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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Where Are You


Yesterday, Senator Elisabeth Warren pointed out, that during his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”  At the time many congressional Republicans seemed to agreed that it was not acceptable in our United States of America.

Senator Warren noted that Speaker Paul Ryan had declared that “a religious test for entering our country is not reflective of America’s fundamental values.  I reject it.”  So Warren asks: “Where are you now Paul Ryan?  Have you rejected President Trump’s order to impose a religious test for entering our country?  Have you introduced a bill to overturn it?  You have the power.  Where are you? 

Next, Elisabeth Warren revealed, that as governor of Indiana, Vice President Mike Pence said: “calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.”  So Warren asked: “Where are you right now, Vice President Pence?  Have you called to overturn President Trump’s offensive and unconstitutional order?  Have you asked Republicans to introduce a bill to overturn it?  You have a platform.  Where are you?’ 

Then, she disclosed, that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called a Muslim ban: “completely and totally inconsistent with American values.  So, Senator Warren asked McConnell: “ Where are you right now, Mitch McConnell?  Have you rejected President Trump’s Muslim ban that is completely and totally inconsistent with American values?  Have you introduced a bill to overturn it?  You have the power.  Where are you?”

Senator Warren insisted: “President Trump ignored these Republican leaders and today these Republican leaders will not stand up for what is right.  While Trump’s executive order targeting Muslims and refugees is now a stain on America’s image, it has had the consequence of uniting millions of people around the globe and bringing Democrats together in total opposition to the new president.

Senator Warren believes: “President Trump may be willing to ignore the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and the Republican leadership in Congress may be willing to ignore the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, but the American people are not.” 

Monday, January 30, 2017

I Do Too


The following opinion was written by Sam Pollak the editor of The Daily Star.  His opinion provoked Don Laible to submit the letter to the editor, that I discredited yesterday.
“I possess no degree in psychology or psychiatry, but the folks at the Mayo Clinic have all sorts of those things hanging on their walls.  Here is how the Mayo website defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
“Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others.  But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”
“C’mon, if you don’t recognize our Tweeter-in-Chief, you’re not really trying.  Whether it’s the pope or a Gold Star Family or the cast of ‘Saturday Night Live,’ Trump is absolutely unable to ignore any perceived slight.
“With a different president, it would be easier to hold the Mayo.  But here are some of the disorder’s symptoms from the clinic’s website:
“Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance;  Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it;  Exaggerating your achievements and talents;  Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate;  Requiring constant admiration;  Taking advantage of others to get what you want;  Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner.
“Sound like your boy Trump?  Sure, it does, and in your heart, aren’t you at least a little bit frightened that Trump might decide to nuke Belgium one morning because he didn’t like his waffles?
“I’m sorry, all 62 million of you who voted for him, you made a mistake, and it’s a whopper.  Based on the record-low approval ratings Trump has as an incoming president, many of you already have a case of buyer’s remorse.
You elected a guy who, by his campaign against ‘political correctness,’ encouraged bigots all over the country to come out of hiding.
“It used to be that when you shined a light on hate groups, they would scurry away like the cockroaches they are.  Now, they feel they have a champion in the White (with an emphasis on ‘white’) House.  And hundreds of thousands of women (and men) feel the need to march today in Washington and elsewhere because of Trump’s treatment of and statements about women.
“I’m genuinely scared.  Not because my views on abortion rights, gun control, the environment, the Supreme Court or the justice system didn’t prevail.  I’m scared because you elected a president who doesn’t know right from wrong.  I think this guy is sick.
“I really do.”

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Don Laible


In his letter published yesterday in The Oneonta Daily Star, Don Laible claimed that under Obama the national debt doubled to $20 trillion.  However, the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget insists that it is an overstatement to blame Obama's actions as the sole cause of the ballooning debt.  The debt would have risen by $3 trillion because of tax and spending policies that were already in place.  The Great Recession drove up spending on safety net programs, such as Medicaid and food stamps, without Obama or Congress doing a thing.
President Obama’s 2009 stimulus plan and making most of George Bush’s tax cuts permanent in 2012, contributed to the debt.  He couldn't make any financial measure without the approval of Congress.  Notably, Republicans controlled the House for six years of his term and the Senate for two years. 
Laible claimed that real medium household income declined by $3,000.  Ironically, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a similar false assertion: “the average person is about $3,000 or $4,000 a year worse off today than when President Obama came to office.”
Actually, real median personal income was down about $400 as of 2014, the most recent census data available.  Furthermore, according t0 the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average hourly earnings adjusted for inflation of all private-sector workers increased 2.6 percent since the end of 2014.  
Laible pointed out: “Food stamp dependents increased to over 43 million citizens, seven more million Americans are living in poverty, and home ownership is at a 51-year low.”  That is usually what happens when our Republican presidents fail to hold Wall Street accountable.

Today, our country is at a record low for uninsured citizens of 8.6 percent, because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.   


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Opportunity Missed


Until recently, America was in a race with China to secure a trade deal with Asia Pacific countries, which is the fastest-growing markets in the world.  The countries that would have been part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), received 62 percent of American exports in 2014.

President Obama explained: “past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype.  That’s why I’ve made it clear that I won’t sign any agreement that doesn’t put American workers first.” 

TPP would have been an opportunity to level the playing field for American workers, by putting in place tough new standards on labor, the environment, and in other areas that would have made the TPP the most progressive trade deal in the world. 

Failure to secure the trade agreement will result in America business losing opportunities to create new high-paying jobs through expanded exports, because other countries will get preferential access to the fastest-growing markets at our expense.

American businesses will have to drop out of competition or move their production overseas to access those markets.  Republican failed to secure strong labor and environmental standards for trade in the world's fastest-growing region.

There’ll be no enforceable rules ensuring countries set a minimum wage, end child labor, or enforce workplace safety.  There’ll be no enforceable rules ensuring countries address the ivory trade or wildlife trafficking.

We’ll continue to be unable to protect American innovation, because there’ll be no rules protecting American invention, artistic creativity, and research.  We’ll be limited in our ability to develop creative ways to speed the flow of new medicines to patients and ensure an open Internet.

An opportunity to level the playing field and secure a trade deal that reflects the best of our values and ensures the strength of our economic future has passed. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

FDR


After the stock market collapsed in 1929, Republican President Hoover and Republican Senators insisted on a strict spending freeze.

In 1932, a large group of WW I veterans pressured their government to change the date their bonus certificates would be paid.  Hoover became annoyed after the Bonus Army protesters set up a large camp, they named Hooverville.  He ordered the Army to clear out the veterans.  Infantry and cavalry troops, under the command of Colonel Douglas Mac Arthur, fixed bayonets and hoisted sabers, and rolled over the Bonus Army encampment using tear gas, fire, and forceful persuasion.  Two veterans and a baby died.

In 1933, when President Franklin Roosevelt took office the unemployment rate was 25.9 percent.  Another group of veterans pressed the issue of the bonus payment.  FDR didn’t agree, but instead offered a New Deal, that created the Civilian Conservation Corps which employed men.  The CCC was a public works project intended to promote environmental conservation and build good citizens through vigorous, disciplined outdoor labor. 

The Work Projects Administration, WPA was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency.  It employed millions of unemployed people to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. 

FDR signed the Tennessee Valley Authority Act, which created a public corporation to provide for flood control, reforestation, agricultural and industrial development in the Tennessee River Valley. 

FDR signed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Act, (FDIC) which successfully secured the bank deposits for generations of Americans.  In 1935, he signed the Social Security Act.

FDR was re-elected three times, by wide margins by very grateful citizens.  He initiated the development of top secret atomic bombs, which after his death enable our military to finally and decisively win WW II.  It limited the number of American and Japanese casualties.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Harry Barnes


 The following is a letter to the editor of the Oneonta Daily Star, that was submitted for publication by Harry Barnes of East Meredith.
“What we know is based on where we get our information.  Virtual reality TV and inaccurate news can seem to be fact, a dangerous basis for making important decisions. 
“Enter our new president, virtual reality incarnate.  Where President Obama gave us a sense of dignity as Americans by his personal decency and thoughtful statesmanship, thanks to our electoral system, we are now viewed globally as a rude, immoral and irrational nation.  More to our shame some seem proud of this new infamy. 
“Although Obama was not one to brag about his accomplishments (I wish he had), he was and is a decent and rational man of integrity and resolve.  He made me proud to be an American.  President Obama, despite Republican obstructionism, rescued our national economy from The Great Recession, reduced unemployment to its lowest level in over a decade, and for eight years, kept our nation from going to war.
“He also provided health care coverage for millions of Americans that would not have had care otherwise.  There is no survival value in pessimism, so I hope and pray our new president does not start a nuclear war, incite white supremacists to burn our ‘sanctuary’ cities, or bully America into a fascist state.  Since, as he said, he could easily run his worldwide empire and play president at the same time, I guess that’s about all we can hope for.” 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Divisions Continue


A CNN/ORC Poll conducted by telephone January 12-15 among a random national sample of 1,000 adults reveal that American citizens are almost evenly divided on whether the policies President Trump has proposed will move our country in the right direction or the wrong direction.

The poll suggests the deep political divisions that drove the 2016 presidential campaign; between men and women, whites and racial minorities, those holding college degrees and those without and rural residents and those in more urban areas continue are not going away.

President Trump's approval rating for handling the transition is almost 30 points higher among rural residents than it is among urbanites.  It’s nearly 20 points higher among men than women, and among whites than non-whites.  Trump’s approval rating is 13 points higher among whites without degrees than among those who completed college.

Vice President, Mike Pence, holds a favorability rating of 40 percent favorable to 37 percent unfavorable.  However among Democrats, Pence earns higher marks than Trump, 16 percent consider the VP as favorably vs. 9 percent of Democrats that prefer Trump.

In my opinion, this division began on January 20, 2009, when President Obama was first sworn in.  Robert Draper’s book reported that Republicans held a meeting at a restaurant in Washington, D.C., where they planned to block every single thing he wanted to accomplish as president and to make his presidency a failure.

After Obama was inaugurated the second time, there was a similar meeting by Republicans to plan their second term anti-Obama strategy.  The second term anti-Obama strategy was to shutdown the government.  The meeting was led by Reagan era attorney general, Ed Meese, and their plan was that there would be no funding of the federal government unless Obama agreed to repeal health care reform.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Winning Requires


It’ll take a lot more than large crowds gathering to protest President Trump inauguration across the world for the Democratic Party to again determine the direction that America should be heading.  We must focus on winning more seats in state legislatures and governorships.  In less than 2 years a united Democratic Party needs to win more seats in Congress.

Trump owns congressional Republicans, and soon will have a majority on the Supreme Court.  He knows that Republicans won’t oppose him, because Vladimir Putin and Russian spies not only conducted cyber attacks on documents from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but also has information from hacking the Republican campaign committee, and Trump.  Putin is a very cruel and cunning dictator, who’ll keep that information to extort favors from Trump and congressional Republicans.

An inquiry led by Robert Owen a senior British judge found that Putin’s former KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoy carried out the killing of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive polonium-210 in London in 2006.  An operation, that Putin himself would have had to approve.  Litvinenko, 43, was an outspoken critic of Putin.  He had fled to Britain six years to the day before he was poisoned.

Trump’s behavior indicates that he’s an egotistical, vindictive, vengeful, pathological liar, with a narcissistic personality disorder.  He can’t be depended upon to serve all Americans, but as the Republican Party’s nominee, he received 62,979,879 votes.  I’m very surprised that so many intelligent voters across America continue to support an unworthy political party that has demonstrated poor judgement and a lack of compassion since the late 1920’s.

The Republican policy of less government and tax cuts for the very wealthy wouldn’t have ended the Great Depression, and today it won’t solve the issue of unequal distribution of wealth and income.



Monday, January 23, 2017

Sound Off


The Oneonta Daily Star’s “Sound Off ” arrangement is allowing anonymous uninformed people to have false statements published.  Hillary Clinton didn’t “botch Benghazi.”

The House Select Committee on Benghazi report found no evidence of wrongdoing by former Secretary of State Clinton.  The House voted to create the Select Committee after Republicans were frustrated that even their own GOP-led committees failed to find wrongdoing in the events surrounding the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Former House Majority Kevin McCarthy admitted that the email revelation was a political coup for the GOP, and has caused trouble for Clinton on the campaign trail.  It also sparked an FBI probe over her handling of classified data.  That report lacks any reference to clearly classified material on her email server, which was an indication that there wasn’t a chance that any prosecution could stem from her email arrangement.

Democrats repeatedly accused the GOP of using their committees as a partisan crusade aimed at hurting Hillary Clinton in the presidential election and firing up the GOP’s misinformed base.  That is one of the reason Hillary lost the election.

Former committee investigator, Major Bradley Podliska accused the Republican led panel of carrying out a politically motivated investigation targeting Clinton instead of an objective fact-finding mission it was set up to pursue.

David Bozell heads the group ForAmerica pointed out: “I find it incomprehensible and insulting that this committee spent two years and $7 million in taxpayer dollars to release an 800 page report with no firm findings or conclusions.”

Republican Chairman Gowdy insisted that their report revealed for the first time that our military didn’t mount an armed response during the attack.  However, former Secretary of Defense Panetta admitted in 2013 that our military didn’t rush to Benghazi because they couldn’t get there in time. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Function of Government


The debate that our political parties have been having for decades is between more government and less government.  We already know that too much government can stifle competition and deprive us of choice and burden us with debt.  It’s also clear, that the 2007-2008 Great Recession resulted from the Bush administration not recognizing the dangers of too little government.  Specifically, a lack of holding Wall Street accountable, that came close to collapsing our entire economy.

During George W. Bush’s first term in office, he tried to privatize Social Security, so that Wall Street could gamble with the Social Security trust funds.  Had he succeed we might have had endure another Great Depression with an unemployment rate much higher than 1o percent.

Reportedly, 62 percent of white working class Americans claim our federal government bears all or most of the blame for the economic troubles facing the working class.  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.

However, less than half of college educated whites, working class blacks and Hispanics are blaming 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, but more than two-thirds of working class blacks and Hispanics concur 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 angry with our federal government, they still want more help.  A survey of white working class voters show that they’re the backbone of President Trump’s support.  

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Another Record


The World Meteorological Organization has reported that last year was officially the Earth's warmest since record-keeping began in the 1880s.  Temperatures over the Earth's continents and oceans in 2016 were 1.98 degrees Fahrenheit above the pre-industrial average.

Last year set a global heat record for the third consecutive year according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies explained that despite using different methods to compile and analyze the temperatures, those agencies reached the same conclusion that 2016 "continued the long-term trend of warming we have seen since the 1970s ... and have not paused in any way."

A record El Niño lasting from 2015 into 2016 played a role in further pushing the planet's temperature higher.  El Niños are weather phenomena that warm the Pacific Ocean and pump lots of excess heat into the atmosphere, raising global temperatures.

But El Niño is only one factor in the warming of the planet.  And according to climate scientists, it's a relatively small one when compared to the role that humans are playing.

James Hansen, the former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies noted: "The record is due to a combination of the (natural) strong 2015-2016 El Niño (warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean surface) and the strong global warming trend that has continued from 1970 to the present."

The Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton predicted half a billion more solar panels would be deployed during the first four years of her presidency. 

President Donald Trump’s EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt is a climate change denier.  As head of the EPA, Pruitt will stop enforcing environmental protection regulations, slash climate change research, and allow fossil fuel polluters free reign.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Absolute Power Corrupts


Recently, Donald Trump bashed NBC by tweeting: “Totally biased NBCNews went out of its way to say that the big announcement from Ford, G.M., Lockheed & others that jobs are coming back to the U.S., but had nothing to do with TRUMP, is more FAKE NEWS.  Ask top CEO’s of those companies for real facts.  Came back because of me!”

Analysts had already explained that Ford’s decision to expand in Michigan rather than in Mexico had mostly to do with the company’s long-term plans to invest in electric vehicles.  It’s easier for companies to find highly skilled workers to build new products, such as electric cars, in our country than in Mexico.

GM admitted that its plan was approved before the election, but it was accelerated under pressure from Trump.

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler chief executive, said Chrysler’s plan to build some cars in America had been in the works for more than a year and had nothing to do with Trump.  Marchionne credited the decision to talks with the United Auto Workers. 

Trump’s anger towards NBC is similar to his condemnation of specific press and media outlets for not reporting what he wants.  Today, Trump has the power over regulators at the FCC and the antitrust division who could make life difficult for targeted media outlets.

Trump is likely to impose sever hardships on working Americans.  He wants citizens to believe that getting good jobs for Americans is about making deals with particular companies.  He hopes to deflect attention from repealing the Affordable Care Act that could leave 18 million Americans without health insurance next year. 

Andrew Puzder, Trump's choice for the Labor Department supports huge corporate tax cuts, that will likely require cuts in Medicare and Social Security.  Puzder also wants to repeal Obama's overtime rule. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Trump’s Approval Rating


Donald Trump’s approval rating is just 40 percent, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll.  That is 44 points lower than President- elect Obama’s approval rating before he took office.

During the transition period, Trump's approval ratings have dropped.  He is presently more than 20 points below the ratings of any of his three most recent predecessors.  When Obama took the oath in 2009 he enjoyed an approval rating of 84 percent.  Bill Clinton had a 67 percent approval rating in late December 1992.  And, George W. Bush had a 61 percent approval rating just before he took office in January 2001.

Trump's handling of the presidential transition has left most Americans with serious doubt that the President-elect will be able to do the job.  

Since Election Day, about 53 percent of Americans consider Trump's statements and actions made them less confident in his ability to handle the presidency.  Plus, the percentage of those people, who think Trump will do a good job dropped five points.

The survey found that 71 percent of Trump supporters believe that it's likely that he will impose tariffs on companies that manufacture goods in Mexico, and, 61 percent of those supporters anticipate that he’ll create good-paying jobs in economically challenged areas.

Only 44 percent think it's likely that Trump will be able to build a wall along the border with Mexico.  Merely 29 percent believe he’ll be able to get Mexico to reimburse the United States for the construction of the wall.  Just 46 percent of our citizens say that Trump's priorities for America reflect their own priorities.

On Twitter President-elect Trump dismissed those poll findings: "The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are now doing approval rating polls.  They are rigged just like before."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Warning


The Oneonta Daily Star published the following letter that was submitted by Joe Stillman of Oneonta.
“To those of you who voted for Donald Trump, congratulations!  You have elected one the least-qualified persons to ever run for this office in our country’s history.  As you know, he has never served a day in the military or in a public capacity and has spent the bulk of his life making money at the expense of hundreds of others who he has failed to pay as a common business practice.  Perhaps that’s why he has over 3,500 pending lawsuits against him.
“His treatment of women is disgraceful and his behavior to that end has left a trail of victims that most of you don’t seem to care about.
“The real tragedy is that you have endorsed a man who is a pathological liar and would use any means possible to get what he wants.  He’s an unscrupulous exploiter of people who has the potential to possibly start a war, which could literally destroy life on the face of this planet as we know it.
“If you think his unfiltered mind and mouth will make America great again, let’s hope you’re right.  But his recent Russian ties are only the tip of the iceberg and underscore the type of man you have chosen to lead the free world.  A reality TV host is, ironically, the most powerful man in the world, and that’s a pretty sobering thought.  He could prove to be our worst national nightmare.  Let’s hope that Congress will do the right thing and get to the bottom of his transgressions, and pray that this beloved planet of ours, not to mention our great country, can survive his presidency and the damage that is sure to follow.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Relentless Automation


In his Farewell Speech, President Obama explained: “To begin with, our democracy won't work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity.  And the good news is that today the economy is growing again.  Wages, incomes, home values, and retirement accounts are all rising again.  Poverty is falling again.  The wealthy are paying a fairer share of taxes even as the stock market shatters records.  The unemployment rate is near a 10-year low.  The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower.  Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in 50 years.  And I've said and I mean it - if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we've made to our health care system and that covers as many people at less cost, I will publicly support it.  Because that, after all, is why we serve.  Not to score points or take credit, but to make people's lives better.

“But for all the real progress that we've made, we know it's not enough.  Our economy doesn't work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class and ladders for folks who want to get into the middle class.  That's the economic argument.  But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic ideal.  While the top one percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and in rural counties, have been left behind - the laid-off factory worker; the waitress or health care worker who's just barely getting by and struggling to pay the bills - convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful - that's a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.

“But there are no quick fixes to this long-term trend.  I agree, our trade should be fair and not just free.  But the next wave of economic dislocations won't come from overseas.  It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good, middle-class jobs obsolete.”

Monday, January 16, 2017

Questioning Legitimacy


Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis told NBC News' Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press”: "I don't see this President-elect as a legitimate president.  I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected.  And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.  You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong."

Lewis was an ally of Martin Luther King Jr., and he was brutally beaten by police in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 while marching for civil rights.  The Georgia Democrat announced, that he would not take part to an inauguration for the first time since his election to Congress in 1987.

Trump responded by calling Lewis "all talk" and "no action" and saying he should focus more on "fixing and helping" his district rather than "complaining" about the Russia's role.

"Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results.  All talk, talk, talk - no action or results.  Sad, which happened to fall on the weekend of the King federal holiday.”

Actually, the congressional district that Rep. John Lewis represents isn’t in horrible shape or crime infested. 

John Lewis remarks were indeed an astonishing rebuke of a President-elect, by a sitting member of Congress toward an incoming President.   However, Trump actually launched his political career by questioning the legitimacy of President Barack Obama's presidency by repeatedly suggesting he wasn't born in the United States.

For five years, Donald Trump repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of the nation’s first black president, by insisting that he was not a natural-born citizen.

Dozens of other elected officials threw their support behind Lewis, by announcing that they too, would boycott Trump’s inauguration.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Religious Pretext


Our Founding Fathers understood the need to uphold both freedom of religion, and freedom of speech, because to infringe on one under the pretext of protecting the other is a betrayal of both.

Jefferson lamented: "the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world."

George Washington explained:"every man should be free to worship according to the dictates of his own conscience."

James Madison wrote:"Religious bondage shackles and dehabilitates the mind, and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect."

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, refused to follow Ben Franklin's suggestion that their daily sessions open with a prayer for divine guidance.

Edmund Randolph the Virginia delegate to the convention, hoped that the absence of religious qualification "will prevent the establishment of any sect in prejudice to the rest and will forever oppose all attempts to infringe religious liberty."

Article VI reads: "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

The First amendment states:"Congress shall make no law respecting and establishment or religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

Our Constitution didn’t sponsor a specific religion, nor should it pressure anyone to practice a particular faith, or any faith at all.  People of all backgrounds and beliefs were supposed to be free to worship, without fear, or coercion.  We should be reaffirming freedom of religion, and the right to practice it the way we choose, to change our faith if we choose, to practice no faith at all if we choose, and to do so free of persecution, fear and discrimination.

That’s not the case today, because the Republican Party wants to restrict people’s choice of faith.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Religious Ideology


House Speaker, Paul Ryan insists that the GOP will repeal the Affordable Care Act "definitely within these first 100 days" of Trump's presidency.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act specifies that contraception, must be covered by private insurance plans without co-pays or deductibles. 

In 2012, Sandra Fluke explained: "We're talking about national legislation.  Legislation has to reflect reality, not ideology and I don't think that we can actually expect that American women are going to stop engaging in healthy sexual behaviors.  Women aren’t going to be silenced about the issue.  They're going to speak up for health care needs and what this means to them and I'm certainly not going to be silenced.” 

She had been called a “slut” by Rush Limbaugh for her position on contraceptives.  Contraception is central to women’s health and their ability to be part of our economy.

In 2012, the Blunt amendment would have allowed employers to opt out of providing health care coverage on moral or religious grounds.  Men would continue to dominate the political process, at a time when we should have been discussing solutions, such as women’s rights, economic justice and more opportunities for advancement.

Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell insisted: “Before we can move ahead with this jobs bill the Blunt Amendment must be passed."  

Senate Majority Leader, Reid argued that the proposal wasn’t germane to the legislation, because that amendment would have allowed any employer to refuse to cover any kind of health care service by citing “moral reasons.”

Democratic Senator Patty Murray argued: “It would simply give every boss in America the right to make health care decisions for their workers and their families.” 

Moderate Republican Senator Olympia Snowe voted with the Democratic majority.  The amendment to a jobs bill was supported by every other Senate Republican. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Spies and Saboteurs


The primary reason that Asian Americans have had difficult time assimilating into our culture, was most likely was because the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
The tradition of death instead of defeat, capture, and perceived shame was deeply entrenched in Japanese military culture.  Of the 21,000 Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima at the beginning of the battle, only 216 were taken prisoner, some of whom were captured only because they had been knocked unconscious. 
The Japanese weren’t able to build as many ships and warplanes as they were losing in the battles.  Their admirals realized that it was almost impossible to win against the Allied troops with so few aircraft and not enough pilots.  Therefore, they decided to initiate kamikaze attacks by crashing into Allied ships to kill as many American sailors as possible.  Initially, those attacks were ineffective.  But, by the end of the war over 2800 Japanese pilots had sacrificed their lives to sink 34 Navy ships, and kill over 4,900 American sailors.
Legendary WW II Admiral William “Bull” Halsey detested the Japanese Empire and seldom missed an opportunity to encouraging his men to kill the enemy in increasing numbers.  Halsey insisted: “The only good Jap is a dead Jap.”  I remember hearing that expression numerous times as a child.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order, to evacuate all Japanese-Americans from the West Coast.  Approximately 120,000 people were relocated to 10 internment camps located across our country.  In 1988, Congress awarded restitution payments to each survivor of the camps.  
Spies and saboteurs were a concern on both coasts.  My family lived a block from the Rotterdam Army Depot.  A German family in our neighborhood had their radio that was capable of receiving shortwave frequencies confiscated by the FBI and never returned.  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Preparing Our Youth


Abraham Lincoln’s Vice president, Andrew Johnson was a racist, who did everything he could to undercut the abolition of slavery.  The 14th Amendment declared that all persons born or naturalized in our country were American citizens including African Americans.  Nevertheless, the KKK continued its reign of terror in the former Confederate States.

In 1957, the Supreme Court made school integration the law of the land.  In 1964, LBJ pushed through the Civil Rights Act, although, he knew the Democratic Party would lose the south.   Senator Strom Thurmond quickly succeeded in turning the south solidly Republican.

Today’s Southern Republicans are the heirs of the Confederate States, and Donald Trump’s win confirm that nationally the Republican Party welcomes racist.

A 2006 study found that every year more than one million students drop out of high school without a diploma.  Our nation's graduation rates among minority students are especially dismal.  Only 52 percent of Hispanics, 56 percent of African-Americans, 57 percent of Native-American students graduate on time, as compared to 78 percent of white students.

Under President Obama’s administration progress was made.  However, recent studies found that 30 percent of students, who failed to graduate from high school, were urban and rural students from families below the poverty level.  In urban settings typically 50 to 70 percent of the students, who fail to graduate, are not getting even a rudimentary education.  It’s an epidemic of failure that costs America billions of dollars in lost productivity and high crime rates.

The median income for a high school dropout is $12,000 a year, compared with $22,000 for young adults with a high school diploma.  The economic impact of children dropping out of high school amounts to nearly 350 billion dollars over their lifetimes in lost wages, productivity, and taxes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

America’s Upper Class


I THINK, that we should read the Declaration of Independence, which July 4th. celebrates.  I’m proud of my American heritage, because it goes back to the beginning of our country.  My great grandmother was Julia Livingston, a direct decedent of Robert Livingston.  During the Second Continental Congress, he was one of five committee members; the others being Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Roger Sherman, who helped draft the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Preamble to out Declaration of Independence announced: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

After 1776, America’s upper class began voting for politicians to represent them in Congress and the White House, who believed only literate, white, male, land owners were endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.

Voters elected President Andrew Jackson, who pushed through the Indian Removal Act.  He overruled the Supreme Court, and tens of thousands of Indians were forcibly removed from the South.  The Trail of Tears was the forcible relocation of Native Americans, from their homelands to Indian Territory.  Many of them suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation while en route to their destinations.

At the Democratic National Convention, Senator Cory Booker pointed out: “Patriotism is love of country.  But you can’t love your country without loving your countrymen and your countrywomen.  Now, we don’t always have to agree, but we must be there for each other, we must empower each other, we must find the common ground, and we must build bridges across our differences to pursue the common good.”

Our Declaration of Independence concluded: “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

John A. Knapp


Recently, the Oneonta Daily Star published the following letter to the editor, that was submitted by John A. Knapp of Guilford.
“I was very interested in the commentary and subsequent articles concerning Columbus Day.  There was a suggestion that this holiday might be eliminated from our yearly celebrations.  Perhaps we should also scratch July 4th, since four large groups of Americans had no reason to proclaim their “Independence!”
“No. 1. Native Americans — They were harried, hunted, shot, scalped and driven from their land.  They were placed on reservations on some of the most foreboding land in existence.  I don’t believe that they were celebrating their independence!
“No. 2. African Americans — This group remained in slavery almost 90 years after 1776.  Even then, they were still facing bigotry and segregation. Their independence was also denied!
“No. 3. Asian Americans — Immigration was wide-open for white settlers from Europe, but Asians were under a very limited quota system.  During WWII, some Asians were “rounded-up” and put into “Internment Camps.” They lost their homes, possessions and dignity.  I bet they didn’t feel very independent, either!
“No. 4. Women — They comprised half the population, but had few no political rights.  If they owned any personal and real property, it was transferred to their husbands should they decide to marry.  They could not cherish independence in America!
“I can understand why Columbus Day could be stricken from our holiday celebrations.  Maybe we should also delete Independence Day.  Perhaps other patriotic people might suggest additional cuts to our holidays.  What do you think?”
I’ll be posting what I THINK tomorrow, and perhaps for several days after that.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Undisguised Corruption


The truth is that most of the new wealth and income in our country has been going to the top one percent while working families are struggling more than at any point since the Great Depression.

The Republican Party has forgotten how badly corruption can impede an administration.  They complain about deficits whenever a Democrat occupies the White House, but remain silent, when a Republican is elected president.

In 2001, after the George W. Bush inherited surpluses from President Clinton, the Republican Party spent eight years reducing taxes dramatically, primarily for the wealthy, while not budgeting for much more spending on wars and a prescription drug benefit for senior citizens. 

When George W. Bush’s administration ended in a crippling financial crisis, the deficits they had created began growing at nearly a trillion dollar a year.  After the GOP handed control of the government to Democrats, they immediately discovered the virtues of of being frugal with taxpayers money.  The Republican Party is already preparing to return to the spendthrift days of the George W. Bush administration.  

Republican politicians will again demonstrate that they regard both deficits and bribery as vices to be enjoyed during periods of Republican rule.  Their underlying assumption, whether it applies to budgeting or corruption, is that the voting public doesn’t care much about those issue.  However, Republicans may have forgotten how badly corruption can hobble an administration and harm a political party that fails to deliver for a majority of the people.

Since Obama is on his way out, Republicans over the course of a few weeks have pivoted from making a federal case out of Hillary Clinton’s emails to embracing undisguised corruption.  Trump engages in a spree of self-enrichment never before seen, but escapes rebuke because Congressional Republicans pretend Trump’s self- enrichment is completely normal.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Obama’s Solid Economy


The Labor Department reported that our economy added 156,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate inched up to 4.7 percent.  The unemployment rate in November was 4.6 percent, which was the lowest level since August 2007.  Although, the job growth was slightly below the average for the year, last month marked the 75th straight month of job gains.  This report is the last before President Obama leaves office.

Since Obama took office in 2009, our economy has added over 11 million jobs.  He has claimed that our economy has added 15 million jobs during his time as president.  But, that is true, only if you discount the job losses during the recession and start counting jobs that have been added since February 2010.

Nevertheless, we’ve witnessed remarkable improvement since unemployment reached a peak of 10 percent in October 2009.  The gains have been uneven and many Americans feel left behind.  Wage growth has been slow to improve.  About 5.7 million Americans who have part-time jobs want full-time jobs.  Economic growth overall has been sluggish.  Therefore, many Americans became frustrated, which apparently factored into President-elect Donald Trump winning the election.

There remains widespread discontent over lost manufacturing jobs.  In Obama's first month in office in 2009, when there were 12.5 million manufacturing workers.  That figure fell to 11.4 million in 2010.

Manufacturing jobs reached 12.2 million in November, which is almost back to where they were eight years ago.  The difference is that a growing share of the new jobs require advanced skills.

In 2000, there were about 17 million manufacturing jobs in America.  There are far fewer factory workers today, because of our free market economy and automation.  Manufacturing workers who were in low-skilled positions most likely didn’t get many of the new factory positions. 

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Shrinking Middle Class


In 2015, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky explained: “In the United States today, the richest 1 percent owns 34 percent of our nation’s wealth – that’s more than the entire bottom 90 percent, who own just 29 percent of the country’s wealth.  And the top one-hundredth of 1 percent now makes an average of $27 million per household per year.  The average income for the bottom 90 percent of Americans is $31,244.  It’s time for millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share, which is why I introduced the Fairness in Taxation Act.  This isn’t about punishment or revenge.  It’s about fairness.  It’s about avoiding budget cuts that harm middle class families and those who aspire to it.  We can choose to cut education, job creation and health care, or we can choose to ask those who can contribute more to do so.”

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has noted: “You have millions and millions of people, who are struggling to pay their mortgage or rent, to buy food, to put gas in the car.  And by the way, they are paying federal taxes in terms of FICA taxes.  You can’t get blood out of a stone when the middle class is shrinking.”

Thomas Hungerford, an analyst with the Congressional Research Service reports that capital gains tax cuts are by far the largest driver of income inequality.  Studies show that the income of the top 1 percent of Americans has been increasing dramatically.

Nick Hanauer is a technology entrepreneur, and a billionaire venture capitalist.  He insists: “If there was no one around who could afford to buy what we had to sell, all those companies and all those jobs would have evaporated.  That’s why I can say with confidence that rich people don’t create jobs.  Nor do businesses large or small.” 

Friday, January 06, 2017

Tax Loopholes


In 2005, Warren Buffett warned: “The rich people are doing so well in this county, I mean we never had it so good... It’s class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn’t be... Right now corporate profits as a percentage of GDP in this country are right at the high.  Corporate taxes as a percentage of total taxes raised are very close to the historical low.”
President Obama initiated a National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Commission to produce bipartisan legislation that would have required Congress to vote on its recommendations as presented, without any amendment.
In January 2010, a bill failed in the Senate by a vote of 53–46, when six Republicans who had co-sponsored the legislation voted against it. 
Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, who had been appointment to co-chair the Commission, criticized those former supporters, who had voted against the bill.  He insisted that their intent “was to stick it to the president.”
Simpson explained: “Tax expenditures, it’s really nothing more than tax spending.  They’re spending by any other name.  They are really earmarks.  When we went into these tax expenditures, we found that only 10 percent of the American public, the wealthiest people in America, use them, because they are the ones that can hire the best lobbyists, to influence the finance committee.  The little guy had no idea what they are.  It means nothing to him.  He does the standard deduction and walks away.  We found the top 400 income earners in the United States pay an average of 16 percent income tax, and it’s absolutely absurd.”
An outrageous tax loophole allowed Wall Street’s top 25 hedge fund managers to earn $13 billion in 2015.  That’s nearly double the $8.5 billion earned by the nation’s 158,000 kindergarten teachers.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Robert Reich


Robert Reich served in the administrations of Presidents Ford, Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Clinton from 1993 to 1997.

On New Years Eve, Donald Trump tweeted: “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do.  Love!”

As a Trump critic: Reich responded: “The man who is about to become President of the United States continues to exhibit a mean-spirited, thin-skinned, narcissistic and vindictive character.

“Trump sees the world in terms of personal wins or losses, enemies or friends, supporters or critics.

“He hasn’t yet figured out that a president holds a position of public trust that transcends personal animus.  A president is supposed to represent all Americans, including those who voted against him and may continue to oppose him.

“In a democracy, those who fight against a president’s policies are not his personal enemies; they are political opponents and critics.  A democracy depends on the freedom to oppose those in power, without fear of reprisal, without being denigrated or labeled an enemy.”

Reich has warned: “As tyrants take control of democracies, they typically: 

“Exaggerate their mandate to govern -- claiming, for example, that they won an election by a landslide even after losing the popular vote.

“Repeatedly claim massive voter fraud in the absence of any evidence, in order to restrict voting in subsequent elections.

“Publicly criticize anyone who criticizes them, labeling them “enemies.” 

“Turn the public against journalists or media outlets that criticize them, calling them “deceitful” and “scum.”

“Hold few if any press conferences, preferring to communicate with the public directly through mass rallies and unfiltered statements. 

“Tell the public big lies, causing them to doubt the truth and believe fictions that support the tyrants' goals. 

“Blame economic stresses on immigrants or racial or religious minorities, and foment public bias and even violence against them. 

“Attribute acts of domestic violence to “enemies within,” and use such events as excuses to beef up internal security and limit civil liberties.  

“Threaten mass deportations, registries of religious minorities, and the banning of refugees.

“Seek to eliminate or reduce the influence of competing centers of power, such as trade unions and opposition parties. 

“Appoint family members to high positions of authority.

“Surround themselves with their own personal security force rather than a security detail accountable to the public. 

“Put generals and other military commanders into top civilian posts. 

“Make personal alliances with foreign dictators.” 

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Alternations Needed


George Washington wrote: “The warmest friends and best supporters the Constitution has, do not contend that it is free from imperfections; but they found them unavoidable and are sensible, if evil is likely to arise there from, the remedy must come hereafter; for in the present moment, it is not to be obtained; as there is a Constitutional door open for it, I think the People (for it is with them to Judge) can as they will have the advantage of experience on their Side, decide with as much propriety on the alterations and amendments which are necessary as ourselves.  I do not think we are more inspired, have more wisdom, or possess more virtue, than those who will come after us.”

Our forefathers insisted only literate white male land owners should vote.  Amendments have been made, but our constitution hasn’t been updated enough.  Having two Senators for a state with about the same number of voters as Staten Island isn’t a representative democracy.

In 2004, the population ratio was 70 to 1 between California and Wyoming.  Theoretically, if the 26 smallest states held together on all votes, they would be able to 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.  We’ve gone too far toward disadvantaging the citizens of larger states.  Senate filibuster rules compounded the advantage of the minority in a way that the founders never imagined. 

By design the Electoral College is undemocratic. Gore won the popular vote in 2000, but George W. Bush became president.  Clinton lost the electoral college vote, but won the popular vote by 2.9 million votes.



Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Nominating Ideologues


Reportedly, 7 in 10 voters support legal abortion.  Republican National Committee, Chairman Reince Priebus said that Trump has narrowed his list of Supreme Court picks to "five or six."  But, according to Politico, the two favorites for the nomination are anti-choice ideologues Diane Sykes and William Pryor.

Diane Sykes applauded the criminal motivations of anti-abortion protestors who had been arrested more than 100 times.  She praising their "fine characters" and "pure" motivations as they forcibly blocked the entrance of a women's health clinic.

William Pryor is a protege of Trump’s attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions.  In 1986, President Reagan nominated Sessions to be a federal judge, but he was rejected by a Republican-controlled Senate panel, who voted to block his nomination.  He was considered to be too racist.  As an Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions was accused of warning a black colleague to be careful about what he said to “white folks.”

His protégé, Pryor famously called Roe v. Wade “the worst abomination in the history of constitutional law.”  Pryor has also claimed that organizations that protect our civil rights, such as the ACLU and NAACP, are "un-American."

Had Hillary Clinton won the Electoral College vote instead of the Popular vote, she would have nominate Supreme Court justices, who would stand up for women's rights to make a choice, and the rights of the LGBT community.  She’d nominate justices that wouldn’t allow Roe v. Wade, or marriage equality to be reverse.  Hillary understands the heart wrenching decision, that a woman has to make.  The decision shouldn’t be made by ideologues, or racist on our Supreme Court.

If the decision is left up to the states, wealthy women could visit a state that respects a woman’s right to an abortion, but many poorer women wouldn’t have that option.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Trump’s Questionable Nominations


Linda McMahon will be our Small Business Administration administrator.  She is a co-founder and was the CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.  During the general election she was a Trump fundraiser.

John Kelly the former head of U.S. Southern Command will be in charge of the Department of Homeland Security.  He spent 40 years in the Marine Corps and retired earlier this year.

Trump’s pick to be Housing and Urban Development Secretary is Ben Carson.  He has no previous government experience but had a distinguished career as a neurosurgeon.

James Mattis was selected to be Defense Secretary.  He is a retired four-star general, who left the Marine Corps in 2013, and will need a congressional waiver in order to serve due to a federal law that requires a minimum seven-year gap between military service and running the Pentagon.

Trump decided on Steve Mnuchin to be his Treasury Secretary.  He was chairman of Trump's campaign's finance operation.  He previously worked as an executive at Goldman Sachs.  He told CNBC, that he would focus on cutting taxes, particularly corporate taxes.

Our Commerce Secretary will be Wilbur Ross, who is a billionaire investor and one of the authors on an infrastructure plan that Trump is considering.  He would focus on working with individual countries for bilateral trade agreements, rather than the stalled Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Transportation Secretary will be Elaine Chao, who was Labor secretary under former president George W. Bush and assistant secretary of Transportation under president George H.W. Bush.  She is also married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Trump’s choice for Health and Human Services Secretary is Tom Price, who has been a vocal critic of President Obama's health care law.  The selection signals Trump's priority of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Price was an orthopedic surgeon, who has been in the House for six terms.

South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley will be our U.N. Ambassador.  She dealt with several crises while leading her state but has little foreign policy experience.

Michigan Republican, Betsy DeVos will be our Education Secretary.  She is a strong advocate of school choice and school vouchers.

Ryan Zinke will be Trump’s Interior secretary.  He represents Montana in Congress and is on the House Natural Resources and Armed Services committees. 

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Que Será, Será


When I was just a little girl  I asked my mother, what will I be
Will I be pretty  Will I be rich  Here's what she said to me

Que será, será  Whatever will be, will be.  The future's not ours to see
Que será, será  What will be, will be.

When I grew up and fell in love  I asked my sweetheart, what lies ahead
Will we have rainbows, day after day  Here's what my sweetheart said

Que será, sera  Whatever will be, will be.  The future's not ours to see
Que será, será  What will be, will be.

Que será, será is Spanish, and the song became a number one hit for singer Doris Day.  It’s something that you might say when you’re stuck in a hopelessly unchangeable situation, and have come to accept your situation as unchangeable.  A similar phrase is: “It is what it is.”

Obviously, being pretty or rich will never result in rainbows day after day.  Nobody goes through life without experiencing adversity.  When bad things start occurring, it’s time to stay calm and carry on.  Remember that throughout our history our ancestors have had to persevere through much more difficult times.  Many endured slavery, the Civil War, and the Great Depression.

Unfortunately, many Americans seem to be using the words of the song as an excuse for not changing their self destructive lifestyle.  Those that want  to overcome obesity, stop smoking, and their addiction to alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs, need to seek help.  It takes time and often requires taking small steps one at a time.  Changing lifestyles isn’t easy, but it happening every day

Solutions to our medical problems are available, if you seek competent professional advice early on.  Medical professionals are able do thing that some would consider a miracle.