Killing the Goose that’s Laying the Golden Eggs

The United States is the richest country the earth has ever known. And today, the wealthiest 1% of Americans own 40% of this great wealth. The remaining 99% percent of us hold 60% of America’s wealth between us. The gap between the ultra-wealthy and the remainder of us has grown larger over the past 50 years to an unprecedented level.

The richest 1% live lives that are completely different than the rest of us. They have multiple homes – in the nicest locations – the best of everything, and never have to worry about problems of saving for retirement, healthcare, or providing for their children. When you have 10s of millions, none of those issues that the rest of us deal with on a daily basis are of concern. The rich live in a world of entitlement that insulates them from the reality of others.  They have never had it better.

 

But it isn’t enough. They want more. Donald Trump, in complete indifference to the promises he made as a candidate, is fully onboard with their desires. There are numerous examples, including his support to reduce regulations that are designed to protect people from the excesses of business, killing healthcare, reducing budgets for social programs, etc.

But the biggest and most obvious example is the misnamed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This bill includes a number of intentionally confusing provisions that contain both positive and negative implications for the 99% – but it is CLEARLY designed to provide huge benefits for the 1%. When the original versions from both the House and Senate were unveiled, they were roundly criticized as being Robin Hood in reverse.  So, we were told that they would make it better in conference.

But the latest version, unveiled just yesterday, is worse. Now it provides an even greater break for the wealthiest. Why? Because those who already have so much – wanted more – and they compelled their Republican servants in office to give it to them. And they did – to the detriment of the rest of us.

The people aren’t completely stupid. They do have a voice at the ballot box. They have been fooled before (Exhibit A – Donald Trump). But they won’t be fooled again. And this time, the social issues won’t be enough to convince people to vote against their own economic self interest.

There will be a swing in power – a huge swing – as a result of the next national election. Republicans will be thrown out of office in massive numbers. And Democrats will be empowered – even compelled – to reclaim wealth from the richest 1%. It will be ugly.

And so it will come to pass. In their greed, the rich will be brought down. They couldn’t leave well enough alone, and they will pay the price. As they should.

A Real Middle Class Tax Cut

The goal of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is to stimulate the economy and create more and better jobs. The ideal result would be a stronger American economy, based on increased manufacturing, providing good jobs that pay well without requiring higher education. Just like it used to be. It the core of Trump’s promise to Make America Great Again.

But its not what we got. What we have is a bill that rewards industries who invest in automation, but does nothing to encourage employment of more workers. And, by all analyses, it will transfer wealth from the middle class to the richest of Americans. The Republicans say that this is because the wealthy pay the most taxes, so if there is a tax cut, they will reap the largest benefits – there’s no other way to do it. That is nonsense.

Its easy to create a tax system that doesn’t reward the ultra rich. Just go back to the way it used to be when America was great. In 1965, top federal tax rate on regular income (on income over $200,000) was 70%!! And the top Corporate tax rate was 48%!! And in 1965, America WAS GREAT. At the time, our percentage of the world’s GDP was 38%, compared to 25% now. And these rates held until the early 1980s, as did America’s manufacturing preeminence in the world. In fact, the gradual lowering of the top rate to 50% in the early 1980s to 38.5% in 1987 coincided with the beginning of the decline of American manufacturing and the hollowing out of the middle class.

And what did the US do with the income it received from these taxes? It INVESTED in itself – in infrastructure, in education, in scientific research, and of course in the military. Today, we only invest in one of these – the military – because, as John Boehner used to say, “we’re broke”. But we’re only broke because we choose to be. If we return to the tax rates of when America was at its strongest, we could balance the Federal budget and have enough leftover to invest in ourselves – and Make America Great Again.

So why don’t the Republicans and Trump support such an idea? Because they are completely subservient to their wealthy donors – and those donors expect a return on their large investment. The Republicans don’t have any intention of fulfilling their promises to the middle class. The only question is – will their supporters realize the truth?

 

Criminalizing Abortion

It is obvious that the Supreme Court is nearly evenly divided between liberals and conservatives. When abortion was declared legal in 1973 by the famous 7-2 Roe v. Wade decision, the court was much more liberal in its makeup. Four members of the court are now 70 or older (two liberals and two conservatives). It’s very likely that one or more of them will be leaving the bench in the next three years.

Donald Trump has already appointed one conservative to the Supreme Court, and if there is a vacancy, another conservative will certainly be appointed. And there are plenty of Republican-backed states who will quickly develop cases that will test the law.

Within a short time, Roe v. Wade would be struck down and states would be free to enact legislation banning a woman’s right to choose. At least seven already have such laws on the books ready to go into force. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade] Others will follow. The result will be a return to the 60s. Women will die from botched self-abortions and backroom hacks. Millions of unloved, unwanted babies will be born, ending up poor, uneducated, and very likely in prison.

But there’s more. The Republican war on women continues.

While a candidate for the Presidency, Donal Trump said “There has to be some form of Punishment” for women who have abortions [https://www.vox.com/2016/3/30/11333472/trump-abortions-punishment-women].  Although he was later told to back off on the statement, this is the real goal of conservatives. Some states are now in the process of enacting legislation declaring abortion to be murder. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, these will also become law. Think of the result – since there is no statute of limit on murder – anyone who had a legal abortion in the past could be charged with Murder – and since the abortion was clearly premeditated – First degree murder, which in some states is punishable by death. Anyone living in those states, or anyone who might travel to those states could be arrested, tried for murder, convicted and executed.

Think it won’t happen? Do you trust Donald Trump?

Donald Trump and Roy Moore are Indistinguishable

Although Donald originally (and reluctantly) supported Roy Moore’s opponent, the two are much more alike than apart. Alike in their unshakable belief in themselves, in their disdain for the establishment, in their rise to positions of  great power and responsibility, and most importantly, in their abuse of women who have no power. They both believe that they can abuse women with impunity, and so far both have gotten away with it.

They believe that others, especially women, only have value if they obey their wishes and desires. They also believe that people are so gullible that they will discount the words of 25+ brave individual women versus their own. Both men have certainly committed crimes which should land them in prison. Congress has the responsibility to ask for a special prosecutor in each case. If only they had the courage to do so.

Is Science Important?

We all understand that our World has been made much better through the advances in science over the past 500+ years. Humans used to believe that the Earth was the center of the Universe and the Sun revolved around it. They also used to believe that the disease came from evil spirits. We now know these things to be untrue, but at one time these were all accepted facts. In each case, one or more Scientists developed theories (Gravity, Germ Theory, etc.) that form some of the most basic underpinnings of science and we now accept as fact.

But two of the most important theories of science today are denied by the Republican Party. These are the theory of Evolution, and the theory of Human induced Climate Change. the evidence for both of these theories is overwhelming in its weight. You can’t begin to explain biology without evoking Evolution – which is a fundamental to Biology as Gravity is to Physics. And you can’t explain any of the changes that we are all experiencing in our daily world (winter without snow, drought, increasingly violent storms, etc.) without Climate Change. Republicans say that the science is “unproven” – which is technically true of virtually every theory, including the theory of Gravity (You explain how the sun exerts a gravitational pull on the Earth across 93 million miles – because nobody ever has). No theory has been “proven” beyond any doubt, but when a theory predicts, with a VERY high degree of confidence, a certain set of results, it becomes adopted as the basis for policy decisions by those in charge. Until now, the US has been a leader in adopting science-based policies, which has been one of many factors that has driven our success over the past two hundred years.

Someone recently offered a simple analogy. If your child was sick, and you took her to 100 doctors, and 98% of them diagnosed the same disease, and gave the same prescription for recovery, would you listen to the opinion of the 98% or the 2% who (loudly) gave a different diagnosis and proposed a different (or no) treatment). With Climate Change, the science is about 98% to 2% today. With Evolution, the science is about 99.5% to 0.5%. Yet Donald Trump thinks is a hoax, and many Republicans in Congress agree. The National Republican’s Platform doesn’t say anything explicit about Evolution, but the Republican Texas Party [http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/06/28/the-texas-republican-party-platform/] wants to teach Creationism (Religion) as an alternate to science.

History tells us what happens to nations that deny the evidence of Science and make decisions based on dogma. For forty years, the Soviet Union espoused the theory of Lysenkoism [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysenkoism] rather than the theory of genetics (which was not consistent with communist dogma) as the underpinning to its agricultural seed production policies. The results – millions of Soviet citizens starved to death, and the Soviet Union today has ceased to exist.

Now that Republicans have gained control, they are making decisions based on dogma rather than science. In a world dominated by science, where our Nation’s (and the world’s) success is based on maximizing the possibilities that science offers, how can they lead this county forward if the deny basic science?

Science creates our technology and also our weapons. When we deny science, we deny the very thing that keeps our nation strong. Our future is at stake.

The Cowards on Capitol Hill

cropped-washington-dc-2006-047

 

It has been well established that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to steal the 2016 election. But the result of the election was that a number of other Republicans were swept into office along with him – enough to enjoy a majority in both Houses of Congress and and State Legislatures and Governor ships.

Make no mistake – Russia is our enemy. They, and they alone, have the capacity to destroy the United States. And every day they make more provocative and threatening moves which indicate that they can’t be trusted. They are led by a man who is effectively a dictator and who exercises complete control over the State, and nearly complete control over the private sector (if you disagree with him, you will be jailed or killed). Putin is a cold-hearted killer with his finger on thousands of nuclear weapons. He is the most dangerous person on the planet.

If all the Islamic terrorists in the world got together, (which won’t happen because half of them hate the other half) they could kill thousands of Americans – but they could not destroy the US. Nor could North Korea. But they both create a convenient diversion to keep our attention away from the real threat to our existence.

In a world in which party affiliation and loyalty are more important than almost any other characteristic in terms of winning elections, it is natural for the Republicans to circle the wagons upon hearing that their leader is in trouble. And many of them know that if Trump’s win is tainted, then the whole election is tainted – including their majority.

The bulk of Republican legislators are lawyers. By now many of them have come to the obvious conclusion that Trump is guilty.  And perhaps many of them already know more of the truth than has been made public. But their willingness to stick with someone who helped Russia steal elections means that they are also collaborating with the enemy. This cannot be excused. If they were true Patriots, they would abandon Trump now while they still have a shred of self-respect and decency.

But they will not. They try to cripple and obscure the work of the committees because they know that the results will make them look bad.

Eventually the truth will be made public. And Republican cowards will look VERY BAD. There’s another word that can be used to describe them: Traitors.

The Big Question

We thought that the big question was: Did Trump collaborate with the Russians to sabotage Hillary’s campaign? We don’t yet know the truth – but let’s look at what we do know:

  1. Trump’s businesses have been in deep financial trouble a number of times over the past ten years – and many of them went bankrupt. But in the midst of the financial crisis, when nobody was lending money, all Trump’s financial problems went away – because of huge influx of money. We know that, through a few slips of the tongue, the Russians have been the source of millions of dollars to the Trump organization. When Trump talks about investments in Russia, he chooses his words carefully, “I have nothing in Russia”, which may be true, but the real question is: “What does Russia have invested in Trump?” Given that Russia is a kleptocracy, with all major public and private companies run by Putin’s cronies, if he owes money to any Russian banks then he owes it to Putin. And if he owes millions (or billions), then Putin OWNS Trump.
  2. Trump won’t release his tax returns despite the fact that it is costing him the trust and votes of many people. Why would he do that? Because there is something in his tax returns that will devastate his credibility. What could be that damaging? Certainly not that he’s rich, or that he has not been paying taxes – those are established facts and have even been touted by Trump as a sign that “I’m smart”. No, it’s something really bad that would turn his voters away. It’s not hard to figure out that the only thing that would be so bad as to suffer the loss of so many voters is that the Tax returns would show the loan repayments to Russian banks. Nothing else makes sense.
  3. During the 2016 campaign, Trump’s team met with the Russians a massive number of times (reported to be as many as 20). Many of these messages were in European or Asian locations. Why would a busy person need to travel to Europe or Asia to have a discussion? Because what they have to say is so secretive that they don’t want anyone to know that the meeting is occurring. Of course some of the meetings were in the US, and many of those were short. (How long does it take to say “Yes, we will do your bidding?”). There are no legitimate political reasons for this number of secretive meetings – but there if there was collusion on a regular basis, it would take quite a bit of coordination – which explains the need for a large number of meetings.
  4. We have the special case of Michael Flynn. He was so sure of himself in the weeks after Trump was elected (do you remember how crazy that period was?) that he didn’t even bother to hide his tracks when he met with the Russians. Then he lied about it, and Trump reluctantly tossed him overboard. But Trump couldn’t have Flynn telling the truth, because that would cause the whole thing to collapse. So he pressured James Comey to let Flynn go – knowing that he committed a crime in doing so – because he believed the risks of committing Obstruction of Justice were smaller than the risks of Flynn going public with his story.
  5. Now we come to Trump’s obsession with the various investigations. Why is he so obsessed? Why did he fire Comey when he was thinking about the “Russia thing”? Is it because he has nothing to hide? If that was the case, he’d show all his cards which would make the whole thing go away. But instead he’s doing everything that a guilty party would do. He’s impugning the integrity of the people involved, of the institutions themselves, and of course of the press who merely reports what those in his administration are telling them.

But now that we have the details of Flynn’s activities, we see that the question has changed. It’s not a question of collusion, but a question of Treason. What else would you call betraying your country for personal gain? When Flynn told Russian Ambassador Kislyak that the incoming Trump administration would undo the punishments that had just been issued by the President of the US, he was betraying his country.

This cannot be allowed to stand. Trump must go. If there are any Patriots in the Republican Party, they need to stand up now – or be forever dammed as traitors.Hocking Hills April 2005 Upper falls cropped

Stay tuned.