The Weiner Component #168 – As You Sow, So Shall You Reap: The Recent History of the Republican Party

With the Friday, October 7th release of the lewd and sexual harassing conversation, that Trump did in 2005 on a bus into an open microphone to Billy Bush, one of the hosts of the TV show “Access America,” while on the way to do another show, being made public, many of the Republican leaders, in and out of Congress, are calling upon Trump to drop out of the 2016 Presidential race as the Republican candidate.  When he refused, saying that the conversation was only “locker room talk,” many Republicans, in and out of Congress, still want to drop the Party’s support for him, arguing that he’s already lost the election.  They want to concentrate all the Party’s resources and efforts on the Congressional and state elections.  Paul Ryan, while still endorsing Trump, has stated that he will no longer campaign with him and that Republicans should concentrate on Congressional and state election.

 

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

Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell were in shock.  Ryan was booed on Saturday, October 8, for disinviting Trump from the Wisconsin Unity Rally.  But both Ryan, the Speaker of the House, and McConnell, the Majority Leader in the Senate, are equally guilty of creating the milieu within the United States that allowed Trump to become a presidential candidate.  Both are equally guilty of bringing about the gridlock in Congress that caused very little to be done there, in keeping the government barely functioning, and even shutting it down for a while.  Even now, with Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress, there is a short term funding bill for a small part of the next fiscal year’s budget.  This includes, after four months hassling, Zika funding.

 

Every effect has a cause; and the cause of Donald Trump being the Republican presidential candidate can easily be traced back to Republican inaction in passing the necessary laws needed to run this country.  Every Republican in Congress worked to make Barack Obama a one term President and then still refused to cooperate with him during his second term in office.  They are all equally responsible for Donald Trump being their presidential candidate today.  They, by their inactions, created the situation that exists today.  They are all the cause of their own present-day ever-growing discomfort, Donald Trump.

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I suspect that by the end of his second term, President George W. Bush couldn’t even have won an election to become dogcatcher.  He has gotten absolutely no mention in the current election by Trump or other Republicans.  But he was the President of the United States who declared war on Iraq, supposedly because of their weapons of mass destruction, but actually to punish Saddam Hussein for attempting to have his “Daddy” assassinated.  He was the one who destabilized the Middle East and was the President responsible for much that was blamed on President Barack Obama.

 

George W. Bush has somehow gotten lost in history; but he was President of the United States only eight years ago; and much of what Donald Trump has blamed on President Obama was not only initiated by Bush but also carried out by him.  It was Bush who set up the U.S. exit from Iraq which President Obama then carried out.  And it was then the Iraqi and Afghanistan new governments that wanted the U.S. to withdraw.  Neither government was able to run their own state against the Taliban, the forces of the Middle East that opposed them.

 

And the U.S. National Debt was mostly created by Republican Presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan with his “Star Wars” operation which brought the Debt up to over one trillion dollars, to President George H.W. Bush who sent an army to remove the Iraqi military from Kuwait.  The war was known as Desert Storm and never would have been necessary if Bush had dealt properly with Saddam Hussein and not given him the impression that he could invade oil rich Kuwait.

 

The National Debt was actually decreased under President Bill Clinton.  But President George W. Bush initiated and fought two wars in the Middle East that, with slight interruptions, are still going on today. Through the efforts of these Republican Presidents the National Debt has soared from one trillion to over nineteen trillion dollars today.

 

The Great Recession of 2008 or to state it more clearly, the great bank caused housing bubble burst under President George W. Bush who initially bailed out the banks.  President Obama inherited it and in order to prevent it from becoming a greater depression than that of 1929 had to spend a lot of money.  He brought about a large degree of recovery in spite of the fact that a Republican led House of Representatives continually worked against it and his efforts to end it.  He also inherited two wars from George W. Bush. 

 

Donald Trump loudly and vociferously blames our NAFTA Agreement of 1993 on President Bill Clinton.  That agreement was initially negotiated by President George H.W. Bush in 1993.  Congress was unhappy with parts of it and these were renegotiated by President Bill Clinton and approved by both political parties in the Senate.  The initial international trade agreement was brought about by both a Republican and Democratic President.  Somehow Donald is either confused or he’s editing history to fit his pattern of what, he feels, the past should be.  Instead of calling President Obama a failed president he should call himself a failed candidate for the presidency.  This is especially true now that about a dozen or women have accused him of one or another form of sexual assault.

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Barry Goldwater (R) ran against Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 Presidential Election.  He was the first ardent conservative to run for the presidency.  Goldwater, according to his autobiography, did not expect to win the election.  He achieved 22% of the popular vote.  That percentage marked the extreme conservatives in the American electorate at that time. 

 

Interestingly Hillary Rodham (Clinton), as a high school student worked as a volunteer on his campaign.  Her parents were conservative and she initially followed in their footsteps.

 

From that time on the extreme right of the Republican Party worked avidly to improve their status with the electorate in the United States.  The next president, four years later was the Republican, Richard Nixon.  He was not as conservative as many in the party were.  Nixon resigned half-way through his second term over the Watergate Scandal.  He left the day before the House of Representatives was going to vote for a Bill of Impeachment.  Gerald Ford (R), the Vice President Nixon had appointed, replaced Nixon after his initial Vice President, Spiro Agnew, resigned over a corruption scandal.

 

President Ford appointed Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President.  Rockefeller represented what was then left or liberal end of the Republican Party; he was a moderate Republican.  The next President, the Democrat, Jimmy Carter, would be more conservative than Nelson Rockefeller.  This group of Republicans would be a dying breed. 

 

Ford was president for two years and then was replaced by the Democrat, Jimmy Carter, who would, four year later, be replaced by the Teflon conservative Republican President, Ronald Reagan.  With Reagan the ultra-conservatives felt that they had one of their own in office.  Reagan, however was capable of compromise.  The comment during his period as president was that he would take half-a-loaf, that is, compromise if he got some of what he wanted.

 

Reagan was followed by George H.W. Bush.  He had to contend with a Democratic Congress.  Then came William Jefferson Clinton for the next eight years.  Clinton spent most of his time contending with a Republican Congress.  He was frustrated over a number of laws he couldn’t get passed.  During his last year in office he actually reduced the deficit.

 

Clinton was followed by George W. Bush who was initially elected with less than the majority vote.  A foul-up on the ballots in Florida and the fact that his younger brother was the governor of that state and had inappropriately purged the voter lists got him elected.

 

Barack Obama was the first Black elected to the Presidency of the United States.  I suspect that that had something to do with the way he’s been treated by Congress.  All the Congressional Republicans at an early caucus meeting swore to make him a one term President.  They decided that they would support nothing that he tried to do.  

 

It was largely because of this overall inaction that the general public was alienated from Congress.  This brought about a condition in the country whereby the Blue-collar Republicans were looking for a hero to free them from the Washington Republicans.  That hero, to them, was Donald Trump.  It is amazing that the Republicans in Congress still do not understand what they have done.  And that is because they are still acting in that fashion with their short-term funding bill which they will revisit in December before the next Congress meets in January.

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For most of his two terms in office President Obama bent backwards to accommodate the Republicans.  The Affordable Health Care Bill (Obamacare) was based upon a Republican plan developed by Citizen’s United, a far right think tank, for Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts.  It passed Congress on a partisan basis; in both Houses all Republicans voted against it and all Democrats voted for it.  From 2011 on the Republicans had a majority in the House of Representatives.  And outside of absolutely necessary bills nothing was passed.

 

A single bill can deal with an endless number of subjects and Paul Ryan came up with the idea of adding parts of their far right agenda to necessary bills that, for example, funded the United States.  That is why currently the bill to fund the U. S. for the next fiscal year was passed at the last minute and functions only until the middle of December 2016 when the Congress will meet again for a very short session presumably to fund the balance of the year.

 

The Republican dominated House of Representatives pattern is to pass their necessary bills at the last moment, shortly before they adjourn for some sort of extended break.  This means that the Senate gets very little time to consider the bill because they are also ready to leave for a period of time.  Consequently it’s pass the bill or let the nation suffer.

 

Ordinarily, every bill goes to a standing committee of members of that House where it is gone over, testimony on the bill can be taken and possibly the bill is modified, then it is sent to the specific house and can be debated before being voted upon. 

 

All money bills originate in the House of Representatives which directly represents the people, the Constitution gives them the “power of the purse.”  The Senate originally represented the states; they were elected by the legislative bodies in each state.  This was changed by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1913 to where the people directly elected two Senators from each state.

 

After a bill is passed in one House it then goes to the other House and the same process is repeated.  Ordinarily there is some difference between the two bills and a Conference Committee, comprised of members of both Houses of Congress meet.  They work out a new version of the bill which then goes back to both House and is voted upon again.  If it passes in both Houses it is then sent to the President for his signature.  After he signs it the bill becomes law.  This process cannot be completed in two days.

 

The new process, presumably under Paul Ryan’s tutelage, was developed in the Republican dominated House after 2011 when the Republicans received a majority of members in the House of Representatives.  It was a means of forcing or blackmailing the Democratic dominated Senate and the President into accepting parts of the Republican agenda.  They either passed it quickly in the Senate and the President signed it or the country suffered.  An example of this was to take over four months to financially deal with the Zika epidemic and then to still not fully fund the bill to the amount requested by the President.

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Currently the Congress has the lowest approval rating in the history of its existence.  The Gallop Pole does a monthly survey which from 2011 to the present goes up and down continually from 9% to 20%.  A number of other polls average 13.8 % approval.  

 

Sooner or later there has to be a reaction to Congress’ high level of non-functionality.  That reaction in the 2016 Primaries was Donald Trump for those citizens who could not stand the Democratic agenda but were frustrated by that of the Republicans.  And Bernie Sanders was the candidate for those who were basically Democrats but were fed-up with Congressional gridlock.  Sanders has coalesced into the Clinton campaign and now supports her.

 

The Congressional Republicans created the field upon which Donald Trump, despite all the negative information that emerges about him, has flourished as the Republican Candidate.  They and they themselves by their strategies and actions have created him and now they refuse to take responsibility for what they have done.

 

Paul Ryan, who was totally disgusted by recent information that emerged about Trump, and cancelled his invitation to a rally with himself in Wisconsin, will no longer campaign with him.  He will concentrate upon Congressional elections only.  And it was Paul Ryan, as Speaker of the House of Representatives, who, at the last minute before adjourning the House, got the bill passed that temporarily funded the United States Budget through the middle of December so that the Republicans could once again make demands upon President Obama before he leaves office at the end of the year.

 

They are still playing the games that have lowered their approval rating with the American Public well under 20%.  Apparently winning political points is still far more important than carrying out their oaths to serve the American people.

 

The Republicans want political power and seemingly will do anything to achieve it.  And they will take no responsibility for the acts they perform.  It would be a nice irony for them if their actions caused them to lose control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  And, of course they would not understand how it came about.  Donald Trump, as a candidate, is their creation!

 

With the partial funding of the 2016 – 2017 budget the Federal Government may still face a major crisis.  If the House of Representatives attempts to force its agenda through at the last minute with the December Funding Bill then the last major act of President Obama may be to veto the Bill.  If this occurs then the current administration will end with a nonfunctioning government.  The new President will have to begin her administration by declaring a state of emergency until the government is legally funded in mid to late January of 2017 by the new Congress.  

 

Could this happen?  Very easily, if the Republican dominated House of Representatives attempts to force its will upon the country.  This would be shortly after the November 8th Election.  It would seem that a state of war exists between the Democratic President and the Republicans, and Donald J. Trump is just a byproduct of all this.

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“As you sow, so shall you reap.”  It shouldn’t take too much intelligence to understand this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

English: President Barack Obama and sec. of St...

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Official photographic portrait of US President...

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

English: Breakdown of political party represen...

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. 

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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 3a: Thoughts on Donald Trump Since the Convention

On Thursday, July 28, the Democratic Nominating Convention ended and the two major candidates for the 2016 Presidential Election had been chosen.  The next day the Presidential Campaign was officially on.

 

In certain respects Donald Trump is a unique candidate.  There has never been another one like him.  Basically he is a bastion of ignorance with no idea of the responsibilities involved in being President of the United States.  His experience has been landlord, presumably setting racial boundaries to whom he rented, builder of hotels, casinos, and other types of structures where he has never fully paid his contractors, and TV performer, where his favorite statement, which he proudly copyrighted, was “You’re fired!.”  His business record, which is well documented, is pathetic, rich in bankruptcies, lawsuits, and nonpayment of bills.  He seems to see the presidency as an extension of himself and his nefarious methods.  If he were to extend those principles as President he would destroy the creditability of the United States.

 

Vladimir Putin, the current President of Russia, seems to want to gradually stretch Russia’s boundaries to where they were during the era of The Soviet Union.  Trump’s attitude toward foreign policy would legitimize Putin’s intrusions into Ukraine and other possible areas.

 

There have been numerous bizarre incidents with Trump, some of which make no sense at all.  First off, during the Republican Convention, Trump began laying the groundwork for his dealing with both enemy and allied nations.  He did this by making blanket statements to the press, stating that our allies in NATO were not paying their fair share and that when he were President he would see that their contributions of money was generously increased.  Actually I got the impression that he would charge our allies for the use of the American military to the point of making a profit.  This would enable him to increase military expenditures without having the U.S. pay for the increase. (Shades of Napoleon Bonaparte, having your so-called allies pay for your use of the military.)

 

Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, would love to see Trump as President of the U.S.  Trump has indicated that as President he would legitimize Russia’s take-over of parts of the Ukraine.  Putin has called Trump a genius and Trump has verbally admired Putin.  Russians hacked the Democratic National Committees emails and had them published just as the Democratic Convention began.  Was this an accident by Russian hackers or was it a plot to discredit the DNC?  Take your choice.

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In addition Trump has numerously stated that (1) he will renegotiate all foreign trade deals, (2) charge a 35% tariff on all goods produced by American companies that are manufacturing goods overseas, (3) renegotiate the United Nations anti-atomic development treaty with Iran in which the United States was one of the many participants.  (4) He has also objected to paying back Iran the 40 million dollars that the U.S. government owed Iran.  (5) Trump has promised to bring coal mining on a large scale back to West Virginia.

 

If we think back thirty or thirty-five years ago, it was then argued that U.S. companies, usually in base industries, were moving overseas and it was vehemently stated by many people that these companies should keep these jobs in the United States.  If we go back even earlier it was argued that many companies in the North or Northwest were moving to Puerto Rico or the Southern United States where there was no tradition of unions.  Of course, eventually they would become unionized.  The problem then or the solution for the companies was that the result of moving these industries considerably cut the cost of production of goods and kept these companies competitive.  This would be true at first in the Southern States and Puerto Rico and later when the moved companies had become unionized and labor costs had risen; they would move overseas.  The cost then in keeping one of these companies at first in the North or Northwest and later in the Southern U.S. and Puerto Rico was in the thousands of dollars per worker in terms of the cost of the productivity of the worker.  If most of these companies were to stay competitive they had to reduce their costs.

 

There were and still are, of course, vulture capitalists, financial businesses like Bane Capital that will take over profitable companies and transfer the factories overseas to make them far more profitable.  Mitt Romney, while he was running for the presidency in 2012, invested millions with the former company he had chaired.  They bought control of an American factory, brought workers over from China to learn how to handle the machinery, then packed everything up and moved the factory to China, leaving all the former employees unemployed.  Their profits, even with transportation included, increased well over four times what it had been.

 

Trump wants to renegotiate all the foreign trade treaties that the United States has signed with other nations.  Attempting to renegotiate all the trade treaties signed over the last twenty-five years would probably terminate most if not all of them and generate Tariff Wars such as existed in the 1930s during the era of the Great Depression.  The result would be to limit trade between nations and raise the prices of a high percentage of the goods and services sold, making most people a lot poorer.

 

A 35% tariff on goods produced by American companies overseas would be unconstitutional.  We have ‘due process” in the Constitution, which means everybody is to be treated equally.  Trump could not pick on specific companies to punish.  Besides, most major companies are today international.  Virtually every automobile produced contains parts that were made both in the U.S. and parts that were manufactured overseas.  What specific percentage makes it an American produced automobile?  This is true of innumerable products.

 

In terms of the Iranian U.N Treaty there was Iran on one side and part of the Security Council of the United Nation plus Germany on the other side.  The United States is a permanent member of the Security Council.  For that matter so is Great Britain, France, China, and Russia.  Some smaller states rotated onto the negotiating group.  The treaty evolved over a two year period.  Iran has strictly adhered to her agreement in the treaty.  Upon what grounds could Trump reopen the negotiations?  The United States would be outvoted by the other nations that approved the treaty.

 

The 40 million dollars that the United States repaid Iran was a negotiation that had been going on well before the Iran U.N. Treaty.  While the United States was still friendly with Iran during the time of the Shay in the late 1980s the U.S. agreed to sell arms to the Iranian government.  Iran paid for those arms in advance.  After the revolution, the people in the American embassy there were seized and imprisoned for over a year.  The U.S. stopped the arms deal for which it had already been paid.  The 40 million dollars was the money that Iran had paid in advance and for which they received nothing.  The United States Government has been holding that money since the late 1980s.  This, of course, does not count the other funds in American banks that were then frozen and which have continued to be used by the American banks since then.  The same thing is true of Cuba and the Castro Revolution in the early 1960s.

 

Trump has also promised to bring back coal mining to West Virginia.  The promise is pure nonsense.  The old coal mines, where the miners went underground and dug in tunnels bring up the coal, are long gone.  So are mines run by such companies as Massey Energy, which used to have a large number of mines in West Virginia.  Instead what coal mining that exists today is done in open pit mining by steam shovels taking out a half ton of coal at a swoop.   One man driving a caterpillar does the work of a large number of teams in one day.  How could Trump bring back the past?

 

In addition coal is probably one of the dirtiest and most polluting sources of energy available today.  The coal can contain numerous minerals that go up with the smoke.  One of the most dangerous of these is sulfur which can mix with water vapor to create a mild form of sulfuric acid that people breathe.  There are many cleaner forms of energy available.  In terms of health it would be cheaper and healthier to pay the ex-miners a monthly stipend that go back to the extensive use of coal.

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What emerges with Trump is that he seems to want to be president but he has spent his life being mostly concerned with Donald Trump and has missed what is going on in the rest of the world.  He is largely ignorant or just plain naïve.  I hesitate to use the word, stupid.  In addition Khizr Khan was probably correct when he said that Donald Trump had probably never read the Constitution.  And if he had read it in Jr. High it was so long ago that he didn’t remember it.  Many of his statements would indicate an ignorance of the contents of the document.

 

Trump has called the oncoming election rigged.  As far as he is concerned in any area where he doesn’t, according to the polls, have a majority, the election in unfairly rigged toward Hillary Clinton.  Because of all this Trump has also called upon many of his followers to volunteer to be poll watchers during the actual election.  His language has moved beyond the Republican Party’s call for specific identification requirements.  It has revived unfounded claims that the polls are rigged.  His warnings have been given in urgent and racially suggestive language.  He has implied that the only honest outcome would be his victory.

 

In addition Trump has suggest that Second Amendment People, gun owners, might take matters in their own hands since the election of Hillary Clinton would result in having their weapons taken away from them.

 

In Pennsylvania, which has had no Republican presidential candidate since 1988 and Trump is presently well behind Clinton in polls, Trump has stated that he could lose the race there.  He wants Republicans to sign up as poll watchers particularly in areas with heavy Black populations.  There is concern about voter intimidation.  Trump’s comment is that he wants to stop people from voting fifteen times or more.  There has been no evidence of voter fraud.

 

A Trump backer tweeted: “We gonna be watch’n for shenanigans…& haul ya away.”  Above the tweet was a photograph of a pickup truck with a cage in the truck bed.

 

A Pew Research Center survey demonstrated the 51% of Trump’s supporters have little or no confidence in the accuracy of the vote count nationally.  They automatically know it will be false if Trump loses.

 

An advisor to Trump has stated that “We are now living in a fake reality of constructed data and phony polls.”  How does he know all this?  The answer would be simply by instinct.  His reasoning, and also Trump’s, for that matter, would be: ‘It must be so because it is so.’

 

Trump’s campaign recently started a website urging people to sign up as election watchers.  All campaigns generally do this, but the people who do this are required to go through an extensive training program about what crosses the line and becomes intimidation.  Trump’s election watchers are not required to do this.

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I would like to make a comment about Donald Trump which may or may not be wholly true.  Trump basically is an empty vessel that knows himself and how he functions.  He has never been interested in anyone or anything else.  He sees the world and everyone in it in terms of how he would respond.  In his mind he has defined Hillary Clinton’s values and beliefs as if they were his own.  Consequently everything she has done, does, or, for that matter, will do, is how he would behave if he were she.  To him there is only one value system that is real, his own.  Everything he accuses her of doing or believing is a projection of how he would or does behave.  And his negative behavior toward the world in general is well documented by his bankruptcies and over 2,500 lawsuits in which he has been involved.  In fact he is currently being sued about Trump University.  The are three lawsuits coming up, two class action and one by the state of New York.  The man is dishonest from his core and imagines the rest of the world has the same perspective of everything.

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Lately the man has stated that he has misspoken on several subjects.  Outside of the illegal aliens living in the United States, who he was going to round up, all 11 million of them, and kick them out of the U.S.  This was a feat that it was estimated would cost four billion dollars over a five to ten year period and would also cut our GDP about ten billion dollars.  It seems he misspoke when he called Hispanics all rapists and thieves.  He was sorry he said that until Wednesday night, August 31st when he stopped being sorry and stated that he would kick them all out the day he assumed office.

 

He was also sorry he said other things.  But he hasn’t told us what the other things are.  This will allow him to flip-flop on anything he’s stated.  I thought that he was sorry he mentioned the multi-trillion dollar wall between the U.S. and Mexico but he also changed his mind again about that.

 

Even Glen Beck, who was dropped from Fox News for being too far on the right,

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

has verbally stated that Trump is a danger to the United States.                  *******************************

The November 2016 Election should make for an interesting if not colorful and dramatic Presidential Election!

 

 

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.

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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.

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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 #158 Part 2 – The Presumptive Republican Candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election: Donald J. Trump

Trump International Hotel and Tower

Trump International Hotel and Tower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in...

Donald Trump, the presumptive presidential candidate is in the opinion of many Republicans totally bad news.  He doesn’t act like a potential president and they fear his candidacy will do irrevocable damage to the Republican Party in the upcoming 2016 Presidential Election and possibly even beyond that into future state and national elections in the future.

 

From examining his history as a businessman and entrepreneur with Trump University and beyond to his specific business practices we get a strong image of him as a flimflam man totally without principles, willing to take advantage of anyone and everyone for his own benefit.  It doesn’t matter if the individual is well-to-do or barely surviving; Trump doesn’t differentiate, he will cheat anyone.

 

In Part 2 of this article we continue the process and view him as a candidate for the presidency of the United States.

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Trump, in his presidential run, constantly boasts about bringing jobs back to America.  “Non matter who you are, we’re going to protect your job . . . because, let me tell you, our jobs are being stripped from our country like we’re babies.”

 

But the lawsuits against him tell a different story.  In 2007 dishwasher Guy Dorcinvil filed a federal lawsuit against Trump’s Mar-A-Lag Club resort in Palm Beach, Florida, alleging the club failed to pay time-and-a-half for overtime he had worked over three years and that the company failed to keep proper time records for employees.  Mar-A-Lago LLC agreed to pay Dorcinvil $7,500 to settle the case in 2008.  The terms of the settlement included a standard statement that the company did not admit fault and forbad Dorcinvil or his lawyers from talking about the case.  The question here is: What about the others who worked at the Mar-A-Lago Club or other similar Trump facilities and, for one reason or another, did not sue him?

 

Real Estate broker Rana Williams, who had sold hundreds of millions of dollars in Manhattan property for Trump International Reality over more than 20 years with the company, sued in 2013 alleging Trump shorted her$735,212 in commissions she had brokered from 2009 to 2012.  Trump and Williams settled their case in 2015.  The terms of the deal were confidential, as in the case in dozens of other settlements between Companies and assorted plaintiffs.  This was one of many instances where commissions would not be paid to members of Trump’s staff.

 

In all we know that Trump has been involved in well over 3,500 lawsuits so far during his business career.  We don’t know the number in which he sued or was the plaintiff.  What I find fascinating is the fact that even some of Trump’s attorneys, on occasion, sued him over claims of unpaid bills.  He certainly didn’t discriminate over who he cheated.

 

There are today still a large number of lawsuits, a multitude of judgments, liens and other filings from a wide array of Trump employees and businesses who are still waiting to be paid for their work.  Trump has made a habit of stiffing not only his employees but also small businesses and suppliers over the years and then simply financially exhausting them in court or wailing until they go bankrupt and cease to exist as companies.

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Trump uses and abuses people, especially many of those who work for him.  People will, in turn, object to this abuse and there are lawsuits and among his many assorted enterprises, labor disputes and strikes.

 

In Las Vegas there is a Trump International Hotel whose workers: housekeepers, cooks, waiter, etc. are picketing the structure in 2016.  They was to belong to a union.  Most such facilities in Las Vegas are unionized.  The difference between Trump’s hotel and a unionized one is that Trump pays $9,11 an hour while a union facility like Mandalay Bay pays $13.81 an hour.  Union workers have medical coverage and retirement benefits.  Trump’s hotel has no benefits, not even a lunch or dinner hour; his employees have to clock out for the half hour they eat their lunches or dinners and then clock in again.

 

Trump employs 520 service workers at the Trump Tower; they have voted to unionize.  The Hotel Company challenged the vote before the National Labor Relations Board, arguing that the union coerced workers, Trump lost.  The company is appealing the decision.  If they lose again the company is legally obligated to negotiate a contract.  But if the employers are hostel they have legal routes that can keep the union from negotiating with them for years.

 

In White Plains, New York, Trump Tower workers: doormen, porters, maintenance, and concierge workers are on strike.  As of the end of May 2016 they haven’t had a contract in six months.  Their overtime is currently being contracted out to non-union labor.  Toward the end of May the National Labor Relations Board filed charges against Trump Tower claiming that management has been filming union workers on picket lines.

 

At the Trump Hotel in Toronto, Canada, about 100 women, mostly middle-aged mothers from the Philippines, recently won union certification at the Trump luxury hotel and will soon negotiate their first contract.  The bargaining unit will include representatives of all the workers at the hotel whose jobs have not been contracted our: doormen, bellmen, the front desk, housekeeping and maintenance engineers.

 

In 2003, when the Tower was built, the city council sought and obtained a signed agreement that the Trump Hotel would automatically allow union certification if a majority of workers in a bargaining unit signed union cards.  The later management claimed that they had nothing to do with this agreement and were not bound to honor it.  After a hectic period of denial the hotel has been forced to honor the agreement.  Negotiations will begin in June and July of 2016.

 

This pattern is apparently the standard behavior within all Trump facilities.  Trump tends to exploit and discard people freely.  He treats them as second class citizens and inferiors.  Everyone exists to be freely used by him.  Isn’t that what his successful television series was about, denigrating people and presumably firing them?  Where can he better practice that than with people who are employed by him?

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There currently seems to be a plot among many conservative media figures and others among the Republican Party to dump Trump at the GOP convention.  Many Republican leaders are not attending the convention.  What will happen with a growing Dump Trump Movement?  Trump is lashing back, saying he is campaigning against both Democrats and Republicans.  It should be interesting!

 

In May if2016, according to the polls, Trump had a 55% dislike ratio among the general public.  By the middle of June he had raised the level to 70%.  He is currently the least liked person in the entire history of the United States running for the presidency.  The man is an uncontrollable verbal canon; he doesn’t seem to have any self-control.  Besides being disliked by many in the Party the fear is that he will bring sown may other Republicans in a general election, some who have been in Congress for years, while running of the same ticket many people could lose the election by being associated with Trump.  The entire House of Representatives, which currently has a Republican majority, will be running for reelection in November of 2016.  On third of the Senate, mostly Republicans, will be running for reelection also in 2016.  They also have a slight Republican majority.  Conceivably the Republicans can lose both Houses of Congress and the presidency with Donald J. Trump heading their election ticket.

 

Can they dump him?  Presumably the answer rests with the Rules Committee and what they decide the week before the Convention meets.  Do they have the guts to dump him?  If they don’t dump Trump and he brings down the Party in Washington, D,C, will it be their fault?

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Another factor about Donald Trump is the fact that in his presidential campaign, beginning with the debates among the prospective Republican candidates, when he stated he was really rich and self-funding his campaign so he wouldn’t be beholden to anyone, he charged as many expenses as possible to his varied enterprises.  These he could pay back if he became the prospective candidate.  He owes himself about 1/2 million dollars for the use of the Trump jet.  When possible he has stayed at Trump facilities and for each stat he owes an extensive bill.

 

Basically Trump is shifting large amounts of money back to himself in his process of running for the presidency.  According to documents which he had to submit to the Federal Election Commission, Trump, whose campaign presently had $1.3 in cash paid at least $1.1 million to his businesses and family members in May for expenses associated with election events and travel costs.  He has and is currently soliciting contributions and according to his early definition becoming beholden to wealthy contributors.

 

The presumptive Republi9can candidate is required by law to account for his spending to prevent his companies from making illegal donations to his campaign.  In 2015 he spent about $2.7 million to at least seven companies Mr. Trump owns or to people who work for him, repaying them for services provided to his campaign.

 

In May of 2016, Trump’s use of the Mar-a-Lago Club, his Florida resort was paid $423,000.  The campaign paid 350,000 to Tag Air for his private airplanes, $125,000 to Trump Restaurants, and more than $70,000 to Trump Tower, his Manhattan skyscraper that houses his campaign headquarters.  In addition his family profited from the campaign.  His son Eric’s Virginia wine business took in $1,300.

 

Also Trump, who has said he will not take a salary if he is elected president, in May paid himself $3,085.  One can easily say that as a prospective candidate for the Republican Party he will make a profit whether he wins or loses the campaign.  He is probably the first candidate in the history of the United States who will have done this.

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Interestingly while he was in Scotland recently opening his golf club there a British newspaper man asked him if he would allow Muslims from Great Britain to come to the United States.  He had recently stated and restated numerous times that he wanted the U.S. temporarily closed to all Muslims because too many of them secretly belonged to ISIS.  Trump quickly stated that he had no problem with that.  The next day one of his aids clarified the issue by explaining that Trump only wanted to temporarily stop Muslims from terrorist countries like Syria, Iraq, and Iran from coming to the United States.  This was a very quick change in attitude.  Could Trump’s other hard-core statements like building a wall between the United States and Mexico and having Mexico pay for it or bringing the manufacturing jobs back to the United States be as flippant as his original Muslim statement?

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As far as the general public is concerned the questions are: Do they really believe Donald Trump?  Is this the man they want to represent the United States for the next four years?  Can he carry out his so-called promises or has he just told the public what they wanted to hear?

 

Of course another issue is: if he were elected President could he carry out his promises?  Congress makes the laws.  The President carries them out.  I doubt that even a Republican elected House of Representatives and Senate would give him what he wants.  And the ultimate question for the general public is: Do they want to go back to economic nationalism which existed from the period of the Great Depression to the outbreak of World War II.

 

From looking at what has come out about his life Trump is certainly not an honorable man.  He is instead a cheat and a liar.  In fact Donald Trump is a sad example of what a human being is supposed to be.  He uses the Courts, which are supposed to protect people, as a weapon against his fellow creatures. Is this the man we want as President of the United States?  Is this the man who will continue to make America great?

 

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.

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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.

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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%.

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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.

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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.

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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)

 

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The Weiner Component #155 – The 2016 Republican Candidate Race for the Presidency

Will Donald J. Trump be the 2016 Republican candidate for the presidency?  An interesting question, with a current high probability.  He now considers himself the presumptive nominee.  Both Ted Cruz and John Kasich have dropped out of the race.  There is no other running officially for that position now except Donald J. Trump.

 

The National Republican Chairman of the political party, Reince Priebus has jumped aboard the Trump bandwagon; he now sees Donald as the future 2016 candidate and backs Trump as the presumptive president.  In essence he is betting that Trump will be the candidate or his career as National Republican Chairman may evaporate as his predecessor’s did.  In fact most Republicans who are making the same bet are making the same assumption.  And it seems that almost every day more and more Republicans are supporting Trump.  Even Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, now supports him.

 

Presumably most of the evangelicals, faced with the question: Trump or Clinton, reluctantly support Donald.  Evangelicals apparently like people who are, for one reason or another, converted to their way of thinking.  Trump currently being against abortion is the sugar that presently makes him palatable to the evangelicals over what would be otherwise totally indigestible.

 

Will he remain with that point of view?  Another good question.  In many instances Trump changes his prospective as often as the weather changes.  It is currently to his advantage to hold this stance.

 

More and more reluctant Republicans are climbing aboard his bandwagon daily.  Will he get the support of the entire Republican Party throughout all 50 states?  Still another good question.  The answer is most likely negative.  Mitt Romney is totally against a Trump candidacy.  And so it would seem are the former living Republican Presidents.

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Donald seems to have modified some of his hard-rock statements by saying that they were suggestions, not demands that he would make as President.  But Donald doesn’t seem able to control his big mouth.  He keeps coming out with non-presidential statements.  For example he recently stated that he has “no doubt” that Syrian refugees will stage a 9/11 attack upon the United States.  His evidence for this statement is the supposed fact that numerous Syrian refugees have cell phones.

 

This is a recurrent theme with him.  In December of 2015 Donald referred to “tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them.”  The probability is that this information originated with a Norwegian news report that authorities had found images and videos of ISIS flags, executions, dead children, and acts of torture on the phones of some refugees entering Norway.  A Norwegian official also pointed out that the presence of these images did not mean a cell phone owner was a terrorist.  The photographs could have been taken by someone who had lived in or passed through an ISIS controlled war zone, which a great many Syrian refugees had done moving Westward.  The single news report was strongly promoted in the right-wing media and on conspiracy sites, both foreign and local.

 

This source was a single incident that was touted throughout the right wing.  Trump translated it into “tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them.”  At a campaign event in Arizona after the debate there Donald wondered aloud for the crowd, why the people in the migration have cell phones?  Who are they calling?  Where do they get the cell phones?  Who’s paying their monthly bills?  How come they have cell phones?  Of course, not everyone has monthly bills because they use a prepaid SIM card, both inside and outside the United States.

 

It seems that in his heart Trump knows that all these multi-thousands of people are all preparing for a 9/11 activity shortly after they reach the U.S.  Of course the fact that all immigrants, refugees and otherwise, are carefully screened by the government before they are allowed to enter the United States is beside the point.  It amazing how much Trump knows instinctively without bothering to check the actual situation.

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While Ted Cruz and John Kasich have dropped out of the Republican primary race their names are still on the ballots in those states currently holding primary elections.  In the March 17th race in Oregon Trump came out way ahead.  He still hasn’t reached the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the support of the Republican Party.  There are still enough primary elections left so that he should easily achieve this sometime in June.

 

Apparently there is still a possibility that Donald, even if he achieves the support of 1,237 delegates will not achieve the support of 1,237 delegates.  Keep in mind that the rules for the 2016 Republican Presidential Convention will not be established until they meet in Cleveland in July and vote on the rules for 2016.  That will be one of the first orders of business.  The Rules Committee will have met the week before the Convention convenes and will present their version of the rules for 2016 which the Convention will then vote into existence.

 

Traditionally or as a safety valve the Rules Committee has held that the only nominating votes that count are those of closed primaries.  Caucuses and open primaries, where anyone, independent or otherwise can vote for a candidate do not count.  This could conceivably be part of the rules; it has been so in the past; and it would not be out of line if it were.  Will the Convention have with the number of delegates who would support this sort of move or not is still another interesting question?

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Trump repeatedly lies, prefabricates, or/and exaggerates.  Take your pick.  He is narcissistic, a megalomaniac, totally into himself, and his wonderfulness. He seems to never listen to what anyone says, just  to their tone and attitude toward himself.  He may be well educated in real estate but he’s not in other areas.  He has demonstrated an ignorance of the functioning of the Federal Government, of U.S. foreign affairs, and of basic economics.  His concept of running the country seems to go back to the 1930s when the various nations engaged in high tariffs and isolation.

 

Donald makes outlandish statements such as he watched Muslim’s cheer as the World Center collapsed or his charge that the Mexican government deliberately sends criminals across the border into the U.S.  In point of fact he lies about everything, large or small.  Ted Cruz’s comment that he is a “pathological liar” may not be far off the mark.  The fact-checking website Politifact awarded Donald the “Lie of the Year” award for 2015 as the biggest liar in the United States.

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What I find fascinating is an article that appeared in the Monday, May 16th edition of the Los Angeles Times entitled: “GOP reformers hope for defeat.”  There seems to be a goodly number of Republicans who still can’t stomach Donald Trump and they are also not particularly happy with what has happened to the Republican Party.  They see Donald Trump’s emergence as the standard bearer as an opportunity to remake the Republican Party that has lost the last five of the six presidential elections.  They see a presidential loss in 2016 as begetting a victory in 2020.

 

The schism in the Republican Party over Trump’s likely nomination has split conservatives into several groups.  Some believe that Trump will be a populist aberration, whose loss will bring about a more traditional brand of conservatism.  Others expect him to win in November and change the GOP.  Still others feel that Trump will lose badly in November but his success in the primaries means that the Republicans cannot go back to the previous status quo.  These victories demonstrate a need for a complete updating of the party’s ideology to appeal directly to its increasing blue collar base.

 

Many believe that a big Trump loss would bring about a thorough debate about present party values and possibly fundamental changes in the party.  Some argue that an oblique vision of Ronald Reagan has stunted the party’s ability to forge a 21st Century agenda and a loss can bring about a complete revitalization of the party.

 

It has become clear that the old Republican agenda has lost touch with the electorate; it no longer even moves Republicans; it has become an abstraction which has essentially hindered any progress even with Republican control of both Houses of Congress.

 

Trump’s dominance in the primaries has frustrated many conservative intellectuals.  Many traditional Republicans worry that a Trump victory or a close loss to Hillary Clinton would tighten his hold on the party.  They criticize him for inflammatory rhetoric, a lack of substance, and a lack of a conservative core.  Yet the conservative majority in Congress still seems to be carrying on business as usual totally oblivious of any of the needs of their conservative base.

 

Republican reformers have called upon the party to broaden its agenda even as it keeps its positions on trade, taxes, and smaller government.  They feel the party has not worked hard enough to push serious conservative solutions to the problems that concern middle class suburban voters such as college affordability, middle class wage stagnation, and healthcare costs.

 

After Romney’s loss in 2012 Republicans tried to alter their message.  Party leaders drafted a detailed postmortem.  It called on Republicans to reengage younger and minority voters, pass an immigration overhaul, and ramp down rhetoric about immigrants.  The party failed to do any of these things.  Trump has capitalized on GOP voters’ anger at the party ineptness.  Will another defeat bring about party reform?  It would seem that many GOP reformers hope so.

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Even though Donald Trump has so far during his presidential campaign managed to alienate numerous groups within the society like women, Hispanics, Syrian refugees, other immigrants, the physically handicapped and numerous others he, the presumptive Republican candidate, has stated that he plans to rehabilitate his battered image by publicly addressing some of the most controversial episodes of his campaign.  He will present himself as a really nice guy.  His strategy is to show that he is nothing like the monster he believes his political adversaries and the media have portrayed him as being.  A pro-Clinton super PAC is currently assailing Trump as dangerous and divisive.

 

As a first step he sat down for a television special with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly with whom he has feuded for ten months, since the first Republican Presidential Debate.  It was a pleasant meeting of the two and presumably demonstrated his warm regard for women.  In an interview with the Washington Post he gave a five minute soliloquy explaining himself for making wild arm and hand gestures in November of 2015 to discredit New York Times reporter serge Kovaleski.  The act was widely seen as mocking the journalist’s physical disability.  “I would never say anything bad about a person that has a disability,” Trump said.  “I’ve spent a lot of money making buildings accessible.”

 

Hillary Clinton has commented that, “As he goes after women, as he goes after literally every group, I’m going to be their voice.”  Trump plans to counter the attacks personally during a series of rallies and media appearances.  He will highlight, among other things, his firm’s history of hiring women for senior positions.  Trump is convinced that his political image is fluid and can be easily repaired.

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Donald Trump has stated in an interview with the Associated Press that he plans to win the White House largely on the strength of his personality.  He has largely discarded the need for a heavy investment in what he calls the “overrated” use of data to shape his campaign strategy and get out the vote.  It seems that Donald will flout all conventions or what professionals consider necessary to win a presidential campaign.

 

Actually the campaign will give priority to data and digital operations.  It will tap the resources of the Republican National Committee.  In his interview, Trump discounted the value of data stating that the “candidate is by far the most important thing.”  He plans a limited use of data in his general election campaign.

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Could Donald Trump become President of the United States?  It is within the realm of possibility.  What would happen if it were to come about?

 

On Sunday, May 15, 2016, President Barack Obama at his commencement speech At Rutgers University in New Jersey, without once directly mentioning Trump’s name, to cast his positions on immigration, trade, and Muslims as part of an ignorance and isolation philosophy that will lead the U.S. down the path of decline.

 

Time and again the president invoked specific Trump policies to denounce or rejecting facts, science, and intellectualism that he saw was prevailing politics.

 

“In politics and in life ignorance is not a virtue.  It is not cool to not know what you’re talking about.  That’s not keeping it real or telling it like it is.  That’s not challenging political correctness.  That’s just not knowing what you’re talking about.”

 

Trump has emphasized the profound concerns of many Americans who feel left behind by the modern global economy.  He has called for keeping Muslim immigrants out of the U.S., gutting Obama’s trade deals with Asia and Europe, and cracking down on immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

 

President Obama further stated that the pace of change on the planet is accelerating, not subsiding.  He stated that recent history had proved that the toughest challenges cannot be solved by isolation.

 

“A wall won’t stop that,” he said, referring to Trump’s proposal to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.  “The point is, to help ourselves, we’ve got to help others – not pull up the drawbridge and try to keep the world out.”

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The Republicans face a massive dilemma.  If they were to win the Presidential Election with Trump the party could conceivably cease to exist as they know it.  They could see the United States following Trump’s “America First” policy going into a phase of isolation from both friends and enemies that would make the world less safe for everybody.

 

If, on the other hand, they lose the Presidential Election they could conceivably recast their party with both their traditional values and the present day needs.  On the third hand, if they lose the Presidential Election they could remain as they are with different groups of conservatives, controlling, at least, one House of Congress.  If this happens the country could continue to face the gridlock we’ve had under President Obama, a Democratic President and a Republican House of Representatives.

 

Again it should be mentioned that after Mitt Romney lost the Presidential in 2012 many in the Republican leadership wanted to broaden their party base to bring in many of the young and disaffected.  These plans went nowhere.

 

The future doesn’t look rosy, no matter what happens.

The Weiner Component #155 – The 2016 Republican Candidate Race for the Presidency

Will Donald J. Trump be the 2016 Republican candidate for the presidency? An interesting question, with a current high probability. He now considers himself the presumptive nominee. Both Ted Cruz and John Kasich have dropped out of the race. There is no other running officially for that position now except Donald J. Trump.

The National Republican Chairman of the political party, Reince Priebus has jumped aboard the Trump bandwagon; he now sees Donald as the future 2016 candidate and backs Trump as the presumptive president. In essence he is betting that Trump will be the candidate or his career as National Republican Chairman may evaporate as his predecessor’s did. In fact most Republicans who are making the same bet are making the same assumption. And it seems that almost every day more and more Republicans are supporting Trump. Even Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, now supports him.

Presumably most of the evangelicals, faced with the question: Trump or Clinton, reluctantly support Donald. Evangelicals apparently like people who are, for one reason or another, converted to their way of thinking. Trump currently being against abortion is the sugar that presently makes him palatable to the evangelicals over what would be otherwise totally indigestible.

Will he remain with that point of view? Another good question. In many instances Trump changes his prospective as often as the weather changes. It is currently to his advantage to hold this stance.

More and more reluctant Republicans are climbing aboard his bandwagon daily. Will he get the support of the entire Republican Party throughout all 50 states? Still another good question. The answer is most likely negative. Mitt Romney is totally against a Trump candidacy. And so it would seem are the former living Republican Presidents.
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Donald seems to have modified some of his hard-rock statements by saying that they were suggestions, not demands that he would make as President. But Donald doesn’t seem able to control his big mouth. He keeps coming out with non-presidential statements. For example he recently stated that he has “no doubt” that Syrian refugees will stage a 9/11 attack upon the United States. His evidence for this statement is the supposed fact that numerous Syrian refugees have cell phones.

This is a recurrent theme with him. In December of 2015 Donald referred to “tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them.” The probability is that this information originated with a Norwegian news report that authorities had found images and videos of ISIS flags, executions, dead children, and acts of torture on the phones of some refugees entering Norway. A Norwegian official also pointed out that the presence of these images did not mean a cell phone owner was a terrorist. The photographs could have been taken by someone who had lived in or passed through an ISIS controlled war zone, which a great many Syrian refugees had done moving Westward. The single news report was strongly promoted in the right-wing media and on conspiracy sites, both foreign and local.

This source was a single incident that was touted throughout the right wing. Trump translated it into “tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them.” At a campaign event in Arizona after the debate there Donald wondered aloud for the crowd, why the people in the migration have cell phones? Who are they calling? Where do they get the cell phones? Who’s paying their monthly bills? How come they have cell phones? Of course, not everyone has monthly bills because they use a prepaid SIM card, both inside and outside the United States.

It seems that in his heart Trump knows that all these multi-thousands of people are all preparing for a 9/11 activity shortly after they reach the U.S. Of course the fact that all immigrants, refugees and otherwise, are carefully screened by the government before they are allowed to enter the United States is beside the point. It amazing how much Trump knows instinctively without bothering to check the actual situation.
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While Ted Cruz and John Kasich have dropped out of the Republican primary race their names are still on the ballots in those states currently holding primary elections. In the March 17th race in Oregon Trump came out way ahead. He still hasn’t reached the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the support of the Republican Party. There are still enough primary elections left so that he should easily achieve this sometime in June.

Apparently there is still a possibility that Donald, even if he achieves the support of 1,237 delegates will not achieve the support of 1,237 delegates. Keep in mind that the rules for the 2016 Republican Presidential Convention will not be established until they meet in Cleveland in July and vote on the rules for 2016. That will be one of the first orders of business. The Rules Committee will have met the week before the Convention convenes and will present their version of the rules for 2016 which the Convention will then vote into existence.

Traditionally or as a safety valve the Rules Committee has held that the only nominating votes that count are those of closed primaries. Caucuses and open primaries, where anyone, independent or otherwise can vote for a candidate do not count. This could conceivably be part of the rules; it has been so in the past; and it would not be out of line if it were. Will the Convention have with the number of delegates who would support this sort of move or not is still another interesting question?
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Trump repeatedly lies, prefabricates, or/and exaggerates. Take your pick. He is narcissistic, a megalomaniac, totally into himself, and his wonderfulness. He seems to never listen to what anyone says, just to their tone and attitude toward himself. He may be well educated in real estate but he’s not in other areas. He has demonstrated an ignorance of the functioning of the Federal Government, of U.S. foreign affairs, and of basic economics. His concept of running the country seems to go back to the 1930s when the various nations engaged in high tariffs and isolation.

Donald makes outlandish statements such as he watched Muslim’s cheer as the World Center collapsed or his charge that the Mexican government deliberately sends criminals across the border into the U.S. In point of fact he lies about everything, large or small. Ted Cruz’s comment that he is a “pathological liar” may not be far off the mark. The fact-checking website Politifact awarded Donald the “Lie of the Year” award for 2015 as the biggest liar in the United States.
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What I find fascinating is an article that appeared in the Monday, May 16th edition of the Los Angeles Times entitled: “GOP reformers hope for defeat.” There seems to be a goodly number of Republicans who still can’t stomach Donald Trump and they are also not particularly happy with what has happened to the Republican Party. They see Donald Trump’s emergence as the standard bearer as an opportunity to remake the Republican Party that has lost the last five of the six presidential elections. They see a presidential loss in 2016 as begetting a victory in 2020.

The schism in the Republican Party over Trump’s likely nomination has split conservatives into several groups. Some believe that Trump will be a populist aberration, whose loss will bring about a more traditional brand of conservatism. Others expect him to win in November and change the GOP. Still others feel that Trump will lose badly in November but his success in the primaries means that the Republicans cannot go back to the previous status quo. These victories demonstrate a need for a complete updating of the party’s ideology to appeal directly to its increasing blue collar base.

Many believe that a big Trump loss would bring about a thorough debate about present party values and possibly fundamental changes in the party. Some argue that an oblique vision of Ronald Reagan has stunted the party’s ability to forge a 21st Century agenda and a loss can bring about a complete revitalization of the party.

It has become clear that the old Republican agenda has lost touch with the electorate; it no longer even moves Republicans; it has become an abstraction which has essentially hindered any progress even with Republican control of both Houses of Congress.

Trump’s dominance in the primaries has frustrated many conservative intellectuals. Many traditional Republicans worry that a Trump victory or a close loss to Hillary Clinton would tighten his hold on the party. They criticize him for inflammatory rhetoric, a lack of substance, and a lack of a conservative core. Yet the conservative majority in Congress still seems to be carrying on business as usual totally oblivious of any of the needs of their conservative base.

Republican reformers have called upon the party to broaden its agenda even as it keeps its positions on trade, taxes, and smaller government. They feel the party has not worked hard enough to push serious conservative solutions to the problems that concern middle class suburban voters such as college affordability, middle class wage stagnation, and healthcare costs.

After Romney’s loss in 2012 Republicans tried to alter their message. Party leaders drafted a detailed postmortem. It called on Republicans to reengage younger and minority voters, pass an immigration overhaul, and ramp down rhetoric about immigrants. The party failed to do any of these things. Trump has capitalized on GOP voters’ anger at the party ineptness. Will another defeat bring about party reform? It would seem that many GOP reformers hope so.
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Even though Donald Trump has so far during his presidential campaign managed to alienate numerous groups within the society like women, Hispanics, Syrian refugees, other immigrants, the physically handicapped and numerous others he, the presumptive Republican candidate, has stated that he plans to rehabilitate his battered image by publicly addressing some of the most controversial episodes of his campaign. He will present himself as a really nice guy. His strategy is to show that he is nothing like the monster he believes his political adversaries and the media have portrayed him as being. A pro-Clinton super PAC is currently assailing Trump as dangerous and divisive.

As a first step he sat down for a television special with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly with whom he has feuded for ten months, since the first Republican Presidential Debate. It was a pleasant meeting of the two and presumably demonstrated his warm regard for women. In an interview with the Washington Post he gave a five minute soliloquy explaining himself for making wild arm and hand gestures in November of 2015 to discredit New York Times reporter serge Kovaleski. The act was widely seen as mocking the journalist’s physical disability. “I would never say anything bad about a person that has a disability,” Trump said. “I’ve spent a lot of money making buildings accessible.”

Hillary Clinton has commented that, “As he goes after women, as he goes after literally every group, I’m going to be their voice.” Trump plans to counter the attacks personally during a series of rallies and media appearances. He will highlight, among other things, his firm’s history of hiring women for senior positions. Trump is convinced that his political image is fluid and can be easily repaired.
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Donald Trump has stated in an interview with the Associated Press that he plans to win the White House largely on the strength of his personality. He has largely discarded the need for a heavy investment in what he calls the “overrated” use of data to shape his campaign strategy and get out the vote. It seems that Donald will flout all conventions or what professionals consider necessary to win a presidential campaign.

Actually the campaign will give priority to data and digital operations. It will tap the resources of the Republican National Committee. In his interview, Trump discounted the value of data stating that the “candidate is by far the most important thing.” He plans a limited use of data in his general election campaign.
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Could Donald Trump become President of the United States? It is within the realm of possibility. What would happen if it were to come about?

On Sunday, May 15, 2016, President Barack Obama at his commencement speech At Rutgers University in New Jersey, without once directly mentioning Trump’s name, to cast his positions on immigration, trade, and Muslims as part of an ignorance and isolation philosophy that will lead the U.S. down the path of decline.

Time and again the president invoked specific Trump policies to denounce or rejecting facts, science, and intellectualism that he saw was prevailing politics.

“In politics and in life ignorance is not a virtue. It is not cool to not know what you’re talking about. That’s not keeping it real or telling it like it is. That’s not challenging political correctness. That’s just not knowing what you’re talking about.”

Trump has emphasized the profound concerns of many Americans who feel left behind by the modern global economy. He has called for keeping Muslim immigrants out of the U.S., gutting Obama’s trade deals with Asia and Europe, and cracking down on immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

President Obama further stated that the pace of change on the planet is accelerating, not subsiding. He stated that recent history had proved that the toughest challenges cannot be solved by isolation.

“A wall won’t stop that,” he said, referring to Trump’s proposal to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. “The point is, to help ourselves, we’ve got to help others – not pull up the drawbridge and try to keep the world out.”
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The Republicans face a massive dilemma. If they were to win the Presidential Election with Trump the party could conceivably cease to exist as they know it. They could see the United States following Trump’s “America First” policy going into a phase of isolation from both friends and enemies that would make the world less safe for everybody.

If, on the other hand, they lose the Presidential Election they could conceivably recast their party with both their traditional values and the present day needs. On the third hand, if they lose the Presidential Election they could remain as they are with different groups of conservatives, controlling, at least, one House of Congress. If this happens the country could continue to face the gridlock we’ve had under President Obama, a Democratic President and a Republican House of Representatives.

Again it should be mentioned that after Mitt Romney lost the Presidential in 2012 many in the Republican leadership wanted to broaden their party base to bring in many of the young and disaffected. These plans went nowhere.

The future doesn’t look rosy, no matter what happens.

The Weiner Component #154 – President Obama & the Republican Party

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Traditionally the Republicans stand for smaller government and the Democrats for a system responsible for the welfare of it citizens.  This means that the Republicans want more individual freedom and choice for the citizens, including the right to starve or go without proper medical care through a lack of funds.  The Democrats are more socially responsible and feel a need to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.

 

Perhaps one of the most ardent Republicans was President Ronald Reagan who continually talked about “government being the problem.”  He voiced a desire for less government but left Washington at the end of his two terms in office with a far larger government than that with which he had begun eight years earlier.

 

In line with their desire to lower federal costs and weaken or do away with Obamacare, which was based upon a Republican model, the Republicans have recently won a pyrrhic victory against the 2010 law, Affordable Health Care.  Around May 12, 2016 a Federal Judge, initially appointed by a Republican President, found the practice of the Federal Government of helping to subsidize premium payments for those who cannot afford to make them, illegal since it was not specifically mentioned in the law.  The 38 page decision by the judge who reasoned that since the law did not specifically state this practice, the act of doing so was illegal.  The judge, however, did not put her decision into immediate operation.  Instead she allowed the practice to continue until after her decision is appealed.  Way to go Republicans, attempting to balance the budget on the backs of the poor who may lose their medical coverage!

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Watching the progress of Congress by both the Republicans and the Democrats one gets the impression that nothing ever gets done.  No necessary laws ever get passed.  The House of Representatives has given itself a 110 day legislating year; they are working a three day week, not including holidays.  The Senate will meet for a somewhat longer period.

 

The two political parties began the preliminary process of choosing their presidential candidates early in 2016.  In the Republican state preliminary elections and caucuses the initial debate between the possible candidates dealt with how bad the present administration is and how a Republican president would make the country great again.  It’s as though nothing has happened since 2009 when Barack Obama was elected to the presidency.  It would seem, according to the Republican candidates that there is no history behind the present campaign.  This, of course, is not true.  The history has been ignored or edited, particularly by the Republican Party.

 

The Great Recession, which could easily have been the Greatest Depression in our history, began under the reign of the Republican President, George W. Bush toward the end of 2008, his last year as president.  He took some action but mainly left the problem for the next President, Barack Obama.

 

During his first two years in office, 2009 and 2010, President Obama changed a potential massive depression into a recession, restored the major banking houses in the United States and the automobile industry from bankruptcy by massive government loans and signed the Affordable Health Care Bill into law.

 

At the time both the House of Representatives and the Senate had Democratic majorities.  In the 2010 Midterm Election a large number of Democrats did not bother to vote and the Republicans achieved a majority in the House of Representatives, actually killing any chance for further reform since the Republican philosophy of government tends to be the opposite of that of the Democrats .  In addition since 2010 was a Census Year, the Republicans gerrymandered the states where they controlled the governorships and the legislatures making it easier for them to keep control of the House of Representatives.  In the 2012 Presidential Election the Democrats cast a million-and-a-quarter more votes were cast for Democratic candidates than for the Republican members of the House of Representatives but the Republicans still retained control of the House.  The same thing is likely to happen in the 2016 Presidential Election.

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In the 2016 Primary Elections the Republicans are quite vociferous in stating what President Obama didn’t do.  What they don’t state is that most of the things he is blamed for not doing are functions of Congress.  Congress passes the laws in the United States.  The President can sign or veto a law.  If he vetoes a law Congress can still pass it with a 2/3 majority in both Houses.

 

Basically the current Congress, which has a Republican majority in both Houses, has done virtually nothing since they achieved a Republican majority in 2014 or since the Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in 2011.  Today we have the Tea Party which is an extremely conservative section of the conservative Republican Party that is totally against Big Government and sees all economics as Micro, small economics.  Unfortunately they represent a number of seats in the House and Senate.

 

Economists today understand depressions and recessions and how to properly deal with them.  Economics exists upon two major levels: one is called Microeconomics, which deals with household finances, city, state, and business funding.  The other is Macroeconomics which deals with the Federal Government, which owns the printing presses that print and issue money.  They are two totally different entities.  Except the Republicans do not understand or accept the concept of Macroeconomics.

 

Money today has nothing behind it except the word of the government that printed it.  There is no gold or other precious metal that today stands behind any currency.  The amount in circulation is supposed to be regulated so that there is enough to easily carry out all the business functions within the nation and between nations.  Unfortunately this does not always happen and inflation or deflation can occur.  In the United States the Federal Reserve controls the amount of cash in circulation.  In most other nations there is generally a National Bank that does this.  This process is Macroeconomics.

 

The National Debt, of which the Federal Government owns over 50% of its own debt and will, at times, use it to control the amount of currency in circulation.  This was done recently by the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, for over a two year period adding 85 billion dollars a month to the National Cash Flow.  It was gradually ended by the current Chairperson, Janet Yellen.

 

The members of the Republican Party do not appreciate or understand any of this.  From statements made by various Congressional members of the Tea Party and other Republicans their understanding of economics is based upon raising a family, Microeconomics.  They see everything in those terms.  One has an income, taxes, and one can spend it.  If an individual or country wants to spend more he has to borrow money which, in turn, has to be paid back with interest.

 

That seems to be the limit of their understanding.  It can lead to recessions and depressions.  Donald Trump has added another level to this misunderstanding.  He seems to think the government can renege on part of its debt as he has done in business with three bankruptcies.   Statements like that can destroy the value of the dollar, particularly if he were to be elected president.

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To say that the Republicans have done nothing is to give them positive credit.  Instead they were able to get through the Budget Control Act of 2011 which began on March 1, 2013.  This was the sequester, automatic cuts across the board on all government programs with the exception of Social Security, Medicaid, federal pensions, and veteran’s benefits.  These would cover all other military and discretionary programs every year until the year 2021.  Medicare rates were reduced 2%.  Sequestration also resulted in unpaid time off to many federal government workers, this was known as furloughs.

 

These cuts during a recession tended to shrink the economy and slow recovery.  Interestingly by 2015 the military was complaining that with the sequester cuts their effectiveness was significantly decreasing.  From that time on Congress tended to pass yearly bills ignoring the effects of sequestration upon the military.

 

Also in 2013 the House of Representatives, with hefty leadership by Senator Ted Cruz who is not even a member of the House, shut down the Federal Government from October 1st through the 16th.  Government operations resumed on October 17, 2013.  800,000 government employees were indefinitely furloughed.  1.3 million other government employees were required to report for work without a known payment date.  The Republican led House wanted to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  They attached this to the Government Funding Bill.  The Democratic led Senate removed it from their version of the Bill before they passed it.  The Conference Committee, which consisted of representatives from both Houses of Congress, reached an impasse.  The cost of this shutdown is estimated at $20 billion.  So much for Republican frugalness!

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It should be noted that our understanding of economics has come a long way since 1929 and the Great Depression.  We understand the root causes for the economic waves that bring about these changes and we understand how to deal with them when they occur to lessen or mitigate their effects upon society.  But in order to do this we need both the President and Congress acting together as a cooperating unit.  This we have not had since 2011.

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By 2008 the Real Estate Hedge Fund industry crashed in the United States.  Properties like individual homes dropped almost overnight to a fraction of their inflated values.  Millions of people, who had been encouraged by the financial institutions to use their homes like bank accounts by continually remortgaging them, were suddenly underwater on their loans, owing more on the property than it was then worth.  Employment also phenomenally decreased.  Most banking houses were over-extended and on the point of bankruptcy.  The Bush Administration in its last year in office lent public funds to some of the banks to keep them afloat.

 

In 2009 and 2010 there were both a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress.  The massive depression that would have been greater than that of 1929 was avoided by further public loans to the banking industry.  Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care or Obamacare, which incidentally was based upon a Republican plan, came into existence.  It was passed strictly on a party basis; no Republican voted for it in either House of Congress.  The American auto industry was also saved from bankruptcy by public loans.  Incidentally it should be noted that all these loans were eventually repaid with interest.

 

From 2011 on the Republicans achieved a majority in the House of Representatives.  Thereafter no bill was passed by the House that would lessen what was then the Great Recession.  In fact the bills passed by the House tended to exacerbate the unemployment by not only shrinking the Federal Government but also curtailing the amounts of monies that went to the individual states, forcing them to reduce            some of their programs and lessoning their levels of employment.

 

Mitch McConnell, the then minority leader in the Senate, stated that the Republican goal was to make Barack Obama a one term president.  The Republican attitude from that time on was to support absolutely nothing that President Obama supported.  Economic conditions in the country became secondary next to this goal.  The House Republicans did nothing that might reflect positively upon President Obama.  When he proposed a bill to create jobs by improving the outdated infrastructure of the U.S. the bill never even came to the floor of the House of Representatives for consideration; it was totally ignored.

 

President Obama continued to attempt to work with the Republicans for the next two years with no success.  By 2012, when he ran for a second term, it would seem that he understood that there was no cooperating with the Republicans.

 

President Obama and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, were able to use Creative Monetary Policy to improve economic conditions in the country.  The Federal Reserve added $85 billion a month for over two years to the National Cash Flow.  They did this by spending $45 billion a month buying up mortgage paper and also by purchasing back $40 billion in government bonds monthly for over two years.  The program was finally reduced by 10 billion a month until it was completely withdrawn.

 

The effect of this action was to buy back millions of pieces of mortgages in all fifty states, each one of which had been split into hundreds of pieces.  In essence these properties belonged to no one, as no one owned over 50% of the mortgages.  Without this action by the Federal Reserve these properties would have been lingering throughout the economy for the next decade or more before they were sold for back property taxes by the local governments.  This act gave the people who had not walked away from their underwater properties and still lived in these homes the ability to continue living in them without the possibility of foreclosure.  There was no way the government could have matched up all the pieces of all the properties in all 50 states to claim ownership of any of them.  Generally the money that would have been used in paying off the loans was spent in the overall economy creating more employment.  It was a giveaway by the Federal Government which was probably more than returned in local, state, and federal taxes.

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With the upcoming Presidential Election the Republicans are blaming President Obama and the Democrats for not doing anything to run the country properly.  They seem to have forgotten the Real Estate Crash of 2008 which took off during the Reagan Administration and continued from there until the 2008 crash.  They seem to have forgotten President George W. Bush’s unnecessary war with Iraq which destabilized the Middle East and began the situation which exists there at present.  Actually they have forgotten everything negative that can be attributed to them.  And all of these things have been blamed upon President Obama and the Democrats.

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The actual Presidential Election should be interesting.  If Donald Trump is elected president he has practically promised to get rid of ISIS quickly and make America Great Again.  He seems to feel that he can solve all major international problems, whether he understands them or not, within the first 100 days or less.

 

If Hillary Clinton is elected and she has a Democratic Congress she can be expected to move successfully in the direction of solving many of America’s domestic and international problems.  If, however, the House of Representatives retains its Republican majority then the country will probably experience the same gridlock it has under President Barack Obama.

The Weiner Component #153 – International Trade Agreements

It is generally argued today, and it has been for a number of years, that companies are moving overseas and taking American jobs with them.  Donald Trump has promised that when he becomes President of the United States he will bring these companies and their jobs back to the U.S.A.  It all sounds simplistic, naïve, or just plain stupid.

 

Individuals or groups go into business in order to make a profit.  If they do not make a profit they soon go out of business.  They hire employees, when these employees add to their business profit.  If the employee becomes a cost factor then they fire them.  The employee is useful only when he/she is adding to the company’s profit.  The employer will pay the employee the smallest amount they can get away with and the employee will sell their labor for the highest amount they can.  Since the advantage is with the employer, workers generally form unions where they have group representation, that limits the employer’s advantages and some form of equilibrium is met between the employers and the employees.  There is nothing patriotic about running a business.

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If we think back from the 1960s on it was then argued that companies, usually in base industries, were moving overseas and that we (the government) should keep those jobs in the U.S. for our own people.  The problem then was that the cost of moving industries considerably cut the costs of production of goods and kept these companies competitive.  The cost, at that time, in keeping one of these companies in the U.S. was in the thousands of dollars per worker in terms of the cost of the product or service.  The basic issue was being competitive, not patriotic.

 

Initially the movement of companies was within the United States.  Companies went from highly industrial and unionized areas like the North East to low industrial non-union areas like Puerto Rico or the Southern states.  Gradually as these sections became unionized and industrialized and the companies began moving to Third World Nations where regulation and unionization did not exist.

 

The Federal Government added regulations with agencies such as the E.P.A. (Environmental Protection Agency).  Prior to the existence of this agency the states defined or did not bother to define what constituted pollution.  In the latter case it was left to the companies to control their own pollution.  This generally meant that there was no pollution control.  Of course, this government regulation is also a cost factor in the production of goods.  And for health purposes there has to be a balance between levels of pollution and production.

 

It is important to remember that there are social costs related to pollution.  Even today there are areas in cities like Los Angeles, where the ground for several miles around where a battery plant formally existed for a very long period of time, is inundated with lead poisoning.  It will cost hundreds of millions to clean that area.  Pollutants released into the air are breathed in and tend to increase people’s medical bills.  The same is true of contaminates released into drinking water.  All of these are social costs that are paid by the individuals affected.  The E.P.A. attempts to change these social costs into production costs.

 

This, incidentally, is the agency that the Republican Party would do- away with in order to increase employment in the United States.  There has to be a trade-off between health and pollution.  I would vie in favor of public health.

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There are environmental costs in the production of goods, equipment costs and labor costs.  Most companies compete both nationally and internationally with their products.  Prices have to be kept as low as possible in order to be competitive.  The company has to produce its product(s) as inexpensively as possible.  In many cases the cost of producing its wares could decrease by more than 50% by moving overseas.  What are its options if it wants to stay in the United States?  In many cases the answer would be eventual bankruptcy.  No company can stay in business constantly taking loses.

 

There is an exception to this principal.  Mitt Romney’s former company, Bain Capital, was what the former governor of Texas, Rick Perry, called a “vulture capitalist” company.  Under Romney’s leadership they took over functioning American companies by buying up the majority of their stock, then sold the stock back to the company which they now controlled, and generally sold off the company in pieces for enormous profits.  After Romney had left the company as CEO, and was running for the presidency in 2012, but still had money invested in some of its projects, Bain Capital took over a successful company, brought in workers from China to learn how the machinery worked, then packed up all the machinery and shipped it and the Chinese workers to China, where the factory was set up.  All the American workers had been fired by then.  Apparently Bain Capital and Romney made millions on this deal.  This is one example of vulture capitalism, there are numerous others.

 

Unlike Donald Trump’s heavy rantings about putting a heavy tariff on goods from American companies that have moved overseas the issue tends to be fairly complicated.  Apparently Donald never heard of “due process,” the fact that the law has to be evenly applied.  Basically that company is already paying a tariff on their goods being shipped to the United States.  Donald has threatened to raise their tariff rate to about 40 or 45% of the cost of the product.  The rate of the tariff depends upon the agreements that particular foreign country has with the United States.  Trump simplifies everything to an absurd degree.  I believe he doesn’t understand the whole process of trade between nations and believes he will have absolute power as President.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ***************************************

Historically the tariff, a tax on all goods coming from foreign countries, was used primarily to raise revenue for the central government; but it has also been used as a protective device, to keep certain specific goods out of the country or to allow them in on a limited basis.  This is the protective tariff.

 

During the Great Depression the industrial nations all used heavy protective tariffs to try to protect employment within their boundaries.  In the 1950s and 60s the United States had high protective tariffs on European and latter Asian automobiles imported into the United States in order to protect the U.S. auto industry and keep the cost of foreign cars essentially equal with American autos.  Eventually the foreign car manufacturers got around this by setting up auto factories in the U.S. and building their cars here.  They became American foreign cars.  This also became true of other products.  In essence many corporations became multinational, which they are today.

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From the time of Theodore Roosevelt the United States became a major player in international trade.  After all, companies want to spend the least they can on products and sell at the highest price they can.  International trade allows this.

 

Free Trade Agreements have been one of the best ways to increase productivity.  They open up foreign markets to American exports.  Trade Agreements have increased U.S. exports and have protected U.S. interests overseas.  The reduction of trade barriers has created a more stable and transparent trading and investment environment making it easier and less expensive for U.S. companies to export their products and services.  There has actually been a significant increase in the amount of goods exported because of these agreements.

 

The problem that arises with these FTA’s is that there is a certain amount of job displacement in the United States.  But on an overall basis more new jobs are created than are lost.  Do the same people who lost their jobs, get new jobs?  That seems to be the problem.

 

Generally the displaced jobs move overseas but new jobs open up in other areas.  These are usually a little more sophisticated but pay more.  The problem seems to be moving to the areas where the jobs exist and getting some retraining.  It seems that many if not most of the people who lost their jobs want those jobs back; they don’t want to move with the times.

 

In the early 1960s I taught school in upstate New York in a city called Nyack on the West side of the Hudson River.  The area had been an industrial center in the 1920s and earlier but it died even before the Great Depression and with the development of new technology.  The people living there who worked in the ice plants and factories all lost their jobs.  Did these people pack-up and move to other areas where there were jobs?  No, they hung on and waited for industry to come back, which it did in the 1960s, forty years later.

 

Interestingly, since I was middle class I moved to the area to get a teaching job.  But since the mentality of those people who lost their jobs tended to be lower class they had stayed in the region for a couple of generations until new industry came to them.

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For the United States the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was the first of a large number of trade agreements that the U.S. signed with other countries.  This one completed in 1994 was with Canada and Mexico.  The populations of all three countries have gained significantly with lower costs for goods and actually a gradual increase in employment after some initial displacement from this agreement.

 

It should be noted that the Free Trade Agreement was also a reaction to the European Common Market which did the same thing for all the European member nations.  We were actually following a pattern begun in Europe.

 

The erstwhile Republican Presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump has complained vociferously that NAFTA has “emptied our states” of our manufacturing and our jobs.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the month before NAFTA took effect there were 16.8 manufacturing jobs.  By March and April 1998 there were 17.6 manufacturing jobs in the U.S.  This was a peak period.  Overall jobs have gone up 28% since December 1993, from 112.3 million to 143.8 million.  The labor force has increased by 23% or 29.3 million people.  Many factors, in addition to the 1994 agreement, impact jobs and the economy but overall economists have found that the major effect upon jobs from NAFTA has been small.  The benefits from it have been large with many food products costing less and being available all year round.  The agreement has raised the GDP in all three countries allowing the majority of people to have a higher standard of living with some initial displacement of employment opportunities.

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Today we have numerous trade agreements in operation.

NAFTA 1994.  We have Free Trade Agreements with Jordan (2001), Australia (2004), Chile (2004), Singapore (2004), Bahrain (2006), Morocco (2006), Oman (2006), Peru (2007), Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) includes Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic (2005), Panama (2012), Columbia (2012), and South Korea (2012).

 

The United States is negotiating free trade agreements with the following countries and blocks: All countries in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba, most countries in the Middle East, the European Union, Thailand, New Zealand, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, South African Customs Union: South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Namibia, Ecuador, and Qatar.  These agreements do not end tariffs; the lower them, generally, significantly.

 

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement that was drafted after seven years of negotiation and signed of February 3, 2016.  It is currently not in force.  Its goals are to “promote economic growth, support the creation and retention of jobs, enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness, raise living standards, reduce poverty; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections.”  The U.S. government considers TPP a companion agreement to the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a similar agreement between the U.S., and the European Union.

 

There are twelve members to the TTP: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam.  The agreement is to be brought into force within the next two years.

 

Within the United States there are people who both agree and oppose it.  Bernie Sanders is against it as a job killer.  Barack Obama, who has signed it, and Hillary Clinton support it.  Obviously what will happen is unknown.

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In the early 1800s the Industrial Revolution began in England with the emergence of the cotton cloth industry.  Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, which could clean the seeds out of the cotton plant in minutes where before it took hours for a man picking them out one at a time.  Cotton suddenly became a very inexpensive plant to process.  With the development of power-run tools it became even less expensive.  Spinning machines, the spinning jenny, were developed.  Instead of one spool of thread a small number of threads could be spun at one time; then water power was applied and a much larger number of threads were quickly spun.  Along with this power driven weaving machines were invented and cloth was quickly and easily produced.

 

This innovation made the hand spinners and weavers obsolete and introduced inexpensive cotton cloth to the marketplace.  Suddenly there was a segment of the population that no longer had a functioning occupation.,  Groups called luddites developed who attempted to destroy the new factories.  They wanted to turn the clock back to the preindustrial times.  Obviously they did not succeed.

 

When I was a college student during the 1950s a large number of engineering students worked their way through college as part time draftsmen for engineering firms.  This occupation disappeared with the arrival of the computer which has numerous draftsmen programs.

 

Basically as time moves forward conditions change, new occupations come into existence and some occupations change or disappear.  Usually, for the overall society, conditions get better.  The are more products available and they are less expensive than they used to be.  Most people adapt to the changes.  The general public ends up with a higher quality of life.

 

In a sense the world is getting smaller.  I can make a phone call about a problem with my computer or a piece of machinery I’ve purchased and find I am connected to someone in India or the Philippine Islands.  If they can’t solve my problem they’ll connect me with someone in the United States.  From what I understand Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats have a “made in China” sticker on them.

 

The Trade Agreements do displace some jobs.  It cost management a lot more to have their company in the United States than, in many cases, overseas.  But in the long run these trade agreements actually increase employment in the U,.S. and raise standards of living.

 

Do we set up tariff barriers between nations and keep various goods and foods more expensive or do we set up facilities to retrain workers.  The United States is an advanced industrial nation that requires skilled labor.  We can easily expand our educational facilities to teach the necessary skills, new or otherwise.  Jobs are available, in most cases, if the labor is mobile.  Economically these trade agreements are positive for the overall population of all the countries involved,.

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