The Weiner Component #164 – President Hillary Clinton & the Republican House of Representatives

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The Weiner Component #164 – President Hillary Clinton & the Republican House of Representatives


If Hillary Clinton is elected President on November 8, 2016, and the probability is that she will be, then the question arises of: How will she avoid political gridlock with the Senate having a Democratic majority but the right to filibuster and the House of Representatives having a Republican majority?  Is it possible that she will be able to take the country beyond the point which had limited President Barack Obama, that of a Republican majority in the House of Representatives?


President Obama during his first term in office (2009 – 2012) kept trying to get Republican cooperation.  He did not succeed in doing this during either of his two terms in office.  President Clinton would be starting out with this knowledge.  She would not put herself in a position to be rejected by the Republicans.  In this case the responsibility would be clearly theirs to cooperate with her.  How could she achieve this?


President Franklin Delano Roosevelt from 1933 on used, what he called, The Fireside Chat to talk the people of the United States through The Great Depression.  These were weekly radio broadcasts to the people throughout the country. 


At that time the center of family entertainment and news was the family radio.  Television did not exist.  Presidential announcements were made through it.  So were sports, music, and drama presentations.  Mothers listened to drama serials as they prepared dinner.  Children listened to adventure stories during dinner and afterwards.  The family listened to news, concerts, or drama presentations in the evening.  President Roosevelt used this device to communicate with the people of America, by giving weekly reports to the nation on what was happening and what was being done by the government.  It served as an emotional crutch for the people of the United States.


Earlier, at the turn of the 20th Century, Theodore Roosevelt had used, what he called The Bully Pulpit to transmit his messages to the people.  He made his speeches and announcements before crowds and the press.  They were carried in newspapers throughout the country.  This, when necessary, brought pressure on members of Congress to pass many of the laws he desired for the benefit of the public.


The President of the United States does not make laws.  That is the job of Congress.  He/She is the chief administrator of the country.  But that individual is supposed to lead the nation through his/her party in Congress, by proposing many necessary laws in order to carry out his/her agenda which is supposed to exist for the benefit of the public.


What President Barack Obama proposed after 2011 to a Republican dominated House of Representatives was generally turned down.  The Republicans even tried to force him to carry out their agenda by adding riders to many laws which would carry out their agenda which he, in turn, would veto.  This was carried to the point of shutting down the government by attaching riders to necessary finance bills. 


Currently, during President Obama’s last four months in office, the Republican dominated House of Representatives is refusing to really deal with the Zika epidemic and also refusing to pass anything but a temporary budget to fund the U.S. Government over the next few months instead of for the full fiscal year.


In addition to this the current Republican dominated Senate has been refusing for the last seven months to allow the President to appoint a ninth Justice to the Supreme Court to replace Antonin Scalia who died on February 13, 2016.  They want the next President, if he is a Republican, to choose the ninth member of the Supreme Court.


However some Republicans feel that if Hillary Clinton is elected then they should hold a lame duck session and approve President Barack Obama’s choice, Merrick Garland.  The argument being that he is more conservative than anyone Hillary Clinton might choose.


My feeling is that the best choice Hillary Clinton could make would be a Constitutional lawyer by the name of Barack Obama; if he would take the job.  That would be the second time the Republicans have gotten what they deserve for refusing to properly do their job.


The first instance was Elizabeth Warren, who helped create and was supposed to be the head of the Consumer Protection Agency.  They would not allow her to be confirmed so she ended up becoming the second Senator from Massachusetts.  This would be the second instance where Republican plans backfired.  And there is precedent for this move by Clinton, President Warren Harding appointed former President William Howard Taft to the Supreme Court.


How would Hillary Clinton keep in constant contact with her public?  Generally most people in the United States have very little free time.  They are mostly busy with work, raising children, and the rest of their lives.  It takes a lot of time and effort to closely follow what goes on in Washington, D.C.


Radio has not been an important means of communication since the end of World War II (1945) when black and white television made its first appearance.  Today colorized television has become the major means of communication across the country.


In order to have a live, functional agenda the President today needs to have constant contact with the people of the United States.  He/She needs to keep in constant contact with her constituency. 


He/She still has the bully pulpit.  She is the directly hired representative of all the people.  And the people, as a whole, can make themselves heard by Congress.  And if Congress does not carry out their will then they can fire the entire House of Representatives and 1/3d of the Senate at the next election in 2018.


The President, as the representative of the entire nation, can keep up a weekly communication by weekly reports.  These reports can also function two ways with the constituency also being able to communicate with the President through the internet.


This would mean at least weekly reports of what is and is not going on.  Up to this point the Republicans in the House of Representatives, all 247 of them are fairly visible; their votes and the issues upon which they vote are recorded but not advertised.  It takes a lot of time to dig up that information.  It would certainly pay for the chief executive to set up a staff to keep a record of these happenings.  They could also script or outline the President’s report and keep the records of public’s communications to the President. 


In addition this group could also have easy access on the internet to specific information, like the addresses of all the members of Congress.  From this bank of specific information that could be accessed at any time by the public on demand, intense pressure could be brought on any or all members of Congress. Those citizens who so desire could also share their thoughts with the President.  It would make the individual Congress members responsible for their actions.


If President Hillary Clinton and/or her husband were to do a weekly television broadcast together or separately each week and specifically state their objectives and then go over what was done or not done by the specific members of Congress and the political party they represent for the prior week that would affect the general electorate.  This would be especially true if they had the means to easily respond to these members of Congress.  The President could also keep the public aware of their advance plans and what help they could expect from Congress by passing specific laws.


This weekly broadcast would have to be on prime time over one of more major TV stations.  I would suspect that CBS, NBC, or ABC might each be willing to carry the program.  The major cable networks: CNN, MSNBC, and even Fox News would probably also vie for the broadcasts.  This would be particularly true if they could sell commercial time just before or after the broadcasts.


What the White House would be doing here would be keeping constant contact with the voting public whose prosperity would be tied to the White House agenda.  It would also demonstrate to the voters exactly what they were getting from all their elected officials.  And it would do this with no additional effort by the public except watching a government report each week. 


As an additional benefit from an arrangement like this there would be a feeling by the public of contributing to the running of the government.  This could allay the feeling of frustration and helplessness many Americans feel about their government.


While there are different governmental philosophies between the two major political parties this type of move could bring about an end to gridlock in Washington, D. C.  It’s a little ridiculous to wait four months or more to have Congress sit on the Zika epidemic and mainly argue political points during a national medical emergency.  It’s equally ridiculous to have the House of Representatives refuse to fund the government, using it as a means of blackmail to get their way on other issues, because they don’t have the votes to pass those other issues.

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The Weiner Component #163 – Part 2: The 2017 Presidency

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The Presidential Campaign will continue until Tuesday, November 8th of 2016, with both sides continually verbally attacking the other.  Trump has reorganized his staff three times, hiring among others someone who has made a career of attacking and trying to discredit the Clintons. He is supposed to excel in dirty tricks.  Hillary Clinton will continue with her basic premise that Trump is unfit to be President and move on from there.  In fact on Wednesday, September 7, at a back to back veteran’s Town Hall with Clinton, Trump defined the secret briefing as being anti Obama in the body language of the men who gave it, something which the intelligence community said never happened.  In terms of money raised for campaigning Clinton seems to be able to raise well over ten times the amount Trump does.


(In fact, Trumps entire Washington Bureau Organization quit when Trump refused to send them the promised checks for their work. This seems to be a pattern of Trump’s, stiffing his employees by not paying them.}


There are to be four debates scheduled, three will be between the Presidential candidates and one between the Vice-Presidential choices.  Of these one will be moderated by a NBC moderator, one by a Fox News employee, one by ABC News and CNN with joint a moderator from each network, and the Vice Presidential one by CBS News.  They will begin on September 26th and end on October 19th.  They should be interesting or at least colorful.


When all this is done and the votes finally counted at the end of November 8th the next President of the United States will be officially elected to that office and will take the helm in January of 2017 of guiding the country for the next four years.


If we ask, which candidate will it be?  There is a high probability that it will be Hillary Rodham Clinton.  It is also probably that the Senate will return to a Democratic majority after the election but that the House of Representatives will remain in the hands of the Republicans.  This is the exact situation that President Obama faced from his third year in office until his sixth year there.  In 2014, a non-Presidential Election year, the Republicans also achieved a slight majority in the Senate.


From 2011 on there was a Democratic President, a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, and until 2014, a Democratic majority in the Senate.  The result, since 2011, has been total gridlock with the House most of the time unsuccessfully trying to force its will upon the President and the Senate; and in many cases adding something that they wanted like defunding Planned Parenthood to a necessary bill which was then vetoed.


For the duration of his first term in office the Congressional Republicans in both Houses of Congress were determined to make Barack Obama a one term President.  They opposed everything he supported.  The Affordable Health Care Bill, which was modeled upon one developed by the Republican Think Tank, Citizen’s United, for Mitt Romney when he was governor OF Massachusetts and applied to that state.  It espouses Republican values by allowing private enterprise to control the plan.  Yet it was passed in Congress on a strict Party basis.  Democrats voted for it and all Republicans all opposed it.  The House, after the Republican majority was reached there spent over fifty days bringing its demise up and voting to end it even though these numerous identical Bills were never brought up in the Senate.  The vote has always been strictly upon Party lines.


For his first four years in office President Barack Obama seemed to feel that he could get some cooperation from the Republicans in Congress.  It never happened.  For his second term he knew better but he nor the rest of the Democratic Party ever really took them on.  While neither the President nor the Democrats in Congress never really exposed the Republican actions or non-actions the Republican’s never stopped blaming the President and the Democrats for what they, the Republicans, did not do.


The odds are that Hillary Clinton on November 8th will be elected 45th President of the United States, and the Senate will regain its Democratic majority.  But there is a high probability that the Republicans in the House of Representatives, while losing some of their majority members, will still have control of that body.


There are 435 voting members in the House.  Currently 247 are Republicans and 188 are Democrats.  The Democrats would have to win 30 seats in the House to just gain control of that body.  They will probably gain some seats but not the 30 needed.  Consequently the probable state of affairs during the Clinton Presidency could very well be continued gridlock.


With this situation there is the question of how will Hillary Clinton be able to bring part or all of her agenda about.


One of the major group of incidents that have frustrated President Obama during his presidency has been the random terrorist massacres that have occurred throughout the United States.  Generally Congress will observe a moment of silence but essentially the Republicans will pass no laws to control the purchase of firearms.  The National Rifle Association, which contributes heavily to Congressional elections and supports gun owners throughout the U.S. and is controlled by the gun, magazine, and ammunition producing companies, holds the position that any step in weapon control is the first step in taking guns away from American citizens. Essentially what the reformers want is to have thorough background checks upon everyone buying a firearm and to stop the sale to people with mental problems or to those who have criminal records.


The random gun shootings in the United States are at least 22 times higher than in any other industrial nation.  The last terrorist attack was on the night of June 12, 2016, when Omar Mateen, an American born, not too well mentally balanced 29 year old Moslem, who worked as a security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist hate crime inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  After a three hour siege he was shot and killed by the Orlando Police Department swat team.  Mateen had purchased the semi-automatic firearms legally the prior week.


This issue was dealt with at least twice at the Democratic Convention: once by adults who had lost a parent or child to random shooting and once by people whose parent or child had been specifically or otherwise targeted.


The Senate had blocked four gun measures the following Monday, two from each party.  Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader said that Democrats were taking advantage of the Orlando Massacre, using it as a political talking point.  He called the Republican proposals, “real solutions.”  Harry Reid, the minority leader, called the Republican measures, “political stunts.”  Hillary Clinton had one word for the Senate after the gun vote, “Enough.”  She later tweeted, “It’s time to demand more than thoughts and prayers from our elected officials.”


At the Democratic Convention, the Platform writing committee consisted of fifteen members: Clinton appointed six of them, Sanders five, and Wasserman Schultz four.  The Platform was described by NBC News as the most progressive in party history.


They want to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and index it to inflation.  They also desire to include 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.  On health care, the Democrats want a public option for the Affordable Care Act and legislation to allow Americans aged 55 and over to buy into Medicare.  They also want Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs and to double their support for community health centers that provide primary health-care services, particularly in rural areas.


The Democrats express support for Wall Street reform.  They want a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act to keep banks from gambling with depositor’s money and a breakup of “too big to fail” financial institutions.  Also there should be an expansion of Social Security and the abolition of the death penalty.  There is support for criminal justice reform, and an end to private prisons; and reforms to boost police accountability to communities.


On taxation the platform pledges “tax relief for middle class families” and improvement on K-12 education.  On workers’ rights the platform endorses expanding and defending the right of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively.  The platform maintains the long standing support of Israel.  On abortion it states, “We believe, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion – regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured.”  It also defends Planned Parenthood.  It urges the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and supports passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.  “After 240 years, we will finally enshrine the rights of women in the Constitution.”


There are other considerations in the Democratic Platform but these are ones that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sander strongly support.


The next question that arises is: How will President Hillary Clinton bring many or most of these positions to fruition?  Will she end up like President Barack Obama, having to fight the House of Representatives, in many cases unsuccessfully, for every change the country needed?  President Obama was mostly successful working through the Federal Reserve and by using executive orders.  He got very little from Congress except having the House close down the government.


The Republicans in the House of Representatives seem to have no understanding of fiscal policy and many of them seem to want to limit the powers of the Federal Reserve, particularly in terms of monetary policy.  One gets the impression that many Republicans in the House do not really understand the principles of economics as they apply to the Central Government.  Basic ignorance does not bring about solutions to problems.  In fact they worsen those situations.  Witness the Great Recession of 2008.  A Republican President in 2009 would have turned it into a Greater Depression than that of 1929.


The actions taken by the Republican dominated House of Representatives from 2011 tended to worsen economic conditions by cutting government spending and increasing unemployment.  It was President Obama and the Federal Reserve, under Chairman Ben Bernanke, using creative monetary policy that largely solved the problem of unemployment, which should have been solved completely by Congress using fiscal policy.


In 2017 President Clinton will have her hands full.  Will she be able to work with Republicans to bring about full employment and an era of increased prosperity for the majority of the American people?

The Weiner Component #162 – Part 3b: Thoughts About the Republican Party

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In addition to the election of a new President of the United States, 1/3d of the Senate is up for election in November of 2016, plus the entire House of Representatives will also be running for reelection.  The Republicans tend to do better in non-presidential years since at that time lots of Democrats, especially Hispanics, do not bother to vote.  Consequently a light vote tends to benefit the Republicans.  In 2014, for example, the Republicans were able to gain control of the Senate by a very slight majority.  In 2016 they will probably lose that majority and control of the Senate will return to the Democrats.


2010 was a non-presidential year and the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives and a number of state governments.  2010 was also a census year, when the population of the United States was counted, and the House Voter Districts were reset by the State Legislatures, presumably based upon population changes.  Those states under Republican control gerrymandered their Districts to give themselves ultimate control in the House of Representatives by setting up new districts that were light in Democratic votes and heavy in Republican voters.  In 2012, a presidential year, a million and a quarter more votes were cast by Democrats for their candidates running for the House of Representatives but the Republicans still maintained their majority in the House of Representatives.  They still today maintain control of that House of Congress.  It will probably take an additional two to three million more votes by Democrats for control of the House of Representatives to be returned to them.  The probability of that happening, I suspect, is very low unless the Republicans do something extremely stupid like shutting down the Federal Government by not funding it.


What will probably happen in 2017 is that Hillary Clinton will be elected President of the United States.  The United States Senate will have a Democratic majority, and the House of Representatives will remain in Republican Control, where it has been since 2011.  If that is what happens then essentially gridlock can probably continue with the Congress.  President Hillary Clinton will be able to make some deals with the Republicans in the Federal Legislature, but it will be tit-for-tat, something will have to be traded every time.  The Republicans will be more interested, as they have for the last six and ½ years, in blaming the Democrats for legislative failures than in passing necessary laws.


An example of this is the Zika crisis, which the World Health Organization has called “an extraordinary event” and “a global emergency.”  Before the July 4, 2016 Congressional recess, President Obama requested a 1.9 billion Dollar Bill to be used to fight the Zika outbreak. The amount was put together by experts in the field as to what it will take to remove the danger of Zika virus attacks. 


The House of Representatives passed, before they left on vacation, a 1.1 billion dollar bill and then left Washington for their 4th of July hiatus which did not end until after Labor Day.  They were attending the National Presidential Conventions in late July and then spent the rest of their time in their home states presumably campaigning. 


Their version of the Zika Abatement Bill contained spending cuts in other health programs such as cutting funds for Planned Parenthood, and was 800 million dollars smaller than the amount asked for.  President Obama remarked that the Bill contains too little money and has too many partisan provisions.


In the Senate the Bill was filibustered by Democrats who wanted to spend the full 1.9 billion dollars without cutting funds from other programs.  The White House spokesman, Eric Schultz, stated that if the measure does pass the Senate it will be vetoed by the President.


The basic Republican position is: Take what we give you or there will be no bill and it will be your fault.  This process had been done with other bills earlier.  After the bill had died because there was no Conference Committee functioning, the House was on vacation; they, the Republicans, will blame the failure on the President and Democrats for what they themselves have not done.  Whether the public will believe them is another question.


The Democrats and Republicans have been unable, still by the middle of September, to come up with a compromise bill.  This crisis is now four months old since it first came to the Congress.  The House is still offering its 1.1 billion dollar bill.   The disease which has become more major in terms of becoming an epidemic seems to gradually be growing in the United States in such states as Florida and other Southern states.  One or more cases have come up also in California.


The House, as early as the end of May 2016 seemed to be in no hurry to solve the Zika crisis.  Democrats said it was wrong to require spending cuts for a public health crisis while not requiring them for past emergencies such as wildfires and floods.  Republicans said the cuts are innocuous.  More than 2,200 cases had been reported in the U.S. and its territories.  The number is even greater today; and as I understand the problem, Congress still has not passed a compromise bill which both political parties could agree upon.  This problem is currently being left to the states to handle individually.  They do not have the resources to deal with a national, if not international, problem.


Congress returned from its July 4th break or vacation on Tuesday, September 6th, the day after Labor Day.  The House of Representatives will have to deal with the Zika crisis, which has increased over the last two months, and also deal with the budget, funding for the Federal Government ends at the end of September.  The House also failed to pass the 12 annual funding bills needed to run the government.  The issue now seems to be passing a partial funding bill and letting the new Congress in January of next year fund the government for the full year.          


The government will run out of money by the end of September.  To date no additional spending bills have been passed.  If such a bill is not passed the Republican dominated House will again shut down the government; but this time it will be on an election year.


There is an election coming up on November 8th.  Every single member of the House of Representatives will be standing for election or reelection.  The current situation is totally absurd.  It would seem that the Republicans care more for making political points than for legislating for the good of the country.


During the remaining short period of time the House Republicans are planning votes on several “message bills,” some of which will not even be picked up by the Senate.  They will vote to impeach IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen, over allegations that he obstructed a Congressional Investigation about whether the IRS improperly scrutinized Tea Party groups looking for tax-exempt status.


Speaker Paul Ryan wants a vote on some kind of legislation to register GOP opposition to a 400 million dollar payment to Iran.  This is money and interest on funds belonging to Iran that the U.S. Government has held since the late 1980s. 


What strikes me as fascinating are the conditions under which the Senate and the House of Representatives function.  The length of a year is 365 days.  After being elected to Congress the average salary is $174,000 per year.  The Speaker of the House of Representatives gets $223,000 a year; the majority and minority leaders of both parties get $193,000 per year.  The House has averaged since 2001 139 legislative days a year; that is less than 3 days a week.  In 2013 the New York Times found that the House was in session 942 hours that year, about 18 hours a week.  The House of Representatives calendar for 2016 is 110 legislating days.  Their average time spent in session in 2016 has been three days a week plus lengthy holidays.  They work, generally, from Monday through Wednesday and take a four day weekend plus all holiday breaks.


The average salary in the United States is less than half that amount and it includes at least a 40 hour work week.  There is also a very generous retirement plan for Congress that kicks-in after serving one two year term in the House of Representatives.


The Founding Fathers did not originally envision political parties.  They expected an educated constituency to elect the smartest people available.  We are far from that point now.  The taxpayers are spending a lot of money for very little.  For the last 5 ½ years it’s been for gridlock in Congress.


As of Friday, August 26, 2016, 42 new non-travel cases of Zika infections have been discovered.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants the entire blood supply within the United States, every single blood donation screened for Zika.  It is currently estimated that one out of every ten blood donations in Puerto Rico contains the Zika virus.  The number would also be high in Florida.  But the problem could also exist in any of the other states.  The country could be moving toward a massive epidemic.  It would seem that the House of Representatives is looking to get its way no matter what the cost to the general public.


The Zika virus disease is a mosquito borne illness.  It is beginning to reach epidemic proportions in some of the states and territories.  The symptoms of Zika are a mild fever, skin rashes, muscle and joint pain, and pink eye or conjunctivitis.   The symptoms normally last from 2 to 7 days and then go away.  The virus remains in the blood stream after the 7 day period.  Zika can produce sever birth defects in pregnant women’s fetuses, such as a small head size, and presumably limited learning ability as well as other physical problems.  This infection can cause microcephaly.


While the disease was first discovered in 1947 little is still known about it.  What we do know is that it is transmitted by a specific mosquito and also by sexual intercourse.  Lots of people in the country require occasional blood transfusions which is another way it can be freely transmitted. 


On Friday, August 26, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has recommended that the entire U.S. blood supply be screened for the Zika virus.  One out of every ten people tested in Puerto Rico has come up positive.  A massive epidemic of this disease can effect an entire generation of births and, if nothing else, cost the country trillions in medical care for the infected infants as they mature.


These new recommendations apply across the board.  The Red Cross said it will phase in universal testing.  It is currently conducting Zika testing in 5 Southeastern states.  It will now require it throughout the entire United States.


Because an infection can be transmitted during sexual intercourse someone who does not have symptoms might spread the virus unknowingly to his or her partner.  Then either of the two might donate blood, further spreading the infection.


In February of 2016 the FDA issued its first Zika virus blood screening recommendation in areas with active transmission.  Then, the agency advised screening blood and blood components for the virus or stopping blood collection completely in areas of active transmission.


The nation’s first local, non-travel related infection of Zika virus occurred in Puerto Rico in December of 2016.  Shortly after, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands reported locally transmitted infections.  In July, Florida’s Miami-Dade County reported its own first case of a local mosquito transmitted Zika infection.


With all this occurring and Zika spreading the House of Representatives is in no hurry to solve the problem of nationally fighting the spread of this disease.  Their reaction to what can be a major health issue is pathetic.  It would seem to the Republicans getting their way and making political points is more important than the health and welfare of their constituents.


This is a potential international problem that the United Nation’s World Health Organization takes very seriously.  Women of child-bearing age throughout the world are affected.  This can result in one or more generations of children growing up abnormally with no real futures, having to be taken care of by their healthier peers throughout the world; and the House of Representatives plays its political games essentially ignoring the issue.  They are basically leaving an international problem to the states and territories within the U.S. to handle by themselves without adequate resources or responsibility.  It would seem that a vote for a Republican legislator is a vote for political gridlock. 


President Barack Obama, on Saturday, August 27, issued a call to make the Zika crisis the first item of business that the House of Representatives deals with.  He stated that the various federal agencies dealing with this problem are running out of money.  He stated that, “a fraction of the funding won’t get the job done.  You can’t solve a fraction of a disease.  Our experts know what they’re doing.  They need the resources to do it.”  He further said about the current House bill, “But that’s not a sustainable solution.  And Congress has been on a seven-week recess without doing anything to protect Americans from the Zika virus.”


“Every day the Republican leaders in Congress wait to do their job, every day our experts have to wait to get the resources they need,” the President said.  “That has real-life consequences:  Weaker mosquito- control efforts.  Longer wait times to get accurate diagnostic results.  Delayed vaccines.  It puts more Americans at risk.”


“We need more Republicans to act … because this is more important than politics.  Republicans in Congress should treat Zika like the threat that it is and make this their first order of business when they come back to Washington after Labor Day.  That means working in a bipartisan way to fully fund our Zika response.”  So far none of this has happened.


In addition, as of the present, no action has been taken on the hourly wage which remains at $7.25 an hour. And even the Republican National Candidate, Donald Trump, has mentioned raising it from $7.25 an hour to $10.00 an hour.  Also in the Republican Congress there has been no mention of requiring background checks on the purchase of firearms or limiting the size of weapon magazines.  Congress is currently in gridlock.  Will this change after the November Election if the Republicans remain in charge of the House of Representatives?  I suspect not.


On Saturday, August 27, 2016, President Barack Obama has stepped up the pressure on Congress for Zika

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English: Breakdown of political party representation in the United States House of Representatives during the 112th Congress. Blue: Democrat Red: Republican This SVG file was originally hand-written. It contains comments suggesting how to amend it to reflect future changes in Congress. Inkscape reads this file as corrupted, thus changes must be made with a text editor or other program and checked with a browser. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

funding.  He has urged legislators “to make this their first order of business” when they return from a seven-week recess after Labor Day.


Their second order of business will be to fund the government past the September deadline. 


Congress will meet for the balance of September and then adjourn for November and then probably meet for another few weeks in December.  What will probably happen is a short term funding bill which will hand the problem over to the new Congress next year.  If the Tea Party Freedom Caucus refuses to go along with the rest of the Republicans in the House of Representatives then the Speaker, Paul Ryan, would be forced to work directly with the Democrats.  This, incidentally, was probably the main reason John Boehner, the former Speaker, was forced to resign.


And, of course, the Zika epidemic grows worse daily.


What will happen should be interesting, if not tragic.


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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






The Weiner Component #162 – The Presidential Election Conventions: Part 1: The Republican Convention

The candidates for the 2016 Presidential Elections have been chosen.  The National Party Conventions are over; the balloons have all been dropped and the candidates are officially named.


The Republicans met in the second week of July 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio; the Democrats convened in the third week of that month in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Not surprisingly the Republicans chose Donald J. Trump and the Democrats picked Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Donald Trump and the Republicans tended at their Convention to present a dark picture of the United States being taken advantage of by both its allies and its enemies.  The Convention lacked major politicians like the two living former presidents, the Bushes, both father and son, or other political figures.  Minor TV reality performers and some actors made presentations to the Convention.  Trump seemed to be stage-managing on all four nights.  The House Speaker, Paul Ryan, and the majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, both gave conditional support to Donald Trump, stating essentially that given the choice, Trump was better than Hillary Clinton, who the Convention strongly verbally attacked from the first day on.  In fact one of the main themes at the Convention was denouncing Hillary Clinton and voicing a need to put her into jail or even executing her.


As the last speaker, on the first night, Trump had his wife, Melania, make a presentation.  She, in her speech, plagiarized statements that Michelle Obama had made in 2008.  It seemed that two professional speech writers had written a speech for Melania but she was uncomfortable with it and decided to write her own with the help of a friend who had helped Trump write one of his books.  The woman researched prior speeches for her and Melania produced her own presentation which no one saw beforehand.  She gave the speech and the plagiarism was almost immediately discovered and discussed on all the TV networks that covered the Convention.  In fact they played Melania saying that part of her speech on half the screen and Michelle Obama initially saying those words on the other half of the screen.


Melania did not reappear until the fourth night at the Convention.  The woman, who had helped her offered to resign.  Trump told her to forget it.  He initially denied that there had been any plagiarism.  It also helped to set a grim note to the overall Convention.


Still the four days which were supposed to set Trump up as the greatest individual possible as the next president but instead the Convention set up a grim tone about America as a country that had lost its prominence in the world, currently being taken advantage of by both its friends and enemies and run by a failed president.  It was a dark and dismal version, low on facts and rich in generalities.  Trump would be the savior of the United States.  He and he alone could save the country from where it presently was.


He strongly made the point that if Hillary Clinton were elected she would continue the “failed” policies of Barack Obama.


I found it interesting that the presidency of George W. Bush was never mentioned.  It was as though he never existed.  Presumably the country went from the time of William Jefferson Clinton to that of Barack Obama and nothing that had happened in those 16 years was positive, had helped the people in the United States in any way.


In 2009, when Barack Obama became President of the United States, he inherited from former President George W. Bush an economic calamity later called the Great Recession.  It was the complete collapse of the Housing Industry in the United States, which was at the point of taking down virtually all the major banking houses in the U.S. and Europe.  Had it occurred the industrial nations would have faced a depression greater than the 1929 Great Depression.  It would have totally destroyed banking in the United States and slowed the flow of money to a trickle.  Unemployment would have gone well over 50% of the work force.  And the probability is that we would still be there today.  In fact Trump’s hotel business would, among many other businesses, have probably gone under.


The Obama Administration saved the banks by lending them billions of dollars.  It also saved the American automobile industry by similar lending policies that kept them from going bankrupt.  And with the Federal Reserve the Obama Administration largely solved the housing crisis by purchasing and then discarding the millions of mortgage loan pieces which the banks had sold as hedge funds.


During his first two years in office President Obama had a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress and was able to get the necessary legislation passed to do this.  In addition they brought Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) into existence.  After 2011 the Republicans by gerrymandering gained control of the House of Representatives and Obama was no longer able to get any legislation passed.  In fact under Ted Cruz’s leadership the House of Representatives closed down the government by refusing to pass the appropriate funding bills necessary to keep it functioning.  All this in attempts to force Obama to sign bills that they wanted, like doing away with Affordable Health Care or defunding Planned Parenthood.  They were successful in getting some things through, like Sequestration which attempted to bring across the board spending cuts.


One of the Republican goals was to reduce government spending by shrinking the Federal Government.  In a manner of speaking they were “penny wise and dollar stupid.”  By reducing the size of government during a period of Great Recession they helped worsen the unemployment situation in the country.  In addition to decreasing the number of Federal jobs they also cut the amounts of monies they sent to the states, thus causing the states to also cut their payrolls.  Not a clever thing to do during a period of depression.


During the Republican Convention President Barack Obama was charged with not passing the necessary laws to keep the country healthy.  The Republicans blamed him for what they themselves had not done.


In 2008, even before Obama took the oath of office, the Republican legislators from both Houses of Congress met in a two House caucus and all took an oath to make Barack Obama a one term president by not supporting any measure or program he put forth; and that is what they did.  The Republicans placed their political aims over what was necessary for the people of the United States.  They all ignored their oath of office for the next four years and beyond.


The Republicans met in their National Convention between Monday and Thursday, July 18 and 21 at the Quicken loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.  While Donald J. Trump was the clear winner of the state primary elections and caucuses there was some doubt among many Republicans whether he should be their candidate for the presidency.  The movement, however, failed and Donald Trump became the 2016 Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States.


A number of prominent Republicans announced that they would not be attending the Convention.  Among these were the former Republican presidents and many prominent Republican Congressmen, including John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, and Marco Rubio, who had run against him as presumptive Presidential Candidates.  Six major companies withdrew their financial support of the Convention.


The Platform Committee tended to move to the far right.  They came down on LGBT, taking a strict traditional view of social issues and ignoring Supreme Court decisions.  The Committee supported marriage between a man and a woman only, proposing a Constitutional amendment to bring this about.  They opposed abortion in every case.  They called for the appointment of only conservative judges who respected family values.  They wanted federal lands turned over to states so they could be privatized.  In foreign policy they were national security hawks, wanting increased military spending, a more isolationist approach, and called for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.


On Monday, July 18th the Convention began with a voice vote to accept the platform with a loud protest from the anti-Trump opponents who wanted a roll call vote.  Donald J. Trump was nominated and won the presidential nomination on the first ballot with 69.8% of the delegates.  The Vice Presidential ballot was held immediately afterwards, choosing Indiana Governor Mike Pence.  Pence won by acclamation.


Trump had earlier vowed to bring showbiz pizazz to the 2016 Convention.  He stated that the 2012 one was boring.  Many of his speakers were minor or has-been figures: Don King, former Alaska governor, Sarah Palin and Tom Brady, a New England Patriots quarterback and other equally unknown or dimly remembered individuals.  Many prominent Republicans refused to attend the Convention.  Ted Cruz addressed the Convention but did not endorse Trump.  Marco Rubio finally released his 173 delegates to Trump and spoke via a short recorded video.


Some of Trump’s adult children spoke on different days telling how wonderful their father was.  Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives spoke on Tuesday giving Trump a limited almost negative endorsement; saying he was better than Clinton.  Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader of the Senate, did the same thing.  Both would later object to Trump’s criticism of the Gold Star Muslim Khan family.  Gold Star families are those who have lost a parent or child in the current wars in which the U.S. is currently involved.


On Wednesday the main speaker was Mike Pence accepting the Vice Presidential candidacy.  But Ted Cruz stole the spotlight by giving a rousing Republican speech which ended with him asking the Republicans to vote their consciences.  He did not endorse Trump.


Also on that night Chris Christy, the governor of New Jersey, gave a speech that was a mock trial of the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, in which the entire Convention served as the jury and he was judge and prosecutor.  Naturally they voted her guilty on every count.


I found this approach interesting because Christie may well have brought about the Bridgegate Case in his own state where traffic on the George Washington Bridge was purposely slowed to a crawl and Christie was either directly or indirectly involved.  That case is still slowly winding its way through the New Jersey courts and Chris Christie could conceivably be criminally charged before it’s over.


The highpoint of the Convention was Donald Trump’s final speech where he formally accepted the Republican position of candidate for the presidency of the United States.  Trump’s older daughter, Ivanka, introduced her father.  Trump spoke for 75 minutes; one of the longest acceptance speeches ever given at a nominating convention.  He emphasized the crisis the country was facing by attacks on the police and terrorist assaults in our cities, stating that he was the “law and order” candidate.  He promised to limit U.S. participation in global crises and to renegotiate international trade deals.  He continually attacked President Obama and Hillary Clinton, stating that the world had become less safe during their time in office.


Going back to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “forgotten man,” a term that Trump used, he offered, in addition, to support both Bernie Sanders’ supporters and those who were “down and out” by being their voice in Washington, D.C.


The speech had tones of the technique Hitler used in Germany in the 1930s.  It assumed powers for the leader that are not present in the Constitution.  Donald Trump presented an image of current gloom, saying that he was the agent of positive change while Clinton would continue, what he called, Obama’s failed presidency.


With the dropping of the red, white, and blue balloons the Republican Convention ended and Trump went on to campaign for the presidency.


As a sort of addendum or footnote on Donald Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, it should be noted that in her introduction of her father while she spoke of him bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. and other commendable things he will achieve as president she was wearing (or modeling) a dress which her company produced overseas in an Asian country like Vietnam where labor costs are very low compared to the United States.  I suppose one could argue that those jobs wouldn’t have to be brought back to America because they never existed there.  Therefore they could stay overseas.  Her company sells many millions of dollars’ worth of clothing every year.


It would seem that Donald Trump believes in projecting all his personal negative features onto his opponents.  He has had well over 2,500 lawsuits and out of court settlements so far in his lifetime, going from not paying taxes to New Jersey for his Taj Mahal Casino, where the state settled for seventeen cents on the dollar, after Chris Christie became governor, to not paying overtime to his employees, to not paying his bills or fully paying off his construction contracts, to innumerable other negative treatment of people, both employees and nonemployees.  The probability is that if he wasn’t rich and had a large number of lawyers working for him he could well be in jail instead of running for the presidency.  While he call Clinton “Crooked Hillary” she could easily call him “Disreputable Donald” or, since he seems to be a pathological liar, she could easily dub him as “Lying Donald.”

The Weiner Component #161 – Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic Candidate for the Presidency in 2016

Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillar...

Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Up until this point we have examined Donald J. Trump, the potential Republican Candidate.  It was hard, if not impossible, to find anything positive about him.  In fact the probability is that if he weren’t extremely wealthy, with a string of highly paid lawyers, he’d be in jail for his semi-legal and illegal actions.  Interestingly, everything he has accused Hillary Clinton of doing he has done or is doing.


It is now time to look at the perspective Democratic Candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton.  It is difficult to find anyone more hated by the Republicans, especially those in Congress, than Hillary Clinton.  This apparently goes back to when her husband, Bill Clinton was President of the United States.  When he first attained that position in 1993, Bill Clinton announced that the country was getting a bonus, his wife, Hillary, who would head up a task force to develop a plan for Universal Health Care for everyone in the United States.


The Republicans fought the plan presented by the Task Force like they were fighting a rapidly spreading disease.  There were all sort of dire predictions about what it would do to our society in a negative fashion if free universal health care came into existence.  Finally one of them came up with a simple slogan that defeated it: “There has to be a better way.”  Of course the better way was no plan at all.  It was successfully defeated by the Republicans and essentially forgotten by the general public.


1993 seemed to be the year the antagonism against Hillary Clinton began.  She was initially denounced that year and the antagonism has grown and continued through to the present, 2016, for 23 years.


Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is an American politician.  She was the 67th United States Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.  From 2001 to 2009 she served as a U.S. Senator from New York.  She is the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, and was First Lady of the United States during his presidency from 1993 to 2001.  In 2008 she attempted to run for the presidency and lost in the primary elections to Barack Obama.  Since 2015 she has been the leading Democratic candidate for the Presidency.   In 2016 she is the presumptive Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the United States having achieved more than the required number of state delegates and caucus votes needed to become the Democratic candidate.  She will be nominated officially as the Democratic candidate in late July of 2016 at the National Democratic Convention.


Hillary Rodham Clinton was born in 1947 in the Chicago area.  She was raised as a Methodist.  Her parents were Republicans.  In 1964, as a teenager she volunteered to work for the Republican candidate, Barry Goldwater, in his bid for the presidency.  She graduated from Wellesley College in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in political science.  As a college student she supported Eugene McCarthy and Martin Luther King.  She had changed political parties and become more liberal.


Hillary Rodham got her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1973.  She worked as a congressional legal aid for a short time, then moved to Arkansas to marry Bill Clinton in 1973.  She co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families in 1977 and became the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation in 1978.  As First Lady of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and 1983 to 1993, she led a task force that reformed the Arkansas public school system, mandating teacher testing and state standards for curriculum and classroom size.  She also became a full partner at Rose Law Firm in 1979.  In addition Hillary was on the board of directors of several large corporations, like Wal-Mart.


After her husband was elected to the Presidency of the United States, as First Lady, she led the Clinton health care plan in 1993, which never reached Congress.  She played a leading role in advocating the creation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the adoptions and Safe Families Act and the Foster Care Independence Act.  After Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton is regarded as the most empowered wife in American history.  Among the causes she has supported women’s rights has been one of her major ones.  She has stated in speeches around the world that women’s rights are human rights.


Hillary was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in 1996 regarding the Whitewater controversy.  Actually the Clintons had lost their late 1970s investment in the Whitewater Development Corporation.  First Lady Clinton was the subject of several investigations by the United States Office of the Independent Council, by committees of the U.S. Congress, and the press.  No charges were ever brought against her.


William Jefferson Clinton, shortly before he became president, said that in electing him the country would “get two for the price of one,” referring to the principle role his wife would play.  In August of that year, 1992, there was an article in the “American Spectator,” a conservative Republican publication, referring to “The Lady Macbeth of Little Rock.”  Hillary Clinton’s past ideological and ethical record came under attack at that time.  This seems to be the beginning of the long hate affair the Republicans have had with her.  At least twenty articles in major publications at that time compared her with Lady Macbeth.


It seems that since William Jefferson Clinton first ran for the Presidency of the United States leaders in the Republican Party have been out to get him.  And when that proved impossible they went after his wife.  The antagonism has lingered on since that point and Republican vehemence has increased over the years and is now focused upon the presumptive candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election, Hillary Clinton.


In point of fact there were many investigation of Hillary Clinton over many of the things she did both before and after Bill Clinton became Governor as well as during his presidency and beyond.  In no case were charges ever brought against her.  It was a case of the Republicans continually fishing for something, anything under which they could possibly indite her.  In the end there was never any evidence that she had acted illegally.  It would seem that to the many Republicans involved in these investigations that had they been in the Clintons’ place they would have been totally dishonest.  They could not imagine Hillary not being like them, basically dishonest.


In addition her marriage to the president was subject to extreme stress during the Lewinsky scandal and the attempted impeachment of the president.  Initially she stated that the charges were the result of a “right-wing conspiracy.”  She characterized the Lewinsky charges as the latest in a long, organized, collaborative series of charges by Bill Clinton’s political enemies.  After the evidence of President Clinton’s encounter became incontrovertible, she issued a public statement confirming her commitment to their marriage.  But she was privately reported to be furious with him.


While her husband was still President of the United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in 1998, announced his retirement from the U.S. Senate.  Hillary Clinton was urged to run for his seat.  The Clintons bought a home in Chappaqua, New York in 1999.  She became the first, First Lady to run for the Senate.


After eight years in office her husband left the presidency.  They moved to New York and Hillary Clinton was elected to the United States Senate.  After the September 11th 2001 terrorist attack upon the Twin Towers she voted for and supported military intervention in Afghanistan.  Also assuming that President George W. Bush was telling the truth she voted for and initially supported the Iraq Resolution.  Subsequently she objected to the Bush Administration’s conduct in the Iraq War and to most of Bush’s domestic policies.


She served on five Senate committees: Committee on Budget (2001-2002), Committee on Armed Services (2003-2009), Committee on Environment and Public Works (2001-2009), Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (2001-2009), and Special Committee on Aging.  She was also a member of the Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe (2001-2009).


Following the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers in New York City Clinton helped obtain funding for the recovery efforts.  She was instrumental in obtaining $2.1 billion in funding.  She strongly supported U.S. military action in Afghanistan.  Her position was that it was a chance to combat terrorism and improve the lives of Afghan women who suffered under the Taliban government.  She worked stringently at her job as Senator.


In 2007 Hillary Clinton was reelected for a second term.  At this time she opposed Bush’s Iraq surge which passed along party lines.  She supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program in the financial crisis of 2007-2008, supporting a bailout of $700 billion for the financial institutions.


In 2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton was also involved in her own Presidential Campaign.  On January 20, 2007   she announced on her website the formation of a presidential exploratory committee for the Election of 2008.  No woman had ever before been nominated for that position.  She came close but in the primary elections lost to Barack Obama, who became the presumptive nominee.


President-elect Obama offered Hillary Clinton the position of being his Secretary of State.  She was initially reluctant to accept the position but changed her mind.  On December 1, President-elect Obama formally announced that Hillary Clinton would be his nominee for Secretary of State.  Clinton stated that she did not want to leave the Senate, but that the new position represented a “difficult and exciting adventure.”  On January 21, 2009 she was confirmed in the full Senate by a vote of 94-2.  She became the first former First Lady to serve in the President’s Cabinet.


As First Lady she had visited 79 countries; as Secretary of State she visited well over 100.  Initially she contacted a number of world leaders and indicated that the United States would change direction.  She announced the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Developmental Review.  This established specific objectives for the State Department’s diplomatic missions abroad.  It was modeled after a similar process in the Defense Department that she was familiar with from her time in the Senate Armed Services Committee.  The plan also sought to institutionalize goals of empowering women throughout the world.


Clinton and Obama developed a good working relationship without any power struggles.  She was a team player and a defender of the administration.  Both Obama and Clinton approached foreign policy on a similar basis; the President trusted her actions and she totally supported him.


Secretary Clinton was among the group that argued for the raid into Pakistan to get bin Laden.  In a speech before the United Nations Human Rights Council she advocated for gay rights and legal protections of gays.  She also stated that the 21st Century would be “America’s Pacific century.”  This was part of the Obama’s administration pivot to Asia.


For the four years she served as Secretary of State Clinton was a very busy lady.  She viewed “smart power” as the strategy for asserting U.S. leadership and values.  By combining military hard power with diplomacy and U.S. soft power capacities in global economics, development aid, technology, creativity, and human rights advocacy the United States could lead other nations in maintaining peace and stability.


She greatly extended the State Department’s use of social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to get the message out and to help empower people.  In the Mideast turmoil, Clinton saw an opportunity to advance one of the central themes of the tenure, the empowerment and welfare of women and girls worldwide.  She viewed women’s rights as critical for U.S. security interests because it was a link between the level of violence against women and the gender inequality within the state, and instability to international security within that particular country.


Clinton visited 112 countries during her tenure, making her the most widely traveled Secretary of State in the history of the nation.  Time Magazine wrote: “Clinton’s endurance is legendary.”


On September 11, 2012, the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya was attacked resulting in the death of the ambassador and three other American officials.  The news of this incident originally was splotchy and several reports were issued before accurate information was released.  Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, took responsibility for what happened.  The Republicans, particularly in the House of Representatives, blamed her for not anticipating the incident.  They have held approximately four separate hearing on the Benghazi attack, all focused upon the Secretary of State, all essentially fishing expeditions looking to find her guilty of something.  After the initial hearing the others have turned up nothing new.  The results of the last hearing, in which Hillary Clinton testified for eight consecutive hours, presented its non-results in June of 2016.  Nothing new came out even though its Republican chairman indicated in his report that it was an important investigation.  No doubt it was important to the Republicans because Hillary Clinton was campaigning in the Presidential Primaries at the time.


At the conclusion of the first Congressional investigation of Benghazi, on November of 2014, the House Intelligence Committee concluded in their report that there had been no wrongdoing in the administration’s response to the attack.  That did not stop at least three other House investigations of Hillary Clinton and Benghazi.


What I find fascinating is the fact that atrocities have occurred under many different Secretaries of State.  We even have one case where the country was misled under the leadership of President George W. Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney, over a needless war in Iraq where thousands of Americans have host their lives and billions of dollars were wasted.  There is also President Ronald Reagan’s illegal actions toward the end of his second term in the Iran-Contra Affair.  None of these have been investigated by any Standing Committee of Congress but millions have been spent trying to blame the Benghazi attack upon Hillary Clinton by Republicans in the House of Representatives.


What I find even more fascinating is the fact that prior to the attack the penny-pinching Republican dominated House of Representatives reduced funding for protection of embassies.  For some reason that fact has never been mentioned in any of the hearings.


What we have here is a prime example of “Get Hillary”; a prime example of using government funds to politically embarrass or possibly indite Hillary Clinton.  The Republican whip in the House, Kevin McCarthy, a close relative of Charley McCarthy, credited the Hearings as lowering Clinton’s pole ratings, meaning they were political moves.


A controversy arose from March 2015, when it was revealed by the State Department’s inspector general that Clinton had used personal email accounts on a non-governmental maintained server, instead of email accounts maintained by the Federal government servers, when conducting official business during her tenure as Secretary of State.  Some officials, members of Congress, and other political opponents, contended that the use of private messaging, a private server, and the deletion of nearly 32,000 emails that she deemed private violated State Department protocols and procedures, and Federal laws and regulations governing recordkeeping requirements.


According to Clinton nothing she sent out dealt with the categories of confidential or secret.  But nearly 2,100 emails were retroactively marked classified, 65 were later marked secret and more than 20 contained top secret information. James Comey, the FBI Director, had the FBI both investigate Clinton’s emails and reported to a standing committee in Congress.   He commented upon the number she sent that were confidential and stated that while she made a mistake there were no grounds upon which to indite her.  The Republican’s in the Committee were very unhappy; some seemed to be at the point of tears.  The Committee will hear from the Attorney General next.

The problem I have with this investigation is that the two prior Secretaries of State, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell both used private email servers as well as the official government server.  Why weren’t they also investigated?  Is it because they’re both Republicans and also not running for office?  Sometimes I wonder about the current Republican Investigating Standing Committees.  Do they do anything that isn’t for show?


Much has been said about the Clinton Foundation as a nefarious entity that the Clinton’s own for their own uses.  The Clinton Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that was established by former President Bill Clinton in 2001 with the stated mission to “strengthen the capacity of people throughout the world to meet the challenges of global independence.”  Currently it employs and houses at least 2,000 people at different areas of the world in order to do this.  Through 2016 the Foundation had raised two billion U.S. dollars from U.S. Corporations, foreign governments and corporations, political donors, and other groups and individuals.  The Foundation has received praise from philanthropic experts, has had support from both Democrats and Republicans, the Obama administration and the George W. Bush administration.


When Hillary Clinton left the State Department she, for the first time in thirty years, became a private citizen.  She and her daughter joined her husband in the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation in 2013.  They backed causes on early childhood development and a $600 million initiative to encourage the enrollment of girls in secondary schools worldwide led by former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.  She also worked on a College Project with Bill and Melinda Gates to study data on the progress of women and girls around the world.  The Clinton’s Foundation has accepted donations from many sources and used the money for numerous causes that have helped enhance the position of women and others worldwide.


It should also be mentions that the Clinton, both Bill and Hillary, are paid substantially by assorted organizations to make oral presentations.  They have earned quite a bit of money in this fashion.


On April 12, 2015, Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for the presidency of the United States.  She had a campaign organized, which included a large donor base, experienced operators, functioning political action committees, and infrastructure that could operate in all fifty states.


Her focus included raising middle class incomes, establishing universal preschool, initially making college more affordable and later advocating free education to youths from any family earning under $125,000 a year, and improving Affordable Health Care.


It would seem that the 2016 choice for president is an extremely liberal Hillary Rodham Clinton or an erratic, blustering, essentially dishonest businessman who never kept his word in business, Donald J. Trump.  Trump has made impossible promises that could not even be fulfilled with an overwhelming majority of Republicans in both Houses of Congress.  Among other things, like a multibillion dollar wall between Mexico and the United States, Trump is promising economic nationalism in a world where most large corporation are multinational.  He would take the country back to the 1930s.  That period ended in World War II.


There is a cottage industry in the United States, books and articles demeaning Hillary Clinton.  The Republican Hate Clinton Stance has today grown into an industry.  It’s rather sad and too much, I suspect, to fight with endless lawsuits.


The question remains: Who would you better trust to be the next president of the United States?  Would it be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?

The Weiner Component #156 – Fear & the Economic Situation

Official photographic portrait of US President...

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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



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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont

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

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership...

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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