The Weiner Component V.2 #16 – The Great Presidential Cover-up(s)

In 1968 former Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon ran for the presidency of the United States on the Republican ticket.  It was the second time he attempted to attain that position.  In 1960 he had run against John Fitzgerald Kennedy and lost by less than one percent of the vote.

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the U...

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

President Lyndon B. Johnson had announced that he would not run for another term as President.  After a tumultuous Convention the Democrats had chosen Hubert Humphrey and the Southern states of America also ran a third party candidate, George Wallace, whose platform tended to be against integration of the public schools and civil rights for Blacks.  Nixon’s platform, among other things, was that he would end the Viet Nam War and the United States would withdraw with honor from Viet Nam.  Nixon also campaigned as the law and order candidate.  Martin Luther King Jr, and Robert Kennedy while campaigning for the presidency, had been assassinated.  It was a highly dramatic time in the history of the nation, with the anti-Viet Nam War Movement having reached a high point.

 

Nixon carried 32 states with 301 electoral votes, and a popular vote of 31,783,783; Humphrey had 13 states plus Washington, D.C., 191 electoral votes, and 31,271,839 popular votes; and Wallace had 5 states, 46 electoral votes, and 9,901,118 popular votes.  This was the first election after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that had led to the mass enfranchisement of racial minorities throughout the country.  It was about this time that the South would switch its voter majority to the Republican Party.

 

Nixon’s presidency, for the next four years would be rather dramatic.  He actually increased the pressure of the Viet Nam War, enlarging it beyond its borders in order to get the U.S. out of the war with honor.  Protest grew in this country.  Protest movements exploded, particularly at universities.  By 1972, when it became time for reelection Nixon, even though he had the support of the majority of the American people, became frantic to get reelected.

 

The Republican Party secretly supported, with funds, the most radical of the Democratic candidates, George McGovern, helping him to get nominated as the Democratic candidate.  And a small group of five men, both directly or indirectly, connected with the Republican Reelection Committee broke into Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., bugging two of the telephones and searching for assorted information as to what the Democrats were doing or planning.  They broke in more than once and were finally caught and arrested for burglary.

 

Watergate occurred shortly before the Presidential Election of 1972.  Nixon won the election by an overwhelming majority.  He received 520 electoral votes, carried 49 states with a popular vote of 47,168,710.  McGovern received 17 electoral votes, carried 1 state and Washington, D.C. with a popular vote of 29,173,222.  It was an embarrassing defeat for the candidate and the Democratic Party.

 

Even with the election over and the new Presidential term beginning the Watergate investigation continued.  In addition over the next two years an eighty-five page indictment was developed against Nixon’s Vice President, Spiro Agnew, the former governor of Maryland.  He was involved with bribery and extortion, as Vice President, governor, and even going back to before he became governor of Maryland.

 

Because of the turmoil of Watergate the country was undergoing at that time Agnew was offered a deal by government law enforcement.  He could plead “no contest” and resign from the Vice Presidency and he would not be prosecuted.  Agnew took the deal, left Washington, and, from what I remember, settled in Palm Springs, California.  Nixon, while the investigation was going on appointed a new Vice President, Senator Gerald Ford, who would become President after Nixon resigned.

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In January of 1972 G. Gordon Liddy, the Finance Council for the Committee for the Reelection of President Richard Nixon and former aide to John Ehrlichman, presented a campaign intelligence plan to the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CRP) which consisted  of Acting Chairman Jeb Stuart Magruder, Attorney General John Mitchell, and Presidential Council John Dean that involved extensive illegal activities against the Democratic Party.

 

Mitchell viewed the plan as unrealistic.  Two months later he was alleged to have approved a reduced version of the plan.  This included burgling the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate Complex in Washington, D.C.  The burglars were to photograph campaign documents and install listening devices in telephones.  G.Gordon Liddy was in charge of the operation, but has insisted, after being arrested, that he was duped by Dean and two of his subordinates. These were former CIA officers E. Howard Hunt and James McCord.

 

The first burglary was on May 28.  Two phones were wiretapped, that of the executive director and that of the DNC secretary.  Apparently the listening devices had problems and a second burglary was planned.

 

Shortly after midnight on June 17, 1972 a security guard at Watergate noticed tape covering the locks on some of the doors in the complex leading from the underground garage to several offices.  This allowed the doors to close but remain unlocked.  He removed the tape.  When he returned an hour later the locks had been re-taped.   He called the police.  Five men were arrested inside the DNC headquarters.

 

On September 15, a grand jury indicted them, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy for conspiracy burglary and violation of federal wiretapping laws.  The five burglars were tried by a jury and were convicted on January 30, 1973,

 

On the morning of June 18, 1972, G. Gordon Liddy called Jeb Magruder in Los Angeles and informed him the “the four men arrested with McCord were Cuban Freedom Fighters, whom Howard Hunt had recruited.”  The White House immediately began a cover up of the crime and any evidence that might damage the President and his reelection.  The Presidential Election would be the first Tuesday in November.

 

(Somehow the burglary and arrests sounds like a scene from the Silent Era series of films on the keystone cops, totally ridiculous.)

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Shortly after the arrest the FBI would discover the name of E. Howard Hunt in the address books of two of the burglars.  Dean was later ordered by top Nixon aide John Ehrlichman to “deep six” the contents of Hunt’s White House safe.  The evidence from Hunt’s safe was destroyed by Dean and the FBI’s Acting Director, L. Patrick Gray.  On June 19, 1972, the press reported that one of the Watergate burglars was a Republican Party Security aide.  On August 1, a $25,000 cashier’s check earmarked for the Nixon re-election campaign was found in the bank account of one of the Watergate burglars.  The FBI investigation would reveal that the burglary team received thousands of dollars in the months leading up to their arrests.  In essence multi-thousands of dollars in certified checks which the burglars had received could be traced back to the CRP, connecting the oncoming Presidential Election with the five burglars.  All five Watergate burglars were directly or indirectly tied to the 1972 CRP.  This in turn caused the Judge who tried their case to suspect a conspiracy involving higher-echelon government officials.  On September 29, 1972, the press reported that John Mitchell, while serving as Attorney General, controlled a secret Republican fund used to finance intelligence gathering against the Democrats.  On October 10, the FBI reported the Watergate burglary was part of a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage on behalf of the Nixon re-election committee.  Still, Nixon’s campaign was never seriously jeopardized.  On November 7, the President was overwhelming re-elected.

 

Watergate lingered between the press and the White House, with more and more information gradually coming out.  In fact it haunted Nixon’s second term as president.  A special council outside the government for the Watergate investigation was appointed.  Archibald Cox headed it.  The Senate held public hearings on Watergate which were publically broadcast on national television.  It came out that Nixon was recording all conversations in the oval office.  Both Cox and the Senate attempted to subpoena these recordings.  Nixon refused and ordered Cox to drop his subpoena.  Cox refused.  Nixon ordered the Attorney General to fire Cox.  The Attorney General refused.  Nixon fired the Attorney General and ordered the assistant to the Attorney General to fire Cox.  He also refused.  Nixon also fired him and appointed a third Attorney General, Robert Bork, who did fire Cox.

 

The public was incensed.  In a speech on October 20, 1973, Nixon stated, “I am not a crook.” Then the new Attorney General, Robert Bork, appointed a new special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, to continue the investigation.

 

The question had become: When did the President learn of the Watergate break-in?  On March 1, 1974 seven of the President’s close aides were indicted by a Grand Jury.  They also secretly named the President as an unindicted co-conspirator.

 

The Nixon administration released an edited version of the tapes.  Expletives, which Nixon freely used and confidential information were removed from the tapes.  The tapes implied that Nixon knew about the burglary from the beginning and that the initial burglars had been paid to keep silent.  Later another tape appeared that proved Nixon was aware of Watergate from the beginning.

 

In July 27, 1974, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee by a vote of 27 to 11 voted to recommend a Bill of Impeachment against the President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon.  On August 8, 1974, Nixon was told of the Bill of Impeachment by the House and that there were no more than 15 votes in the Senate that would support him.  On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon resigned from the Presidency; the day a bill of impeachment was to be passed in the House of Representatives.

 

The Cover up had failed.  The process had taken a little under two years.  The Vice President, Gerald Ford became the new President.

He would serve out the balance of the presidential term.  Nixon was still liable to criminal prosecution by both state and federal laws.  On September 8, 1974, President Gerald Ford issued a full and unconditional pardon for any crimes Nixon may have or did commit as President.

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Today, early in May of 2017, President Donald J. Trump and his administration face a similar problem.  Is or has it undergone a cover-up for collusion with Vladimir Putin and Russia over the Presidential Election of 2016 or are Trump and his staff amateurs that don’t really know what’s going on as they attempt ineptly to run the United States?

 

According to James Clapper, the former head of the National Intelligence Agency there is “overwhelming” evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.  The FBI began its counterintelligence investigation in July of 2016, well before the November Presidential Election.

 

What I find interesting here is why the FBI Director, James Comey, disregarded policy about an ongoing investigation and publically commented about the Clinton emails shortly before the November Presidential Election but followed FBI procedure and kept quiet about the Trump investigation.  He spoke about the Trump investigation in early May of 2017, well after the election.

 

On May 9, 2017, Trump fired James Comey, the Director of the FBI.  Did that act of Trump using his favorite phrase, (which, I understand, was his favorite term when he was hosting “The Celebrity Apprentice.”  Presumably he copyrighted the phrase).  Does this end the FBI investigation of Trump and Russia?  It would seem that he is actually encouraging both the investigation and the appointment of an independent prosecutor.

 

Trump and his team have continually denied that they have had any improper contacts with Russia during the 2016 campaign.  Representative Adam Schiff, the highest Democrat on the Intelligence Committee has verbally pointed to a number of people who are or have been part of Trump’s team that have had contact with Russians.  There is Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from the committee investigation.  National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who Trump fired eighteen days after discovering he had had contacts with the Russian Ambassador prior to the election.  Trump’s  former campaign manager, Paul Manafort; campaign aides J.D. Gordon and Carter Page, as well as longtime Trump confidant Roger stone.

 

Representative Schiff stated that it was possible that all of their contacts had nothing to do with the election.  “But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated, and that the Russians used the same techniques to corrupt U.S. persons that they have employed in Europe and elsewhere.

 

An election was also held early in May in France and the same techniques were used by the Russians to try to subvert that election to the far-right candidate who Putin preferred.  Unlike Trump, she lost the election.  The French are apparently far more sophisticated than the Americans.

 

On May 7, 2017, the former temporary Attorney General, Sally Yates, and the former head of the National Intelligence Agency, James Clapper, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  President Trump did not emerge in any positive fashion from what was said about him.

 

Donald Trump has been President of the United States for a little over 100 days.  Much of what he has done in that office or what he has stated or tweeted has not shown him in a positive light.  It is still early in his tenure in office.  Remember it took about two years for the evidence against Nixon to come together after his illegal acts.  There is a distinct possibility that it may take as long for the same thing to happen to Trump.

 

Investigation are ongoing now.  While Jeff Sessions has recused himself as the chief law enforcement officer in the nation it is still his assistant who is heading up this investigation.  Pressure is currently building for an independent investigator outside of Trump’s circle.  Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, sees no reason for an independent investigator.  The New York Times is suggesting that there are a lot more of Trump’s people involved with Russia.  What will happen is anyone’s guess.  The probability is that Trump may not survive four years as President of the United States.

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #15 – The Attorney General, Jeff Sessions

United States Senate election in Alabama, 1996

United States Senate election in Alabama, 1996 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Jeff Sessions, was born in Alabama on December 24, 1946.  From February 9, 2017, he became President Donald Trump’s Attorney General, the chief law-enforcement officer in the United States.  Prior to that he was the junior Senator from Alabama.

 

Sessions was raised in that state during the Civil Rights Movement, Which actually began during World War II and went into high-gear during the 1960s when Sessions was in his teens.  That was a period of intense social uproar and change throughout the South and the North.  This was the time Sessions grew to manhood both as a product of the Old and New South.

 

Sessions has functioned as a varied career as a public servant over the years.  He is generally considered as a staunch conservative.  During his years in the Senate he has strongly opposed both illegal immigration and amnesty and supported the expansion of a border fence with Mexico.  He supported most of President George W. Bush’s legislative program, including his tax cuts.  He was for the Iraqi War and a national amendment to ban same sex marriage.  He opposed the 2009 stimulus bill and Affordable Health Care.  He opposed all of President Obama’s three nominees for the Supreme Court.

 

In 1973 Sessions graduated from the University Of Alabama School Of Law with a J.D. degree.  In 1975 he became an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.  In 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated him to become U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.  The Senate confirmed him and he held the position for twelve years, until President Bill Clinton’s Attorney General, Janet Reno, asked for his resignation.

 

In 1985, Sessions prosecuted three African Ameri9can community organizers in the Black Belt of Alabama for vote fraud, accusing them of tampering with fourteen absentee ballots.  This prosecution brought about charges of selective prosecution of Black voter registrations.  The defendants were acquitted of all charges.

 

In 1986 Reagan nominated Sessions to be a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.  At Sessions information hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, four Department of Justice lawyers testified that Sessions had made racially offensive remarks.  One of the lawyers stated that Sessions had referred to the NAACP and the ACLU as “un-American” and “Communist inspired.”  Another stated that Sessions had called a white civil rights attorney a “disgrace to his race.”

 

Coretta Scott King, the wife of the late Martin Luther King, opposed Sessions’ nomination in a letter stating that “Mr. Session had used the awesome power of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly Black voters.”

 

On June 5, 1986 the Judicial Committee voted 10 to 8 against recommending the nomination to the Senate.  The nomination was withdrawn on July 11, 19876.  Sessions became the second nominee in the Federal Judiciary in 48 years whose nomination was killed by the Judiciary Committee.

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In November 1994 Sessions was elected Attorney General of Alabama.  The harsh criticism which he had received from Senator Edward Kennedy that he was “a throwback to a shameful era” and a “disgrace,” actually helped him gain the support of Alabama’s conservatives.  As Attorney General he led the state’s defense of a school funding program that was found to be unconstitutional.  It had large disparities between rich and poor schools.  The rich schools were generally white and the poor schools were mostly black.

 

From 1996 on Sessions was the Republican U.S. Senator from Alabama.  As a Senator he served on various committees.  Among them he was on the Judiciary Committee.  There are at least two major ironies dealing with his Judiciary assignment.  One is that he served with Senators who had refused to qualify him as a judge and the other is the Senate confirmation of Sally Yates as Assistant Attorney General during the Obama Administration.

 

The process by which a person gets “advice and consent” by the Senate begins with a committee meeting.  The committee has to approve the person before their name goes to the full Senate for a vote.  In this process each Senator on the committee asks the prospective candidate questions.  Among the questions Sessions asked Yates was one that dealt with how she would function as Assistant Attorney General.  Sessions asked her what she would do if an issue came up between an executive order from the President which contradicted the Constitution.  Yates answer was that she would adhere to the Constitution and would refuse to obey that order.  In essence the question asked if she was the nation’s lawyer or the President’s.  Sally Yates answered that she would be the nation’s lawyer.

 

At the end of end of President Obama’s presidential tenure his Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, resigned.  Sally Yates became the Acting Attorney General until the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions would be confirmed by the Senate.  The new President, Donald Trump, issued an executive order prohibiting inhabitants from six Muslim countries to come to the United States.  Sally Yates refused to carry out that order, stating that it was unconstitutional.   Because she would not be his lawyer on this issue Trump fired her and appointed another Acting Attorney General who could serve until the Senate confirmed Jeff Sessions as the new Attorney General.

 

Sally Yates was fired for not being President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, for not placing him before the Constitution.  Jeff Sessions, when he was confirmed would not have that problem.

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Jeff Sessions was both an early supporter of Donald Trump and a major advisor to his campaign.  Sessions seems to have dealt largely with immigration and national security.

 

Trump was a reality TV personality and a real estate builder and investor.  He doesn’t like to read, instead he gets most of his information from watching television and from people who discus the different subjects with him.  It is very possible that Sessions is the main source of Trump’s immigration and national security policy.  The concept of the “Wall” between the U.S. and Mexico may have even originated with Sessions.

 

Sessions appearance, wearing a Make America Great Again hat was a constant occurrence at Trump’s rallies.  In fact he was considered for the position of Vice President.  During the transition in which Trump became President Sessions played a large role.  On November 18, 2016, President-Elect Trump announced that Sessions would be his Attorney General of the United States.  The announcement gained both strong support and strong opposition.  Over 1,400 law school professors wrote a letter urging the Senate to reject the appointment.  The Senate Judiciary Committee approved his nomination and the full Senate confirmed him by a Republican Party vote of 52 to 47, along party lines.

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After March 1, 2017, it came out that Jeff Sessions had had contact with Russian officials during the election period and had denied this during his confirmation hearing.  Democratic leaders, like Chuck Shimmer, called upon him to resign as Attorney General.  Republican Lindsey Graham called upon Sessions to recuse himself from any investigation between Russia and the Trump campaign.  Sessions did recuse himself from that investigation.  Presumably the Assistant Attorney General will head up the investigation.  Democrats are calling for an independent investigator to be brought in.

 

Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that Sessions had “lied under oath” and should resign.  Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings stated that “when Senator Sessions testified under oath that “I did not have communications with Russians,” his statement was false, yet he let it stand for weeks and he continued to let it stand as he watched the President tell the entire nation he didn’t know anything about anyone advising his campaign talking to the Russians.”  Cummings also called for Sessions to resign.  Senator Franklin stated that he believes that Sessions perjured himself in his confirmation hearing.

 

On March 20, 2017, the FBI Director, James Comey, testified before the House Intelligence Committee that since July 2016 the FBI had been conducting a counter-intelligence investigation to assess the extent of Russia’s interference into the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump associates played a role in Russia’s efforts.

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Both Trump and Sessions expected to use city and state law enforcement to help carry out their immigration policies.

Toward the end of March of 2017 Sessions publically stated that sanctuary cities that failed to comply with policies of the Trump administration would lose federal funding.  On April 21st nine sanctuary cities were sent letters by the Justice Department giving them a deadline of June 30th to provide an explanation of how their policies were not in violation of the law.  Sessions threatened to reduce Federal funding from the Federal Government if the states did not comply with their wishes. The cities and states sued the Federal Government arguing that the administration could not usurp the powers of Congress and make or change laws.  The judiciary upheld their claim.

 

It should be noted that during his tenure in the United States Senate Jeff Sessions was one of the most conservative members and now as Attorney General his position has not changed.

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Sessions has been an opponent of legal and illegal immigration during his time in Congress.  The probability is that if he had his way the only immigrants who could come to the United States would be white Europeans from Northern Europe.  Everyone else it would seem comes from another race.

 

Sessions favored Bush’s war in Iraq.  In 2014 he was one of three Senators to vote against additional funding for the V.A. medical system.  In October of 2005 he was one of nine Senators to vote against a Senate Amendment to a House bill that prohibited cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment of individuals in the custody or under the physical control of the U.S. Government.  He has been a strong supporter of civil forfeiture, the government practice of seizing property when it has allegedly been involved in a crime.

 

Sessions voted against the 2008 Bank Bailout.  He opposed the $837 billion stimulus bill and the $447 billion jobs bill both proposed by President Obama.  Sessions is skeptical on the scientific consensus over climate changes.  He’s voted in favor of legislation that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases.  He has voted to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

 

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, if he had gotten his way as a United States Senator, would have this country, and probably the rest of the world, still attempting to work its way out of the Gigantic Real-Estate Depression of 2008, which, had it occurred, would have been far greater than the Great Depression of 1929.  This is the man that President Donald Trump has made his Attorney General, the chief law enforcement individual in the nation.

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #15 – Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions

 

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Jeff Sessions, was born in Alabama on December 24, 1946.  From February 9, 2017, he became President Donald Trump’s Attorney General, the chief law-enforcement officer in the United States.  Prior to that he was the junior Senator from Alabama.

 

Sessions was raised in that state during the Civil Rights Movement, Which actually began during World War II and went into high-gear during the 1960s when Sessions was in his teens.  That was a period of intense social uproar and change throughout the South and the North.  This was the time Sessions grew to manhood both as a product of the Old and New South.

 

Sessions has functioned as a varied career as a public servant over the years.  He is generally considered as a staunch conservative.  During his years in the Senate he has strongly opposed both illegal immigration and amnesty and supported the expansion of a border fence with Mexico.  He supported most of President George W. Bush’s legislative program, including his tax cuts.  He was for the Iraqi War and a national amendment to ban same sex marriage.  He opposed the 2009 stimulus bill and Affordable Health Care.  He opposed all of President Obama’s three nominees for the Supreme Court.

 

In 1973 Sessions graduated from the University Of Alabama School Of Law with a J.D. degree.  In 1975 he became an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.  In 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated him to become U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.  The Senate confirmed him and he held the position for twelve years, until President Bill Clinton’s Attorney General, Janet Reno, asked for his resignation.

 

In 1985, Sessions prosecuted three African Ameri9can community organizers in the Black Belt of Alabama for vote fraud, accusing them of tampering with fourteen absentee ballots.  This prosecution brought about charges of selective prosecution of Black voter registrations.  The defendants were acquitted of all charges.

 

In 1986 Reagan nominated Sessions to be a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.  At Sessions information hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, four Department of Justice lawyers testified that Sessions had made racially offensive remarks.  One of the lawyers stated that Sessions had referred to the NAACP and the ACLU as “un-American” and “Communist inspired.”  Another stated that Sessions had called a white civil rights attorney a “disgrace to his race.”

 

Coretta Scott King, the wife of the late Martin Luther King, opposed Sessions’ nomination in a letter stating that “Mr. Session had used the awesome power of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly Black voters.”

 

On June 5, 1986 the Judicial Committee voted 10 to 8 against recommending the nomination to the Senate.  The nomination was withdrawn on July 11, 19876.  Sessions became the second nominee in the Federal Judiciary in 48 years whose nomination was killed by the Judiciary Committee.

*******************************

In November 1994 Sessions was elected Attorney General of Alabama.  The harsh criticism which he had received from Senator Edward Kennedy that he was “a throwback to a shameful era” and a “disgrace,” actually helped him gain the support of Alabama’s conservatives.  As Attorney General he led the state’s defense of a school funding program that was found to be unconstitutional.  It had large disparities between rich and poor schools.  The rich schools were generally white and the poor schools were mostly black.

 

From 1996 on Sessions was the Republican U.S. Senator from Alabama.  As a Senator he served on various committees.  Among them he was on the Judiciary Committee.  There are at least two major ironies dealing with his Judiciary assignment.  One is that he served with Senators who had refused to qualify him as a judge and the other is the Senate confirmation of Sally Yates as Assistant Attorney General during the Obama Administration.

 

The process by which a person gets “advice and consent” by the Senate begins with a committee meeting.  The committee has to approve the person before their name goes to the full Senate for a vote.  In this process each Senator on the committee asks the prospective candidate questions.  Among the questions Sessions asked Yates was one that dealt with how she would function as Assistant Attorney General.  Sessions asked her what she would do if an issue came up between an executive order from the President which contradicted the Constitution.  Yates answer was that she would adhere to the Constitution and would refuse to obey that order.  In essence the question asked if she was the nation’s lawyer or the President’s.  Sally Yates answered that she would be the nation’s lawyer.

 

At the end of end of President Obama’s presidential tenure his Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, resigned.  Sally Yates became the Acting Attorney General until the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions would be confirmed by the Senate.  The new President, Donald Trump, issued an executive order prohibiting inhabitants from six Muslim countries to come to the United States.  Sally Yates refused to carry out that order, stating that it was unconstitutional.   Because she would not be his lawyer on this issue Trump fired her and appointed another Acting Attorney General who could serve until the Senate confirmed Jeff Sessions as the new Attorney General.

 

Sally Yates was fired for not being President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, for not placing him before the Constitution.  Jeff Sessions, when he was confirmed would not have that problem.

*****************************

Jeff Sessions was both an early supporter of Donald Trump and a major advisor to his campaign.  Sessions seems to have dealt largely with immigration and national security.

 

Trump was a reality TV personality and a real estate builder and investor.  He doesn’t like to read, instead he gets most of his information from watching television and from people who discus the different subjects with him.  It is very possible that Sessions is the main source of Trump’s immigration and national security policy.  The concept of the “Wall” between the U.S. and Mexico may have even originated with Sessions.

 

Sessions appearance, wearing a Make America Great Again hat was a constant occurrence at Trump’s rallies.  In fact he was considered for the position of Vice President.  During the transition in which Trump became President Sessions played a large role.  On November 18, 2016, President-Elect Trump announced that Sessions would be his Attorney General of the United States.  The announcement gained both strong support and strong opposition.  Over 1,400 law school professors wrote a letter urging the Senate to reject the appointment.  The Senate Judiciary Committee approved his nomination and the full Senate confirmed him by a Republican Party vote of 52 to 47, along party lines.

******************************

After March 1, 2017, it came out that Jeff Sessions had had contact with Russian officials during the election period and had denied this during his confirmation hearing.  Democratic leaders, like Chuck Shimmer, called upon him to resign as Attorney General.  Republican Lindsey Graham called upon Sessions to recuse himself from any investigation between Russia and the Trump campaign.  Sessions did recuse himself from that investigation.  Presumably the Assistant Attorney General will head up the investigation.  Democrats are calling for an independent investigator to be brought in.

 

Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that Sessions had “lied under oath” and should resign.  Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings stated that “when Senator Sessions testified under oath that “I did not have communications with Russians,” his statement was false, yet he let it stand for weeks and he continued to let it stand as he watched the President tell the entire nation he didn’t know anything about anyone advising his campaign talking to the Russians.”  Cummings also called for Sessions to resign.  Senator Franklin stated that he believes that Sessions perjured himself in his confirmation hearing.

 

On March 20, 2017, the FBI Director, James Comey, testified before the House Intelligence Committee that since July 2016 the FBI had been conducting a counter-intelligence investigation to assess the extent of Russia’s interference into the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump associates played a role in Russia’s efforts.

***************************

Both Trump and Sessions expected to use city and state law enforcement to help carry out their immigration policies.

Toward the end of March of 2017 Sessions publically stated that sanctuary cities that failed to comply with policies of the Trump administration would lose federal funding.  On April 21st nine sanctuary cities were sent letters by the Justice Department giving them a deadline of June 30th to provide an explanation of how their policies were not in violation of the law.  Sessions threatened to reduce Federal funding from the Federal Government if the states did not comply with their wishes. The cities and states sued the Federal Government arguing that the administration could not usurp the powers of Congress and make or change laws.  The judiciary upheld their claim.

 

It should be noted that during his tenure in the United States Senate Jeff Sessions was one of the most conservative members and now as Attorney General his position has not changed.

************************************

Sessions has been an opponent of legal and illegal immigration during his time in Congress.  The probability is that if he had his way the only immigrants who could come to the United States would be white Europeans from Northern Europe.  Everyone else it would seem comes from another race.

 

Sessions favored Bush’s war in Iraq.  In 2014 he was one of three Senators to vote against additional funding for the V.A. medical system.  In October of 2005 he was one of nine Senators to vote against a Senate Amendment to a House bill that prohibited cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment of individuals in the custody or under the physical control of the U.S. Government.  He has been a strong supporter of civil forfeiture, the government practice of seizing property when it has allegedly been involved in a crime.

 

Sessions voted against the 2008 Bank Bailout.  He opposed the $837 billion stimulus bill and the $447 billion jobs bill both proposed by President Obama.  Sessions is skeptical on the scientific consensus over climate changes.  He’s voted in favor of legislation that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases.  He has voted to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

 

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, if he had gotten his way as a United States Senator, would have this country, and probably the rest of the world, still attempting to work its way out of the Gigantic Real-Estate Depression of 2008, which, had it occurred, would have been far greater than the Great Depression of 1929.  This is the man that President Donald Trump has made his Attorney General, the chief law enforcement individual in the nation.

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #15 – Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions

 

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Jeff Sessions, was born in Alabama on December 24, 1946.  From February 9, 2017, he became President Donald Trump’s Attorney General, the chief law-enforcement officer in the United States.  Prior to that he was the junior Senator from Alabama.

 

Sessions was raised in that state during the Civil Rights Movement, Which actually began during World War II and went into high-gear during the 1960s when Sessions was in his teens.  That was a period of intense social uproar and change throughout the South and the North.  This was the time Sessions grew to manhood both as a product of the Old and New South.

 

Sessions has functioned as a varied career as a public servant over the years.  He is generally considered as a staunch conservative.  During his years in the Senate he has strongly opposed both illegal immigration and amnesty and supported the expansion of a border fence with Mexico.  He supported most of President George W. Bush’s legislative program, including his tax cuts.  He was for the Iraqi War and a national amendment to ban same sex marriage.  He opposed the 2009 stimulus bill and Affordable Health Care.  He opposed all of President Obama’s three nominees for the Supreme Court.

 

In 1973 Sessions graduated from the University Of Alabama School Of Law with a J.D. degree.  In 1975 he became an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.  In 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated him to become U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.  The Senate confirmed him and he held the position for twelve years, until President Bill Clinton’s Attorney General, Janet Reno, asked for his resignation.

 

In 1985, Sessions prosecuted three African Ameri9can community organizers in the Black Belt of Alabama for vote fraud, accusing them of tampering with fourteen absentee ballots.  This prosecution brought about charges of selective prosecution of Black voter registrations.  The defendants were acquitted of all charges.

 

In 1986 Reagan nominated Sessions to be a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.  At Sessions information hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, four Department of Justice lawyers testified that Sessions had made racially offensive remarks.  One of the lawyers stated that Sessions had referred to the NAACP and the ACLU as “un-American” and “Communist inspired.”  Another stated that Sessions had called a white civil rights attorney a “disgrace to his race.”

 

Coretta Scott King, the wife of the late Martin Luther King, opposed Sessions’ nomination in a letter stating that “Mr. Session had used the awesome power of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly Black voters.”

 

On June 5, 1986 the Judicial Committee voted 10 to 8 against recommending the nomination to the Senate.  The nomination was withdrawn on July 11, 19876.  Sessions became the second nominee in the Federal Judiciary in 48 years whose nomination was killed by the Judiciary Committee.

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In November 1994 Sessions was elected Attorney General of Alabama.  The harsh criticism which he had received from Senator Edward Kennedy that he was “a throwback to a shameful era” and a “disgrace,” actually helped him gain the support of Alabama’s conservatives.  As Attorney General he led the state’s defense of a school funding program that was found to be unconstitutional.  It had large disparities between rich and poor schools.  The rich schools were generally white and the poor schools were mostly black.

 

From 1996 on Sessions was the Republican U.S. Senator from Alabama.  As a Senator he served on various committees.  Among them he was on the Judiciary Committee.  There are at least two major ironies dealing with his Judiciary assignment.  One is that he served with Senators who had refused to qualify him as a judge and the other is the Senate confirmation of Sally Yates as Assistant Attorney General during the Obama Administration.

 

The process by which a person gets “advice and consent” by the Senate begins with a committee meeting.  The committee has to approve the person before their name goes to the full Senate for a vote.  In this process each Senator on the committee asks the prospective candidate questions.  Among the questions Sessions asked Yates was one that dealt with how she would function as Assistant Attorney General.  Sessions asked her what she would do if an issue came up between an executive order from the President which contradicted the Constitution.  Yates answer was that she would adhere to the Constitution and would refuse to obey that order.  In essence the question asked if she was the nation’s lawyer or the President’s.  Sally Yates answered that she would be the nation’s lawyer.

 

At the end of end of President Obama’s presidential tenure his Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, resigned.  Sally Yates became the Acting Attorney General until the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions would be confirmed by the Senate.  The new President, Donald Trump, issued an executive order prohibiting inhabitants from six Muslim countries to come to the United States.  Sally Yates refused to carry out that order, stating that it was unconstitutional.   Because she would not be his lawyer on this issue Trump fired her and appointed another Acting Attorney General who could serve until the Senate confirmed Jeff Sessions as the new Attorney General.

 

Sally Yates was fired for not being President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, for not placing him before the Constitution.  Jeff Sessions, when he was confirmed would not have that problem.

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Jeff Sessions was both an early supporter of Donald Trump and a major advisor to his campaign.  Sessions seems to have dealt largely with immigration and national security.

 

Trump was a reality TV personality and a real estate builder and investor.  He doesn’t like to read, instead he gets most of his information from watching television and from people who discus the different subjects with him.  It is very possible that Sessions is the main source of Trump’s immigration and national security policy.  The concept of the “Wall” between the U.S. and Mexico may have even originated with Sessions.

 

Sessions appearance, wearing a Make America Great Again hat was a constant occurrence at Trump’s rallies.  In fact he was considered for the position of Vice President.  During the transition in which Trump became President Sessions played a large role.  On November 18, 2016, President-Elect Trump announced that Sessions would be his Attorney General of the United States.  The announcement gained both strong support and strong opposition.  Over 1,400 law school professors wrote a letter urging the Senate to reject the appointment.  The Senate Judiciary Committee approved his nomination and the full Senate confirmed him by a Republican Party vote of 52 to 47, along party lines.

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After March 1, 2017, it came out that Jeff Sessions had had contact with Russian officials during the election period and had denied this during his confirmation hearing.  Democratic leaders, like Chuck Shimmer, called upon him to resign as Attorney General.  Republican Lindsey Graham called upon Sessions to recuse himself from any investigation between Russia and the Trump campaign.  Sessions did recuse himself from that investigation.  Presumably the Assistant Attorney General will head up the investigation.  Democrats are calling for an independent investigator to be brought in.

 

Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that Sessions had “lied under oath” and should resign.  Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings stated that “when Senator Sessions testified under oath that “I did not have communications with Russians,” his statement was false, yet he let it stand for weeks and he continued to let it stand as he watched the President tell the entire nation he didn’t know anything about anyone advising his campaign talking to the Russians.”  Cummings also called for Sessions to resign.  Senator Franklin stated that he believes that Sessions perjured himself in his confirmation hearing.

 

On March 20, 2017, the FBI Director, James Comey, testified before the House Intelligence Committee that since July 2016 the FBI had been conducting a counter-intelligence investigation to assess the extent of Russia’s interference into the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump associates played a role in Russia’s efforts.

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Both Trump and Sessions expected to use city and state law enforcement to help carry out their immigration policies.

Toward the end of March of 2017 Sessions publically stated that sanctuary cities that failed to comply with policies of the Trump administration would lose federal funding.  On April 21st nine sanctuary cities were sent letters by the Justice Department giving them a deadline of June 30th to provide an explanation of how their policies were not in violation of the law.  Sessions threatened to reduce Federal funding from the Federal Government if the states did not comply with their wishes. The cities and states sued the Federal Government arguing that the administration could not usurp the powers of Congress and make or change laws.  The judiciary upheld their claim.

 

It should be noted that during his tenure in the United States Senate Jeff Sessions was one of the most conservative members and now as Attorney General his position has not changed.

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Sessions has been an opponent of legal and illegal immigration during his time in Congress.  The probability is that if he had his way the only immigrants who could come to the United States would be white Europeans from Northern Europe.  Everyone else it would seem comes from another race.

 

Sessions favored Bush’s war in Iraq.  In 2014 he was one of three Senators to vote against additional funding for the V.A. medical system.  In October of 2005 he was one of nine Senators to vote against a Senate Amendment to a House bill that prohibited cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment of individuals in the custody or under the physical control of the U.S. Government.  He has been a strong supporter of civil forfeiture, the government practice of seizing property when it has allegedly been involved in a crime.

 

Sessions voted against the 2008 Bank Bailout.  He opposed the $837 billion stimulus bill and the $447 billion jobs bill both proposed by President Obama.  Sessions is skeptical on the scientific consensus over climate changes.  He’s voted in favor of legislation that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases.  He has voted to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

 

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, if he had gotten his way as a United States Senator, would have this country, and probably the rest of the world, still attempting to work its way out of the Gigantic Real-Estate Depression of 2008, which, had it occurred, would have been far greater than the Great Depression of 1929.  This is the man that President Donald Trump has made his Attorney General, the chief law enforcement individual in the nation.

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #14 – Trump & Kim Jong-un: The Problem of Atomic War

Nuclear weapon test Mike (yield 10.4 Mt) on En...

English: North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

English: North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

Dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was done 72 years ago in 1945 to end WWII.  In essence this happened two years before President Donald Trump was born.  Most of the people who were alive at that time have passed on.  The memory of the end of World War II exists mainly in books and film; so does the memory of dropping two atomic bombs.  Only a very small percentage of the population, who were alive then, are still around and they are very old.  Neither the President of the United States nor the Supreme Leader of North Korea were alive then.

 

The Hiroshima bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945.  Three days later, August 9, the Nagasaki bomb was dropped.  They were exploded approximately 2,000 feet above their targets.  Both were fission devices.  Their energy was released by breaking matter apart into simpler elements.  The two bombs killed approximately 129,000 people and damaged countless others.  The objective of dropping them was to end World War II.

 

Basically what the bomb did was generate the sun’s heat 2,000 feet above the surface of their target, creating a vacuum directly under the explosion, which immediately sucked in dirt and dust from all around, throwing it up as a radioactive mushroom cloud.  The cloud itself was deadly with radioactivity; some of it would be blown up into the higher atmosphere and be spread innumerable miles in one direction or another, actually adding a measure of radioactivity to the atmosphere, while most of it would eventually drop back into the general area from which it came originally.  All this residue would be highly radioactive and deadly to people.

 

Those caught directly under the bomb and their possessions, houses, clothing, whatever, would immediately die or burn-up from the fire or heat.  The people, as one moves away from the center would all have radioactive burns over their bodies, the amount depending upon how far away they were from the center.  The entire process was pure horror.

 

On November 1, 1952 the United States test exploded a Hydrogen bomb at Eniwetok atoll, an empty island in the Pacific Ocean.  A Hydrogen bomb is a thermonuclear device which is a fusion bomb.  It takes simpler elements and makes them into more complicated ones.  It is also 1,000 times more powerful than an atomic bomb.  In fact it uses an atomic bomb to start its process.

 

While the simple atomic bomb releases the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT the H bomb releases 10 million tons of dynamite.  The island the Hydrogen bomb was exploded over melted and disappeared under the Pacific Ocean.

 

A few years later the Soviet Union, under Nikita Khrushchev, exploded two similar devices somewhere in Siberia and Khrushchev reported to the American President that the explosion had been greater than they thought it would be.

 

The radioactivity has a half-life of over 5,000 years.  This means that it can be lethal for over four times that length of time.  If enough atomic bombs were to be exploded they could poison the overall atmosphere of the planet with excess radioactivity and kill all organic life forms that are affected by radioactivity.

 

While shooting the film, The Conqueror, in 1959 John Wayne and ninety other members of the production company eventually came down with some form of cancer.  The film was shot at St. George, in Southwest Utah, east and downwind from the site of U.S. Government nuclear weapons tests.  I understand that one day they all felt a warm wind pass over them.  Susan Hayward and Agnes Morehead, as well as the director, Dick Powell also eventually came down with cancer.

 

It took a while but by 1963 there was a Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty that restricted all nuclear testing to be done underground, usually in old deserted mines, to prevent contaminating the atmosphere with nuclear fallout.  It seems that every time an atomic weapon is tested it adds poisonous radioactivity particles to the atmosphere.   Even nations that did not sign the treaty have tested their atomic bombs since then underground.  This included North Korea.

 

Donald Trump, shortly after he became President of the United States, suggested that the U.S. arm countries surrounding North Korea with atomic bombs and missile systems.  Somehow after mentioning this strategy once he has not brought it up again.

 

He may have been properly briefed.  The problem with an atomic or nuclear war is that it could conceivably contaminate the entire planet.

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North Korea or to use its official title, The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is probably one of the most dictatorial ruled states in the world today.  Its currency, the won, is not accepted in other nations and its value and distribution within the DPRK is totally determined by the government.  There is a different issue of currency for foreign visitors.  International trade and the distribution of currency within the country for goods and services is totally controlled by the central government.

 

The leaders or rulers since the inception of the Communist state has been the Kim family: father, son, and grandson.  Each has come to power after the death of his father.

 

At the end of World War II Korea was split into two sections at the 38th parallel.  The Northern half was organized by the Soviet Union.  The Southern part essentially by the United States.  In the North a Communist government was set up; in the South a Democratic one.  On June 25, 1950 Northern Koreans crossed the 38th parallel and invaded the Southern section.  The war ended with a truce at the 38th parallel in July 1953 with each side occupying the territory they held before the war started.  The truce continues to exist to this day with American troops still stationed at the 38th parallel.

 

On September 9, 1948 the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was established with Kim Il-Sung as the Supreme Leader.  After his death on July 8, 1994 his son, Kim Jong-il became ruler with numerous titles.  And after he passed away on December 17, 2011 his son Kim Jong-un became the Supreme Leader.  With Asian names the family name comes first and it is followed by the given name.

 

Kim Jong-un assumed office on April 11, 2012.  He was born in 1984, which currently makes him 33 years old.  He has a wife, who is somewhere in her twenties, a daughter and he is the Chairman of the Workers Party of Korea and the Supreme Leader of the Military.

 

His older brother, Kim Jong-chul, was poisoned in Malaysia in 2017 by suspected Korean agents.  In December 2013, Kim Jung-un had his uncle, who was a high government official, arrested for treachery and executed.  He also put to death all the members of his family, including children and grandchildren of all close relatives.  It seems, like many rulers of old, once the crown was inherited the possible competition was wiped out.

 

The Korean War ended in a truce that was never resolved.  Since that time the Northern Koreans have dug in, in their territories, digging deep concrete reinforced fortification facilities throughout their country.  In addition they have developed nuclear weapons and run underground tests of these weapons.  They have also developed and tested missiles that could deliver atomic bombs to their enemies in any type of war.  They claim, without actually testing one, to have developed their own Hydrogen Bomb.  This is given very low credence by U.S. Intelligence agencies.

 

As far as the United States is concerned North Korea currently has atomic bomb capacity and medium range missiles.  They are attempting to develop a long range missile that can reach the United States.  The U.S. has unsuccessfully attempted to halt their experimentation.  The United Nations has condemned it and issued economic sanctions.  Northern Korea continues with its rocket and bomb experimentation.

 

Under no circumstances can the U.S. allow them to develop a long range missile.  The Obama Administration issued sanctions against the ruler, Kim Jong-un and nine other N. Korean individuals.  According to one of the ministers, in doing this the U.S. “crossed the red line.”  DPRK considers that a state of war now exists with the United States.  Most people in the U.S. are not aware of this.  This probably includes Donald J. Trump.

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Despite economic sanctions by numerous members of the United Nations North Korea persists in moving forward with its program.  It would seem that North Korea sees its nuclear arsenal as essential in deterring an attack by its enemies, which include most of the nations in the world.

 

Traditionally the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has spent 25% of its Gross Domestic Product, of the goods and services it produces each year, upon the military.  It currently has the fourth largest army in the world.  All this despite the fact that the country is relatively poor.  From 1994 to 1998 there were severe food shortages and a number of people died of starvation.

 

North Korea’s border mostly faces China, with a smaller section facing Russia.  When the Soviet Union crashed and became Russia, North Korea lost that country as a provider of goods and services.  Her major trading partner today is China, who to a large extent she is dependent upon.  Does this give China a strong hand in determining her policies?  We will see.

 

China’s President, Xi Jinping, on a recent visit to the United States, was asked to help make North Korea back-off it’s nuclear and missile research.  Does China have enough clout to do this?  Or is China willing to do this?

 

The People’s Democratic Republic of Korea is ruled by Kim Jong-un, a 33 year old in charge of what is today a pure communist country where the Central Government controls the lives of all its people.  What do we know about him?  The answer is not very much.  He is reputed to never back down.  Is he capable of beginning an Atomic War?

 

In the United States the President is Donald J. Trump, who had earlier threatened a preemptive strike upon North Korea if they don’t stop their atomic and missile tests.  Trump has bombed with missiles an airport in Syria because Assad’s military presumably used chemical warfare against children.  He also dropped a massive non-atomic bomb over ISIS in Pakistan that destroyed everything within a mile, killing about one hundred people within the area.

 

Kim Jong-un is a young erratic dictator who has also threatened a preemptive attack.  His representative at the U.N. recently accused the U.S. of creating a situation for atomic war.

 

The problem with a preemptive attack by North Korea is that its target or targets would probably be South Korea or/and Japan, who are both within missile range of North Korea.

 

North Korea could be eradicated by just a few nuclear devices but so could other countries in that area of the world.  And how damaging would the results be for the rest of the people left alive?

 

Currently the situation rests in the hands of President Donald Trump and the supreme ruler of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.  Will we see some form of resolution to the problem or could we see a nuclear war?  Anything is possible.  And either of these two men is capable of starting a major war.

 

Trump has sent a naval armada, consisting, among other ships, of an aircraft carrier and a submarine capable of launching atomic missiles into that region.  They may participate in joint exercises with the South Korean navy.

 

North Korea has stated that this action would be an act of war. Trump has publicly stated that the United States may become involved in an actual war with North Korea.  He has further said that under no conditions can North Korea be allowed to develop long range missiles.  With these two leaders anything may happen.

 

The Weiner Component Vol.#2 – President Trump, the Mighty Warrior

On Friday, April 8, 2017, President Trump ordered the bombing of a Syrian military airport from where he believed planes, on April 4th  originated, that dropped poison sarin gas upon onto a Damascus suburb killing up to 1,423 people, mostly civilian adults and a large number of children.

 

Trump commented at a news conference about watching television and seeing the results of the raid upon young children.  “I will tell you that attack on children yesterday had a big impact.  That was a horrible, horrible thing.  And I’ve been watching it, and seeing it, and it doesn’t get any worse than that.”  He spoke about the “beautiful little babies” that had been killed with poison gas.  “It crossed a lot of lines for me.  When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, little babies with a chemical gas that is so lethal.  That crosses many, many lines.  Beyond a red line, many, many lines.”

 

On Friday when he met with the Chinese President at his resort in Florida he had ordered as Commander and Chief of the U.S. Military fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles to be sent to the Shayrat Air Base, where the Syrian planes carrying the poison gas had presumably originated.  In doing this Trump changed his “America First” policy.

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To understand both Syria and the Middle East it is necessary to look at this region historically.  The Ottoman or Turkish Empire began toward the end of the 13th Century, when it conquered most of what is today the Middle East.  After 1354 it crossed into Europe conquering the Balkans.  During the 16th and 17th Centuries it became a multinational, multilingual Empire, consisting of Southeast Europe, parts of Central Europe, Western Asia, the Caucasus, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.  For various reasons the Ottomans suffered severe military defeats in the late 18th and 19th Centuries.  In the early 20th Century they allied with the Central Powers during World War I.  Its defeat in that war led to the occupation of parts of its territories by some of the Allied Powers.  This resulted in the loss of itsremaining empire.  The Middle East territories were divided between England and France.  A successful revolt against the occupying allies led to the emergence of the Republic of Turkey, which is today modern Turkey.

 

The Middle East was split-up by the two Allied Nations in such a way as to accommodate their new possessions as colonies and protectorates.  The indigenous needs, religions, and otherwise of the people were ignored.  The divisions were decided totally upon requirements or whims of the victorious European nations that took them over as possessions that would be used for essentially economic purposes.

 

After World War II these colonies began revolting in order to gain their independence.  When it was realized that it would be cheaper to grant them independence and trade with them rather than continue to hold them in line militarily the Middle East nations gained their freedom and the Age of Imperialism ended.

 

The boundary lines that were set at the end of the First World War are the same boundary lines that exist today.  The Middle East nations are essentially conglomerates of different groups of peoples.  In a few cases there is a majority but in most instances the countries are made up of many minorities, usually with one of them ruling the country.  Such is the case in Syria.

 

In 2011 the Arab Spring occurred.  It was a movement of a number of Middle East nations attempted to move in the direction of democracy.  In most cases these countries ended up with a new minority ruling and the rest of the population being more or less repressed as they were before 2011.

 

In Syria the Arab Spring generated a conflict between Bashar al-Assad’s regime that represents a minority of its citizens and a majority of different groups that wanted it gone.  Assad is supported by about one third of the population and the army.  Over the last six years the situation has spiraled into an immensely complicated international war.  On the one side there is the government of the country headed by President al-Assad, who is supported by Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia and on the other side innumerable groups, supported by Saudi Arabia and to some extent by the U.S., fighting Assad’s government and each other at times.  Some of the groups are extremely reactionary or radical and some are more moderate but the political positions the groups adhere to changes at times, putting the U.S. in an impossible position as to whom to support militarily.

 

In addition ISIS or ISIL has set up what it calls a Worldwide Caliphate (world state) which it claims has religious, political, and military authority over all Muslims worldwide.  ISIS has controlled a large section in western Iraq and eastern Syria containing an estimated 2.8 to 8 million people.  In addition to warfare they have conducted televised mass beheadings of prisoners and civilians, which have included two American newsmen.

 

In the constant six years of civil war over 4 ½ million people in Syria have been displaced.  This has led to a constant stream of refugees leaving or trying to leave the country.  The mass of refugees have caused strains in other Middle East countries, in Europe, and even in the United States, where   President Donald Trump has unsuccessfully attempted to keep, among others, all Syrian refugees from entering the country, calling them potential terrorists.

 

While earlier the United States under President Barack Obama wanted Assad gone they had largely participated in arming the Kurds, a group situated in a region in both Iraq and Syria, whose agenda is mainly to set up their own Kurd state.  The U.S. is mainly bombing ISIS in both countries while the Kurds are fighting them on the ground.  Largely but not completely the United States had, has avoided specifically supporting anyone in the Syrian Civil War.  But they are continuing to fight ISIS, mainly from the air.

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In 2013, after a chemical poison gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad’s government, Russia had supposedly removed all poison gas chemicals from Syria after it they were initially used by them.  President Obama, at that time had drawn a red line, the United States would not allow the use of chemical warfare.  Presumably he was stopped from taking any actions by the Republican Congress.  But Assad did agree to give up all his chemical weapons, which were removed by Russia and presumably destroyed.  But it would seem that Assad held back some of the poison gas and this was used in the early April 2017 bombing in the rebel held area of Khan Sheikhoun.

 

The raiders dropped barrel bombs, which in this case were canisters of sarin poison gas. In addition to be breathed in the gas can enter the body through the pores in the skin.  There were some very dramatic television pictures of people trying to wash the poison off the bodies and clothing of young children by hosing them with water.  There were also pictures of children and adults undergoing great torment painfully trying to breathe.  This apparently is what caused Trump’s reaction.

 

Assad claims that he is not responsible, that he gave up his supply of poison gas in 2013.  Putin and Russia support his claim.  The United States and President Trump blame the Assad regime.  Not too long ago Chlorine gas was used against one of the rebelling groups in Syria by Assad.  Apparently chlorine, which is used to etch glass, in not a poison gas!  The situation in Syria is complicated, particularly with issuing blame.

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My last point concerns President Donald J. Trump.  How sincere is he?  He has stated that he doesn’t like to read, that he gets his information by watching television.  His reaction to the chemical poison gas attack in Syria has been shock, watching young children suffering from poison gas.  His reaction to the sight was to punish the perpetrators of the bombing.

 

There was no investigation of who had dropped the gas bombs.  It was broadly assumed that only al-Assad was capable of doing it.  Assad, backed by Russia, claimed that he did not order it or even that he had any poison gas.  He claimed that his government had turned over their supply of poison gas to Russia in 2013, who had destroyed the supply.

 

Would Assad order the dropping of the poison gas?  I suspect the answer is, yes, if he had a reason to do so.

 

Trump seems to change his attitudes as quickly as a chameleon changes its color.  He has claimed that he wasn’t interested in what was happening overseas, that his basic policy is America first.  Yet, after watching some television newsreel about children suffering and dying from being gassed in Syria he ordered the bombing of the Syrian airfield where the planes are supposed to have come from.  He was emotionally moved and reacted to the sight of the atrocity.

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It should also be noted that President Trump likes to change the topic at times that the media is using when it is negative.  This is particularly true in terms of him and his staff being associated with Russia during the Presidential Campaign and earlier.

 

In doing this he’s come up with real nonsense, such as President Obama illegally bugging his facilities during the Presidential campaign.  There is no proof of this and it has been emphatically disclaimed by all the government agencies like the FBI, but still Trump persists in this bit of alternate reality.  I get the impression that Trump’s version of a fact is whether, if he were in the other President’s position then it is something he would do.  Apparently, to him, everyone else has the same low code of honor Trump has!

 

One of Trump’s former aids is registering retrogressively as a foreign agent.  Another was fired after lying to the Vice President.  Numerous others have associations with foreign countries.  Trump has stated in different speeches that he both personally knows and that he has never met Vladimir Putin, the Russian premier.

 

It has been suggested that the American bombing of the Syrian air force base was arranged by Trump with Putin’s support and that Assad’s government knew about it in advance.  From what I understand only six Syrians died from the exploding 59 million dollars’ worth of Tomahawk missiles, that is 59 separate tomahawk missiles each costing one million dollars.  Is this true?  I have no idea.  Could it be true?  There were no Russians anywhere in or near the airbase.

 

Will Trump do it again?  President Putin has stated that there will be serious consequences if he does.

 

Looking at what’s happening in Syria from President Trump’s prospective, it’s alright to kill people and children as long as poison gas is not used.  There seems to be something wrong with that attitude.

 

If this is the only effort made against Assad and his government then what was the real point of the 59 million dollars’ worth of Tomahawk missiles dropped on the Syrian air base?  Or was this a message being sent to North Korea, telling them to back down on their atomic bombs and missile development tests?

 

Somehow a lot of what has happen here makes no sense unless it is an outpouring of Trump’s ever-changing emotional states.

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #13 – President Trump, the Mighty Warrior

 

On Friday, April 8, 2017, President Trump ordered the bombing of a Syrian military airport from where he believed planes, on April 4th  originated, that dropped poison sarin gas upon onto a Damascus suburb killing up to 1,423 people, mostly civilian adults and a large number of children.

 

Trump commented at a news conference about watching television and seeing the results of the raid upon young children.  “I will tell you that attack on children yesterday had a big impact.  That was a horrible, horrible thing.  And I’ve been watching it, and seeing it, and it doesn’t get any worse than that.”  He spoke about the “beautiful little babies” that had been killed with poison gas.  “It crossed a lot of lines for me.  When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, little babies with a chemical gas that is so lethal.  That crosses many, many lines.  Beyond a red line, many, many lines.”

 

On Friday when he met with the Chinese President at his resort in Florida he had ordered as Commander and Chief of the U.S. Military fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles to be sent to the Shayrat Air Base, where the Syrian planes carrying the poison gas had presumably originated.  In doing this Trump changed his “America First” policy.

******************************

To understand both Syria and the Middle East it is necessary to look at this region historically.  The Ottoman or Turkish Empire began toward the end of the 13th Century, when it conquered most of what is today the Middle East.  After 1354 it crossed into Europe conquering the Balkans.  During the 16th and 17th Centuries it became a multinational, multilingual Empire, consisting of Southeast Europe, parts of Central Europe, Western Asia, the Caucasus, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.  For various reasons the Ottomans suffered severe military defeats in the late 18th and 19th Centuries.  In the early 20th Century they allied with the Central Powers during World War I.  Its defeat in that war led to the occupation of parts of its territories by some of the Allied Powers.  This resulted in the loss of itsremaining empire.  The Middle East territories were divided between England and France.  A successful revolt against the occupying allies led to the emergence of the Republic of Turkey, which is today modern Turkey.

 

The Middle East was split-up by the two Allied Nations in such a way as to accommodate their new possessions as colonies and protectorates.  The indigenous needs, religions, and otherwise of the people were ignored.  The divisions were decided totally upon requirements or whims of the victorious European nations that took them over as possessions that would be used for essentially economic purposes.

 

After World War II these colonies began revolting in order to gain their independence.  When it was realized that it would be cheaper to grant them independence and trade with them rather than continue to hold them in line militarily the Middle East nations gained their freedom and the Age of Imperialism ended.

 

The boundary lines that were set at the end of the First World War are the same boundary lines that exist today.  The Middle East nations are essentially conglomerates of different groups of peoples.  In a few cases there is a majority but in most instances the countries are made up of many minorities, usually with one of them ruling the country.  Such is the case in Syria.

 

In 2011 the Arab Spring occurred.  It was a movement of a number of Middle East nations attempted to move in the direction of democracy.  In most cases these countries ended up with a new minority ruling and the rest of the population being more or less repressed as they were before 2011.

 

In Syria the Arab Spring generated a conflict between Bashar al-Assad’s regime that represents a minority of its citizens and a majority of different groups that wanted it gone.  Assad is supported by about one third of the population and the army.  Over the last six years the situation has spiraled into an immensely complicated international war.  On the one side there is the government of the country headed by President al-Assad, who is supported by Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia and on the other side innumerable groups, supported by Saudi Arabia and to some extent by the U.S., fighting Assad’s government and each other at times.  Some of the groups are extremely reactionary or radical and some are more moderate but the political positions the groups adhere to changes at times, putting the U.S. in an impossible position as to whom to support militarily.

 

In addition ISIS or ISIL has set up what it calls a Worldwide Caliphate (world state) which it claims has religious, political, and military authority over all Muslims worldwide.  ISIS has controlled a large section in western Iraq and eastern Syria containing an estimated 2.8 to 8 million people.  In addition to warfare they have conducted televised mass beheadings of prisoners and civilians, which have included two American newsmen.

 

In the constant six years of civil war over 4 ½ million people in Syria have been displaced.  This has led to a constant stream of refugees leaving or trying to leave the country.  The mass of refugees have caused strains in other Middle East countries, in Europe, and even in the United States, where   President Donald Trump has unsuccessfully attempted to keep, among others, all Syrian refugees from entering the country, calling them potential terrorists.

 

While earlier the United States under President Barack Obama wanted Assad gone they had largely participated in arming the Kurds, a group situated in a region in both Iraq and Syria, whose agenda is mainly to set up their own Kurd state.  The U.S. is mainly bombing ISIS in both countries while the Kurds are fighting them on the ground.  Largely but not completely the United States had, has avoided specifically supporting anyone in the Syrian Civil War.  But they are continuing to fight ISIS, mainly from the air.

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In 2013, after a chemical poison gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad’s government, Russia had supposedly removed all poison gas chemicals from Syria after it they were initially used by them.  President Obama, at that time had drawn a red line, the United States would not allow the use of chemical warfare.  Presumably he was stopped from taking any actions by the Republican Congress.  But Assad did agree to give up all his chemical weapons, which were removed by Russia and presumably destroyed.  But it would seem that Assad held back some of the poison gas and this was used in the early April 2017 bombing in the rebel held area of Khan Sheikhoun.

 

The raiders dropped barrel bombs, which in this case were canisters of sarin poison gas. In addition to be breathed in the gas can enter the body through the pores in the skin.  There were some very dramatic television pictures of people trying to wash the poison off the bodies and clothing of young children by hosing them with water.  There were also pictures of children and adults undergoing great torment painfully trying to breathe.  This apparently is what caused Trump’s reaction.

 

Assad claims that he is not responsible, that he gave up his supply of poison gas in 2013.  Putin and Russia support his claim.  The United States and President Trump blame the Assad regime.  Not too long ago Chlorine gas was used against one of the rebelling groups in Syria by Assad.  Apparently chlorine, which is used to etch glass, in not a poison gas!  The situation in Syria is complicated, particularly with issuing blame.

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My last point concerns President Donald J. Trump.  How sincere is he?  He has stated that he doesn’t like to read, that he gets his information by watching television.  His reaction to the chemical poison gas attack in Syria has been shock, watching young children suffering from poison gas.  His reaction to the sight was to punish the perpetrators of the bombing.

 

There was no investigation of who had dropped the gas bombs.  It was broadly assumed that only al-Assad was capable of doing it.  Assad, backed by Russia, claimed that he did not order it or even that he had any poison gas.  He claimed that his government had turned over their supply of poison gas to Russia in 2013, who had destroyed the supply.

 

Would Assad order the dropping of the poison gas?  I suspect the answer is, yes, if he had a reason to do so.

 

Trump seems to change his attitudes as quickly as a chameleon changes its color.  He has claimed that he wasn’t interested in what was happening overseas, that his basic policy is America first.  Yet, after watching some television newsreel about children suffering and dying from being gassed in Syria he ordered the bombing of the Syrian airfield where the planes are supposed to have come from.  He was emotionally moved and reacted to the sight of the atrocity.

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It should also be noted that President Trump likes to change the topic at times that the media is using when it is negative.  This is particularly true in terms of him and his staff being associated with Russia during the Presidential Campaign and earlier.

 

In doing this he’s come up with real nonsense, such as President Obama illegally bugging his facilities during the Presidential campaign.  There is no proof of this and it has been emphatically disclaimed by all the government agencies like the FBI, but still Trump persists in this bit of alternate reality.  I get the impression that Trump’s version of a fact is whether, if he were in the other President’s position then it is something he would do.  Apparently, to him, everyone else has the same low code of honor Trump has!

 

One of Trump’s former aids is registering retrogressively as a foreign agent.  Another was fired after lying to the Vice President.  Numerous others have associations with foreign countries.  Trump has stated in different speeches that he both personally knows and that he has never met Vladimir Putin, the Russian premier.

 

It has been suggested that the American bombing of the Syrian air force base was arranged by Trump with Putin’s support and that Assad’s government knew about it in advance.  From what I understand only six Syrians died from the exploding 59 million dollars’ worth of Tomahawk missiles, that is 59 separate tomahawk missiles each costing one million dollars.  Is this true?  I have no idea.  Could it be true?  There were no Russians anywhere in or near the airbase.

 

Will Trump do it again?  President Putin has stated that there will be serious consequences if he does.

 

Looking at what’s happening in Syria from President Trump’s prospective, it’s alright to kill people and children as long as poison gas is not used.  There seems to be something wrong with that attitude.

 

If this is the only effort made against Assad and his government then what was the real point of the 59 million dollars’ worth of Tomahawk missiles dropped on the Syrian air base?  Or was this a message being sent to North Korea, telling them to back down on their atomic bombs and missile development tests?

 

Somehow a lot of what has happen here makes no sense unless it is an outpouring of Trump’s ever-changing emotional states.

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #12 – Trump & Taxes

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

Donald J. Trump, the candidate, made assorted promises to assorted groups about what he would do with taxes. At a rally in Scranton, Pa. he promised to “massively cut taxes for the middle class, the forgotten people, the forgotten men and women of this country who built our country.” At a town hall meeting on NBC’s Today Show, Trump said he believes in raising taxes for the wealthy. He has also promised to lower taxes for the wealthy and for corporations. The last part, he said, will bring jobs back into the United States. According to one survey taken after the last debate he had with Hillary Clinton, 51 percent of the people intending to vote for him supported increasing taxes on high earning individuals.

 

Trump, the President, has come out with his tax plan. Under it the top one percent, people like himself, will get about half of the benefits of his tax cuts. A millionaire would get an average tax cut of $317,000 up, depending upon how many millions he earned over the year.

 

Trump reduces the current seven tax brackets down to three distinct categories. He does away or repeals the head of household tax filing category. He raises the standard deduction for married couples filing jointly from $12,000 to $30,000 and for single individuals with or without children from $6,300 currently for those with no dependents to $15,000. Those who are currently single heads of households, like divorced women with children, would actually have their income taxes increased.

 

A family earning between $40,000 and $50,000 a year would get a tax cut of $560. But millions of middle class working families will have their tax bills rise under Trump’s plan. This is especially true for single-parent families because of the repeal of the head of household filing status as well as that of personal exceptions. Under Trump’s plan a single parent with $75,000 in earnings, two school age children and no child care costs would pay an additional $2,440 in income taxes. While a single parent with an income of $50,000, three teen-aged school children would be taxed an additional $1,186. A married couple with $50,000 in earnings and two school age would see a tax increase of $159. Many married couples would see no benefit from his so-called tax reform.

 

Presumably Trump’s proposal to cut the corporate tax rate from thirty-five percent to fifteen percent will help all taxpayers by boosting economic growth. He would also eliminate the Federal Estate Tax completely. This tax is paid by only the wealthiest taxpayers, by less than the top one percent. It’s a good way to keep wealth in the hands of the few. And, of course, he will do nothing to raise the federal level of minimum pay beyond $7.25 an hour.

 

President Trump’s Tax Plan does not deal with the needs of the Middle Class nor with single individuals raising families but is basically a give-away to the wealthy and the large corporations. He seems to be satisfying the economic group to which he belongs rather than dealing with the needs of the many.

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The United States is a Federal Republic consisting of federal, state, and local governments. Taxes are imposed on each of these levels. These include taxes on income, payroll, property, sales, capital gains, dividends, interest, imports, estates, school districts, and gifts. There are also various fees and licenses. These are imposed on net income of individuals, businesses, and corporations by the federal and some local governments.

 

Most business expenses and some living costs reduce taxable income. Among these are mortgage interest, if you own a house, state and local taxes, charitable contributions, and medical costs. Payroll taxes are paid by both the employer and the employee, as are Social Security and Medicare. An unemployment tax is an expense only to the employer.

 

Property taxes are imposed by most local governments and many special purpose authorities like school districts. These are based upon the appraised value of the property and more than one such tax can be imposed upon a single property.

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There are two types of taxation in the United States. One type is Progressive Taxation and all the others are Regressive Taxation. The Progressive is the Income Tax, as utilized by the Federal Government and a number of states. Here the more one earns the larger is the percent of their income they pay in taxes. In terms of Regressive Taxation, here everyone pays the same amount of their income regardless of how large or small it is.

 

A Regressive Tax would be a sales tax, value added taxes as in the purchase of gasoline or liquor, both of which would also include sales tax. It would be on imports, licenses for anything. It is a fixed amount that everyone would pay equally, regardless of how much or little they earn.

 

The problem with the progressive tax in America is that it is progressive up to a point and then it becomes regressive. Currently there are seven levels going from 10 to 40 percent of the taxed incomes after deductions are subtracted from the income. Progressive taxes go from $9,275 for a single person to $466,950 for a married couple filing jointly. In between these two there is another category called head of household, which is more than a single person pays and less than a married couple is taxed. After the income reaches $466,950, no matter how high it goes, the amount paid remains at 40 percent. Percentage wise the amount paid in taxes actually decreases.

 

Mitt Romney, when he was running for President in 2012 released his taxes for that year. The amount he paid was eleven or twelve percent of his annual income. The average family with an income well under $100,000 will pay 25 to 35 percent in income taxes.

 

The CEO of Hewlett Packard earns 15 million a year, which is over one million a month. Her taxes increase as her income rises in January, the first month of the year, until she reaches $466,950, then for the remaining eleven months of the year she will pay a fixed 40 percent of her income in taxes.

 

Donald Trump, who claims to have ten billion dollars, which he has never proven, has at least multi-millions. He pays the same 40 percent of his income in income taxes; but when eating at a restaurant would pay the same rate of sales tax as a man who could only afford to take his wife to a fancy dinner once a year.

 

Trump would reduce the current seven stages of income taxes to three levels: 12%, 26%, and 33%. His maximum income tax would be at 33 percent. A married couple filing jointly would pay $225,000. No one would pay a larger amount than the person earning a little under ¼ of a million dollars and heads of households would pay the single rate. Under Trump’s plan the system becomes far more regressive and the government collects far less in taxes during a period when the National Debt is over 19 trillion dollars. It could conceivably double under Trump.

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Trump also wants to reduce the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. He argues that this will bring industry back to the United States. The actual corporate tax that the government collects is lower than that of Germany, Canada, Japan, and China, among others. The reason for this is called tax expenditures, which is a term designed to legitimize special interest tax breaks and loopholes.

 

The 35% tax rate for most large corporations is a joke. Some of the largest corporations in the United States pay no taxes at all. Two examples would be General Electric and Wells Fargo. These and many other major corporations pay no income tax because the Tax Code is riddled with exemptions and loopholes. These were essentially created by lobbyists. The Tax Code is 71,000 pages long. It has been constantly added to over the years.

 

From 2008 to 2010 at least 30 Fortune 500 Companies, such as Pepsi Cola, Verizon, Wells Fargo, and DuPont, paid more to lobbyists than they did in taxes. They spent $476 million pressuring Congress for tax break loopholes and special subsidies. They kept $164 billion in profits and received $10.6 billion in rebates.

 

In a sense it can be said that Congress sells loopholes and subsidies. Monsanto paid 22 instead of 35%, while DuPont received a 72 million dollar rebate when it made a profit of 2.1 billion dollars. Basically the Tax Code is a mess.

 

In the United States elections are expensive. The Congressmen from both parties accept contributions, particularly in the House of Representatives when they run for office every two years. In addition Congressmen accept benefices from lobbyists but, here, the Republicans are the worst of the two. They prattle on about free markets while protecting just about any market-distorting loophole. Essentially their campaigns are largely funded by the Pharmaceutical Companies who they allow a very large return on what they sell.

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Legal tax scams do and have abounded in the United States; but will President Trump improve or worsen the situation? The high probability is that if Trump gets his way it will be like Christmas for the plutocrats in the country. While they have gotten away with all sorts of scams to date the situation will improve for them by 1,000 percent. The U.S. could well become a country of the rich, for the rich, run by the rich. Trump, who admitted to paying no income taxes for years will legally remain in that position. And so will others like him.

 

But Trump is not a legislator, he is the chief administrator in the country. Congress may not go along with him. As stated earlier the current Tax Code is 71,000 pages long. Trump had a problem with the Health Care Law. It is only 1,000 pages long. He found that group of laws very complicated. The Tax Code is 71 times more complicated. If he tried to simply eradicate the current law there would also be a lot of unhappy lobbyists whose companies would lose their subsidies. Some of these companies would even have to pay some taxes. Life can be very complicated at times!

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The major problem that Trump seems to be facing with tax relief for corporations and the economically upper one or two percent is that his tax relief program will reduce the Federal Government’s taxable income by over 8 billion dollars. Initially his plan was to reduce the funding for Universal Health Care by about 8 billion dollars. But since every electoral district in the country is vociferously against doing away with Affordable Health Care he has a severe monetary problem. A tax cut of the dimensions he wants could double the National Debt by the end of his presidency. It currently stands at 19 plus trillion dollars. In order to fund his tax cut he has to defund Obamacare.

 

Stay tuned in, after failing the first time, Congress is again talking about “repealing and replacing” Affordable Health Care. Paul Ryan is again talking about a new bill that will make health care available to everyone who can afford it.

 

 

 

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #11 – Trump & the Republicans: “Repeal & Replace”

The United States is now into being well over 60 plus days of Donald Trump as

President and Republican majorities in both the House and Senate. With the exceptions of a new Justice on the Supreme Court and a military raid on a Syrian air base.  Nothing significant has happened in the nation’s capital except that most members of Congress are working a three day week and have taken a two week Easter break.  Trump’s executive orders limiting the movement of Muslims from seven and then six Middle Eastern countries have been put on what looks like a permanent hold by the Federal Courts.

 

The members of the House of Representatives are on a two week vacation or break from the hard work they’ve been doing accomplishing virtually nothing except noisy Town Hall meeting with their constituents.

 

When the Democrats had a majority in both Houses of Congress the Republicans had loudly and persistently decried that they were ruining the Country with their irresponsible legislation like Affordable Health Care or as they like to call it, “Obamacare” and by supporting such national organizations like Planned Parenthood.

 

Also it seemed as far as the Republicans were concerned that nothing worthwhile could come from a Black, Democratic President. Now there is a white Republican President and a Republican dominated House of Representatives and Senate and to date, more than two months since they assumed power, nothing worthwhile has come from them except endless squabbling.

 

Their first major piece of legislative business was to get rid of Obamacare. They have been denouncing it since it first came into existence. It was signed into law on March 23, 2010, a little over seven years ago. Since that day, to hear Republican legislators speak about it, an individual gets the impression that it is worse than leprosy.

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The problem, as far as President Donald J. Trump is concerned, which he recently discovered, is that the healthcare law is very complicated. Trump’s understanding of a law is of something that can be put on a single sheet of paper with wording that will not even cover the entire page. The Affordable Health Care Law has to be about a thousand pages long. That makes it very complicated. It will take more than the passage of one simple law to be completely done away with.

 

On Thursday, March 23, 2017, the seventh anniversary of the law, the repeal and replace bill was pulled by the Speaker of the House of Representatives because it didn’t have the votes to pass in the House. Trump, presumably in a moment of disgust, outrage, or masterful negotiation, sent some of his aids to sell the bill to the doubting members of the House. Trump wanted the bill voted up or down the next day. He wanted to know who among the Republican Party in the House were his supporters and who “supports Nancy Pelosi,” the Democratic leader. No Democrats are voting for the bill.

 

What is the problem in the House with this bill? It seemed that the members of the far-right Freedom Coalition were against the bill because it was too lenient, while more moderate Republicans were against the bill because it would remove 24 million people from health care coverage. 14 million, according to a non-partisan Congressional Office, will lose their coverage within a year and the additional 10 million will lose it over a longer period of time.

 

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s, who developed the Bill from values he has held for years,  goal was to make health care accessible to everyone while keeping the minimum wage at its present low level. The problem that emerged with this prospective bill was that most people could not afford health care under the new proposed bill.

 

Younger participants will have their premiums reduced while older people would have their premiums massively increased. The Speaker of the House has stated that he will be making Health Care available to everyone. The catch there is if they can afford to pay the premiums. The Federal Government will give tax credits to the needy. But the problem is that most if not all of the needy will not have the money to afford the premiums and may be earning so little that they pay no income taxes.  Consequently the tax credits would be worthless.

 

This is particularly true since the minimum federal wage is seven dollars and twenty-five cents an hour. This means that a fair percentage of the population, particularly in red states where people believed in and voted for Trump, are earning $290 a week before unemployment and Social Security is taken out of their earnings. A goodly number of these people, who currently have Obamacare would lose it and be forced to go to ER, emergency rooms at hospitals. Under the proposed bill they will probably die prematurely. Many will face a choice between medication, food, or rent. This apparently is Paul Ryan and Donald Trump’s solution to Universal Medical Care. It is also a way of having the government significantly reduce its spending and being able to cut taxes for the rich and the corporations.

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According to one pole 17% of the population supports the Republican Health Care Bill, which has been labeled Trumpcare or Ryan-care. 56% oppose it. Virtually every Congressional District in the United States opposes the bill. If it passes in the House it should make for interesting voting in November of 2018.

 

On Friday, March 24, 2017 Trump and Ryan’s health care bill was pulled just minutes before it was supposed to come up for a vote. The Republicans, who have a wide majority in the House of Representatives, did not have enough votes to pass it. Presumably this was done on orders from Trump. Obamacare will continue to exist. The people of the United States in mass rallies throughout the country have demanded it. The Republicans have buckled down to the will of the majority. I suspect mainly because they don’t want to lose their seats in the House of Representatives.

 

Interestingly, Benjamin Franklin wrote toward the end of his career, “In free governments the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns.” It took massive protest movements for this point to be made throughout the country.

 

After a period of silence on the subject Paul Ryan is now talking about a new and better version of the Health Care Bill. They are again talking about it and will continue to work on developing it after their two week break.

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Listening to the President one got the impression that Trump never really examined the Affordable Health Care Law. It seems that he doesn’t like to read; that he gets most of his information from watching television. Trump promised to expand the plan and lower the cost when he was a candidate without really being aware of what he was talking about. I would suppose he is a 70 year old attention deficit adult. I would guess he knows things by instinct rather than by investigation.

 

Many of the House Republican legislators were announcing on the floor of the House on Friday how many of their constituents would lose health coverage if the bill were passed. The numbers were staggering. One could see what would probably happen in votes for the Democrats in the Midterm Election of 2018.

 

Ryan’s plan, had it passed would have decimated the current system. Again Trump probably had not bothered to examine the bill. It would have cut out the lowest rungs of society, all 14 million of them. This bill was rushed through the House without hearings or anything. It was supposed to be the fulfillment of the Republican dream of getting rid of Obamacare, after seven years of its existence and the Republican dominated House of Representative passing over 60 bills over the last seven years repealing Obamacare. None of these bills ever reached the Senate.

 

Ryan’s bill would have transferred much of the payment for medical treatment from the Federal Government back to the recipients of that medical treatment. Somehow the reduction in Federal costs would generally match Trump’s tax cuts, a little over 8 billion dollars.

 

This would have been very helpful to the Republicans in getting their tax cuts through Congress. It would be the reverse of Robin Hood’s behavior which was taking from the rich to help the poor. Instead Ryan-care was to take from the poor in order to help the rich.

 

Trump then spoke of moving on to his next legislative project, what he calls tax reform. This is mainly tax relief for both the top two percent of the population and for lowering the cooperate taxes. It would seem that they can’t afford to cut taxes without lowering medical costs

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The ultimate irony here is that Affordable Health Care was a Republican generated plan which, if I remember correctly, was generated for Mitt Romney when he was Governor of Massachusetts by Citizens United, a far-right Think Tank.

 

The plan worked well in that state and Romney got and took the credit for it.  In 2012, when Romney ran against Barack Obama as the Republican candidate for the presidency he denounced the plan for which he had been responsible.

 

The plan utilizes private enterprise to develop a Universal Health Care System. It follows Republican principles about private ownership. President Obama and the Democrats used it because they thought it would get Republican support in Congress. Not one Republican Party member voted for the bill.

 

It would have been far more practical and much cheaper for the Federal Government to become the insurer and set up a single payer plan throughout the United States. Virtually every single government that has universal health coverage for its people has done this and their overall costs are half or less than the U.S. pays for both medical care and pharmaceuticals. The Republican problem in “repealing and replacing” Obamacare is that they’re trying to improve upon their own plan and it’s not going to happen.

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The commitment to Socialized Medicine for the entire population requires much more than the Federal Government has been able or willing to do so far. What we have seen is a semi-voluntary Republican plan that includes the private sector. What we need is a plan that also supplies doctors and cuts out the profits of the middle men.

 

Becoming a medical person is a long and expensive process. There are many individuals who would go into this but cannot afford the time without earning anything or the expense of the process. What is needed first is a single provider who operates on a non-profit basis, and that would be the Federal Government. The Government Agency that would handle this then needs to be able to deal directly with the medical and pharmaceutical facilities that provide both the doctors and the medicines for the public. This could be done by having the Federal Government set up medical learning facilities or contract to pay the costs of becoming a doctor at the existing medical universities or both. The Government also has to control the costs of the medicines.

 

This requires a major monetary investment over a goodly period of time. The Federal Government would also have to set up a scholarship system where worthy candidates would have their tuition and possibly their living costs paid

 

Also right now the pharmaceutical companies are free to charge what they will. This is currently true because they are protected by Congress. Today the major contributor to the Republican Party are the Pharmaceutical Companies. The cost of medical treatment in other industrial countries is less than half of that in the United States. Also medicines cost a fraction of what they do in the U.S. Medical Care should be a right that everyone has. The cost of it could be easily added to the income tax with everyone paying their fair share.

English: Nations with Universal health care sy...

English: Nations with Universal health care systems. Nations with some type of universal health care system. Nations attempting to obtain universal health care. Health care coverage provided by the United States war funding. Nations with no universal health care. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #10 – The Fed: Saving the Country & the Future

English: Janet Yellen being sworn in by Fed Ch...

English: Janet Yellen being sworn in by Fed Chair Ben Bernanke (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve Chairman from 2006 to 2014, had developed the Bernanke thesis based upon his conclusions about the reasons for the Great Depression of 1929.

 

Official portrait of Federal Reserve Chairman ...

He found that the financial disruptions of 1930 to 1933 reduced the efficiency of the credit allocation process. The Fed had raised interest rates and made borrowing money more expensive. This resulted in higher costs and reduced availability of credit, which acted to depress aggregate demand. When banks face a mild downturn they are likely to significantly cut back on lending and other risky ventures. This further hurts the economy and creates a vicious cycle turning a mild recession into a major depression. When the Federal Reserve did that it far worsened conditions during the 1929 Depression.

 

Or to state the above simply: fear of a depression can turn a mild recession into a giant depression. Seemingly this is what occurred again in 2008. It would seem that Ben Bernanke was in the right place at the right time. He was able to utilize his principles and bring about a softening of the 2008 Crash from a major depression into a Great Recession.

 

What he did was drop the interest rate that the Fed charges banks to 0 and in his last two years as Fed Chairman he added 80.5 billion dollars a month to the National Cash Flow.

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There were two major problems that emerged from the 2008 Housing Disaster. One dealt with the billions of pieces of mortgage paper that the banks had created from the mortgages. Left to itself it would take decades for this problem to be resolved. No one really owned the mortgages that had been broken up into hundreds of pieces and applied to multitudinous Hedge Funds. There were not even real records of their existence. The assorted houses would eventually go to foreclosure for none payment of property taxes. And no one knew when that could occur for the majority of them. They then would or could be sold for the price of the back taxes. The deserted homes would go first, after three of so years. The others, several years after people stopped paying property taxes on them. It was an impossible mess.

 

The second problem was that there was not enough money in circulation and the banks did not consider home loans safe investments. Money had to be loosened up.

 

What Bernanke did during his last two years in office was to add 85 billion dollars a month to the economy, an additional 40 billion was deposited in the banks, causing them to loosen up with financing new homes and refinancing old ones and 45 billion was spent buying up the multitudinous mortgage pieces.

 

The program was ended in 2014 by reducing the amount spent each month until 0 was reached in both categories. In February 2014, when Janet Yellen became the new Chairperson in charge of the Federal Reserve, she spent the first two months of her four year tenure ending the program. She also gave herself the option of renewing the program if she and the Fed Board felt it was necessary.

 

The mortgage pieces were at some point or points destroyed by the Fed. The Federal Government did not want to go into the real estate business, it wanted to get rid of this quagmire that was hanging over real estate in the U.S. After a little over two years this problem largely disappeared. Two years after that when Donald J. Trump became President no one seemed to remember it.

 

In essence while the Federal Reserve spent about six trillion, three hundred billion dollars straightening out the mortgage debacle a good percentage of that money came back in taxes. It was spent within the country on goods and services indirectly creating jobs and increasing the GDP. The Government did not waste the money; they expanded a shrinking economy.

 

The same can be said for the 40 billion a month being deposited in banks across the country. The approximately five trillion six hundred million dollars spent here tended to loosen up the banking attitude toward housing and got that industry growing again. It also added positively to the economy. In addition it also did not stir up any real inflation in the economy. Neither policy did.

 

This was the application of the Bernanke economic principle. It prevented the economy of the United States from collapsing and similar actions did the same thing for foreign economies. This action also made use of money as a tool to keep countries functioning and avoiding major depressions. Money was no longer an object of value for governments. Each government could produce it at will. It now became a means that could be used to control economic conditions. This action became Bernanke’s contribution to the principles of economics.

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Janet Louise Yellen assumed office as the Chair of the Federal Reserve on February 3, 2014. She had been the Vice Chair from October 4, 2010 to February 3, 2014. Prior to that she was President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco from January 11, 2004 to October 4, 2010.

 

Dr. Yellen is married to George Akenlof, a Noble prize-winning economist who is a professor at Georgetown University. Their son, Robert Akenlof teaches economics at the University of Warwick.

 

During her nomination hearings on November 14, 2013 Janet Yellen defended the more than three trillion dollars in stimulus funds that the Fed had been injecting into the U.S. economy. She also testified that U.S. Monetary Policy would revert toward more traditional monetary policy once the economy returned to normal.

 

Yellen is the first woman to hold the position of Chairperson of the Federal Reserve. On December 16, 2015, with Yellen as Chairperson, the Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate from 0% to ¼ of one percent. Since that time the interest rate has been raised twice, each time by ¼ of one percent. It now stands at ¾ of one percent. It has been announced by the Fed that there will be additional increases over the year 2017.

 

My overall impression of the Chairlady is that she is very caucus in all her actions. She initially misinterpreted the overall effects of the 2008 Housing Debacle feeling that it would not be that serious. She doesn’t want to make another mistake.

 

While the cost of a non-existent or very low interest rate has kept the cost of borrowing money down and has led to a resurgence in home buying it has also kept down the cost of interest the banks pay their depositors from whom they get the funds to lend out. Banks have and are paying as little as 1/10 of one percent interest to many of their depositors. In essence interest that the banks pay to their depositors is so low that the financial institutions are just about getting their money for free.

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After the Presidential Election in 2016 of Donald J. Trump to the presidency Dr. Yellen vowed to protect Dodd-Frank, the law that limited the actions of the banks that was passed after the Housing Debacle of 2008.

 

Trump had denounced Dodd-Frank, stating that he will do away with it. Trump has also stated that he will not reappoint Janet Yellen in 2018, when her current term ends.

 

Janet Yellen is a Keynesian economist and advocated the use of Monetary Policy in stabilizing the economic activity of the business cycle. She has also stated that occasionally letting inflation rise could be a “wise” and humane policy if it increases output. She has stated that each percentage point drop in inflation results in a 4.4% loss of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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Dr. Janet Yellen’s term ends in 2018. It is then up to the President to reappoint her or to appoint someone else as Chair of the Federal Reserve. President Donald Trump, if he is still President and if he follows his pattern of appointments, will probably appoint a non-economist to that position. It might even be a banker. What will the result be both to the country and to the Federal Reserve?

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #10 – Part 9: The Fed: Saving the Country & the Future

 

Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve Chairman from 2006 to 2014, had developed the Bernanke thesis based upon his conclusions about the reasons for the Great Depression of 1929.

 

He found that the financial disruptions of 1930 to 1933 reduced the efficiency of the credit allocation process. The Fed had raised interest rates and made borrowing money more expensive. This resulted in higher costs and reduced availability of credit, which acted to depress aggregate demand. When banks face a mild downturn they are likely to significantly cut back on lending and other risky ventures. This further hurts the economy and creates a vicious cycle turning a mild recession into a major depression. When the Federal Reserve did that it far worsened conditions during the 1929 Depression.

 

Or to state the above simply: fear of a depression can turn a mild recession into a giant depression. Seemingly this is what occurred again in 2008. It would seem that Ben Bernanke was in the right place at the right time. He was able to utilize his principles and bring about a softening of the 2008 Crash from a major depression into a Great Recession.

 

What he did was drop the interest rate that the Fed charges banks to 0 and in his last two years as Fed Chairman he added 80.5 billion dollars a month to the National Cash Flow.

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There were two major problems that emerged from the 2008 Housing Disaster. One dealt with the billions of pieces of mortgage paper that the banks had created from the mortgages. Left to itself it would take decades for this problem to be resolved. No one really owned the mortgages that had been broken up into hundreds of pieces and applied to multitudinous Hedge Funds. There were not even real records of their existence. The assorted houses would eventually go to foreclosure for none payment of property taxes. And no one knew when that could occur for the majority of them. They then would or could be sold for the price of the back taxes. The deserted homes would go first, after three of so years. The others, several years after people stopped paying property taxes on them. It was an impossible mess.

 

The second problem was that there was not enough money in circulation and the banks did not consider home loans safe investments. Money had to be loosened up.

 

What Bernanke did during his last two years in office was to add 85 billion dollars a month to the economy, an additional 40 billion was deposited in the banks, causing them to loosen up with financing new homes and refinancing old ones and 45 billion was spent buying up the multitudinous mortgage pieces.

 

The program was ended in 2014 by reducing the amount spent each month until 0 was reached in both categories. In February 2014, when Janet Yellen became the new Chairperson in charge of the Federal Reserve, she spent the first two months of her four year tenure ending the program. She also gave herself the option of renewing the program if she and the Fed Board felt it was necessary.

 

The mortgage pieces were at some point or points destroyed by the Fed. The Federal Government did not want to go into the real estate business, it wanted to get rid of this quagmire that was hanging over real estate in the U.S. After a little over two years this problem largely disappeared. Two years after that when Donald J. Trump became President no one seemed to remember it.

 

In essence while the Federal Reserve spent about six trillion, three hundred billion dollars straightening out the mortgage debacle a good percentage of that money came back in taxes. It was spent within the country on goods and services indirectly creating jobs and increasing the GDP. The Government did not waste the money; they expanded a shrinking economy.

 

The same can be said for the 40 billion a month being deposited in banks across the country. The approximately five trillion six hundred million dollars spent here tended to loosen up the banking attitude toward housing and got that industry growing again. It also added positively to the economy. In addition it also did not stir up any real inflation in the economy. Neither policy did.

 

This was the application of the Bernanke economic principle. It prevented the economy of the United States from collapsing and similar actions did the same thing for foreign economies. This action also made use of money as a tool to keep countries functioning and avoiding major depressions. Money was no longer an object of value for governments. Each government could produce it at will. It now became a means that could be used to control economic conditions. This action became Bernanke’s contribution to the principles of economics.

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Janet Louise Yellen assumed office as the Chair of the Federal Reserve on February 3, 2014. She had been the Vice Chair from October 4, 2010 to February 3, 2014. Prior to that she was President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco from January 11, 2004 to October 4, 2010.

 

Dr. Yellen is married to George Akenlof, a Noble prize-winning economist who is a professor at Georgetown University. Their son, Robert Akenlof teaches economics at the University of Warwick.

 

During her nomination hearings on November 14, 2013 Janet Yellen defended the more than three trillion dollars in stimulus funds that the Fed had been injecting into the U.S. economy. She also testified that U.S. Monetary Policy would revert toward more traditional monetary policy once the economy returned to normal.

 

Yellen is the first woman to hold the position of Chairperson of the Federal Reserve. On December 16, 2015, with Yellen as Chairperson, the Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate from 0% to ¼ of one percent. Since that time the interest rate has been raised twice, each time by ¼ of one percent. It now stands at ¾ of one percent. It has been announced by the Fed that there will be additional increases over the year 2017.

 

My overall impression of the Chairlady is that she is very caucus in all her actions. She initially misinterpreted the overall effects of the 2008 Housing Debacle feeling that it would not be that serious. She doesn’t want to make another mistake.

 

While the cost of a non-existent or very low interest rate has kept the cost of borrowing money down and has led to a resurgence in home buying it has also kept down the cost of interest the banks pay their depositors from whom they get the funds to lend out. Banks have and are paying as little as 1/10 of one percent interest to many of their depositors. In essence interest that the banks pay to their depositors is so low that the financial institutions are just about getting their money for free.

********************************

After the Presidential Election in 2016 of Donald J. Trump to the presidency Dr. Yellen vowed to protect Dodd-Frank, the law that limited the actions of the banks that was passed after the Housing Debacle of 2008.

 

Trump had denounced Dodd-Frank, stating that he will do away with it. Trump has also stated that he will not reappoint Janet Yellen in 2018, when her current term ends.

 

Janet Yellen is a Keynesian economist and advocated the use of Monetary Policy in stabilizing the economic activity of the business cycle. She has also stated that occasionally letting inflation rise could be a “wise” and humane policy if it increases output. She has stated that each percentage point drop in inflation results in a 4.4% loss of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

*************************************

Dr. Janet Yellen’s term ends in 2018. It is then up to the President to reappoint her or to appoint someone else as Chair of the Federal Reserve. President Donald Trump, if he is still President and if he follows his pattern of appointments, will probably appoint a non-economist to that position. It might even be a banker. What will the result be both to the country and to the Federal Reserve?

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #8 – The Federal Reserve During the Bernanke Years: 2006 – 2014

English: President Barack Obama confers with F...

English: President Barack Obama confers with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke following their meeting at the White House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1935, Cret designed the Seal of the Board o...

In 1935, Cret designed the Seal of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On January 31, 2006, Alan Greenspan retired or resigned as Chairman of the Federal Reserve and on February 1, 2006, Ben Bernanke became the new Chairman. He served two four year terms, initially being nominated by George W. Bush and being re-nominated the second time by President Barack Obama. Chairman Bernanke would find, among other things, the means to avoid a depression far greater than that of 1929. He would do this through the use of Creative Monetary Policy; that is, essentially by flooding the economy of the United States with money.

 

To understand in detail what he did one has to read his 2015 book, The Courage to Act. In this work he explained how the world’s economies came close to collapse in 2007 and 2008. Bernanke explained how it was the efforts of the Federal Reserve utilizing Monetary Policy and cooperating with other national agencies of the U.S. and agencies of foreign governments that prevented an economic catastrophe far greater than the Great Depression of 1929 which lasted for over ten years.

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Generally speaking: in 2008 the Housing Crash came. It had gradually been developing since the 1980s. While President George W. Bush and his Secretary of the Treasury, Hank Paulson, made large loans to banking houses to keep them from failing Bernanke bailed out AIG, the largest insurance company throughout the United States.

 

If AIG went bankrupt millions of people would have lost their insurance coverage and the premiums they had paid over the years. AIG had also insured some of the Hedge Funds that went under. They had wanted some of the profits that the banks were making from the Housing Market and their actuaries had no experience in dealing with Hedge Funds. I assume that Bernanke wanted to avoid the misery this would cause nationwide.

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It is important to keep in mind that the Federal Government under Presidents Bush and Obama were making loans to the banks, AIG and to the auto industry. These loans were repaid by all three groups with interest.

 

President Obama set a condition on the loans that Bush did not. That was to limit compensation packages for the executives of these struggling institutions. To the President it seem ridiculous that CEOs and other bank executives should continue to receive salaries of over a million dollars after bring the banking houses to the point of bankruptcy.

 

The CEO of the Bank of America complained bitterly about this. He wanted to pay off the Government loan quickly so the leading executives could go back to salaries in the multi-millions. Today in 2017, and for a number of prior years, their remunerations go from about four million up.

 

It should also be noted that the banks, taken together, have paid multimillions in fines for illegal practices. And no one has ever gone to jail but the banks have paid at times massive fines.

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The Housing Debacle and the increase in unemployment (up to 10%) that accompanied it should have been handled by both the Federal Reserve applying Monetary Policy and the Congress and the President applying Fiscal Policy, Congress passing spending bills and the President signing them. From 2011 on, when the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives there were no Fiscal Policy Bills passed through Congress.

 

The year 2011 on was an ideal time to begin rebuilding the infrastructure of the United States. Most of the infrastructure had been built in the late 19th and the first half of the 20th Century. The population had practically doubled since then and a good part of the infrastructure of the country was well out of date.

 

The National Highway System had been built by President Eisenhower in the 1950s. By 2009 most of the airports, railroads, government buildings, the electric grid, many public schools, even the education system was/is grossly out of date. In fact, for what it’s worth, President Donald Trump has defined the infrastructure of the country as a “disaster.”

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After the bank bailouts the Obama Administration expected the banks to return to a reasonable level of what they had been doing before the crash. This did not happen. The banks became ultra conservative in their lending policy. People buying new homes had to have a fairly large percentage of the cost of the new home. Chairman Bernanke lowered the interest rate the Fed charges banks to 0% giving them free money.

 

From this point on in approximately 2010 the banking houses looked for new way to make profits with their funds. What they came up with, among other things, was the Futures Market.

 

Future Markets are exchanges that buy and sell future contracts. A future contract gives the buyer an obligation to purchase an asset and the seller an obligation to sell an asset at a set price which is to be delivered at a future point in time. The purchasers are interested in selling the asset the future time at a profit. They are often blamed for big price swings in the Futures Market.

 

The assets underlying future contracts include food commodities, stocks and bonds, grain, precious metals, electricity, oil, beef, orange juice and natural gas to name a few. They are bets that the price of the product at the eventual delivery price will far exceed the earlier purchase price.

 

It can be assumed that the rise in food and gasoline prices after 2010 exceeded what they would have been if the banks had not been involved. In essence the banks exploited the general homeowner up until 2008 and from 2010 on they exploited the general public whose tax dollars had bailed them out of the economic disaster which they had caused in their perennial search for more and more profits.

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In the year 2010 the American public elected a Republican majority to the House of Representatives. With their ascension to the House in 2011 all possibilities of Fiscal Policy Bills ceased. The Republicans wanted to reduce government spending and make President Obama a one term president by not allowing him to succeed in anything. In fact what the House of Representatives did was to worsen the Housing Debacle by reducing, forcibly at the time, government spending. They even shut the government down by not funding it.

 

President Obama offered an Infrastructure Bill that never even came up in the House of Representatives. The fact that President Obama and Chairman Bernanke were able to turn the Housing Crash and limit initial unemployment to only 10% with actual opposition from the Republican House of Representatives was itself miraculous. What the Fed and the President did was to turn a possible depression into the Great Recession. Even though economic conditions were far from ideal this was truly an act of wonderment.

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What happened with the Housing Crash was a situation that looked like it might take decades to straighten out. Virtually overnight the value of homes deflated at the speed of an exploding balloon. Many people who had financed and refinanced their property more than once suddenly discovered that they were underwater, that is, that they owed more on their homes than they were worth. A percentage of these people just walked away from their property, leaving it deserted.

 

This raised an interesting problem both for these properties and for those in which the people continued living. Who owned these mortgages? Remember the mortgages had been divided up into innumerable fractional pieces. In order to control any one of these property mortgages one needed to own over 50% of it. No Hedge Fund owned that much of any one property. The records of mortgage ownership were highly inaccurate. Consequently in point of fact no one really owned these properties.

 

Most of the banks that had been charging endless fees to administer these mortgage loans felt that they could foreclose on these properties, either because they were deserted empty houses or because the inhabitants could, for one reason or another, no longer afford to make their monthly payments. A goodly number of these people had lost their jobs.

 

The banks used their computers to generate the needed documents since no real records of ownership existed. The banks had earlier been in too great a hurry to generate loans than to keep accurate records.

 

Some of these cases went to court and initially the judges felt that a solid institution like a bank would do nothing illegal. Some of the attorneys who made this point were declared to be in “contempt,” and were disbarred. Eventually after a large number of cases were determined in favor of the banks the evidence of their wrongdoing was acknowledged by the Courts. Whether the disbarred lawyers got their licenses back I don’t know, but the banks were severely fined for wrongdoing and the illegal foreclosing ended leaving a lot of people living in homes for which they were not paying.

 

The problem was left up in the air. As long as the people living in these homes paid their property taxes no one could legally disposes them even if they never made another house payment on the mortgage. Most of the Hedge Funds had gone bankrupt; they didn’t own enough of any property to foreclose on it. Of course no one knew which properties these were and which actually had owners of the mortgages. Some of the banks had owned some of the Hedge Funds.

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What generally happened across the nation from that point in time on was interesting. Numerous individuals, generally not being employed, no longer paid their mortgages. If they were reemployed or eventually got a job they still did not make payments. Why bother? No one had foreclosed on them. In essence these people now had extra cash which they tended to spend. Suddenly, among other things, eating out with their families became very popular. A good part of their housing funds were being spent. The National Cash Flow or the amount of money available in the general society increased with all this spending and it helped keep the level of national unemployment to no higher than ten percent. This was an interesting irony that was initially funded by the banks but ultimately payed by the taxpayers in the bail outs.

 

Had the House and Senate passed the Infrastructure Bill that President Barack Obama suggested then the overall effects of the Great Recession would have disappeared by the end of his first term in office and the country would have dropped to a 2 ½ percent unemployment level which is considered full employment because it is the rate generated by people normally retiring, changing jobs, and first entering employment.

 

The result would have been more taxes being paid which would have largely offset the increased government spending. But the Republicans dominated House of Representatives was penny smart and dollar stupid. By forcing down government expenditure they also cut down the Gross National Product (GDP) and shrank taxable income throughout the United States, keeping unemployment higher.

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On August 25, 2009, President Barack Obama announced he would nominate Bernanke to a second term as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. He stated, with Ben Bernanke standing at his side that Bernanke’s background, temperament, courage and creativity helped to prevent another Great Depression in 2008.

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #8 – Part 5: Alan Greenspan & the Federal Reserve

Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Gr...

Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, receiving a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1935, Cret designed the Seal of the Board o...

In 1935, Cret designed the Seal of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On August 11, 1987, Alan Greenspan became the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and served until January 31, 2006, when he retired from that office. There was a rumor that he had lobbied for the position.

 

After four years in office he was reappointed by President George H. W. Bush who later claimed he lost his reelection bid because of Greenspan’s Monetary Policy. Bill Clinton also reappointed him and so did George W. Bush.

 

Greenspan was a Republican conservative with a classical education in economics, who got his P.H.D. from N.Y.U. He supported privatizing Social Security and tax cuts which, according to the Democrats, would increase the deficit. In fact it has been suggested that the easy money policies of the Fed during Greenspan’s tenure there was a leading cause of the subprime mortgage crisis that occurred in 2008, after he left the Federal Reserve as Chairman.

 

Alan Greenspan was nominated by President Reagan on June 2, 1987 and was confirmed by the Senate on August 11 of that year. To Congress he quickly assumed the role of a seer, generally when he was questioned by Republican members of either House of Congress, they spoke to him with a large degree of reverence, as though his answers to their questions were the absolute ones. He was considered the maestro of economics; his words being gems of economic wisdom. This occurred throughout his entire term as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

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The issue that Greenspan did not deal with, which, in fact, he stated that the Fed could not control or even really deal with was the amount of money in the National Cash Flow. His successor, Ben Bernanke did not have this problem and he both increased the amount available for over a two year period and solved an economic quagmire that the banks had created in 2008 following Greenspan’s easy money policy.

 

According to the late economist Paul Samuelson the process of splitting mortgages began during the late 1970s. For innumerable reasons banks had traditionally allowed people to take out second mortgages on their homes charging them slightly more in interest than they were paying on their first mortgage. Occasionally the banks would sell these mortgages to individuals in order to get their money back for a more profitable use. In the late 1970s many banks broke these mortgages up into large pieces in order to sell them and sold each one to a multitude of Hedge Funds who then used them as securities.

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In 1981 Ronald Reagan became President of the United States. He and his aids believed in a totally free Market where all economic decisions were made by the Market. The basis by which the Market operated was the profit motive. It had been explained by Adam Smith in his preindustrial revolution book that he published in 1776. The Reagan Administration did away with virtually all government regulation that controlled the form and actions of the banks, giving them a complete free hand in dealing with the public; but they kept the FDIC in which the Federal Government insured all bank deposits up to ½ million dollars.

 

Regulations limiting the form and actions of banks were brought in during and after the Great Depression. Among other things many bankers had abused their positions and used depositor’s money to make individual profits for their executives. When the stock market crashed in 1929 so did numerous banks and multitudes of depositors lost their savings. The Roosevelt Administration from 1933 on brought about legislation to stop this from occurring again. Apparently the Reagan Administration in 1981 on believed this was no longer a problem.

 

During the Reagan Administration the major banking houses in the United States like J. P. Morgan-Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and others decided to break up the mortgages into fractional shares, split the shares among Hedge Funds, and sell shares in the Hedge Funds. This included both first and second mortgages.

 

This was a good bet since people valued their homes. What happened was that the banks encouraged people to use the equity in their houses as bank accounts, mortgaging and remortgaging their homes. With the constant action, following the economic laws of supply and demand, the value of properties continued to rise like hot air balloons. The value of the homes kept growing, allowing people to take more and more money out of their homes to buy anything they desired. By this action the banks created trillions of dollars of new money and presumably everyone prospered.

 

On the one hand Greenspan stated he could not control the amount of money in circulation but on the other hand the Fed’s low interest rates encouraged this behavior. What the banks did was to issue and reissue mortgages which they, in turn, split into hundreds of pieces, placing them into different Hedge Funds from which these funds paid the banks endless service charges. The banks then used the money for new mortgages but serviced the accounts, charging fees for each action.

 

In essence the banks lent the initial funds, sold the mortgages to innumerable Hedge Funds, got their initial investment back, and lent it out again, endlessly repeating the process and endlessly charging innumerable fees for the continuing processing. Many banks also owned many of the Hedge Funds.

 

The bank and everyone in the bank involved in this process did well financially. As home prices rose the homeowners kept getting their equity back and could afford to remortgage their homes. It seemed like an endless Christmas!

 

Ordinarily every change in any property has to be registered in the city or county where it occurs. This is a fairly slow system. The banks were able to set up their own record keeping agency that they could use quickly. The problem here was that there was endless amounts of information. This system made innumerable errors in their bookkeeping. In 2008, when the system crashed, the records were worthless. There was no reliable information on all the transactions.

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By 2007 it was fairly obvious that the system was tottering and could fail. For the last quarter of a century this had been going on. It spanned the entire career of most bankers. They were in a state of denial that the housing bubble could burst. Some banks offered loans of 125 percent of the appraised value of homes.

 

The Housing Bubble burst late in 2008 while George W. Bush was still President of the United States. Suddenly many banks were on the verge of bankruptcy. President Bush and his Secretary of the Treasury lent some of the banks enough money to keep them solvent.

 

The new Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, authorized a loan to AIG, the leading insurance company in the United States. It seems they felt left out of all the money making and wanted their share. They insured a number of loans for high premiums. Their actuaries underestimated the risk involved. When the collapse came they didn’t have the funds to pay off the claims and without additional funds would have gone under costing a large percentage of the American public both the premiums they had paid and the protection these premiums bought.

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It is important to note that the flow of money in the United States and the rest of the industrial world, whether credit or cash, is through the banking system. If the major banks were to go under the flow of currency would be a dribble. In addition every bank account is insured up to ½ million dollars by the Federal Government.  The banks paying a small premium to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). If the banks go bankrupt the Government is still liable for those monies.

 

In addition AIG (American International Group) is the major insurance company in the nation, insuring, among many other things, millions of insurance policies throughout the nation. If it were to go under billions in premiums paid for years by countless Americans would suddenly be lost. It would be a major negative catastrophe in the country. AIG was literally too big to fail.

 

The failure of both the banks and the insurance company could easily bring down the economy of the United States. These concerns are necessary for the United States to function. They are not only too big to fail but also too important, in relation to the country.

 

This is the position in which President George W. Bush and Chairman Ben Bernanke found themselves in toward the end of 2008. And this is the position that Barack H. Obama inherited when he became President of the United States on January 20, 2009.

 

As Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan had supported an easy money policy. He retired shortly before the results of this policy exploded. Did he foresee the occurrence?   Was he responsible for it?

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From the 1980s on the American economy needed a greater Cash Flow. There literally wasn’t enough money available throughout the economy. Historically the Federal Reserve had never directly supplied money to the overall country. In fact up until 1933 all monies were comprised of gold and silver. All gold mines in the United States were required to sell all the gold they mined to the Federal Government for $16 an ounce. It was then minted into gold coins. Paper money could be issued: ones and five dollar bills were silver certificates and technically could be exchanged for silver coins at any time. Tens, twenties, fifties, and hundred dollar bills, and higher denominations could be exchanged for gold coins. From 1933 on gold disappeared and from ten dollar bills up money became Federal Reserve Notes. Later the five would also become a Federal Reserve Note. Thereafter the gold was stored in depositories and presumably stood behind the dollar.

 

In 1933 Roosevelt raised the value of money by law from $16 an ounce for gold to $32 an ounce. By doing this he doubled the available money in the United States and easily paid for the New Deal.

 

Consequently from that time on gold being behind the dollar was a fiction. Theoretically any Federal Reserve Chairman and his Board thereafter could have added money to easily to the National Cash Flow. But none did. During World War II the Federal Government spent a lot more than it took in in taxes. But it never just added money to the economy. In fact it used various devices such as War Bonds to attempt to limit the amount of money people could spend.

 

From what he has said and written Alan Greenspan did not believe that the government could just add money to the economy. That power was reserved to banks who could do so through their lending policies. Greenspan tended to understand economics as it was and had been. He ran the Federal Reserve on that basis. He lacked the imagination to do things any other way.

 

Possibly he suspected a crash in 2008 and so he retired before it came. Possibly he did not and felt he had been in that office long enough. Only he can answer that question.

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #7 – Part 4 – The Fed & the Inflationary Spiral

English: Former President Jimmy Carter and his...

English: Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn, wave from the top of the aircraft steps as they depart Andrews Air Force Base at the conclusion of President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration ceremony. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: President Ronald Reagan, the 40th pre...

English: President Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States of America, delivers his inaugural address from the specially built platform in front of the Capitol during Inauguration Day ceremony. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Chairperson of the Federal Reserve heads this bank. Currently Janet Yellen is the chairwoman. She has held this position since 2014 when she was appointed by President Barack Obama. Prior to that Ben Bernanke was chairman from 2006 to 2014. He was appointed by George W. Bush and completed his term under President Obama. Alan Greenspan was the prior Chairman. His term was the second longest in the history of the Federal Reserve going from 1987 to 2006, 19 years. He was preceded by Paul Volcker, who served from August 1979 to August 1987. He was appointed by President Jimmy Carter and left toward the end of the Reagan administration. Paul Volcker served as Chairman for two terms, from August 6, 1979 to August 11, 1987.

 

These are the most recent people to serve as chairpersons on the Federal Reserve. If we go back to the Presidency of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, January 20, 1961 to November 22, 1963, the Fed Chairman was William M. Martin who had been appointed by Harry S Truman and served from April 2, 1951 to February 1, 1970.

 

The problem, when Kennedy became President, was that the country was in a recession cycle. By using fiscal policy President Kennedy was able to turn that economic phase into a recovery phase of the business cycle. At this time unemployment was slowly increasing and consumption was slowly decreasing. The economy needed an impetus. What the President proposed and Congress passed was a tax decrease. The result was that people had more money which they spent and the amount of Federal taxes collected actually increased. This move fairly quickly took the nation from recession to recovery.

 

Since that time, over fifty years ago, almost every Republican President has tried to follow that fiscal policy. In no case has it worked as announced. Instead from the time of President Ronald Reagan on it has allowed the National Debt to mushroom into the trillions of dollars. And during the last year of President George W. Bush’s presidency this tax reduction process led to the bursting of the Housing Bubble or the Great Recession in 2008. In the process of avoiding a Second Great Depression President Barack Obama was forced into excessive spending. It was the President and the Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, who enabled the country to squeak through the 2008 and 2009 Housing Crash or bubble bursting.

 

Currently President Donald J. Trump is proposing a massive tax cut for business and the wealthy. It has been suggested that this could bankrupt the U.S. Government. Whether his decrease in taxes and proposed increase in spending for the military comes about, if it does, then to what extent it will do so is still up for debate. Trump and some members of his Cabinet are claiming they can significantly lower taxes and increase production without adding to the National Debt. It should be an interesting experiment.

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President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had been President Kennedy’s Vice-President and succeeded him at his death in 1963, when he was reelected to office in 1965 massively accelerated the war in Viet Nam. He would have America, the strongest nation in existence, force North Viet Nam to accede to the wishes of the United States. And, at the same time, he would not lower the standard of living of any American. The country could both afford to fight a major war and care for its population as though it were still at peace; we would have both guns and butter. His only requirement was a small addition by everyone to their income taxes. This led to the beginnings of an inflationary spiral that would reach fifteen percent by the end of the 1970s. The inflation spiral would be broken by the Fed by taking drastic action in the very early 1980s.

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Paul Volcker was appointed was appointed Federal Reserve Chairman on August 6, 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. He began a process to end the inflationary spiral by making the borrowing of money so expensive that it would cause the percent of interest to rise to where it would cost too much to borrow. This, in turn, would cause the price of interest to drop toward zero.

 

If the inflation rate rises too high, like to 12 or 15 percent or more the way to reduce it is by raising the prime rate, the interest level the Fed charges banks, to a very high level. This forces the banks to raise their interest level to 20 percent or more. Money becomes too expensive to borrow.

 

Unfortunately many businesses have dormant periods during the year when they have to borrow money in order to meet their expenses. If the interest rate on loans is too high they cannot afford to borrow any money and consequently they go bankrupt. This causes an almost instant recession, with massive layoffs throughout the country. But it will end an inflationary spiral.

 

Early in this process President Jimmy Carter received innumerable complains from people around the country about what was happening to them and their businesses. He asked Volcker to back off and Volcker did so. The high inflation continued throughout President Carter’s term in office.

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Paul Volcker served two four year terms as Chairman of the Fed. He retired from that position on August 11, 1987, when Ronald Reagan was President of the United States. Reagan succeeded Carter in 1981 and remained in office for two terms, until 1988. He allowed Volcker to break the back of the inflationary spiral.

 

Under Reagan the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve Board led by Volcker were credited with curbing the rate of inflation and the expectations that inflation would continue. The United States rate of inflation peaked at 14.8 in March of 1980 and fell below 3 percent by 1989. The Fed Board raised the federal funds rate that had averaged 11.2 percent in 1979, to a peak of 20 percent in June of 1981. The prime rate also rose to 21.5 percent in 1981. All of this lead to the 1980-1982 recession, in which the unemployment rate rose to over 10 percent.

 

All of this elicited strong political attacks and wide spread protests. There were high interest rates on construction, farming, and the industrial sectors. U.S. Monetary Policy eased in 1982, leading to a resumption of economic growth.

 

Perhaps the most unfortunate part of this necessary readjustment of the economic base of the United States was the fact that President Ronald Reagan made a presentation on television one weekend in 1981 in which he held up the business section of the Sunday Times and stated that there were twenty full pages of job offers in the Times. If a person lost their job then they should go to where there was jobs available. President Reagan did nothing else. He could or should have set up some federal agency that could offer reliable job information. But he did not do so.

 

What followed was that sections of cities became deserted as people filled their cars with their belongings and followed rumors going from place to place looking for work. Mostly there were no jobs. Temporary agencies did a land-office business that year. I remember reading about an instance where a man with a wife and small child, having stopped for a red light, opened the passenger door, and pushed his wife and child out of the vehicle. When the light changed he drove on.

 

Cars moved from city to city that year, following rumors. While there had been some homeless before 1981 they became very visible from that year on; there were so many of them. The problem is still with us.

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What followed from 1981 on was the Fed’s tight money and the expansive fiscal program of the Reagan Administration: large tax cuts, and a major increase in military spending. While the middle class got some tax relief the tax cuts were essentially for the upper echelon of society who had their taxes reduced substantially. While the inflation rate stayed low, which it still is today, President Reagan’s spending produced large Federal budget deficits.

 

This combination of growing deficits and other economic imbalances led to the growing Federal debt and a substantial rise in Federal costs. Under Reagan’s spending the debt would reach over one trillion dollars for the first time.

 

Presumably Paul Volcker was fired or replaced in August 1987 after serving two four year terms in office because the Reagan Administration didn’t believe he was an adequate deregulator. Volcker was replaced on August 11, 1987, by Alan Greenspan.