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In eight years under Obama, I never went to bed worrying about some unexpected military escalation. Now I worry every day. Why is that?

It isn’t because Kim Jong Un is all of a sudden crazier than he always was. Trump has just given him more fodder to look more important in the world than he is.

It isn’t because Iran has just gone off the rails. Iran went off the rails in 1979, and many previous presidents, since Reagan, have contained Iran. I believe the “Iran deal” was one of the more stabilizing events in the world and one of the more valuable contributions of Obama. But that’s my subjective opinion. Yet, Tillerson talks about Iran being a new danger.

North Korea is what it’s been since the 1950s. Iran is what it’s been since the 1970s. What changed? The U.S. changed in 2017.

Now Trump is telling us that the world is so dangerous, and we need to spend another $50 billion on weapons, while we cut everything else, including diplomacy. A society’s values are defined by what it spends its money on. Trump has hijacked our country, is telling us that suddenly the world is dangerous, and we need more guns.

I say that the biggest threat to the planet, our way of life, our society, and humanity in general, is the petulant, ignorant, self-absorbed dilettante we have elected into the White House.

We are the problem, not Korea or Iran or ISIS for that matter.

 

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Watch this video and instantly see why immigration does not change world poverty:

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When Joan Baez makes a song about you, you’ve got it made.

Or do you?

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you…..

— Carly Simon

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We already know how this week’s Neil Gorsuch saga will end: Democrats will filibuster, McConnell and Republicans will change the Senate rules so Gorsuch can be confirmed with 51 votes, and then in late April Gorsuch will take his place on the Supreme Court as one of the most right-wing justices in American history – right up there with Clarence Thomas.

In the meantime, I hope Democrats point out the utter hypocrisy of Mitch McConnell not allowing a vote for 8 months on Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland – a moderate, not an extremist on the Left – on the bizarre theory that a president has no legitimate role nominating a Supreme Court justice during his last year in office.

After that, allowing a vote on the pick of someone whose very legitimacy as president is now being investigated by the FBI is the height of hubris.

All the more reason for us to fight like hell to get the Senate back in 2018, and for Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Steven Breyer to stay healthy.

What do you think?

— Robert Reich

We didn’t allow Garland to be voted on because somehow a president, any president, in his last year in office is not legitimate in appointing a Supreme Court justice?

It’s a no-brainer to me: Trump is now in his last year in office. Why should we allow him to appoint a Supreme Court Justice?

 

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I just came home from a neighborhood walk and noticed a Trump bumper sticker on the back of an SUV. I would think that just about now Trump voters might be taking down their stickers. Well, I was a Clinton voter, not because I thought she was a great candidate, but rather because I simple could not vote for Trump. For reasons, simply search “Why I Can’t Vote for Trump” on this blog and you’ll get 25 examples.

About two and a half months into his presidency, I believe things are in shambles.

He said he’d work this ass off (his words) and never have time to leave the Oval Office, because there was so much work he’d do for the American people. Instead, he’s been on vacation in Florida, he’s spent more money on travel in a couple of months than Obama did all year, he’s essentially been a part-time president.

He said he’d repeal and replace Obamacare on day one. On day 64 he threw in the towel. He kept telling his voters that they’d have a “terrific health care plan” which would be much better, at a fraction of the cost, if they elected him. He said he had this plan he could not tell us about. In reality, he had no plan, he didn’t even know “how complicated health care was.” And neither did the GOP in Congress. The repeal part would have been easy. The replace part simply could not get done in 64 days of a part-time presidency.

He said he’d drain the swamp in Washington. Instead he seems to be institutionalizing corruption in the White House. People did vote for Donald Trump, that is correct. But people did not vote for Ivanka and Jared, they did not vote for Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller. They did not vote for Donald Jr. and Eric Trump. He practices nepotism on a grand scale. And everyone in his cabinet seems to be mostly engaged in tearing down barriers to getting personally rich or richer.

He said he’d make America great again, whatever that means, but he is degrading the country in front of the world. Leaders the world around roll their eyes when they have to deal with Trump. He acts like a petulant child around them. He cannot communicate with them, and the does not appear to listen to them. On the world stage, he looks like a fool.

He says he is a great leader, but he divides the people. In his rallies, he incites hatred and division between people. In Congress, where he should be building alliances, he insults people personally and tries to bully them. The United States is not a company, and he is not a CEO. Bullying will not work. He is not a leader. He is a bully.

And most importantly of all, with every day that goes by he looks more illegitimate. The noose of the Russian scandal is tightening around his neck. Everyone around him appears to have had discussions and interactions with Russia, a bully nation with a leader running it like an organized crime institution. If any of the activities that appear to have gone on turn out to be true, people will go to prison for treason for those activities. And that would bring Trump down as a traitor. Certainly, if I were caught in such activities, they’d throw me in prison. Now the first person on the team, Flynn, is already asking for immunity. To quote Flynn during the campaign when he talked about Clinton: “If you’re asking for immunity, you probably committed a crime!”

I don’t think Trump will last four years in office. I think it’s time to scratch off those bumper stickers.

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This is the cover of the Bloomberg Businessweek of March 6 – 12. There is a lead article about Stephen Miller, one of Trump’s advisors, and it speculates that it’s Miller who calls the shots, as you can see from the subtitle:

Is Stephen Miller speaking for Donald Trump? Or vice versa?

Miller has an impressive resume for a man that’s only 31 years old. My own daughter is only a few months younger than Miller, and I remember vividly the months when she was an infant, carrying her in a snugly for long walks in the evenings to tire her out before putting her into her crib. Right around the same time, Miller’s dad probably did that for him. That time seems like yesterday.

Now, this young man, half my age, appears to wield enormous power in the Oval Office. To find out how that happened, you have to read the Businessweek article.

But what gets me is his picture. I must admit, I don’t know Miller, but the few clips I have seen of him speaking gave me goosebumps, and his looks, his eyes and his demeanor appear outright sinister. He is one of those people I intuitively avoid when I cross paths with them in life.

They say you should not judge a book by its cover. But I am judging here, and I can’t help myself.

I do not have a good feeling about Stephen Miller.

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For those of us who thought that Trump might “clean up his act” once he was president now know: What we saw is what we got. Trump is a boor. Always been one, always will be one.

When he was a businessman in New York, he could trample on others, throw tantrums, sue people, stiff contractors and insult employees.

Now, the whole world is listening to every word that comes out of his mouth. And it’s not pretty. Trump speaks like a fourth grader, and he rambles. Listen carefully and you will notice that he says everything two or three times to fill dead air. A point that could be made with five well-chosen words expands into ten paragraphs of drivel. Only when he reads off paper or a teleprompter does he utter sentences, but they are stiff and wooden. He is not even a good reader, or his speech writers are bad writers so his words don’t ring real.

Here is the problem, though. As a CEO, if you can’t speak, or can’t control what you say, you’re being punished by your business and your customers. When you’re the president of a nation, you have the smartest people in the country paying attention to what you do and say, and the very sharpest foreign leaders and diplomats are at your table or next to you at the lectern.

These people can tell immediately when you don’t know what you’re talking about. Trump’s statements about NATO funding today were utterly ridiculous and simply exposed him as a fool. Every world leader knows that now. And worse, everyone who works for Trump, either his direct reports in the White House or Cabinet, or the people in the EPA, in NASA, in the CIA, FBI and the NSA – all highly intelligent, expertly educated, highly credentialed professionals – all cringe every time our Embarrassment-in-Chief opens his mouth or posts on Twitter.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

— attributed to Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, and many others.

I know what Angela Merkel is thinking now, and it’s not just because I speak German.

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During the presidential campaign, I used to ridicule Ben Carson and state that he gave brain surgery a bad name. I recently blasted him for his comments on slavery.

So I decided to read up on Ben Carson:

He was the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland from 1984 until his retirement in 2013. As a pioneer in neurosurgery, Carson’s achievements include performing the only successful separation of conjoined twins joined at the back of the head, pioneering the first successful neurosurgical procedure on a fetus inside the womb, performing the first completely successful separation of type-2 vertical craniopagus twins, developing new methods to treat brain-stem tumors, and reviving hemispherectomy techniques for controlling seizures. He became the youngest chief of pediatric neurosurgery in the country at age 33. He has received more than 60 honorary doctorate degrees, dozens of national merit citations, and written over 100 neurosurgical publications. In 2008, he was bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

— Wikepedia

Now he is the Secretary of HUD.

Dude, what in the world happened to you? Get away from Trump and do some more brain surgery!

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You can’t make this stuff up. Ryan is aghast because the healthy are paying for the sick. Congressman John Shimkus of Illinois doesn’t think men should pay for prenatal care. There is this odd sentiment that the healthy should not pay for the sick.

It’s called INSURANCE, gentle congressmen!

I have automobile insurance so I never, ever use it. I have it so I have coverage in the extremely remote event that I do some serious damage to some other person or vehicle, and I am not bankrupted by my mistake – or accident. Everyone that does not have accidents pays for those that do. That’s what we have insurance for.

I have fire insurance for my home so if I am unfortunate enough and my iron fails and burns down my house, I get it replaced. Everyone else’s money pays for my house. I have paid homeowners insurance for 40 years, and never once used it. I am sincerely hoping that I will never use it. Yet, I gladly pay. That’s what we have insurance for.

Health insurance is no different. It’s designed to cover me against catastrophic illness, accident, or other medical misfortune. It’s the job of the actuaries to find out how much it takes from the public to pay for the sick. Younger people pay less. They are less likely to need it. Older people pay more. Smokers should pay more. That’s what the Affordable Care Act was all about.

It’s called insurance.

 

 

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Immigrant Statistics

Our prisons are bursting with illegals right now.

— Donald Trump

Well, let’s take a look at the numbers:

For the American-born population of males 18 – 39 years old, 3.3% are in prison. That’s a huge number. In contrast, for foreign-born men 18 – 39, 1.6% of them are in prison. So the likelihood of being in prison for an immigrant is less than half of that of an American-born man.

12.9% of the United States population is foreign-born. I am one of those.

Here are some “success” numbers:

immigrant-statistics-1

From this chart you can see that immigrants are much more educated than American-born, on average, in all categories. It’s most obvious and overwhelming in the Ph.D. categories in engineering and sciences.

Also, immigrants are twice as likely to start businesses, 41% of them have college degrees, versus 30% of American-born population.

This is not to say that illegal immigration isn’t a problem in the United States. It is. It is a problem that needs solving. But after decades of Congress not doing anything about it but whining, it is completely irresponsible by the president to foment immigrant hatred that covers all foreign-born people in its dragnet, illegal or not. The bigots among the population are now feeling empowered to abuse immigrants indiscriminately. People are getting killed on the streets based on the color of their skins.

It is right to enforce the laws of the country. It is not right to create or stir up vigilantism against people who “look different” or “speak another language.” Our president has a responsibility to calm the nation, to protect its citizens and to enforce its laws.

This president, however, incites fear and bigotry with his rhetoric, he lashes out indiscriminately against entire groups of people, he divides and he spreads misinformation.

He says immigration is a problem in the United States.

No, it is not a problem. Immigration creates jobs, raises the level of education, and produces the most industrious and productive section of our population. Lashing out at immigration does not make America great, it makes America shrivel.

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Paul Ryan Knows

paul_ryan_official_speaker_portraitPaul Ryan can’t lose, and he knows it.

I don’t know Ryan personally, I have never met him, but I can see by the look in his eyes that he knows what’s going on in the White House right now is a travesty. But he’s holding tight, he’s walking with the party, because he has a plan.

If the Trump administration goes down in flames, for instance by impeachment due to a constitutional transgression the Congress can’t continue to cover for, we have a Pence administration, provided that Pence does not go down with Trump along the way.

If both Trump and Pence were to go down in flames, Ryan is next in line as the Speaker of the house, and we’d have a Ryan administration.

For 2020, Pence, by himself, is not electable. Since Trump would run again, he’d likely ask Pence to stay on. Pence is too uninspiring a personality to win the presidency on his own.

Ryan will run against Trump in 2020 and he will beat him in the primaries by a landslide. The country will have had three years of a Trump presidency, it will have dozens of scandals to point to, and incompetence to point out. Trump will be toast.

Ryan has already gained national campaign experience with Romney, so he knows the ropes. He also knows he can beat Trump easily. Ryan is only 47 years old now, approximately the age Obama was when he took office. That’s young.

Whether it’s 2020, or 2024, or 2028, we will see a president Ryan in the United States.

The only question I have is: Who are the Democrats going to put forward to oppose this formidable challenger?

 

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Well, Speaker Ryan, the problem as I see it is this: The Republican-controlled Congress, from 2000 through 2008, and then again from 2010 through 2016, has not done one thing to deal with this problem of healthcare in our nation. The Affordable Care Act may not be perfect, but it’s one hell of a lot more and therefore better than the big NOTHING the Republicans provided in all those years in control.

Now, if you get to work and produce a healthcare product that works, that’s less expensive, that covers preexisting conditions, and that does not kick millions of Americans off what they have now, GREAT. We will all welcome that.

So, please, refrain from upsetting the apple cart until you show us the orange cart – pun intended.

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U. S. President Donald Trump is depicted beheading the Statue of Liberty in this illustration on the cover of the latest issue of German news magazine Der Spiegel. Spiegel/Handout via REUTERS

U. S. President Donald Trump is depicted beheading the Statue of Liberty in this illustration on the cover of the latest issue of German news magazine Der Spiegel.

— Spiegel/Handout via REUTERS

 

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The term “Leader of the Free World” may have been appropriate for Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson. I am not so sure about Nixon, Carter and Ford. Ok, maybe Reagan was the last Leader of the Free World.

What’s the “free world?” Is China free? With the onslaught of Chinese tourists all over the world, I would say yes. China is free. Is Russia free? I think so. The only countries not free are North Korea, Cuba, a few African countries – mostly un-free due to their economic plight, and a surprising number of Middle-Eastern countries, in their own way. Did I forget one?

What’s a “leader?” If you had asked anyone in Europe if they considered Bush or Obama their leader, they would have laughed at you. Trump is bringing this to a whole new level. By spouting self-aggrandizing bluster about America first, he is making sure that nobody, anywhere, thinks he might be the leader of the free world. The whole concept of leader of the free world is now dying with Trump.

Leadership implies that the leader does something that others admire, aspire to or want to follow. None of that holds true for Trump.

Let’s do the math. America has not quite 5% of the population of the world. Out of 127 million people who voted in the last election, 62 million, or about 47% of them voted for Trump.

That means that only about 0.88% of the world’s population voted for Trump. He is the leader of those 0.88% or 62 million Americans that voted for him. He has command over the world’s most powerful military, so yes, he is probably the most powerful man in the world right now, but leader of the free world he is not.

Unfortunately, due to the damage he is going to do to the image of the United States in the world, his successors are going to have to work for a long time to reestablish any semblance of leadership.

And that brings me to my final point: With Trump openly withdrawing the United States from the world, by threatening to pull out of NATO or the UN, and by implementing protectionist trade policies, he is signaling to everyone, including our strongest ally, that America can no longer be relied upon. He is abandoning the leadership role.

China will be more than happy to step into that vacuum and take over as leader, and others will follow. Trump thinks he is making America great again, but he must not understand that America is not a planet, it’s a country, one that is completely dependent on the rest of the world for trade.

Leader of the free world is a hackneyed and trite term. We should stop using it, as it does not make sense any longer.

 

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