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

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

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

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

 

Official portrait of Federal Reserve Chairman ...

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

The Weiner Component Vol. 2 #4: Part 1 – President Donald J. Trump

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

As of January 20, 2017 the United States had a new president and he certainly seemed different from any that had come before.  On his second day in office a good percentage of women in the county with the aid of some men held protest marches in all the major and a lot of minor cities, not only in the United States but also throughout the world.  Celebrities and female members of Congress came out with anti-Trump speeches.  One march was held within sight of the White House.   Instead of acknowledging this as a First Amendment right, Trump ignored the happening.  On a much smaller scale this has been repeated within the United States every day since, throughout Trump’s first two weeks in office.

 

At the Women’s Marches the women judged Trump, who had previously, over most of his life, judged them on a 1 to 10 scale according to his sexual preference, and found him as president on a scale of 1 to 10 rating below zero.

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

Now that Trump has been elected President of the United States he is a very nervous head of state.  He can’t seem to get it out of his head that Hillary Clinton received 2.8 million more popular votes than he did.  With absolutely no evidence but a hurt ego, he has stated that he believes that all those extra votes that Clinton got were cast by non-citizens, people registered in more than one state, or by people voting in the name of dead individuals.  He also stated that many people who are registered in two or more states, vote in each. 

 

His daughter, Tiffany is registered in two states.  So is one of his advisors, Steve Bannon. And so is one of his son-in-laws who he is now using as one of his advisors.   People reregister when they move out of a state or to different residences within a state.  There is no mechanism to unregister.  Apparently, one’s name is removed from the voting rolls if an individual does not vote for a number of years.  Somehow Steve Bannon recently got his name removed from a Florida registration.

 

But Trump seems to feel that all this is a plot that kept him from getting both the electoral vote and the popular vote.  He cannot believe that a large number of voters did not really purposely vote for him.  Instead they voted against Hillary Clinton.  The improper balance of votes and false or fake news brought about her defeat.  Trump just happened to benefit from these.  He is the least popular or most disliked candidate in the history of the United States to have run for president.

 

Now, as President, he has ordered an investigation of the voting practices in the last Presidential Election.  The results should be interesting.  All the current evidence implies that all the cheating on voting is a very small fraction of one percent, certainly not the almost three million votes that Trump did not get.  I suspect the public will never hear the results of this investigation if it is even carried out.

 

During the campaign one long-time reporter on the staff of the Wall Street Journal defined Trump as a perennial adolescent who never really grew up.  Apparently what he learned up to that time he still knows.  Anything that has happened to him since that time just reinforces what he already knows. 

 

For some unknown reason this reminded me that Trump, who has never been in the military, was sent by his parents to a Military High School for his education.  Why would New York City parents send their child to a military high school?  The answer would be to get rid of a child who was essentially out of control.  If he misbehaved there he would be sent to the guard house, something his parents could not necessarily do.  Trump is very proud of his high school years which, he believes, gave him a knowledge of the military, since he never served in the armed forces.

 

Most people if they find things in their lives that they don’t like try to change that aspect of their lives.  But Donald Trump does not do this.  Instead he lives in an alternate reality.  If he finds something he does not like he innately knows that it is wrong and takes action accordantly.  With a contractor he has hired for something he knows that he has paid him enough and stops paying him, usually on the last instalment.  With the popular presidential vote he knows that he really won it.  Therefore people must have cheated at the ballet box.  As President he can call forth the forces of the nation to discover his alternate truths.  As a result President Trump is unique and totally scary.  There is no telling what he might do with his alternate reality.

 

If we assume the Wall Street reporter’s analysis of Trump was correct then is the man today any different from the adolescent high school student?  He is thin skinned, generally verbally attacks anyone who criticizes him, ignores group protests protected by the first Amendment, and can be erratic with constantly changing decisions.  Like many adolescents he seems to be incapable of being briefed with by the Intelligence people or, for that matter, by anyone else.  His concentrative ability seems to be relatively short where he is not directly involved in what is going on.

 

Lynden B. Johnson, when he became President of the United States, after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, fulfilled what seemed to be his lifelong ambition.  He became the most powerful man on earth.  What he found was that even though he had the power he couldn’t use it.  He ended up losing the Viet Nam War even though he escalated that war.  Donald J. Trump may not be smart enough to realize that limitation.  And that is really scary as he will be President until 2020, unless he is impeached prior to that time.

              

One thing Donald Trump does do is to project some of his own negative aspects upon any opponent.  For example, during his campaign struggle with Hillary Clinton, Trump called her “Crooked Hillary.”  It seems that he and the Clintons both ran altruistic Foundations.  His was run according to his rules which in many cases legally had nothing to do with the way a Foundation is supposed to function.  Much of what he did with the funds that were contributed by others benefited him directly.  Since the Foundation the Clinton’s had was ten or more times larger than his they must have been at least ten times more dishonest than he was.

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Trump believes in secret prisons outside of the country and that, in interrogating prisoners, torture inevitably works in gaining information from them, as was done under the President George W. Bush’s administration.  Even though the majority of military, CIA and FBI interrogators are against the use of torturing prisoners and do not believe it is an effective way to get information out of enemy prisoners.  The use of this type of “enhanced interrogation,” to quote former Vice President Dick Cheney, is now illegal.  I suspect both Donald J. Trump and Dick Cheney know it works because they feel if they were tortured they would tell the person questioning them whatever they wanted to know.  He is, however, willing to not push this point since his Secretary of Defense does not believe in the use of torture or secret prisons.  But he knows, without any evidence or experience, that torture absolutely works.

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

During most of his presidential campaign Donald Trump boasted that as President he would build a high wall between the United States and Mexico to keep thieves, rapists, and murderers from coming into this country from Mexico.  He also boasted that Mexico would pay for the wall.  The Mexican government stated that under no circumstances would Mexico pay for such an enterprise.

 

On Wednesday, January 25, 2017, five days after Trump officially became President of the United State, he signed an executive order beginning work on this enterprise.  The Mexican president then cancelled an official visit to the U.S. and blatantly stated that under no circumstances would Mexico pay for the wall. 

 

Trump stated that it would be complicated getting Mexico to pay for the wall.  On Thursday, January 26 he announced his plan.  There would be a 20% tax on all imports into the United States from Mexico.  Whether this is his opening position or final position is unknown at this time.  In either case it would cancel out the NAFTA agreement with Mexico and make the United States a non-dependable trading partner since it would thereafter have a reputation for changing international trade rules arbitrarily by ignoring its own Trading Treaties.

 

It should be noted that the two countries share a twelve hundred mile border and while some areas in connecting cities where the two country’s border touch, currently have fences; these may not come up to Trumps expectations.  Depending on the fence or wall that Trump wants to build the costs will be anywhere from 3 billion to 33 billion or somewhere above that.  Imagine how much it cost to build a fence around a home property.  There the fence or wall will be, at most, six feet high.  The wall Trump is talking about would be fifteen to twenty feet high and extend for 1,200 miles. 

 

As of Wednesday January 26th the United States would pay for the WALL but will eventually get its money back from a 20% tax on all goods coming into the country from Mexico.  That was the plan on Thursday morning but by Thursday late afternoon the plan had disappeared.  However on the next day, Friday, it was being touted again.  It disappeared again the day after.

 

This so-called wonderful plan of Trump’s will firmly place the cost of building the Wall on the backs of the American taxpayers by placing the payment of the wall firmly on Americans in the U.S.  It will also significantly reduce the purchasing of Mexican products in this country by raising the price of all goods imported from Mexico twenty percent.  Mexico will reciprocate by placing a similar tax upon American goods coming into Mexico.  The result will be a trade war that freezes out a large percentage of purchasers in both countries for people who can no longer afford the assorted items being shipped from one country to the other and both countries will be harshly effected since today both have major trade with the other . 

 

This will be particularly troublesome because Mexico currently is the second largest export market for the United States.  One of the many types of products that comes to the United States from Mexico are fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly during the winter season.  With a twenty percent increase in cost many people will no longer be able to afford these products.  This will take the U.S. back thirty or more years when people had fresh fruits and vegetables in season only, instead of all year.  Not only Mexican farmers and American consumers will be hurt but the entire pattern of trade will be hurt negatively affecting people in both countries.  It may also disrupt trade with many of our other trade partners and destroy the NAFTA agreement between the two counties which has been highly effective for both sides.

 

In addition, once the wall is completed it will have to be constantly monitored.  This will require a large number of crews monitoring it over all twelve hundred miles.  It will cost billions to build and additional billions to care for it.  Even if the United States could get it built at no cost it would still cost vast amounts to maintain it.

 

The entire plan is crazy.  The U.S. will be putting out multi billions of dollars, increasing the National Debt, which may or may not get all its investment back over an unknown number of years; meanwhile standards of living in both countries will drop with the rise in prices.  It is a sad use of resources while the U.S. has a fair sized homeless population of which just the city of Los Angeles, according to a recent count, had 47,000 homeless, many of whom will die of exposure during the winter season.  In addition there are far more things to be done in the U.S. particularly regarding its infrastructure that should take priority over a wall separating both nations.  

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

Donald J. Trump has been very busy during his first week in office signing executive orders, each neatly placed in a black leather folder.  The problem here is that the majority of these single page documents are not executive orders, they are, if anything, requests to Congress to pass laws that will put these statements into practice.  Of the smaller percentage that are executive orders many contain contradictions that make carrying out the order impossible.  The problem here is that Trump and his staff need to learn what the parameters of executive orders are before he or they start writing them.

 

President Trump has retired or fired the entire upper echelon of the career diplomats at the State Department who have served under both Republican and Democratic presidents.  When the new Secretary of State takes command of that department he will be missing a whole layer of career executives who run the departments on a daily basis as well as many of the trained negotiators.  Of course Trump, who considers himself the world’s greatest negotiator, may appoint a whole new cadre of people to run it but they would not have any experience at doing so.  It would be like bringing back the 19th Century Spoils System into the 21st Century.  These positions are too important to give to loyal amateurs.

 

In addition a large percentage of the individuals who work for the State Department have signed letters of protest against one of Trump’s executive orders baring the entrance of Muslims from entry or reentry into the United States.  They have stated that this order will do more harm than good.  Trump’s press secretary has stated that they can either carry out the order or leave the Department of State.  With the career leadership already having been removed from the State Department and a mass quitting or firing among the rest of the personnel Trump could well begin his tenure with a Secretary of State and a non-functioning Department behind him.  In either case the moral at the Department has never before been as low as it currently is. 

 

So far, after about two weeks in office, Trump would seem to be his own worst enemy as far as running the United States.

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #3 – The Purpose of Government

English: Citizens registered as an Independent...

English: Citizens registered as an Independent, Democrat or Republican. Derived from :Image:Party affiliation USA.jpg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If the question of what is the primary purpose of government in the 21st Century is raised then depending upon which major political party you adhere to you get different answers. 

 

Historically people have always been social animals, always functioning in groups with some form of social organization.  Traditionally governments have functioned to provide a framework in which people have lived.  They have provided rules or laws that have allowed them to live together, kept them safe within the society and from foreign invaders, provided the necessities for reasonable living conditions and protected their property.  These governments have provided a currency and regulated trade within and with other nations.  Other than that people have provided for their individual needs for themselves.  This, in essence, is the Republican concept of the function of government.

 

In 1929, through following these concepts and unlimited growth on the stock market, the United States economy crashed and billions of dollars were lost almost overnight in the 1929 Great Depression.  From 1929 through 1932 feeble attempts were made by the Republican dominated government to allow the Stock Market to adjust itself.  Instead it kept dropping lower.  This occurred from 1929 through 1932, when it and the rest of the economy reached its lowest level.  The Market Model was unable to adjust itself; it had been abused too much.

 

In 1933, the Democrat, Franklin D. Roosevelt became President, replacing the Republican, Herbert Hoover.  Roosevelt, in dealing with the massive unemployment problem, extended the purpose of the Federal Government, by having the Federal Government assume responsibility for those people who could no longer function successfully within the broken society.  He created mechanisms whereby these people could again function with a measure of success within the economy.  The Federal Government had now assumed responsibility for the people in the country who could no longer provide for themselves.  This now became the new additional function of the Central Government. 

 

While conditions improved considerably the Great Depression did not end until about 1940 with the outbreak of World War II when first European and Asian nations bought unlimited goods from America and at the end of 1941 when the Federal Government began unlimited spending in fighting the war. 

 

The government had dedicated itself to a new purpose which would continue on after the war had ended, more or less, depending upon which political party controlled the Central Government.  The Republicans tended to favor business and the wealthy, limiting social spending as much as possible, while the Democrats favored the middle and lower class extending this practice as much as they could.

 

Currently with the Republicans in control of Congress and the Presidency they are moving to get rid of Obamacare (Affordable Health Care).  They are presumably going to replace it with Trumpcare, whatever that is.  Probably it will be a voucher system that will be cheaper for the government to operate, but will gradually become more and more expensive for its recipients as medical costs increase but government vouchers do not.

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

Two events occurred: one began in the 1970s, an increasing need for more money to be available in the National Cash Flow; and the other in the 1980s with the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency.  In the earlier decade the major banking houses in the country began packaging mortgages in small fractions and selling them.  They did this gradually on a larger and larger scale.  The process took off in the 1980s with the Reagan White House.  This, in turn, increased the value of the homes.  In essence a percentage of the population began mortgaging and refinancing the ever increasing value of their houses over and over again.  At no time during the 30 years of this period was there any real inflation in the country.  For the first 10 years the country was in an inflationary cycle that began with the Viet Nam War.  This was ended at the beginning of the 1980s.

 

Reagan was the first of the really Conservative Presidents.  Forty-five years earlier he had majored in economics as an undergraduate in college.  Since that point in history economics had developed far from where it had been when Reagan was a college senior.  Much more about its functioning was understood in the 1980s.

 

Adam Smith began modern economics with the publication of his work,  “An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations,” in 1776.  In this work, among other things, he developed the Market Model, which functioned through the use of the “invisible hand.”  The invisible hand is the profit motive.  Smith believed that the profit motive would best make all the Market decisions of what to produce and how to produce it. 

 

President Ronald Reagan and a good percentage of Republicans in Congress also believed this.  During his presidency hey did away with all bank regulatory laws that had been developed during the 1930s and beyond to avoid another Great Depression.

 

In the period before the 1929 Stock Market Crash many bank executives had taken depositors monies and invested them in stocks.  Shortly thereafter when the price went up they had sold the stocks and pocketed the profits.  People could also buy stocks on margin; all an investor needed was 10% of the value of the stock he/she bought, the banks would lend the remaining 90%.   The problem here was that many people were in love with the concept of the stocks, not with their true value, and they kept forcing up the value of all the stocks by continually buying and selling them.  This created a bubble that had to burst at some time.  When it did, from 1929 on, it not only bankrupted innumerable stockholders but also innumerable banks with unbelievable negative effects upon the overall economy.

 

The result of what Reagan considered reforms was that a multitude of banking organizations began an almost limitless level of refinancing homes, allowing people to take their ever increasing equity out of their properties to buy whatever, and countless billions of dollars were created in the National Cash Flow allowing almost endless spending.  All of this occurred until 2008 when the bubble burst.  Interestingly some of these companies insured the bank loans, charging generous premiums.  These companies and many banks faced immediate bankruptcy with the crash.

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

In the year 2008 the Housing Bubble, that had been developing over the last forty years, burst, bringing about an almost instant and complete drop in home property values.  People’s home values virtually dropped overnight hundreds of thousands of dollars per single unit leaving a percentage of homeowners underwater, suddenly owing more on their home properties than they were worth.

 

This process had been slowly building since the 1970s, with it massively accelerating during the Reagan administration in the 1980s, when virtually all banking laws, many of which came into being during The Great Depression in the 1930s, were done away with and the country followed the administration’s mantra of letting the Free Market make all the economic decisions.  A good percentage of the population, with strong encouragement from the banks, had gone through a wild period of spending.

 

Specifically what happened was that the country did not have enough money in the National Cash Flow to meet its needs.  There was a shortage of money in the overall society.  The banks, among the many services they perform for the general society, also can increase or decrease the amount of cash available within their specific regions.  They do this through their lending or non-lending practices.  Most exchanges of cash at this time was through the transfer of funds by writing checks, bringing about an exchange of numbers in different columns of different bank ledgers.

 

People discovered the advantages of their equity in their home loans by taking out First, Second, and Third mortgages based upon their equity.  Over the forty year period as people borrowed upon their homes the value of their homes went up continually.  It seems the continual borrowing created a desire in people who rented living space to attempt to buy homes, forcing up the value of the homes even more for this forty year period.  Properties that were purchased for well under one hundred thousand dollars, because of the sudden great demand, were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

 

For the forty year period, well into the year 2008 home values kept rising.  People refinanced their properties over and over again buying whatever they wanted.  The overall economy prospered.  People bought all the toys they ever wanted: boats, mobile homes for traveling, whatever.  There was no real inflation.

 

By the year 2007 the indications of a collapse were present for those in a position to understand what was going on.  But the bankers, who had taken home millions in compensation, were in total denial.  They were incapable of understanding that conditions could change.  To encourage further refinancing many banks raised the level of refinancing homes to 125% of the appraised value of the property.

 

Toward the end of the year 2008 the bubble burst or the crash came.  Many homeowners suddenly discovered that they were underwater, owing more on their home than they were then worth.  Some just walked away from their properties, leaving a deserted house behind them.  Others just stopped making payments they could no longer afford.  Unemployment rose significantly. 

 

Hedge Funds that had been developed from some of this mortgage paper were suddenly worthless.  Banks foreclosed upon properties that they both owned or had owned and sold to hedge funds.  The entire situation was a total mess.  Hedge funds were suddenly worthless, many banks were on the point of bankruptcy.  It looked like the entire economy was on the point of collapse.

 

At this point President George W. Bush and his Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, arranged for bank loans to keep many financial institutions from going bankrupt.  Then Bush was replaced by President Barack Obama who continued the bank loans and also bailed out the American auto industry which was also at the point of bankruptcy at that time.  With President Obama’s massive spending efforts what could have been a greater depression than the Great Depression of 1929 turned into what has been called the Great Recession, from which the country is still on its way out of.  By January of 2017 unemployment in the United States had dropped to 4.8%. 

 

The problem that existed here is that from the 1970s on more money was needed in the economy that should have been supplied by the Federal Reserve on a more gradual level.  A controlled increase of funds for the nation would have allowed for a slow healthy economic growth with no crash in 2008.  Allowing the banks to do this with just the profit motive led to unlimited and reckless greed as the major factor controlling the economy.

     

English: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Herbert...

English: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover in convertible automobile on way to U.S. Capitol for Roosevelt’s inauguration, March 4, 1933 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Th

e Great Depression was caused by the Republican’s legislating after World War I.  This was from the election of Warren Harding to the presidency through Herbert Hoover.  They created the necessary laws and general milieu that allowed it to come about.  The Housing Crash of 2008 was set forth by the policies of President Ronald Reagan.  He inspired and brought about the environment that allowed the financial institutions to go berserk through the unhampered use of the profit motive.  Now, with the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency an equally horrible situation exists with the Republican legislature and Trump promising to do away with Affordable Health Care and the distinct possibility of taking medical care away from about 30 million citizens.

 

During his first year as President in 1993 William Jefferson Clinton, among other things, attempted to set up a system of Universal Health Care for all the people in the United States.  He placed his wife, Hillary, in charge of a task force that was supposed to develop a plan for this.  The Republicans were strongly against it.  They tried everything they could to kill this plan.  Finally they succeeded when they came up with a slogan: “There has to be a better way.”  The “better way” ended up being: No way.  With this mantra they successfully ended the plan for universal health care in 1993.

 

During President Barack Obama’s first two years in office he had a Democratic majority in Congress.  Together, they came up with a plan for the majority of people in the country to achieve health care.  The plan had been developed by a Republican think tank for Mitt Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts.  I imagine that President Obama assumed that a Republican Plan would gain some Republican support in both Houses of Congress.  But by that time the Republican members of Congress had in a caucus and taken an oath to make Obama a one term President by not supporting anything he supported or for which he could take credit.  As a consequence they have vigorously opposed and continually denounced Obamacare (Affordable Health Care), which was in actuality their plan.  Affordable Health Care was passed in Congress strictly on a party basis, not one Republican Congressman voted for it.

 

In 2011 the Republicans gained a majority in the House of Representatives.  From then on the House passed bills to do away with Affordable Health Care; this was over fifty times.  While the Democrats controlled the Senate the bill was not even taken up there.  In 2014 the Republicans also gained the majority in the Senate.  In 2016 they gained Donald J. Trump as the new Republican President.  They are promising to replace Obamacare with a new and better policy.  But no specific plan seems to be on the horizon.  Meanwhile the first steps have been taken to begin the process dismantling Affordable Health Care.

 

Interestingly even the Republicans are now stating their sense of responsibility for the medical welfare of the general public.  But Affordable Health Care was their plan for universal health care.  It entails using private enterprise to bring universal medical care into existence. 

 

What is interesting or strange is that in 2012 when President Barack Obama ran for reelection, his Republican adversary, Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans seem to have totally forgotten the Crash or Great Recession of 2008.  When elected they were going to do away with the laws passed in 2009 and 2010 to avoid that situation from occurring again.  And the same is true about the Presidential Election of 2016.  It would seem that the Republicans have some sort of collective amnesia about their own past.  The difference is that in 2016 the Republican candidate, Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans won the election, not only the presidency but also both Houses of Congress.  What will they do?  It seems that the Republicans themselves are not sure

Donald Trump enters the Oscar De LA Renta Fash...

The Weiner Component, Volume 2 – Economics in the 21st Century: #1: Change & the 21st Century: Part I Introduction

 

Prenote: I find myself getting bored with Donald J. Trump and his machinations.  He, as President-Elect is setting up a government which seems that it will wipe out any progress made in the 20th Century on.  Will it?  We’ll have to wait and see. 

Meanwhile the stock market is rising to new heights.  Is that because of President-Elect Donald J. Trump or in spite of him?  Again we’ll have to wait and see.  Basically the issue with Trump is that we, the public, will have to wait and see what he does after January 20, 2017, when he becomes President of the United States.

Meanwhile I will begin a new version of my book, “Economics in the 21st Century.

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

Volume 2 #1 – The Purpose of Government in the 21st Century:                                                            Introduction: Part 1

 

The past is always safe, particularly if it is mostly imagined.  It is a known when balanced against the future which is always unknown and therefore unsafe.  In the presidential election of 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected by a minority of voters who were fearful of the changes that were occurring in society.  Trump promised to bring back the past.  He would bring back the values and conditions that supposedly were while Clinton would continue forward to a changing society.

                       *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 With the election of Donald J. Trump, as President of the United States by a majority of people from the smaller states the country choose the candidate that got the minority of popular votes but the majority of electoral votes.  Hillary Clinton actually won the election with nearly three million more votes than Trump received.  The voters who choose Trump actually choose to stay with what they believed would be a return of the past, to the supposed happy days when there were jobs for all the low skilled workers.  Trump would, he said, “stay the course” and continue the process of lowering taxes.  He would continue the war effort in the Middle East and the War against Terror.  He would bring back all the jobs that had moved overseas and take the country back to its happy days, whenever they were.  He would reform our society, making it as it had been in the past.

 

Of course “reform” historically was a euphuism for change or raising taxes among the ordinary citizens of the country.  Trump has promised to lower taxes for the wealthy.  Ordinary people would object to a tax raise but how can they be unhappy about reform, semantical games.  The problem is that the government is spending billions of dollars daily above what it collects in taxes pushing the National Debt (which President Clinton had begun to reduce) to new astronomical levels.  Trump will lower taxes for the wealthy and the corporations.  He will have to make up the difference somehow.

 

There is currently one vacancy on the Supreme Court and one Justice in her eighties.  From what I understand Trump should be able during his tenure as President to probably make two appointments to the Court.  This should make the Court 6 to 3 in favor of the conservatives.  The significance of a solid conservative balance on the Supreme Court is that it might, among other things like individual rights, finish striking down Roe vs. Wade; and thus take away the right of choice from slightly over fifty percent of the population.  The majority of women, according to the surveys taken, are overwhelmingly in favor of choice.  It would be a decision imposed by a minority upon the majority.

 

 This seems to be Trump’s version of the “good old days.”

                           *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

But despite what is currently happening with Donald J. Trump as the new President-Elect no one really knows what he will do as President.  Still the Twenty-first Century holds the promise of all sorts of social and economic changes for the people of the United States, the other Industrial Nations, and even for the emerging non-industrial countries of this world.  The question, of course, is whether these changes will be positive or will they be otherwise.  Our traditional economic model will no longer function (if it ever did properly beyond the theoretical stage).  Technological change, particularly that of the Computer Revolution is moving forward at a rapid pace.  The changes are speeding up. 

 

     With these changes the concept of employment (What is work?) is/will also undergo evolution.  Low skilled jobs are and have been disappearing in the United States; some highly technological occupations are and have been coming into being.  A large number of factory and many white collar jobs are moving overseas where they can be performed at a much lower cost.  The economy today is a world-wide one with the individual nations still being essentially nationalistic.

                         *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

     For the last three to four thousand years the concept of work has been fairly constant.  It has essentially been effort related to survival: production of food, shelter, clothing, and gradually entities needed for recreation.  Up until the Industrial Revolution it took ten or more people working full time (sunrise to sunset) to provide the fundamentals needed for one individual to have the leisure time to be a priest, government official, artist, or someone not having to work for survival.  With the change over from a hand-craft society to a machine- operated one the ratio has changed and continues to decrease.  From ten to one we gradually went to one person supplying everything for one hundred people.  With the coming and continuance of the Computer Revolution the ratio has gone from one supplying everything for one hundred people to one supplying what’s needed for a thousand individuals, with the possibilities of eventually going well beyond that number.

 

     What then happens to both the concept of work and the need to work when all the rudiments can easily and almost effortlessly be supplied?  Traditionally man (and woman) have earned their bread like Adam (after being expelled from the Garden of Eden) by the sweat of his (her) brow.  Now, ironically, we have returned to garden conditions.  Can we handle them?

 

     Today, at the Second decade of the Twenty-first Century, we seem to be well into the Computer Revolution; but, I suspect, we are only seeing its initial stage. 

 

The government constantly monitors and publishes the unemployment percentage of the working population.  They are thrilled when it decreases by one or several tenths of a percent.  Politicians like Donald Trump, are constantly promising to decrease unemployment.  The President will proudly proclaim and take credit for any tenth of a percent decrease.  The goal, as far as the government and public are concerned, seems to be a healthy economy with full employment in an era when computers are rapidly increasing the rates of productivity and many corporations are downsizing while increasing their output.  We seem to be squarely and hopefully looking historically backward.

                               *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Many thousands of years ago a man-like creature first picked up a rock or piece of wood and used it as a tool or weapon for the first time.  From that time on the concept was passed to others and they did the same, eventually discovering that they could chip the rock into a specific shape and sharpness and sharpen the wood, fire-hardening a point.  Over the multitude of years types of tools were developed.  Mankind developed more and better means of increasing his productivity, of making life easier for himself.  In fact his conscious or unconscious goal during all the years of his existence has been to produce more with less effort.

 

During the 19th Century the emerging handicraft society began to change in England and then Europe and the United States with the gradual development of machines; this became known as the Industrial Revolution, when manufacturing changed from hand-production to machine production.

 

The early machines were mostly made of wood and were operated by water-power, and shortly thereafter by steam power.  With the invention of the electric motor and development in metallurgy the machines became metal and also more highly efficient, multitudinously increasing their productive capacities.  Where in the Eighteenth Century it took ten people to produce enough to free one from labor, now gradually one person could produce enough to supply ten individuals with all their basic needs.  Life and the concept of work changed.  A percentage of the handicraft people were displaced becoming superfluous; these were the luggites.  Machines did their work a hundred times faster than they could by hand.  The level of productivity brought about by the Industrial Society achieved by the middle of the Twentieth Century a level of supply of goods and services in the Industrial Nations that had been inconceivable earlier.  It also brought about the Business Cycle — prosperity, recession, depression, and recovery — in a never ending pattern erratically coming about in shorter or longer periods of time.

 

Recession and depression, presumably caused by overproduction, brought about a situation in which there was fair to large scale unemployment, reduced consumption of goods and services in an economy where the overall workforce strongly desired to work and consume but could not.  The economy had broken down, ceased to smoothly function.  The willingness to work was there but the economy could not utilize it.  For one reason or another the basic rudiments that caused the economy to smoothly flow no longer worked. 

 

The question here is why?  There is a ready and willing workforce anxious to labor and consume the goods and services produced but there is no work for them and very little for them and their families to consume.  WHY?

 

The grease that allows the economy to function is money.  The distribution of that entity throughout an economy, the amounts that each family unit earns or has determines who will get how much of the goods and services produced.

 

How then is money distributed within a society?  The different occupations receive different levels of remuneration.  Unskilled labor, which is mostly grunt type work requiring generally brute strength only would be the lowest paid earnings.  In many cases, not enough is earned to provide for the basic needs of an individual or family.  Skilled labor, on the other hand, can go from a fair standard of living to a level where the amount of money earned cannot possibly be spent because of its vastness in the millions.

 

Money can also be stored, not used for consumption, but put into banks or other financial institutions where it earns interest.  In addition it can be used as a commodity where it can earn profit.  Used this way it tends to increase the productive capacity of a nation; but this has nothing to do with the distribution of goods and services.

 

Money, in the form of profit (Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”) becomes the motivating force behind production of both goods and services.  Profit, from the sale of goods or the charge for services and the accumulation of money is the motivation for production.  This accumulation allows a small percentage of the population to amass large amounts but again, has nothing to do with a reasonable distribution of the specie.

 

It can be argued that Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” works on every level of the economy.  Given a choice the laborer, white collar worker, executive, entrepreneur will take that position which pays the greatest amount or has the best advantages.  Therefore each entity within the society is functioning where he/she can in their own interest; doing the best for themselves and their family unit.  But, again, what has this to do with a fair distribution of the National Income?

 

Several interesting questions arise here: Is money really related to the production of goods and services?  And if it is not then in what way would distribution be accomplished?  Since volume of production is tied directly to volume of consumption how, if we are to avoid upturns and downturns (constant recovery and recession), can we maintain a steady course of production and distribution of goods and services? 

 

The economic model (capitalism) was stated in 1776 by Adam Smith in his book “An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations,” which was published that year.  Smith designed his model for a pre-industrial nation, for a time when production could not meet the overall needs of everybody in the society.  We are now almost into a postindustrial society moving rapidly through and into the computer Revolution.  We are still prone to the vicissitudes of the Business Cycle.  Can we afford this kind of continual economic up and down turn?

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

The Twenty-first Century promises to be a time of intense change.  If we continue to adhere to what we have now then the economic upheavals can be catastrophic.  The Great Depression of 1929 could be mild compared to what we may face. In 2008 we faced such a situation.  It was avoided by massive spending by Presidents Bush and Obama.  

 

Donald Trump seems to be pointing toward the pre-2008 period.  He could, during his four year presidency, bring us back to an economic situation as bad as or far worse than the potential 2008 Depression. 

 

To avoid the possibility of negative economic change within our economy the country needs a new economic model or it has to make massive changes within our present system.

 

 

The Weiner Component #175 – Part 2: Notes on Donald Trump

Currently there is little going on between the Trump Group

US Intelligence Community Seal

US Intelligence Community Seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and the CIA and other intelligence services.  For one thing Trump is refusing to attend daily Intelligence Briefings more than once a week.  He claims he is smart enough to know what is going on in the world and that the meetings are redundant.  He is having his Vice-President, Mike Pence, attend daily. 

 

On the other hand there is heavy dissent over the issue of Russia having influenced or tried to influence the Presidential Election by hacking and releasing through WiliLeaks thousands of Clinton and others Democratic emails.  There is even a possibility of Russia having hacked into actual voting in the rural areas of the smaller states.  These assertions have come from both Democrats and Republicans, marking the first time he had been officially called out by his own party.  In fact Senator John McCain, the chair of the Armed Services Committee called for an investigation of Russian interference in the election.

 

The Trump people are mockingly pointing out that the CIA supported the concept of weapons of mass destruction during the first Bush Jr. administration, which incidentally they did not do.  They were surprised by this Bush assertion and stated then that it wasn’t true, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  Bush and Cheney had found a pseudo expert who propounded this theory.  Bush Jr. wanted the invasion because the ruler of Iraq had attempted to assassinate his “Daddy.”

 

Currently leaders in Congress are attempting to form a bipartisan group to investigate this situation.  Trump is insisting that this finding by the Intelligence Community is nonsense for two reasons: (1) He didn’t need any help in winning the election, and (2) He has specific plans for dealing with Putin and Russia under his administration and the move by Congress could force him to alter them.

 

Trump’s rationale seems to be that the Intelligence Community has “no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody else.  He called their report “Ridiculous.”  Of course he knows this without looking at the CIA’s evidence.  Remember, he does not attend Intelligence Briefings.

 

In the first postelection pushback that Trump has encountered from the Republican Party that belatedly and reluctantly embraced the unconventional candidate whose views often clash with traditional GOP ideology, the majority and minority heads of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer stated: “Democrats and Republicans must work together and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to defer and defend against further cyberattacks.”

 

During the final weeks of the campaign thousands of emails, many stolen from the Clinton campaign were released to WiliLeaks on an almost daily basis.  On Friday December 9th President Barack Obama ordered the CIA and other intelligence agencies to conduct a full review of foreign based digital attacks aimed at influencing the election. 

 

On Friday December 16th in his final Press Conference President Obama stated that he had seen the evidence that the hacking had been done by Russia in order to influence the American election in favor of Trump.   He also stated that this would never have happened unless Vladimir Putin was directly involved in the action.  President Obama further stated that the United States would take action, some visible and some publically invisible against Russia.

 

President Obama has a fraction over one month to take action or actions against Russia.  On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States for the next four years and he has a positive view of Vladimir Putin. 

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Trump was elected by numerous individuals, many of whom probably voted for the first time because of Trump’s promises.  In fact choosing him as the Republican candidate was a populist revolt over Congress’ inaction over the last six years.  The group or groups in the individual states that caused him to win the election were both high school graduates and non-graduates who couldn’t stand the Democratic Party but had gotten nothing from the Republican Party in return for their votes in the past.  Trump, the so-called billionaire, became the representative of this group throughout the United States.  At the Republican Convention he promised to be their voice, to represent them and to bring back the past.  That is, to bring back the jobs which have gone overseas or had technologically disappeared during the last forty or fifty years, which their group supposedly had in those earlier decades when life was simpler and, presumably, these people prospered or at least were able to earn a decent living.

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

Trump made all sorts of promises during the campaign.  Now we begin to see, in a vague manner, where Trump is going politically by his Cabinet choices.  He seems to favor generals, billionaires, and Wall Street.  This is a strange group to satisfy the needs of the “forgotten man” or woman.  He has chosen one of the most consistently conservative policy teams in the total history of the nation.  In fact, most of these people chosen seem to hold opposite views in terms of the offices to which they are being appointed.

 

Trump vigorously campaigned against Wall Street and big banks, then chose a former Goldman Sacks partner who is a billionaire, Steven Mnuchin, to run the Treasury Department.  Mnuchin is the co-chief executive of the hedge fund Dune Capital Management.  He has served as chairman of the One West Bank after he led a group to purchase it.  The bank has been criticized for a large number of foreclosures and for discrimination against minorities.  It has also financed several high-profile films.  Prior to that Mnuchin spent 17 years at Goldman Sacks.  According to the Progressive Orange Campaign Committee Mnuchin made a fortune foreclosing on working family homes.  This is the man Trump has chosen to oversee the financial structure of the United States.

 

A former lobbyist for the Koch brothers, who led a group that argued that solar energy would dramatically raise the cost of electricity is Trump choice to take over the Energy Department.  Thomas Pyle is the man.  For years Pyle has led a national assault on renewable power.  Pyle has tweeted that he expects the new administration would go beyond a mere rollback of President Obama’s climate change actions.  This is the man that Trump would have run the Energy Department.

 

In Health and Human Services, Social Security and Medicare, which Trump promised to save he has chosen Representative Tom Price, who has advocated major revisions in both, to run those services.  Price is a six term Georgia Congressman who has led the charge to privatize Medicare.  Trump did not mention Price’s plans for major changes to Medicare and Medicaid.  Price wants to privatize Medicare and give participants in the program medical vouchers.  He wants to save the government money by actually gradually making the beneficiary more and more responsible for paying for his own medical care.  In terms of Medicaid give grants of money to the states.  In this fashion the Federal Government can gradually decrease what it pays for these social programs.  These programs mostly serve poor Americans.  These changes would slowly decrease their benefits.  He probably would also privatize Social Security. 

  

 His choice for Labor Secretary is Andrew Puzder, the CEO of CKE that owns Hardees and Carl Jr., who will control the working people and has spoken of the advantages of using automation instead of people at Carl Jr.  He named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a man that has repeatedly expressed skepticism about the scientific consensus on climate change to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Presumably his choice for Secretary of State is Rex Tillerson, the CEO of the Exxon Mobile Corporation.  Tillerson has had dealings with Vladimir Putin and Russia.  In fact in 2013 Putin gave him the highest civilian medal that could be awarded to an individual, the Russian Order of Friendship.  It has also recently been released that Tillerson is a Director for a Russian-American oil company based in the Bahamas.

 

For Attorney General Donald Trump has chosen Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a true Southerner with strong Southern values who claims he is not a racist.  Republican Representative Mick Mulvancy, a Tea Party deficit hawk is Trump’s choice as his budget director.  He is cofounder of the hard right House Freedom Caucus and has a reputation for pushing deep spending cuts in order to balance the budget.

 

For Transportation Secretary, Trump choose Elaine Chao.  She served eight years as George W. Bush’s Labor Secretary and is married to Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate.  Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn was named as National Security Adviser.  Flynn was fired by the Obama administration for erratic behavior and has used anti-Muslim language that even the most strident Republicans have avoided.  He has used the words “radical Islamic terrorism in a way that blurs the lines between a war on terrorism and a war on Islam.  Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, was chosen to become Ambassador to the United Nations.

 

Trump is still looking for people to appoint to other departments and there are others he has already appointed.  The point has been made that most of Trump’s appointments are people who are opposed to the departments they are heading.  Their function, apparently, will be to do a hatchet job on their departments, destroying any progress that has been made toward a cleaner, nonpolluting environment.  The country has chosen a rather depressing four years.

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

In order to save jobs in Indiana Trump got the air conditioning company, Carrier Corporation to not move 2,000 jobs to Mexico.  Instead for a state tax rebate of seven million dollars voted by a committee headed by Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, Carrier, the highly financially successful company, is only moving twelve hundred jobs to Mexico.  Trump saved eight hundred jobs.  It only cost Indiana seven million dollars in lost taxes. 

 

What emerges here is essentially a negative pattern in which President Donald Trump by placing people who basic philosophy is counter to the departments in government to which they are appointed can in a relatively short time wipe out the achievements of their departments and bring the country back to where it was prior to 2008 when the Housing Debacle occurred.  They can relatively quickly get rid of all or most government restrictions on industrial and banking development.  Many Republicans, particularly the Tea Party group, applaud these choices by Trump.  A small percentage of the Republicans do not appreciate them. 

 

There are currently 52 Republican Senators and 48 Democratic ones in the Senate.  Most of Trump’s appointments require “advice and consent” by the Senate.  I can think of no way in which all the Republican Senators will give Trump a blanket vote.  Trump may find it impossible to get many of his choices for Cabinet department heads through.  The Democrats will give negative blanket votes against almost all of them.  It will only take 3 Republican votes to get a person rejected.  The hearings should be interesting and dramatic.

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

What we see here seems to be a pattern of what the two major political parties stand for and where they currently are in terms of historical time. 

 

The Republicans seem to be in the late 18th Century, when this country was started, and in the 19th Century when life and work was simpler.  Their basic premise seems to be that the function of government is to take care of wars and provide a safe environment where business can take place.  The people of the nation are responsible for themselves.  This type of government did function during the early period of our history, when men could pack up their families and go west.

 

The Democratic Party, which was begun by Thomas Jefferson, initially was the party of the yeoman farmer, it served the little man as he and his family made their way through life.  This changed in the 20th Century when life became mostly urban and monopoly arrived, virtually totally exploiting the common man.  A young lawyer, Louis Brandeis, introduced sociological evidence, the living conditions of workers, in his trials for the first time and essentially changed the concept of what was considered evidence.  For this he was rewarded or punished by being placed upon the Supreme Court.

 

Brandeis was followed by the Great Depression of 1929 and Franklin D. Roosevelt who redefined the functions of the Democratic Party as the Party of the common man.  Its functions, in addition to the normal ones of a National Government, became those of assuming responsibility for the functions of society that individuals could not handle for themselves, making the nation safe and positively functional for everyone.

 

With the election of Trump we seem to be at the beginning of a return to the past.  Of course, with doing away with Affordable Health Care (Obamacare), which the Republicans have tried to do multiple times under President Obama and claimed should be done, we could, at some point in 2017, see well over 20 million people lose their medical coverage.  In addition the entire medical insurance industry could be totally disrupted as the insurance companies base their premium rates upon their knowledge of their clientele.  A disruption of this sort could cost the Republicans both Houses of Congress in 2018.  And it’s interesting to note that toward the end of 2016, after Trump became President-Elect, there has been a massive surge of sign-ups for Obamacare.  It is in the millions.

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

Donald Trump has promised, among other things, not to change Obamacare other than to make it better.  The Republicans in Congress have promised to do away with it for the last six years.  Over 20 million people who had no medical insurance prior to Obamacare are now insured.  The Republicans have promised to replace it with something better but in six years they have come up with nothing better.  What are they going to do?  Twenty million or more people suddenly losing their health insurance will, no doubt, make their feeling known in the next Congressional Election in 2018.

 

Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, recently was questioned by the press about Obamacare.  He equivocated, saying that nothing has been decided yet.  The Republicans have controlled both Houses of Congress for nearly two years and nothing has been decided.  Apparently the Republicans do a good job of objecting but a lousy job of legislating.  It would seem that the different shades of conservatism are incapable of coming to agreement on most things among themselves or, to put it more simply, compromising even among themselves.

                  

In terms of Trump and the majority of Congress, both claim to be Republican, but do they really agree on all or even most traditional conservative policies?  Keep in mind that the conservatives in Congress have problems functioning as a single unit, then add the President-Elect, who has his own version of conservatism and would come to different conclusions on many issues, and try to visualize what will probably happen.

 

The issue is Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.  There are also innumerable other issues.  One gets the feeling that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, doesn’t quite trust Donald Trump.  The two smile a lot together but don’t really trust one another.

 

First: Ryan was the only Republican in the House of Representatives that all the Republicans in the House could accept as their conditional leader after John Boehner was forced to resign as Speaker.  Second: Ryan is using the same techniques against Trump that he used against President Obama.  The Finance Bill, which funds the Federal Government, traditionally was passed for the entire fiscal year.  Ryan changed that.  It is now passed on a four month basis.

 

According to the Constitution all money bills have to originate in the House.  The Bill then goes to the Senate.  They can pass it exactly as it is or they can change it.  If they change it the Bill then goes to a Conference Committee, made up of Representatives from both Houses of Congress.  Both Houses vote on the new Bill; and when passed, it goes to the President for his signature.

 

Paul Ryan changed that pattern.  The House would pass the money Bill just before the House adjourned for some sort of break.  The Bill sent to the Senate had to be passed just as it was.  There was no time for the Conference Committee to meet.  Attached to the money Bill were riders the President would not ordinarily approve.  The choice was to pass the Bill or allow the government to run out of money.

 

The last money Bill that Congress passed was in the middle of December of 2016.  The next money Bill will have to be passed in the middle of April of 2017.  Ryan has left himself with leverage that can be used against President Trump if it is necessary.

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Trump’s Presidency should be loud and vociferous.  Trump will be highly frustrated every time he doesn’t get his way.  The frustration will begin with many of the appointments he has made.  Only a percentage of his appointments will be approved.  He should be denouncing congressmen loudly, accusing them of all sorts of things.  In addition he will want to perform assorted actions that Congress does not approve of and he will be reacting to that.  At some point the House may even vote a Bill of Impeachment against him for conflicts of interest or for some other reason.  The next four years will be colorful and probably, at times, very emotional.

 

The Weiner Component #174 – The 2016 Election

 

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the 2016 Presidential Election by at least 2.8 million votes.  She actually won the election but lost the Electoral College Vote: Clinton had 232 Electoral votes to Trump’s 306. On the basis of a true Democratic Vote, rule by the will of the majority of people in the country, Hillary Clinton actually got the majority of votes.  She should have won the election.

 

Donald Trump won the actual election because of a system inaugurated by the Founding Fathers in the late 18th Century that allowed the election to be skewered toward the much less populated states.  The initial issue in the late seventeen hundreds was representation for all thirteen states regardless of population. 

 

Each state regardless of size got two senators while the number of representatives in the House of Representatives was determined by the population of each state.  The smaller states didn’t want to be totally overshadowed then by the larger states.  The 2016 Presidential Election is the fourth time in the history of the nation that the election has gone to the person with the lesser amount of the public votes.

 

It has happened twice in the 19th Century and, so far, twice in the 21st Century.  As a rule the Republicans tend to do better in midterm election than in Presidential elections.  This is mainly because a lot of voters don’t vote then.  In addition to this Republicans use what methods they can to suppress the minority vote.  Texas has been quite successful with voter suppression.

 

The majority political party in the United States is the Democratic Party, then comes the Republicans, then the Independents, down the line there are the Libertarians, and finally the Green Party.  There are other groups but they tend to be regional.  Occasionally there will be Third Party candidates.

 

During a Presidential Election only two of the fifty states, Nebraska and Maine, do not follow the winner take all principle.  In the remaining forty-eight states whoever wins the majority of votes gets all the electoral votes for that state. 

 

There are 435 elected members in the House of Representatives that represent the 50 states.  There are three more that represent territories held by the United States.  Not all territories are represented.  The 435 seats is a fixed number.  Every ten years a census is taken and the seats are redistributed based upon population changes.  Regardless of population every state will have at least one member in the House.  In the Senate every state is represented by two Senators regardless of population. 

 

Every four years a Presidential Election is held.  The voters, within the country, do not vote directly for the president.  Instead they elect an invisible elector who will vote for the person they choose.  There are 538 people who are chosen as electors, three or more from every state representing the members of Congress and three representing the U.S. territories.  It takes 270 electoral votes to become President.

 

One of the problems with this system is that the Electoral Districts are the same as the House of Representative Districts.  Both political parties, but the Republicans particularly, have gerrymandered their Districts within their states to give them the most advantage when it comes to elections.  They have drawn the districts to break up Democratic blocks of voters and whenever possible give Republicans the advantage.  This same advantage exists in the Electoral Districts of many states, since both are the same. 

 

This advantage has allowed the Republicans to hold a majority in the House of Representatives since 2011 even though in 2012 over one and a quarter million more Democrats voted for members of the House.  That same advantage existed for Donald J. Trump even though Hillary Clinton has received well over two million more votes from the general population than Donald Trump has gotten.

 

Two of the Texas electors have announced that they cannot in good conscious vote for Trump.  One has stated that he will resign and the other will vote for another Republican.  This, of course, will not change anything.

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Since the overall population of the United States increases and continually relocates a National census is taken every ten years to determine the number of House of Representative Districts in the nation.  The number is fixed at 435.  The Congressional Election Districts are rearranged every ten years.  Also within the cities of each state there is a continual movement from the rural areas to the urban cemters where most job opportunities occur, so that the population will dynamically change within the ten year period.  Consequently the cities continue to grow making for totally unequal numbers in many of the Congressional Districts.  Within most states the urban votes count for less each year against the rural districts, which tend to lose people continually.

 

What is true for the individual states is also true for the United States, except that here it works on a larger scale.  The number of people voting in the larger states, which have many more and much larger urban areas, have their individual votes count for a lot less than those residing in the smaller states, particularly in the rural sections of the smaller states.

 

All fifty states are shown on MSNBC, CNN, or Fox News as either red or blue states: red is Republican and blue is Democratic.  There are also purple states, which are the swing states that can go either way.  Most of the campaigning during Presidential Elections is done in the purple or swing states.

 

These battleground states carry disproportionate influence in Presidential Elections.  In 2016 most of the campaigning was done in just twelve states.

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau there is a net population gain of one person every 13 seconds.  This means that the United States gains 110.77 people every day or 40,431 every single year.

 

The following population statistics are taken from the Census Bureau’s July 2014 estimate.  If anything they tend to be conservative.

 

The statistics here used were done by the Census Bureau in July of 2014.  According to the official 2010 population count officially done by the Census Bureau the population of the United States was 308,745,538 and was estimated to be 318,857,056 in July of 2014.  The 2016 Vote was taken from the results of the Presidential Election.

 

                                                               House     Elect.      Pop. Per   |2016

Rank|     State           | Population|  Seats|   Votes   |House Seat| V0te

    1  |  California      | 38,802.500|    53    |     55       |      717,763|  D

    2  |   Texas            | 26,956,958|    36    |     38       |      734,867|  R

    3  |   Florida         |  19,893,297|    27    |      29       |      715,465| R

    4  |  New York     |  19,746,227|    27    |      29       |      724,824| D

    5  |  Illinois           |  12,880,580|   18     |      20       |     715.292 | D

    6  |Pennsylvania |  12,787,209|   18     |      20       |     709,085 | R

    7  |     Ohio           |   11,594163|   16     |      18       |     721,514 | R

    8  |    Georgia      |   10,097,343|   14    |       16      |      708,568 | R

    9  | N. Carolina   |      9,943,964|   13    |       15      |      750,159| R

  10  |  Michigan     |      9,909,877|   14    |       16      |      705,954| D

  11  | New Jersey  |      8,938,175|   12    |       14      |      738,716| D

  12  | Virginia         |      8,326,289|   11    |      13       |      744,170| D

  13  |Washington  |      7,061,530|   10    |      12       |      689,701| D

  14  |Massachusetts|   6,745,408|     9    |       11      |      738,460| D

  15  |   Arizona       |      6,731,484|     9    |       11      |      728,139| R

  16  |   Indiana       |      6,596,855|     9    |       11      |      726,370| R

  17  |  Tennessee  |      6,549,352|     9    |       11      |      717,360| R

  18  |   Missouri     |      6,063,589  |     8   |       10      |      752,749| R

  19  |  Maryland    |      5,976,407  |     8   |       10      |      735,570| D

  20  |  Wisconsin   |      5,757,564  |     8   |       10      |      715,800| R

  21  |  Minnesota  |      5,457,173  |     8   |       10      |      672,392| D

  22  |  Colorado     |      5,355,856  |     7   |         9      |      741,083| D

  23  |  Alabama     |       4,849,377  |     7   |        9      |       688,860| R

  24  | S. Carolina   |       4,832,482  |     7   |        9      |      674,818 | R

  25  | Louisiana     |       4,649.676  |    6    |        8      |      766,982 | R

  26  | Kentucky     |       4,413,457  |    6    |        8      |      730,069 | R

  27  |  Oregon       |       3,970,239  |    5    |        7      |      779,871 | D

  28  |Oklahoma    |        3,878,051 |    5    |        7      |      762,964 | R

  29  |Connecticut |        3,596,677 |    5    |        7      |      718,059 | D

  30  |     Iowa         |        3,107,126 |    4    |        6      |      758,547 | R

  31  |  Arkansas     |        2,994,079 |    4    |        6      |      737,283 | R

  32  |Mississippi    |        2,984,926 |    4    |        6      |     746,232  | R

  33  |      Utah         |        2,942902  |    4    |        6      |     713,822  | R

  34  |   Kansas        |        2,904,021 |     4    |        6      |     721,476  | R

  35  |   Nevada       |        2,839,099 |     4    |        6      |     689,733  | D

  36  |New Mexico |        2,085,572 |     3    |        5      |     695,179  | D

  37  |  Nebraska     |       1,881,503  |     3    |        5     |      618,508 | R

  38  | W. Virginia   |        1,850,326 |     3    |        5     |      618,471 | R

  39  |    Idaho         |         1,634,464|      2    |       4     |      797,864 | R

  40  |   Hawaii        |         1,419,561|      2    |       4     |      696,157 | D

  41  |   Maine       |    1,330,089   |         2    |       4     |      664,596 | D

  42  | N. Hampshire| 1,326,813  |         2    |        4     |      660,350| D

  43  |Rhode Island|   1,055,173  |         2     |        4     |      525,146| D

  44  |   Montana   |    1,023,579  |         1     |        3      |  1,005,141| R

  45  |   Delaware  |        935,614  |         1     |        3      |      917,029| D

  46  | S. Dakota    |        853,175  |         1     |        3      |      833,354| R

  47  | N. Dakota   |        739,482  |         1     |        3      |      699,628| R

  48  |   Alaska       |        737,732  |         1     |        3      |      736,732| R

  49  |   Vermont   |       626,011   |         1     |       3       |     626,562 | D

  50  |   Wyoming  |      584,153    |         1    |        3       |     576,412 | R

 

Depending upon population every state has at least three people in Congress, two in the Senate and at least one in the House of Representatives.  Wyoming, population-wise has the smallest population, a little over ½ million, while California has the largest population, almost 40 million.  California has 53 house members and two Senators.  The other states generally come between these two. 

 

Altogether there are seven states that have only one representative in the House and two in the Senate.  Of these two voted Democratic and five voted Republican.  Only thirteen states have ten or more electoral votes.  All the others go from one to nine.

 

If we take the bottom 29 states and count their total population then we have approximately the same population as California.  They have 55 House Districts and 42 Senators.  This gives them 97 electoral votes against California’s 55 electoral votes.  There seems to be something wrong with this math. 

 

If it’s argued that some of the bottom 21 states voted for the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, then if we skip those states and count just Republican states the number diminishes a little but the same problem exists.  The number of House votes will increase and there is still a large number of Senate votes.  No matter how this is added up it is totally unfair.  The smaller states each have two Senators and the number adds substantially to the number of electors representing them while the much larger states only have two senators.  

 

The reason for the Electoral College may have made sense in the late 17 hundreds but it makes no sense today.  A fair election in a Democracy is an election where all the people are equally represented.  This does not exist with the Electoral College.  It is past time for a change. 

 

Even Donald Trump has called the system unreasonable.  With a fairer system Trump said he would have done most of his campaigning in the bigger states.  He believes he still would have won.

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In addition, under the current system, there are actually 50 plus elections going on with no carry-over from one to the other.  Forty-eight of the states are winner take all states.  This means that every vote for the losing candidate is lost.  In a truly democratic election there would still be one winner, but every single vote would matter until the winner was chosen.  That doesn’t happen here.  Hillary Clinton had well over two million more votes in the 2016 Election than Donald Trump.

 

In addition states like California send millions of tax dollars to the Federal Government.  The smaller states are generally the recipients of much of this money since many of them receive much of this tax money in aid. 

 

Trump ran up large margins in small cities and rural areas turning out white, working class workers in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.  He also did extremely well in rural areas of battleground states like Florida and North Carolina, which he won.

 

It is certainly time to modernize our election system.  All votes should be counted equally.  The Founding Fathers did not visualize or necessarily approve of political parties.  They developed a system that they believed would allow the President to be chosen by the best educated people living in the country.  They never even had a glimmer of a country such as exists today. 

 

Political Parties came into existence almost immediately after the Constitution was ratified.  Alexander Hamilton organized the first political party, the Federalist Party.  Shortly thereafter Thomas Jefferson organized the Democratic-Republican Party.  Both men served under President George Washington. 

 

We are now in the 21st Century.  It is time to modernize the Constitution.  Hillary Clinton should have won the 2016 Presidential Election.  Hopefully Trump will not take us back to the 1920s and the disaster that followed in 1929.

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Hillary Clinton had 2.8 million more votes than Donald Trump.  She had approximately the same number as Barack Obama had in 2012.  She won big in the larger states like California and New York, beating Trump by almost 2 for 1 in California.  Trump, where he won, won by small margins.  In the smaller states he won by slight margins; and mostly by votes in the underrepresented rural areas of the smaller states.  It was an election where the smaller states, those that generally get economic help from the Federal Government, made Trump the winner.  The 2016 Presidential Election was a prime example of rule by the minority.

 

The Weiner Component #173 – A Short History of Political Parties

The Republican Party came into existence with the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States in 1860.  It was a combination of different political groups that didn’t agree with the Democratic Party, which was the major political party that existed throughout the entire United States. The other political parties were all reginal.  It should be noted that in this election the Republicans were not on the ballet of any one Southern state.  The election in the Southern States dealt only with the Northern and Southern Democratic Parties.

 

With the exception of the issue of slavery the Republican Party supported business and its growth.  In fact largely so did that of the Democrats with a slight emphasis on agriculture.  This period was the era of business growth in the country.  The Industrial Revolution had begun in Great Britain at the turn of the 19th Century; it spread to Europe by the 1830s; and thereafter moved to the United States where it began slowly speeding-up during the Civil War and then growing even more rapidly in the post war period.

 

Politically the Republicans would stay in power for most of the balance of the 19th Century.  With the death of Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, the Vice-President, would become President.  He was a former Southerner and Democrat who had been elected during Lincoln’s second term when the Republicans had run under the National Union Ticket.  During his presidency the Congress was almost totally Radical Republican and did what they wanted even to the point of unsuccessfully impeaching Johnson.

 

Johnson served out his term, 1865-1869, and was followed by the Republican Union General, Ulysses S. Grant who served two terms, from March 4, 1869 – March 4 1877.  In 1876 the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes stole the Presidential Election from the Democrat Samuel J. Tilden.  Tilden won the popular vote but there were two sets of electoral votes from several states and the Republicans were the ones who prevailed.

 

In 1880 the Republican James A. Garfield was elected President.  He served 200 days in that office and was shot by a dissatisfied office seeker.  His Vice- President, Chester A. Arthur, then became President.  In 1884 the Democrat Grover Cleveland won and four years later in 1888 he lost to the Republican, Benjamin Harrison.  In that election Cleveland won the popular vote but Harrison won the Electoral College vote.  But in 1892 the Democrat Grover Cleveland won his second term.  In 1896 the Republican William McKinley was elected to the presidency. 

 

It was during this post-Civil-War period that the United States began turning into an industrial giant.  And it was during this time that the country underwent the rise of a new class, the plutocrats.  These were essentially the “robber barons” who owned most of the new industries that arose.  They had largely bribed their way through the State and Federal legislatures.  It was a time of intense corruption in all levels of government.  Shortly after this period that the people would get the right to directly elect senators through their votes and the Progressive Movement would take off in an attempt to return the country to its people.

 

As we’ve seen the Republicans, more or less, stayed in power during this time.  But the nation was going through intense growing pains.  It didn’t matter which political party was in charge the country was changing on almost a daily basis and it was impossible to keep up with everything that was going on.  These Presidents did their best; but, I suspect, no one totally understood or could have done what was really necessary with the speed of change.  In many respects the corrupt political machines, both Democratic and Republican, that existed then in the cities served the poor in return for their votes.  There were no government or other services.

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

In 1900 the Republican William McKinley was elected to a second term.  His new Vice-President, Theodore Roosevelt, was put into that position to get him out of New York.  Jokingly it was stated that “Teddy,” the former governor of New York, “had taken the veil;” he could no longer bother anyone in government.  At that time the most nonfunctional job in Washington was that of Vice-President.  In the musical satire “Of Thee I Sing,” there is a scene with the Vice-President taking a tour of the White House so he could see what it looked like since he’d never been their otherwise.

 

On September 6, 1901, less than a year after he had begun his second term, William McKinley was shot by an anarchist.  Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th President of the United States.  To the Republican leadership it was “that damn cowboy in the White House.”

 

From the 1890s on until shortly after America’s entrance into World War I the United States went through the Progressive Movement.  It was a time of reform on all levels of society.  Its goals were to eliminate city political machines and their bosses, to bring direct democracy to the people, and to regulate monopolies and corporations through anti-trust laws.  Theodore Roosevelt became known to his admiring public as the Trust-Busting President.

 

The Progressive Movement brought about prohibition, women suffrage, the direct election of senators, and the Federal Reserve Act.  The three presidents who were directly involved with this movement were the Republicans, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft and the Democrat, Woodrow Wilson. 

 

Roosevelt was President from 1901 to 1908; then he choose Taft to replace him from 1909 to 1912.  In 1912 Roosevelt dissatisfied with Taft decided to run again for the office.  The Republican Party supported Taft.  Roosevelt ran as a third party candidate in the Bull Moose Party.  In this Presidential Contest Roosevelt came in second, Taft was third, and the winner with a little over 40% of the vote was the Democrat, Woodrow Wilson.

 

The Progressive Movement, with these three presidents, ended shortly after the Great War (World War I), with woman suffrage and prohibition, the 18th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution in 1919.

 

At the end of the war the Senate had a Republican majority which refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I.  The Republican, Warren Harding, was elected President in 1920.  He signed a separate peace treaty with Germany.  The following two administrations that of Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover were also Republican.  The Secretary of the Treasury for all three administrations was Andrew Mellon, the millionaire industrialist and banker.

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In 1776, Adam Smith, a professor at the University of Edinburgh published a book based upon his lectures entitled, “An Enquiry of the Wealth of nations,” that defined the functions of capitalism.  The work and its theories are still the basis of modern capitalism.  The study was a vigorous attack upon an earlier economic system called mercantilism which defines national wealth as gold and the amount of gold a nation possessed as its wealth.  Smith defined national wealth as the amount of goods and services a nation produced in a set amount of time, a fiscal year.  The motivating force that caused the economy to work was, according to Smith, the invisible hand, the profit motive.

 

The Republicans not only accepted this idea they have been utilizing it ever since.  The only problem is that the unregulated profit motive has continually led to economic disaster.

 

From 1920 to 1929, under three Republican presidents, allowing the market system, the profit motive, to freely function, brought about the country’s collapse into the Great Depression.  Hoover and his Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon, the multi-millionaire industrialist and banker, didn’t know what to do.  For over three years of economic decline they kept talking about “prosperity being around the corner.”  They expected the Market to balance itself and prosperity to return.  It didn’t happen.  Conditions went from bad to worse and continued to stay there.  The industrial world foundered in misery.  Some countries like Italy, Germany, and Japan ended up in dictatorships.

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

As in had happened in the 1920s, under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, the Federal Government did away with all banking regulations.  The Free Market would determine which way the economy would go.  The motivating force for the Free Market was Adam Smith’s “invisible hand;” this was the profit motive.  In 2008 the Housing Market crashed and the major banking houses were on the point of bankruptcy after about 30 years of constant growth.

 

In the 1920s the Stock Market became crazier and crazier.  On Black Tuesday, October 23, 1929 the Stock Market, after a decade of intense growth, collapsed. 

 

The collapse continued.  By 1932 the Gross National Product had dropped 15%, unemployment was down 25%, and farm prices were down 80%.  In many cases it cost the farmer more to raise the crop than the amount for which it could be sold.  The Hoover administration and the Secretary of the Treasury’s constant response was that prosperity was just around the corner.  Hoover did make some attempts to deal with the situation but they were totally inadequate.  Neither he nor Andrew Mellon, the Secretary of the Treasury, were capable of dealing with this situation, the country and its people floundered.

 

What happened, happened on a world basis.  All the industrial nations were affected by the Great Depression.  It was far worse outside of the United States.  In some countries unemployment was far lower than 25% and the level of misery was far greater than in the United States.

 

The various governments, including that of the United States, put high tariff walls around themselves in order to protect what jobs still existed.  This, in turn, made many prices far higher than they should have been.  Living standards hit an all-time low, with many people dying of malnutrition.  People wandered over the country looking for work.  We had the age of the hobo.  Many, and that included those in the government, did not understand what was happening.

 

In 1932, four years after the Great Depression began, the former Democratic governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), ran for the Presidency of the United States.  The Republicans ran Hoover for a second term.

 

 During this period many of the veterans of the First World War descended upon Washington, D.C.  They had been promised a bonus in the future for serving in the war.  This was the Bonus March.  They demanded it at that time.  The veterans set up a massive camp at the outskirts of the city.  The Federal Government felt it was in no position to pay the bonus early.  President Hoover ordered the commanding general, Douglas MacArthur, to break up the camp but to not harm any of the veterans.  Two men were killed.  This move absolutely destroyed most Republican support that may have still existed in the country.  Roosevelt was overwhelmingly elected President of the United States. He received 57% of the popular vote and carried all but six of the forty-eight states.

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

As President Roosevelt offered the country a New Deal.  The term came from poker.  His program consisted of the 3Rs: Relief, Recovery, & Reform.  Relief for the unemployed and the poor, Recovery of the economy to normal levels, and Reform of the financial system to prevent future depressions. 

 

Money at that time was gold and silver.  The Federal Government would pay for this by collecting all the gold coins in circulation, melting them down into bricks of golds, storing the gold in depositories like Fort Knox, and then issuing paper money.  In 1932 a gold coin that weighed an ounce was a twenty dollar gold piece.  The Federal Government bought all the gold mined in the United States at $16 an ounce.  In 1933, after the gold was collected and replaced with paper money its value was legally increased to $32 an ounce.  The Roosevelt administration doubled the money supply.  This would pay for the New Deal.

 

They issued paper money, called Federal Reserve Notes which were then theoretically backed by the gold bricks stored in the government depositories.  No one ever checked to see that the amount of Federal Reserve Notes (paper money) matched the amount of gold in the underground depositories.  The Federal Government could print and issue money as needed, which it did during the New Deal and later during World War II.  In essence the country went off the gold standard in 1933.

 

FDR changed the function of government.  Up to that point, historically, it had run the nation and the people were responsible for themselves.  From 1933 on the Federal Government officially assumed responsibility for the people where they could no longer care for themselves.  Actually the change had been begun during the Progressive Movement, but it was under FDR made into official government policy. 

 

In addition the Federal Government passed laws to regulate industry.  The basic concept was to have a level paying-field for all participants.  It also encouraged unionization of labor.

 

These, in essence, became the major issues between the Democratic and Republican Parties with the Republicans slowly giving in to the Democrats.  After the death of Roosevelt President Harry S. Truman would continue this policy with his Fair Deal.  The next President Dwight David Eisenhower would be a middle-of-the-road Republican building, among other things, a national highway system.

 

Eisenhower was followed by the Democrat, John F. Kennedy, who would serve as President from January 1961 to November 22, 1963 when he was assassinated.  Kennedy was succeeded by his Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson who was elected in his own right in 1964.  These two presidents were responsible for bringing the Federal Government into the Civil Rights Movement, which, in turn, legally enabled Blacks to vote throughout the South and integrated society making all the nation’s citizens equal.  It also turned the South into Republican voting states.

 

Johnson was followed by, Richard M. Nixon, who was also a moderate Republican.  During the middle of his second term he was forced to resign over the Watergate Scandal and was replaced by his Vice-President Gerald Ford.  Ford officially ended the Viet Nam War.  He was replaced by the Democrat, Jimmy Carter.

 

After one term Carter was succeeded in 1981 by the Republican, Ronald Reagan, who would serve for two terms and leave a definite imprint on American politics.  President Reagan implemented sweeping political and economic changes, bringing supply side economics (Reagonomics), lowering taxes in order to spur growth while actually increasing government spending.  He brought about government deregulation of industry and banking and reduced government spending in social programs for the poor and needy.  He massively increased military spending, starting an arms race with the Soviet Union and raised the deficit to over one trillion dollars for the first time.

 

Reagan brought into government the conservative Republican prospective that had first been demonstrated when ultra-conservative Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.  Reagan’s supply side economics was a large tax cut for the wealthy and small tax cuts for everyone else.  The theory being that the rich would invest the new monies into new economic expansion and all sorts of new jobs would be created.  Thus the monies would trickle down to all parts of society.  It never happened. The money was actually invested in old productivity, like the stock market, and produced no new employment.  However to Republicans this was the Conservative Revolution. 

 

Reagan’s military spending brought the National deficit up to over a trillion dollars for the first time.  It also began an arms race with the Soviet Union that would bankrupt them.

 

Reagan was followed by his Vice-President, George H. W. Bush, who had to deal with a Democratic Congress, and ended fighting an unnecessary war against Iraq, Operation Desert Storm, which more than doubled the national deficit.

 

Bush, after one term, was followed by the Democratic President Bill Clinton, who served two terms, from 1993-2001.  Clinton as President reversed or ignored the Reagan economic changes.  During his third year in office, 1994, the House of Representatives acquired for the first time in 40 years a Republican majority.  From 1998 to 2000, the last three years of the Clinton presidency the United States government had a budget surplus and was able to reduce the deficit.

 

Clinton was followed into office by the Republican George W. Bush, who won the electoral vote but not the popular vote.  Like Clinton he served two terms.  He was initially elected in a controversial election, receiving less votes than the Democratic candidate, Al Gore.

 

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City occurred eight months in his first term as President.  George W. Bush’s response to this was to declare War on Terror and send a military force to Afghanistan in 2001 to take control away from the terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda.  He was successful in doing this but he was not successful in setting up a Democratic government that could maintain control of the country.  After 15 years in Afghanistan we are still there.  Bush also later decided, for personal reasons, to set up a Democracy in Iraq.  Saddam Hussein, the ruler of Iraq, had tried to have his father assassinated.  We are also still in Iraq.  

 

Following Republican policy Bush lowered taxes for the well-to-do and somewhat for the middle class while he massively fought two wars and destabilized the Middle East.  Under Bush the National Debt rose from six trillion dollars to ten trillion dollars.

 

During his presidency he signed into law the Patriot Act, a Partial Abortion Ban Act, and Medicare Prescription Drug Benefits for seniors.  In 2008, his last year as President, the Housing Market crashed and Bush and his Treasury Secretary loaned billions to some banking houses to keep them from going bankrupt. 

 

His presidency has been ranked among the worst by historians in the entire history of the United States.

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In the Election of 2008 the Democrats took both the presidency and both Houses of Congress.  In 2008 the country was on the brink of a Depression that would have made the Great Depression of 1929, which lasted for a little over a decade, look like a weekend affair in comparison.  The new President, Barack Obama, through massive government spending was able to turn it into what has been called The Great Recession.  And, as of early December 2016, unemployment fell to the level it had been at prior to 2007, 4 ½%.

 

During his first two years in office President Obama with the cooperation of a Democratic controlled Congress was able to avoid a massive depression.  He also passed the Affordable Health Care Bill.  From 2011 on he had to deal with a Republican dominated House of Representatives and thereafter was able to gradually continue his economic reform through the use of creative Monetary Policy with the Federal Reserve.  The House forced through some legislation which actually exacerbated what then became called The Great Recession.

 

Barack Obama has been President for two terms.  He will end his tenure on January 20, 2017, when Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States.  What the new President-Elect will or will not do is unknown, outside of the fact that he is erratic in his behavior.  His current appointments to his staff and cabinet would indicate that he is moving far to the right.  The appointments indicate also that he is doing the opposite of what he initially proposed, bringing Wall Street and the military into his Cabinet. 

 

As of January 20th the three main parts of the Federal Government will all be Republican dominated, the Presidency and both Houses of Congress.  The Republicans in Congress have been talking about doing away with Obamacare (Affordable Health Care) but if they do that 20 million people would lose their health coverage and numerous millions more would have their young adult children removed from their policies.  In addition those individuals with a prior condition, who the insurance companies were forced to accept, would be dropped from their insurance policies.  The effect of these changes would no doubt cause the Republicans to lose control of both Houses of Congress in 2018. 

 

As I understand the current issue the Republican dominated Congress will do away with Obamacare immediately but the plan will not go into action for three years, not until after the next Congressional Election in 2018.  The Republicans in Congress feel that they can come up with a better replacement over that period of time.

 

Unfortunately the current universal medical plan is an expanded Republican Plan that was developed by a Republican Think-Tank and was first successfully used in Massachusetts when Mitt Romney was governor.  The only alternate plan, which would successfully lower costs, would be a single payer plan run by the government covering everybody in the United States.  In fact it could be successfully financed by an increase in income taxes and no premiums being paid by anyone.    This plan would be unacceptable to the Republicans.  The only basic one that they could in principle support would be Affordable Health Care, which was the Republican plan.  They have opposed it for the last seven years.  2019 should be an interesting year. 

 

And also there is what Donald Trump has promised and will do or try to do.  It is interesting to note that the current Republican dominated Congress does not really trust Donald Trump.  They have only partially funded the Federal Government for a second time this year.  It will have to be funded again in four months during Trump’s presidency.  This action can be used to force him to cooperate with them.

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What should emerge from this article is that the political parties were close together around the 19th Century.  The Democrats emphasized the rural or agricultural areas and the Republicans the urban or business cities.  Other than that the two parties tended to, more or less, cooperate.  The Progressive or Reform Movements that came about from the 1880s to 1920 was a function of men from both political parties.

 

From 1921 on, with the assentation of President Warren Harding we have the modern Republican Party.  Presumably because of scandal Harding died in office and was replaced by his Vice-President, Calvin Coolidge, who was then reelected to serve another term.  It was under these two men that modern Republican principles were developed and continued under the next President, Herbert Hoover.  The forms of government regulation that had been brought about by the Progressive Movement were done away with.  The Free Market was allowed to function unhindered.  This brought about the Great Depression of 1929.

 

Four years later, in 1933, the Democrat FDR became President.  He brought about the New Deal, experimenting with all forms of socialism to put the country back on its feet.  He kept was worked and discarded what didn’t.

 

FDR changed the function of government, making it responsible for the welfare of its people.  This was a new concept excepted in the 20th Century by virtually all the industrial nations.  This concept was actually carried on by both political parties in the United States until the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.  Will it continue?  There are many who feel strong doubts.  We are at an interesting or frightening point in our history.

 

Trump’s election seems to indicate a return to the policies of the 1920s.  Could we be facing the possibility of a return to the Depression of 1929 or to the Housing Debacle of 2008, to the potential of a far greater depression than that of 1929?  It is a distinct possibility considering Republican control of the Presidency and the Congress.  And, of course, there are Trump’s attitudes and his appointment to important government jobs.  Republicans seem to have a short historic memory!

The Weiner Component #172 – Part 1: Notes on President-Elect Donald J. Trump

The question that arose at the end of November 2016 was whether Donald Trump was/is more interested in being President of the United States or remaining in charge of his Business Empire?  At present he seems to want to do both.  The problem that emerges here is that doing both means he is completely subjected to conflicts of interest, where as President he is encouraging foreign visitors to use his property facilities such as his new Washington, D.C. hotel which he recently opened.  Trumps attitude seems to be for everyone to trust him, he will keep the two entities separate, even though he does not reveal the extent of his Business Empire. 

 

Trump likes to keep secrets.  He is the only President in recent history who has not released his income taxes.  He has also not released any information on the extent of his property holdings, either within the United States or internationally.  We also have no idea of the ties he has with Russia, China, India, or for that matter, with any other nation.

 

Is this reasonable?  While the President and the Judges of the Supreme Court are exempt from self-interest still conflicts in the two could affect President Trump’s responsibility to the United States.  If he intentionally makes a profit in his real estate empire from acts he performs as President then he is abrogating his role as President of the United States and acting unconstitutionally.  For this type of act he can be impeached.  What exactly will Donald Trump do, if anything, to alleviate his conflicts of interest?  Does he care about them?

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

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Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Council will participate in a recount of the votes in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.  Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign’s general council wrote in a post on Medium on Saturday, November 26, 2016, that the Clinton team has been conducting an extensive review of election results.

 

“While the effort has not, in our view, resulted in evidence of manipulation of results”, stated Elias, “now that a recount is underway, we believe we have an obligation, to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton, to participate in the ongoing proceedings to ensure that an accurate vote count will be reported.”

 

The Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, has to date raised 5 ½ million dollars for a recount in Wisconsin; where she filed for one on Friday morning, November 25, and has pledged to do the same in Pennsylvania and Michigan.  These are states where President-Elect Trump won or is leading by a small margin.

 

New York magazine reported that a group of activists and computer scientists have implored the Clinton campaign in a conference call on the week of November 20th to call for a recount in the three states.

 

Wisconsin has 10 electoral votes, Pennsylvania has 20, and Michigan has 16 electoral votes.  Since each of these states is a winner take all state the total is 46 electoral votes.  In each of these states Clinton did better than Trump in the urban centers where the voting machines were mechanical.  In the rural areas the voting machines were electronic and hooked into the internet.  There Trump did better and presumably won all three states.

 

It is in the rural areas with the electronic voting machines that the computer experts tend to believe there may have been interference and possible hacking of the information.  It could have been changed.  This is where they specifically want a recount which could change the course of the election. 

 

If Clinton actually won these three states it would change the Electoral College vote from 290 for Trump to 244 and Clinton’s 232 Electoral votes would become 278, making her the winner of the 2016 Presidential Election.  It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the election.  Trump has called the recount a scam.  He has stated that the Election is over and that he has won.  Some of his supporters are suing to avoid a recount.

 

What will happen is if a recount gives those three states to Clinton there is absolutely no precedent for this kind of event?  To quote former President, Harry S. Truman, “The manure will hit the fan.”  Hillary Clinton did receive well over two ½ million more votes than Trump.  It is a distinct possibility that it could happen.  The objective noises and denunciations will be heard from one end of this continent to the other.  Will there be acts of violence?  There’s no telling.  Will Trump and the nation get over the shock?  Eventually.

                    

What is the probability of this happening?  It is probably well under 50%.  Actually a happening of this dimension would resolve a lot of problems.  All of Trumps behavioral choices would suddenly go away and he would just be facing his lawsuit with New York State and the investigation of his improper use of his Foundation.  He has settled his three class action law suits over Trump University for a payment of 25 million dollars.  This type of resolution would end the possibilities of endless conflicts of interest.  The country will undergo immediate agony but it will be saved from long term pain over the next four years.

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If we go back to the probability that Trump will remain President-Elect then we should consider two more of his appointments, both women.  As his Ambassador to the United Nations Trump has chosen Nikki Haley, the popular governor of South Carolina.

 

Her parents migrated from India.  Her father teaching first at a university in Canada and later at one in South Carolina.  Her family was Sikh.  When she married she went through two ceremonies, one Sikh and one Methodist.  Today she claims to be a Christian Methodist.

 

Currently she is in her second term as governor of South Carolina.  Governor Nikki Haley received national coverage over the issue of the Southern battle flag at the state capital.  She stated that the flag should represent all the people, not just one group within South Carolina.  It could fly in other areas but not on the state capitol grounds.  Nikki Haley signed a bill removing it from the capital grounds.

 

Obviously she is a very bright lady and is a popular and likeable governor and was overwhelmingly reelected to a second term.  She was even considered as a Vice-Presidential candidate.  Now Trump has chosen her as his Ambassador to the United Nations.  The one comment that can be made here is that she has no experience dealing with foreign nations nor any specialized knowledge of them.  Whether or not this will be a handicap is not known at this point.  After all she is an inordinately bright lady and will have a highly competent support staff at the United Nations.

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Trump’s second female choice is mega-donor billionaire Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education.  DeVos has never experienced anything to do with Public Education.  She is an ardent supporter of school vouchers and charter schools. 

 

Betsy DeVos and her husband, Dick, have been compared to the Koch brothers for their involvement in Republican politics.  They are a Michigan family that has spent at least $200 million on conservative causes.  They have probably been the major donor in 2015 in support of Republican candidates. 

 

Her father-in-law, Richard DeVos, co-founded Amway.  Virtually everyone in the family is a billionaire.  A free market think tank that they operate is run out of the Amway headquarters.  Dick DeVos spent $35.4 million in 2006 running unsuccessfully for Michigan governor.

 

Betsy DeVos currently runs a political action committee along with her husband.  “I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party,” she wrote in 1997.  “I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence.  Now I concede the point.”

 

Much of DeVos’ political activity has been focused on the expansion of charter schools and school vouchers, putting her in line with Trump’s campaign proposal to shift $20 billion in federal education funding into state school block grants to enroll children in charter and private schools.

 

In the year 2000 the DeVos family funded a failed Michigan ballot initiative that would have required that students enrolled in failing public school districts be offered vouchers for private school tuition.  Even though the measure was soundly defeated by the voters, the DeVos’ spent more on the issue and formed a political action committee to support pro-voucher candidates nationwide.  They also operate philanthropic organizations known for giving to entities aligned with the charter school movement.  This includes faith-based schools and conservative think tanks.  They also oppose gay rights and abortion.

 

Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos has been very popular among the GOP establishment.  Republicans largely support the issue of school choice.  Former Florida governor and potential presidential candidate Jed bush called DeVos “an outstanding pick for Secretary of Education.”

 

On the other side of the political spectrum the National Education Association President, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, has stated that DeVos’ “efforts over the years have done more to undermine public education than support students.  She has lobbied for failed schemes, like vouchers, which take away funding and local control from our public schools, to fund private schools at taxpayers’ expense.  These schemes do nothing to help our most vulnerable students while they ignore or exacerbate glaring opportunity gaps.  She has consistently pushed a corporate agenda to privatize, de-professionalize and impose cookie-cutter solutions to public education.”

 

Randi Weingarten, the president of American Federation of Teachers, said that DeVos was “the most ideological, anti-public education nominee” for Education Secretary since the cabinet-level position was created.  “In nominating DeVos, Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America.”

 

Public education in the United States, with one or two exceptions, is controlled locally by the School District and partly state-wise by the State Legislatures.  The Federal Government can offer recommendations and additional funds, usually for special programs.  The states are not required to accept the Federal recommendations.

 

This would be the limit of Betsy DeVos’ power as the Secretary of Education.  Obviously she will do well in Republican controlled states and poorly in those run by Democratic legislatures, in terms of her education philosophy.  

 

This brings up the “due process” clause in the Constitution.  Can the Federal Education Department favor one group of states financially and ignore the rest of them?  This question will have to be decided by the Supreme Court.

 

There is also another important issue.  There is largely a fixed amount of money spent on education in all fifty states.  Currently most of it goes for public schools.  DeVos would try to change that balance.  She would take money from public education and spend it on vouchers that could be used in private and parochial schools.  This would lower significantly the amount spent on public education while reimbursing those who send their children to private or religious schools for their education.  It would, in turn, lower the quality of public education as considerably less money would be available there.  In a word, it would help the upper and middle class while significantly lowering the standards for those who cannot afford to transport their children to private schools.  It is actually a welfare program for the rich and the richer, in that it takes from the poor and gives to those who currently have their children in private or parochial schools.

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On Sunday, 11/27/2016, Donald J. Trump claimed that there was serious voter fraud in three states that Clinton won: California, Virginia, and New Hampshire.  He claimed, without presenting any evidence that millions of non-citizens, voted illegally.  He stated that he would have won these states if they had not voted. 

 

Hillary Clinton won all three states.  In California, which has not elected a Republican in decades, Clinton bested Trump by more than three million votes: 61.6% to his 32.8%.  In Virginia she won by 185,689 votes; 49.9% to 45%. And in New Hampshire she beat him by 2,700 votes.  I suspect by illegal voting Trump means votes by Democrats.  He would like to suppress their voting completely.  It’s amazing how Trump can just grab information out of the air and state it like it’s a fact.

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If Trump is serious about winning the majority of votes in the Presidential Election.  According to the current vote count Hillary Clinton has over 3 ½ more votes cast for her than Trump has.  He has stated that millions of votes for Hillary Clinton were illegally cast by people who are in this country illegally and had no right to vote.  He has also berated the media for not reporting this fact.  He has not presented any evidence for any of this.  Presumably he got this information from a far-right radio host that is always pulling information out of the air. 

 

If Trump is really serious and truly believes all of this then it is possible that he won’t last a year as President of the United States.  He could at some point go off the deep end and lose complete touch with reality.  At that point Congress would have to replace him with His Vice-President.

 

 

 

The Weiner Component #171 – The Trump Presidency

 

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

On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected to the presidency of the United States.  He became the President-Elect and will assume office on January 20, 2017.  Currently he is in the process of organizing his new government.

 

Donald Trump has also recently ended three Trump University class-action law suits for a payment of 25 million dollars and a non-admission of guilt. By this he cannot be legally accused of fraud.  The first lawsuit had been filed in 2010.  There are over 7,000 members of the first class-action suit.  From what I understand the people who were conned into going to his seminars will receive about half of what they paid to attend.

 

 Trump had, on numerous occasions, accused the Judge, Gonzalo P. Curiel of being partial because he is of Mexican ancestry, even though he was born in Indiana. I suppose, following Trump’s thinking, and that since his antecedents are German it would follow that he has an affinity for white power.

 

The Judge had recommended that the case be settled out of Court.  Trump followed this advice.  I suspect this allows him to avoid being legally accused of fraud.  But there is a 40 million dollar law suit by the State of New York for fraud. I don’t know if he has wiggled out of that case.   His Foundation is also currently being investigated for fraud by the State of New York and possibly by the IRS.  Up to forty other states could also tie into this case since his foundation has functioned in many of the states.

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Trump was elected for a variety of reason, some of which were not too wholesome, but mainly because he was an outsider.  The national feeling toward the Washington, D.C. culture was/is fairly negative around the country.  Washington, or to be more specific, the government to the general public’s perception had not done much in terms of passing necessary laws or properly running the country over the last few years.

 

Trump was an outsider with no taint of Washington about him.  He also has no experience in running a government and has made all sorts of outlandish promises about what he would do as President.  He promised something to just about everybody.  But now that he has won the election he is bringing back to governmental power the old scandal-ridden politicians who have functioned on state and local government.  Three of the leading ones with checkered pasts are Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and Chris Christie. 

 

Gingrich does not want to be Secretary of State or, for that matter, in the President’s Cabinet.  He seems to want to be a senior planner for the entire Federal Government.  This would be a new post whose line of authority would have to be specifically defined. 

 

Gingrich has a long record of misdeeds and foul statements.  His denunciation of Democrats and the Democratic Party go far beyond the pale of reasonableness.  His lack of any sense of propriety allowed him to serve his first wife divorce papers while she was in the hospital recovering from a cancer operation.  Divorcing his second wife was not so dramatic and he is still married to his third wife.  He had affairs with his second and third wives while he was still married to his previous wife.

 

Newt became a member of the House of Representatives in 1979.  He was able to dramatically work his way up to the position of Speaker of the House during Bill Clinton’s third year in office as President.  The Ethics Committee in the Republican dominated House of Representatives had 82 instances of ethics violations.  They eventually charged him with one ethnic breach.  Gingrich resigned as Speaker and shortly afterwards also resigned from the House of Representatives. There is no way he would get approval for any appointment that required Senate approval.

 

After his resignation from the House of Representatives Newt did not return to Georgia.  Instead he stayed in Washington as a political consultant and did numerous nefarious things to raise money over the years.

 

In July of 2016 it was announced that Gingrich was on Trump’s shortlist along with Chris Christie and Mike Pence for Trump’s Vice-President.  Pence was chosen.  What will happen to him in Trump’s presidency is anyone’s guess.  But as long as it doesn’t require Senate confirmation some sort of job is a possibility.

 

Rudy Giuliani was born on May 28, 1944.  He is currently 72 years old.  He has been through three marriages and is currently living with his third wife.  Medically at age 55 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer which was discovered and treated from April of 2000 on before it metastasized.  The treatments lasted several very uncomfortable months according to Giuliani.

 

His past is considered checkered because his philandering went on throughout his career and was fairly well known.   His second wife, by whom he had two children, locked him out of Gracie Manor, the New York major’s residence, when he was mayor of New York City.  She learned of the divorce from the local newspapers.  Earlier it was reported for the entire city that Giuliani was going about with the woman who would later become his third wife.   His second wife settled for 6.8 million dollars and custody of the two children. 

 

Giuliani started his political life as a Democrat up until 1975, then from 1975 until 1980 he became and independent, and finally in 1980 he became a Republican.  It would seem that mostly what he was, was an opportunist.

 

While mayor of New York City Giuliani had been widely criticized for locating the Office of Emergency Management headquarters on the 23d floor of one of the Twin Towers that would eventually face a terrorist attack.  He apparently wanted a convenient place to make his public announcements.

 

This decision was opposed by the NYC Police Department and others because it was considered a prime target for a terrorist attack.  The location the Police Department wanted was in Brooklyn, which would not be a convenient area for news conferences. 

 

 After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers the mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, blamed the choice of the Management Headquarters on one of his subordinates.  That individual came up with absolute proof that Giuliani had made that decision.

 

Giuliani was praised by some for his involvement with the rescue recovery efforts after 9/11 but others criticized him severely, saying that he exaggerated his role after the terrorist attacks.  Presumably he cast himself as a hero for political gain.  He collected 11.4 million dollars from speaking fees for the single year after the attack.  His net worth rose about 30 times after the attack.

 

In addition Giuliani downplayed the health effects of the collapse of the Twin Towers.  The destruction of the buildings filled the air of lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn with toxic and caustic dust containing, among other things, fine asbestos particles.  He moved quickly to reopen Wall Street, and it was reopened on September 17th some six days later.  He stated that, “The air was safe and acceptable.”  But in the weeks after the attack The United States Geological Survey identified hundreds of asbestos “hot spots” of debris dust that remained on buildings and was easily blown into the atmosphere.  In June 2007, Christie Todd Whitman, the former governor of New Jersey and director of the Environment Protection Agency reportedly stated that the EPA had pushed for workers to wear respirators but that had been blocked by Giuliani.  She believed that subsequent lung disease and deaths suffered by responders were a result of these actions.

 

Currently, presumably, Giuliani is competing with Mitt Romney for the position of Secretary of State.  It’s not known whether Giuliani will be able to get Senate approval for the position if he is chosen.  It would be real embarrassing to Trump if the Senate refused to approve Rudy’s appointment.

 

Another member of Trump’s supporters is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  After dropping out of the 2016 Presidential Nominating race Christie became an ardent supporter of Donald Trump, who named him head of his transition planning team.  About the time some of Christie’s close New Jersey associates or subordinates were found guilty of largely closing down the George Washington Bridge (Bridgegate), some members of the State Legislature talked about impeaching Governor Christie whose term of office won’t end until 2018.  Since that time Trump replaced Christie from being in charge of his transition to the presidency with his Vice-Presidential running mate, Mike Pence.  Shortly afterwards three of Christie’s associates were also removed from the transition team.  Presently Christie seems to be still involved in the Trump presidency.

 

These three individuals were all close advisors of Trump until shortly after he became President-Elect.  What their relationship is to him now is not exactly clear.  Whether or not they would be approved by the Senate to be anywhere in Trump’s Cabinet is also not clear.  In fact it might be highly doubtful.

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Donald Trump has promised to surround himself with the best possible individuals in order to run the country.  On about Friday, November 18 Trump began making hard right choices for some of his top posts.  His version of the best possible people seems to rest with the Tea Party and even somewhat to the right of them with his appointment of Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.

 

For his Attorney General Trump has chosen Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, Jeff Sessions, a conservative senator from Alabama.  Jeff Sessions is the perfect image of the traditional Southern white ultra conservative.  In 1986 Sessions was appointed by President Reagan to be a Federal District Judge in Alabama.  He was the second person in the history of these appointments to be rejected by the Senate. 

 

Representative Luis Gutierrez, D. Illinois, has called Sessions “anti-immigrant and anti-civil rights…. If you have nostalgia for the days when blacks kept quiet, gays were in the closet, immigrants were invisible and women stayed in the kitchen, Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is your man.”

 

Trump is loyal to people who support him.  Sessions was one of Trump’s earliest supporters.  This is the man who Trump would have straighten out Federal Justice in the United States.  In Trump’s words, he is the best man available.

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

For CIA Director Trump’s nominee will be Republican Mike Pompeo, a Tea Party backed congressman from Kansas.  During his Congressional Campaign Pompeo received $80,000 in donations from Koch Industries and its employees.  On November 18, 2016 Pompeo was chosen to be Trump’s nominee for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

 

On May 9, 2013, Pompeo introduced the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act.  The Bill, which passed the House along party lines but was never even brought up in the Senate, set a time limit for the government to approve natural gas pipelines. 

 

Pompeo rejects many concepts about global warming.  He’s referred to President Obama’s environmental and climate change plans as “damaging and radical.”  He opposes the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and supports eliminating the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).  He opposes the Affordable Health Care Act.  He supported the government shutdown in 2013.  He has been critical of President Obama, who he alleged was indecisive and not properly respectful of military leaders such as General McChrystal, who was forced to resign after making negative remarks about President Obama to Rolling Stone magazine.

 

In terms of security Pompeo supports the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.  This is warrantless surveillance.  He wants Congress to pass a law reestablishing collection of all necessary data and combine it with financial and lifestyle into a comprehensive database.  Legal and bureaucratic impediments in surveillance should be removed.  This makes President George H. Bush’s Freedom Act look like nothing even though it allowed warrantless surveillance. 

 

On July 21, 2015 Pompeo and Senator Tom Cotton alleged secret agreements which allowed limited inspections of Iran’s nuclear deal.  He wants Muslim leaders who refuse to denounce acts of terrorism done in the name of Islam “potentially complicit” in the attacks.

 

He also wants Guantanamo Bay detention camp kept open and he criticized the Obama administration’s decision to end the CIA’s secret prisons (the black overseas sites and the administration’s edict that all interrogators adhere to anti-torture laws.

                                  

This is the man that President-Elect Donald Trump announced he would nominate to be his Director of the CIA.  He will have to be confirmed by a Republican dominated Senate, which has a majority of two Republican votes.

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Trump’s choice for his National Security Advisor is retired Lt. General Michael Flynn. On November 18, 2016 he became Trump’s National Security Advisor.  He has suggested that Americans should fear all Muslims.  He has also been criticized for supporting Trump in calling for a thaw in relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  In 2015 he was paid to attend a dinner in Moscow hosted by the Russian government where he sat at a table with Putin.  He has also written critically of Putin and the danger Russia presents to the U.S. 

 

Flynn spent 33 years in the army as an intelligence officer, rising to Lt. General in April of 2012.  He was forced to retire a year earlier than he intended after clashing with the Obama administration officials.  Flynn has tended to exhibit a loose relationship with facts, leading his subordinates to refer to his dubious assertions as “Flynn facts.”

 

After retirement Flynn and his son opened a consulting firm which provides services for business and governments.  His company is allegedly lobbying for Turkey.  Flynn has sat in on classified national security briefings at the same time he was working for foreign clients.

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Perhaps Trump’s most controversial appointment to date is Stephen K. Bannon as his chief strategist.  Bannon has been the chairman of Breitbart News.  He turned the website into “a far-right ideology that promotes what many consider to be white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny.

 

Breitbart News has been and is a far-right news opinion, commentary website that has pushed racist, sexist, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic material.  In March 2012 Bannon became executive chair of Breitbart News.  Under his leadership it took a more alt-right and nationalistic approach.  Bannon declared the website “the platform for the alt-right” in 2016.  Breitbart has been misogynist, xenophobic, and racist.

 

On August 17, 2016 Bannon was appointed Chief Executive of Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign.  Bannon has been married three times.  Each marriage ended in divorce with each of his ex-wives claiming domestic abuse.  In early November of 2016 Bannon declared that he was a nationalist, not a white-nationalist.  Currently he has a leave of absence from Breitbart News.

            

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff in 2017 will be Reince Priebus, the former Republican National Committee’s Chairman.  Priebus got on the Trump bandwagon early in the campaign and has stringently supported Trump ever since.  To me he seems to have an insipid quality but seems to be loyal to those who are loyal to him.

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These are some of the people Donald Trump has appointed as President-Elect to run the government of the United States from January 20, 2017 on.  I would assume Trump has decided that they are the best people available.  They don’t strike me as being Washington outsiders or the best people available to run those offices.  In fact I get the feeling that Trump is scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with them.

 

It has been suggested that Trump will be impeached before his four year term has ended.  I can well believe the possibility.  

The Weiner Component #170 – The 2016 Presidential Election

On Tuesday, October 8, the 2016 Presidential Election

James Comey

James Comey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

was held.  Surprisingly, the winner that emerged was Donald J. Trump.  Clinton went into the election clearly as the favorite.  According to a phone call with some of her staff she blamed her loss upon the FBI Director, James Comey.   

 

Early in his tenure as Attorney General, Eric Holder stated that it was essential that no government agency take sides in any political activity.  James Comey, the Director of the FBI, did that when he announced toward the beginning of July 2015 that the FBI was investigating the Emails of Hillary Clinton that were sent through a private server when she was Secretary of State.  This went against FBI policy, announcing an investigation while it was in process.  In essence, whether he meant to do it or not, Director Comey was both putting himself and the FBI in the middle of a Presidential Election and influencing its possible outcome.  This had not happened since the days of the first Director, J. Edgar Hoover, who used the agency for political purposes innumerable times.  It was, however, against the instructions of Obama’s first Attorney General and the practices of the institution. 

 

The outcome of that investigation was that Clinton had been careless but had done nothing prosecutable.  The investigation did, however, cast a shadow over her campaign. 

 

Shortly before the election, while early voting was going on in many states, in a different case, an investigation against Antony Weiner communicating inappropriately  with a 15 year old girl in another state, presumably more Clinton Emails were found.  Weiner’s estranged wife, Huma Abedin, who was one of Clinton’s close aides, had apparently used Weiner’s laptop computer.  Abedin didn’t know how the Emails got onto the computer.  Even the number of them on the computer was unknown.  The FBI needed a court order to look at the Emails, consequently none had been read.  Only their existence was known.  Comey issued this information to the Republican heads of all the Congressional committees in a letter.  They, in turn, released this information to the press with fictitious statements as to what the Emails contained.  Donald Trump in his campaign quoted the unread emails.

 

Three days before the election Comey announced that the Emails had been duplicates of those seen earlier. There was no case against Clinton.  But the damage had been done.  Several million people had already voted.  Comey had taken the FBI to a new level, it had become a political organization.

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Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 1.4 million votes.  But Trump had 290 Electoral votes to Hillary’s 228.  The American Democracy does not count each vote equally.  When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution there were thirteen states which had been incorporated together under the Articles of Confederation.  In essence there were thirteen sovereign independent little nations that had acted together during the Revolutionary War and continued to act together under the Articles.  But each was sovereign; they could go their own way at any time.  The delegates under the Articles had very little actual authority to do anything.  When any major decisions about anything had to be made they had to go back to their state legislatures for instructions and, as a final step, all had to agree for the measure to be passed.

 

Before the Revolutionary War the large Southern Planters all owed English merchants millions of dollars which they refused to pay now that they had won their independence.  The prewar situation had been such that these rich planters could order anything they wanted through these English merchants: furniture, building materials of all sorts, clothing, whatever, and the merchants would supply whatever they asked for and deduct the costs from their clients slave raised crops or lumber or whatever else they got from the planters.  The planters generally exceeded their crop profits.  Eventually massive amounts of monies were owed.  After the Revolutionary War the planters considered themselves debt free.  Some of the English merchants sued in American state courts, but they always lost their suit.  No American jury would give them anything.

 

In the new country in Massachusetts the tidewater merchants who ran the government needed to raise a certain amount in taxes.  Transportation at that time was very poor and Inland farmers who raised grain all had stills and turned their excess grain into whiskey, which was much easier to carry to places where it could be sold or traded for needed household goods or whatever else they wanted.  The coastal lawmakers placed the tax on whiskey.  What occurred was called Shay’s Rebellion of 1786 – 1787.  Daniel Shay argued that if the Southern planters could make their debts disappear so could the inland farmers.

 

The problem was solved when former General George Washington called out the National Guard.  These were tidewater civilians, many of them veterans of the Revolutionary War, who formed up and went inland.  As the soldiers appeared the Rebellion disintegrated.  Some men were arrested and taken back to the coastal city areas.  Washington eventually pardoned all of them but they had been away from their farms for months.  Thereafter they paid their taxes.

 

This was probably one of the main reasons for the Constitutional Convention which met in the state legislative capital in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787, from May 25 through September 17.  They claimed that they were going to amend the Articles of Confederation.  But they met in secret, taking no notes during their meetings.  After quickly coming to the conclusion that the Articles of Confederation by themselves could never be effective as a document of government they decided under their Chairman, George Washington, to write a new document.  This was the Constitution.

 

The group, under Washington’s leadership, was essentially made up of the leading men of property.  Among other things they had their own self-interest at heart.  They wanted a government that was strong enough to protect them and their self-interest and free enough to gain the support of the entire population. 

 

In the process of working out the Constitution they faced a number of problems.  One of these was that among the thirteen states there were large and small states.  The small states wanted their rights; they did not want to be overshadowed by the larger states.  This brought about the idea of a bicameral legislature.  Each State would be given two Senators, older and more stable men who were 35 or older, and a House of Representatives, younger men who were 25 or older and elected every two years.  The Senate would be elected every six years and their election would be staggered into thirds every two years so the government could maintain a continuation of whatever it was doing. 

 

The House would be elected directly by men owning property and represent the property owning yeoman; the Senate by the State Legislatures and represent them.  The President would be elected by an Electoral College, the members of which would be the wisest men in the region and they would pick the best man in the United States to be President. This would be done every four years.  There was no thought at this point of political parties.  If no one person received enough votes then the House of Representatives would choose the President.  Everyone agreed that George Washington would be the first President.

 

Under this system the votes are not equal.  Today they count for much more in the smaller states than in the larger ones.  There are 435 members of the House of Representatives, the number is fixed.  Each State has two senators and currently anything, depending upon population, from one to 55 representatives in the House of Representatives.  The number of electoral votes is fixed to the number of senators and house members; that is 535 electoral votes. 

 

In the 2016 Presidential Election the people elected Hillary Clinton with 1.4 million addition votes for Hillary Clinton but the Midwestern States gave the election to Donald J. Trump.  It was not a fair election.  It’s time to again amend the Constitution.  All citizens now have the vote, both male and female, property owners and renters.  All votes should be equally counted.

 

There is another interesting point to be made.  The House and Senate are fixed at 435 House members and 100 Senators.  The population of the United States grows every year.  Every ten years a census is taken of the populations and the number of House of Representative Districts are reassigned on the basis of the population changes or reapportionment.  Each state legislature then redraws the new legislative districts within each state’s boundaries.  In many cases, particularly when the Republicans control the majority of state governments, the voting districts are gerrymandered to give the majority state party the voting advantage.  They can take any shape as long as the line is continuous. 

 

In 2010 the Republicans gained control of most states.  They gerrymandered the Election Districts to their advantage, giving them control of the House of Representatives from 2011 on.  In the 2012 Midterm Election about 1 ¼ million more Democrats voted for members of the House but the Republicans still ended up with the majority of House seats that year.  Gerrymandering can fragment strong Democratic districts attaching them, on a piecemeal basis, as small parts of Republican dominated districts.  This is blatantly unfair.

 

The Constitution has been amended numerous times.  Its initial object was to create, for the first time, a late 18th Century a Democratic Document of government.  It was the first time a Democracy came into existence since Ancient Athens.  The 15th Amendment in 1870 gave every male, regardless of color, the right to vote.  The 17th Amendment in 1913 made the people of each individual state responsible for electing their senators.  The 19th Amendment in 1919 gave women the right to vote.  The 24th Amendment in 1965 did away with the poll tax.  The 26th Amendment in 1971 reduced the voting age to eighteen.  If you were old enough to fight and die for your country you were old enough to vote.  It’s time for a 28th Amendment to the Constitution.  We have had three Republican Presidents who have stolen elections: one in 1876, one in 2001, and one in 2017.  Every vote cast for the President should count equally.  In a true Democracy the People are supposed to rule.

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Another major problem with the 2016 Presidential Election was the fact that voter turnout was the lowest in years.  The Republicans tend to do well when voter turnout is forcibly and/or voluntarily reduced.  In this election, despite numerous lawsuits to stop the process, there was a lot of voter suppression.  In the State of Texas in 2014 it exceeded 200,000.  In 2016 it could have been higher.

 

In addition the two major candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were both the two most disliked Presidential candidates in United States history.  Clinton was polled at a negative 60% level and Trump, at a 75% level.  Fifty-four percent of the population voted; forty-six percent of the population stayed at home and did not vote.  Still even though Hillary Clinton had the majority of votes she had far less than President Obama received four years ago.

 

Donald J. Trump was guilty of everything he accused Clinton of being and doing.  He has just settled a fraud class action lawsuit about Trump University which was scheduled to begin on November 28, 2016.  Trump had previously denounced the Judge as being of Mexican heritage numerous times.  The Judge had recommended that this case, that was filed 2010, be settled out of court. On Friday November 18, Trump settled this and two other Trump University class action suits for 25 million dollars.  Without admitting guilt Trump will be paying each of the class action participants about half of what they spent at Trump University.  If any or all the cases had gone to trial Trump could also have been guilty of fraud and have been impeached for “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” by the Republican dominated House of Representatives and found guilty in a trial by the Republican dominated Senate.

 

As far as I know there is still a 40 million dollar fraud suit by the State of New York which could also include participation by other states that were involved.  Also there is a criminal investigation going on concerning Trump’s Tax Free Foundation by the State of New York.  Forty-one other states could also participate in this case because Trump, among other things, tends to ignore state government laws, particularly dealing with his Foundation.  The IRS is also probably involved in this since the monies involved were tax free and probably shouldn’t have been.

 

As a side comment: What I find interesting is that the FBI could investigate The Clinton Foundation, which has a more positive rating than the Red Cross but not bother with the Trump Foundation where the evidence of wrong-doing is blatant.

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Hillary Clinton has been demonized since she was the First Lady in Arkansas in 1979.  She was then called the Lady Macbeth of Little Rock by several Republican writers.  She has been demonized continually since 1979 for essentially pushing for anti-Republican reform.  Presumably Hillary Clinton has never been a proper wife but has been as aggressive toward reform as her husband.  Obviously this behavior, to Republicans, is not being a proper lady. 

 

Where people believe, whose lives are very busy and don’t pay too much attention to the Federal Government other than on election years, is where there’s smoke there has to be fire or if it wasn’t at least partially true the Republicans would never bring it up.  What has been created is a negative myth about her.  Every one of us has made some mistakes over our lifetime or have done some stupid things but these acts do not define us.  Our entire lives do.  Hillary Clinton has worked, and in many cases successfully, to improve conditions around her, particularly for women and children.  To her “Women’s rights are human rights.”

 

The negative myths about her are just that, negative myths created by the Republicans to put her in her place.  Kevin McCarthy, Charlie McCarthy’s younger cousin, announced over the weekend of November 12th that the House of Representatives’ agenda does not include hearings on Clinton, which were promised for at least the next two years if she were elected President.  They may eventually amend the agenda to hold hearing on Donald J. Trump.  If they could dump Trump then Mike Pence, a good Republican, would be President of the United States and the House could probably do anything it wanted.  That could be the best of all possible worlds for them.

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