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.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Trump’s Tax Plan


President-elect Donald Trump’s tax plan could increase the deficit by $7.1 trillion, unless massive cuts are made in benefits and services that working Americans depend on.  Three-quarters of lost revenues would come from corporate and business tax breaks that mostly benefit the rich.  The top 0.1 percent of households, which includes Trump’s family would get an annual tax cut of about $1.1 million each.  Nearly half of the tax cuts would go to the top 1 percent of households, who would get a tax break of nearly $215,000 a year.  The bottom 20 percent get a tax cut of just $110.

Corporate tax rates would be cut by nearly 60 percent from 35 percent to 15 percent, thereby losing $2.6 trillion over 10 years.   Corporations are already circumventing their fair share of taxes at a time of record profits.  Only $1 out of every $9 of federal revenue now comes from corporate taxes; sixty-five years ago it was $1 out of every $3.

Presently, American corporations hold $2.5 trillion in earnings offshore on which they owe more than $700 billion in taxes.  Trump’s plan would raise less than $150 billion, by cutting the tax rate on those offshore profits from 35 percent to just 10 percent on cash and only 4 percent on non-cash assets.  Trump’s plan would give tax-dodging multinational corporations with profits stashed offshore a tax cut of more than $550 billion.

Trump wants to increases taxes on nearly 9 million families while reducing the top tax rate on the wealthy from about 40 percent to 33 percent.  His plan to consolidate and lower tax brackets, would cost $1.5 trillion over 10 years, and mostly benefit the very wealthy.  As taxes decline considerably for the most wealthy, they’d increase for 8.7 million for most low-and middle-income families with children. 

Trump’s plan would lose $1.5 trillion, by slashing the top tax rate on hedge funds from nearly 40 percent to 15 percent.  Trump would cut the tax rate on the owners of so-called “pass-through entities” by as much as two-thirds.  Owners of larger pass-throughs would be taxed at the dividend rate of 20 percent.  Trump is the sole or principal owner of 500 pass-through entities, and he’d personally benefit a great deal from that massive tax giveaway.

The federal estate tax is only paid by estates worth at least $5.5 million.  Trump’s plan would lose an additional $174 billion, by eliminating estate and gift taxes, in order to boost the inheritances of millionaires and billionaires.  Assuming Trump is worth the $10 billion he claims, the change could give Trump’s heirs a tax break of billions of dollars.  

Friday, December 30, 2016

Opiate of the People


We repeatedly hear the term "family values" from Republican politicians and many of their supporters.  However, the election of Donald Trump, and his nominations for cabinet positions, indicates that they only care about corporate values.  First and foremost corporations are concerned about their bottom line.  Corporate values include pushing down wages, maximizing profits, cutting health benefits, laying off workers, and making use of more automation, which does nothing to enhance family values.
Their agenda will resulted in the destabilization of family life in America.  For at least the next two years, Trump’s unrestrained extreme form of capitalism will be practiced without shame by the very rich and powerful.
Bush and Trump were never compassionate conservative and neither has any compassion for the average worker.  Trump and his congressional lap dogs will provided the wealthy with huge tax cuts in order to ensured unconscionable profits especially for big oil, pharmaceutical companies and defense contractors.  The wealthy and very profitable corporations will continue to hide money overseas to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
As the gap between the obscenely rich and the desperately poor continues to grow, life will becomes increasingly difficult for working class Americans.  Many will find themselves working harder to stay afloat with fewer benefits, insufficient incomes, and much less job security.
Righteous propagandist have already started urging working class people to have faith in Jesus Christ, because no matter how bad things may become, around the next turn better things may be in store for them.  Whenever, people of faith don’t recognize that deceitfulness, Karl Marx's famous quote: “Religion is the opiate of the people,” gains credibility.
Hopefully, people of faith will realize that they’ve been manipulated by the most vindictive, cruel, corrupt, incompetent, unaccountable and dangerous administration our country may have ever experienced.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Lies


Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels insisted: “A lie, repeated often enough, will end up as truth.”

Donald Trump denied that he said: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
He said: “I did not support the war in Iraq.”  Actually, he supported the invasion of Iraq before it took place and only said that he opposed the war after the war started.
Trump asserted the unemployment was as high as 42 percent.  In fact, employment has been rising since the end of the Great Recession.
Trump falsely claimed: “One of the great giveaways of all time, of all time, including four hundred million dollars in cash nobody’s ever seen that before that turned out to be wrong.”  Actually, the money belonged to Iran, for military goods never delivered after the Iranian Revolution.
Trump repeatedly insists: “The murder rate in the United States is the largest it’s been in 45 years.”  According to the FBI, the murder rate is near a 50-year low. 
He repeatedly announced, that he won the election by a “landslide.”  In reality, he lost the popular vote by over 2.9 million votes.

He repeatedly alleges that the election was marred by “massive voting fraud” when in fact there’s no evidence of voting fraud, unless you consider Russian hacking dishonest. 

A democracy can only function on the basis of truth.  If the public is repeatedly told by its president that the murder rate is soaring, it may support policies such as harsher policing and sentencing.  If repeatedly told that Trump won by a landslide, the public may give him a mandate he doesn't deserve.  If told of “massive voter fraud” the public may support further efforts to suppress votes through rigid ID requirements. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Protecting the Environment


The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as rest of the globe.  Therefore, President Obama decided to taken action to prevent offshore drilling in areas of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans indefinitely.  He relied on a 63-year-old law, which will prevent future leasing of certain offshore areas for oil rights.  The 1953, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act allows presidents to withdraw lands from future leasing.  It's been used by past administrations to restrict oil exploration on the West and East coasts, however each time the ban on those leases was given an expiration date.  Obama’s executive order will move beyond those restrictions, by preventing future presidents from taking swift action to reopen oil exploration in restricted areas.

Obama declared 31 canyons off the Atlantic coast off-limits for drilling, citing “critical and irreplaceable” ecological value.  And, the entire America’s portion of the Chukchi sea and a majority of the Beaufort Sea, "indefinitely off limits for future oil and gas leasing," by citing critical protection for the marine mammals, ecological resources and native populations.

President Obama's initiatives will be more difficult to reverse since they will require using a law and not executive action.

Senior vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, Dan Naatz complained: “Instead of building on our nation's position as a global energy leader, today's unilateral mandate could put America back on a path of energy dependence for decades to come.  We disagree with this last-minute political rhetoric coming from the Obama administration and contest this decision by the outgoing administration as disingenuous.  With exactly one month left in office, President Obama chose to succumb to environmental extremists demands to keep our nation's affordable and abundant energy supplies away from those who need it the most by keeping them in the ground.”

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Perverted Good Intentions


Inspirational speaker and writer, Dr. Kent M. Keith has offered the following advice to those who seek to improve our world:

“People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.  Love them anyway.

“If you are kind, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

“If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.  Succeed anyway.

“What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.  Build anyway.

“Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.  Be honest and frank anyway.

“People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.  Help people anyway.

“Give the world the best you have and it may just never be enough;  Give the world the best you have anyway.

“If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;  Be happy anyway.

“The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;  Do good anyway.

I suspect that people of faith strongly endorse the advise that Dr. Keith has offered.  However, faith is being perverted, by using it as a wedge, and even as a weapon.  We see violence perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for their faith, when in fact, they are betraying it.  ISIS is a brutal, vicious death cult, who in the name of their religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism, by subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, while claiming the mantle of religious authority.

Slavery was justified in the name of Christ.  Have Christians forgotten the Spanish Inquisition, Holocaust and other atrocities that have been committed by Christians?  For generations Muslims suffered under European colonial rule, which was preceded by the medieval crusades.  Recently, we invaded Iraq for its oil.  

The United Nations criticizes Israel for its occupation of Palestinian land, but its oppression of the Palestinian people continues.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Trump’s Worst Nominations


President-elect Donald Trump nominated Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator.  He’s a climate change denier, who during tenure as Attorney General in Oklahoma consistently failed to uphold his responsibility to protect our nation’s environment.  Pruitt has called the risks from climate change “speculative guess work” and claimed the debate is “far from settled.”  In Oklahoma, he repeatedly sued the EPA for implementing clean air and water protections.  An investigative report revealed, that he used his government position to act as an agent of the oil and gas industry.  As head of the EPA, Pruitt could stop enforcing environmental protection regulations, slash climate change research, and allow Big Polluters to reign free.

Tom Price will run the cabinet-level department of Health and Human Services.  HHS has the responsibility to protect the health of the American people.  Price wants to initiate new budgetary rules.  Under the current system any new entitlement spending has to be balanced by a rise in revenues.  However, Social Security, Medicare are allowed to respond to economic changes and demand for their services.  SNAP and unemployment insurance are permitted to become stronger when there is greater need for food and income for those who lose their jobs.  All that will be reversed if Price's draconian rules are put into play.

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson has been nominated to be Secretary of State.  He’s the CEO of the world’s largest oil company, which has huge business interests in Russia.  Under Tillerson, Exxon has continually funded climate denial groups and is currently being investigated following reports suggesting it buried 40 year-old research which ties burning fossil fuels to climate change.

Rick Perry, who was governor of Texas, the country’s largest energy-producing state, from 2000 to 2015, will be Trump’s Energy Secretary.  During Perry’s 2012 presidential bid, he included the Energy Department in a list of three agencies he’d like to abolish.

Andy Puzder is Trump’s choice for Labor Secretary.  He’s CEO of a chain of  fast food restaurants that include Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s.  In 1989, he helped write an anti-choice Missouri law that became a landmark challenge to Roe v. Wade and paved the way for states to restrict access to abortion.  Puzder has been critical of government regulations, including efforts to raise the minimum wage.

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama will become our Attorney General.   Sessions' appointment to the federal bench was denied in 1986 by the Senate Judiciary Committee, because of remarks he had made were considered racially insensitive.  He called the ACLU and NAACP “un-American,” and twice blocked legislation that would reform the unfair way cases of sexual assault are prosecuted in the military.  As Attorney General, he’d be in charge of  enforcing environmental laws and protecting the rights of all Americans — including women, LGBT, and communities of color.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas


I’ll celebrate Christmas only as an agnostic, because history repeatedly demonstrates that “the righteous” haven’t been making our world a better place.

For example, Colin Powell sent retired Marine General Anthony Zinni; as his special envoy to the Middle East.  In Tom Clancy’s "Battle Ready," Zinni tells of the valuable advise given to him by Israel Foreign Minister Shimon Peres as he began his mission of finding a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.  Perez advised: "Don’t waste your time with (the righteous).  You’ll find them on both sides, and they’re always going to appeal to the righteousness of their cause... There’s no negotiating with righteousness.  Yes, it’s their right to believe what they believe...  They interpret facts from their religious angle and they ignore facts that don’t support that."

The righteous of Judaism, Islam and Christianity ignore facts about the teachings of their religion that get in the way of their political agenda.  Bush promised to change the tone in Washington, but instead he presided over the most partisan administration in recent history.  Righteousness is at the core of these conflicts.  Unlike the Obama administration, the White House and Congress will again be dominated by righteous Republicans.

Dr. Richard Carlson’s book "Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,"explained in a chapter entitled: "Read articles and Books with Entirely Different Points of Views from Your Own and Try to Learn Something."  Carlson wrote:  “Have you ever noticed that practically everything you read justifies and reinforces your own opinions and views of life?  The same is true with our radio and television listening and viewing choices as well...Liberals, conservatives we’re all the same.  We form opinions and then spend our entire lifetime validating what we believe to be true."

Let’s commit to listening and reading information that we don’t agree with.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

American Meddling


Yesterday’s post reminded me that over 55 years ago, Iran was establishing a government close to a democracy.  Mohammad Mossadegh a benevolent and incorruptible hero of Iranian history was unhappy that the profit from the country’s primary resource oil wasn’t staying in their country.

The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which is now known as British Petroleum was getting 93 percent of the profits and Mossadegh wanted a 50-50 split.  The British government didn’t want to use force to protect its business interests, but President Eisenhower’s CIA willingly took on the task of undermining Mossadegh’s tenure as president.  After numerous attempts to disrupted the nation, a coup was financed by our CIA, who eventually installed the Shah of Iran as the dictator of Iran.  We trained the Shah’s goon squads, thus angering generations of Iranians for meddling in that nation’s affairs.

Most Americans are too self centered to recognize that when we benefit, someone else may suffer.  They remain ignorant of how our imperialistic occupation of Iraq for its oil rekindled resentment and anger in the Muslim world, which will fester as long as our imperialistic meddling continues.

There is no moral justification for what the terrorists did on September 11th, but we should attempt to understand the source of their anger.  There is also no moral justification for the killing of more than a million Iraqis, that result from our invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Too many arrogant imperialists continue to defend our efforts to overthrow other governments whose actions we perceived as jeopardizing American business interests and profits.

In “The Shock Doctrine,” Naomi Klein points out, that when growing populations begin fighting over depleting natural resources, most often privileged special interest, and well-financed, international corporations such as Exxon have an distinct advantage, over our cumbersome representative democracy.

  

Friday, December 23, 2016

No Surprise


In the early 2000’s, the nation of Chad was one of the poorest and the most corrupt countries on earth.  It had been run by a dictator for 25 years.
Then, oil was discovered in Chad, so the World Bank and George W. Bush’s administration brokered a deal.  Chad’s new President Idriss Déby agreed that all the new oil money, wouldn’t be use by him to purchase weapons to keep himself in power.  It was agreed that Chad would spend the new money to benefit the people of that country.  The money would be spent on education, hospitals and basic infrastructure to improve people’s quality of life.  It was an attempted to stabilize a part of world where there’s a lot of Islamic extremist.
The oil started pumping in 2003, and Chad’s GDP quintupled within ten years.  However, once the money started flowing in, President Déby decided that he needed a much larger military, and more weapons.  He decided to disregard the deal the World Bank and the Bush administration had brokered.
In 2006, Déby told Chevron and Petronas, two of the three oil companies that were part of deal, they had one day to get out of Chad.  The other company Exxon was allowed stay, because Exxon had made a deal to continue giving Déby money for pumping out the oil, but they wouldn’t tell him how to spend it.
In his book “Private Empire,” Steve Coll explained that the total of American aid was less than $20 million, while Exxon was paying Déby more than $500 million a year in oil revenue.
In April 2016, Déby was reelected for a 5th term with 61.5 percent of the votes cast.  American military officials have praised Chad’s prominence in the fight against Islamic extremist groups in Africa.  Nevertheless, Chad’s “President” has spend over $4 billion on weapons, and his country remains one of the poorest and most corrupt nations on earth.  
We shouldn’t be surprised that Donald Trump has chosen Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as his nominee to be our next Secretary of State.  

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Third Rail


Social Security and Medicare are called the third rail of American politics, because efforts to privatize, eliminate or cut them back will generate serious public backlash.  Conservative Republicans have never accepted the social policies of the New Deal and Great Society, and they have tried to sabotage them for decades.

Ronald Reagan claimed: “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”  Trump supporters recently decided that our government was the problem, and that our government should serve the very wealthy (oligarchy), rather than serve all of the people (democracy).  In fact, our government was the only institution that could 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 81 years.  It had demonstrated that the claim: "government is the problem," was untrue.  Consequently, conservative congressional Republicans have wanted it to fail for decades.

In 2005, after George W. Bush was reelected after a campaign fear mongering, he push to privatize part of the Social Security trust fund, so that Wall Street could gamble with our money.  His plan that would have diverted significant payroll tax revenue into private investment accounts.  He barnstormed the country trying to secure popular support for the plan.  In the end, Bush’s Social Security privatization plan never got a vote in Congress, because it face of intense public and Democratic Party objections.  Had he succeeded the guaranteed-benefit of Social Security would likely have disappeared as the stock market dropped in 2008 and 2009.

Democrats shouldn’t take comfort from the fact that Bush failed, because Trump and his agenda-setters on Capitol Hill will do their best to keep their attack on Social Security and turning Medicare over to private insurers off the front pages.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Lee Fisher


Recently, The Oneonta Daily Star published the following letter to the editor, by Lee Fischer who is president of the Oneonta Branch of the NAACP.
“Since 1909, the NAACP has led the fight against bias and hatred.  Recently, our organization has been deeply concerned by the growing national trend of overt racism, anti-Islamism, anti-Semitism, etc.
“Even locally, there has been an increase in hate crimes.  Both in words and in deeds, some community members and college students have been victimized.  It is as if bigotry having laid dormant, has suddenly been awakened by an evil genie and is now widely approved and unabashedly reported.
“The present cynical and cruel political climate spurns the sacrifices of the Freedom Riders, the Lunch Counter Sit-Ins, the Voting Rights Workers and all those who faced death to ensure civil and human rights for all.
“As history has taught us too well, there is a danger in letting this trend persist, as none of us may be able to remain safe in the face of prejudice and discriminatory policies.  We must speak up when we witness others being harassed because of who they are.  Silence in the face of injustices is too often interpreted as approval.
“Everyone must work to eradicate the evils of bigotry, racial hatred, and discrimination.  It is now especially important to remember those who worked for our civil rights and the true heroes of our country.  Starting at a young age, our children need to be taught the truth in history, as Dr. Ken Sider, of the Oneonta City School District, has done in his Indigenous People Project, and as the Morris Central School has done with its project on the Holocaust.
“Truth and justice can only make us freer.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Under God


The Oneonta Daily Star published the following letter submitted by Orlo Burch.
“I have struggled with the presidential election results.  For the life of me, I cannot understand how the Evangelicals or so-called ‘Religious Right’ voted for Trump.  By a lifetime of actions and words, he represents the opposite of all moral and religious values most of us hold dear.  The Evangelicals and the gun-carrying president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell, Jr., have been among Trump’s most outspoken and dedicated supporters. 
“What I have come to terms with is that the ‘Religious Right’ in our country are so focused on ending the progress made in women’s reproductive rights and marriage equality along with other progress, that they would sell their souls and make a pact with the devil in an effort to get conservatives appointed to the Supreme Court to reverse our progress.
“They did this without a thought or consideration about the rest of us.  As a result, we now have a man about to become our leader and sitting in the most powerful position in the world who has stated, ‘You can’t respect people because most people aren’t worthy of respect’ and ‘When somebody screws you, screw them back in spades … I always get even.’
“God help us all!”
****
I’m an agnostic secularist, who supports the idea, that our government and religion should be totally separate.  Unquestionably, various religions provide a great deal of comfort throughout the world.  However, righteous Republican hypocrites have been undermining our secularist Constitution for over 50 years.   
The Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy a Baptist minister in 1892.  But, in 1954, Congress added the words, “under God” after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, hence the pledge became both a patriotic oath and a public prayer.

Undermining the separation of church and state doctrine reached a peak in the 1950's, when President Eisenhower inaugurated the prayer breakfast.  Congress created a prayer room in the Capital and added the words "In God we Trust" to all paper money.  E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many One) was considered our motto, until 1956 when Congress passed an act adopting “In God we trust” as the official motto.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Ignoring Reality


It’s important that every voter explore a wide range of information, and learn to think critically about what they read or hear.

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted: “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Trump supporters seem to be incapable of questioning Trump’s tweeded fictitious propaganda.  Consequently, we’re no longer just divided by political ideology, but also by the fact that Trump supporters have decided to ignore reality.  We've reached a dangerous point in our politics where people are divided not just by different political ideologies, but also by their belief in reality.

By not reading, listening and viewing from a variety of sources, we demonstrate a lack on intellectual curiosity.  The purpose of education should be to develop critical thinking, which enables a person to evaluate all sources and come to reasonable conclusions.

Public Policy Polling is known for putting out highly accurate polling on key issues.  Recent polling showed that Donald Trump’s supporters are living in a different reality.

Nearly 40 percent of Trump’s supporters believe the stock market has gone down under the Obama administration, despite the fact that it’s nearly doubled during his tenure.

When asked by PPP about the unemployment rate, Trump supporters believe more people are unemployed, even though the jobless rate has gone from 7.8 percent in January 2009 to 4.6 percent last month.  Actually, 67 percent of Trump voters think it’s increased.

Forty percent of Trump voters continue to believed that Hillary Clinton lost the popular vote, despite the fact that her margin over Trump has exceeded 2.8 million votes.

Those results clearly show what Donald Trump’s conspiracy-driven campaign has done to our politics and how he has been able to convinced his supporters that the world as it is doesn’t really exist.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Shouldn’t Be Dismissed


The Oneonta Daily Star recently published a column that was submitted by Andrew Reinbach.  The following is an excerpt is from that column.

“Apparently, Russia mounted a highly sophisticated campaign with many moving parts, including computer hacking, various sorts of propaganda, including fake news sites and social media posts, and more.  I have trouble believing that any American but a traitor would shrug that off as unimportant, and in fact I believe that espionage by a hostile foreign power aimed at installing the president of their choice is enough to invalidate the election, if not send Mr. Trump and members of his staff to prison. 

“This is probably why the FBI’s counterintelligence arm obtained a FISA warrant in late October in support of its investigation into the Russia angle.  Especially, that warrant will result, and almost certainly already has resulted, in its seizing a disguised, dedicated mail server in Trump Tower, belonging to Mr. Trump, that was connected to only one destination; another dedicated mail server in the office of Russia’s largest bank, suspected of being owned by the Russian Mafia, and very closely connected to Vladimir Putin.

“The traffic on that server mirrored Mr. Trump’s campaign activities, and when two reporters asked about this server, it was immediately taken down.  It re-appeared a week later using a different route to the bank.  As we’ve learned from the Clinton email investigation, it’s almost impossible to erase emails on a hard drive unless the machine itself is destroyed; and if this particular machine has been destroyed, it would speak volumes, not to mention amount to destroying evidence.

“It’s been made clear by very authoritative computer scientists that the complexities and technical challenges of actually hacking the overall election are large.

“But the criticism of that possibility tends to dwell on the cost and difficulty of such an attempt, and such issues are not impossible to surmount for a nation-state with the world’s second-largest petroleum and natural gas reserves and the world’s largest gold deposits — especially if the goal of said nation-state was to maximize its influence over the country that beat them in the Cold War.  So the possibility that hacking the electoral system was part of Russia’s strategy to install Mr. Trump into the Oval Office shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.”

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Deceitful Strategy


Medicare is a single-payer system, that is designed to take care of our elderly.  Especially, people who were employed and working, but didn’t have the money to afford insurance and didn’t have an employer to help them.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010.  On June 28, 2012 the Supreme Court rendered a final decision to uphold the health care law.  Today, our country is at a record low for uninsured citizens of 8.6 percent.  

Nevertheless, congressional Republicans voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act over 60 times.  There is no indication that Republicans will ever be able to develop a plan to replace ACA.

The intention of ACA has been to fill those gap between younger people who are too poor and can’t put together any resources to afford health care, and those on Medicaid.

Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan plans to begin the Medicare phase-out of Medicare, that he has long advocated.  He will packaged the phase- out with the repeal of the ACA.  He intends to replace Medicare with vouchers to allow seniors to buy private insurance.

Part of his strategy is to convince senior citizens that ACA is the reason Medicare is going broke.  Actually, the ACA has extended the solvency of the Medicare trust fund by over a decade.

Vouchers won’t be as good as Medicare, because if seniors can’t afford any of the available plans with what the voucher is worth, they’re out of luck.  Vouchers won’t keep up with increases in the costs of healthcare, because Ryan’s plan is designed to lure healthier seniors out of Medicare, leaving mostly unhealthy people.  Consequently, the cost of Medicare will go up, and it will end up unaffordable. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Russian Targets


 There has never been a political campaign like the 2016 election campaign, because Democratic House candidates especially in Florida were targeted by Russian agents, who made thousands of pages of documents, that were stolen by hackers from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee available to reporters and bloggers.

Annette Taddeo lost her primary race after secret campaign documents were made public.  She explained: “Our entire internal strategy plan was made public, and suddenly all this material was out there and could be used against me.”

The impact of the information released by hackers on dozens of Democratic candidates in House races across America didn’t get nearly the attention that the hacking attacks by Russian agents against the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign did.  Nevertheless, it demonstrates the disturbing influence that Russian agents had on our electoral system.

Intrusions into House races by Russian agents also occurred in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio, Illinois, New Mexico and North Carolina.  These cyber attacks can be traced to tens of thousands of pages of documents taken from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which shares an office building with the Democratic National Committee.

Cybersecurity consultants believe the hacking of the D.C.C.C. took place around March or April of 2016 after a staffer clicked on a so-called phishing email.  The D.C.C.C. immediately shut down its computer system for a week, after it learned of the attack, but it was too late.  The consequences become clear in August when the hackers released the home addresses, cellphone numbers and personal email addresses of Democratic House members.

Russian agents worked under the name of Guccifer 2.0.  They used social media to invite individual reporters to request specific caches of documents, handing them out the way political operatives distribute scoops.  Many news outlets found the arrangement irresistible.



Thursday, December 15, 2016

Bumbling Politicians


Donald Trump insisted that American spies are all bumbling and biased.  He also dismiss the CIA report that Russia helped Trump win the election by citing a 2002 intelligence assessment, that had concluded that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Actually, Robert Baer a legendary CIA field officer, who served most of his 21 year career in the Middle East insisted: “The problem is the White House didn’t go to the CIA and ask, tell me the truth, it said give me ammunition.”

Rand Beers a former National Security Council Official, who resigned his White House post to work against the reelection of Bush explained: “As they embellished what the intelligence community was prepared to say and as the press reported that information, it began to acquire its own sense of truth and reality.”

Chief UN arms inspector Hans Blix noted: “The White House maintained 100 percent certainty that the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction existed based on zero percent evidence.”

In 2002, Nancy Pelosi was the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.  As the senior Democrat in the House, both she and Democratic Senator Bob Graham the chairman of the Intelligence Committee were briefed extensively on the intelligence leading up to the vote to give Bush the power to invade Iraq.

At the time, Pelosi said there was nothing in that intelligence, which indicated that Iraq was an imminent threat to the United States.  Both Pelosi and her Democratic counterpart Senator Graham voted against the Iraq War Resolution.  Thus, the two Democrats, who had the most operational intelligence at their disposal, as well as, 22 other Senators voted against the resolution.

Michael Scheuer author of “Imperial Hubris” and the former head of the bin Laden unit claimed that Bush’s policies and actions are bin Laden's only indispensable allies.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Russian Intervention


Central Intelligence Agency officials provided some members of Congress with a judgment that Russia help make Donald Trump our next president.

The fact that the CIA concluded that Russia intervened in our 2016 presidential election to help Trump win the presidency should play a role in the upcoming decision of the Electoral College regarding whether Trump becomes our next president.  

The framers of the Constitution intended that the Electoral College guard against the possibility that a foreign power influences the outcome of a presidential election.  In Federalist No. 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote that a major purpose of the Electoral College was to stop the “desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.”  He said that the College would “Guard against all danger of this sort … with the most provident and judicious attention” from the electors.”

The CIA report should be made public immediately, so that the Electors of 2016 are able to carefully consider what is in that report.

The C.I.A.’s conclusion doesn’t appear to be the product of new intelligence obtained since the election.  Instead, it’s reportedly an analysis of overwhelming circumstantial evidence, that the Russians put a thumb on the scale for Donald Trump, and got their desired outcome.

It is unclear why the C.I.A. didn’t produce this assessment before the election, although several officials said that parts of it had been made available to President Obama in the presidential daily briefing weeks before the vote.

The conclusion that Russia ran an operation to help install our next president is one of the most consequential analyses by our spy agencies in years.

Trump insisted that American spies are all bumbling and biased.  And, dismiss the report by citing a 2002 intelligence assessment, that had concluded that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Integrity of Elections


In 2004, Ron Suskind an official in the Bush administration bragged t0 “The New York Times”: “We’re an empire now and when we act, we create our own reality.
President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly promoted false news.  For years, he promoted the claim that President Obama wasn’t born in America.  He lied countless times as a candidate in the Republican primary election.
Less than two months before being sworn in, Trump tweeted: “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
That deceitful message set off thousands of retweets from his deceitful propaganda supporters.  Trump has ability to mainstream any claim no matter how deceitful, irresponsible, dangerous or destabilizing it may be.
New York Magazine reported that a group of election experts had encouraged Hillary Clinton to challenge the results in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.  Those three key states constituted the margin of his Electoral College victory.
Election experts had presented evidence that in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic voting machines compared to counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots.
There are reasons to believe the results are consistent with demographics of those counties and tampering didn’t occur.  Consequently, the Clinton campaign declined to challenge those results.  
However, Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein launched a fund-raiser to pay for recounts in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.  She raise over $6.3 million, nearly double the 3.5 million, that she raised during her campaign.
A lawyer for the Clinton campaign announced they’d participate.  Clinton’s lawyer explained: “We feel it is important on principle to ensure our campaign is legally represented in any court proceedings on the ground in order to monitor the recount process itself.”

Monday, December 12, 2016

Trump Voters


There were numerous reasons that people voted for Donald Trump.  In my opinion a major reason was that many were committed to not trusting main steam media, watched only Fox News, didn’t question Trump’s daily tweets, and believed conspiracy theories sent to them on Facebook.  They were unaware of important facts, that would have influenced their decision.
Many Trump supporters voted to protect their right to carry guns.  Others had a preconceived opinion about minorities, because they’ve never had an opportunity to know them.  Racial bigots include both Black and White people, who pre-judge others by the color of their skin.  Trump would certainly appeal to male chauvinist, who display a prejudice towards women, possibly because they’ve been rejected by discriminating women.
Trump admirers, who voted to prevent illegal immigration may not have known, that Obama’s Department of Homeland Security was “selectively choosing,” from 11 million undocumented immigrants to deport gang members, not working mothers who were providing for their children.  Criminals, not families with children were deported.  They prioritize, just like law enforcement agencies do every day throughout our nation.
Deportations of criminals are up 80 percent.  Obama has deported more undocumented immigrants than Bush ever did.  The number of deportations each year has more than tripled.  During the first year of the Obama’s presidency the number undocumented immigrants deported was almost 100,000 more than during the last year of the Bush presidency.
Global warming deniers, who voted for Trump may not have known, that in the not so distant future the National Aeronautics and Space Administration predicted that if carbon emissions continue, further temperature rises could bring mega-droughts to the western half of the United States in this century.  NASA warned, that there is an 80 percent chance of mega-droughts lasting 20 to 40 years.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Necessary Skills


In 2008, when Obama was the president- elect, employers had cut 533,000 jobs that November.  According to statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Obama administration will be turning over a significantly improved economy to president- elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans, who are in the majority in both the House and Senate.

Trump will inherit an economy that has added 80 consecutive months of private sector job growth.  Last month, 178,000 jobs were added and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 percent from 4.9 percent in October.  Wage growth is now ahead of inflation, and the Federal Reserve is prepared to raise the benchmark interest rate when it meets later this month.

Nevertheless, tens of millions of Americans feel that the recovery has passed them by.  Regrettably, people without skills have been suck in low-paying positions with fluctuating  schedules, as well as, nonexistent security and benefits.  Family breadwinners, who had held well-compensated manufacturing jobs were forced to settle for lower-wage service jobs, or no jobs at all.

Fear, anger and anxiety, especially among the white working class voters, was an important factor that helped Donald Trump and congressional Republicans to win their elections.  Last month’s jobs report had shown that more people dropped out of the labor force than had joined it.  Manufacturing jobs had declined, and there were many part-time workers who would have preferred to be full time.  The official jobless rate for high school graduates fell to 4.9 percent, which was more than twice the rate for college graduates.

Workers, who have recognized the negative impact of globalization were able to take advantage of advances in technology, and began to develop the necessary skills.  Workers with the right skills, and able to relocate are in demand.  Thriving business need them.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Progress Temporarily Slowed


Donald Trump preached racial, and religious hatred to white communities across our country.  Apparently, hatred and bigotry have become fashionable again.  The emotions of fear and hatred contribute to poor judgement.  Fear suppresses reason, and hatred has been compared to an acid, because it can damage the vessel in which it is stored as well as destroy the object on which it is poured.
Our Constitution allowed only white, male, literate, land owners to vote.  Each state regardless of their population were given 2 senators.  Back then, the population ratio between the most populated state, Virginia and the least populated state, Delaware was 12 to 1.  By 2004, that ratio was 70 to 1 between California and Wyoming.  Consequently, the Senate is skewed in favor of sparsely populated states.  Theoretically, if the 26 lease populated states held together on all votes, they would control the Senate, with a total of less than 17 percent of our population.  Furthermore, the number of “electors” a state has in the Electoral College was designed to favor states with a smaller population.
Hillary is ahead of Trump in the popular vote by over 2.7 million votes, but choices made by a minority of voters have made it possible for the very rich, white supremacist, and religious extremist to destroy the lives of many hard working people.
The morning after the “2012” election, Republican twitter users blasted Obama’s reelection and the entire electoral process, because for a while Romney led in the popular vote.  Trump whined that the electoral college “a disaster for a democracy.”  He insisted the electoral process was a “total sham”... Our country is now in serious and unprecedented trouble... like never before.”
Martin Luther King Jr. warned: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Friday, December 09, 2016

Wrapped in a Flag


Sinclair Lewis warned: “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”  I’m concerned that Donald Trump’s victory will result in America becoming a fascist nation.

Some Republican politicians called Trump a fascist.  That’s surprising, since the Republican party is already an authoritarian party.  On the local and state level the Republican Party has consistently attempted to suppress voter turnout in swing states, because it has always placed it’s own authority above the authority of the electorate and above the values of a representative democracy.  The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that more than 5 million voters have been affected by voter suppression.

Fascism is a system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.  Fascist governments tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion.  Religious terminology is very common from their political leaders.

Republican politicians knew that their views wouldn’t be acceptable if their real agenda was revealed to the general electorate.  However, Trump boldly laid out the real Republican agenda during his campaign in a language everybody understood.  The Republican Party is mostly a party of fascist, however in 2 years voters may still have a choice.

Hitler made the Jewish population his scapegoat.  Today, Trump and congressional Republicans are using undocumented Mexicans and patriotic Muslims as scapegoats.

Hitler’s designated successor, Hermann Goering claimed: "Voice or no voice the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy.  All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.  It works the same way in any country."


Thursday, December 08, 2016

A Majority of Americans


When Obama took office our economy was in free fall.  Democrats in Congress took the right steps to save our economy, but by the midterm election in 2010, many voters didn’t see the recovery helping them.  Consequently, the Democratic  Party was punished.  Nationally 46.9 percent of eligible voters didn’t vote.
Democrats lost many seats in Congress, as well as, governor races and seats in many state legislatures.  That was the year of the national census, and the Republican Party used that opportunity to redistrict House seats by gerrymandering majority Republican districts for their candidates across our country.
The proposals, that President Obama has put forward during his administration have a lot of support from most Americans.  A majority of us want an increase in the federal minimum wage, common sense gun safety regulations, and more investments to rebuild our infrastructure that create more jobs.  Most Americans want to ensure that people don’t go bankrupt when they get sick.  Basically, most Americans agree with the individual components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act.
Before the election, a Gallup poll showed that the general public had a more favorable view of the Democratic Party, and Obama’s approval ratings were as high as they’ve ever been.  However, those statistics didn’t translated into majorities on either the state or federal level.
Our system will remain tilted in favor of Republicans as long as Wyoming gets the same number of Senators as California does.  In congressional races a large number of Democrats are clustered in large cities, while Republican voters are spread out, thereby giving then an advantage when it comes to congressional races.
Hillary Clinton is ahead of Trump in the popular vote by 2.7 million votes.  Also, Democrats gained 2 seats in the Senate and 6 seats in the House.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Mistakes


Nobody is perfect and all of us have a tendency to make mistakes.  In every relationship, we should attempt to build trust by being truthful.  When another person is wronged, especially a spouse, a sincere “I’m sorry,” is always appreciated.  An apology isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of maturity. 

Families should make an effort to do things together.  Spouses should resist criticizing each other in front of their children, and in-laws.  Children benefit from parents that show a united front, when setting limits.  Parents should set good examples for their children.  Smoking, profanity, illegal drugs, drunk driving and telling racist, or vulgar jokes are poor examples.

Do as I say, not as I do is a pathetic motto.  The Golden Rule of treating others the way you’d like to be treated will achieves better results.  

Silence stops heated arguments until spouses can cool down.  Later, mature adults can calmly discuss their feelings, or concerns until a solution is reached.  Compromising isn’t a dirty word.

In order to learn from mistakes, we must admit mistakes to ourselves.  Nobody is infallible.  Most mistakes are minor, but some have serious consequences that can destroy our lives.  Our legal system can force us to pay a price.  However, usually our conscience requires that we live with the consequence of serious mistakes.  By committing ourselves to do better, we could lessen feelings of guilt.  

Once we admit that we aren’t perfect, and no longer expect perfection from others, we might begin feeling even greater affection for the person that we share a bedroom with.  This also applies to those that we share our planet with.

The lyrics of a song from the 1940’s concluded: “the greatest thing, that you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

The above letter to the editor of the Oneonta Daily Star was published on Dec. 31st.  That evening  I mentioned the letter being published at a memorable and beautiful wedding reception and a New Years Eve celebration.

Complete lyrics to "Nature Boy are as follows:

"There was a boy
A very strange enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far, very far
Over land and sea
A little shy and sad of eye
But very wise was he

"And then one day
A magic day he passed my way
And while we spoke of many things
Fools and kings
This he said to me
The greatest, that you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”      



Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Humanity


In his book “God in the Ghetto”, Dr. William Augustus Jones argues that one’s theology, that is to say, how one sees God, determines how one sees humans.

In 2008, President Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright explained the way he sees other humans.  If God is seen as a white male, if God is seen as superior, if God is seen as over us, then God is apt to be seen as mean, vengeful, authoritarian, or sexist.  Consequently, white males are considered superior and all others inferior.

Rev. Wright reasoned: “The way the slaveholder and the way the slave see God is not the same.  What each means when they say ‘I am a Christian’ is not the same.  The prophetic theology of the black church has always seen all of God’s children as sisters and brothers, equals who need reconciliation, who need to be reconciled as equals in order for us to walk together into the future, which God has prepared for us.

“Reconciliation does not mean that blacks become whites or whites become blacks and Hispanics become Asian or that Asians become Europeans.  Reconciliation means we embrace all of our individual histories.  We retain who we are as persons of different cultures, while acknowledging that those of other cultures are not superior or inferior to us. They are just different from us.  Reconciliation means that we root out any teaching of superiority, inferiority, hatred, or prejudice.”

For the first time in America’s history, we’ve had a president for nearly eight years with a different color to his skin, a different texture to his hair and very different life experiences.

Rev. Wright’s words deserve to be praise, because he interpreted a truth, which many Christian, especially white males don’t want to hear, because their alleged superiority has been challenged.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Feeling Very Uncomfortable


The following is a column was written by Sam Pollak the editor of The Oneonta Daily Star.

“There’s this African-American fellow here in Oneonta who’s about my age. He’s a good guy, and we’re pretty friendly in kind of a ‘hi, how are you doing, how’s the family’ sort of way.

“A few years back, we were chatting about this and that when he said something that kind of brought me up short.  He said that when he met someone who is white, he assumed that person is a racist until proved otherwise.

“Of course, I hadn’t the same life occurrences, and I couldn’t possibly have known the prejudice —  subtle and overt —  he has encountered.  I knew I had to respond in an intelligent, wise, sensitive way that would show at least a modicum of understanding of where he was coming from.  “Really?’ I said.

“OK, so my response wasn’t worthy of the moment, but I was genuinely surprised. My friend, highly regarded in the community, always seems open and friendly.

“After we parted, I thought he was wrong to view the world through a prism that makes him assume a bigot behind every tree.  I have since come to realize that in my own way, I have been doing sort of the same thing.

“I was born five years after the Holocaust ended, and if you grew up Jewish in New York City and its suburbs in those years, you learned about relatives who were lost, saw the videos of the concentration camps, mourned the deaths of the six million, vowed to live a life worthy of them and make certain it never happens again.

“I pondered on how the German people could have done such a thing, how those in other European countries found such vile satisfaction in collaborating so eagerly to send Jews and others to their deaths, how America and other democracies could have restricted immigration when it was literally a matter of life and so much death.

“And I thought about those relatively few courageous gentiles who in the darkest days of the Holocaust risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors. Israel bestows the honor of referring to those individuals as ‘Righteous Among the Nations.’

Through my own prism I have wondered who, among my friends, co-workers, acquaintances and national figures, would be among the Righteous?  Who would tolerate … and even support … a racist, anti-Semitic leader and regime?

“In 1935, two years after Adolf Hitler assumed power in Germany and 13 years after Benito Mussolini brought Fascism to Italy, Sinclair Lewis wrote ‘It Can’t Happen Here,’ a novel that turned into a popular play the following year.

“Thought to be aimed at Huey Long, the demagogue governor and senator from Louisiana, Lewis’ novel told of the rise of a populist U.S. senator named Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip who gets elected president by advocating patriotism and traditional values, telling everybody the county is in terrible shape and promising that their lives would be great.  Once elected, Windrip becomes a dictator, limiting the rights of minorities and women, outlawing dissent, restricting the press and putting his political enemies into concentration camps.  Can it happen here?

“I used to be sure it couldn’t.  Americans are too good, too educated, too decent to support anyone who singles out minorities as the cause for all their troubles, who says hateful things while promising to bring back a halcyon time that never really existed.  Well, as you might have heard, we recently had an election.  I’m not quite sure of anything, anymore.

“More than 62 million of my countrymen chose to vote for Donald Trump, in essence giving their approval to all of Trump’s hate speech.. They gave their approval to Trump’s vows to keep Muslims out of our country and create a registry inside it of Americans who practice Islam, to his calling Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers and saying a judge couldn’t be fair because his parents were Mexican.
“To Trump’s history of discrimination against blacks and Puerto Ricans who wanted to rent apartments in his buildings.  To how he has denigrated women and threatened to weaken First Amendment freedoms.
“And chillingly for me and others for whom the accusation of wealthy Jews trying to control the world is a never-ending anti-Semitic slander, they approved his telling an audience at a Jewish Republican event, ‘You’re not going to support me, because I don’t want your money.  You want to control your own politician.’ 
“So, now I’m understanding more about how my African-American friend feels.  Sixty-two million people who just elected a demagogue helped me learn.” 

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Worth Reconsidering


 President-elect Donald Trump has announced, that he was open to keeping parts of Obamacare intact despite repeatedly vowing to"repeal and replace" the program.

In an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes," regarding the need to continuing coverage for pre- existing conditions, Trump told Leslie Stahl: "Yes, because it happens to be one of the strongest assets."  He also said that he'd try to keep the part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act, that allows young people to stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26.

The Washington Post reported that Trump website omits a call to allow Americans to import prescription drugs from other countries where they are sold at lower prices.

Last year, Trump called for a “shutdown” of Muslim immigration to our country, but later amended his plan, by calling for “extreme vetting” and a shutdown on immigration from countries compromised by terrorism.  However, he never refuted his original policy.  At a recent Capitol Hill appearance to discuss his legislative agenda, Trump was asked by a reporter if he would “ask Congress to ban all Muslims from entering the country.”  He appeared to hear the question but walked away.

In the 70’s, Rob Reiner played Archie Bunkers son-in-law on “All in the Family.”  That T.V. show repeatedly address racism.  Recently Rob Reiner pointed out: “It doesn’t matter whether you are discriminating against a black person or a Muslim or a Latino or a Jew.  If you are comfortable with the fact that there are groups who hate Muslims, hate Jews, hate Latinos, hate women, if you are comfortable with having those groups support you, and you don’t in a forceful way say, this is not part of who I am, then you are basically the Jewish police at the Warsaw Ghetto.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Insufficient Evidence


The most controversial pledges President-Elect Donald Trump made on the campaign trail was that he would seek to “lock up” Hillary Clinton for her controversial practice of using a private e-mail server for much of her State Department correspondence.
Don’t expect to see anything happen on this promise after Trump is inaugurated January 20?  There are numerous legal reasons, that her arrest won’t happen.

First and foremost, there isn't sufficient evidence to indicate that former Secretary of State Clinton actually broke a law.  Nothing has changed since FBI Director James Comey announced in a July statement, that intent and evidence wasn’t there.  Although a President Trump could always overrule the FBI, thereby raising the issue of White House interference.

Those who believe Clinton's actions should have been illegal should be pushing Congress to reform the relevant laws.  Congress has an oversight prerogative, but it cannot initiate criminal prosecutions.  Only, career lawyers in the Justice Department's Criminal Division can initiate prosecution.

Career lawyers played an important part in recommending against the prosecution of former Bush administration officials for their role in the torture of terrorism suspects early in President Barack Obama's tenure.

Trump has called for the appointment of a special prosecutor, which could allow him to sidestep those lawyers, but that’s usually reserved for cases in which the Justice Department have a conflict of interest.

The Fifth Amendment requires a grand jury indictment for serious offenses.  The last legal obstacles to a prosecution would come from an independent, life-tenured federal judge who could dismiss any indictment that he/she found to be legally insufficient, that came from a jury of 12 of Clinton's peers, which would have to be unanimous in its belief that she was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to convict her of a crime.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Global Supply Chain


President Obama negotiated a Trans-Pacific Partnership in order to open markets, protect workers, the environment, and advance America’s leadership in Asia.  The deal would cut 18,000 foreign taxes on products Made in America, and ensures that China doesn't set the rules.  Congress needs to approve that agreement, and our next president needs to enforce it.

Some foreign countries have cheated by keeping American goods out of their markets, and unfairly subsidizing their businesses to undercut our businesses.  The worst violators don’t even have trade deals with us.

Most of the manufacturing jobs that we’ve lost over the past decade weren’t the result of trade deals.  They were the result of technology and automation that enables businesses to produce more with fewer workers.

Since President Obama was inaugurated in 2009, the United States has filed 23 enforcement complaints at the World Trade Organization (WTO) – the chief world forum for enforcing international trade rules.  That’s more complaints than any other WTO Member.  We have won every dispute that has been decided by the WTO so far.
 
Export figures and industry estimates confirm that these enforcement wins are worth billions of dollars combined for American farmers and ranchers; manufacturers of high tech steel, aircraft, and automobiles; solar energy exporters; cutting edge service providers; and many others.  And keep in mind that every billion dollars of American goods and services exports supports nearly 5,800 jobs.

President Obama put a tariff on steel tubing that was being dumped by China.  That tariff led to a 700 million dollar steel mill being created in Youngstown, Ohio.  We’ll never put technology back in a box, but we must not cut ourselves off from the global supply chain.  The 4,500 new jobs in Youngstown are an example of the importance of participating in a global supply chain. 

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Most Needed Change


At the time our country was founded, seven of the 13 states represented 27 percent of the population and could muster a majority in the Senate to demand action.

In the early years of our Republic, the population ratio between the most populated state, Virginia and the least populated state, Delaware was 12 to 1.  By 2004, that ratio was 70 to 1 between California and Wyoming.  Currently, the Senate is skewed in favor of sparsely populated states.  Theoretically, if the 26 smallest states held together on all votes, they would control the Senate, with a total of less than 17 percent of our population.

By using the filibuster, 21 of the 50 states representing a mere 11 percent of the population could muster the 41 votes necessary to stop a majority in the Senate.  Obviously, we’ve gone too far toward disadvantaging the larger states.

The minority has an unfair advantage, since each state presently has two senators no matter what their population.  Furthermore, unfair filibuster rules have served to compound the advantage of the minority in a way that the founders never imagined, and runs contrary to the concept of a representative democracy.

Dr. Larry Sabato is an expert in the field of Constitutional law.  He has pointed out that Jefferson, Madison, and Washington expected the Constitution would be regularly revised each generation to reflect the country’s changing needs.

In “A More Perfect Constitution,” Dr. Sabato recommended that we expand the Senate to 136 members in order for it to become more representative.  He proposed, that the 10 most populous states; California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia and North Carolina gain two additional senators.  The fifteen next most populous states would gain one additional senator each, with the District of Columbia represented by one senator.