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Archive for the ‘Political’ Category

Apparently Trump’s campaign thinks I am a Republican, so it keeps sending me requests for money. They are always accompanied by surveys. Please note, I am not a Republican, but I am also not a Democrat. That does not mean I haven’t voted all Democrat in 2016 and 2018. I usually vote for the character, not the party. But I digress. Here is the survey I received a few days ago.

Check out the questions in the red box (my highlight). It says I should indicate how “important each is to me” by checking Moderately, Strongly or Uncertain. For ease of your reading, I will list the questions here again:

  • Stop Illegal Immigration
  • Protect Our Borders
  • Stop Socialized Medicine
  • Keep Fighting Unfair Trade Practices
  • Continue Appointing Pro-Constitution Judges
  • Keep Taxes Low
  • Always Keep America’s Interest And Security the First Priority

At first look, it’s a list every thinking American should check “Strongly” for all of them. Of course nobody thinks it’s a good idea to have illegal immigration, and we have been wanting to stop it forever. And yes, we need to protect our borders. Every country does. I am not sure I ever met an American who thinks it’s a good idea to have no borders.

Stop socialized medicine is a weird statement. What is socialized medicine. Just today I spent four hours in an emergency room accompanying my sister from overseas who needed urgent care. I watched an endless stream of humanity coming through the doors. Screaming babies. Construction workers with bleeding faces, people limping in on crutches. People with bandaged arms. People with face masks. All were processed, all were treated. I am sure most will get a substantial bill. And I am also sure some won’t be able to pay. But all got help. Does “stop socialized medicine” mean that we have guards at the door keeping out the man with the bleeding face because he does not have an American Express card in his wallet? What is the solution for that? I don’t want to “stop any medicine” but I do think we should have a medical insurance system that does not result in my bankruptcy if I happen to get broadsided in my Prius by an uninsured driver in a pickup truck. I want to make sure I can be hauled through those doors and somebody will set my bones and stop the bleeding and give me IVs so I have a chance to heal and live.

Trump wants to know how important it is to keep fighting unfair trade practices. Hell, yes. It’s important. Unfortunately, I am not at all convinced that Trump knows anything about trade or the economy in general. The stock market has flattened out in the last year. The deficit is now a trillion dollars a year. The deficit and debt have increased in every one of Trump’s three years and the debt is now higher than ever. This is the man who said “I will pay off the federal debt in eight years.” He has done exactly the opposite. We are drowning in debt, both personal and public. The “fiscally responsible” Republicans who screamed about the debt ceiling raises by Obama every year don’t even talk about it anymore now. Trump is running the country like his casinos, and many of them went bankrupt. The economy is important to me, but I don’t think Trump knows what he is doing at all.

Obviously, “Pro-Constitution” Judges is a euphemism. Every sane American will want Pro-Constitution Judges. There needs to be a definition what Pro-Constitution even means.

I want to keep taxes low. But I think that raising the deficit by 26% alone this year so our richest of the richest can keep more of their money does not make sense. How the Republicans were able to convince a majority of this country, mostly working people who live paycheck to paycheck and have no idea what it’s like to have a million dollars in the bank to go along with this is beyond me. But go along they do. They have me baffled.

Trumps handling of Syria recently is, in my opinion, the complete opposite of “Keeping America’s Interest And Security the First Priority.” American soldiers overseas were put into harm’s way. After spending billions every month in the middle east, we just handed Syria to the Russians on a silver plate. I am dumbfounded.

Overall, these questions make no sense to me. Why bother? I suspect they put them there so make people feel better about sending in their money. Checking all those questions with Strongly does not say anything. There is no statistical value to these results even if they were tallied. I don’t think they are.

Trump must think we’re all dumb. Remember when he stated “I love the uneducated!” Go send Trump your money! Watch Trump’s campaign finance practices and observe where the money is going – then decide to write a check.

Why don’t you send a dollar to me while you’re at it? I promise I will put it to good use making America great again.

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Attorney General Barr [photo by Mark Thiessen / AP]

Attorney General Barr to Facebook: We need ‘lawful access’ to users’ digital messages to fight crime.

I say: Oh, no, you don’t, Mr. Barr!

The United States Justice Department wants “lawful access” to our private communications. This is 1984 stuff. This is Nazi SS tactics. This is Gestapo playbook.

Once the government can snoop, it can manipulate, and any one of us is completely exposed to the potential terror machine it might want to unleash.

And do not tell me that we don’t have rogue governments who are in it for their own enrichment and use organized crime tactics to get what they want and extort wealth from the citizenry.

You might call this “overreacting.” Read my lips:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

— Martin Niemöller, a Nazi dissident

Make no mistake about it, my friends. They are now coming for us.

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I receive continuous views of my posts about the Dow under Obama and Trump, with a number of critical comments.

Here is my post from January 2018.

It’s time for an update.

The start of the Obama presidency has now slipped off the 10-year chart on the left. I have the blue arrow pointing off the chart down to 7949, which was the Dow when Obama took office. It was a low-point, as we all know.

Looking back through the Obama years, we had a steady rise of the Dow, with a flatting of the slope in 2015 and modest recovery at the end of 2016.

Trump was elected and took office, and the slope increased. The Dow grew faster for the next 12 months all the way through 2017. But it has sputtered through 2018 and 2019, with significant spikes and drops through those 18 months. The pro-business stance of the Trump administration, the lifting of regulations, has fueled the economy.

However, I would say that when readers say “we have been suffering” through the Obama years, I don’t think that’s accurate, at least not from the view point of the stock market and its growth. Unless Trump starts getting gains again with a steady upward trend, his overall performance from low to high may not be that of the Obama years. We’ll have to wait and see.

What concerns me is the debt.

We have new record deficits. I remember the “fiscally responsible party”, the GOP, making endless noise about Obama’s racking up of debt. Then it stopped. All of a sudden nobody worries about the debt ceiling anymore. The battles in the Republican-controlled Congress about the debt ceiling during the latter Obama years were epic. Now, we just raise the ceiling quietly.

Am I the only one concerned with that?

This tells me I need to create a deficit and debt chart next to put this into perspective. But that’s for another day.

 

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Not in my wildest dreams did I think, that as a Californian, I would ever donate money to a candidate in Kentucky for the U.S. Senate. I just did. I sent $25 to Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot, who is running against Mitch McConnell.


Click here for more information about Amy.

 

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In April 2013, I reviewed the book Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy. It tells the story of a Sylvia Perlmutter, a Jewish girl in the Lodz ghetto who was liberated in 1945 when she was 12 years old. Out of a quarter of a million people in the ghetto, only 800 survived, and of those 800, only 12 were children. Sylvia was one of them.

When I read the book in 2013, I wrote this in my review:

The Germans, for reasons I do not understand, took all the children away in the latter years and told their parents they were going to care for them better than they could in the ghetto. However, the children, being of no use to the Germans as workers and only a distraction to the adult Jews, were jammed into cattle cars and taken to death camps like Auschwitz, which was only a few hundred kilometers south from Lodz – where they were killed within hours of arrival.

What bestial people take babies, toddlers, small and older children under 14 away from their parents by force, by the thousands – with the full intent to just kill them? My German ancestors did.

The desperate parents went to extraordinary measures to hide their children. When the soldiers went house to house, they kicked open locked doors and ransacked apartments, looking for children in closets, trunks, under beds, wherever they could possibly be hidden. The agony the parents went through is unimaginable.

The agony for the children – well, you need to read Yellow Star to find out.

The key sentence here is:

What bestial people take babies, toddlers, small and older children under 14 away from their parents by force, by the thousands? 

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During the debates of the Democratic presidential candidates last week, I heard a number of stupid things. If the Democrats want to win the next elections, they have to stop this.

Socialism

They need to stop talking about socialism. Yes, we currently have socialism. Our roads, our infrastructure, our educational system, our law enforcement, our fire protection system are all examples of socialism. We all pay for these services, whether we need them or not. We have rampant corporate socialism right now. We’re paying farmers not to grow certain crops. We’re propping up oil companies, and solar companies, and car companies. The problem we have right now with socialism is that the Trump Administration has directed the benefits of socialism to the 1%. The rich and corporations are now getting the benefits, and nobody seems to mind.

But socialism is a bad word in the United States. It has been cast as an undesirable system. The Democrats, and Bernie Sanders specifically, need to stop using the word. They can continue doing exactly what they are doing, but just stop using the s-word. It hurts. It does not benefit. It won’t win the election.

I am going to be facetious now for a moment: Why not call it “national socialism?” Get it? That’s what “Nazi” stands for. National Socialism. Stop using the word socialism!

Private Health Insurance

Most democratic candidates raised their hands when asked whether they would support ending private health insurance for an all-public system. That is an insane position for American presidential candidates to be in. It just won’t happen. There may be 30 million people who are uninsured who want to sign on to public insurance. But I happen to have health insurance, and I am happy with it. And so are 100 million other Americans.

This does not mean our healthcare system doesn’t need work. A lot of improvements are necessary.

But don’t mess with people’s lives! Let people make their own decisions. Standing up for removing all commercial health insurance is not going to get the Democrats elected.

Open Borders

This is Trump’s signature issue. Closing the borders and everything about it. He is elegantly advanced his rhetoric about this, and positioned the Democratic Party as one that wants “open borders” and nobody is fighting that term. I personally do not agree with the administration’s approach to border security and immigration.

Not. At. All.

However, I also don’t think we can have “open borders” in the United States. They have open borders in Europe. You can walk from Germany to France any time. And people do. They have the same currency in both countries. But in general, the French like being in France, and the Germans like being in Germany, so it’s not a big deal.

The southern border of the United states separates a very rich nation from a comparatively poor set of nations, and the inequality in the economies, as well as the social justice system and the presence of endemic crime in Central America has crated a situation where there is a massive pull for people to go north. The borders must be controlled, and immigration laws must be enforced. Otherwise, it would indeed be chaos. The problem is that we have a messed up immigration system, confusing control and enforcement, and we need a proper guest worker program. It’s all called “immigration reform” and we need it badly.

The atrocities the current administration is committing at the border are despicable. But neither side, the administration or the Congress are doing anything reasonable about it. We need to take this issue seriously and handle it. And don’t tell me we don’t have the money. We’re spending $700 billion on the military industrial complex and we’re sending unimaginable amounts of money to the Middle East for no good at all. A fraction of that money could solve our immigration issues for decades to come.

We do not have a problem with immigrants. We have a problem with national priorities. And we have a problem with a lack of morality in our current government.

The Democrats need to make that point and stop allowing the other side to just label them as “open border” advocates.

 

 

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Vons Supermarket: “Would you like to donate five dollars for people in need?”

Panda Express Chinese Diner: “Would you like to donate your change to Children’s Hospital?”

Carl’s Junior Fast Food Restaurant: “Would you like to donate a dollar to help veterans?”

My answer to each of them: “No.”

Not “No, Thank You.” Not “I have already donated.” Just “No.”

I have no problem with charity for people in need, for sick children, and for veterans. But I have a problem with retail organizations hustling money from their customers, who, in the majority of cases, cannot afford those donation and probably need help themselves. I have always said simply “No” not because I don’t have the money to give, but because I do not believe in the principles applied.

In the case of Vons, who are “people in need?” How do I know my five dollars go there? Who are they accountable to? Where do they determine who is in need, and how?

In each of those cases, they prey on the person in line being embarrassed about saying “No.” Others standing behind or next to them in line can hear the conversation. People will say “Yes” just to get past the embarrassing moment. The young man in front of me at Vons was with his girlfriend. They bought just a few things. He donated more money to “people in need” than his total purchase value, just because he didn’t want to look like a miser in front of his girlfriend.

Why does our healthcare system need to beg for money for the Children’s Hospital in restaurants? Can’t we have a system that pays adequately for healthcare for children?

And what about or veterans? I believe the government that sends our young men and women overseas to get maimed and emotionally crippled owes those people adequate and quality healthcare. We should not need to beg for money in fast food lines for our veterans. Our politicians talk about how fine our military is, and we honor our service men and women by thanking them when we see them at the airport. But when they come back with limbs missing or drug addicted, we discard them. And we can’t figure out how to pay for their healthcare. That is – to me – repulsive.

I resent that we resort to collecting money for their care from those that can least afford it – people eating in fast food places. Our president has spent over $100 million of taxpayer money on golf vacations in just two years, and we beg customers in Carl’s Junior for money for veterans!

Screwed up, we are.

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First we institute a massive tax cut for the rich and corporations. This balloons the deficit. Our deficit is higher than it ever was in history. The Republicans, who are supposedly the fiscally conservative party that blasted Obama for his deficits, have been awkwardly quiet about this.

The “Trump Economy” as we call it is artificially pumped up by the massive debt we’re accumulating to pay for the tax cuts. Our grandchildren will be paying for this.

We’re borrowing money, largely from China, to make up for the deficit.

Now we’re placing tariffs on Chinese goods, which American consumers pay for in the end. Our farmers are hurt in the process.

Let me get this straight:

We are borrowing money from China to pay our farmers not to sell their crops to China.

We have dilettantes running our country.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, the King of Thailand:

The King of Thailand – [click to enlarge]

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned last week. The coronation represents the renewal of the monarchy’s power after the death of the king’s father in October 2016. The new king placed the crown on his own head. In Thailand, kings are regarded as almost divine. Like kings before him, Vajiralongkorn is protected by one the world’s strictest lese majeste laws, which make criticism of the king and other royals punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

It turns out, I published a post about the king in October 2016 in this blog. You want to check this out, as it contains some pictures and videos of the king and his consorts that are not very flattering. I just have to make sure that I don’t travel to Thailand now, lest I get arrested at the port of entry and thrown in a Thai prison for 15 years for being critical.

I am fortunate that I am protected as a citizen in a country that cherishes free speech and allows the people to criticize their leaders – at least that’s what it’s been up to this day and age.

 

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Completely Exonerated?

I just don’t get this part:

If the Mueller report completely exonerates Trump, if it proves there was no collusion, if it shows that we treated the president unfairly, if it allows the “country to move forward again,” then why isn’t Trump making sure that every one of us gets a copy of it as soon as possible?

Hand out the reports, so we can read it for ourselves!

Trump is free and clear, and we can all be sure that the country is safe and protected by our beloved leader.

But it seems like everyone, including the GOP enablers in congress, are fighting to keep it secret.

Why?

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You can judge the character of a person by what the person spends his or her money on.

You can judge the character of a nation the same way.

Our military budget is larger than that of the next 10 nations COMBINED.

The U.S. military is planning on buying a total 2,443 F-35 jets. Since the pricing of each jet is not clear, because they are sold in “batches” where the costs of development are sometimes wrapped into the planes, I find it difficult to figure out how much individual planes actually cost. I have come up with up to $200 million each, but on the low end around $100 million each (source).

Let’s say we’re on the low end at $100 million for each plane.

Trump and DeVos just suggested we cut the entire budget of the Special Olympics – about $17 million a year. We know Trump caved after the public outrage that announcement created. Two billionaires, two kleptocrats, trying to take the Special Olympics out of the government’s budget – in our name!

Let me suggest the following:

I don’t think we need 2,443 F-35 jets. I think 2,442 will do just fine. And we’ll take the $100 million we saved and fund the Special Olympics for about six years straight.

We can live with one less F-35, right?

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When you elect a clown, expect a circus.

The Ukraine is suffering from massive corruption at the top of the government. After Paul Manafort’s protector in the Ukraine was ousted, near-billionaire Petro Poroshenko took over. Most of the candidates for the upcoming election are oligarchs. The voters don’t like it.

41-year-old television comic Volodymyr Zelenskiy is the host of a show called Servant of the People. He makes fun of the political elite. Ukraine is a large country with a lot of resources, great agricultural potential and a highly educated population of 42 million. They are not happy, and the comedian is the front-runner in the election.

Sounds familiar?

Steven Colbert for President!

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Friday night we went to our first political rally. Yes, I made it through 62 years without ever attending one.

We went to see Bernie Sanders in San Diego.We found a spot very close to the podium.

Bernie Sanders at Podium in San Diego, March 22, 2019 [photocredit: Trisha]

The crowd was large, but being in the middle of it, it was impossible to count or estimate. Here is a happy selfie.

Selfie [photocredit: Trisha]

Sanders has a huge momentum built up this early in the campaign. Obviously, in 2016, he was just short of the nomination, mostly due to coming in a bit late after Clinton and of course Clinton’s notoriety. This time around, there is no Clinton, and Sanders appears to be the front runner. He already has a million volunteers signed up all around the country for his campaign. It will be difficult for anyone else to catch up to that. Having done this last time around, unlike the wide field of other candidates, he has a huge (huuge) advantage.

Old Guys Rule

I enjoyed listening to a stump speech that is not about a personality cult. Trump’s self-admiration and egotistical world view was far, far away. Here is a humble man, from very modest beginnings, who has been a public servant for most of his life. He has also been a maverick, agitator and activist. Most of all, he has the welfare of the people, the country, and the world as his objective.

I predict that Sanders will win this election.

If he is elected in November 2020, he will be 79 years old and by far the oldest president ever. So far the oldest is Trump, who was 70 when he was elected. Remember when the country thought that Reagan was too old when he took office at age 69?

Be that as it may, I can see the possibility of a very young electorate voting a very old man into the presidency. This means that his selection of a running mate (presumably younger than himself and probably a woman) will be crucial, and the likelihood of that vice president ascending to the presidency is high, especially if he succeeded for two terms.

So far, the outcome of this rally for me is that Sanders has my vote. He had it in 2016 in the primary, and he will have it this time around (as long as he does not pull a McCain and find a Palin – but that was another story I wrote about here in 2008).

Old Guys Rule!

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I was around in 1988, when Senator Gart Hart (Hugh Jackman) was considered the front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. We know how it all ended. Hart exited the race not too long after a story broke about an extramarital relationship with a woman named Donna Rice.

In 1988, tabloid journalism surfaced for the first time in a presidential election. It is now 30 years later, and it seems like tabloid journalism is all we get anymore in high profile elections. Gary Hart was an Eagle Scout compared to Donald Trump. Our senses are now dull, and our sensitivity numbed. The office of the presidency will not be the same again.

But in the days of Gary Hart, different rules applied.

This documentary drama tells the story of the rise and fall of Gary Hart, the man who almost might have been president, until some “Monkey Business” got in the way. The Front Runner is an entertaining and informative film into the way we run our presidential elections and I enjoyed the window into the past.

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Both Nixon and Trump called the investigations witch hunts.

Some witch hunts!

I think I’ll side with the blues on this chart.

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