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Archive for the ‘Political’ Category

I was in disbelief. I googled and fact-checked. This really happened.

When Trump was passed over for Time Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year in favor of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish student who has risen to international fame for her powerful climate activism, his campaign eventually edited Trump’s head on Greta’s body on a fake cover of Time Magazine, framed in a Trump campaign text message.

I have two questions:

  1. What adult can possibly be jealous of a 16-year-old girl reaching the pinnacle of the media world by promoting a powerful message of world-impact?
  2. What President of the United States would possibly feel good about actually attacking a 16-year-old activist on social media because he was jealous of her?

Why doesn’t Trump invite the girl to the White House, congratulate her on her success, get to know her, and ask her questions about how he could help her with her mission? That is what any president in the history of our country would have done.

Until Trump.

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Nancy Pelosi and John F. Kennedy

Nancy Pelosi at age 20.

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Today I found this ad in my Facebook feed:

There are several current presidential hopeful front runners who routinely vilify billionaires, most notably Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. While I am generally aligned with most initiatives of the Democratic platform, I vehemently oppose this notion that “the billionaire class” is the root of our problems in America, and therefore we need to stick it to billionaires to “get even.” I really believe their type of economic extremism makes them unelectable.

This trend is not just American. Britain’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell during a protest stated that ““No one needs or deserves to have that much money, it is obscene,” during a protest of McDonald’s workers demanding higher wages.

In August of 2015 I wrote a post titled Musings about Vilifying Billionaires. This post is as valid today as it was when I first wrote it four years ago.

One of the best books about business I have read in a long time was Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. Here is my review from April 2018. Phil Knight is now number 16 on the Forbes 400 List with a net worth of $35.9 billion. Phil was a regular guy like you and I in the 1960s when he started selling shoes from the trunk of his car. The story of how he built Nike to what it is today is one of the most powerful stories ever told in business. If you have started and run your own business you will know how incredibly stressful and hard it is it make it work, succeed and survive.

Only somebody who has never had to make payroll, like a politician, will say something stupid like “nobody deserves to be a billionaire.” A statement like that exposes the speaker and is a testament to their ignorance and lack of understanding of basic economics.

Let’s go back to the meme above – Martha Kelly probably thinks it is the responsibility of the billionaires to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and cure the sick. And therefore, we should take the money away from the billionaires and let the government handle giving it to the poor. Yes – good luck with that! The same people that make asinine statements like “nobody deserves to be a billionaire” are the ones whom we’re going to entrust the money they are going to take away from the rich to properly distribute to the poor.

Bill Gates has given away more than $28 billion to charity, and he and his wife have managed how the money is being used. I trust Bill Gates 100 times more that the money is used in the right way and for the right causes than I’d ever trust Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren with the same money. Bill made the money, he knows its value, he understands how money works, and he has an intuitive knack for solving problems. Sanders and Warren do not have any of those skills, and neither do most bureaucrats in government.

When the self-appointed redistributors say they are going to take “a little away” from the rich, who decides who is rich and who is not? Where is the threshold? What’s to stop them from saying that if you make more than $80k in your family you are rich and you have to give your surplus to the poor? Who draws the lines?

I say we need to leave the capitalist system alone.

The workers at McDonald’s can ask about more wages all they want. If they are not contributing more for those more wages, they don’t “deserve” those wages.

If they are envious of the amount of money the CEO makes, why don’t they become the CEO? Problem solved. Oh, it’s hard? Ahh, there lies the rub.

If they want to be rich, why don’t they start a company, like a shoe company (Nike), or a software company (Google, Microsoft), or a rocket company (SpaceX), or a car company (Tesla) or an online retail company (Amazon), or a replacement of all taxis company (Uber), and they can be a billionaires. Hey, any of the people who built the companies I have listed here started from scratch.

Bill Gates was a college student who liked math.

Phil Knight was a jock who liked running and couldn’t find good shoes.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page were math students at Stanford.

Elon Musk came to Canada as a twenty-year-old with no money in his pocket. He shoveled out sewer tanks as one of this first jobs in America, before he started a car company and a rocket company in parallel.

Jeff Bezos started an online bookstore from scratch in 1994.

Read the biographies of these men and then come and tell me they don’t “deserve” to be rich!

The American system works. The tax system should be fair and even for all. But vilifying rich people because they were successful after defying all odds and worked their butts off all their lives does not work and will not get Sanders and Warren elected.

Now I have to get back to work. After all, it’s Sunday night and there is a lot yet to get done.

 

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It occurred to me that on March 30, 2019, I wrote a post titled Bring in the Clowns where I talked about the election in Ukraine and speculated that the front-runner in the Ukrainian election for president was a comedian – a comedian who is now world-famous as the president of Ukraine: Volodymyr Zelensky.

Made world-famous by the Trump impeachment scandal.

You might get a kick out of reading that post again. Link above.

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I am an independent voter. I do not vote for a party, or a platform, or an ideology. I vote for the person. When I look at the three front-runners in the Democratic Party, I have serious concerns. Then I saw this Huffington Post article, and it looks like Obama has the same concerns:

Though Obama did not mention anyone by name, the message delivered before a room of Democratic donors in Washington was a clear word of caution about the candidacies of Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. The two have called for massive structural changes — and in Sanders’ case “revolution” — that would dramatically alter the role of government in people’s lives.

Huffington Post Article on 11/16/2019

The bottom line of the message by Obama is that we need candidates who are in the “middle of the road” ideologically to be electable, otherwise the incumbent wins. Here are my concerns about the three front-runners:

Biden: He is too bumbling. He makes too many gaffes. He is not a very good speaker. (Of course, Trump can’t put a sentence together if his life depends on it, so that may not be a big problem). He would be, by far, the oldest president ever, which raises all kinds of health and senility concerns, so his vice presidential pick will be more important than ever.

Sanders: I love the man’s enthusiasm, energy and spunk. I wanted him to win in 2016 and voted for him in the primaries. But he has to stop talking about revolutions. Nobody wants revolutions. People want stability. He has to get better economic advisers, because a $15/hour minimum wage across the country is a ludicrous idea. It will not work, and it will destroy many of the service sectors which are so vital to our economy that is depending on an ever larger service sector. You have probably figured it out by now, but I am not in favor of the minimum wage craze the Democrats promote. But that’s fodder for another blog post entirely – to come soon.

Warren: She is somewhat younger than the other Democrats, but not by much. I like her stature, her energy, and her candor. But her healthcare platform is ridiculous. I have had employer-sponsored healthcare plans all my life, and I like the one I have right now, along with another some 160 million people around the country. So creating a universal health plan for all the people that are not covered for whatever reason is good, but making me abandon my plan so I can sign up for some government-cooked-up-plan is a non-starter. I will not vote for that. Period. And then I have a serious problem with Warren’s (and Sanders’) vilification of rich people and billionaires. It makes no sense to me at all, and yes, that too is fodder for another blog post – to come soon.

Those were the front runners. In a nation of 330 million people, those are the three we come up with to stand against Trump? Those are my choices? There are a few other worthy candidates in the field, but none of them are getting any traction.

Re-elect Trump, this will.

 

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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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