Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category

Clinton Vs. Trump 1st Debate

Monday, September 26th, 2016

https://youtu.be/EuHuzhzb1nc

I admit, I dosed off about two thirds of the way though the debate tonight, Monday September 26th, 2016. But it is over ninety degrees here in Long Beach and I don’t have air conditioning. I watched the debates again later on CSPAN when things had cooled off.

The weakness of Clinton on trade and her lackluster defense of her jobs plan indicated that Trump was coming on strong. Clinton attacked the trickle down economics of Trump and even got in a dig about how Trump got started out by borrowing money from his father. Hillary described her dad as a salt of the earth small business owner. As the debate wore on, Clinton came on stronger and especially hit Trump on the issue of his taxes and the birther controversy where Trump really had no answers. Trump wants to impose import taxes, tariffs, using the example of Mexico which applies a VAT tax on goods imported from the USA. He had no answer to the questions about how he would bring jobs back to the USA. Evidently it would be by offering large tax breaks. But historically when the rich get tax breaks they don’t invest in the economy, they by luxury goods and essentially play on the sock market, they don’t invest in creating jobs. She did much better attacking his tax plan. Claiming Trumps tax breaks would lose the country 3.5 million jobs, and her plan would add 10 million jobs.

Creating jobs though massively expanding the solar energy program in the US is part of the same stimulus that Obama used to help stimulate the economy in the depths of the recession. China and Germany already are leaders in the solar economy and unless there is protection of the domestic industry, it will not be able to catch up. Trump merely pointed out that some of the solar companies invested in by the Government failed.

NAFTA and the TPP were weak areas for Clinton. She ended up backing up her husbands enactment of NAFTA. He attacked her flipflopping on the TPP. She slogged through that.

Trumps wants to deregulate and lower taxes, traditional Republican claims. Clinton struck back with her announcement of a real time fact check on her web site. Clinton took on some of the populist mantle by wanting to raise taxes on the wealthy.

Trump made an absurd statement about Clinton fighting ISIS all her live. Clinton responded by asking people to check the facts.

Clinton seemed stronger on the TV screen and seemed comfortable, where Trump seemed tired, was sniffling, and as the debate wore on Trump seemed to loose focus. He interrupted, got louder and louder. He made sound bite statements. He accused the Fed and Janet Yellin of being politicized. He backed down on his statements about claiming the elections were rigged. Trumped bragged about making $624 Million last year and did not refute Clinton’s claim that he did not pay taxes last year. Trump’s voice after listening to the debates a couple times really got on my nerves.

Trump claimed he would not release his taxes until Clinton released her missing emails. This did not stick and Clinton managed to damage Trump by speculating about why he didn’t want to release tax returns like every president for some forty years or more. Clinton placed emphasis on conflicts of interests Trump might have. Clinton was able to slide on the emails by claiming that it was a mistake. Trumps was distracted by talking about his investments and bragged about the owed $650 million dollars being small change. He bragged about his property being worth $3.5 billion, in the process dropping the entire effort to make the emails stick. He went on about debt and poor infrastructure.

On race and sex, Trump clearly was at a disadvantage. Even though Trump seemed strong when it came to representing the interests of business, she seemed to be focused on the social issues. This is real switch. Democrats defensive on bread and butter issues and strong on social issues. CNN focus group responses on the debate had Clinton winning 18 to 2 out of 20, in a Florida group. Sanders supporters in the focus group leaned in the direction of Clinton. This was a very small group.

Switching to Fox, I was surprised to see that their commenters believed that Clinton won.

The CNN poll immediately afterwards showed 62% Clinton won, 27% Trump won CNN/ORC poll results from 522 viewers, with 41% Democratic, 27% Republican voters.

Clinton did do a good job accusing Trump of stiffing contractors. This was something that Trump shrugged off as being the result of shoddy work. Trump was sluggish on the Email issue and he claimed that he was being polite and not taking the low road, one would assume he meant the sex scandals of Bill Clinton. But then as the saying goes, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and Trump’s marital record is not exactly spotless.

Hannity, the Fox talking head, was very favorable, cozy even, talking to Trump just after the debate. Where they joked about the Iraq war. Trump commented to Hannity alluding to sexual irregularities of Bill Clinton. That was the low blow he didn’t want to say on stage.

CNN commentators noted that Trump’s unprecedented entry into the spin room after the debate indicated that he failed to press home the points in the debate that he wanted to make.

From my perspective as a left libertarian. The comments on cyber war seemed to be all about cracking down nothing about civil liberties. There was limited discussion about the environment, except in reference to jobs and a short comment by Clinton that Trump believed Global Warming was a Chinese conspiracy. Clinton supports investing in solar and other alternative energy sources. Healthcare was not addressed. On trade Clinton sideways defended NAFTA when Trump attacked her husbands enactment of the Free Trade Agreement.

There was a discussion of race issues. Trump repeated his support of stop and frisk despite it being declared unconstitutional. Trump talked about his recent visits to inner cities of Detroit and Philadelphia, claiming that Democrats only care about poor black votes at election time. While there is truth in this, the policies that Trump advocates essentially will only benefit the rich. His lip service to wanting to help blacks, has been roundly rejected as insincere by black people in America. Clinton said she would invest in education of police about racial bias and her determination to limit access to weapons. She clearly stated that racial bias is alive and well in America.

One disturbing thing that Clinton and Trump agreed on was the removal of Second Amendment Rights to persons on the no fly and watch list. As someone who once was on the watch list for working on the protests against the invasion of Iraq, I find this a dangerous encroachment on civil liberties.

On foreign affairs, Clinton defended the Iran deal as one that “puts the lid” on the Iranian nuclear program. Trump doubled down on his determination to make NATO pay its fair share. He wants Saudi Arabia to pay. Clinton reminded the allies and the public that she would honor commitments and alliances. He claimed that Hillary doesn’t have the stamina to be president. Clinton went on the attack by reminding the public of the sexist statements Trump has said about women. He stumbled over this with slurs on Rosie O’Donnell, and his non comment comment on things that were too nasty to say about the Clinton family.

Newt Gingrich interviewed by Hannity, again drove the point about the sex scandals. Fox doing the leg work for Trump. It seems that they have decided the embrace the ugly duckling.

More later. I need to get some air.

Clinton Vs. Trump 1st Debate
Image from NY Times.

My girlfriend is solidly in the Clinton camp now. Another friend is solidly in the Green camp. I am reluctantly probably going to shift from Green to a defensive position and support Clinton, although as I pointed out to a friend. Trump and Putin together would run roughshod over the diplomatic niceties, in places like Syria, teaming up and blasting away the opposition and any squeamish attitudes about offending the Saudis, if they can get the Turks on board. Probably sacrificing the Kurds in the process. But ISIS would be squashed like a cockroach. Funny thing about cockroaches, when you squash them, the scent attracts more.

Domestically perhaps stop and frisk will be escalated to out right extralegal executions of drug dealers and illegals like the new President of the Philippines, are regular wild west approach. Vigilante justice raised to the level of law. Scary but if you believe in law and order, perhaps like Mussolini, a President Trump would make the trains run on time, and like Hitler build a new autobahn. So what if a few undesirable Muslims, Black Lives Matter activists, and Immigrant rights advocates disappear into the gulags. They already send thousands of immigrants into camps under Obama. Trump would act to accelerate the process and if white men don’t feel brow beaten anymore, well then it would all be worth it right?

Trump and Immigration

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Trump is playing a finessing game. He met with the President of Mexico, and claims that the issue of the wall payment was not discussed. Yet the Mexicans clearly contradict that statement. Trump is speaking as I write in Phoenix, and he first makes some nice effusive vagaries about how much he likes Mexicans. Then he goes on to double down on his anti immigrant rhetoric. But what does his inflammatory words come down to? He is essentially repeating the Obama administration tough deportation policy. He is restoring funding to the secure communities programs, and is going to expedite the deportation of criminally convicted aliens. He wants to pass something called Kate’s Law that has high mandatory minimums imprison previously deported aliens. He claims he is going to triple the number of ICE agents. This is essentially doubling down on the Obama administration policy. Nothing new here. He wants to add 5000 more border patrol agents and stations, perhaps this is the true wall he is detailing, instead of his pie in the sky wall.
He is making a big deal about sanctuary cities, claiming he will block federal funding. Not sure what exactly he means by that. All grants? End Federal food stamp programs? I doubt it. This is another false issue, like the threat from voter fraud by people voting more than once. He says nothing about hacking into voting machines which is way more likely to be problematic.

Enforcement policies are going to be aimed at visa overstays. He is going to block immigration from places with what he calls inadequate screening. This is his way to get around the anti-Islamic remarks he made earlier. “Extreme vetting….” Syria, and Libya are places he claims he will use this on. He made an absurd statement about how there are tens of thousands of persons from Syria roaming the country that have not been vetted. Then he doubles down on his ideological purity test for immigrants, to which the crowd responded with a chant “USA, USA” a rather scary response.

Listening to Trump’s half truths, is exhausting, at least writing about it is. Trump in a sound bite is manageable, listening to his rants for half an hour at a stretch is simply too much to bear. He repeats statistics without putting them in context. It is counter effective when his facts become blatantly twisted by the rhetoric of hate.

Cracking down on visa overstays probably would have effectively removed Trumps wife from the USA when she was a working model. E-Verify extension is another part of his policy. Not only crime but work. He is citing the Center for Immigration Studies, a well known right wing anti-immigrant think tank. He is also going to go after illegals who get government benefits. This would invalidate policies such as those in California that provide benefits. It is unconstitutional to refuse public education to immigrant children (Plyer vs Doe, 1982).

Trump’s cure for America is to kick out all the illegals. He claims that welfare use and gangs will decrease or disappear. There is one route for immigration for illegals, they will have to leave the country and reenter legally. No amnesty according to Trump. This policy will impinge on agriculture, meat packing, construction, and other industries that hire low income workers. Will there be Americans willing to do manual farm work? Not likely without a higher wage and overtime like that being proposed in California.

Black Lives Matter, Grim Sleeper, & Green Hope

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

Aspen Institute Conference on Race Relations Video.

I went to a Black Lives Matter event in front of City Hall in LA where the activists involved are protesting police shootings of minority youth. They are calling for the police chief to step down. Although I am no fan of Chief Beck and have never been personally helped by LAPD, I find calling for the removal of the police chief to be a step that while it may be personally empowering for the activists if the were to achieve this goal, it does not get to the root of the problem. This is a matter of power relationships. As long as the law is structured to protect the property interests of the wealthy, there will be no real reform. Underclasses are policed to keep them from spreading their undesirable ways into the areas of the city inhabited by the controlling class. Police are the thin blue line protecting property and those who have entered the sphere of the protected classes.

With that said, occasionally there is some basic policing, such as the recent capture of the murderer of many women in south Central Los Angeles, Lonnie David Franklin Jr., now better-known as the “Grim Sleeper” serial killer, convicted of at least ten murders, was sentenced to death recently. Margaret Prescod, founder of advocacy group Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders, host of the Sojourner Truth radio show on KPFK, has pressured LAPD to find the murderers of these black women, and has accused the police department of neglecting solving the murders because the victims were perceived to be, as she put it, “Crack Whores.” In reality they were mothers, and daughters, persons who did not deserve to die simply because some of them were sex workers. Franklin claims he did not commit the murders according to the LA Times article on the trial “The ‘Grim Sleeper’ is sentenced to death for string of murders” by Marisa Gerber and James Queally dated August 10, 2016, when he was confronted by the victims families. But the evidence seems conclusive.

In an interview with NPR Prescod explains “We went down to what was then Parker Center Police Headquarters to find out about the murders, see what was being done about it, how the community was being informed, and we were told by the guy in charge, said, ‘Why are you concerned about it? He’s only killing hookers,” from Families Of LA Serial Killer’s Victims Still Await Closure by Kirk Siegler May 2, 2016 transcript.

This seems to be a glaring example of where police priorities have been. The murders have been going on in poor neighborhoods for decades. Police claim that there is a code of silence that often prevents residents from reporting crimes and helping investigations. But when the police act, as the recently released Department of Justice report on the Baltimore police that condemns the abusive culture of police treating minority neighborhoods as occupied territory, there is good reason why people may be reluctant to turn to the police. To quote from the report in another NPR piece ‘Lock Up All The Black Hoodies’: DOJ Report Details Abuses By Baltimore Police by Camila Domonoske dated August 10, 2016, the pressure to bring about significant reform in local police departments around the country is increasing as the establishment media gets the green light from the Obama administration to ramp up the coverage of cases of police maleficence.

I don’t want to just parrot reports from NPR that I hear on the radio as I drive to and from work in the Los Angeles traffic gridlock, so I went down to meet with Prescod at the Black Lives Matter encampment, and listened to the stories of those present including a woman representing a Gang Truce group who had nothing good to say about the police, her husband is currently locked up. Talk went around a circle of some fifty to sixty persons, mostly persons of color, but some white supporters such as my self as well. This was the weekend before the Republican convention. I heard of he incarceration nation where large swaths of black youths have been incarcerated for minor offenses and have since in many places lost their right to vote, as convicted felons in many states cannot vote and incarcerated persons are denied the right. Also due to the requirement on job applications to report convictions many are unable to find jobs, denied housing and public assistance, even food stamps. These mostly minority men become even more likely to return to crime or find themselves trapped in a marginal world of exploited off the grid employment often as sex workers.

I know quite a few denizens of the motels on commercial strips who have no ID, outstanding warrants, work selling drugs or their bodies, who survive from day to day with little hope other than the enthusiasm of youth. What these young persons need is opportunities to go back to school or to find entry level apprenticeships. Instead they find drugs, easy temporary cash from the sex trade, and the inevitable return to prison.

I know plenty of more fortunate twenty somethings who cannot find meaningful employment, live precariously depending on the kindness of strangers, all in an economy that seems to have left an entire generation outside and an increasing number of what were formerly middle class in marginal service jobs or in the gig economy with no benefits and no job security. I am fortunate to have a skill and experience, but I would hate to be an unemployed youth today. Education is a debt trap for them with no guarantee of employment. For minority youths it is worse, far worse, because not only is the limited opportunity, but also a police apparatus that has been designed to oppress and incarcerate with color and youth being the indicators that flag the individual as a target.

This dystopian view, most recently a result from the failure of the Sanders campaign to make real headway in changing the Democratic Party establishment, which the recent Wikipedia release of the DNC emails shows that the party apparatus actively attempted to thwart the Sanders campaign, leaves one again in the political desert seeking some kind of relief. In my case I am leaning back to the Green Party. I like the Canadian Strategic voting plan, vote green in Red and Blue states and only vote for the Democrats in swing states. This will help build the momentum for a Green Party presence in the next round of elections, especially if Green Party candidates can begin to show results in local elections. This may be a pipe dream, but many of those who rallied to Bernie have now got the grass roots campaign experience to work on an entirely independent manner. If the Black Lives Matter, Immigrant Rights groups and the Environmental movement can find common cause under the banner of a new party, Green or other, then there is hope for America. Otherwise we will have demagogues like Trump and establishment tools like Hilary Clinton running the show.


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