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Archive for the ‘Political’ Category

The Tax Cut Thing

I talked to my CPA about taxes. He thinks they are too high. I agree with him. Lower taxes are good. But you can only lower taxes if you lower spending. I do not see any less spending in the budget. The 57% we spend on defense is even going up. If we are lowering taxes (revenues) and not spending, we are increasing the dreaded debt we blame Obama for.

I just don’t get it.

The Bush tax cuts put vast amounts of money into the pockets of the wealthy. The middle class got one-time checks for $200 or so. This drove up the national debt tremendously, and eventually the economy nearly collapsed.

Then Obama bailed out, and in the process added $10 trillion to the debt. Obama didn’t spend more money. Look at the budgets. The additional debt that occurred during the Obama years was to undo damage created during the Bush years.

Now Trump wants to cut taxes again. The budget office calculates that the Trump tax cuts will add $5 trillion to the debt.

Seriously?

We just blasted Obama for adding to the debt, and now we’re adding more to the debt? And that is called fiscally responsible?

I get a kick out of Trump popularizing the estate tax he wants to get rid of. He talks to audiences of his supporters and calls it the “death tax.” The estate tax is a 40% tax on estates after the first $5.5 million for individuals and $11 million for couples. I venture to say that there is not a single couple in those Trump rally crowds that has a net worth of more than $11 million for whom the abolishment of the estate tax would make any difference.

However, there are a lot of individuals in Trump’s cabinet who would benefit from it. And there is Trump himself.

He has convinced the American electorate that the abolishment of the “death tax” is a good thing for them.

A con man Trump is.

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Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign

Clinton just came out with her own book, titled What Happened. After reading Shattered I decided I don’t need to read Hillary’s book.

Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes are political writers who had deep access to all levels of the Clinton campaign. Through their insight, they have reconstructed the spirit of the campaign from before it actually began, through election night.

The insight is “shattering.” The campaign was never streamlined. Terrible infighting at the top levels caused the strategy to lack cohesiveness and resulted in a poorly defined message. Hillary never quite clarified why the people should elect her, other than she was, well, Hillary Clinton. Power struggles, lack of direction from the top, and poor use of funding based on analytics that was terribly flawed were the main causes of the eventual defeat.

The campaign didn’t know how close Trump was. Bill Clinton waved off the Virginia governor from coming to New York for the victory celebration immediately after Florida, one of the first states, was called for Trump.

Bill Clinton knew then.

I have always said that Trump did not win the election. Clinton lost it.

After reading Shattered, I am more convinced than ever that this was the case. The Democratic Party elevated an entitled, ego-driven politician, with a muddled message, with terrible baggage, who made very poor decisions along with way, and pegged her against the greatest wild card in American history, Donald Trump. The Democratic Party lost, Hillary will never be president, and the country is being damaged and looted by a self-serving populist con man.

Shattered is a hard book to read. If you are really into politics, if you want to work in a campaign, if that’s your career, this is a good book to internalize. It shows how politics works. I am more interested in the cliff notes, so from time to time the reading was too detailed and dry.

But  then, if you’re going to read one book about “what happened,” this is the book you should read.

 

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Here is Tom Price, the authority on reckless spending, who has just shown us how, given enough backing by a corrupt administration, spending other people’s money on your own comfort is easy.

And Trump started throwing him under the bus, since Price is not really part of the billionaire’s club he likes to hang out with. Price is rich, but not quite rich enough to own his own jet. So Trump didn’t “like the optics.”

I paid over $30,000 in federal taxes last year. Just enough for one of Price’s day trips to have lunch with his son in Oklahoma.

Are we about done with the notion that someone who has spent his life ripping other people off and getting very rich doing it understands how the common people live?

Seriously, are we still convinced that this gang of corrupt con men are in it for the good of the American people?

It’s all about them. In a few years we’ll read the tell-all books and shudder. We have been conned big time.

 

 

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Here is the moment when Senator John McCain voted “No” on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Mitch McConnell, standing by with crossed arms, watching every senator vote, walked away defeated moments later. He knew he didn’t have the votes.

It has been incomprehensible to me how a government, by the people, for the people, would want to take action that takes insurance coverage away from a significant percentage of its people.

There are 243 million people in the U.S. over age 16, so let’s call them the adult population. Taking health care coverage away from 26 million people would affect 10% of the population.

Picture yourself being one of those 26 million. You may have had a pre-existing condition like diabetes, and now, by the stroke of a pen by your president, that coverage is gone and gone forever. You have diabetes, and you can’t get insurance that you can afford anymore.

Why? Because evil Obama made it so that wealthier Americans pay more taxes to fund shortfalls. Because insurance and pharma executives make millions of dollars a year and their companies are wildly profitable because their non-competitive practices are sanctioned by our laws and regulations. And because a significant percentage of our government is bought off by those individuals and organizations and they have a president who can’t think beyond soundbites on Fox News and will sign anything as long as it serves his aggrandizement.

This entire initiative to kill the Affordable Care Act is motivated not by making things right for the American people, but by political ambitions. The president has said that the Affordable Care Act is a disaster for the American people, and – by golly – many of the dumbed-down American people believe him.

Congress Republicans wanted to score a point, with the president, and with their paymasters. Now we have a White House that not only appears to have been put in place by the aid of an adversarial power, but it also actively sabotages one of the laws of the land – the Affordable Care Act. Rather than upholding the laws, the government is sabotaging the laws.

Trump says he wants to make America great again. By throwing 10% of the adult population off their healthcare? What kind of problem-solving is that? It’s oligarchy. It’s making himself and those in his orbit in debt rich. I do not understand how he can have 37% of the population is his support. A significant percentage of his own supporters would lose their healthcare coverage. Really? That’s a lot of people supporting Trump with no healthcare. Somebody help me understand that.

McCain understood that, and he listened to his constituents. Unlike dozens of his colleagues in the Senate, who also must know deep down how wrong all this is, he showed backbone and he did what is right for the American people. Too bad there isn’t going to be another opportunity to vote for McCain for president.

For more reading on McCain:

See my open letter, also sent to him in hardcopy: Here.

My book review on Faith of my Fathers. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand the man John McCain and the experiences of a prisoner of war. If you only read one chapter, read the one about “John McCain’s Towel.”

Here is an article about McCain and torture.

 

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Unbridled demagoguery has driven the GOP to an inflection point from which there is no turning back. If a populist prevails in the primary, as appears increasingly likely, the party faces either devastating defeat in the general election or a new, unrecognizable identity. In either scenario, a large swath of the GOP electorate will be forced to eat crow and reevaluate its affiliation. Call it, if you will, a moral debt restructuring, one caused by the reckless behavior of a man who knows a thing or two about bankruptcy.

— Anthony Scaramucci, January 13, 2016, Fox Business

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Punctuating each word — one by one — the U.S. Navy admiral said, “I will not violate the oath that I have taken in the 36 years as a commission officer.”

Rogers’ face hardened and his voice cracked as he added: “I won’t do that.”

— ABC News

Trump supporters will call this “Fake News” but fortunately, there is nothing fake about a United States military officer standing up for the oath he took. This is the kind of man we need in a leadership position in our country.

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Ok, let me get this straight:

You get yourself elected, make sure you have both houses of Congress in your party’s control, and then you can do anything you want, profit from the presidency, sell out the country to the highest bidder, launder money for the Russian mob, install your unqualified and unelected kids into high government positions, appoint cronies who are not qualified for their positions, and then commit crimes – say shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue – and then pardon yourself – over and over again.

Trump, with his infinite power, could revoke the 22nd Amendment (Hitler playbook), gerrymander the districts and make sure he gets reelected. If any strong opponents surface, he just has them whacked (Putin playbook).

When he dies, he installs Donald Jr., so we start a dynasty of Trumps for the next 75 years (Kim Il-sung playbook).

That’s what happens when a president can just pardon everyone, including himself.

Meanwhile, America, its values and its institutions, are rapidly going down the tubes. The United States of America is becoming an oligarchy at an alarming rate.

Trump supporters seem to not mind that. Don’t they see this guy is completely corrupt? How is that good for America?

Trump, eight months after winning the election, looks increasingly illegitimate with every day that more information trickles out. Whenever bad news surface, he deflects and questions why we’re not going after Hillary and her emails. Because Hillary is now a private citizen, she isn’t mucking with our country, she isn’t dismantling our environmental protections, she isn’t selling favors to the highest bidders, she isn’t undermining our health insurance system, and she isn’t systematically dumbing down our country.

Go ahead, investigate Hillary all you want. It has no meaning to the county! Hillary has ridden off into the sunset.

It’s Trump that’s doing damage to our country that will take decades to clean up. That’s why we’re interested in his apparently criminal career and current obvious abuses of power.

Don’t even tell me I am just mad that Hillary didn’t win. I am way over Hillary. But I, for one, want my country back.

Now!

 

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Russia, under Putin, is practically a nation run by an organized crime ring, inside and out. Putin’s regime has been accused of eliminating any opposition by arresting the opponents on made-up charges, and there are many accusations of killings of opponents of all types. Read Bill Browder’s book Red Notice for a harrowing story about Putin’s regime. In it, you will learn how the Magnitsky Act came about, the very legislation in the U.S. that was enacted to counteract Russian human rights violations. The Magnitsky Act is also related to the Russian orphan adoption program that recently made headlines when Trump Jr. deflected to discussions about adoptions in the infamous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with the Russians. Senator John McCain had a leading role in the Magnitsky Act.

Russia is a nation run by organized crime. It kills opposition inside, and it sows corruption outside. Since Trump took office, Russia now spreads corruption in the United States.

The Trump regime, in my opinion, is nothing but an organized crime ring, installed in the Oval Office. Nepotism abounds. Don Donald installed his relatives in key positions, whether they are qualified or not. Clearly, none of them were elected. Trump unabashedly profits from the presidency. When Jimmy Carter took office, he was accused of somehow having his peanut farm profit from the office. That was a scandal at the time. Don Donald’s conflicts of interest are not even news anymore. It’s a new normal. Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, is serving in prison in Colorado for openly trying to profit from his office and selling Obama’s senate seat. But Trump can try to repeal Obama’s sanctions against Russia so he can continue with his real estate projects in Moscow. All he has to do is tell us often enough that the Russians are our friends, and the American public starts accepting it as reality.

We do not have an administration now. We have a regime. We have joined the likes of Russia, and Iran, and Syria and all the banana republics that came and went. Criminal activity goes unchecked in the White House, and the Republican Party just goes along with it, in the name of power.

The Republican Party has stopped serving the country. What’s best for the country does not seem important to them anymore. Instant gratification is what matters.

It may be that we have to wait until the midterm election before we can throw them all out. With Don Donald and the Trumpashians swept out of the White House, Pence will take office.

Pence is a man who I believe would never have been able to win the presidency on his own. Pence’s ideology is 180 degrees opposing to mine. I don’t agree with his policies. I don’t agree with his decisions.

But I will be relieved. He will bring decorum and dignity back into the White House. He will turn what was a regime back into an administration. We will once again at least not have to be embarrassed about boorish remarks, sleazy public comments, leering behavior against wives of world leaders and personal Twitter attacks against private American citizens from the President of the United States.

Pence will serve for two years, and then he will lose the re-election campaign in 2020.

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Unqualified and Unfit

Trump is our president. He vowed to protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

I am not convinced that he is doing that. Making a deal with Putin about not looking to quarrels of the past and moving forward productively is condoning what happened. Accepting Putin’s denial of the Russian hacking is naïve at least, negligent of duty more likely.

Russia is one of the world’s most corrupt countries. If you need further education or information about Russian corruption, read the book Red Notice by Bill Browder. It will convince you.

Up to now, America was in an entirely different league. But that is changing rapidly with Trump and is ilk in office. Nepotism abounds.

He put his daughter at the table with the G-20 world leaders, rather than another elected official or a cabinet-level appointee. His daughter! Who has never held a job in her life that he didn’t hand to her or appoint her to. Who has no diplomatic experience whatsoever. Our president left the cockpit while the ship was under full sail, and he gave the helm to his unqualified and inexperienced daughter. Are the nuclear codes safe with him? Nothing else seems to be.

I wonder what we would have said to Obama if he had sat his daughter at that table in 2014? Seriously!

By inviting the Russians to jointly investigate cyber security, he is inviting the proverbial fox into the henhouse. This is foolish. The Russians are playing Trump like a fiddle. And we’re all sitting here watching in disbelief.

Trump is unqualified and unfit. We knew that all along, and even his GOP opponents proclaimed it before the election. Together with unqualified and unfit, he is now also uneducated and unsophisticated. The world laughs about us and about him. He doesn’t even seem think there is anything wrong. After all, his supporters wanted him to “fix America” and not the world. But with the role and influence of America in the world, that’s just not possible. He is passing world leadership to China and Russia, and that may never be reversed.

China and Russia are smarter, more experienced, more shrewd and more corrupt than we are.

And we are the laughing-stock of the world.

 

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Ivanka Trump sits at the table with Putin and Xi, while our president is absent. We have elected Donald Trump. We have not elected Ivanka or Jared. I consider the president a con man who faked his way into the presidency. Now we have a reality TV freak show running our government, and the Trump clan is systematically gaining notoriety, and wealth and influence, well beyond what I think they deserve.

There is no doubt, Trump is the most successful real estate salesman in the history of the world. I grant him that. That is a title he has earned.

But our country is not a reality show. Our country affects all of us, and in the end it affects me. The Trumpashians have hijacked the American government, and we’re letting it happen.

Ivanka probably thinks that she will inherit the presidency from her father one day, just like Kim Jong-un did from his. The nepotism and glaring inappropriateness of this in front of the world does not create sufficient outrage here in the United States.

They embarrass all of us, and it’s done in the name of the American people.

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  1. Address your base. Make it so opposition would be very uncomfortable.
  2. Hold rallies after you are elected, simply to rile up your supporters.
  3. Publish hotshot pictures, and today videos, of yourself physically beating up someone to show how tough you are and to lower the threshold of physical violence in your supporters.
  4. Find a common enemy, a scapegoat that can’t defend itself. Muslims in general are a good example. “The Media” portrayed as evil and dishonest is another example.
  5. Define opposition to your views as fake news.
  6. Define the attempt of discovering the truth of what happened as unpatriotic, or dishonest, or even criminal.
  7. Start attacking the Constitution and position it as opposed to the good of the people.
  8. Position yourself as the “only one who can solve these problems.”
  9. Equating your ambitions and goals with the “objectives of the people.”
  10. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat……

Trump has been using all those techniques to rile up his base.

Hitler did the same thing in 1932 and 1933, and successfully took power of an entire country with a minority of supporters, because those supporters quickly resorted to physical violence, silencing of the media by threat of physical violence, and quickly and unconstitutionally usurping police power in all areas of law enforcement. Once law enforcement was taken over, there was no turning back. The country was a thug, and it beat up its people. Then it beat up other people. It took 12 years, and 60 million deaths, to stop that thug. Then it took another half decade of misery before that country started its recovery.

Trump is working the Hitler playbook like a master. 2017 is 1933. Everything is on track.

This time it’s called: Make America Great Again.

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Modern Day Presidential

This man is truly nuts. Yet, we elected him to the presidency.

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Here is a little chart I put together listing numbers of deaths by various, sometimes surprising causes:

Cause of Death Annual Source
Islamic jihadist immigrants 2
Right-wing terrorists 5
Latex balloons 5 source
All Islamic terrorists (incl. US citizens) 9
Crushed by vending machines falling over 10 source
Armed toddlers 21
Lightning 31
Lawnmowers 69
Falling coconuts on beaches 150
Hit by a bus 264
Falling out of bed 450
Autoerotic asphyxiation 600 source
Automobile crashes 35000
Opioid drug overdoses 50000 source

I agree that some of these are less than serious, and when I researched them individually I found various discrepancies. For instance, I could not tell whether the number of people choking themselves while masturbating (autoerotic asphyxiation) is a world-wide or US statistic.

Then there are the lawnmowers, those vicious killers. I just could not believe that number, but as I researched, I found that lawnmower deaths are mostly due to rolling over into ponds and creeks, and drowning in the process. Some are due to riding the lawnmowers on streets and being run over by cars.

But my point actually is that our president has us all frothing at the mouth about evil terrorists coming into the United States and killing us. The entire nation is debating what we should do about those terrorists, and we are spending massive amounts of time talking about it in the national media. The courts are choked with it, all the way to the Supreme Court. With a partial ban in place, immigration facilities at airports are affected, needing manpower. Let alone all the lawsuits that will be filed on behalf of people who think they were wronged. This entire frenzy was created by a single, obsessed man, who has used this as a vehicle to gain power and to aggrandize himself.

If we really wanted to save American lives, making Americans safer, we should think about some of the other causes of death in the chart above.

For instance, we used to have a problem with lawn darts:

Over a period of eight years, lawn darts had sent 6,100 people to the emergency room. 81% of those cases involved children 15 or younger, and half of those were 10 or younger. The majority of injuries were to the head, face, eyes or ears, and many had led to permanent injury or disability.

— Google

Wow, we were able to make America safer by banning lawn darts! Now those 6,100 people over 8 years, or 762 a year, are no longer getting injured.

How about we ban latex balloons! It will save five children a year from choking to death. Let’s create a frenzy about that! Those evil balloon makers!

If President Trump and all our politicians were REALLY concerned with the health and safety of Americans, they would work on solutions to the opioid abuse epidemic we are dealing with in the United States right now. But they are not talking about that.

Trump does not care one bit about the health and safety of Americans. He cares about himself, and himself only. And his actions and inactions show that loud and clear.

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The Medicaid Disaster

A big stumbling block to getting a health care reform bill through the Senate (the House of Representatives passed one in May) is Medicaid. This is surprising, given that the program is probably the worst-designed health insurance system in the history of the Free World, ballooning in costs while providing clients with increasingly lousy care.

— Steve Forbes, Fact & Comment, Forbes Magazine, June 29, 2017

Here is a statement by the conservative financial media that I can wholeheartedly agree with. Check out the current Forbes issue for a good column about Medicaid and how it influences what is going on right now. There is more to the story than evil Republicans throwing people off of health insurance.

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Why would our government craft bills that allow hunters to kill bears while they hibernate, or wolves and their young in dens?

There has been a public outcry about Trump’s initiative. Looking at it further, it’s less about bears and wolves, than it is about governmental reach and what conservatives call “wrongful seizure of authority.” Of course, this was supported by the NRA and the Safari Club International.

In reality, however, most of those practices were already prohibited to sport hunters under Alaska law, and some of them, including hunting coyotes in their dens and killing hibernating bears and cubs, were permitted to subsistence hunters even under the federal regulations.

The deeper issue all along was state vs. federal control of wildlife management. Despite support from scientific, environmental, and animal welfare advocacy groups, the federal restrictions were considered intrusive and unwarranted by many Alaskans. The state filed a lawsuit in January 2017 contending that the rules amounted to federal overreach, harming the ecosystem and citizens of Alaska. With the support of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Safari Club International, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) introduced H.J. Res. 69 in February 2017 to redress what he termed a “wrongful seizure of authority”:

— Snopes

If you read the Snopes analysis you will come away with the realization that as a result of this, no more or less bears will really be affected. It’s about Obama, and undoing his initiatives, relentlessly, one after the other.

Since Trump has no real convictions, or strategy, or vision other than self-aggrandizement, he will sign anything his special interest friends and kleptocrats will put in front of him.

Bears be damned.

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