The Weiner Component @162 Part 2: The 2016 Presidential Election Convention: The Democratic Convention

The 2016 Democratic National Convention was held at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from July 25 through July 28, 2016, Monday through Thursday.  They choose Hillary Rodham Clinton as their presidential candidate.  Bernie Sanders had a large following but Clinton gained more primary and caucus delegates.  She had 59.6% of the votes to 39.16% for Sanders.  He did have a strong influence, however, in writing the party platform.  Hillary Clinton was the first woman to be nominated by a major political party.  She choose Tim Kaine, the Junior Senator from Virginia, as her Vice Presidential candidate.


While Clinton’s position moved the party platform to the left of where it had been in 2012, Sanders influence pushed it further left making it the most progressive in Democratic history.  It contains specific planks, among others, on Wall Street reform, stronger financial regulations for banks, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and strict background checks on the purchase of guns.  In the social area there is criminal justice reform, an end to private prisons, expansion of social security, and the abolition of the death penalty.


The last state to give its roll call vote for the Democratic candidate was Vermont, which gave 4 votes for Hillary Clinton and 22 for Bernie Sanders.  By then Clinton had far exceeded the number of votes needed to become the Democratic candidate.  At this point Bernie Sanders rose and moved that the Convention vote by voice vote to acclaim Hillary Clinton as their candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election.  The motion was seconded and the Convention did so.


The Convention was not without controversy.  Either officially or unofficially Russian hackers released damaging emails that demonstrated, among other things, partiality for Hillary Clinton on the part of the National Democratic Committee.  They were supposed to maintain a neutral position.  Apparently Russia was taking a hand in the election in favor of Trump.  As a result of these emails the chairperson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned her position as chairperson of the NDC.


Another factor was that many Bernie Sanders people protested Clinton’s appointment as presidential candidate.  A poll determined that 80 plus percent of them would vote for Hillary Clinton but many of those that wouldn’t were very loud about their feelings.


Beyond the disparities the Democratic Convention was very positive.  It was a celebration of both America and Hillary Clinton.  “We’re going to empower all Americans to live better lives,” she said.  “My primary mission as President will be to create more opportunity and more good jobs with rising wages right here in the United States from my first day in office to my last, especially in places that for too long have been left out, left behind.”


There was a strong argument for gun control in the form of strict background checks from a mother from Orlando, Florida whose son was shot.  Another appeal from a daughter whose mother was murdered in Newtown, Connecticut.  Former House Representative Gabby Gifford, who was shot in the head by a crazed man, appealed for this type of change.  Others stated that five police officers were shot and killed in Dallas in July.  They all made excellent points.  This position is supported even by the majority of members the National Rifle Association.


General John Allen, joined by dozens of veterans made a dramatic presentation for Hillary Clinton as the new Commander and Chief of the military.


In fact we even had the beginnings of a movement of Republicans for Hillary which grows as we get closer and closer to Election Day.


Hillary Clinton has gone up well above Trump in the polls since the Conventions.  One of the reasons for this is that the Democratic Convention brought a level of unity among the Democrats.  This did not happen during the Republican Convention.


Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire and former mayor of New York City, who was a Republican and is now an Independent, gave a speech offering a scathingly indictment of Donald Trump as a “dangerous demigod” and “reckless” choice for president.


Blomberg stated that he had been both a Democrat and a Republican and was now an Independent.  He cast Trump as a failed businessman and risk to the country.  “Through his career, Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies, thousands of lawsuits, angry shareholders and contractors who feel cheated and his frustrated customers who feel ripped off.”  He commented:  “Trump says he wants to run the nation like he runs his businesses.  God help us.”


He took Trump to task for blasting trade deals while using overseas manufacturing to produce products bearing his name.  He accused Trump of gaming the U.S., the Visa system, and using illegal immigrants while vowing to deport them if elected president.  “Truth be told the richest thing is his hypocrisy,” he said.


Another speaker, who came right after Michelle Obama, was Elizabeth Warren.  She stated, among other things, that “Corporations are not people.”  She hammered Trump saying “Trump’s entire campaign is one more late night infomercial.”  “Other than about building a stupid wall                                                            … did you have any ideas?”  “Trump is a man who cares only for himself, every minute of the day.”  “What kind of man cheats students, cheats investors, cheats workers?  I’ll tell you what kind of man, a man who will never be president of the United States.”


She also stated that Republican lawmakers – namely the ones who have obstructed Democrats in Congress, Warren stated, “The American people are coming for you.”


The list of speakers was very impressive.  On the first night Michelle Obama spoke very effectively, followed by Senator Elizabeth Warren; Senator Cory Booker preceded the First Lady.  The final speaker of the night was Senator Bernie Sanders who strongly supported Hillary Clinton.


On the first night the theme was “United Together.”  For the second night it was “A Lifetime of Fighting for Children and Families.”  Former President Jimmy Carter gave a video address.  Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the House Democrats spoke; so did Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood.  Both former Attorney General Eric Holder and Senator Barbara Boxer made presentations.


The Keynote speaker for that night was former President Bill Clinton.  He related his wife’s biography to an enthusiastic audience both in the Convention and on TV.  She has had decades of work for children, women, and the needy.  He talked of her persistence in solving problems placed before her, of her role as a mother to their daughter, Chelsea, of her as a mother figure to the nation.  “She’ll never give up on you,” he stated.


Toward the end of his presentation Bill Clinton spoke of two Hilarys, the one he was talking about and the one the Republicans seemed always to speak about.  The Republican one, he said, was not real, she had been created or disparaged by the Republicans over the years.


Since 1993, when Bill Clinton became President and put Hillary in charge of a task force to come up with a Universal Health Care Plan the Republicans began a hate Hillary campaign both against her and the mission she was undertaking, Universal Health Care for all Americans.                                                               This hate Hillary campaign has persisted up to the present day, 23 years.  They have never given her credit for anything but early on dubbed her “Lady Macbeth from Little Rock.”


Vice President Joe Biden gave an impassioned speech in which he urged voters to turn their backs upon Trump.  “This is a complicated and uncertain world we live in.  The threats are too great and the times to uncertain to elect Donald Trump as President.”  And then later, “No nominee in the history of this nation has known less or been less prepared to deal with National Security … who has no plan to keep us safe… Donald Trump is a man who seeks to sow division in America for his own gain … a man who confuses bluster with strength.”  Later “He has no clue about what makes America great.  In fact, he doesn’t have a clue, period.”


The Reverend Jesse Jackson and Jill Biden spoke.  Former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg denounced Trump as a business failure and cheat.


On the third night the theme was “Work Together.  On that night United States Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia accepted the Vice Presidential nomination.  He began by sharing his life story with the American people.  Then he stated that a number of Americans did not find Hillary Clinton trustworthy.  He then cited her record of advocating for families and children, her foreign policy achievements, her fight in Congress to secure funding for New York City after the 9/11/01 attack on the Twin Towers, and her foreign policy achievements as Secretary of State.  “With Hillary, it’s not just words, it’s accomplishments.”


Then he plowed into Donald Trump.  “You know who I don’t trust.  It’s Donald Trump.  The guy promises a lot.  He has a habit of saying the same two words right after he makes his biggest promises.  ‘Believe me.’  His creditors, his contractors, his laid-off employees, his ripped off students did just that, and they all got hurt.  Folks, you cannot believe one word that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.”


The final speaker on the third day was President Barack Obama.  He strongly supported Hillary Clinton as a candidate who was fully prepared to take on the presidency, particularly against the pessimism of Donald Trump.  “America is already great.  America is already strong.  And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend upon Donald Trump.”


He touted Hillary Clinton as being better prepared for the presidency than he and her husband Bill Clinton had been.  In addition he said, “No matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never quits.”  In a manner of speaking Barack Obama was passing the baton on to a candidate who would carry on the Democratic tradition, both his and hers.


The theme for the fourth night was “Stronger Together.”  Both U.S Representative Tammy Duckworth, a Purple Heart veteran in Afghanistan, and Nancy Pelosi, the minority Speaker of the House of Representatives, spoke.


Outside of Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech the most dramatic speaker was the Muslim, Khizi Khan, who had his wife silently seated by his side.  The Khans had lost their son, Humayun S. M. Khan, an army captain, who, in 2004, had been killed in Iraq while saving the lives of both his men and a group of civilians.  He was killed by a car bomb while inspecting a guard post.  He spotted a taxi speeding toward the military compound.  Khan yelled for people to hit the ground as he ran toward the taxi.  The driver detonated the bomb before it hit the post or a nearby mess hall, where a large number of soldiers were eating breakfast.  He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.


Khizi Khan denigrated Trump for his attitude and his ignorance.  Mr. Khan accused Donald Trump of never having sacrificed anything.  He stated that “Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son the best of America.  If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been born in America.”  At one point he held up a small booklet which was a copy of the United States Constitution and accused Trump of never having read the document.  He then offered to lend Trump his copy.  It was a verbal attack by a Muslim citizen of the U.S. against the man who would close the nation to all Muslim immigration.


Against Khan’s accusation of never having sacrificed anything Trump response was that he had sacrificed by creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.  Equating profit making enterprise with sacrifice was a strange use of language or understanding.


The major speaker on Thursday, the fourth night, was Hillary Clinton, accepting the position as Democratic candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election.  Chelsea Clinton introduced her mother who was the final speaker at the Democratic Convention.


Hillary formally accepted the nomination.  She has been one of the best known women in the world since the early 90s.  From 1993, when her husband became President of the United States, there has been a hate Hillary campaign by the Republicans.  On the one hand she has in some respects, like her emails have been careless but on the other, she has probably worked harder than any other Secretary of State visiting and dealing with 113 countries while also sitting in the President’s Cabinet and being involved in the decision making process on major policy operations.  She was involved in the decision to get Osama bin Laden, the originator of the destruction of the Twin Tower on 9/11/01.  In fact she was involved in many of President Obama’s major decisions.


Hillary stated in her acceptance speech, “I get that some people just don’t know what to make of me.  So let me tell you.”  She then detailed the years she had spent in public service and her goals for a presidency.  She depicted Trump as unstable and unqualified for the office.


She accepted the nomination “with humility, determination and boundless confidence in America’s promise.”  In her nearly 60 minute address she said, “America is once again at a moment of reckoning.  Powerful forces are threatening to pull her apart.  Bonds of trust and respect are fraying.  And just as with our founders there are no guarantees….We have to decide whether we’re going to work together, so we can all rise together.”


“We’re going to empower all Americans to live better lives,” Hillary Clinton said.  “My primary mission as president will be to create more opportunity and more good jobs with rising wages right here in the United States, from my first day in office to my last day, especially in places that for too long have been left out and left behind.”


She presented a “stark” choice for voters on National Security at this time of international turbulence.  She ridiculed Trump’s statement that he alone can solve America’s problems.  “Americans don’t say, ‘I alone can fix it.’  They say ‘we’ll fix it together.”


Of Trump she said, “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man you can trust with nuclear weapons.”


Bernie Sanders was praised by Clinton.  “You’ve put economic and social justice issues front and center, where they belong.  And to all of your supporters here or around the country, I want you to know I’ve heard you.  Your cause is our cause.”


Clinton’s historic role in breaking the gender barrier, a persistent theme of her campaign, drew some of the greatest applause.  “When there are no ceiling, the sky’s the limit.  So let’s keep going until every one of the 161 million women and girls across America has the opportunity she deserves.”


After Hillary had spoken the last moment of the Convention occurred and many thousands of red, white, and blue balloons dropped from the ceiling signifying the end of the Convention.  And America had its Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.


Of the two conventions the Republican one was thin with guests supporting it and dark with its outlook of America.  One of the TV Duck Dynasty minor luminaries appeared wearing an American flag bandana wrapped around his hair giving a short patriotic presentation.  Neither of the two living Republican former Presidents, George H.W. and his son George W. Bush appeared nor have commented publically about Donald Trump.  With the exception of Mitch McConnell, the current Senate majority leader and Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who both gave very lukewarm approval of Trump, saying he was preferable to Hillary Clinton, very few Republican members of Congress appeared.  It was a thin roster of so-called dignitaries.  The high point seemed to be the Trump children lauding the greatness of their father and Trump at the end giving a Hitler type speech where only he could save a disintegrating United States.


In the Democratic Convention there were so many political and Hollywood celebrities supporting Hillary Clinton that the Convention organizers had trouble getting them all to function during prime time.  There were the President and the First Lady, Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Vice President Nominee Tim Kaine, Joe and Jill Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, to name a small number who appeared.  From Hollywood: Lena Dunham, Elizabeth Banks, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Elizabeth Banks, and Paul Simon sang.  It was a glorious meeting of people.






The Weiner Component #157 – Taxes & the American Public & the Negative Income Tax

The United States of America is a Federal Republic with separate state and local governments.  In order to function each of these governments tax, in some or various fashions, the general public.  These include income, payroll, property, sales, excise taxes and capital gains, dividends and interest, import tariffs, estate taxes, and gifts, as well as various fees.  In 2010, for example, the amounts collected by federal, state, and municipal governments amounted to 24.8% of the Gross National Product (GDP).


In the United States most taxes are regressive; that is, the less one earns the higher a percentage of their income they pay.  This would include those who earn too little to even pay an income tax.  There are a multitude of taxes: local, state, and federal that everyone pays equally regardless of their income level.  This means that most of these taxes are paid by virtually everyone from the homeless person to the multimillionaire or so-called billionaire like Donald Trump.


There are excise taxes on such items as gasoline or tobacco, sales taxes on most purchases, property taxes on homes and business buildings, social security and Medicare taxes that are deducted directly from the business and employees’ wages, unemployment insurance which is deducted from one’s income.  In addition license fees are a form of taxation that allows individuals to practice certain occupations.


Taxes fall more heavily on labor income than on capital income.  A larger percentage is taken out of every employees income that out of every employers profits or dividends.


If we ask ourselves what is the major economic problem in the United States today, besides the current 5% unemployment rate, the answer we get is the distribution of the National Income.  More and more money keeps going to the upper echelon and less and less of the National Income is being acquired by everyone else.


We are the richest country in the history of the world but the distribution of the National Income is such that an ever-growing, percentage of the population is having a harder and harder time surviving.


If we consider the 2015 tax table for a married couple filing jointly:


0 – 18,450         10%

18,451 – 74,900         $1,845 plus 15% of amount over 18,450

74,901 – 151,200       $10,312.50 plus 25% of amount over 74,900

151,200 – 230,450       $29,387.50 plus 28% of amount over 151,200

230,451 – 411,500       $51,577.50 plus 33% of amount over 230,450

411,501 – 464,850       $111,324 plus 35% of amount over 411,500

464,851 – Or more       $129,996.50 plus 39.6% of amount over 464,850

For a single individual you can half the above table and for a head of household drop it down about a quarter.


There are, of course, numerous deductions for the number of people in the family and numerous other assorted items. The upper two categories, I suspect, will cover most American taxpayers.  Within the decade or less, as money become less valuable, a larger and larger number of people will slip into the third category.


The person earning $18,450 with a family of four is not going to pay any income taxes since the 2016 poverty level for that group is $24,300.  But everyone else with pay 10% of the first $18,450 they earn; then from $18,451 up to $74,900 they pay 15%, and from $74,901 to $151,200 they pay 25%.  This process continues until they reach $464,850, paying the amount in each category until that amount is reached.  Up to this point the income tax has been graduated, the more one earns the higher a percentage of their income they pay.


After the last category, $464,851 onwards into the multimillions the amount paid is $129,996.50 plus 39.6% of the income.  This is a regressive income tax favoring the upper percentage of the population. These people’s percentage of income decreases as their earnings increase above the $464,851 mark.  These people pay a far lower percentage of their incomes in taxes than the average citizen.


It should be noted that CEOs of fairly large to very large corporations and their leading executives do earn anything from one million dollars a year to one million dollars a month to even one million dollars a week.  The CEO of Hewlett Packer earns 15 million dollars a year.  The current                            CEO of Ford earned 50 million dollars in 2015.  The Bank of America has a CEO, who I imagine can be called the emperor and each section of this international organization has a president for that section of the company.  All of these executives and their leader’s salaries are in the millions of dollars.


In addition to all this there are two forms of income.  One is regular income which is the only one most people have.  It is taxed as shown above, after deductions are taken out of the total.  The other is passive income.  This is monies earned from investments or increases in value of property.  It could be an apartment house, a home, a piece of art; mostly anything that is owned and increases in value when sold.


In addition, specific properties that are rented for profit can legally be depreciated in value over a period of time and any money spent on maintenance of these properties can be deducted from passive income.  Donald Trump, in all probability, pays nothing in income taxes; all his maintenance costs for all his buildings would be deducted from his income leaving him legally and theoretically with no income.


The major problem that exists today in terms of the distribution of the National Income or Gross National Product is that most people still think of money as they did in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.  At that time the worker exchanged his labor for a precious metal, gold or silver coins.  The value of the labor equaled the value of the coins.  The laborer or a member of his family would then exchange the precious metal coins for the goods and services needed to live: housing, food, clothing, medicine when needed, whatever.


Today money is paper, printed by each government and coins are copper sandwiches, having token value.  Currency today has no intrinsic value.  It is used as a means of exchanging services for goods and services: housing, food, clothing, medical care when needed, etc.  Money has not been a precious metal since the early 1930s.


General thinking and emotions today about currency by most people, particularly the Republicans in Congress, goes back to the 19th and early 20th Centuries.  They still feel that money is basically gold.  Some Congressmen have even, from time to time, mentioned going back on the gold standard.  If this were to be attempted it would cause unbelievable economic disruptions because there isn’t enough gold available to back the amount of business being done either nationally or internationally.  Also gold is currently valued somewhere above $1,200 an ounce.  If the Federal Government were to start buying gold it would quickly shoot up to over $2,000 an ounce.  In 1929 that was a $20 gold one ounce coin.


How could the distribution of the GDP be done more fairly?  Or can it be done more fairly?


About 25 to 30 years ago my wife and I took a vacation in Estes Park, Colorado.  We visited the Rocky Mountain National Park for a week.  While there, I met a gentleman from Holland who was also on vacation.  He and his family were also visiting this site.  Among other things we spoke about unemployment, both in the United States and in Holland, two different political systems, both democracies.  In the U.S. then and today the unemployed person received an inadequate stipend for a matter of 26 full weeks.  It used to be for a slightly shorter period of time.  This is supposed to hold the individual over financially until he/she finds a new job.  In Holland the unemployed person continued to maintain his/her regular standard of living.  The difference being that the unemployed individual could not afford vacations, but otherwise his standard of living would be the same as the other employed individuals.  Both the man I spoke to and his wife worked; it was expensive to come to the U.S. on vacation.


There were no negative connotations applied to the unemployed individuals like there often are in the United States.  The entire population of the country took on responsibility for one another.  Anyone, at some time or other, could be unemployed through no fault of their own and everyone was equally responsible for everyone else.


They pay heavier taxes than people in similar circumstances in the United States but they get far better coverage.  In addition to far more reasonable unemployment insurance the people of Holland get free medical care, free education through college if they prove capable of going there, plus numerous other services.


The difference between the two countries is that the Hollanders take a much more mature attitude than we do in the United States about the welfare of all their citizens.


As a footnote it should be noted that today just prior to the 2016 Presidential Election we see large sections in both political parties, demonstrating through their choices of candidates their revulsion at being taken for granted by the powers that be who have been wanting their votes, but have given a goodly percentage of the people very little in return.  This is particularly true of the Republican Party which now seems to be stuck with Donald J. Trump as their presumptive candidate.



Is there a way to deal with this problem?  The answer is obvious, if Congress and the American people can come to a rational understanding of the function of money and group responsibility.


Traditionally the economic formula is:

Demand equals production of goods and services.

There are two factors that determine Demand.  They are the amount of money in the National Income or GDP that is distributed to the general population.  The more money that goes to the top few percent of the population the less there is available for everyone else.  Since most of these excess incomes are invested in old productivity like stocks and bonds they are removed from the general cash flow, decreasing the amount needed for demand, decreasing the level of productivity and consequently, sooner or later, bringing about a recession or even the possibility of a depression.


This behavior is a consequence of traditional beliefs and values.  All this, generally speaking, is how the Great Depression came about in 1929 and all the recessions and depressions before and since.  They are based upon the unreal myths about money that most people feel are absolute truths.


Is there a way to avoid this continual economic inequality?  A suggestion was first made in England during the 1940s by a British politician named Juliet Rhys-Williams and later also picked up in the U.S. by the free-market economist Milton Friedman.  This was for a negative income tax.


The negative income tax (NIT) is a progressive income tax system where people earning below a certain amount receive supplemental pay from the government instead of paying income taxes to the government; that is, every citizen living within the country is guaranteed a certain minimum standard of living.  Just as today there is a poverty level set for everyone living within the country in both rural and urban areas for individual living alone, married couples, married couples with children, and heads of households.


This poverty level or slightly above it would probably be the minimum level these individuals or group or families would be guaranteed as their minimu m standard of living.  It would probably be paid weekly.  Those earning more than this level would be paying income taxes according to their level of compensation.  The tax would be graduated so that the more earned the higher the rate of taxation would be.  There would be no cutoff point where the tax stopped being progressive.


It should be noted that the current income tax cutoff point of 39.6% of any amount over $$464,850 where the taxes stop being progressive and become regressive.  This limit was incorporated just a few years ago under President Barack Obama by a staunchly Republican majority in the House of Representatives and by a filibustering Republican minority in the U.S. Senate.


During World War II, 1944 – 1951 the cutoff point was set at 91%, from 1952 – 1953 it was 92%, during 1954 – 1963 it was 91% again, in 1964 it became 77%, and from 1965 – 1981 it was 70%.  During the Reagan years: 1981 – 1989, the tax rate dropped to 50%.  But during these same years Reagan raised taxes twelve times and took back 50% of his 1982 tax act.  In 1987, under George H.W. Bush they were 38.5%.  In 1991 – 92 they dropped to 31%.  In 1993 they were raised to 39.6%.  In 2001 under George W. Bush in stages the maximum income taxes were dropped to 35%.  Under President Obama they were raised to 39.6%.


It should also be noted that inflation raised most persons into tax brackets formerly reserved for the wealthy.  And that income taxes now applies to 2/3 of the nation.


In a land of free opportunity for all, the income taxes should be high enough to include former Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ current goals of free medical care for all, free education from pre-school through college for anyone capable of achieving a degree, and other social programs including eventually a dignified burial.


The effects of a negative income tax would create a single system that would fulfill the social goal of making sure that there is a minimum level of incomes for all.  With a NIT the need for a minimu  m wages, food stamps, welfare, possibly social security programs, Medicare, and other government programs could be eliminated.  This would reduce the administration costs to a fraction of what they are currently.  These costs and administration wages could be directly applied to the people receiving the funding.


In the 1972 Presidential Elections the Republican candidate, Richard Milhous Nixon ran for a second term.  His Democratic opponent was George McGovern who proposed a guaranteed minimum income for a family of four of $4,000 a year.  Nixon proposed a guaranteed minimum yearly income of $2,500.  While neither of these level was a significant amount they bought a lot more than they do today.


Nixon was reelected and his proposal came up in both the Houses of Congress.  What I remember about the debate in both Houses of Congress was the pain in the voices of the legislators.  It was the level of pain that a boor would make if a sow accidentally stepped on his scrotum.  It was, apparently, in the minds of the national lawmakers as though their own money was about to be forcibly taken from them.  The Negative Income Tax was virtually killed before it could be born.


But times have changed since the 1970s.  Money, to the government, is a tool that begets productivity.  It is printed by the Federal Government and can be and has been used by the Federal Government to enhance the economy.


If we reexamine the formula we considered earlier:

Demand equals production of goods and services or to restate it more simply:  Amount of money available in the economy equals the level of employment.

We can rewrite the formula to also read: Extent of Production of Goods (employment) equals extent of Demand (money available).


The amount of the National Income that goes to the majority of the people determines the amount they can spend on the purchase of goods and services.  The more they can spend fulfilling their basic needs and wants the higher the level of employment in the nation.


Currently the nation is geared to allow the rich to get richer and for everyone else to have less and less of the GDP or National Income.  The NIT would not only reverse the current process it should also satisfy all the voters who feel they are left out of the system and are supporters of Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump.  This process could be a way of giving the country back to the general public.


There is, after all, just so far a populace can be pushed against its own interests.  Donald Trump has emerged as the floored hero of the exploited blue collar Republicans.  His existence, as the hero or potential candidate of the Republican Party is a national disgrace.  He will not solve the national problems, and were he elected could disrupt the balance of power or safety that now exists in the world by his presumptuous erratic actions and basic beliefs..


Bernie Sanders is the Democratic side of the current voter rebellion.  While most people agree with his goals, his methods of achieving them are totally unrealistic.  He wants to make the rich pay for his program by having taxes placed on Wall Street profits.  The term “Wall Street” is an abstraction.  Taxing Wall Street would be taxing all purchases or sales made on the stock market, plus all profits made on capital gains.  It would be an easy way to cause an instant recession or possible depression that would negatively affect everyone in the nation.


Another factor affecting the money supply in the country is the population.  Every ten years the population of the United States is counted.  The number of the population in each state is needed to allocate seats in the House of Representatives.  The number of members in the House is fixed at 435, but seats are reallocated to each state on the basis of changes in the states’ population.


The last official census was taken in 2010, the next one will occur in 2020.  In 2016 the population was estimated at 322,762,018 people.  The country has added 2.4 million people or .77% to the overall population in this year 2016.  It does so every year.


In the introduction of virtually every census that is taken the then head of the Census Bureau apologizes for the people who he estimates were not counted.  In 2010 a goodly percent of the homeless in the U.S. were missed, leaving the estimate of the population low.  The probability is that the overall population then was over 350 million people.  Add 246 million people to that number and you’re probably close to today’s population.


According to the Census Bureau’s population clock one person is born every 8 seconds; there is one death every 13 seconds; and one immigrant enters the U.S. every 29 seconds.  This gives the population a net gain of one person every 13 seconds.  It’s from these figures that we get an increase of 2½ million people a year or a .77% increase in the general population.  That, incidentally, is higher than the current population of 27 of the 50 states.


The issue or problem here is that the money supply in order to stay even has to keep up with the ever growing population.  The FED is the agency that is supposed to deal with this issue by adding currency to the Nation Cash Flow as needed.  The FED can easily do this by using the National Debt and buying back more bonds than it sells.  After all the Federal Government through the FED owns over 50% of its own debt.


But banks can also create currency by their lending policy and the banking houses like J.P Morgan-Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, to name just a few, did this through their purchase and sale of home mortgages from the Reagan Administration on to 2008 when their excesses brought about the Real Estate Crash of 2008.  The FED, under Chairman Alan Greenspan, was either not paying attention or was overly conservative in its actions.  Instead from the Reagan Era on to the crash, everything was left to the Free Market.  The Free Market, by the actions of the banks, made all the decisions at that time.  The FED kept its hands off everything until the Federal Government had to step in to avoid a massive depression greater than that of 1929 during the last year of the George W. Bush administration.


A solution for many of our current economic problems would be the incorporation of the negative income tax into our system.  It probably will take a while for it to become fully incorporated and functioning but it would solve many of the problems that now exist in the United States.  It is time we all took positive responsibility for one another.



[BW2] Wage, food stamps, welfare, social security programs, M


The Weiner Component #156 – Fear & the Economic Situation

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Starting slowly, probably around the 1970s, the process of splitting real estate loans into a few parts began, and then, with the election of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States in 1981, the concept took off on a refined bases, with each real estate mortgage being broken into innumerable parts and having each piece put into a different hedge fund and sold as a safe investment. It was considered safe because any single or few losses on any one of these hedge funds would be so small that it wouldn’t be noticeable and would not really affect the amount of the dividend.


Two things occurred from the 1980s on: one was the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency of the United States and the imposition of a total Free Market Economy and the other was an incessant need in the general society for a much greater cash flow.  We were in a period where there was not enough money available to serve the overall needs of the population.  More cash was needed for the economy to function.


The agency of Federal Government that was supposed to be keeping track of this problem and monetarily serving the needs of the nation was the Federal Reserve.  It’s Chairman from 1987 to 2006, Alan Greenspan, like the President believed in a totally Free Market that would automatically adjust itself.  Consequently he and the FED did nothing to alleviate the problem. 


This in turn left the need prevalent and either purposefully or inadvertently it was picked up by the banks which were also deregulated by the Reagan administration.  They, at first, gradually and then, with ever increasing speed, using real estate as their base, picked up the speed of creating new value or money throughout the society.  This was to continue through late 2008 when the banks had far     exceeded the amount of money needed for the society to properly function and the Great Real Estate Crash occurred.


What happened was that the banks, by their lending policies from the 1980s until late 2008, over 28 years, created trillions of dollars of additional value based upon the public housing industry within the United States.  In addition deregulation also allowed them to freely invest their deposits into the agencies or funds that directly serviced this expansion.


By 2007 most bankers were aware that property values had far exceeded a sane level and that a crash was probable.  But by 2007 most of the bankers had been making high commissions on the property market for most, if not all, of their banking careers; they were in denial that conditions could ever change. 


The Real Estate Market crashed or the Real Estate Bubble burst in late 2008 under President George W. Bush.  Virtually overnight the economy of the United States went into an instant depression.  There was suddenly mass unemployment, many people owed more on their homes than they were then worth.  Some people just walked away from their homes, others stayed, the hedge funds, which many or the deregulated banks had also invested in, collapsed from non-payment on mortgages.  Bush and his Treasury Secretary bailed out some of the banks; then his term ended and Barack Obama became the next President of the United States.


Barack Obama would spend his eight years in office dealing with this mess.  For his first two years he had a Democratic Congress and their full support.  From 2011 on the House of Representatives gained a Republican majority and thereafter passed no legislation that dealt with the economic emergency.  In fact they passed economizing laws that actually increased the disaster.  President Barack Obama and the Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, using Creative Monetary Policy were able to change the depression into a recession.  The country is still dealing with this problem that the House of Representatives refused to deal with.


Conditions have improved.  Unemployment is now at about 5%, a long way from the initial 12½%  The Republicans still have done nothing to improve conditions, instead they have actually worsened them.  They are a great political party for complaining and blaming.  But what they are blaming President Obama for, is mainly for what they, themselves, have not done, passing fiscal laws creating jobs and upgrading the infrastructure.


In 2008, the year of the Real Estate Crash, the Gross Domestic Product   was at 800 trillion dollars.  In 2009 it dropped to 700 trillion dollars.  By 2010 it was slightly above where it had been the year before.  By 2015 it was in the area of 17.95 trillion dollars.


Keep in mind that the GDP refers to the market value of all goods and services produced within the country during the fiscal year.  Interestingly the United States is now ranking first in the world’s GDP level.  That makes it, even now with 5% unemployment, the world’s richest nation.


If, as we’ve seen in the GDP, the overall wealth within the United States was continually increasing by 2010 above the 2008 Real Estate Crash level then why was the U.S. up to 12 ½% unemployment?  The answer, of course, comes into the area of spending priorities mostly by the United States Government and the overall population.


Congress, from 2011 on, with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, was on an economizing bilge. The country underwent and is continuing to undergo Sequestration, spending cuts across the board in virtually every area.  The President, on the other hand, particularly in 2009 and 2010 underwent expansive spending programs to avoid a depression greater than that of 1929.  Basically what started from 2011 on was a redistribution of income, with gradually more and more money going to the upper echelon of society and less and less being available for the middle and lower classes, these amounts increasing yearly.


In 2009 and 2010 the Obama Administration spent inordinate amounts of money extending unemployment benefits, saving the American banking and auto industries, among other things.  From 2011 on gradually most of these programs ended and government began a struggle between the House of Representatives and the President.  In 2013 we had both Sequestration and a shutdown of the Federal Government from October 1 through October 16, 2013, for 15 days.  The shutdown was over the issue of government funding for Planned Parenthood in the 2014 funding bill.  The Republican House of Representatives attempted to force its will upon the President and the Democratic led Senate.  The President and Democratic Senate would not cooperate with the Republican led House of Representatives.  In many cases Congress has refused, or through different Republican disagreements, has been unable to act.


The positive movement that had occurred in the economy, turning a potential Great Depression into a Great slow-moving Recession came about through Creative Monetary Policy, government spending policy, by the Federal Reserve with the compliance of the President.  In essence it’s been a battle between the President and the Republican House of Representatives, with the administration slowly winning since national unemployment is today in the area of 5%.


The question that arises: if the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) today is greater than it was in the period prior to the 2008 Real Estate Crash then why is the middle class in the United States continually shrinking and why are more and more people continually having a harder and harder time economically surviving?  The answer to that questions is that the National Income is like a balloon filled with helium, slowly and continually rising and becoming part of the incomes of the top few percentile, the upper 5 or so percent of the population.


In essence the rich are getting richer and everyone else has less money.  It would seem that the society is geared so that the rich pay a lower percentage of their incomes in taxes than everyone else does.  For example: Donald J. Trump, who is running for the presidency in 2016 as the Republican candidate, has refused to show his tax returns for any prior year.  Trump claims to have over ten billion dollars.  The probability is that he is not showing his income taxes because he doesn’t pay any of these taxes.  Being in real estate he would have endless write-offs and building depreciations.


But it isn’t just people in real estate who have these tax advantages, it’s anyone who earns over $464,850.  The income tax system is graduated up to that point; that is the more one earns, the higher a percentage of his/her income he/she pays in taxes.  Anyone earning over $464,850 pays the same rate as those earning that amount.  A person earning a million dollars or 25 million a year pay the same percentage of the incomes as the person earning the above figure.


While the number of individuals is not large compared to the overall population of 350 million people, yet the taxation system is rigged in favor of the very rich.  The more they earn over $464,850 the smaller a percentage of their income do they pay in taxes.


This change or decrease in taxes was brought about during the last five years of the Obama administration.  The Republicans actually lowered taxes for the very rich.  The Democrats were forced to go along with this in order to pass other similar required legislation.


The Republican argument for this action is that the rich need more money because they are the ones who invest in new industry.  Without them there would be no growth in the economy.


This argument that has been endlessly repeated over the years sounds wonderful.  But it is a myth.  It has never happened.  The rich invest their surplus incomes in old established industries that pay a set reasonable income or they, like Mitt Romney, bank some of it overseas where somehow they pay no taxes on the interest received.


Taxes are geared so the less an individual earns the higher a percentage of his/her income is paid in taxes.


The United States is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world.  Yet its unequal taxation system taxes the poor and middle class far more than the wealthy, they pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes.  It also has an underclass that is so poor they live in the streets and even though these people pay no income tax they also pay a higher percentage of their incomes in other taxes than the rich.  The national distribution of income is today a farce.  Someone like Warren Buffet has remarked that it’s a strange situation where he pays a smaller percentage of his income in taxes than his secretary.


In 2016, the year of the next Presidential Election, this created a strange phenomenon within both political parties within the nation.  Currently there is a Republican majority in both Houses of Congress.  Very little if any needed legislation is being passed.  This situation has existed since 2011 when the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives.  In both major political parties there are large numbers of people who are totally frustrated with their Federal Government.  Many of whom are not overly well educated or generally too busy with their lives to follow what is actually happening in Washington D.C.  Their knowledge of the government is what they’re told by the news media, which can be tilted to the right or the left by which channel they are watching.  This doesn’t really answer their questions or needs. 


What exists today are large segments of the population which are looking for easy answers to what seems impossible questions or problems.  They want a simplistic solution which, in essence, is a return to a past which never existed.  They want a simplistic solution to their economic problems, to bring the manufacturing jobs back to the United States and allow people to earn more money so they will no longer be economically stressed out.  Whether this is real or not is beside the point; there is a strong desire among many for a simplistic change within the society.


For the Republicans the person who will do this is Donald J. Trump.  He claims that he will force the companies that have moved their manufacturing overseas or to Mexico to bring these jobs back to the U.S.  In addition he will get rid of all illegal foreigners in the U.S. and lessen competition so that there will be jobs available for everyone who wants to work.  He will also make the U.S. safer by not allowing alien radicals to migrate to the U.S. and keep Mexicans out of the country by building a wall between the United States and Mexico.  And so on.  He will bring us to a golden age that never existed in the U.S.


In essence Trump is feeding on all the basic prejudices and fears that seem to still exist in this country.  He is opposed to Mexicans, Hispanics, Muslims, Syrians, Blacks, Women having a right to deal with their own bodies, and the list goes on.  Trump has promised to take us all to-never-never land if he becomes president.  He seems to open up all the hidden prejudices in a large percentage of his followers.  He has also increased bullying among the children of his followers.


For the Democrats there is Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democratic Socialist.  Over a year ago he changed his party registration from an Independent Socialist who always caucused with the Democratic Party to a Democrat.  Sanders now calls himself a Democratic Socialist.  This has enabled him to run as a Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2016.


I strongly suspect that Bernie Sanders initially expected to run as a protest candidate with no chance of winning.  However he inadvertently tapped into the younger generation of voter; those who had been too young to vote in prior Presidential Elections.  To these people and the others who have joined them he offers a utopian future. Free education from pre-school through college and free medical coverage for everyone.  He supports abortion rights and a more liberal drug policy.  He believes in gun control, immigration reform, LGBT rights, expanding social security, and tax reform.  Among other things he has stated: “We need to get big money out of politics and restore our democracy,” and “Climate change is real, it is caused by human activity.”


He has also brought large numbers of Independents and some older Democrats to his cause.  His campaign took off like a rocket shooting upward and Bernie could almost taste victory.  But he never quite caught up with his competition, Hillary Clinton. 


He is promising a new society with benefits for everyone.  And all this will be paid for by the rich who have up to this point exploited their position in society.  The image is wonderful but the reality doesn’t exist.


I suspect that the majority of the population agrees with most of if not all of Senator Bernie Sander’s goals.  But they would have to be paid for if they were to be put into laws.  And his solution to this is rather naïve.  He says he would put a tax on Wall Street’s excess profits.  Traditionally in United States history, going as far back as the Revolutionary War from 1776 on the practice has been to make someone else pay for what you want.  The Southern planters owed millions to English merchants which they never paid after the Revolutionary War.  Afterwards Daniel Shay, a Revolutionary War veteran, led Shay’s Rebellion where the inland farmers refused to pay taxes that were brought into being by the Tidewater merchants in the coastal cities.  In recent years there was an attempt on the California side of Lake Tahoe to tax the Time Share facilities to pay for the public schools in the region; it failed.  It’s always nice to get someone else to pay for what is needed or wanted but generally it doesn’t work.


The term Wall Street is an abstraction; it has no specific meaning.  Are they talking about the banks or the large commercial corporations, or any company that sells stock?  An excess tax on the sale or purchase of stock or company profits would bring about economic disaster.  A tax on profits already exists, increasing it could destroy incentive.  Senator Bernie Sanders funding solution sounds just but it is nonsense.


Hillary Clinton is much more pragmatic.  The very existence of Senator Bernie Sanders has pushed her farther to the left in her own position.  She may be able to achieve many of Bernie’s goals which he should be able to get into the 2016 Democratic Platform. 


Sanders, on the other hand, as President would face endless frustration, even if he were to get Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress, which is a low probability.  In all likelihood the House of Representatives will retain its Republican majority.  And even if Senator Bernie Sanders were to get an all Democratic Congress he would still have trouble both passing and funding his program.


In the early 1800s England began the Industrial Revolution in the cotton industry.  Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin which allowed the cotton plant to be quickly separated from it many seeds.  Machinery was developed for spinning the cotton plant into thread and machinery was also invented for weaving the thread into cotton cloth.  Overnight spinners and weavers became obsolete, their occupation ceased to exist.  Some became luddites, breaking into factories and destroying the new machines in an attempt to bring back the past when they had a functioning occupation.


 Even if Trump, by some strange miracle, were to get elected the probability is that the results of the 2016 Presidential Election would leave a number of people totally dissatisfied  with the changes that don’t seem to be happening,  You can’t bring back the past, real or otherwise. 


Can conditions be improved?  Jobs are available in the United States.  The problem is that they require training and mobility.  It now requires a trained skilled employee for the jobs that pay a decent wage.  For those who refuse to undergo any training or move to where these jobs exist there are public sector occupations that do not pay much but that take almost no skills to do.

English: Seal of the President of the United S...

English: Seal of the President of the United States Español: Escudo del Presidente de los Estados Unidos Македонски: Печат на Претседателот на Соединетите Американски Држави. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



The Weiner Component #152 – Part 3: The Continuing Presidential Campaign

In the April 26, 2016 Super Tuesday Republican primary election whining Donald Trump won all five states giving him a total of 996 bound delegates.  He is now assuming that he is the “presumptive” Republican candidate.  Up to that point in time he was bitterly complaining that the whole primary process was rigged against him.  In fact he was acting more like a third party candidate than one who was part of the Republican Party process.


As the presumptive candidate Trump has begun his verbal attack against Hillary Clinton with a sexist statement, saying that if she were a man she’d only have five present of her current support.  Leave it to Donald to inadvertently attack all the women who have supported her as well as all the other women in the United States, clearly marking them as secondary creatures.  Only Donald Trump would come up with a statement that demeans over 50% of the population, letting them know of their second rate standing.


Interestingly a percentage of the Republican leadership have changed their tones suddenly about Donald.  A number of Republican celebrities earlier announced that they voted for Donald but do not support him but since Tuesday have been giving second thoughts to supporting him.  Many Republicans seem to be in the process of changing their minds about Trump; they now see him in a new positive way.  Whether this will unify the Republican Party is another question.  Donald has said that he can win without a unified Republican Party.


According to the surveys taken one in four Republicans will stay at home rather than vote for Trump.  Will this happen?  Another factor is that the number of Democratic voters in these primaries has decreased in most states while the number of Republican voters has increased significantly.  Does this mean that people are changing political parties?  If they are then politically incorrect candidates who are divisive and tend to be prejudicial against racial and ethnic groups as well as a whole gender attract more people than traditional campaigns.  And that means that negative campaigns work for better than other attempts to gain public office.  It also means that the country is overflowing with racial, ethnic and gender bias.


It’s still possible that between now and July Trump will come out with numerous stupid statements that will alienate additional numerous people within his own party and suddenly the Rules Committee will find that he doesn’t have enough legal delegates to be nominated as their candidate.


What I find interesting about Trump is that up to Super Tuesday, April 26th he has been running as a Third Party candidate within the Republican Party.  He’s been at war with them, vigorously denouncing their unfairness.  Presumably after winning the majority in the five states that held the Republican Primary Elections on Tuesday, Trump now assumes he’s the Republican “presumptive winner.”  Is he?  A lot of Republicans have since denounced him.  Some of them said that if he were the candidate they would vote for Hillary.


On Wednesday afternoon at about 4 pm, the day after Super Tuesday, Trump gave a formal “foreign policy” speech using television prompters for the first time in order to dramatically read the presentation.   It was done in a very dignified fashion; basically the speech was much of what Trump has stated during the overall campaign combined with some traditional Republican attitudes.  Here we had a presidential Trump seriously reading a speech obviously written by members of his staff.  Basically the main concept is “America First.”  He would rebuild our military, make all our allies pay their “fair share” of the security burden, quickly destroy ISIS, and so on.  There are no specifics, just a general outline of how tough the U.S. is going to be.  Trump explained that he’s not giving specific information because that would prepare the enemy to resist. The United Nations Treaty with Iran was bad news, he said.   He’ll get a better deal for the United States.  And he’ll make a deal with Russia that will make Russia more positive about dealing with us.


The speech was about generalities.  He doesn’t want to tell how he’ll do these things because that would put us at a disadvantage.  His basic weapon in dealing with everyone is the ability to walk away from the negotiations if we don’t like them, this includes allies and antagonists.  Again, presumably the U. S. under Trump will be so tough and so feared that every nation will give in to us or be isolated from us or go to war with us, both allies and enemies.


Trump’s interpretation of what is happening in the world and what the United States is doing tends to be mostly wishful thinking or prefabricating on his part.  He freely makes statements without knowing what is really going on.  Ted Cruz’s statement about Trump being a pathological liar may be close to if not the actual truth.  He actually may not know the difference between fact and fiction.  He may believe that if he says something it must be a fact.


Trump’s claim that ISIS is making millions and millions of dollars a week selling Libyan oil is nonsense.  There is no evidence to support this statement.  ISIS has attempted to destroy a number of oil fields there  by bombarding them and moving on.  There was one incident when navy seals in 2014 stopped an attempt in Eastern Libya to smuggle oil out of the country in an oil tanker called the Morning Glory.  This also contradicts Trumps claim that the U. S. doesn’t “do anything about” unauthorized oil sales from Libya.


Trump claimed that the North American Free Trade Agreement “has been a disaster for the United States” and it has “literally emptied our states of our manufacturing and our jobs.”  Actually economic studies demonstrate that NAFTA’s impact on U. S. jobs has been very slight.  In fact it may have added slightly to the overall employment in the U. S. 


Trump has stated that he was against the War with Iraq and that he said it would destabilize the Middle East.  There is no evidence of this.  On September 11 2002 Trump was asked in a radio interview whether he supported the war.  His answer was, “Yeah, I guess so.”


Trump stated that Obama “crippled us with a huge trade deficit.”  Actually the amount of the trade deficit has gone down during Obama’s Presidency.  In terms of Clinton and Benghazi, Trump said, “Clinton blames it all on a video, an excuse that was a total lie, proven to be absolutely a total lie.”  The Obama administration originally cited the release of an anti-Muslim video by a Florida pastor as a possible reason for the Benghazi attack.  Clinton was quicker than other government officials, including the President, to call it a terrorist attack.  Trump has an active imagination about what constitutes facts for him.


What Trump proposed is a formula for disaster.  Even without war with allies and/or enemies the U. S. could end up isolating itself from the rest of the world.  That could take us back to the diplomacy that followed the Great Depression in the early 1930s and led directly to World War II.


Donald Trump, if he were to achieve his goal, has promised to wipe out everything that Barack Obama over his eight years as President has done.  That would take the nation back to the year he initially assumed office, 2008.  President George W. Bush left the nation in that year on the verge of a depression greater than the Great Depression of 1929 at the end of his second term as President.  Obama turned it into a recession and largely got the country out of it with no help from the Republican dominated Congress.  Is this where Trump wants to take the country?


On Tuesday, May 3, 2016 both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders won the primaries in Indiana.  The Republican primary was a winner take all race.  There were 57 delegate races in the state and Donald Trump got them all.  As a result Ted Cruz dramatically withdrew from the race.  It was the first time I heard what sounded like a victory speech from a loser.


What is interesting here is that the winners in both parties are the protest candidates, the ones chosen by the young and frustrated in both parties that feel they are not being properly represented by the people they have elected to office.  These are people who want to feel their party is returning something positive to them for their vote and support.  Instead up to this point they have gotten nothing in return for their vote.


Donald Trump now has 1068 committed delegates who will vote for him on the first ballot.  He needs 1,237 legal votes to become the Republican candidate for the Presidency in November of 2016.


Bernie Sanders won 52.5% of the Democratic vote, winning 44 delegates which gives him a total of 1,401 committed delegate votes.  Hillary Clinton won 47.5% of the vote, gaining 38 delegates.  She now has a total of 2,205 committed delegates.  2,383 is the number needed to become the Democratic candidate to the presidency in November of 2016.


The probability is that the last Super Tuesday in June will more than give Hillary Clinton the required number of votes needed to become the Presidential Candidate.  Bernie may even score some more victories but even in those the vote is split and Hillary gains more delegates. 


To Bernie Sanders the presidential nomination is within sight but always out of reach.  The question then is, why does he persist?  The answer, I believe, is to get his program on the Party Platform.  He has, no doubt, pushed Hillary Clinton farther left than she would have otherwise have gone.  He will try to push her farther left.  His success will be what the Party achieves over the next four years.


Donald Trump currently is king of the hill.  Whether that hill is below sea level in Death Valley or on its way to Washington, D.C. is currently unknown.  The man is an irresponsible monomaniac with no sense of consequences for what he may say.  He does not understand the government of the United States or how it works.  He certainly doesn’t understand the function of the President since what he describes he will do in that office are the actions of a dictator with absolute power.  His current dealings with Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, indicated that he might fire him when he becomes president.  It’s as though he expects to rule by executive order.


And he doesn’t understand economics in the functioning of government.  Trump apparently sees the National Government as a larger version of a business.  He doesn’t understand the difference between Macroeconomics and Microeconomics.  He has said that defaulting on government debt is a way of getting rid of or reducing the debt.


The basic currency in the world today is the dollar.  The value of most other currencies are tied to it.  If the U. S, were to default on its debt then the entire world financial systems would be affected.  We could see a group of national depressions that would make 1929 look like weekend holiday.  Trump has no idea of the trouble he could cause if he were elected president.


But I suspect that that is of low probability.  Even if he gets the 1,237 delegates he may not have 1,237 legal delegates.  That still has to be decided when the Rules Committee meets in Cleveland on July 18th to 21st.  All that depends upon the various stupid remarks that Trump makes between now and July 18th.  He’s already made a major blunder affecting the credit of the United States.


The Republican Party is split now.  I suspect the split or splits will widen between now and the convention.  I understand that Jeb Bush is thinking of organizing a group called, Republicans For Hillary.  A number of prominent Republicans have announce they will not vote for Donald.  A number of others have announce that they will vote for him but will not endorse him.  Trump has denounced anyone who has denounced him.  The situation gets crazier and crazier. 

The Weiner Component #152 – Part 2: The Democratic Presidential Convention

Bernie Sanders, U.S. Congressman (now U.S. Sen...

The 2016 Democratic National Convention will take place the week of July 25 to July 28 2016 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia with some events at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.  This is exactly one week after the Republican Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.  There are to be 4,765 delegates.  They will officially choose the Democratic candidate to run for the Presidency in November of 2016, the Vice Presidential Candidate, and write the platform upon which the Democratic Party will stand for the next four years.


The Democrats are following the Republican example and holding their Convention earlier that in 2012.  Philadelphia was selected as the host city on February 12, 2015.  The time of the Conventions are earlier than usual to allow the parties’ next presidential nominees to have access to more campaign cash as they begin their contest for the presidency.


For the first ballot the candidates will be Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley.  Whether there will be more than one ballot depends on whether one of the candidates can achieve the 2,383 delegates voting for them.  As of Wednesday, April 27th Hillary Clinton had 2,165 primary and caucus delegates, Bernie Sanders has 1,357, and Martin O’Malley has 0 delegates.  The race is actually between Hillary and Bernie.


While the Republican Party leaders are able to control their conventions by rule changes every four years the Democratic Party is able to do the same thing with Super delegates, who are not elected by the Democratic public voting and caucusing in the individual states and territories.  These delegates are all free to vote for whoever they wish.  These are all Democratic members of the House and Senate, sitting and former Democratic governors, elected members of the Democratic National Party, distinguished party leaders consisting of current and former presidents, vice presidents, congressional leaders, and DNC chairs.  They are unbound delegates.  Taken together these are a formable number of votes that are not obligated to vote for any candidate.  These unpledged delegates are seated solely by being current or former elected office holders and party officials.  They are not bound in any way and may support any candidate they wish, including one who has dropped out of the presidential race.  And they are in addition to the other 4,765 bound delegates who are committed to a specific candidate for at least the first ballot.


In the current 2016 election where Hillary Clinton is currently leading by about 800 delegates Bernie Sanders strategy will be to get these Super delegates to vote for him at the Convention in order to make up for his possible shortfall of bound delegates against Hillary Clinton.  Will he be successful?


For Republicans there are 3 unbound Super delegates in each state.  These are the state chairman and two RNC committee members.  This gives them a total of 150 Super delegates.  For the Democrats the number is far greater.


Hillary Rodham Clinton has been a well-known figure in the United States for over the last ¼ of a century.  She was the wife of a president, Bill Clinton, who served two terms at the tail end of the 20th Century, later a Senator for most of two terms for the state of New York, a Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2009, and a Secretary of State for Barack Obama’s first term as President.  Because she served on important committees and attempted to set up a universal health care system during his husband’s first term as President and is a liberal she has been considered as a threat by most Republicans.  She was the first and only first lady to have to testify before a grand jury.  She was also the first former Secretary of State to have been vigorously questioned by seven separate investigative committees over the vicious attack at Benghazi in October of 2012, when three American diplomats were murdered at the American consulate.  It would seem the Republicans want to discredit her by placing the blame for the vicious action on Clinton even though it was the Republican dominated House of Representatives that had cut the protective funding for embassy protection.  The official Report on the last Congressional Benghazi investigation held in 2015 which found nothing against her will probably be released by November of this year when she is running for the Presidency.  All this has occurred in spite of the fact that the House Intelligence Committee issued a report in November of 2014 after in intense investigation stating that there had been no wrongdoing in the administration’s response to the attack.


Kevin McCarthy the Republican Whip in the House of Representatives, who could well be a relative of the dummy entertainer, Charlie McCarthy, and often has a problem coming out with a coherent sentence, came out with a statement to the press in 2015 that the Benghazi  Hearings were hurting Hillary’s standing in the 2016 Presidential Race.  Some of the Republican prospective candidates for the 2016 Presidential Campaign have called her “the worst Secretary of State ever.”  She is definitely a threat to the Republicans and the last thing they want is Hillary Clinton replacing Barack Obama as President of the United States.


Trey Gowdy’s House Select Republican dominated Committee, which will produce its findings between now and Election Day in November has spent 6.5 million dollars of taxpayer monies attempting to defame or discredit Hillary Clinton.  There have been many more addition millions spent by the prior congressional committees trying to do the same thing.  Congress has now spent four years in numerous investigations which are being held for purely political reasons.  This has been the longest investigation of an incident in the entire history of the United States and has accomplished nothing but a massive expenditure of money.  Will they be able to discredit Hillary Clinton?  Gowdy promises eye-opening evidence; but he has been promising that since the last hearing began.  For a political party that’s very money conscious the Republicans are free to spend taxpayer dollars for political purposes.


Hillary Rodham Clinton is a liberal democrat interested in the welfare of the people of America at a time when there is intense economic disparity and unreasonable treatment of various economic and racial groups within the nation.  She is a voice for the majority at a time when they are being pushed into a slow downward economic spiral by the super-wealthy minority.


She has focused her presidential campaign upon middle class incomes, the universal establishment of preschools and making college more affordable and she would like to improve Affordable Health Care.  Even though she is the first woman to successfully run for the presidency she is no doubt one of, if not, the best prepared candidates in the entire his of the country.


Ultimately she is pragmatic, capable of compromise; which may be necessary with a split Congress.  President Obama, after his first two years in office, was forced to work with a politically split Congress where the Republican House absolutely refused to work with him.  In fact for the last five years the Republican led House of Representatives opposed virtually everything he attempted.  Hillary, as President, may find a similar condition.  But Hillary may be able to get under their skins and to a certain extent work with them.


Bernard “Bernie” Sanders is the other viable Democratic candidate.  He is the junior United States Senator from Vermont.  Sanders has been the longest serving Independent in U.S. Congressional history.  He was a member of the House of Representatives from April 6, 1981 through April 4, 1989, eight years, and a member of the U.S Senate from January 3, 1991 to January 3, 2015, 24 years.


Even though he ran as an Independent Bernie Sanders considered himself as a Socialist.  As a candidate for the presidency he has called himself a Democratic Socialist.  He has continually caucused with the Democrats as an Independent and formally changed his party registration last year so he could run as a Democrat in the Presidential Race.


Initially, I believe, he saw himself as a protest candidate in the 2016 Presidential Race.  No one, and I believe that includes himself, saw him as having a possible chance to win the election.


Bernie Sanders has spent his life in protest movements.  In early 1969, while he was a student at the University of Chicago, he was involved in the Civil Rights Movement as an organizer for the Racial Equality and worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.  In 1968, after settling in Vermont, he ran unsuccessfully as a third party candidate for both governor and U.S. Senator.  From 1981 through 1989, as an Independent, he was elected mayor the city of Burlington.  In 1990 he was elected to the House of Representatives.


Sanders rose to national prominence in 2018 following his filibuster against the proposed extension of the Bush tax cuts.  He favors policies like those of the social democratic parties in Europe, especially those in the Nordic countries: free health care for all, free education through college, parental leave, and LGBT rights.  He has demanded campaign finance reform, an end to corporate welfare, adherence to global warming and income inequality.  He has been a critic of U.S. foreign policy and has opposed the Iraq war.  He has strongly criticized the racial discrimination within the justice system and supported civil liberties and civil rights.  Most of what Bernie Sanders has stood for very few Democrats will argue against.


The best way to describe Bernie Sanders is to quote the last part of the article about him in the free internet encyclopedia that describes his political position:

“Sanders is a self-described socialist, and progressive who admires the Nordic model of social democracy and is a proponent of workplace democracy.  In November 2015, gave a speech at Georgetown University about his view of Democratic Socialism, including its place in the policies of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.  In defining what democratic socialism means to him, Sanders said ‘”I don’t believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own the means of production, but I do believe that middle class and working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a decent standard of living and their incomes should go up, not down.  I do believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America, companies that create jobs here, rather than companies that are shutting down in America and increasing their profits by exploiting low-wage labor abroad.’”


“Sanders focuses on economic issues such as income and wealth inequality, raising the minimum wage, universal healthcare reducing the burden of student debt, making public colleges and universities tuition free by taxing financial transactions, and expanding Social Security benefits by eliminating the cap on the payroll tax on all incomes after $250,000.  He has become a prominent supporter of laws requiring companies to give their workers parental leave, sick leave, and vacation time, noting that such laws have been adopted by nearly all other developed countries.  He also supports laws that would make it easier for workers to join or form a union.


“Sanders has advocated greater democratic participation by citizens, campaign finance reform, and the overturn of Citizens United v. FEC.  He also advocates comprehensive financial reforms, such as breaking up ‘”too big to fail’” financial organizations, restoring Glass-Seagull legislation, reforming the Federal Reserve Bank and allowing the Post Office to offer basic financial services in economically marginalized communities.  Sanders strongly opposes the U.S. invasion of Iraq and has criticized a number of policies instituted during the War on Terror, particularly mass surveillance and the U.S. Patriot Act.


“Sanders has liberal stances on social issues, having advocated for LGHT rights and against the Defense of Marriage Act.  Sanders considers himself a feminist.  He is also pro-choice, and opposes the de-funding of Planned Parenthood.  He has denounced institutional racism and called for criminal justice reform to reduce the number of people in prison.  He advocates a crackdown on police brutality, and supports abolishing private for-profit prisons and the death penalty.  Sanders supports legalizing marijuana at the federal level.  On November 15, 2015, in response to ISIS’s attack in Paris, Sanders cautioned against Islamophobia and said ‘”We gotta be tough, not stupid in the war against ISIS,’” and that the U.S. should continue to welcome Syrian refugees.


“Sanders advocates bold action to reverse global warming and substantial investment in infrastructure, with energy efficiency and sustainability and job creation as prominent goals.  Sanders considers climate change as the greatest threat to national security.”


I believe most people will largely agree with Bernie Sanders position on most things.  The next question is: Could he achieve most of what he wants?  Will expanding Social Security payments to everybody’s total income create enough to significantly raise Social Security payments?  Will taxing financial dealing generate enough money to pay for free college tuition throughout the United States?  The answer is probably in the negative.  In addition financial dealings would significantly increase the cost of such practices and could bring down the economy in a massive depression.  Also how would free medical care for everyone be paid for?


While much of what Sanders wants does exist in most other industrial nations it is paid for by everyone in their taxes.  Is the population of the U.S. currently willing to accept this responsibility?


Another consideration is: Can Bernie Sanders bring about legislation to allow much of this change to occur?  Barack Obama was elected under the theme, It’s Time for a Change.  After two years in office stopping a Great Depression and bringing about Affordable Health Care, a Republican majority was elected to the House of Representatives, and thereafter no bills were passed helping him govern.  In all probability Bernie will have the same legislative problems.  Currently both the House and the Senate both have Republican majorities.  The Republicans do not believe in anything Sanders wants.  The Senate may become democratic again in 2016 but the probability is that the House will retain its Republican majority.  Bernie will be in the same position that Obama has been in for the last five years, unable to get any progressive legislation through Congress.  How will he adapt to that?


While Bernie may be tough, still there has to be a limit as to how much frustration he can take.  There’s a good possibility that that limit will be reached with his four year presidency.


Currently Hillary is leading in the number of delegates.  She has 2,165, Bernie has 1,357.  On Tuesday, April 26th Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island held their primaries.  There were a total of 354 bound votes available.


In the recent, April 26th, Super Tuesday Hillary Clinton won four of the five state primary contests raising the number of delegates who will vote for her in the July Democratic Nominating Convention to 2,165.  The required number required to become the Democratic Candidate in 2016 is 2,583.


There are still 14 states and territories to go.  Indiana is on Tuesday, May 3 and the Democratic nominating conventions will continue through June 14th with a total of 1,207 delegates still to go.  Bernie Sanders currently has 1,357 delegates pledged to him.  The probability of Bernie overtaking her and achieving 2,583 votes in practically nil; he would need virtually all the delegates plus a small number of unbound delegates to just reach the total.


Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the next Presidential Candidate for the Democratic Party in 2016.


What Sander can realistically do at this point is to get as many of his ideas as possible drafted into the Democratic Platform.  After all with a few exceptions he and Hillary are philosophically not far apart.  Continuing to battle her might, in his mind, increase these possibilities.  Sanders has announced that he will stay in the race to the end.  He must be hoping that enough of the unbound or Super delegates will vote for him or that Hillary and the Democratic Party will accept most of what he wants added to the platform.  Either way he will be a winner even if Hillary Clinton is elected to the president.

The Weiner Component #151 – Part 2: The Current State of the Presidential Election

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership...

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Tuesday, April 5th the State of Wisconsin held its nominating election for both the Democratic and Republican selections for 82 Democratic and 39 Republican delegates.  The winners were Bernie Sanders for the Democrats and Ted Cruz for the Republicans. 


There were 86 delegate votes available for the Democrats in Wisconsin.  Sanders won 46 delegates and received 567,858 votes and Clinton received 433,574 votes and got 36 delegates.  The remaining 4 unelected delegates generally vote for the winner but in this case are committed to Hillary Clinton, giving her 40 delegates for that state.  Among the Republicans Ted Cruz got 531,129 votes and 36 delegates.  Donald J. Trump received 386,290 votes and 3 delegates.  There are also 3 non-elected Republican delegates.


The Democratic delegate count, as it currently (April 10) is Clinton 1,756 and Sanders 1068 delegates.  One of them needs 2383 by the last week in July to be chosen the Presidential Candidate.  There are 4,765 available of mostly committed and some non-committed supper delegates.  There are still 1955 delegates left in the remaining states and territories.   Both Parties count their votes in different ways.


Of the Republican delegate count Trump has 743 and Cruz has 545 committed delegates.  One of them needs 1,237 delegates out of 2,472 possible delegates.  There are also a total of32 non-committed delegates in this group from the states.  Generally, but not always, they go to the leading candidate.  There are 811 delegates left in the states that still have to hold their primaries or caucuses.


John Kasich has a very low number of delegates, 143 delegates.  There is no possible way he can win enough of them to even make a showing;   but he is in to the finish, hoping that neither Trump nor Cruz will get the requisite number and that neither will be chosen at the July Nominating Convention.  Then he will be ready as a possible candidate for the presidency. 


What is interesting here is that Trump had the same percentage of votes in Wisconsin that he had in all the states where he came in first, 35%.  Only in all those elections there were a larger number of Republican candidates to split the delegate or caucus vote so that their numbers were lower than his.  But in what was essentially a two man contest in Wisconsin Trump still achieved 1/3d of the Republican vote.  This would indicate, if it holds constant, that there is no way, if he is chosen as the Republican candidate, that he will win a general election.  And that is true for an election even by his own party.


Trump’s reaction to these results was a statement or outcry of protest that he had been cheated of his deserved victory by a Republican Super Pac that spent millions to defeat him in Wisconsin and by the fact that Cruz was/is a puppet of the Republican leadership.  He takes no credit that his past or even present behavior during these elections might have turned off a lot of Republican voters, particularly women, their husbands, and the minority groups voting Republican.


The day before the Wisconsin primary, April 5th, Ted Cruz released a 30 second television ad criticizing John Kasich for the first time by exploring his ties with Worthington Industries, a Fortune 500 company in Ohio that last year laid off hundreds of employees, including 115 in Ohio.  The implications were obvious, showing Kasich’s ties to big business.  The note of irony, which to my knowledge no one has mentioned, is that Cruz’s wife, Heidi, is on leave from Goldman Sacks, a leading investment banking corporation.  She is a lead executive with that company.


In addition to the television ad the Cruz campaign also sent out a mailer attacking Kasich’s spending policies as governor of Ohio and his position on guns and the military. 


This was the first time Cruz or anyone has run an ad against Kasich.  It would seem that Cruz wants Kasich to drop out of the presidential race and leave it as a contest just between himself and Trump.  Kasich’s delegate numbers are 143, which is lower than Marco Rubio’s, who dropped out of the race after losing Florida, his home state.  Cruz called Kasich a spoiler in the Presidential contest.  Kasich, however, is determined to stay in until the end.  Apparently he believes that both Cruz and Trump will be disqualified and he will be left as the only choice.


Kasich response to Cruz has been that he, Cruz never helped create any jobs but that he got a sweetheart loan from Goldman Sacks for his Senate campaign which he failed to disclose to the FEC during his campaign for the Senate.  “Cruz’s attack and his own hypocrisy are further proof that the voters can’t trust him and he will do anything to win.”


On Saturday, April 9th the Wyoming Democrats held their caucus; there were 14 possible delegates.  Bernie Sanders received 55.7% of the vote and won 7 delegates and Hillary Clinton got 44.3% of the vote and received 7 delegates.  Their delegate and super delegate numbers now are: Clinton 1756 and Sanders 1068.  The next nominating election will be in New York on April 19th .  247 delegates will be up for grabs in that election. 


Sanders has done well in mostly white western states.  New York is a multi-racial and multi-ethnic city and state.  It is questionable that he will do as well there.  But he has attracted the young, first time voters. In addition Hillary Rodham Clinton was originally one of the senators from that state.


One of the major difference between the Republican and Democratic Parties has to do with climate change, with the fact that the carbon wastes are being massively spewed into the atmosphere and as a result is warming the planet and its oceans, slowly melting the ice caps, and very gradually changing the ecology of the planet in a negative way for mankind.


Ted Cruz says that the concept of climate change is nonsense, that what is happening would occur on the planet even without man being present.  Donald Trump says it’s a rumor begun by the Chinese Communists for their own purposes.  John Kasich states that climate change is occurring but he doesn’t know why.  Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton would like to see more done by the U.S. to reverse it.


If we attempt to examine and understand the Republican position on this problem, using an historical example should make it easier to comprehend where they are coming from.  They continually resist what is now an essentially proven theory of climate change, accepted throughout most of the world, including by the majority of non-Republicans within the United States.


To the early European Christian Church the Medieval concept of the cosmos presented a major dilemma.  Their concept was based upon their religious belief, which in turn allowed their early Church Fathers over a period of centuries to logically work out an image of how the universe functioned based upon their religious belief. 


Accordingly, God created the earth, heavens, and mankind or Adam and Eve in six days.  He made the earth the center of this universe around which everything revolved.  Hell was in inner center of the earth, purgatory was the moon separate from the heavens, and the heavens was the area of the stars, wherein God sat upon a majestic throne surrounded by angels and the souls of worthy human beings glorying in his reflected light. 


Those who had not accepted God’s primacy and existence but had not sinned resided in Purgatory.  And those who had sinned in life suffered in Hell.  The life on earth was the testing ground for all persons or souls.  The good souls who, for one reason or another, had not accepted God as their savior resided in Limbo, the first level of heaven which was removed from the light of God.  While this is a simplistic version of the early Catholic Churches view of the cosmos it is still generally accurate.


The problem with this interpretation is that the actual cosmos and religion are two entirely different entities.  The early Christians who defined the universe did so in terms of their limited knowledge and understanding.  They saw the world as a much simpler place than it is believed to be in the present.  Interestingly or strangely there are still people around who believe a variation of the earlier interpretation of the cosmos.


As telescopes were invented the awareness of the universe changed among an educated few.  But to the then living Church fathers the new scientific knowledge challenged their absolute belief in their religious faith.  It could in time, many of them believed, repudiate their religion.


Initially everyone who had this new learning became a heretic.    Copernicus, during the Sixteenth Century, in his major work, propounded the theory that the earth and the planets revolved around the sun.  He did not have this book published until after his death in 1543 for fear of being declared a heretic and imprisoned and possibly executed.  The book was largely suppressed by the Church,


Galileo, 1564 – 1642, constructed the first complete astronomical telescope and confirmed Copernicus’ theory.  He was forced by the inquisition to abjure his discoveries and verbally go back to the earth centered universe.  There were others who followed these two and eventually, when it had no other choice, the Catholic Church and other religious groups accepted modern astronomy and separated religion from science.   The process took hundreds of years.


In the case of the Republican Party: they are mainly funded by large contributors from the fossil fuel industries and other pollution producing corporations who would tend to lose fortunes if green energy became the major source of electric power.


The problem with modern politics in the United States is that it cost to get elected to public office and it costs equally large amounts of money to stay in office and get reelected.   Since 2010 when the Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission case was adjudicated in the Supreme Court spending on political campaigns became equated with the First Amendment’s Free Speech right.  Spending on an election became an Unlimited Free Speech Right.  This right of Free Speech was expressed by essentially unlimited political contributions by unions, corporations, political action committees, wealthy billionaires, and others.  This even allowed foreign government’s shell corporations to influence American elections.


In 2002 $17 million was spent on the elections.  By 2006 that amount rose to $52 million.  And in 2010 it was $290 million.  This did not count independent spending.  These were not Presidential Election years. 


During Presidential Election years the amount rises exponentially.  The amount spent on the 2012 Presidential Election by both the Democrats and the Republicans is estimated at over 6 billion dollars.  The Democratic and Republican Parties spent 2 billion dollars; the political committees and Pac’s spent 2.1 billion dollars; and the candidates in their campaigns expended 3.2 billion dollars.  Since all contributions over $200 have to be registered, the Federal Election Commission processed 11 million pages of campaign funding related documents.


The Presidential Election is just one of the many elections held in 2012.  There were also Congressional Elections: the entire House of Representatives and 1/3d of the Senate, and numerous state and city elections.  If we rank the cost of all of these together the cost is astronomical.   And all this will be recurring in November of 2016


The probability is that the cost of the 2016 Election will be even greater than the 6 billion dollar figure estimated to have been spent in 2012.  In the Wisconsin Republican Nominating Election a Super Pac emerged whose sole function was to debunk Donald Trump; they spent millions doing so.  This does not count all the other spending that went on.  President Obama attended two political dinners on the weekend of April 8th where the entry fee was $20,400 for a couple.  The overall amounts expended for the 2016 Presidential Election will not be known until well into 2017 but it should exceed the prior 6 billion dollar mark for just the Presidential Election.


The thing to keep in mind is that there is no built in mechanism to fund political campaigns.  All this money has to be raised voluntarily.  The process puts an extensive burden upon the candidates and elected individuals serving in government.  They have to continually raise money. 


This process affects politicians in an adverse manner.  The Republicans have to a certain extent solved their problem in an interesting fashion.  No one likes to feel bought or owned by large contributors.  They have like the earlier Catholic Church worked out a rationale to justify their acceptance of many large contributions and that is to take the position that a percentage of modern science is nonsense.  By internally rejecting pollution as a cause of changing climate conditions on the earth they justify the support of petroleum industries by individuals like the Koch Brothers who contribute multi-millions every year to Republican causes.  In essence they have internalized the needs or desires of these corporations and made them part of their own rationales.  They, the Republicans, are not being bought by the polluters, instead they are merely cooperating with likeminded people.  It’s an interesting process of self-deception.


No doubt this is done by both political parties; but the degree to which it is done by the Republicans far surpasses anything that the Democrats do.  Remember according to Donald Trump the concept of climate change is a Chinese Communist plot.  Ted Cruz considers it a hoax and John Kasich, while admitting that it exists, doesn’t know why it does.  He wants to put pollution control in the hands of the states and the companies that produce it.  He feels that self-regulation, which has never worked in the past, will work in the future.


What is the current state of politics and the oncoming Presidential Election in the United States today?  Both of these can certainly use some reform.  In France, for example, a maximum amount is set the can be spent on a Presidential Election, 30 million dollars.  Should we have a maximum amount?  The United States covers a far larger area than France.  Should a larger maximum amount be set?


Should the Federal Government finance future elections requiring the press and the media to provide free time and space for the candidates as a public service?  Some of this was done in the past.  It was dropped because some of the candidates wanted far larger amounts and these could be raised privately.


There would have to be rules as to the requirements for an individual to become a candidate for public office on city, state, and national levels before they would receive aid from the particular level of government which is holding the election.  I imagine it would be quite complicated to organize.  Could it be done?


Do we need a Constitutional Amendment limiting the level of contributions to a political campaign?  Would we be better off that way?  The issue get more and more complicated.

The Weiner Component #150 – The Press & the Media

The overall purpose of journalism and the media is to provide us with the information to make the best possible decisions about our lives, communities, society, government, and the world in general.  The press and television or the media tends to give us general information and direct images of people and events.  To a large extent they do interviews with assorted noted individuals.  Currently we are going through a primary season that will determine who the leading candidates will be in the oncoming Presidential Election on the first Tuesday of November, 2016.


Are we being honestly informed about the world around us?  Is this what the assorted journalists and the media are doing?  Are they gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting largely unbiased information?  When assorted people are interviewed are we getting honest images of them?


This process is very important in a Democratic Society where people’s decisions are based upon the news and information they have.  In the oncoming 2016 Presidential Election will the general population be honestly informed or will they be propagandized?  Where does the press and media stand?


In the world today we are constantly surrounded with bits and pieces of information denoting what is both in the country and in the world around us.  At times such as elections we have to sort through some of this information and come to certain realizations before we can make rational decisions.  This is particularly true if we are functioning in a Democracy and have to choose the best candidate in a Presidential Election.


The question then arises if we are dealing with a Presidential Election, as we do every four years in the United States, is: Are we getting proper relevant information about the prospective candidates to make informed decisions concerning the elections.


The agencies through which we gain this information are the newspapers, radio, television, ads and news, the press, the media, and the internet.  The newspapers, depending upon their bias, generally give factual information and opinion, favoring one or the other candidate.  While some tend to be a little to the right or to the left, in their opinion sections, they are more or less neutral in their factual information.  Virtually anything can be published on the internet.  Here the reader has to decide the value of what he/she is reading.  In terms of the media or television, the question arises: Are these interviewers truly doing their job?  Are they honestly presenting interviews or are they being used by the people they are supposedly interviewing?


I would say that it is a combination of the two which essentially means that they are both being used by the candidate to present whatever he or she want the audience to understand and by the interviewer to present as good an image as he or she can.  An obvious example of the former was the Vice Presidential debate in 2008 between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden.  Palin clearly stated at the beginning that she would respond to questions by talking about what she felt like saying, that she would not be answering any questions asked.  And that’s what she did.


Today if a politician doesn’t want to answer the question asked for whatever reason he tends to talk but what he says has no relationship to the question.  The news broadcaster generally goes to another question.  If he attempts to ask the question over again with a follow-up question the same thing will happen again and, this time, the interviewer will definitely go on to another question.  This can happen a number of times during an interview.


What about blatant lying or prefabricating during an interview?  Donald Trump seems to do this all the time.  He is never challenged.  Carly Fiorina had a story about fetus parts being sold by Planned Parenthood.  When she was challenged on this her response was something to the effect of, Prove it didn’t happen.  Presumably the interviewer was put on the spot and the issue went away.  In any case she was not about to respond to the question.


Trump’s obvious prefabrications have never even been directly challenged.  But then if Trump is challenged he will verbally attack the reporter as he did with Megyn Kelly during the first presidential debate, when she asked him about his treatment of women.  Trump is also very careful in choosing his interviewers.  He skipped one debate at Fox News because Megyn Kelly was one of the interviewers.


Are the TV interviewers doing their jobs?  An interesting question in terms of news casting today.


There is a history behind what is going on in the present.  Generally the same games have historically gone on but the role of the interviewer, for various reasons has changed.  If we go back to the time before Richard Nixon became President of the U.S. in 1969 or earlier then we are in a period when questions were specifically answered or skipped.  Specific information was given to the press generally when it was asked for.  There were a group of commentators who evaluated the information the various candidates enunciated.  The entire process of news gathering was more direct and more specific.


With the Nixon Presidency in 1969 conditions began to radically change.  Nixon’s axe man, Vice President Spiro Agnew, began in a mildly oblique way to threaten the electronic news media, suggesting that when their Federal Communication Commission license became due for renewal the request might be rejected as the station, be it radio or television, might no longer qualify as doing a public service. To individual reporters who might come out with a somewhat negative view of the President at some time it was suggested that they might no longer be welcome at White House briefings.  Gradually this pressure began to spread beyond the White House press meeting throughout the entire Republican Party.  At that time there was a new price that had to be paid if one was a reporter; there were new limits to reporting.  The press and media was beginning to be controlled by the administrations.


When Nixon ran for reelection in 1972 members of his staff sanctioned the Watergate Hotel break-ins at Democratic Headquarters.  They also helped fund George McGovern as the Democratic candidate for the office of President, working on the assumption that if overly liberal McGovern became the Democratic candidate Nixon would have an overwhelming Republican victory.


Nixon’s Reelection Committee was correct in their assumption but in order to be sure they had a group called “the plumbers” break into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel several times to go through the Democratic documents there.  On their third visit they were caught and arrested.  At some point early on in the process Nixon became aware of the break-ins.  Meanwhile Nixon was reelected by an overwhelming majority.  For the next two years as the information gradually emerged the question became: “What did the President know?  And when did he know it?”  Basically the issue was: Was Nixon involved in the Break-in?  And did he participate in the cover-up?  The answer that came out two years into his second term was YES and he was involved in the cover up.  Nixon would resign from the presidency the day before he was to be impeached.


Meanwhile, while this was going on, the Justice Department was investigating the Vice-President, Spiro Agnew.  He was charged with an eighty-nine page indictment charging him with extortion, tax fraud, bribery, and conspiracy.  He had accepted bribes of over $100,000 as Governor of Maryland and as a government official before that, as well as vice president.  Because of the ongoing investigation over Watergate Agnew was allowed to plead “no contest” to a single charge that he had failed to report $25,000 of income, pay a fine, resign as Vice President, and leave Washington, D.C.  As a note or irony ten years later in a civil suit by the State of Maryland Agnew had to pay out nearly $270,000, stemming from the bribery charge.


Nixon appointed Senator Gerald Ford as his new Vice President.  President Ford would end America’s involvement into the Viet Nam War and pardon former President Nixon for any crimes he had or may have committed


It is important to remember that when Richard Nixon became President in 1969 one of his major goals was to get the United States out of Viet Nam “with honor.”  Former President Lyndon B. Johnson had vigorously increased the extent of the war to force the Vietnamese to capitulate to America.  He did not succeed.  Richard Nixon had promised to end the war if elected.  He would do this by upgrading the war effort to the point where the U.S. could have an honorable settlement.


The Viet Nam War had been reported practically battle by battle.  Cameramen went along with the military daily and filmed practically every battle.  This, then, was shown that night on national television in the U.S. as the nightly news.  The effect of this was to engender a massive protest movement throughout the country.  The population did not enjoy watching American soldiers or Vietnamese nightly being machine-gunned or blown to bits.


To demonstrate that we were winning the U.S. military came up with the concept of the daily “body count,” the number of American’s killed that day versus the number of Vietnamese militants who died.  Their number was always far greater than our number of dead.  In fact if one totaled the count it would seem that soon there would be no Vietnamese left to fight the war.


It was President Gerald Ford who ended this war in 1975 and we did not leave “with honor.”  Interestingly today there is a Hanoi Hilton and Vietnam is an inexpensive vacation country that welcomes American citizens.  The press would never again be allowed to report a military operation in the same way it did in Viet Nam.


In 1976 the Republican, Gerald Ford, ran against the Democrat, Jimmy Carter, for the office of President and lost.  Jimmy Carter became President of the United States in 1976.  He would serve one term.  His relations with the press and media eased up but a note of caution remained in their reporting.


During Carter’s tenure there would be a revolution in Iran and the autocratic Shah, a longtime ally of the United States, would be replaced by the religious far right leader, Ayatollah Khomeini.  Presumably a group of students raided the U.S. Council and made the American Embassy employees prisoners.  The U.S. military mounted a helicopter mission to rescue them which failed.  52 hostages were held from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981.  They were released just hours after Ronald Reagan became president.


With the assent of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States the press and media underwent a new metamorphosis.  Reagan, our 40th President and his staff managed the media largely for eight years to their advantage.


He was called the Teflon President.  As a former actor he never stopped acting. He has been called the most ideal, congenial President in modern history, continually telling his audience, the American Public, what they wanted to hear, always in positive terms.  Even, at the end of his presidency when he was telling the public on a television broadcast about his guilt in the Iran-Contra Affair, a breach of law that could have gotten him impeached and sent to prison, he was able to do it in such a way that it didn’t seem to be his fault.


While the media was warry of him they also fell under his influence and allowed him to manage the news.  Even though he was to the right of the majority of the American people he was able to get massive tax cuts for the wealthy.  An average member of the middle class might from 1981 on save $200 on their income taxes while someone in the upper echelon might save $20,000 or more in income taxes.  While he did this he was able to significantly cut social programs to the needy.  Reagan actually espoused welfare for the rich.


He was the first President to raise the National Debt over a trillion dollars and then with his massive military spending and tax cuts, more than doubled that amount.


Through his overspending he did end the Cold War.  He and his administration were convinced that militarily the Soviet Union was far ahead of the United States and that we had to catch-up to them.  In doing this he inadvertently bankrupted them as they tried to keep up with us.  This brought about the end of the Cold War.


It was after his administration that reality set in with the press and many of them, after the fact, reevaluated him on an extremely negative basis.  But that was after the fact.  Some of his staff went to prison for the Iran-Contra affair but Reagan, in whose name it was brought about, was essentially untouched by it.


Reagan was followed by his Vice President, George H. W. Bush, as the 41st President for one term with a Democratic Congress.  He was guilty in bringing about a war with Iraq, Operation Desert Storm, by inept diplomacy, which also cost numerous lives on both sides but also raised the National Debt additional trillions of dollars.  Saddam Hussein, the ruler of Iraq would unsuccessfully attempt to have Bush assassinated.  His son would later punish him.


With Bill Clinton there was much drama involving some of his proclivities.  The press was not threatened, instead they were treated to various colorful stories about the man and to his attempted impeachment.


George W. Bush, the son of former President George H.W. Bush became the 43d President.  His presidency is marked by the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001.  It was then that the War on Terror earnestly began in the United States and was used by the Bush Administration to get a myriad of laws passed.  “9/11” became a key term and was freely used from then on by the administration to get their way on many issues.  The press was largely patriotic and went along with most of what the government wanted.


The second Bush was followed by Barack Obama.  Currently there are no threats to the press.  But with the oncoming 2016 Election and the belligerence among the Republican candidates like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz we are coming into another era of risk to the press and media.


The very nature of live reporting seems to have changed.  Candidates, with a very straight face, blatantly lie or prefabricate in front of the camera or in speeches at rallies.  But they are never challenged on this.  It’s as though the press or media are afraid of the people they are interviewing.  Donald Trump is particularly noted for this.  If he doesn’t like the question he will verbally and vindictively challenge the reporter.  Ted Cruz tends to pick his interviewers as well as reinterpret the questions asked.  Reporting has become a heady occupation.  Somehow the original purpose of the reporter seems lost or confused.  The public seems left to make their decisions on an emotional basis.






The Weiner Component #149 – The 2016 Presidential Election: The Democrats & the Election

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are the Democratic candidates for the presidency in 2016.  He is now a Democratic Socialist who has always caucused with the Democratic Party.  Hillary Clinton has always been a liberal Democrat.  Both would like to be President of the United States.


Bernie was born on September 8, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York.  He is 71 years old and the junior Senator from Vermont.  Bernie is also the longest serving independent member of Congress in the history of the Institution.  As of 2015 he officially became a member of the Democratic Party and now calls himself a Democratic Socialist. 


In 1964, as a student at the University of Chicago, he was a civil rights protestor.  After settling in Vermont he ran as an unsuccessful socialist candidate for governor and U.S. Senator in the 1970s.  He was elected as mayor of Burlington as an independent in 1981 and reelected three times.  He was then elected to the House of Representatives from Vermont’s at large congressional district where he served through 2007 when he was elected to the Senate.  He is still serving in the U.S. Senate.


Bernie Sanders rose to prominence in 2010 with his filibuster against Bush’s extension of his tax cuts.  He favors policies similar to those in the Social Democratic parties of Europe, particularly of the Nordic countries.  He is a leading progressive voice on issues such as campaign financial reform, corporate welfare, global warming, income inequality, parental rights, and free universal healthcare.  He has been critical of U.S. foreign policy and was an early and outspoken critic of the Iraqi War.  In addition he is outspoken on civil liberties and civil rights.  He has criticized the racial discrimination of the criminal justice system and advocated for privacy rights against mass surveillance policies as the patriot act.


I suspect that Bernie Sanders chose to run for the presidency of the United States in 2016 as an act of protest against the traditional political structure of the U.S.  As a long-time member of Congress he knows that there is little he could do with the current Republican dominated Congress.  After all, they make the laws and the President just carries them out. 


Inadvertently Sanders picked a time when a goodly percentage of the population was disgusted with the inaction of Congress over the last five years, since the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, and later in 2014 when they also gained dominance in the Senate.  The Republican majorities in Congress have either not cared to or not been able to pass any laws needed by the nation.


In addition the overall population that was either fourteen years of age to just below eighteen years old in November of 2012 has now come of voting age and they want a candidate to represent them; most of these people believe that Bernie Sanders is that person.  They represent a goodly percentage of the over 350 million people who make up the population of the United States.


To Bernie the extent of his success has been euphoric; he apparently believes that a Giant Revolution is in the process of occurring and that he will not only be elected President of the United States but that the Democrats will sweep into Congress with giant majorities in both Houses of Congress.


Is this true?  That’s an interesting question.  It could happen in the Senate where 24 Republicans will be running to get reelected, some in swing states.  We could get a lot of politically disgusted people in those states voting for Democrats.  In the House of Representatives through gerrymandering in 2010 the Republicans were able to assign Districts along the line of the voters.  This will not change until 2020 when the next census occurs.  In 2012 over a million and a quarter more votes were cast for Democrats running in the House of Representatives but the Republicans still maintained the majority.  It will probably take at least two million addition Democratic votes for the Democrats to win control of the House of Representatives.


Donald Trump has attracted those disgusted with the government who, for whatever reason, could never get themselves to vote for Democratic candidates.  It would seem that most of Trump’s followers are not overly educated.  Many of them like his simplistic view of the world.


The election has its own special energy and no one can truly predict where it is going.


The other major Democratic candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, was born in 1947, which makes her currently 71.  She is the wife of the 42nd President, Bill Clinton, has served in the Senate from 2,000 to 2007, then unsuccessfully ran for the presidency against Barack Obama in 2008, was his Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, and is at present the leading Democratic Candidate in the 2016 Presidential Election. 


She came originally from the Chicago area and graduated from Wellesley College in 1969.  She achieved a doctorate from Yale Law School in 1973, married Bill Clinton in 1975 and moved to Arkansas, where her husband became governor.  While first lady of Arkansas she led a task force that reformed the state’s public school system. 


Her husband, President Bill Clinton appointed her to lead the Clinton health plan of 1993 which failed to reach a vote in Congress.  The Republican protagonists came out with a catchy slogan, “There has to be a better way.”  The “better way” was no health care bill.


She played a major role in advocating the creation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Adoption and Safe Families Act and the Foster Care Independence Act.  During most of her adult life Hillary Clinton has been involved in causes for the needy.


In 2,000 after the end of her husband’s term as President of the United States, she moving to New York and was elected as the first woman Senator from that state.  Clinton was reelected to the Senate in 2006.  She ran against Barack Obama in 2008 for the presidency.  Instead she became Obama’s Secretary of State for the first four years of his term.  Probably no other candidate in the history of the United States for the presidency has had as much experience as Hillary Clinton.  She has been involved in public service most of her adult life.


If an individual has watched the debates in this 2016 Presidential Election year that person gets the impression that two separate and distinct elections are going on.  The magnitude of the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats tends to give the impression that we are dealing with two entirely different countries.


For the Republicans this country has been abused and taken advantage of by all the other nations on the planet.  We have been militarily inept, not capable of carrying out any military operation.  We have signed unfair treaties with countries like Iran.  Our trade agreements always favor the other nation or nations, taking needed jobs out of the United States.  The U.S. under its current leadership, as a nation, is totally inept.  Only by electing Republican leadership can the country properly function again.


Listening to them one get the impression that treaties need to be renegotiated and other countries need to be straightened out in their relations with the United States.  If the United States reneges on past agreements with other nations this could be a direct path to war.  Iran spent two years negotiating a compact with 5 Security Council nations plus Germany.  I can’t see the Republican U.S. President telling them that the terms are now unacceptable and that the treaty now has to be redone on a much harsher basis with the U.S.  To me that’s a recipe for war with Iran.


If Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) were to be suddenly cancelled, then no matter what is said a large number of people will suddenly lose their current health coverage.  They and others adversely affected will be extremely unhappy.   The Republicans have continually denounced this program since it came into existence in 2010.  It was initially a Republican plan put into existence by Mitt Romney as governor of Massachusetts.  It was voted into existence by the Democratic majority.  The Republicans have denounced it since its inception, calling it a job-killing bill.  They have never offered any real proof of its so-called negative aspects.  Mainly they seem to object to it because it came into existence under a Black President, Barack Obama. 


Somehow it seems that the Republicans have forgotten that the prior President was George W. Bush and that he got the country involved in a needless war in Iraq, wastefully spending trillions of dollars while reducing taxes mostly for the wealthy, and massively increasing the National Debt while making the U.S. a laughing stock to other industrial nations.   It was also toward the end of his administration that the economic Real Estate Bubble burst almost bringing about the greatest economic decline in the history of the nation.  It appears, to many Republicans that these events never did really happened.  It was also Bush’s actions that destabilized the Middle East and brought about the current situation there.  Basically a study of our current economic and military problems can be traced back to Republican Administrations which were then left for Democratic Administrations to deal with and, of course, were blamed on the Democrats by their Republican colleagues.


On the Democratic side we have a country with a broken or outdated infrastructure where state governors like Rick Snyder of Michigan can appoint inept city managers who then can arbitrarily switch a healthy water supply to a toxic one, poisoning a whole generation of children with lead infested water arbitrarily and even after that fact comes out, continue charging the residents of Flint for using the poisoned water and then when questioned about it by a Congressional committee blame the inexcusable problem upon the EPA.    


We have a country where roads are filled with pot holes, bridges, in many instances, were built 100 years ago; where ports cannot handle modern shipping, railroads are today inadequate for properly transporting goods, many airfields are out of date, many school buildings are so old they are unsafe.  Flint’s problem of unsafe water exists in many cities and buildings.  The list goes on and on.  In essence we are living in the 21st Century with an early 20th Century infrastructure.


According to Bernie Sanders we have, among many other problems, a broken legal system that incarcerates more people than a dictatorship like Communist China or Russia.  And the bulk of those jailed tend to be Hispanic or Black.  We have serious racial problems which are not really being dealt with.


As far as both Democratic candidates are concerned, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sander, this country needs a lot of internal repair and the major factor that has kept any of it from happening has been the Republicans in Congress and the state governments who apparently believe that this country can go on forever with little or no  maintenance.  Upgrading the infrastructure will probably take a decade or more and will cost trillions of dollars.   Both feel it’s time we got started, particularly since the country still has an unemployment problems left over from the Great Recession of 2008.


It would seem that the Republicans have no understanding of the principles of economics.  Most, if not all, Republican members of the House of Representatives believe that all economics is Microeconomics.  That is, if one has raised a family and provided an adequate income then that person has a proper understanding of the discipline.  They have a total knowledge of all they need to know about financing the United States.  The nation takes in so much in taxes and that is its income.  If it spends more than that it has to borrow the money and pay it back at some time in the future.  That is all a person needs to know about finance it order to run the country.  It’s a rather naïve and limited view of National financing.


To them money is like gold, it has an intrinsic value.  Actually money today is just paper that is treated by most people as something of great value.  It has not been gold since 1933 when Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal collected all the gold coins, melted them down into blocks that were then buried in underground depositories, like Fort Knox, and issued paper certificates in their stead known as Federal Reserve Notes.  Gold then was worth $18.00 an ounce, today an ounce of gold is worth slightly over twelve hundred dollars and the Federal Government has sold most of its gold bullion.


Money today is just a token that is used in the exchange of goods and services.  It has no intrinsic value.  The Central Government can print and issue as much as it wants.  There are, however, general rules and regulations that govern this process which is done by the Federal Reserve.  Both the 2008 oncoming depression and the banking collapse of the Housing Market were largely resolved by the Federal Reserve through its use of Creative Monetary Policy.  This became necessary because the Republican dominated House of Representatives refused to deal with the problem with Fiscal Policy.  In fact they exacerbated it by shrinking the size of the government and increasing the level of unemployment.


The Republican dominated Congress today cannot even accept the existence of the idea.  Their concept of increasing employment is to get rid of the EPA, lower taxes for the rich, and allow increased pollution.  The increased wealth that the rich gain through lower taxes, they say will allow for industrial expansion and the new wealth being spent on new productivity will tinkle down to the middle class and the poor.


This is the Republicans basic concept of job creation.  Lowering the costs of production by allowing for more pollution.  We can have industrial centers like China where the air is dangerous to breathe.  This they believe, according to what a number of the candidates have said in the Republican Candidates 2016 Presidential debates, that if they do away with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) restrictions on production, unemployment will automatically disappear and there will be more jobs for everyone. 


It’s a nice thought but it does not deal with reality.  During the Reagan years as taxes for the wealthy declined their additional wealth was put into old production, the stock markets and what was then considered other safe areas of the economy.  Very little, if any, trickled down to new production.


During Ronald Reagan’s Administration it was called “Supply Side Economics.”  Its chief advocate was David Stockman who became President Reagan’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1981 to 1985 when he resigned from that position.  Eventually even Stockman admitted that it didn’t work.


It should be noted that under Reagan the National Debt not only reached a trillion dollars for the first time in U.S. history, it also rose to over double that amount.


The Republicans are also convinced that climate change is a hoax that the earth is too large to be affected in any way by anything man does.  It seems that they are never bothered by evidence of what is going on around them as they plod through life.  Donald Trump believes that the Chinese started the rumor of climate change. 


To the Republicans the melting of the Southern and Northern ice poles and the decreasing glacier areas would have happened even if man did not live on this planet, it is a normal, natural event.  And this is also true of the rising ocean water levels.  The tons of carbon that automobiles spew out into the atmosphere and other gases added by man to the air do not effect temperature change on the planet, which is naturally getting hotter.  


The real problem for the Republicans is that the people who fund their elections are the producers of all this garbage that pollutes, fouling the air and warming the planet.  It is to their advantage that pollution causing oil is used.  The Koch Brothers who deal heavily in oil have had a law passed in Kansas making green energy illegal.  The law is generally ignored but the brothers had enough political influence to get their state to pass it.  They are heavy contributors to the Republican Party.


The Republicans mainly have vested interests in maintaining their contributor base—the wealthy producers and political contributors in the country.  They have consequently adjusted their prospective to support the upper economic percentile of the population, making the interests of these people their interests and ignoring the needs of their economic base.  As a result they cannot accept any facts about global warming being true, since that reality would separate them from their major political contributors.


If Donald Trump is not chosen as the Republican candidate for president he has threatened riots by his followers.  That would seem to mean that if he is short the 1,237 delegate votes but is still leading the other two potential presidential candidates he still expects to be nominated.  Trump has not mentioned being a possible third party candidate if the Republican Nominating Convention in July were to choose another candidate. 


In terms of public statements he seems to be moving toward total monomania at this point in the election process.  2016 may be an historic election year!

The Weiner Component #149 Part 1 – The 2016 Political Presidential Campaign

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

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Embed from Getty Images

The Candidates from both political parties have completed a number of debates and also some TV Town Halls.  The Republican debates have been considered more dramatic by American viewers, so they have had larger audiences. 


It is important to keep in mind that only Republicans are voting for Republican candidates and that their debates and current actions are aimed at being chosen as the Republican candidate at the Nominating Convention in late July and conversely only Democrats are voting for their candidates for the same reason.  The debates are a means for each to demonstrate his/her ability and political position.  The public is getting a view of all the candidates so that they can make up their minds about the candidates of both parties.  Only one will emerge from each party and the voters will have a choice as to whom they want to be President over the next four years.


For those who like drama, the Republican debates have been more interesting because their leading candidate, Donald Trump, will say almost anything and often does so.  At least he did so in the earlier debates.  In the first one he verbally attacked one of the female reporters who was asking questions.  Apparently he didn’t like her question.  In the other debates he tended to verbally attack the other Republican candidates.  The Democratic debates dealt with issues concerning the nation only and didn’t get as many million people watching them.


The Democratic Town Halls, having different people in the audience asking questions, had both candidates, each using half the time.  The Republican Town Halls have had only one of the possible candidates taking questions from an audience. 


On the Saturday, February 20th the Democrats held a Caucus and the Republicans a Debate in South Carolina.  Of the remaining six potential candidates in the Republican debate, Donald Trump was the winner by about ten points.  He had 32.5% if the Republican vote.  Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were second and third, separated by two tenths of a point, 22.5% and 22.3%.  John Kasich and Jeb Bush were tied for fourth with 7.8% of the vote each and Ben Carson came in last.  Bush suspended his campaign after dropping lower than he had been in his prior debate.  In the Democratic primary Hillary Clinton won 52.7% of the Democratic vote and Bernie Sanders got 47.2%.


There is an interesting psychological phenomena at work when it comes to choosing the candidates to support in the election.  It seems that there are two kinds of people, one that lives in the right now and one that makes most decisions with an eye toward the future.  The first group is instantly taking satisfaction from immediately solving or seeming to solve a problem.  They will similarly handle all other problems when they come along in the future.  And the second group who deal with everything with an eye to the future. 


The first group would be backers of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. These are the protest candidates for the two major political parties, who are the living symbols for the dissatisfied generally silent majorities in both parties, who have been duly voting for their political candidates over the years and getting nothing in return.  To the blue collar, and, I would suspect, in most cases, the gun loving and/or evangelicals, who could never find themselves in a position to vote Democratic, Trump represents their basic attitudes, prejudices, and beliefs.  He will, in their minds, to quote him, “Make America Great Again.” 


He also gives them an innate satisfaction when they listen to him because he expresses what they feel and believe.  Presumably he represents smaller government, that is: getting government out of everyone’s lives, and lower taxes.  He is the protest candidate who will lower their taxes, increase the military, beat-up the terrorists, make America feared by every other country on the planet, actually make The U.S. the bully of the world.  His words themselves give these people a sense of satisfaction.


In order to solve the illegal immigration problem Trump will also build a high wall separating the United States from Mexico that he says will be paid for by Mexico; deducted from money the United States owes Mexico.  Governments do not lend or give money generally to other countries.  There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Mexico lent or gave money to the U. S. that the American Government has to return.  If there is an imbalance of trade and Mexicans are selling more to American businesses than Mexican businesses are buying from the U.S. then those are arrangements between Mexican individuals and companies and American individuals and companies.  There is no legal way that our government can seize any of those funds to pay for a border wall, unless suddenly extremely high taxes are placed upon all trade between the two countries,


A good percentage of the blue collar Republicans and Evangelicals have constantly given their vote to the Republican Party but have not, like the wealthy upper percentile, really gotten anything for their continued allegiance to the party.  Trump is their hero.  He will give them, this silent majority to the right, true justice, make the Republican Party mean something to Blue Collar and Evangelical America.


Of course all this rests on the proposition that we were great before, forgetting the fact that U.S. foreign policy under George W. Bush was a joke to most of the world.  The United States invaded Iraq because of a lie pushed by Bush and his administration.  The U.S. was then able to bribe some of the smaller nations with massive aid contributions to join into a sort of wartime coalition to look for “weapons of mass destruction,” which never existed.  The Bush White House, while serving as sheriff of the Middle East destabilized the entire region and through its actions indirectly helped establish the growth of the terrorist organizations like ISIS.


Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Socialist who is registered as an Independent but caucuses with the Democrats, is the other left extreme of Donald Trump.  Trump is on the far reactionary right while Bernie Sanders is on the far radical left.  They are both appealing to people, who are in the main, are either disgusted with Washington politics that seems to promise everything during elections and deliver nothing during the course of the elected term.  Both candidates are promising the world if elected. 


Sanders is promising free education through college and free medical coverage for everyone as a right.  He says he will pay for these by taxing Wall Street for speculative spending.  What is speculative spending?  I suppose it’s any investment, buying or selling stock or property.  That would certainly raise the price of every stock or property bought or sold. 


In both the Scandinavian countries and the rest of Europe the population gets free medical care by paying heavier taxes than we do in the United States.  The public shares in the paying of the “free” medical care with increased taxes. 


The same can be said for public education which goes from kindergarten through college, if the student is qualified.  In the United States education is a right that everyone has through high school.  While there are public colleges and universities they still have a cost factor for the participant.  In Europe education is free but it has to be earned.  A student moves from level to level by continually proving his/her capability to function on a higher level.  If a student cannot pass the examinations they are shunted to vocational training and an exit from the school system.  This also is paid for by increased taxes shared by all the taxpayers.


My feeling is that most people actually agree with Bernie Sanders.  The model he is using is Scandinavian Socialism which also exists in most European and successful Asian countries.  Even Hillary Clinton likes what Bernie is representing.  But is it real in the United States?  Can he do it if he is elected President without massively raising taxes?  Most Americans are complaining that the current tax system is too high.  For that matter is what Donald Trump says he is going to do real? 


First off: What is the power of the President?  If elected can he decree free education or universal medical care?  Or, for that matter, a great wall between the United States and Mexico?


The answer to all of these changes is NO.  The President is the elected Chief Administrator of the laws passed by Congress and himself.  His major function is to carry out the laws and keep the country functioning.  He can issue Executive Orders; but these are not laws.  His legislative powers are almost nonexistent.  The President can recommend and negotiate with Congress or veto a bill; but that is the full extent of his legislative powers.


Bernie Sanders has called for a Populist Revolution.  Donald Trump has not.  Unless the one who gets elected has an overwhelming majority in both Houses of Congress, well over 50% in the House and a super majority of 60 or more Senators he will be extremely frustrated in office, feeling he is totally unable to bring about or, for that matter, even begin his program. 


In fact the probability is that regardless of who is elected as President the House of Representatives will, in all probability, have a slight Republican majority because of gerrymandering, having the voting districts set up in the states to benefit one particular political party.  This was done in 2010 by the Republicans and will not be redone until 2020 when the next population census occurs.  In the 2014 Midterm Election for the House of Representatives 1¼ million addition votes were cast for Democratic candidates, over what the Republicans received, but the Republicans still maintained the majority in the House.


The Senate will probably end up in 2016 with a slight Democratic majority, since i/3d of the Senate will be up for reelection.   The Senators are elected by all the voters of each state.  Since the Democrats are the majority party the Senate will probably be returned to Democratic control by a slight majority.  And there is a very high probability that Congress will again be gridlocked from 2017 through 2020.  The only candidate who might get some legislation through, and that by constant “horse trading” is Hillary Rodham Clinton.  The next four years are not going to be a fun time!


It has been my observation that there is one very important point that everyone seems to ignore in every major election.  How many people were fourteen to just short of eighteen during the prior Presidential Election four years earlier?  The number has to be, in this country of over 350 million people, somewhere in the millions.  These youngsters come to the election generally with a certain amount of disgust.  They’ve heard their parents, relatives, and others continually complain about deadlock in Washington, D.C. and gridlock when it comes to passing necessary laws.  And, of course, the loud complaints by the Republicans about the Democrats.  They may have learned about the principles of government in high school; but the country doesn’t seem to be operating that way.  To them someone like Bernie Sanders would be a living symbol of hope.  Watching him at his televised rallies one sees a lot of young faces wanting a positive future.


The same can be said for President Barack Obama back in 2008 when he first ran for the presidency.  His slogan was: “It’s time for a change.”  But Barack Obama inherited the beginnings of a major depression from George W. Bush.  He spent his first two years in office avoiding a depression that would have been greater than the Great Depression of 1929 and he helped pass a universal type health law, the Affordable Health Care Law.  Two year later in 2010 the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives and Congress would function from 2011 on in a state of gridlock with nothing positive happening.  The young voters and minorities stayed at home on election days because they had not seen the change they wanted.  Changes had occurred that saved the country but they had been largely invisible.  The Republicans stayed in control of the House of Representatives.  The Senate in 2014 was also taken over by the Republicans because people did not vote and there was some Republican suppression of the vote.


The noted economist, Paul Klugman, called Sander’s view of the changes he wants to bring about “fantasy economics.”  I strongly suspect that Sanders was shocked or amazed at the reception he got for his bid for the presidency.  He was used to being a voice of protest in the Congress for a large number of years.  He no doubt expected to be a Democratic Socialist protest candidate.  With the reception his campaign has and is receiving he talks about a Revolution that he’ll bring about.  By “Revolution” Bernie Sanders means that the majority of the people will verbally rise up and force their legislators to pass the laws he is talking about.


If 74 year old Bernie Sanders were to be elected President of the United States he would spend four years in total frustration because no part of his program will happen with a Republican controlled House of Representatives.  Probably very little would happen with a fully controlled Democratic Congress. 


Change occurs slowly.  Public colleges were essentially free when I went to one of them in the 1950s.  Since then life has become more expensive and complicated.  I remember my parents in the 1940s taking their children to the doctor when they were sick and paying for the visits and for the prescriptions.  They spent far less providing medical care for themselves and three children than I spend now at Kaiser with full Medicare.  And that does not include what we spend on my wife who also has full Medicare.


The House of Representatives will probably remain Republican because of gerrymandering and the Senate may return to Democratic control.  Twenty-four Republican Senators will be standing an election.  Many of them are in swing states which could go either way.  This would be particularly true if the Republicans gain bad publicity by impeding the functioning of the government by not holding  hearings for the vacancy on the Supreme Court or doing some other outlandish things.


Essentially for four years Sanders will face Congressional gridlock.  If he survives the four years in which he will be largely helpless to bring about any kind of change then he will be 79 at the end of his term in office.  If anything conditions may well get worse that they are now.  And 79 is longer than most people live, particularly men.


Looking at the current five remaining Republican candidates, that’s five out of the original twelve or so.  Bush is gone; he has suspended his campaign after spending 70 million dollars.  Mainly that leaves Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz.  Of the remaining two, John Kasich may be looking forward to a possible Vice-Presidency and Ben Carson seems to be along for the ride.  I understand he is also selling an autobiography and doing book signings along the way. 


Chris Mathews called the Thursday night, February 25, Debate a meeting of “The Three Stodges.”  Trump, Cruz, and Rubio spent most of their time verbally attacking one another.  Usually two of them were talking at the same time and most of what they said was incomprehensible; it’s difficult to understand what’s being said when two people are continually talking loudly at the same time.  They gave an outstanding performance of how a President should not act.


Both Rubio and Cruz are Tea Party Republicans.  Strange to say Trump seems to be the most liberal among the three who are now considered serious candidates.  Both Trump and Cruz are considered unacceptable to the Party leadership but the Party has no mechanism to get rid of them, at least not until the Party Convention.  Some Republican Party leaders have said that if Trump becomes President it would be a total disaster and that it could destroy the Republican Party.


Both Ohio Governor John Kasich and Dr. Ben Carson were also in the Debate but they did not have much to say.  Of the five, Kasich appeared mostly as a President should, but he ranked only at 9 plus percent among the Republican voters of Texas.


As a sort of footnote it is worth observing what the Republicans in Congress are doing about the public protest of their actions over the last six years.  Many of the Blue Collar Republicans are supporting Donald Trump to demonstrate their betrayal by the Republican Congress.  The Republican leadership objects to him.  The least the Republican led Congress can do is to hold hearing concerning their needs and wants.  But instead they are doing nothing, essentially ignoring the protest and objecting to Trump.  It is business as usual, expecting to get reelected and continue representing the upper 1% of the country. 

The Weiner Component #137B – Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, & the Current State of the Republican Party in the 2016 Presidential Election

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is important to keep in mind that the current Republican Presidential Debates and the Democratic one that will occur beginning Tuesday, October 13, 2015 are only for choosing the major party candidates for the oncoming 58th Quadrennial U.S. Presidential Election of November 8, 2016, about 13 months from now.  The last reform movement for choosing Presidential Candidates put the responsibility largely upon the people of the country by holding elections by political party in all 50 states.  These are done at different times prior to the Presidential Election.


Interestingly in the one held in Vermont in October of 2015 the three leading Republican candidates, each with 12% of the vote, were Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Bernie Sanders, who is an Independent Senator from that state who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate.  All the other Republican candidates got single digit results.  Sanders will also be running in the Democratic Primary.


Mainly what has occurred up to this point in the Primary election is that in campaigning for the 2016 Presidential Campaign two figures have arisen, one in each major party, that according to some political commentators, are two sides of one coin representing voter protest.  On the Republican side it’s Donald Trump and on the Democratic side it’s Bernie Sanders.  Both have appealed to large numbers of the populace that are essentially disgusted with their political parties and the general verbiage thrown at them for their votes.


Candidates, particularly Presidential Candidates, make all sorts of promises and then fail to deliver what they presumably stand for.  Of course what is promised is what the candidates would like to do.  What actually happens after the election is that in order to bring their promises to fruition the candidate needs the full cooperation of the two Houses of Congress and even sometimes the cooperation of the Supreme Court.  This generally does not occur.


To the leaders of the Republican Party Donald Trump, currently aged 69, is the emergence of the Frankenstein Monster, set loose from the forces of chaos, over whom they have no control.  Since he is “really rich”, a billionaire, and financing his own campaign, they have no leverage over him.  To many of the Republican leaders he is a former Democrat and not a true Republican who does not hue strictly to the party line.


Trump states what he believes or says what he believes his audience wants to hear.  Always telling them how brilliant he is, what a great deal-maker he is, and verbally attacking other Republicans running for the presidency.  Jed Bush, who was a second runner to him, has been a constant target.  Since she started coming up at the polls, 61 year old Carly Fiorina, has gotten some negative comments from Trump about her looks and of how she ruined Hewlett Packard of which she was CEO for a while.  During the second debate he reversed his opinion about her looks.


Trump implies that he has never made a bad deal in his life.  He has gone through bankruptcy four times.  With my limited exposure to the business world I know of one specific deal where Trump lost probably millions for his investors and possibly for himself.


His slogan, which he wears written on the front of his hat, states that he will “Make America Great Again.”   He is implying, of course, that America is currently second rate.


Trump is, to quote him, “not politically correct;” that is, he will say almost anything.  His statements are general, criticizing everything that the current administration does or is doing, without any specifics on how he would perform as president except that it will be better and make America great again.


What I found enlightening when I looked up Republican candidates for the 2016 Presidential Campaign on the internet was that Donald Trump was not on the list.  It seems that many Republicans are still not taking him seriously as a potential candidate.  It’s an interesting phenomena, he’s leading in the Republican poles but is still considered undesirable by the party.


On the Democratic side there is Bernie Sanders, a 74 year old Democratic Socialist, who has run as an Independent from Vermont, first in the House of Representatives from 1991 – 2007 and then in the Senate from 2007 on.


Bernie Sanders has caucused with the Democrats, been a voice of protest against the seemingly incapability of reform both when he was in the House of Representatives and then in the Senate.   In 2015 he decided to make his protest against the inequities of our political system public by running for the presidency in 2016.


Senator Sanders has raised several million dollars by taking only small contributions and refusing larger ones.  He represents the common man against the influence of the upper percent of the population and the large corporations.  In essence he is the voice of the common American protesting vociferously against the highly inequitable distribution of income in the United States.  He is the voice of every lost cause that is generally opposed by the plutocrats and the lobbyists.


Surprisingly, especially to Sanders himself and a goodly percentage of the Democratic Party, the number of people who have come out to hear him and support him has been phenomenal and continues to grow.  He is currently a serious candidate for the Presidency of the United States.


Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are the two dynamic candidates.  Both are symbols of how the American people feel about the inaction of the Federal Government to really solve any of the major problems facing the country.  They represent the two major political parties within the country.  The people are tired of Congressional inaction, a government shutdown, of nothing happening.  They are fed-up with seven years of warfare between Congress and the President.  They want a functioning Government that is positively leading this nation.


The reality of the situation is something else.  Trump talks about what he will do as president.  Listening to bits and pieces of his speeches over TV one get the impression that he thinks he can run the country the same way he runs his company as its CEO.  No even Louis 14th of France, the most absolute of the absolute kings could do what Donald Trump says he will do as president.  One gets the impression that he’s never read the Constitution of the U.S. which gives the power to make laws to Congress and makes the President the Chief Administrator of the country.  Either he is totally impressed with himself or he is totally ignorant of our form of government or both.  Even if he were to be elected President and had a totally Republican Congress he would not be able to do even a small percentage of what he claims he’s going to do to “Make America Great Again.”  There is no way Congress, even a Congress with a majority of Republicans in both Houses would support him.


Bernie Sanders has stated the legitimate inequalities that exist within the United States.  He would like to see greater fairness for all American citizens but he too would face large scale frustration from Congress.  If he were to be elected as the Democratic President in 2016 the probability is that the House of Representatives would remain with a Republican majority and he would not be able to get any of his desired legislation through.  Even if he were to get a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress the Republicans in the Senate would filibuster every law he would support.  If by some miracle both Houses of Congress became Democratic, and there was a supper-majority of 60 Democratic senators they would only support a very small percentage of his program.  It would take a multitude of years or longer for the United States to become a Democratic Socialistic Nation.


Bernie Sanders is registered as an Independent but styles himself as a Democratic Socialist.  In fact he is the longest serving Independent in Congressional history.  He caucuses with the Democratic Party but favors the social democratic policies of European countries, particularly the Nordic ones: free college education for everyone qualified to go, free medical care for everyone paid for by taxes, basically true equality for all citizens.


Bernie Sanders is a leading progressive voice on such issues as income inequality, universal healthcare, parental leave, climate change, and campaign finance reform.  He is also known for supporting civil rights and civil liberties.


Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, as stated earlier, are two sides of the same coin; and that coin is protest against an essentially non-functioning central government, which seems more non-functioning all the time.  They seem to symbolize the feelings and frustrations of a large percentage of the voters.


A little under seven years ago, when Barak Obama was elected to the presidency of the United States, Mitch McConnell, the then minority leader of the Republicans in the Senate, stated publically that the goal of the Republican Party was to make Barak Obama a one term President.  For his first term, 2009 through 2012, the Republicans opposed everything he supported, and this included bills that the Republicans had originated.


When Barak Obama first took office in 2009 he inherited the Real Estate Crash that had begun during Bush’s last year as President.  It was a major depression that could have gone deeper than the Great Depression of 1929.  Obama, with no legislative help from the Republicans in Congress, was able to turn that into a recession and largely but not completely slowly work the nation out of that major problem.


There still, up to today, has been no fiscal policy applied to the problem.  In fact, most acts by the legislature, particularly after 2011 when the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives, has actually exacerbated the problem, increasing unemployment.


Using his executive powers and those of the Federal Reserve President Obama has kept the nation from major economic disaster.  Today, in 2015, unemployment nationally is below 5% and moving toward additional recovery.  But the poverty rate in the nation has increased and is much too high and inequality of incomes is at its highest point in decades.


What have the Republicans done, since they have managed to gain control of the House of Representatives in 2011 and the Senate in 2014, to help resolve the economic dilemma?  The answer is essentially nothing.  At one point they shut the Federal Government down and were threatening to do it again over the issue of getting rid of Planned Parenthood.  To avoid that potential disaster John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, resigned effective October 31, 2015.  On Thursday, October 7 the Republican in the House were supposed to choose Kevin McCarthy, the Majority Whip as the new Speaker.  At high noon on Thursday McCarthy withdrew his name from consideration as the new Speaker.


He did not have the votes for that position.  The 40 Tea Party candidates on the far, far right of the Republican Party would not support him.  As of Sunday, October 11th there is no one to replace Speaker Boehner, who has stated that he will stay on beyond October 31 until a new Speaker is chosen.  That may not be until the end of 2016.  The Republicans in the House of Representatives have reached a stage beyond gridlock!


On Sunday, October 11, 2015 the House Republican majority has reached a point where they will presumably have no Speaker at the end of this month.  Technically they will not be able to even meet as a body.  What is their reaction to this?  It has been suggested by one or more of them that they take a two week break.  It would seem that they are totally separate from the people who elected them and owe nothing to their constituents.  The behavior is unbelievable.


The House of Representatives which meets for an average of 200 days a year has voted over fifty times to do away with Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) which was based upon a Republican plan developed and applied in the state of Massachusetts by its then Republican Governor, Mitt Romney.


Seemingly the plan was, if all else failed, to shut down the United States Government by refusing to fund it if funding Planned Parenthood remained in the finance bill.  Current Speaker Boehner killed this motion by his resignation as Speaker of the House and a bill was put through the Senate by the Republican Majority Leader funding the Government through December of this year which was passed in both Houses of Congress with Democratic votes.


At this point the Republicans in the House, who have a majority, cannot bring its 40 Tea Party extremists to go along with the rest of them in appointing a Speaker or in getting almost any legislation passed.  They are beyond gridlock and this term does not end until the end of 2016.


To a large percentage of nationally registered Democrats, Independents, and even Republicans the central government is not functioning because very little or no legislation is being passed dealing with everyday problems or anything else for that matter.  At this point the Congress is seemingly non-functional.


Interestingly to the Tea Party and many other Republicans the Federal Government is not working because the Congressional Democrats and the President refuse to go along with the Republicans and their solutions to the national problems.  Their version of compromise is to have the other side give in to them completely.


Trump has the support of a percentage of these people and Sanders has the support of a like number of registered Democrats and Independents.

Both of these groups are miles apart and could not even begin to consider the beginnings of a compromise.  What we have is a totally frustrated and angry electorate whose frustrations are based upon their powerlessness.  What will happen?


The Presidential Election of 2016 is more than a year away.  It will be held on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.  Who will be the candidates?  Trump seemingly would like to be president.  Sanders, who is amazed at how far he’s come so far, would probably be even more amazed if he were the candidate.


What is happening now is that the potential candidates are jockeying for position.  There are currently around fourteen Republican potential candidates, who each want to be chosen as the Presidential Candidate and about five people running for the Democratic position.  Trump, who is not acceptable to many Republicans, is currently leading the group on the right and Hillary Rodham Clinton is doing the same for the Democratic groups on the left.  In November of 2016 the voters of the United States will decide in each of the 50 states who the next President of the United States will be.  The probability is that the Democratic candidate will win since they are the majority party, the Senate will in all likelihood return to a Democratic majority, and the House will probably retain its Republican majority.  What will happen over the next four years?  Probably, very little no matter who gets elected.


What does that mean to the general electorate?  I do not want to consider that problem but the probability is nothing or very little.  What could happen in the Election of 2020?  The possibility there is the emergence of one or more third parties.  This is what happened in 1860 with the initial emergence of the Republican Party over the issue of slavery.  Here Lincoln was elected with 40% of the popular vote after the Democratic Party had split into two political parties, one northern and one southern.