know that the voters that really need to read this, probably will not, but this may be helpful for anyone who is trying to promote citizen education.

69. The “Deplorable” Fans of Trump

13 Sep

The Google definition of “deplorable” is: “Disgraceful, shameful, dishonorable, unworthy, inexcusable, unpardonable, unforgivable”. Hillary stated: “half of Trump’s supporters belong in the basket of deplorables.” I applaud her for her courage. Most of the press seems to be afraid to really challenge him.

Trump’s response is that she called American voters deplorable. NO! only HIS supporters, and not all of them (at first “half” and then “some”). My speculation is that his original core membership was the deplorables, then later, others joined in simply to get on the bandwagon.

She clarified: They are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.” David Duke, former KKK Grand Wizard is a Trump supporter, and well qualified to be called deplorable.

How can it be wrong to say that if a candidate, like Trump, has established deplorable characteristics, then at least many of his supporters have the same traits — and he does give them encouragement (see rally speeches).

Is Trump deplorable? Examine these facts, which are supported by words in his speeches. He has insulted women, Mexicans, NATO allies, Muslim nation allies, many Republican leaders, disabled people, our military, and others. His emphasis is on revenge rather than on making productive alliances. He believes in violence and torture more extreme that water-boarding. Regarding “terrorists, you have to take out their families.” All his plans for the country are vague and most are either obvious or impossible. As for military plans, he will to consult with the generals — a brilliant idea that no previous president has thought of.

Recent polls on Trump supporters show that a third or more of them believe that whites are superior to blacks, in many different ways.

Nothing above is an exaggeration. Of course Trump, after reviewing all of his gaffs, backed off a little from the worst, but NEVER apologized for any. In fact, he has changed his mind on so many issues that it is amazing that anyone who reads could support him. On the other hand, Hillary has gone overboard to apologize for several remarks — a sign of her better attitude and effort to be responsible.

68. Why Distrust Hillary?

6 Sep

There are three important facts to note:

1. If Republicans never existed or Hillary Clinton did not run for President, there would be little or no distrust . The repeated and fruitless investigations would not have been made. Republican leaders, such as Mitch McConnell, have dedicated themselves (in actual recorded dialogue) to destroying Pres. Obama, and now Clinton.

2. Even if she were inclined to do something untrustworthy the constraints of the Presidential office would keep her respectable and honest. The Presidency is constantly observed and reported on. Hillary will rely heavily on Pres. Obama, Bernie Sanders, other responsible Democratic leaders, her Vice President, past cabinet members, military leaders, etc. She will be relentlessly observed by the Secret Service, White House staff, other employees, friends and colleagues. Communications will be monitored for security classification by designated experts. Any favoritism for campaign donors would be obvious and very unlikely to be pursued.

3. Hillary has a long history of serving our country in responsible positions. You may not agree with her politics, but you cannot argue with her genuine efforts to help people and be responsible. With Hillary you can be certain that nothing radically wrong will be done and there is a good chance that she can make improvements.

If you simply distrust all Democrats, remember that our country prospered under Bill Clinton and was very financially responsible. Under President Bush (the 2nd), the country was committed to two major and expensive wars. Hillary as a Senator, did not vote for war, but merely to give Pres. Bush the right to make the decision. It could have been a bluff to show that we were serious. Remember also that she and the rest of the country were told incorrectly that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Her vote at that time was understandable and cooperative with Presidential foreign policy.  She also had no way of knowing that Pres.Bush would engage in nation building and occupy the country for many years.

On the other hand, Trump now has a history of hiring sleazy characters to run his Presidential campaign.  He originally emphasized his wealth and indepence from rich donors — but now pleads for donations.  He has told hundreds of lies, is racist, believes in internationally outlawed torture, and engages in petty revenge. He insulted his Republican colleagues, world leaders, news-people, the family of a fallen soldier, a judge born in the USA, and many others. He incites violence and uses foul language. He is self-centered, crude, and has a long history of the selfish pursuit of wealth at the expense of others.  All of these traits are well documented.  As a political strategy, he now accuses Hillary of the very traits that characterize him, such as bigotry, and thinking of people simply as votes.

He is NOT presidential in demeanor, attitudes, or actions. None of his skills as a real- estate developer are particularly applicable to the demands of a USA president. How could he be president when that requires broad knowledge, diplomacy, and coordination? He could cause international, military, and domestic financial disasters. For example, if he were to carry out one of his middle-east bombing plans, he could create more terrorists than he kills, and change ally nations to enemies. Financially, policies such as keeping minimum wage low and abolishing ObamaCare, can lead to more poverty, crime, and acts of rebellion.

Please see my previous blogs — especially no. 65 — for further discussion of these topics.  If you are a voter, please research what the candidates have written and examine other objective info. Please don’t just rely on what they say.

Addendum:   I just read a very relevant article in the Washington Post today, 9-6-16 by Paul Waldman entitled: Trump’s history of corruption is mind-boggling. So why is Clinton supposedly the corrupt one?   The main theme is that the media covers Trump’s corruptions once or twice while Hillary’s issues are repeated many times.  And often when Hillary is exonerated  by a new fact, the fact is presented without mentioning the exoneration.

64. Profit by Creating Fears

31 Jul

Sub-title: Trump and Davidson, similar despicable methods.

For a year or so, many political leaders in both parties have recognized that Trump is fear-mongering voters as a method to get elected — and judging from past behavior, also to make copious profits. Personal profit has always been his goal and why should we believe otherwise now. Often his plan is to distort facts (like our military is a disaster) and then to say that he alone can solve this (made-up) problem. (Hillary, on the other hand, has a long history of helping people.)  Please see my previous blogs for more details on these issues.

I just listened to a video clip by James Dale Davidson about a future financial disaster for the USA. For many boring minutes with lots of repetition he described a stock market crash, massive unemployment, food lines, devalued houses, worthless U.S. dollars, hurricane destruction, etc. The whole world will be against us and will get revenge for our long control of global trade. Along the way, Davidson promised to tell how each of us can be protected by reading his publications free of charge. As the clip progressed it became more and more clear that he would finish by trying to sell profitable literature. In the end, little was free, and his advice would cost hundreds of dollars.

Davidson should have learned his lesson many years ago. In 1993 he co-authored a book The Plague of the Black Debt where he made some dire predictions about President Bill Clinton (will have one term) and the U.S. economy, all of which were dead wrong.  Our future U.S. economy will go through cycles of success and failure, but we don’t need self-fulfilling doomsday prophecies.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg (former NY mayor) called Trump a CON man and I am sure it would be the same for Davidson — fear-mongering for profit. I am writing this blog because I was struck by the similarity in manipulation.

For those who do not know how Trump will profit, here are examples:

1. His written proposed U.S. budget involves a substantial decrease in taxes for very rich people. But even worse, it will massively increase our national debt with very profound consequences for all of us.

2. He has stated that workers are paid too much and he will not increase minimum wage.  So, Trump can pay less in wages.

3. After leaving office, he can profit from books (he pretends to write) and by speaking fees.
Trump if nothing else, is an expert in profiting from the losses of others, so I imagine secret deals while in office will make him (and family) richer.  Of course, profit is probably not his only goal, I assume that power and ego are also of interest.

I have to add a comment on a recent Trump blunder (see my previous blogs for a detailed critique of his candidacy). He insulted the Muslim father of a fallen soldier. The father stated that Trump has never sacrificed for our country. Trump answered that his sacrifice was “working very, very, hard” and making lots of money. Actually, if he had worked very hard (like most of us) and earned little money I could be sympathetic. But what does Trump know about hard work. He started off with $1,000,000 and his employees did all the hard work. After his early business failures, he cleverly figured out how to greatly profit from such failures. He would obtain a large loan based on family wealth, make false promises, let the business fail with lots of lay-offs, and make money by paying himself a good salary, and by not fully paying employees and vendors. Evidence for this is hundreds of law-suits.

59. Email Issue vs Policy Disasters

6 Jul

The FBI just published its finding of innocent (July 5, 2016) on Hillary Clinton email practices.  So voters must decide how this issue and a few other trivial negatives compare with the questionable candidacy of Donald Trump.  Here is my summary:

Hillary Clinton:          The FBI found “carelessness by Hillary and her colleagues” in the use of emails, but no criminal actions. There were no serious consequences, just an ordinary imperfection in a few cases out of many thousands. No worse than the imperfection of the FBI director who violated neutrality and made political statements. Remember it is the job of the FBI to find criminals, the more found, the higher their ratings. Also, mistakes made could have been by State Dept. employees and not Hillary. There is no claim that any emails actually marked classified were sent by her, as she has consistently claimed. The classification of communications is not the job of the Secretary, but that of designated others. Hillary’s email server decisions were consistent with long-standing State Dept. traditions and in fact were the same as that of a previous Secretary, Colin Powell, a Republican.  (I have to add that careless emails would not happen when Hillary is president, as all communications are carefully monitored and sent by trained White House staff.)

All of the serious negative talk about Hillary began with her run for President. No one thought much about it before. Unlike Trump, she has many years of experience and service to ordinary USA citizens as First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State. She is enthusiastically supported by the past President and is the most qualified candidate that we have ever had. True, for many years she has taken campaign contributions from rich people, but there is absolutely no evidence that she has supported their agenda. It takes a lot of money to run for office so her strategy is understandable.

Regarding the Benghazi issue, Hillary was accused by Republicans of lying, in her characterization of the attack. The GOP said it was a “terrorist attack” and at only one point she said it was part of a protest against an anti-Islam video. So it all gets down to speculation about what the attackers were thinking: simple terrorism or anti-video protest. How can we know what they were thinking — one captured suspect said the attack WAS revenge for the anti-Islam video. Republicans have no reasonable arguments, they are just desperate to find something negative to say.

Donald Trump:        Vengeful actions and childish name calling of colleagues and others, suggest an inability to deal with foreign nations. He already has damaged relationships with Mexico, Great Britain, and all Muslim majority countries. His written proposed budget includes tax decreases for very rich people. He thinks workers are paid too much and does not want to raise the minimum wage. He lies about past events to suit his political needs. He advocates torture, which the revered President Reagan was against. He disrespects women and finds their biological functions to be disgusting. He frequently changes his mind about major issues, depending on his audience.  As a businessman, he has filed four major bankruptcies and numerous other businesses, such as Trump University, failed.  But here is the kicker, in almost every failed venture, Trump personally benefited by $millions while workers lost their jobs and contracted companies were not fully paid.  Hundreds of lawsuits were filed against him regarding payments and promises unfulfilled.

His goal has always been to make as much money as possible — how does that help us? He brags about making money from bankruptcies.  If the USA goes bankrupt, you can be sure that he and his very rich friends will profit by it, while the citizens will suffer a disaster.  He argues against the TPP, but Democrats are already working on making such treaties better for workers. He says that he is a great negotiator, but does not prove that our problems are the result of bad negotiation. Negotiating with contractors is trivial compared dealing with a nation like China or Russia. Many contractors can do a job, but there is only one China and one Russia and our relationships with them cover finances, defense, treaties, boundaries, human rights, alliances, travel, industrial development, membership in international organizations, etc. (Please see my previous blogs for more information.)

So who should we vote for?          Hillary Clinton is a known quantity, who will at the very least move forward on the Presidents agenda in a reliable and safe way — and could make major improvements, especially if there is a Democratic Congress.  Donald Trump, on the other hand, is fully capable of causing major disasters for our country.  We don’t even know what he is really proposing because he frequently changes his mind about critical policies.  For example,  if his tax plan were implemented as written, there would be a disastrous increase in our national debt and heavy constrictions in basic services.  Can we trust him to make  complicated decisions, such as:  when to go to war, how to make a treaty, when to send in troops, when to withdraw them, when to apologize for killing innocent civilians, when to form a coalition, when to do nothing, etc.  You only understand all the many complications when you have the experience of a leader, such as Hillary Clinton.