Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Encouraging Young Voters

During the Vietnam War the draft was a major source of resentment among college age students.  The age of the average soldier serving in Vietnam was 19, seven years younger than in World War II.  Young Americans were legally old enough to fight and die, but not permitted to vote.  Only after 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam, and four students in the vicinity of an anti-war protest on the campus of Kent State University were killed by National Guardsmen in 1970, did Congress pass the 26th Amendment in 1971, to allow 18 year olds to vote.

Today, America has one of the worst voting records in the free world.  In the 2010, national election, only 37.8 percent of eligible voters voted.  That means about 144 million Americans, which is more than the population of Russia, didn’t vote.

After the 2010 election the Democratic party became the minority in the House.  Democrats had to deal with the “Hastert Rule,” and prior to 2014, they had to deal with a record number of Senate filibusters.  Since 2014, Republicans have had control of both the House and Senate.

Speaker John Boehner and his Tea Party Republican House caucus was the least productive House in recent history.  House Republicans refuse to bring the minimum wage up for a vote, and defaulted on our debt, which cost our treasury $25 billion.

They could have helped the economy by rebuilding our nation's infrastructure and creating  jobs instead of giving companies tax cuts to send jobs overseas.  They could have allowed students to refinance their student loans, and save families $50 billion.

Area colleges and community leaders aren’t doing enough to encourage students to vote.  SUNY Delhi should have a voting district on campus instead of two miles away at the County Correctional Facility.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Encourage People to Vote


Fred Scheller is the publisher of  the Daily Star.  The following is an excerpt from his most recent column in The Oneonta Daily Star.
“I’m trying to figure out why we have a federal holiday for Christopher Columbus but we can’t figure out a way to do the same for Election Day?  To me, this is a no brainer.  All I hear is how politicians are going to represent the hard-working people of America.  Yet, we can’t give them a day off their factory job to vote.
“I hear the argument that it is not necessary.  The polls are open early, the polls are open late, and people can take off work for an hour or so.  But what’s wrong with making it convenient?  This is America, the land of convenience.  We have fast food, ice makers, microwaves, electronic car starters.  Our pharmacies have a drive-thru window, our lighters are disposable.  We love convenience. So why not on one of our most important days?  I guarantee the voting numbers will go up and isn’t that the goal? 
“Or is it?  I believe some of our politicians don’t want more people to vote.  It scares them, they like it just the way it is, predicable.  Why else would lawmakers work so hard to suppress voters?  Redistricting, restrictions on early voting, voter identification changes.  That is not encouraging people to vote.
“We are a democracy and democracy means by the people.  In my opinion, everyone should have off Election Day and be encouraged to vote.  How about every second Monday in October?”
I strongly agree that Election Day should be a federal holiday, but the date is already set by law for general elections of public officials.  It occurs on the Tuesday immediately after the first Monday in November.  The earliest possible date is November 2, and the latest possible date is November 8, as it will be this year.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

American Muslims


After hearing President Obama speech at Islamic Society of Baltimore, 17 year old, Aleena Khan wrote a letter to him explaining: "I am an American, I grew up here.  I say the Pledge of Allegiance every day.  And yet, I am a Muslim."  She thanked our President for his faith in Muslim-Americans, and told him that his speech was like an oxygen tank, allowing her to breathe a big sigh of relief.

Aleena’s mother is Indian-American, her father emigrated from Pakistan.  She and her two sisters have lived in Maryland their whole lives.

As part of an honors research project on identity crises among Muslim-American teenagers, Aleena had spent hours online combing through public comments on news articles about Muslims.

She has shocked to read comments like: “Kick them all out and put the rest in detainment camps.  Enough with the PC feces.”  Another commented: "The only peaceful and moderate Muslims are the dead ones."  A man wearing military camouflage tweeted: "Hard to tell what we should build first.  A border wall or a gas chamber for Muslims."

Even with Obama's encouragement, Aleena still has doubts that other Americans will accept her.  In her honors project, she pointed out: "Americans live in fear that Muslims will attack them.  Muslims live in fear that they will be attacked."

In her free time, Aleena has tutored young children, and volunteered for a company that helps poor and abused women sell handmade wares.  This fall, she began her freshman year at George Washington University in Washington, where she plans to study public policy.  She hopes, one day, to improve the foster care system, a goal inspired by a recent documentary.

If Aleena were an Orthodox Jew or conservative Christian, she would also feel like she was swimming against a cultural riptide.  But, few would question her American identity or allegiance to her homeland.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Starting With Facts


The following in an excerpt from a speech President Obama made on February 3, the day of his first visit to an American mosque as President.
“So let’s start with this fact:  For more than a thousand years, people have been drawn to Islam’s message of peace.  And the very word itself, Islam, comes from salam -- peace.  The standard greeting is as-salamu alaykum -- peace be upon you.  And like so many faiths, Islam is rooted in a commitment to compassion and mercy and justice and charity.  Whoever wants to enter paradise, the Prophet Muhammad taught, ‘let him treat people the way he would love to be treated.’  For Christians like myself, I’m assuming that sounds familiar. 
“The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are as diverse as humanity itself.  They are Arabs and Africans.  They're from Latin America to Southeast Asia; Brazilians, Nigerians, Bangladeshis, Indonesians.  They are white and brown and black.  There’s a large African American Muslim community.  That diversity is represented here today.  A 14-year-old boy in Texas who’s Muslim spoke for many when he wrote to me and said, ‘We just want to live in peace.’
“Here’s another fact: Islam has always been part of America.  Starting in colonial times, many of the slaves brought here from Africa were Muslim.  And even in their bondage, some kept their faith alive.  A few even won their freedom and became known to many Americans.  And when enshrining the freedom of religion in our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, our Founders meant what they said when they said it applied to all religions.
“Back then, Muslims were often called Mahometans.  And Thomas Jefferson explained that the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom he wrote was designed to protect all faiths -- and I’m quoting Thomas Jefferson now -- ‘the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan.’
“Jefferson and John Adams had their own copies of the Koran.  Benjamin Franklin wrote that ‘even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.’  So this is not a new thing.
“Generations of Muslim Americans helped to build our nation.  They were part of the flow of immigrants who became farmers and merchants.  They built America’s first mosque, surprisingly enough, in North Dakota.   America’s oldest surviving mosque is in Iowa.  The first Islamic center in New York City was built in the 1890s.  Muslim Americans worked on Henry Ford’s assembly line, cranking out cars.  A Muslim American designed the skyscrapers of Chicago.” 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Died For A Cause


Police in Charlotte, North Carolina reported that Rayquan Borum was arrested on suspicion of murdering protester Justin Carr, who was protesting the police-involved shooting death of a black man earlier in the week.

Many protesters were demonstrations their frustration and anger regarding the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a black Charlotte resident who authorities said failed to heed officers' commands to drop a weapon in an apartment complex parking lot.

Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Chief Kerr Putney told reporters: "A real-time crime center was able to supply footage from cameras" that helped investigators identify Rayquan Borum as a suspect.  Putney added: "Currently we are still conducting the interview (of Borum) as the investigation continues, but we already have established probable cause and made that arrest."

Justin Carr’s mother, Vivian said on "Anderson Cooper 360," that her son stopped off at the protest on his way to work, because he wanted to be able to tell his grandmother, who had marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., that he had taken part in the protest.

Justin’s mother pointed out: "I know that he died for a cause.  He wanted me to come down (to the protest) with him."  She decided not to because she worried that it was getting too dangerous.  Justin's brother Kenneth said: "Justin never had any problem speaking out about any particular situation or cause."

Police authorities and witnesses insist that the 26 year old Carr was shot as protesters and police faced off outside the Omni Hotel.  He was transported to a hospital, where he died.

Police said that a civilian was believed to have shot Justin Carr, but no arrest was made, because investigators were checking into allegations that a police officer might have fired the shot, so they reviewed the video.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Erdman West III


The Oneonta Daily Star recently published the following letter to the editor, that was submitted by Erdman West III.
“For the first time in history America does not have a choice between two viable candidates for president.  Donald Trump represents not democracy but fascism and threatens to bring our country to its knees in his service if elected.  Whether you love or hate Hillary Clinton, we must elect her or see the America we love become a thing of the past.  Why?  Please read a partial list of the many good reasons Donald Trump must not be given the highest office in the land and vote for Hillary Clinton.
“My opinion of Donald Trump: dishonest businessman, would-be dictator, racist, bigot, limited ability to concentrate, threatens nuclear war, liar, narcissist, limited vocabulary, demagogue, arrogant, uninformed, inarticulate, easily tricked into mindless rage, friend of dictator/murderer Putin, Trump denigrated John McCain (a war hero) and all POWs, makes fun of disabled Americans (singled out a reporter for mockery), threatens theocracy, fascist, asked that someone with a gun murder Hillary Clinton, encourages the KKK and white supremacy in general, sociopathic, psychopathic, accused of child molestation, under investigation for fake ‘University’ scam, has an ‘end ISIS’ plan but will allow our young servicemen and servicewomen to continue dying unless he is elected, threatens to desert our allies, betrays America by discussing his security briefings in public, used Russian television to attack America, lacks of basic grasp of domestic and foreign policy, anti-education, wife has posed nude, wife lied regarding her education, wants to end free press, attacks and insults our military leaders, does not support our returning service personnel, lies about donations to vets groups!”

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Blaming Government


Ronald Reagan claimed: “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”  That statement is false, because voters will soon decide whether our government continues to serve the very wealthy (oligarchy), or begins to serve all of our people (democracy).  Our government is the only institution that can protect the poor and the middle-class from the unrestrained greed of our capitalistic system.

Social Security is a very popular program, that has worked for 80 years.  It demonstrates that the claim: "government is the problem," is untrue.  Consequently, many congressional Republicans have wanted it to fail for decades.  George W. Bush wanted to privatize Social Security, so that Wall Street could gamble with the Social Security trust funds.

Reportedly, 62 percent of white working class Americans claim that our federal government bears all or most of the blame for the economic troubles facing the working class.  Furthermore, two-thirds of the white working class also feel that the federal government doesn't do enough to help members of their white working class.

But, among college-educated whites, working class blacks and Hispanics; less than half blame the economy on our government.  When it comes to whether our federal government should do more to help the working class, only 54 percent of educated whites agreed our government should do more, however more than two-thirds of working class blacks and Hispanics stand with their working class white peers that our government should provide more assistance.

Most members of the white working class tend to believe that politicians and government workers at all levels are ineffective at best and corrupt at worst.  Although, they’re mad at our federal government, they still want more help.  A survey of white working class voters show that they’re the backbone of Donald Trump’s support.  




Friday, September 23, 2016

Beyond Repair


Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates served both Republican and Democratic presidents.  He ran the CIA under President George H.W. Bush and served as defense secretary under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. 
Gates has criticized Trump’s ability to lead the United States, and said that the Republican nominee was “beyond repair” when it came to national security.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Gates wrote: “At least on national security, I believe Mr. Trump is beyond repair.  He is stubbornly uninformed about the world and how to lead our country and government, and temperamentally unsuited to lead our men and women in uniform.  He is unqualified and unfit to be commander-in-chief.”
Gates explained that Trump was clueless when it came to the American military and foreign policy, because Trump had praised Russian President Vladimir Putin repeatedly, threatened to not defend NATO countries, said he’d “bomb the shit” out of ISIS and seemed unfamiliar with Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Gates concluded: “Mr. Trump is also willfully ignorant about the rest of the world, about our military and its capabilities, and about government itself.  He disdains expertise and experience while touting his own such as his claim that he knows more about ISIS than America’s generals.  He has no clue about the difference between negotiating a business deal and negotiating with sovereign nations.”
“The world we confront is too perilous and too complex to have as president a man who believes he, and he alone, has all the answers and has no need to listen to anyone.  In domestic affairs, there are many checks on what a president can do; in national security there are few constraints.
“A thin-skinned, temperamental, shoot-from-the-hip and lip, uninformed commander-in-chief is too great a risk for America.”

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Subsidizing Billionaires


Donald Trump bragged in “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” that the conversion of a faded railroad hotel on 42nd Street into the sleek, 30-story Grand Hyatt, was a triumph from the very beginning.

However, that book, and numerous interviews over the years, haven’t mentioned that the deal to get the hotel built included an extraordinary 40 year tax break that has cost New York City $360 million so far in forgiven, or uncollected, taxes, with four years still to run, on a property that cost only $120 million to build in 1980.

Since then, Trump has reaped at least $885 million in tax breaks, grants and other subsidies for luxury apartments, hotels and office buildings in New York, according to city tax, housing and finance records.  The subsidies helped him lower his own costs and sell apartments at higher prices because of their reduced taxes.

It’s impossible to assess how much Trump pays in personal or corporate income taxes, because he has refused to release his tax returns, but an examination of his record shows how aggressively he has fought to lower the taxes on his projects.

Trump successfully sued the administration of Mayor Edward Koch after being denied a tax break for Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.  A 2001 lawsuit that spanned the administrations of Mayors Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, won a similar tax break for Trump World Tower with some of the city’s highest-priced condominiums.  The tax breaks for those two projects alone totaled $157 million.  The tax break for the 44 story Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle came to $15.9 million.

After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Trump lined up for a $150,000 grant for one of his buildings near ground zero, and took advantage of a program to help small businesses in the area recover, even though he had acknowledged on the day of the attacks that his building was undamaged.

By seeking those subsidies, Trump isn’t much different from most other developers, but claiming them seem to be at odds with his boasting that he’s an outsider candidate who has denounced the pay-to-play culture of politics and a “rigged” system of government.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Entitlements


In yesterday’s post Edward Dawyot didn’t specify how Democrats are “buying votes through entitlements.”
Hillary Clinton has pointed out: “The United States is an exceptional nation.”  It’s not just that we have the greatest military, or that our economy is larger than any on Earth, it’s also the strength of our values.  Our power comes with a responsibility to lead.”
Actually, America votes have an opportunity in the coming election to change the direction of humanity.  President Obama has started to reform our criminal justice system, by reducing the federal prison population; ending the use of solitary confinement for juveniles; reinvigorating the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; encouraging police and communities to work together to make sure that our streets are safe and that our law is applied equally.  Those issues aren’t entitlements, they are human rights issues.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is also a human rights issue.  It's about filling the gaps in employer-based care so that when you lose a job, go back to school, or start a new business, you'll still have coverage.  Nearly eighteen million have gained coverage so far.  Healthcare costs are growing at a historically low rates.  Our businesses have create more jobs every single month since ACA became law.
Human rights issues remain the goal of the national Democratic Party.  It wants to expand both Medicaid, and paid family leave; increase the minimum wage, and guarantee equal pay for equal work.
Many minority groups in our country are being treated differently under the law.  In order to remain exceptional our federal government must fund schools to the level that our children deserve.  People need to receive help signing up for health insurance.  They need access to affordable housing, and our veterans need to receive the benefits that they’ve earned.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Enslaving Minorities


In a letter published in The Oneonta Daily Star, Edward Dawyot claimed: “Remember, Lincoln and Republicans freed the slaves, but Democrats have worked to enslave minorities by buying votes through entitlements.”
In 1858, Lincoln said: “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races.”
The Emancipation Proclamation applied only to slaves in states in rebellion against the Union "shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
Lincoln didn’t see the Civil War as a struggle to free the nation’s 4 million slaves.  He recognized that emancipation would undermine the Confederacy while providing the Union with a new source of manpower to crush the rebellion.  The Emancipation Proclamation was a military measure, it didn’t apply to border slave states like Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri, all of which had remained loyal to the Union.  It only applied to places where the federal government had no control in Southern states fighting against the Union.  The Civil War did eventually  result in the 13th Amendment, that abolished slavery.
As JFK’s vice president, LBJ pushed for the introduction of the civil rights legislation, and predicted that the Democratic Party would lose the South.
It’s true that the KKK and the Old South was solidly Democratic for many years following the Civil War.  The Civil War was prosecuted by President Lincoln, and Southerners couldn’t bring themselves to vote for the party that defeated the South.
By signing the Civil Rights Act, President Lyndon Johnson knew that the Democratic Party would lose the South, but signed the legislation anyway.  Led by Senator Strom Thurmond, of South Carolina, the south turned solidly Republican.
Today, the Republican party of Lincoln has become the party that welcomes racist.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Disgusting Fraud


Members of the Congressional Black Caucus criticized the way Donald Trump delivered his admission, that President Obama was born in the United States.  They insisted it was insufficient and demanded an apology for the years Trump promoted his "birther" claim.
Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat from North Carolina and the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus said: "Donald Trump is a disgusting fraud."
Butterfield and many other members, made comments at a news conference on a noisy Washington street corner, just outside a convention center where many were attending events for "Congressional Black Caucus Week."

One by one, members called Trump names, that included "hater," "bigot" and "racial arsonist."  They stressed that they were speaking on behalf of the group's political action committee, which endorsed the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and not the caucus itself.

They were outraged, when Trump concluded a campaign event at his new hotel, with a few blunt sentences that admitted that Obama was born in America. 

Virgin Islands delegate Stacey Plasket claimed that Trump only addressed the matter because "he was forced to address it.  Did he address in the a manner that showed him incorrect?  No.  He has moved on."

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York urged voters: “Run to the polls to make sure this hater is not elected as the next president of the United States of America." 

Trump is considered the leader of the birther movement.  He took credit for Obama releasing his long-form birth certificate five years ago.  He is trying to boost his popularity among minority voters by traveling to places like Detroit and Flint, Michigan, and promising to address inner-city crime and expand education opportunities in urban areas.

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed Trump had only 3 percent support among African-American voters.  

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Campaigning for Hillary


Michelle Obama is hoping to galvanize suburban voters behind a candidate she once strongly opposed.
At a campaign rally in northern Virginia, Michelle Obama will speak to convince Obama supporters that Hillary Clinton is also worthy of their votes.  She is entering a race more bitterly fought than either of her husband's election battles.  Largely averse to partisan bickering, our first lady hopes to avoid being dragged into this year's fracas, instead making the case for Clinton as a uniquely qualified candidate.

Our First Lady’s communications director, Caroline Adler Morales explained: "Her focus will be on urging voters in key swing states, especially young people and African Americans, to register to vote, and be sure to cast their vote in November.  The first lady's remarks supporting Secretary Clinton will be focused on the qualifications and demeanor a president needs, the values we hold dear as Americans, and our shared hopes for the future."

Those were the themes that Michelle Obama addressed during a well-received speech at this summer's Democratic National Convention.

An excerpt from that speech pointed out: “That is what Barack and I think about every day as he tried to guide and protect our girls from the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight.  How we urged them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith.  How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country.  How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don't stoop to their level.  Our motto is, when they go low, we go high.

“With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us.  We as parents are the most important role model.”

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pay to Play


Although, Donald Trump has repeatedly denounced pay-to-play politics during his campaign, he has a long history of circumventing the rules governing contributions and lobbying.

He paid a $2,500 penalty to the Internal Revenue Service in 2013.  The penalty amounted to a slap of his wrist for a decades-long record of ignoring political donation limits.

In the 1980s, Trump was compelled to testify under oath before New York State officials after he directed tens of thousands of dollars to the president of the New York City Council through countless subsidiary companies to evade contribution limits.  In the 1990s, the Federal Election Commission fined Trump for exceeding the annual limit on campaign contributions by $47,050.  In 2000, the New York State lobbying commission imposed a $250,000 fine for Trump’s failure to disclose the full extent of his lobbying of state legislators.

When testifying in 1988 regarding a $50,000 bank loan on behalf of Andrew J. Stein’s successful campaign for New York City Council president, Trump told the New York State Commission on Government Integrity: “I was under the impression that I was getting my money back.”

Trump is now defending himself against claims that in 2013, he donated $25,000 to a group supporting Florida’s Attorney General, Pam Bondi, to sway her office from investigating fraud allegations at Trump University.

According to “The Orlando Sentinel” just days before the New York State attorney general’s office sued Trump University, Ms. Bondi’s office was weighing whether to join in that litigation.

An aide to Ms. Bondi told The Associated Press, that the attorney general had solicited the donation in a conversation with Trump weeks before The Orlando Sentinel’s article.  Furthermore, Trump made the donation from his charitable foundation, in violation of tax regulations, and paid a penalty.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Growing Older


Hillary Clinton’s personal physician Dr. Lisa Bardack reported that she’d been diagnosed with pneumonia two days before attending the 9/11 memorial ceremony.  Although, she had been advised to lighten her schedule, she insisted on attending the event.  

After about 90 minuets, she began experiencing the warning sensation of overheating, which prompted her to leave an outdoor event in the summer sun.  She and her Secret Service detail departed the event and went to her daughter's apartment. 

A video showed her on the verge of fainting as she got into a waiting vehicle.  Another, video showed Hillary emerging from her daughter's apartment having recovered fairly quickly.  Her personal physician stated the episode occurred due to a combination of dehydration and overheating.

That morning the air temperature in New York City was in the lower 80’s, which doesn’t seem to be particularly hot to most people.  However, it can feel a lot warmer for an elderly person especially if their dressed in a dark outfit like Hillary has wearing.  Staying out of the sun and drinking plenty of water is very important as we grow older. 

To evaluate Hillary’s fainting spell, Dr. Bardack determined, that her heart wasn’t involved.  Whenever, the heart goes into an atypical rhythm, it’s not able to supply a sufficient amount of  blood to the brain.  Hillary’s medical history and the specific circumstances indicate a blood pressure drop.

Standing for 90 minuets allows blood to leave the upper body and begin pooling in the lower body.  The heart tries to make up for the lack of sufficient blood in its chambers, so that it sometimes overstimulates itself into activating a part of the nervous system that's normally responsible for bringing down the heart rate and blood pressure.

Even presidents are susceptible to infections and fainting spells.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Elections Matter


According to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in 2015 rose to $56,516.  That was an increase of 5.2 percent from the previous year.  It marks the first increase in median income since 2007, the year before the Great Recession.

Furthermore, the poverty rate ticked down to 13.5 percent in 2015, from 14.8 percent in 2014.

Census officials have reported that behind the pay hike is a significant increase in employment.  Roughly, 3.3 million more Americans were working full-time, year-round, thereby pushing up median income.  About 1.4 million more men and 1 million more women had jobs last year, resulting in the annual unemployment rate falling to 5.3 percent in 2015, compared to 6.2 percent in 2014.

These statistics shows that the economy has been improving, and confirm that the measures to encourage increases in employment, wages and healthcare are beginning to pay off.  The minimum wage increases and Medicaid expansion are examples of real change.  And, the lowest-income Americans saw their incomes rise the most, while the top 10 percent has had the weakest growth.

Our economy hasn't fully healed, because the median household income remains 2.4 percent lower than it was in 1999, when it peaked at $57,909. 

According to the Economic Policy Institute, since 2000, the median earnings for men working full-time are down 0.1, but the earning of women are up 7.8 percent.  

Income inequality remained at the same level as 2014.  It has increased by 5.5 percent since 1993.  However, the poverty rate is the lowest it's been since 2008, when it was 13.2 percent.

The poverty threshold for two adults and two children was just over $24,000 last year.  In 2015,  43.1 million Americans were in poverty, which was 3.5 million less than in 2014.  The last time the poverty rate went down more than a percentage point was in the late 1960s.

In 2015, food stamps lifted 4.6 million people above the poverty line.  However,  FDR’s Social Security kept 26.6 million people out of poverty. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Demanding Change


Second-string quarterback, for the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick  refuses to stand for the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the 49ers pre-season games.
He announced: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.  To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.  There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
He’s protesting police violence against African Americans.  Donald Trump, has called for Colin Kaepernick  to leave the country.
President Obama explained:"As a general matter, when it comes to the flag the national anthem and the meaning that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who've fought for us -- that is a tough thing for them to get past to then hear what his deeper concerns are.
“But I don't doubt his sincerity.  I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that need to be talked about and if nothing else what he's doing has generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about.
“But I'd rather have young people engaged in the argument and trying to think through how they can be part of our democratic process than those who are just sitting on the sidelines."
Kaepernick is supported by Tommie Smith and John Carlos, whose raised-fist protest atop the medal podium, in the 1968 Summer Olympics caused a huge controversy.  Smith won the gold medal, and set a record of 19.83 seconds in the 200 meter dash.  Their Black Power salutes were seen as politicizing the Olympic Games.  Those salutes remain a symbolic moment in the history of the African- America Civil Rights Movement.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Outlandish Statements


Last month, President Obama commented that Trump was unqualified to succeed him as commander in chief.  Recently he added: "Every time he speaks that opinion is confirmed.  I think the most important thing for the public and the press is to just listen to what he says and follow-up and ask questions about what appear to be either contradictory or uninformed or outright wacky ideas."
Obama has warned against becoming immune to Trump's outlandish statements, because the stakes of this presidential contest are too high for us to tune them out.  He explained:"People start thinking behavior that in normal times we would consider completely unacceptable and outrageous becomes normalized.  People start thinking that we should be grading on a curve.  But I can tell you from the interactions I have had over the last eight or nine days with foreign leaders that this is serious business."
When Obama goes abroad, foreign leaders often ask him questions about our presidential contest.  He’s concerned that Trump isn’t prepared when it comes to foreign policy, because: "You actually have to know what you are talking about and you actually have to have done your homework.  When you speak, it should actually reflect thought-out policy you can implement."
Don’t expect the media to always hold Trump accountable.  When Matt Lauer interviewed Trump at the NBC forum aboard the Intrepid, Trump lied.  He claimed, that he had opposed the Iraq War.  Instead of correcting Trump, Lauer just smiled and moved on to the next question.
Some members of the press have lowered the bar for Trump, by painting him as a run-of-the-mill candidate with strengths and weaknesses.  Trump isn’t a typical candidate.  In this campaign, Hillary Clinton has pointed out that we’ll have to do what the press won't.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Personal Emails


Former Secretary of State Colin Powell told his successor, Hillary Clinton, that he used his own personal computer to communicate with friends and foreign leaders and sent emails without going through the State Department server, according to emails released by congressional Democrats.
Clinton had reached out to Powell when she began serving as the nation's top diplomat to find out how he used personal devices.  In a four-paragraph email response, Powell told Clinton he didn't use a BlackBerry, but detailed how he got around having his communications with both employees and people outside the State Department from becoming part of the agency's official record.

He wrote: “What I did do was have a personal computer that was hooked up to a private phone line.  So I could communicate with a wide range of friends directly without it going through the State Department on their personal email accounts.  I did the same thing on the road in hotels.”
Clinton's use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state has loomed over her presidential campaign and spurred intense criticism from Republicans.  The email exchange between Clinton and Powell was released by the State Department after Democrats on the House Oversight Committee pressed for it.  They complained the full exchange was not part of earlier email document releases from the department that Republicans in Congress have asked for as part of their probe into Clinton's email use.

FBI Director James Comey defended the bureau’s release of documents from Hillary Clinton email investigation by saying that “we don't play games” and that the documents were put out when ready.
In a memo to FBI employees Comey wrote: “At the end of the day, the case itself was not a cliff-hanger; despite all the chest-beating by people no longer in government, there really wasn't a prosecutable case.”

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Poverty


Living in a wealthy country means very little to people who work 40 hours a week and live in poverty. 

A Pew Research analysis of Census data found, that of the 11 million black children living in America, 2 out of every 5, children live in poverty.  Pew defined poverty as a family of four with two children that has income of less than $24,000 a year.

The number of children living in poverty in our country declined from 16.3 million in 2010 to 14.7 million in 2013, the differences by race and ethnicity are stark.  In 2013, one out of every three Hispanic children of the 18 million Hispanic children in the country, lived in poverty compared to 1 out of every 10 white children and 1 out of every 10 Asian children.

Although, black children are more likely to live in poverty, the total number of impoverished Hispanic children (5.4 million) is higher than that of blacks (4.2 million), whites (4.1 million) or Asians (0.4 million) simply because there are more of them.

Blacks are more likely to be unemployed and earn less than those from other races.  Last month, the unemployment rate for blacks was 9.5 percent, compared to 6.6 percent for Hispanics, 4.6 percent for whites and 3.8 percent for Asians.  Since 2001, one million more black children have slipped into poverty.

In 2013, the median household income for Asians was $72,000, compared to $57,000 for whites, $41,000 for Hispanics and $35,000 for blacks.

Education plays a key role in income and earning potential.  More than half,  52 percent of Asian adults over 25 have a bachelor's degree, compared to 33 percent of whites, 19 percent of blacks and 14 percent of Hispanics.  A bachelor degree matters regardless of who you are.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Economic Advantage


Hillary Clinton noted in yesterday’s post, that when Trump was asked how he would stop the spread of global terrorism, he replied: “take the oil.”  Unfortunately, Hillary like most Americans find it very difficult to admit that our CIA and military have had a long history of stealing natural resources from other countries.

Marine Corps, Major General Smedley Butler, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor twice, spoke in 1933 at the VFW national convention.  He said: “A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people.  Only a small inside group knows what it is about.  It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.” 

In 1953, a CIA-backed coup against the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh.  He had insisted on a 50/50 split of the oil profits with the the British owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.  The coup installed the Shah to power, and brought twenty-five years of tyranny and repression upon the Iranian people, which concluded with the Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution.  That covert operation helped convince many people throughout the Islamic world that America was its mortal enemy.

Some of the Islamic extremists we are now fighting are the very group that we supported and subsidized throughout the 1980s in the name of fighting communism in Afghanistan.

Former senior member of our intelligence community, Michael Scheuer has two decades of experience in national security issues.  While with the CIA, he wrote "Imperial Hubris." under the pseudonym Anonymous.

Scheuer warned: “We must recognize that our invasion of Iraq was not preemptive; it was an avarice, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat but whose defeat did offer economic advantages.”

Friday, September 09, 2016

More Evidence


At a news conference on 8/8/16, Hillary Clinton noted: “Let me be clear: Last night was yet another test, and Donald Trump failed yet again.  We saw more evidence that he is temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be commander in chief.
“He trash-talks American generals, saying they’ve been, quote, ‘reduced to rubble.’  He suggested he would fire them and replace them with his hand-picked generals.  He attacked dozens of former flag officers by saying that, quote, ‘We’ve (sic) been losing for us for a long time.’
“That’s how he talks about distinguished men and women who have spent their lives serving our country, sacrificing for us.  That’s how he would act as commander in chief.
“Meanwhile, bizarrely once again, he praised Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin, even taking the astonishing step of suggesting that he prefers the Russian president to our American president.  Now, that is not just unpatriotic and insulting to the people of our country, as well as to our commander in chief.  It is scary because it suggests he will let Putin do whatever Putin wants to do, and then make excuses for him.
“I was just thinking about all of the presidents that would just be looking at one another in total astonishment.  What would Ronald Reagan say about a Republican nominee who attacks America’s generals and heaps praise on Russia’s president?  I think we know the answer.
“And when asked how he would stop the spread of global terrorism, Trump’s answer was simply ‘take the oil.’  The United States of America does not invade other countries to plunder and pillage.  We don’t send our brave men and women around the world to steal oil.  And that’s not even getting into the absurdity of what it would involve: massive infrastructure, large numbers of troops, many years on the ground.  Of course, Trump hasn’t thought through any of that.
“Every Republican holding or seeking office in this country should be asked if they agree with Donald Trump about these statements.”

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Come Together


Our economy has recovered from the 2007-10 crisis stronger than almost every other country in the world.  There are people still hurting, because we still have a large racial gap when it comes to economic opportunity. 

Overall the unemployment rate is 4.9 percent, but the black unemployment rate is about nine.  There is still an achievement gap for black youth, who are graduating from high school and college at lower rates than white youth.  There is still a gender gap when a black women working full-time still earns 66 percent of what a white man gets paid.

There is still a justice gap when too many black youth pass from an education system that underfunds its schools to overcrowded jails.  Black men are about six times likelier to be in prison today, than white men.

Coming together will require that successful people not walk by a homeless man without asking why a society as wealthy as ours continues to allow homelessness to occur.  Low-level dealer shouldn’t be locked up without asking why that person, barely out of childhood, felt they had no other option.  That youth might be just as smart and talented as our child, but has been ground down by institutionalized incompetence that is terribly unfair and unjust.

Too often very successful adults don’t realize how lucky they’ve been.  When hearing the words of God Bless America, we should all allow our moral imagination to empathize with less fortunate people who are struggling.  That should include refugee, immigrant, both rural and city poor, transgender people, and also, the middle-aged white person who may have had all the advantages at one time, but over the last several decades has seen their world upended by economic, cultural and technological change, and feels powerless to stop it. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Dumb Idea


We now know, that if Donald Trump is elected President and Republicans continue to control both Houses of Congress there would be “no amnesty” for undocumented immigrants living in our country.  That puts to rest the questions about whether he was softening his stance on the issue.

He announced: "For those here illegally today who are seeking legal status, they will have one route and one route only.  To return home and apply for re-entry like everybody else under the rules of the new legal immigration system that I have outlined today.
He vowed to create a "deportation task force" within the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division "focused on identifying and quickly removing the most dangerous criminal illegal aliens in America.”  Ever since taking office, President Obama has focused on removing undocumented criminals that have committed crimes.

Trump has promised to repeal President Obama's executive orders shielding some younger undocumented people, including those born in the United States -- so called Dreamers, from deportation.

The number of people trying to cross our border illegally is near its lowest level in 40 years.  It’s lower than during the Reagan administration.  New immigrants are customers, and they start about 30 percent of all new businesses in America.  

Misinformed voters think that immigrants are getting a lot from our government, however they pay a lot more in taxes than they receive in services, and they certainly aren’t the main reason wages haven’t gone up for middle-class families.  Those decisions are made in the boardrooms of companies where top CEOs are getting paid more than 300 times the income of the average worker.

Deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants would cost taxpayers billions of dollars, while tearing families apart.  Logistically, it would be impossible, and it wouldn’t do anything to help the middle class.  

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Blistering Attack


Donald Trump has tried to expand his outreach to African-Americans and Hispanics, who disapprove of his denunciations of undocumented immigrants, and his proposal of building a wall along the Mexican border that would be paid for by the Mexican government.

After, Trump claimed that our former Secretary of State, Clinton was "a bigot" who panders to minorities,  Hillary Clinton decided to delivered an attack on Trump by explaining that he has become a champion of hate speech groups, conspiracy theories, and a representative of the far-right fringe of the Republican Party.

Trump is linked to the "alt-right" movement.  Clinton pointed out: "From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia.  He is taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party.  His disregard for the values that make our country great is profoundly dangerous.  Trump is a candidate with a long history of racial discrimination, who traffics in dark conspiracy theories drawn from the pages of the supermarket tabloids and the far, dark reaches of the internet."

She reminded voters that Trump opened his campaign by suggesting that some undocumented immigrants from Mexico were rapists and criminals, and that Trump hired Steve Bannon, the former chairman of Breitbart News, as his campaign's chief executive.

Clinton accused Trump of embracing the ideas of the "alt-right" movement that has closely tied to white nationalism and has been criticized as racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic.  She said: “alt-right” thinkers and writers have found a home at conservative news sites like Breitbart.

Trump was slow to disavow praise from former Klan leader David Duke during the Republican primaries.  Clinton alleged that Trump was trying to bring a hate movement into the mainstream to attract members of the Ku Klux Klan. 

Monday, September 05, 2016

Still Gaining Jobs


So far this year, our economy has added over a 1 million jobs.  It added 151,000 jobs in August, which was considerably less than the 275,000 new jobs in July.

Earlier this year the unemployment rate fell below 5 percent for the first time since 2008.  It remains at 4.9 percent.  Experts consider 4.9 percent unemployment to be at or near the level consider full employment for our economy.  Job growth is predicted to slow.  Some Fed officials claim, that our economy only needs to add roughly 100,000 jobs a month to keep the unemployment rate this low.

Since 2010, the August jobs report has been historically volatile and weak. It is usually the worst month for jobs gains, when first published.  The Labor Department revises each month twice, so those figures could change.

Wage growth slowed in August, after showing signs of momentum in previous months.  Paychecks grew 2.4 percent last month compared to a year ago.  Wages have been one of the slowest to move in the right direction.  Their slow pace is the primary reason why our economic recovery hasn’t been felt by most American.

Employment in construction, manufacturing and mining, which are typically good-paying jobs declined in August.  All together, those industries lost 24,000 jobs last month.

Part of the slowdown in manufacturing is the result of a slow global economy and the strong U.S. dollar.  Our strong currency makes American products more expensive, and less attractive to foreign buyers.

Financial services, health care and food industries showed double-digit growth in jobs.  America's economic growth has averaged about 1 percent in the first half of this year.

A Federal Reserve rate hike was most likely to have occurred if the August job report had been very strong.  However, August job gains fell below expectations.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Sound Off


The Oneonta Daily Star is allowing its readers to vent their anger and frustration, while remaining anonymous.
An anonymous writer quoted from a recent letter submitted by Richard Stinson, who suggested: “Republicans, do the right thing on Election Day, vote for anyone but Trump.  Help get our country back on the right track.” 
Actually, we’re on the right track.  Our deficits have come down, our auto industry has had record sales, unemployment reached an eight-year low, and we’ve witnessed a record of 71 months of private sector job growth.
Nevertheless, the anonymous writer’s response was: “Really?  Here we are at a time when our economic policies are crashing due to the Democratic giveaways leading us to 19 Trillion that makes every U.S citizen owing an average of $400,000 each!  We tried it your way, Mr. Stinson, and we are all about ready to crash and burn economically, which is why we need someone like Trump to stop the Democratic machine from giving hard-earned tax dollars to buy votes for their party!  If it’s free it’s for me attitude in life is about to come to an abrupt end as there is no money left for the Democratic Party to squander!   This raises a question about The Daily Star’s non-balanced reporting concerning Sam Pollak and Cary Brunswick.  This paper has and is being called a ‘Rag’ for good reason as Trump is never endorsed and Hillary’s ongoing issues are not reported by these people in charge?  Fred, what’s going on?  Sam writes with a personal agenda, which is why he needs to go for not being fair and balanced.  He states he has big shoulders to handle controversy or is it just his misuse of power of the pen?  Either way, the people deserve truthful, unbiased reporting!”
Fred Scheller is the publisher, and Pollak is the editor of the paper.  The anonymous writer, who obviously is a Trump supporter appears to be urging Scheller to censor what Pollak and Brunswick write.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Tax Fairness


Executive Director of “Americans for Tax Fairness” Frank Clemente insists multinational corporations and the wealthy don’t pay their fair share in taxes, and live by their own set of rules.

After an exhaustive investigation, the European Commission recently found that Ireland’s tax arrangements with Apple has been illegal.  By using various forms of tax avoidance, Apple owes back taxes to Ireland of up to $14.5 billion on its European profits.  Apple has more than $215 billion in profits stashed offshore on which it could owe the American people more than $60 billion in taxes.

“Americans for Tax Fairness” and “SumOfUs” have demanded that our Treasury Department initiate an investigates of Apple for shifting profits out of our country in order to dodge paying taxes.  Members of Congress should begin conducting investigations into those tax loopholes that allow Apple and other multinational corporations to avoid paying their fair share in taxes.  The law may need to be changed.

Apple is a prime example of American multinational corporations that avoid paying their fair share of taxes by profit shifting.  For years, they’ve been hiding profits generated here in America by stashing those profits in offshore tax havens, like Ireland.  They do this because a huge tax loophole that was created by Congress.  It’s known as deferral, and allows them to avoid paying taxes on those profits until are returned to America, which may never happen.  

Multinationals corporations have $2.4 trillion in untaxed profits offshore, with most of it in tax havens.  They owe up to $700 billion in back taxes on those profits.

We need a tax system that works for all Americans, not just the wealthy and corporations.  Congress and our Treasury Department should immediately start investigating Apple for massive offshore profit shifting and tax dodging.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Violated Federal Law

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack  has suggested that Donald Trump may have violated federal law, when he expressed hope that Russia would hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Vilsack raised the possibility that Trump could have violated the Logan Act which prohibits Americans from “siding with the enemy.”  He was referring to Trump’s comment: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.  I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

The 200-year-old Logan Act bars Americans from engaging in “correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government … with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.”

In a follow-up interview, Vilstack was asked if he believed Trump had actually violated the Logan Act, he answered: “I think certainly at the very least it was inappropriate for him to side with Russia, and I think it’s another indication of why he’s disqualified to be president.”

On Fox News, Trump argued: "Of course I'm being sarcastic.  But you have 33,000 emails deleted, and the real problem is what was said on those emails from the Democratic National Committee.  You take a look at what was said on those emails, it's disgraceful."

How does Trump know that the content of those e-mails are “disgraceful,” if no one was looked at them?

The Clinton campaign referred a request for comment to senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan.  Sullivan noted: "This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent.  That's not hyperbole, those are just the facts.  This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue."

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Violence


The following in an excerpt from a speech by Robert  F. Kennedy on April 5, 1968. 

“For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night.  This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay.  This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors.  This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

“This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men.  And this too afflicts us all.  I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done.  When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies - to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.

“We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community, men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort.  We learn to share only a common fear - only a common desire to retreat from each other - only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force.  For all this there are no final answers.

“Yet we know what we must do.  It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens.  The question is now what programs we should seek to enact.  The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of human purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

“We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all.  We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others.  We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

“Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land.  Of course we cannot vanish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

“But we can perhaps remember - even if only for a time - that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short movement of life, that they seek - as we do - nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

“Surely this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something.  Surely we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our hearts brothers and countrymen once again.”

By the way, I had the privilege of shaking RFK’s hand in 1964, on Union Street in front of the Schenectady Boy’s Club, when he was running for the Senate.