Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Syrian Cockpit Nears Climatic End Game

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

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Syrian children who fled their home with their family lie on the ground while they and others take refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey in this 2012 file photo. The number of Syrians who have fled their country during the civil war topped 4 million in 2015. (Muhammed Muheisen / AP)

The Trump administration wants to write off Syrian refugees, in fact all refugees as ineligible to come to the United States. Fortunately the courts have so far called every attempt on the part of the administration to block refugees and immigrants as unconstitutional, at least until a superior court decides otherwise. The Trump administration has an agenda that has played upon irrational fears of the other. Propaganda in the alt right media which has very successfully been able to dominate much of the dialog on the internet where seemingly many people get their news now has resulted in a population badly misinformed.

Refugees of the Syrian Civil War or Syrian refugees are citizens and permanent residents of Syrian Arab Republic, who have fled from their country since the onset of the Syrian Civil War in 2011 and have sought asylum in other countries.

In 2016, the United Nations (UN) identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance, of which more than 6 million are internally displaced within Syria, and over 4.8 million are refugees outside of Syria.[37] In January 2017, UNHCR counted 4,863,684 registered refugees.[1] Turkey is the largest host country of registered refugees with over 2.7 million Syrian refugees.[3][38][39] Assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Syria, and Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, is planning largely through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refugees_of_the_Syrian_Civil_War

A proposed assault upon Raqqah will result in more refugees

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A U.S. fighter stands near a military vehicle, north of Raqqa city, Syria, on November 6, 2016. Aaron Stein writes that American forces working by, with and through local ground forces are poised to begin the assault on Raqqa, ISIS’s most important urban area in Syria. Rodi Said/reuters

Various forces are now in control of intersecting front lines, including: Syrian Kurdish, Kurdish allied Arab forces, American Special Forces, Syrian regime elements, Russian special forces, Iranian units, Turkish military units and Turkish allied forces. These groups—many of them hostile with one another and engaged in battle elsewhere in Syria—are now within mortar range.

From: Now More U.S. Forces Are in Syria, What’s the Plan?
There are early signs of what the borders of a peace settlement might look like.
By Aaron Stein On 3/10/17 at 6:40 PM
http://europe.newsweek.com/now-more-us-forces-are-syria-whats-plan-566249

Unfortunately with the Trump administration in the driver’s seat, the end game is likely to be as chaotic as Iraq.

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Women’s March Success, Now Build a Movement.

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

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PHOTO: Demonstrators protest on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March on Washington Jan. 21, 2017 From: ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/womens-march-heads-washington-day-trumps-inauguration/story?id=44936042

Women and their friends joined in a massive world wide protest against Trump and the conservative agenda This has been called the largest protest in the world since the Protests just before the Invasion of Iraq in 2003. The question is why are these protests so ineffectual? The the anti war protests didn’t do a thing to help stop the invasion of Iraq and this protest, which should have been before the meeting of the electoral college will be equally ineffectual unless there is organizing done on a grass roots level to gain control of Congress in the next election. We need strong feminist/socialist candidates. The days of simply switching from Republican to Democrat is over. We need real solutions from people committed to changing from the parties of the plutocrats and their friends with a progressive agenda. Ceding the field to the right wing populists with their racist neo-fascist rhetoric will not help the left gain any legitimacy. The failure of the traditional socialists in France and elsewhere means we need real grass roots movements led by the intelligent members of the progressive labor, environmental, feminist and civil society concerned with immigrant rights, social justice, and the expression of the truth in the media. This has to be more than the usual suspects. it has to be truly based in the same groundswell that motivated millions to come out and protest on Saturday January 21st.

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A woman holds a sign during the women’s march rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. (AP).
From: http://abc7chicago.com/politics/womens-march-on-chicago-draws-thousands-to-grant-park/1713676/

Trump is the least popular president to be elected in recent history. Yet his party controls all the major divisions of the Federal Government. This is because the outrage of the average person, those who benefit most from social programs and government that works for the people and not the corporations and special interests, are not active politically. They complain and then go back to their lives. This is because the United States was deliberately formed so that popular rule would be limited to the greatest degree possible. The Constitution was designed by Rich White men to protect their rights. If there is to be progress it takes concerted effort on the part of the people who want to assert their rights as citizens of this Republic. It is not a Democracy, it is a Republic in which representatives have the power. Time for the people to decide or we will end up with demagogues, and then you have to hope you can influence the party of the rich, who may deign to throw a few crumbs.

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“Plutocracy Triumphant” by Michael Dal Cerro. From: http://paxonbothhouses.blogspot.com/2016/02/trump-supporters-worshipping-plutocracy.html

January 2017 World Turned Upside Down.

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

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The world has been turned upside down, the English ballad written in the 1640’s as a protest broadside, was traditionally supposed to have been played when Cornwallis surrendered to Washington and Lafayette at Yorktown in 1781.

There a world of hurt coming to the American public when the Trump machine and the Republican apparatchiks sing their tune of trickle down economics, trotting out that old line, an excuse for further aggrandizement of the worlds wealth into the greedy paws of the super rich. I don’t like to use such heated polemical phrases but I have seen this game played before and as in the old Who song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” it seems that the line should be - we love to be fooled over and over again.

Identity and Progressive Agenda 2016 Notes

Monday, December 26th, 2016

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Testing the limits of tolerance in the post Coup Turkey.
Hundreds of Turks made a rare protest for LGBT rights in Istanbul Sunday after the murder of Turkish transgender icon Hande Kader, whose body was found burned in a forest earlier this month. Photo by Hande Kader/Facebook
From UPI article August 22, 2016 http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2016/08/22/Turks-join-rare-demonstration-for-LGBT-rights-after-transgender-womans-murder/3441471845290/

I have been fortunate this year. I managed to have surrounded myself with a family that is relatively loyal if somewhat dysfunctional, and my constant search for novelty in an ongoing campaign to give meaning to an otherwise seemingly meaningless existence, has got me in and out of a couple of problematic situations this year. One was my attempt at a truly transsexual alliance which turned out to be something of a pipe dream. Ultimately in my view relationships cannot be based on transitory sexual appetites. Commercial careers, perhaps, but not strongly based family ties. Poly fidelity, has its moments but I am probably more of a poor mans patriarch in the polygamous biblical sense of the word, than a trail blazer on the frontiers of human relationships, although I certainly do try to do my part in the romantic belief in the eventual progress of humanity into a truly trans-sexual-racial heterogeneity. The fact that in the US the discourse over the nature of human sexuality has been diverted to a conversation on toiletry is a bit discouraging though. Struggle in the world continues as post modernist struggles over liberation in identity politics continue in the face of repression such as is evident in Turkey. Whether identity issues have distracted from bread and butter issues of class struggle, is something that is being hashed out in the light of the on going right wing reaction around the world. Trumpism can be seen in the light of Nazi attempts to overcome decadence identified with sexual transgression of rigid sexual norms as was brilliantly portrayed in the 1972 film Cabaret.

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From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unisex_public_toilet, distraction or battle for control of personal space?

The continued demise of my own personal sexual prowess has been paralleled by the increased ability to encounter and intercept the lives of younger souls aspiring to some kind of continuity in an unstable and chaotic post modern world in which institutions have become both increasingly omnipresent and yet unable to fulfill the somewhat futile goal of social stability. Capitalism doesn’t allow for social and interpersonal stability. It’s pressure to excel and exploit resources, of any and all kinds pinned to a monetary value, has eroded social solidarity to the extent that humans of the modern period have become a hodgepodge of flotsam in a sea of potential resources to be adapted and rejected as required by the mindlessly grinding efforts of the mega machine.

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From: http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/2016/7/27/political-cartoons-july-27 Political Cartoon from Summer 2016 when US presidential elections were still in progress. The Russian factor was already in play as was the betrayal of the independent left push represented by the Sanders campaign.

The need for resistance and the creation of an alternative agenda to corporate capitalism as crystallized in the Bernie Sanders campaign showed that like in the McGovern campaign of an earlier generation, that there is in the USA an ongoing desire on the part of the young and the progressive thinking people for change at a fundamental level. It also shows how much better the system has gotten at eliminating such a challenge with old fashioned dirty politics and fear mongering. The left, liberal, minority alliance was unable to beat the right largely due to the decampment of labor and the white working class generally as those hurt by the modern economy abandon their intellectual allies who have shown them little gain. for the demagoguery on the right.

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Life’s little Ironies. From: https://warosu.org/lit/image/93GRPOG-N9CFTQSvI7XpVg

There needs to be a clear headed assessment of what we desire and how we wish to get where we want to go. Post Modernism although it has liberated many from the fetters of normative identity has muddied the waters in the struggle to unite humanity in a broad based movement to progressive evolution of the human condition. This has been enhanced by the severe disruption caused by modernism and its industrial megamachine over the last couple of centuries. People’s desire for community in the face of the disruptive and depersonalizing power of technological progress gives evidence of the lag between social evolution and our ability to manipulate the physical world around us. We are now just realizing that humanity has to come to terms with the balance between technology and the social mechanisms that allow this tail to wag the collective dog of humanity. Faced with the potential disruption of all life on the planet, humans need to create truly world wide networks of community that put technology firmly at heel and leash capitalism to the service of humanity or train the dog with some new socially progressive tricks.

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From: http://iacenter.org/racism/blm-pride100715/ BLM queer and trans people of color contingent, Sept. 26. Durham, NC, 2015.
The issue of identity will continue to be important but it must be in the context of ongoing progress or the right wing backlash will cause delays in progress for humanity and the planet as a whole.

The Age of Trump Protesting Begins

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

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I have not joined the protests in the streets yet. I am thinking of joining. I don’t have much faith in the system at this point. This is the second election in this century with the winner of the popular vote losing the presidency. On both occasions the progressive candidate was beaten and the conservative won. In this case the choice was not a good one especially since the Wikileaks emails show that the DNC had worked with the Clinton campaign to suppress the vote for Bernie Sanders. It certainly didn’t help me enthusiastically support Clinton, even though I did vote for her.

There are some things about Trump I do like domestically. His infrastructure spending program for example. It should provide the kinds of jobs that Obama wanted to produce with the stimulus program that was underfunded by Congress. Personally I would like to see the Affordable Care Act made more affordable. I am afraid Trump will throw out the baby with the bathwater rather than make needed reforms. Certainly the elimination of prior conditions was a benefit for many of us, including myself. I would hate to be stuck with Kaiser simply because I could not be insured again, although Kaiser is not a bad plan.

On the environment if Trump leaves the world commitments to work to reduce Global Climate change then the deal brokered by Obama with the Chinese will be in the trash bin and the number one and number two pollution sources in the world will return to their profligate ways. Market forces, especially led by the insurance industry will be left to work with more progressive nations to impose the environmental reforms needed, but the green light to the fossil fuel industry is not going to help put the USA in a leadership role in slowing climate change.

On foreign relations his proposal to build better relations with Russia is commendable although it is not clear what that means. Since Trump has put Pence in charge of building his administration apparatus we can expect to see hawks and neo-conservatives since Pence made it clear he did not want a rapprochement with the Russians. The contradictory nature of the Trump agenda makes it very hard to predict what he is actually planning. One example he wants to support the Russians in Syria but he is opposed to the Iranians, both are supporting Assad. What is Trump going to do? Upset all of the other American allies to work out a deal with the Russians? This kind of ideological incoherence is not going to make it easy for policy makers to present allies the new American approach.

So I will not be out in the streets, at least not just yet. We need to see how much of his mean spirited rhetoric was just that, and how much is a reflection of a racist and reactionary revolution. His comments on deporting immigrants is particularly reprehensible. His anti-Muslim statements and provocations has already encouraged racists to act out at least according to reports on Democracy Now.

Debate #2 Trump and Clinton get down and dirty.

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

My blow by blow version of the debate. You can watch it yourself.
First question are you going to elevate the tone?

The tapes of Trump speaking “locker room talk” has become dirty. Trump is now bringing up the Clinton sex scandals. Trump fans clapped when Trump said Bill Clinton was a sexual aggressor. Hilary responds with going high and got more cheers. She is bringing up the Khans, the Indiana judge, and this is getting dirty. Hilary brings up the birther issue. Trump brought up Sidney Blumenthal and the Obama birth. Trump claims Michelle Obama made negative comments. Trump brings up the Bernie Sanders defeat, and then he goes on about the emails. Trump is going to instruct the Attorney General to investigate Hillary Clinton. This is a direct threat. Hilary responds got to the web site and fact check. Trump fans cheer when Trump calls for Hillary being put in jail. Trump is saying Clinton is lying. Trump is trying to rattle Clinton. She is not going to buy it. Trump is now attacking the moderators as he wants to continue going over the emails.
Second question is about Obama care. She wants to rein in costs. She is going over the benefits of Affordable Care Act. She wants to increase aid to small businesses. Trump is states Obamacare is only getting worse. He notes it is much too expensive. Trump says allow interstate competition. that is what the Republicans have always claimed. He says the single payer system like Canada is horrible. Anderson Cooper asked Hillary about Bill Clinton’s comments. She clarified his comments about the expense. She is saying that giving it back to the insurance companies will turn it back to the insurance companies and people with preexisting conditions will not have insurance. Trump brings up Bernie Sanders twice, trying to get Sanders supporters on his side. He wants to do the block grant approach.

The next question is about Islamophobia.

Trump says Muslims have to report what they see. He speaks of San Bernardino as an example, Orlando and Paris, Radical Islamic Terrorists are something he wants to attack. Hillary wants to reassure Muslims. She says Muhammad Ali is an example of an American Muslim. She also says Muslims have to be part of the eyes and ears of America. She says defeating ISIS must be done in coalition with Islamic nations and she says his rhetoric plays into the hands of ISIS. Trump is now claiming that he would not have allowed invasion of Iraq. He wants extreme vetting from certain areas of the world. He has changed the language. He claims Obama is allowing people in without vetting from Syria. Now he says hundreds of thousands of people coming in from Syria. That is an exaggeration. Clinton speaks of women and children needing help from Syria. She blames it on the Russians. She says you cannot ban people based on religion when the country is founded on religious freedom. She thinks his statements are used to recruit fighters for ISIS. Third time Trump brings up Sanders claim that Hillary has bad judgement. He is talking about the border and his being supported by border security.

Is it OK for a politician to have a two faced position, public and private? Lincoln had to convince people with different arguments to get the 13th Amendment passed according to Hillary, giving context for her statements. She then goes into the Russian connection with Trump and she calls for the release of Trump’s taxes. Trump claims that she is trying to blame on Lincoln her lies, He called him Honest Abe. Trump says he knows nothing about the inner workings of Russia and doesn’t know Putin. He says he has no loans with Russia. He now says he pays hundreds of millions in taxes. He says again when audits are in he will release taxes.

Question about fair taxes for wealthy.
Trump answers that Clinton didn’t change tax code because her friends take advantage of it. He says he will lower taxes from 35% to 15%. He wants to reduce regulations. He claims there is no growth in the US, one percent. He wants to lower corporate taxes. Clinton says Trump’s plan will be a massive gift to the rich. His plan will cost the middle class. She is now saying taxes should go for those making over $250,000 a year, and she wants to use the Buffet rule that will tax those over a million and a surcharge on those making over five million. Anderson Cooper is asking about the rite offs and Trump says he did, just like the other wealthy. The carried interest provision is being left in place, in Hillary’s plan. Trump is saying Clinton is all talk. He is going on about Libya and Iraq. He is blaming ISIS on Clinton. She is quoting Reagan, she is responding to his attack saying she has done nothing in thirty years. She talks about getting health insurance for children as wife of president. She worked to get money for victims of 9-11, name on 400 bills as senator.

Question about Syria, Aleppo disaster, UN asked to do war crimes investigation of Assad Regime. Clinton calls Syria a catastrophe. She blames Russia, Iran and Assad. She says Russia is not interested in getting rid of ISIS. She advocates a no fly zone. She wants to work more closely with allies on the ground in Syria. She says she has taken on Putin and others. She says when she can she will work with Russia, but she does want to see war crimes investigations. Trump is now saying the US is behind in nuclear weapons and Russia is advanced. This is patently stupid. He tried to pin the line in the sand issue on Hillary which was not the case and she responded. Trump is saying Assad, Iran and Russia is killing ISIS. Pence says the US should use military force against Syrian regime. Trump disagrees with Pence, he wants to go after ISIS and forget about Aleppo. Aleppo has fallen. He says it is stupid to let ISIS know they are attacking Mosul. He wants the attack to be secret. The moderator is defending the US, Trump says the US should be secretive. He says ISIS is leaving Mosul. Two hundred admirals and generals are supporting Trump. Clinton says American troops should not be holding territory in Syria. Special Forces, trainers, are good. She is asked what she will do different from President Obama. Some of what they have to do is to signal to the allies what the plans are. She says go after Bagdadi. and arming the Kurds is her idea. She says they will take ISIS in Raqa after taking Mosul.

Do you believe you can be president for all the people? Trump says yes. He claims NAFTA is the biggest disaster for the country. Trump is claiming Clinton lies, he says he will make inner cities better, blames Democrats for failure in the inner cities. She will not do anything as president about inner cities according to Trump. Clinton says 67% voted for her in her senatorial re-election. She is proud of her record working for kids with disabilities, registering Latino voters, she wants to make sure that people have a place in America, claiming Trump might send children back to Ethiopia. Trump effect is an increase in bullying according to her. Cooper states that the half of Trump supporters that are deplorable was a mistake, she has an argument with Trump. She says she is proud of the campaign between her and Sanders. Trump says we have a divided nation, look at Charlotte, Chicago, increase in murder, he says Clinton has tremendous hatred in her heart. He then goes on to say she is another Obama. Trump goes on about the 3 am call in the morning about the Libyan situation in which Clinton did not respond to the ambassador. Doe Trump have the discipline to be President, Hillary says not. She mentions that under her husband improved the economy and jobs. She notes that Obama has improved the country after the worst recession, since the depression.

Another question is about the Supreme Court Justice.
Clinton says she will support justices with real life experience. She wants justices who will reverse citizen united and will support voting rights. she want a supreme court that will support marriage equality and Roe Vs Wade. She wants a Supreme Court that will not always support corporate interests. She says Republicans should have supported Obama’s nominee. Trump calls Justice Scalia was a great model. He has twenty justices who will protect constitution and the second amendment. He says he is putting in 100 million contributions. Why isn’t Hillary Clinton doing the same? She responds wanting to have comprehensive background checks.
Energy policy question.
Trump says EPA is killing domestic energy business. He says he is in favor of alternative energy. He claims Clinton wants to put coal miners out of business and believes in clean coal. He says China is dumping steel and killing steel jobs. He says we have to protect our energy companies. Clinton says Trump is buying Chinese steel. She wants to make sure the USA is not dumping steel on the USA. She says the USA is energy independent. She says the USA is producing a lot of Natural Gas and that is a bridge to alternative energy. She wants to move to clean energy and create millions of new jobs and wants to revitalize coal country. She wants to do something for them. Coal prices are down world wide.
Last question would either of you mention one positive thing about the other?
Clinton says she respects Donald Trumps children and she thinks that is a good thing. She says the election is so conflict oriented because there is so much at stake. She doesn’t agree with anything he says. Get off of personal and get on to what we can do. I have done my best to help kids and families.
Trump says he is glad she compliments his children. He says she is a fighter and she doesn’t quit and that is a good trait.

That was it muted applause at the end. Then the shook hands at the end. This was very offensive debate. Trump was on the defensive at the beginning. Trump turned it around later on in the debate. His base will be happy, but it may have been more of a wash. He was more effective than Clinton. She was not as strong as others had thought she would be.
No apology from Trump, attacks Bill Clinton, and then goes on the offensive. Hillary was not prepared for Donald to come out swinging. Instead of being contrite, he attacked. He praised the Assad and Putin efforts in Syria and publicly disagreed with Pence. This was very odd. It is as I predicted, Trump would unite with Russia and take care of ISIS and anybody that gets caught in the middle like the Syrian opposition. Clinton was not able to dominate as much as she had in the first debate and it was strange that she had not been able to go on the offensive with the Trump tapes comments. She did counter attack on some of his 30 years comments but that was not enough. Trump pivoted away. He attacked the moderators and seemed to dominate in a way he was unable in the first debate. He did nothing to assuage the concerns of minorities, Muslims, and did nothing to display what he would do for people. Clinton was more substantive. But his emotional appeal to the five year old mentality was rather successful. Too bad.

Pence VS Kaine Debate VS Rumble in the Jungle

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

The vice presidential candidates were more like traditional debaters. Pence was rather overwhelmed by Kaine, if this were a fight Kaine was Muhammad Ali and Pence was George Foreman. This was not quite the Rumble in the Jungle, but then I couldn’t resist, man who could sting like a bee was Kaine, running circles around Pence who literally could not defend Trump’s statements. Pence was stronger when he struck out on his own and made up a foreign policy that was much closer to the national establishment consensus
calling Putin a small man. and pushing for a get tough on Russia agenda. Both Pence and Kaine were in favor of a no fly zone in Syria. Whether Trump would actually support such a policy. The new Republican line to justify Trump’s remarks was to say that “Trump is not a professional politician” thus attempting to turn the continuous series of gaffs on the part of Trump. Democratic spin masters did a better job after the fact. Kaine was criticized for being too on top of things and being rude when he was simply a better debater.

I am not going to spend much time on policy tonight. If you have stumbled upon this in some distant future and wonder what is going on, just remember Muhammad Ali was a small man and Foreman was a giant. The David Ali beat the Goliath Foreman. Pence and Kaine both believe in Biblical analogies. David and Goliath is about as close as I can get. Which one is which, I leave that up to you dear viewer.

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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