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The Psychology of the Narcissistic Personality and the

Trump Core Supporter:

Their Relationship to the True Believer and Identity Fusion

Introduction

     This Blog article builds on my last one, The Fall of Donald Trump that was posted October 1, 2019. The basic question I posed in the last blog was: What is it about the Trump supporter that makes him or her so in line with such an authoritarian leader that causes them to unwaveringly support him? This is what I said in my last Blog:

“I asked myself why is it the president is supported by such a sizable number of supporters. This represents about 30% of the voting population, 94% of which are conservative Republicans. Why did so many people during the last four years unwaveringly give their support to Donald Trump, a man with an insatiable appetite for lying and deceit? Where is the moral compass for this faction of American society? For now, it looks like it is nowhere to be found.

Up to this point I’ve ascribed Trump’s support to non-college educated people, who were mostly blue collar workers, male, white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. However women who originally voted for Trump have since rebuffed him in droves and are the most disillusioned among initial Trump supporters. They found him to be a misogynist and a bully and want no part of him.

It turns out age, race, education, gender and occupation can only supply some of the explanation. There is something else going with the Trump supporters than simple sociological demographics. Demographics are useful for pinpointing where support comes from—but not why. This is where motivational intent and purpose become important variables. How might this be explained?

One really needs to take a deeper psychological look. Beliefs and values do seem to differentiate groups, but it may be that psychology is more important than demographics.

It is my opinion that support for Donald Trump is coming from a mass movement. This suggests one ought to look to the psychology of mass movements for our explanation. Why did Adolf Hitler command such a large following? There are parallels here to all mass movements. I can see a connection between the Trump Presidency and his supporters and the observations made by Eric Hoffer in his seminal 1951 book, “The True Believer.” Back in the early 1950s this was President Dwight Eisenhower’s favorite author and book. In fact, Ike shared Hoffer’s book with many in his cabinet.

The appeal of persons with an authoritarian personality to followers will soon become much clearer as you read on. Why does such an identity issue lead us to yet another psychological theory? There is another theory gaining credence these days in the field of psychology. It is known as Identity Fusion. Identity fusion is a psychological construct rooted in social psychology and cognitive anthropology. It is a form of alignment with groups in which members experience a visceral sense of oneness with the group.”

Both explanations may provide answers to why there is a Trump supporter in the first place.”! However, one must look to first explaining what the Trump supporter is identifying with in order to understand The True Believer and Identity Fusion. Low and behold, I will now share with you an important article on the psychology of early childhood and the development of the narcissistic personality. Gee Whiz, guess who I am referring to?

On January 29, 2017 and article was posted titled “Childhood Roots of Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Nipping a toxic mental illness in the bud.” The authors were:

Brian D. Johnson, Ph.D., is a psychologist and training clinic director at the University of Northern Colorado. Laurie Berdahl, M.D., is an obstetrician-gynecologist and speaker on parenting and adolescent wellness.

“It’s estimated that up to 6 percent of the U.S. population has narcissistic personality disorder (narcissism for short), which is more common in men and has its roots in childhood. Extremely resistant to treatment, this severe mental condition leads affected individuals to create chaos as they harm other people. Before discussing how demands for support of ego and desires can go off the rails, let’s start with an overview of pertinent normal child development.

Small children are naturally selfish as a normal part of development in which they work to get their needs met and can’t understand other people’s needs and desires. Then as teenagers, kids are still typically self-centered as they struggle for independence.

As opposed to self-centeredness that should gradually decline, children need to develop healthy, lasting levels of self-esteem to be able to protect and care for themselves while caring about others, to resist dangerous influences, and to stay connected to family and society. Healthy levels of self-esteem indicate a child’s belief that he or she is loved and worthy as a person in the family and in society, and thus doesn’t deserve and is more resilient to mistreatment. In a nutshell, self-esteem isn’t self-centeredness because it doesn’t lead to putting oneself first to the detriment of other people’s needs and rights.

Typical childhood self-centeredness must change to pave the way to mental health in adulthood. To grow up able to function well in families and society, kids must gradually gain both the ability to see other people’s viewpoints and empathy for other people’s suffering. So, healthy kids should gradually show sincere signs of caring about the well-being of others. Not developing empathy while growing up is a warning sign of developing a serious personality disorder as an adult, including the narcissistic type.

How do people with narcissistic personality disorder (narcissists for short) act? Besides showing lack of empathy (as judged not by words but by actions), narcissists filter information and react on the basis of the effect on their egos. Their actions reflect grandiose beliefs of superiority and uniqueness as well as their need for admiration and worship.

Narcissists are arrogant and preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited self-importance, success, and power (including that they alone can do something) and exaggerate their accomplishments and popularity. They exploit or take advantage of people for personal gain including feeding their egos and thus require excessive admiration. They pit people against each other to get what they want—they divide people to conquer and gain power over them. They manipulate others by influencing emotions like fear and anger, and with threats and lies. Another manipulation technique used is redefining reality by repeatedly fabricating fiction and arguing about it as if it were fact (such as presenting alternative facts), which leads listeners to question their own understanding of reality. Victims often experience a “twilight zone” sensation that is accompanied by anxiety.

Narcissists make others miserable and get aggressive with people who won’t give them the agreement, admiration, and respect they feel entitled to, expecting automatic compliance. These traits are often found in dictators. Like most personality disorders, narcissism is very difficult to treat because people affected aren’t able to understand that anything is wrong with them and thus are not motivated to change.

A narcissist is toxic to situations and people, except perhaps to an inner circle of supporters—at least for as long as they continue to support the narcissist’s agenda.

Now let’s go back to youth. Preteens aren’t developed enough to manipulate and given that teenagers are typically self-centered, clinicians are reluctant to diagnose narcissistic personality disorder before age 18. Still, you might notice one or more of these warning signs in teenagers indicating risk of developing narcissism:

Persistent bullying behaviors such as making fun of, threatening, degrading, or scapegoating people (including parents and other adults)

Persistent need to win no matter who is hurt

Persistent lying to benefit oneself (will lie about lying, turn lies into someone else’s fault, deflect accountability by attacking messengers who point out lies)

Egotistical view of extraordinary self-worth

Preoccupation with getting own needs met over other people

Entitled attitudes which lead to acting as if they deserve special treatment and to get whatever they want, no matter the circumstances

Aggressive responses to being criticized, wronged, or upset

Repetitively blaming others for bad outcomes

And being much more competitive than cooperative.

If your child or one you know behaves this way, you can save your family and society from harm by focusing on doing the following:

Teach empathy

Value character traits like honesty and kindness over being tough or dominant

Change entitled attitudes and stop entitled actions

Squelch greed (say, “You’re acting selfishly and that’s not okay”)

Insist they put other people first routinely, remembering that actions speak louder than words (narcissists often say they are doing something to benefit others when they are really doing it for themselves)

Build healthy self-esteem (low self-esteem can also lead to entitlement and using others to support one’s ego)

Don’t allow false blame of other people for one’s own problems and failures.

Also avoid parenting styles linked to developing narcissist personality, such as neglecting, indulgent (spoiling with privilege and possessions, and promoting entitled attitudes) and cold, over controlling authoritarian methods which insist on perfection, winning, and toughness from a child.

On the flip side, you can also help teens and young adults learn to recognize narcissists so they can avoid their toxic harm or survive it. A necessary foundation for this is the ability to think critically about what someone says or does, which starts to develop during adolescence.

Critical thinking skills help us tell lies from truths and determine when someone is manipulating to take advantage of or scam us. Parents and mentors can help teach these empowering life-skills that protect against deception by con artists and abusive bosses, friends, and partners.

You can give your child life-long protective gifts of healthy levels of self-esteem and critical thinking skills while squelching entitlement and narcissistic traits to benefit you, your child and family, and all of us. And don’t forget that there is no shame in seeking help to get it done—seeking knowledge and help is a sign of strength, not weakness.”

Trump’s childhood was terrible. He suffered from the neglect of his lawyer mother and a domineering father who was also a racist (Fred Trump was arrested in 1927 for attending a KKK riot in New York.) Later in the 1970s Donald was charged with racial discrimination (surprise surprise) against blacks in Trump housing properties. As an adolescent Donald Trump was shuttled off to military school.

Now we get to the psychology of the Trump supporter. Here is an excellent review of Eric Hoffer’s, The True Believer.

The True Believer

 

“Summary of Eric Hoffer’s, The True Believer

Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents … Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.” ~ Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

(This article was reprinted in the online magazine of the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, October 19, 2017.)

Eric Hoffer (1898 – 1983) was an American moral and social philosopher who worked for more than twenty years as longshoremen in San Francisco. The author of ten books, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983. His first book, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951), is a work in social psychology which discusses the psychological causes of fanaticism. It is widely considered a classic.

Overview

The first lines of Hoffer’s book clearly state its purpose:

This book deals with some peculiarities common to all mass movements, be they religious movements, social revolutions or nationalist movements. It does not maintain that all movements are identical, but that they share certain essential characteristics which give them a family likeness.

All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them, irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them demand blind faith and single-hearted allegiance …

The assumption that mass movements have many traits in common does not imply that all movements are equally beneficent or poisonous. The book passes no judgments, and expresses no preferences. It merely tries to explain… (pp. xi-xiii)

Part 1 – The Appeal of Mass Movements

Hoffer says that mass movements begin when discontented, frustrated, powerless people lose faith in existing institutions and demand change. Feeling hopeless, such people participate in movements that allow them to become part of a larger collective. They become true believers in a mass movement that “appeals not to those intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self because it can satisfy the passion for self-renunciation.” (p. 12)

Put another way, Hoffer says: “Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the loss of faith in ourselves.” (p. 14) Leaders inspire these movements, but the seeds of mass movements must already exist for the leaders to be successful. And while mass movements typically blend nationalist, political and religious ideas, they all compete for angry and/or marginalized people.

Part 2 – The Potential Converts

The destitute are not usually converts to mass movements; they are too busy trying to survive to become engaged. But what Hoffer calls the “new poor,” those who previously had wealth or status but who believe they have now lost it, are potential converts. Such people are resentful and blame others for their problems.

Mass movements also attract the partially assimilated—those who feel alienated from mainstream culture. Others include misfits, outcasts, adolescents, and sinners, as well as the ambitious, selfish, impotent and bored. What all converts all share is the feeling that their lives are meaningless and worthless.

A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness, and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated not by conferring on them an absolute truth or remedying the difficulties and abuses which made their lives miserable, but by freeing them from their ineffectual selves—and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole. (p. 41)

Hoffer emphasizes that creative people—those who experience creative flow—aren’t usually attracted to mass movements. Creativity provides inner joy which both acts as an antidote to the frustrations with external hardships. Creativity also relieves boredom, a major cause of mass movements:

There is perhaps no more reliable indicator of a society’s ripeness for a mass movement than the prevalence of unrelieved boredom. In almost all the descriptions of the periods preceding the rise of mass movements there is reference to vast ennui; and in their earliest stages mass movements are more likely to find sympathizers and support among the bored than among the exploited and oppressed. To a deliberate fomenter of mass upheavals, the report that people are bored still should be at least as encouraging as that they are suffering from intolerable economic or political abuses. (pp. 51-52)

Part 3 – United Action and Self-Sacrifice

Mass movements demand of their followers a “total surrender of a distinct self.” (p. 117) thus a follower identifies as “a member of a certain tribe or family.” (p. 62) Furthermore, mass movements denigrate and “loathe the present.” (p. 74) by regarding the modern world as worthless, the movement inspires a battle against it.

What surprises one, when listening to the frustrated as they decry the present and its entire works, is the enormous joy they derive from doing so. Such delight cannot come from the mere venting of a grievance. There must be something more—and there is. By expiating upon the incurable baseness and vileness of the times, the frustrated soften their feeling of failure and isolation … (p. 75)

Mass movements also promote faith over reason and serve as “fact-proof screens between the faithful and the realities of the world.” (p. 79)

The effectiveness of a doctrine does not come from its meaning but from its certitude … presented as the embodiment of the one and only truth. If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague; and if neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable. One has to get to heaven or the distant future to determine the truth of an effective doctrine … simple words are made pregnant with meaning and made to look like symbols in a secret message. There is thus an illiterate air about the most literate true believer. (pp. 80-81).

So believers ignore truths that contradict their fervent beliefs, but this hides the fact that,

The fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure. He cannot generate self-assurance out of his individual sources … but finds it only by clinging passionately to whatever support he happens to embrace. The passionate attachment is the essence of his blind devotion and religiosity, and he sees in it the sources of all virtue and strength … He sacrifices his life to prove his worth … The fanatic cannot be weaned away from his cause by an appeal to reason or his moral sense. He fears compromise and cannot be persuaded to qualify the certitude and righteousness of his holy cause. (p. 85).

Thus the doctrines of the mass movement must not be questioned—they are regarded with certitude—and they are spread through “persuasion, coercion, and proselytization.” Persuasion works best on those already sympathetic to the doctrines, but it must be vague enough to allow “the frustrated to … hear the echo of their own musings in … impassioned double talk.” (p. 106) Hoffer quotes Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels: “a sharp sword must always stand behind propaganda if it is to be really effective.” (p. 106) the urge to proselytize comes not from a deeply held belief in the truth of doctrine but from an urge of the fanatic to “strengthen his own faith by converting others.” (p. 110)

Moreover, mass movements need an object of hate which unifies believers, and “the ideal devil is a foreigner.” (p. 93) Mass movements need a devil. But in reality, the “hatred of a true believer is actually a disguised self-loathing …” and “the fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure.” (p. 85) through their fanatical action and personal sacrifice, the fanatic tries to give their life meaning.

Part 4 – Beginning and End

Hoffer states that three personality types typically lead mass movements: “men of words”, “fanatics”, and “practical men of action.” Men of words try to “discredit the prevailing creeds” and create a “hunger for faith” which is then fed by “doctrines and slogans of the new faith.” (p. 140) (In the USA think of the late William F. Buckley.) Slowly followers emerge.

Then fanatics take over. (In the USA think of the Koch brothers, Murdoch, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, Alex Jones, etc.) Fanatics don’t find solace in literature, philosophy or art. Instead, they are characterized by viciousness, the urge to destroy, and the perpetual struggle for power. But after mass movements transform the social order, the insecurity of their followers is not ameliorated. At this point, the “practical men of action” take over and try to lead the new order by further controlling their followers. (Think Steve Bannon, Mitch McConnell, Steve Miller, etc.)

In the end mass movements that succeed often bring about a social order worse than the previous one. (This was one of Will Durant’s findings in The Lessons of History.) As Hoffer puts it near the end of his work: “All mass movements … irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred, and intolerance.” (p. 141)

__________________________________________________________________________

Quotes from Hoffer, Eric (2002). The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. ISBN 978-0-060-50591-2.

 

Identity Fusion

Identity fusion is a unique form of alignment with groups to which members experience a visceral sense of oneness with the group. This construct relies on the distinction between the personal self and the social self. The personal self refers to the characteristics that make someone a unique individual (e.g., tall, old, intelligent), while the social self pertains to the characteristics that align the individual with groups (e.g., American, fraternity brother, student council member, etc.). As the name suggests, identity fusion involves the union of the personal and social selves.

When fusion occurs, both the personal and social selves remain salient and influential but the boundaries between them become highly permeable. Although the personal and social selves are joined together they remain independently salient and agentic. In addition, fused persons come to regard other group members as “family” and develop strong relational ties to them as well as ties to the collective. Therefore, fused persons are not just bound to the collective; they develop a bond that ties them to the individual members of the collective.

The potency of the personal self and relational ties distinguishes identity fusion from other forms of alignment with groups, such as “group identification”. In group identification, allegiance to the collective eclipses the personal self and relational ties to other group members. Given the lack of involvement of the personal self and relational ties in identification, it follows that measures of identity fusion should be more predictive of extreme pro-group behavior than measures of identification. In fact, there is growing evidence of this idea. Measures of identity fusion are particularly powerful predictors of personally costly pro-group behaviors, including the endorsement of extreme behaviors such as fighting and dying for the group.

Theoretical Foundations

The identity fusion construct builds upon earlier work by emphasizing aspects of the relationship of people to groups that were deemphasized within the social identity perspective (i.e., social identity theory and self-categorization theory. Like social identity theory, identity fusion theory rests on the distinction between the personal and social identities. However, the social identity approach assumes that there is a hydraulic relationship between personal and social identities, such that increases in the salience and influence of one diminish the salience and influence of the other. One important implication of this assumption is that as the group identity becomes salient and apt to guide behavior, the personal identity becomes less salient and less likely to guide behavior. In contrast, within identity fusion theory, both the personal and social identities can be salient and influential simultaneously.

Social identity theory also suggests that group members are only linked to one another through their allegiance to the collective; theoretically, personal relationships between group members do not foster identification with the group. In contrast, fused individuals feel deeply connected to other group members as individuals, as well as to the larger group as a whole. This is reflected in measures of identify fusion. For example, the verbal measure of identity fusion taps feelings of reciprocal strength between the individual and the group (e.g., “I am strong because of my group”; “I’ll do more for my group than any other group members would do”) as well as feelings of oneness with the group (e.g., “I am one with my group”; “My group is me”). Also a threat to the group is highly likely to produce a perceived threat against the personal self.

The unique characteristics of Identity Fusion Theory have been summarized in the form of four principles: Agentic-personal self-principle, Identity synergy principle, Relational ties principle, and Irrevocability principle. If you’re interested in these principles I recommend you do a little research. Limitations of space dictate I move on in this Blog.

This month, in the journal Nature: Human Behavior, Kunst and Dovidio examined fusion specifically involving Donald Trump. In a series of seven studies using various surveys, including Swann and Gomez’s “identity fusion scale,” the Yale and Oslo team found that Americans who fused with Trump—as opposed to simply agreeing with or supporting him—were more willing to engage in various extreme behaviors, such as personally fighting to protect the U.S. border from an “immigrant caravan,” persecuting Muslims, or violently challenging election results.

The fusion might explain some apparent contradictions in ideology, Dovidio says. Even people who typically identify as advocates of small or no government might endorse acts of extreme authoritarianism if they have fused with Trump. In fusion, those inconsistencies simply don’t exist, according to Dovidio: Value systems are only contradictory if they’re both activated, and “once you step into the fusion mind-set, there is no contradiction.”

Fusion seems most likely to happen when there is a charismatic leader, particularly of an authoritarian bent. “Humans are social, and the individual person has a power over us that abstract thought doesn’t,” Dovidio says. “The leader is a concrete manifestation of ideas, but allegiance to individuals will trump allegiance to ideas.” In that sense, the idea of fusion might help some people explain how family members or colleagues whom they view as fundamentally good people might seem to suspend their typical sense of morality and do things like downplay Trump’s bragging about groping women; enriching himself at taxpayer expense; defending white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia; or failing to release his tax returns despite multiple promises to do so.

Read: The deepening crisis in evangelical Christianity

The idea of identity fusion is not, the researchers assure me, some effort to use science to overlook or excuse bigotry or racial hatred, which are distinct elements in the formation of identity. Though fusion tends to happen with authoritarian leaders, the fusion is not itself antisocial or bad. It can be seen in political movements of all sorts; Kunst cites followers of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Fusion might have arisen as a psychological adaptation to facilitate cooperation among kin in the face of extreme adversity, explains Harvey Whitehouse, chair of social anthropology at Oxford. Even so, Whitehouse warns, “social institutions could hijack the fusion mechanism in novel ways.”

A sense of deprivation—real or perceived threats to socioeconomic status—also seems to leave people inclined to fuse. “When we primed people to think of relative deprivation, this increased their likelihood of fusion with the leader,” Kunst says, noting that economic recessions have often preceded authoritarian movements. The findings from Kunst and Dovidio’s study suggest that Trump’s continued emphasis on the relative deprivation of his base—and his promise of the power and resources presumably under his control as an apparently wealthy Manhattan real-estate developer and reality-TV star—probably helped his election by increasing his followers’ fusion with him.

Even if this personal enrichment didn’t come to fruition for his voters, the researchers found that fusion with Trump only increased after his election. The presidency itself made him more powerful, and hence a more attractive target to fuse with.

Fundamentally, fusion is an opportunity to realign the sense of self. It creates new systems by which people can value themselves. A life that consists of living up to negative ideas about yourself does not end well. Nor does a life marked by failing to live up to a positive self-vision. But adopting the values of someone who is doing well is an escape. If Donald Trump is doing well, you are doing well. Alleged collusion with a foreign power might be bad for democracy, but good for an individual leader, and therefore good for you. “Fusion satisfies a lot of need for people,” Dovidio says. “When you fuse with a powerful leader, you feel more in control. If that person is valued, you feel valued.”

The process of de-fusing, then, might involve offering alternative systems of creating consistency and order. If people who are inclined to fusion have the option to fuse with entities that do not wish to exploit them, and that are generally good or neutral for the world, they might be less likely to fuse with, say, a demagogue. “But, of course,” Dovidio says, “that’s hard.”

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General Comments

In my opinion Identity Fusion is a structural construct, or larger framework for understanding mass movements. Eric Hoffer’s book by comparison defines the motivations underlying how individuals become swept up in a mass movement, and his explanation fits into the notion of letting your personal self becomes a social self-unrestrained by normal conventions of decency and personal responsibility.

Donald Trump is expeditiously on his way out of the White House. The country is in shambles as a result of his presidency. I think after reviewing the research literature on the Narcissistic Personality, The True Believer and Identity Fusion, there is now a real plausible set of explanations that define the Trump core supporter. Not all Trump core supporters may be true believers or be pathologically tied to Trump through Identity Fusion. However, as a social scientist interested in empirical data, I’d have say that the convergence of existing data strongly suggests that too many Trump core supporters have fallen into the abyss and have become a real member of a mass movement. A large chunk of Trump core supporters may be near-do-well fanatics and true believers.

The evidence provided by these theories is psychologically provocative. And, they are very telling. As Eric Hoffer pointed out in his book,” What all converts all share is the feeling that their lives are meaningless and worthless. This is certainly a sad commentary on American life that so many Trump supporters manifest feelings of incompleteness, self-doubt, alienation and estrangement from the larger culture.

Post Script

When this nightmare with Trump is over, all of us as a nation have to put the democratic policies and protections back into place. Politics is not the all-end-all of a society. Politics can be defined as the art of compromise or, setting policies to help the common man by judiciously handling the nation’s scarce resources. But more importantly, as a nation, we should endeavor to always strengthen our nation in terms of its democratic principles as reflected in our U.S. Constitution. Whether left, right or center that is our most important responsibility.

My politics are always upfront; I am an ultra-liberal and I value human rights, civil rights, women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, and complete acceptance of all people on earth as having more similarities than differences. We basically all have the same human needs, whether you live in the United States or elsewhere around the world.

But I do have my conservative moments. I am a U.S. Navy combat veteran of the Vietnam War. I support a strong military and national defense, veterans and wounded warriors and I am a bit of a hawk. For the moment what I think we ought to do about the Russians and North Korea I’ll keep to myself.

One of my closest friends is an ardent Trump supporter. Although we are very different politically, we don’t let our politics get in the way of our 36 year friendship. Friendships are very important in life; politics by comparison can shift with the wind at any moment. Ellen DeGeneres said the other day she had a genuine friendship with former president George W. Bush. She was accused of being a hypocrite. And she was praised by many for her honesty and even an inspiration to some who saw what it takes (courage) to go beyond the simplicity of political thought where the mantra is always “us or them.” Ellen certainly knows how to think outside the box.

Unfortunately, there are too many people, left and right politically, who are not capable of doing what Ellen has done. I think it is important to be upfront as to whom you are as a person. Said another way, just be honest and not show disingenuousness about your political self as well as your true self.

As Fusion theory demonstrated, it can be very difficult to stand outside your social self (whether fused or not) in deference to your individual self. I know. I think there is nothing wrong with being a conservative Republican; after all, nobody’s perfect. Sorry—couldn’t resist my social self!!

In a few weeks or months the pantywaist mafia style degenerate in the white house will be gone. Then maybe this democracy can return to normal. Then perhaps real leaders can tackle the problem of the Turks and our abandonment of the Kurds. This country needs real leadership, not Republican cowardice, dishonor and disgrace!!!

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The fall of Donald Trump

The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.

Bob Marley

Introduction

It’s been a long 2 years and eight months for the American people to have endured and suffered from a degenerate mafia style miscreant in the White House. President Donald Trump has turned out to be the worst President and lowest rated President in American History. Nancy Pelosi, ever the political pragmatist, finally saw the light of day when she came to support the Congress in opening an official and formal investigative inquiry into Donald Trump’s behavior while President.

No less than five congressional committees are charged with some aspect of Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry. If there is some kind of irony here, it is that Donald Trump turned out to be  his own worst enemy. His narcissistic personality, his complete lack of knowledge, and his failure to respect the rule of law, has now put himself in great jeopardy of being removed from office.

This is not to say that he doesn’t have some supporters, such as the “Grand Old Ostrich Party” soon to be replaced by more moderate, liberal and progressive democrats in 2020. The trouble with the Republican Party goes back to the 1994 mid-term elections with their Contract with America. All their ideas and proposals failed to materialize. As President Bill Clinton said at the time, the Republican’s contract with America was in reality more like a contract on America. Donald Trump missed the mark; he should have drained the swamp of Republicans, whom since 1994, have seldom contributed anything substantial in terms of policy for the American people.

Dante once said, “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” Republican leadership is a real misnomer; in the modern era they have yet to show any real leadership that wasn’t self-serving. This was supposed to be the frugal political party. Yet over several decades they turned out to be the real big-spenders. Cowardice is their creed and denial is their plan of action for keeping their head in the sand. Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio is a master of denial. After all, he denied awareness of a sexual predator that molested eight of his own wrestling team members while he was an assistant coach at Ohio State University.

The Republicans also have no basis for criticizing democrats. If you remember, Republicans tried to “Deep-Six” Hillary Clinton with the Benghazi Investigation. They spent and wasted over 4+ million dollars of the taxpayer’s money ironically, as a “Witch Hunt,” in order to cast aspersions and crucify Hillary Clinton as she was running for President. This inquiry resulted in no charges at all, although Republicans were not above character assassination of the country’s first female presidential candidate. This was the real purpose of their inquiry. They could care less about the truth.

 

What areas for charges are there against Trump?      

A few days ago I was talking with a close friend and realized we were both on the same page when it came to Donald Trump. We collectively thought that an itemized listing of criminal charges was needed so that the American people could see, in black and white, the extensive number of criminal acts he may have committed while in office.

But above all, it must be remembered that impeachment is a political act or process, whether or not criminal acts are involved. Even though quid-pro-quo may have, or may not have, been part of the phone call to the Ukraine President, it is not necessary for impeachment. His intent is more important than any other consideration. Criminal charges are only part of the process if they are warranted.

Most Americans don’t fully understand the politics of impeachment. That said, they do understand the meaning of someone committing a criminal act. For that reason, I think it would be helpful to enumerate a listing of the possible criminal charges Donald Trump might be charged. And Trump friends along with Trump Administration people, need to be cognizant of the fact that aiding and abetting someone who has engaged in criminal behavior leaves them open to facing criminal prosecution as well as the President. Moscow Mitch and Leningrad Lindsay need to stay as far away as they possibly can from Donald Trump as the country goes down the road of impeachment.

One might ask, why is it the Republican Party feels it doesn’t have other options if Donald Trump is impeached. Whether you like him or not, Mike Pence would make a good lame duck president until he too is removed from office in 2020. However, since he was aware of Trump’s crimes, he too may be removed from office shortly after Trump is removed. Say hello to President Pelosi.

This president is really unhinged. In the whistleblower controversy he is threatening those who supplied him with information with being treasonous spies deserving of the death penalty. His thoughts are eerily similar to Republican President Richard Nixon who once said, in an interview with David Frost in 1977, that a president is above the law.

The fact that the President tried to solicit a favor from a foreign government was and is a very serious violation of his oath of office. Some might say where Russia is concerned, Trump is treasonous as well. As more is learned in the months ahead, more information on the Trump/Putin connection may well actually lead to charges of Treason against President Trump, the Benedict Arnold of our time.

Does anyone really believe Donald Trump wasn’t involved in soliciting help from the Russians in 2015-2016? You’d have to be the most naïve person on the face of the planet to believe collusion with the Russians didn’t occur.

If you think back to the days Trump was building his real estate empire, evidence such as civil lawsuits showed he cheated contractors and others left and right. He also engaged in much fraud in his business dealings. Trump University was a real boondoggle! of fraudulent misrepresentation and deceit.

Independent Counsel Muller is not at fault for failing to prove collusion. This is because any prosecutor will tell you proving conspiracy is one of the most difficult crimes to prove. In fact there is no legal crime of collusion; it is legally called conspiracy. Mueller did his best; he was nonetheless certainly very successful in laying out charges of Obstruction of Justice leveled upon Donald Trump.

Donald Trump’s admission of wanting a favor from a foreign government is technically violating the Emolument Clause of the United States Constitution. “The emoluments clause, also called the foreign emoluments clause, is a provision of the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 8) that generally prohibits federal officeholders from receiving any gift, payment, or other thing of value from a foreign state or its rulers, officers, or representatives.”

Donald Trump right now is in real deep Do-Do over violating the Emoluments Clause in areas beyond just the Ukraine scandal and violations. Trump is already facing two lawsuits, both as the president and as an individual, for allegedly violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which bans elected officials from financially benefitting from foreign governments.

The Whistleblowers complaint is now available for inspection; it can be found online. However, the Inspector General’s official review report has yet to be released. More information is also needed on Rudy Giuliani and his role in this impeachment inquiry. In addition it has now been revealed (as of September 30, 2019) that William Barr, the Attorney General and confidant of Donald Trump, sought help from foreign governments to probe of CIA/FBI activities related to 2016 election.

If that isn’t Treason I don’t know what is. William Barr needs to be taken into custody by agents from his own department, or taken into custody immediately by The U.S. Secret Service. Either way will work.

Possible Trump charges under Investigation

I first want to say such a listing of charges at this point in time is probably pre-mature. But here is a possible initial list subject to change: Some of these offenses cited are interwoven with others. For now, these offenses include:

Extortion

The practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.

This includes demanding money with menaces. Other synonyms include: · exaction · extraction · blackmail · shakedown

 

Bribery

Bribery is the act of giving or receiving something of value in exchange for some kind of influence or action in return, that the recipient would otherwise not offer. Bribery is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty.

Essentially, bribery is offering to do something for someone for the expressed purpose of receiving something in exchange. Gifts of money or other items of value, which are otherwise available to everyone on an equivalent basis, and not for dishonest purposes, is not bribery.

Offering a discount or a refund to all purchasers is a legal rebate and is not bribery. For example, it is legal for an employee of a Public Utilities Commission involved in electric rate regulation to accept a rebate on electric service that reduces their cost for electricity, when the rebate is available to other residential electric customers. Giving the rebate to influence them to look favorably on the electric utility’s rate increase applications, however, would be considered bribery.

 

Conspiracy to Commit Extortion

If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the object of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for such misdemeanor.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 701; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

 

Ten counts of Obstruction of Justice

Here are the 10 events Mueller investigated for potential obstruction of justice charges:

  1. The firing of FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. At the time he was dismissed, Comey was leading the bureau’s probe of alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
  2. Trump’s efforts to have former Attorney General Jeff Sessions take control of the Russia investigation. After Sessions recused himself, Trump expressed anger at the fact that Sessions was unwilling to “protect him” from the probe.
  3. Trump’s attempt to have Comey go easy on former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had made false statements about his communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition. The president had a one-on-one meeting with Comey during which he asked him to think about “letting Flynn go.”
  4. The campaign’s response to Russia’s outspoken support for then-candidate Trump. According to the report, Mueller focused on the campaign’s reaction to Russia’s involvement in the WikiLeaks release of damaging Democratic Party emails and the president’s denying he had Russian business contacts.
  5. Trump’s attempts to remove the special counsel. Trump reacted to Mueller’s appointment by telling advisers that it was “the end of his presidency,” according to the report. Then, in June 2017, the president called White House Counsel Don McGahn at home and directed him to remove Mueller over conflicts of interest. McGahn refused.

President Donald Trump at an Opportunity Zone conference with state, local, tribal and community leaders on April 17. On Thursday, Attorney General William Barr released a redacted version of the special counsel’s final report on the Russia investigation. Before the report was released, Barr cleared the president of obstruction of justice.

  1. Trump’s efforts to “curtail” Mueller’s investigation. The special counsel investigated several instances where Trump attempted to affect the course of the probe. In one instance, Trump told his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to tell Sessions to publicly say the investigation was “very unfair” to the president.
  2. The president’s efforts to “prevent public disclosure of evidence.” Specifically, the special counsel took issue with Trump’s attempt to mislead the media about Donald Trump Jr.’s June 9, 2016, meeting with a Russian lawyer at Manhattan’s Trump Tower.
  3. Trump’s denial of having directed McGahn to remove the special counsel. When the press began reporting in early 2018 that the president had told McGahn to get rid of Mueller, Trump directed White House officials to tell McGahn to dispute the stories.
  4. Trump’s conduct toward Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. When Flynn began cooperating with prosecutors, Trump’s personal counsel asked Flynn’s attorney for a “heads-up” if Flynn had damaging information on the president. Then, when Manafort was found guilty, Trump defended him as a “brave man” and declined to rule out a potential pardon.
  5. Trump’s attacks on his former personal attorney Michael Cohen. After Cohen implicated Trump in campaign finance crimes and began cooperating with Mueller, the president publicly attacked him as a “rat” and a fraud.

 

Violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Emolument Clause

The following information was obtained from Wikipedia sources:

Emoluments Clause may refer to the following clauses of the United States Constitution:

  • The Foreign Emoluments Clause, Article I, Section 9, Clause 8, also called the Title of Nobility Clause.
  • The Domestic Emoluments Clause, Article II, Section 1, Clause 7, also called the Presidential Emoluments Clause.
  • The Ineligibility Clause, Article I, Section 6, Clause 2, sometimes also called the Emoluments Clause.

The Foreign Emoluments Clause

The Title of Nobility Clause is a provision in Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution,[1] that prohibits the federal government from granting titles of nobility, and restricts members of the government from receiving gifts, emoluments, offices or titles from foreign states and monarchies without the consent of the United States Congress. The Clause is subject to interpretation.[2] Also known as the Emoluments Clause, it was designed to shield the federal officeholders of the United States against so-called “corrupting foreign influences.” The clause is reinforced by the corresponding prohibition on state titles of nobility in Article I, Section 10, and more generally by the Republican Guarantee Clause in Article IV, Section 4.

The Domestic Emoluments Clause

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

The president’s salary, currently $400,000 a year,[11] must remain constant throughout the president’s term. The president may not receive other compensation from either the federal or any state government.

The Ineligibility Clause

The Ineligibility Clause (sometimes also called the Emoluments Clause,[1] or the Incompatibility Clause,[2] or the Sinecure Clause[3]) is a provision in Article 1, Section 6, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution[4] that makes each incumbent member of Congress ineligible to hold an office established by the federal government during their tenure in Congress;[5] it also bars officials in the federal government’s executive and judicial branches from simultaneously serving in either the U.S. House or Senate. The purpose of the clause is twofold: first, to protect the separation of powers philosophy (upon which the federal frame of government is built); and second, to prevent Congress from conspiring to create offices or increase federal officials’ salaries with the expectation that members of Congress would later be appointed to these posts.[6][7]

Paying Hush Money to three women

What crimes were committed by a President paying hush money to three women? Here are four legal opinions on 1 aspect of it:

On Trump arguing that the money didn’t come from his campaign:

FOLEY: It doesn’t matter where the source was; what matters is intent. The fact it came from personal funds doesn’t immunize him from criminality, but it could be a subsidiary fact to the ultimate question of what was done for campaign purposes? Cohen asserts that Cohen made the payments at the candidate’s direction for “purposes of influencing the campaign.” If those facts are true, that would be a violation.

SPIES: If it wasn’t the candidate’s money but somebody else’s personal money, it would have to be reported. And if corporate money were used, it would be an impermissible accepted corporate contribution that should have been reported.

TOKAJI: Regardless of whether they were from Mr. Trump’s personal funds or from some other source, there’s an obligation to disclose. To report expenditure or contributions, as the case may be. That wasn’t done.

SMITH: If they’re not campaign expenditures, they’re not subject to disclosure. My view is that this is not campaign expenditure, and once you hit that point, it doesn’t matter how you paid for it.

Final Comments

It’s my value judgment that all of us need to show more kindness to our fellow human beings and lead a life worth living by helping others. What I’ve just said about myself is a value. And values, whatever they constitute, are the cement that holds communities, states and countries together.

Where ever they appear, values are a product of culture or learned behavior in small social groups (like the family). The differences or similarities we see in other people are also a product of culture. In our culture now we are a divided nation. Our actions are different and so are our values. Said another way, most of our actions or behaviors are dictated by our values and beliefs.

And yet we all strive to be individuals not just members of a group. What makes America so great is that our founding fathers saw democracy as a good way of handling our differences. Explaining the origins |of democracy as a concept is beyond the scope of this Blog.
.

I have been covering this President and his behavior since 2015. At times I’ve felt compassion for a fellow human being so mentally disturbed. It’s really sad that some people suffer in life this way. Life’s tough enough without having the additional burden of illness, either mental or physical.

At other times I’ve felt nothing but repulsion for a man that has done so much harm to people. At this level of angry feeling I’ve found myself thinking the president is a wretched human being. His core followers raise even more problems for the country, and have generated much alienation among the populace. All of this consternation is occurring because a “psychiatrically challenged” President is running the country. This has happened for four years now ever since he announced he was running for the nation’s highest office. And yet he received, and continues to receive, unconditional support from many in the public, especially Republicans.

Not all conservative Republicans are bad people; it’s just that there aren’t many good ones. I’m not talking about the GOP of long ago whose congressmen and senators had honor and respectability. I’m talking about a gaggle of misfits (Tea Party and Freedom Caucus) that invaded the government and Congress in 1994 and later in 2010. Like Donald Trump they have no place in a modern forward-looking democracy.

I asked myself why is it the president is supported by such a sizable number of supporters. This represents about 30% of the voting population, 94% of which are conservative Republicans. Why did so many people during the last four years unwaveringly give their support to Donald Trump, a man with an insatiable appetite for lying and deceit? Where is the moral compass for this faction of American society? For now it looks like it is nowhere to be found.

Up to this point I’ve ascribed Trump’s support to non-college educated people, who were mostly blue collar workers, male, white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. However women who originally voted for Trump have since rebuffed him in droves and are the most disillusioned among initial Trump supporters. They found him to be a misogynist and a bully and want no part of him.

It turns out age, race, gender and occupation can only supply some of the explanation. There is something else going with the Trump supporters than simple sociological demographics. Demographics are useful for pinpointing where support comes from—but not why. This is where motivational intent and purpose become important variables. How might this be explained?

One really needs to take a deeper look. Beliefs and values do seem to differentiate groups, but it may be that psychology is more important than demographics.

It is my opinion that support for Donald Trump is coming from a mass movement. This suggests one ought to look to the psychology of mass movements for our explanation. Why did Adolf Hitler command such a large following? There are parallels here to all mass movements. I can see a connection between the Trump Presidency and his supporters and the observations made by Eric Hoffer in his seminal 1951 book, “The True Believer.”

The appeal of persons with an authoritarian personality to followers will become much clearer. Why does such an identity issue lead us to another psychological theory? There is another theory gaining credence these days in the field of psychology. It is known as Identity Fusion. Identity fusion is a psychological construct rooted in social psychology and cognitive anthropology. It is a form of alignment with groups in which members experience a visceral sense of oneness with the group.

Both explanations may explain the existence of the Trump supporter. However, a more detailed explanation of Hoffer’s book and the theory of Identity Fusion will be explained in a later Blog. Limitations of space dictate I not cover these topics right now. However, stay tuned!

The bottom line for me is this. I don’t care whether President Donald Trump resigns from office or is removed by congressional impeachment. He just needs to be removed from office, plain and simple. You can think of the last 2 years and eight months as a national nightmare or temporary excursion and detour from our sanity as a nation.

It’s about time we all get back on track as a nation. There are real problems out there, worldwide and domestically. Our future survival as a country and as a species may well depends on what the country does over the next 25 years.

In this connection It is my belief that the young with courage and moral determination (like 16 year old Greta Thunberg) will lead us out of the valley of climatic death that lies ahead. Always the optimist, I hope I’m right. I also hope Donald Trump is impeached shortly or resigns from office.

 

                                                              

 

 

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What a White Majority Minority might look like in 2044

Background

Since the first settlers came to America the country has been a predominantly white nation. The country stayed largely white (90% of the population) until the 1950s. Since then the percentage of the population that is white has been declining. It is currently 61 % of the entire U.S. population. A white majority minority in America isn’t expected until 2044 (25 years from now). What are the population projections for 2044?

“Census data projections released by the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that the U.S. population will become “majority minority” in 2044. At that time, whites will make up 49.7 percent of the population compared with 25 percent for Hispanics, 12.7 percent for blacks, 7.9 percent for Asians and 3.7 for percent multiracial persons. This tipping point will result from two countervailing trends that are projected to continue between now and 2060:

  • A long term decline for the nation’s white population. The white population is projected to increase modestly until 2025 when it reaches 199,867,000; after that, it will sustain a continued decrease until 2060 when whites will make up only 44 percent of the population. Natural decrease, the excess of deaths over births, for this aging population will be the primary component of this decline.
  • A growth of new minorities—Asians, Hispanics and multiracial persons. Between 2014 and 2060 both the Asian and Hispanic populations will more than double at growth rates of 129 percent and 115 percent respectively. Multiracial persons will more than triple, growing at nearly 220 percent. These new projections assume a greater gain for Asians than in previous projections but reduced gains for Hispanics. The former reflects rising Asian immigration and the latter a drop-off in Hispanic fertility.

In addition to the emergence of a majority minority nation, continued racial disparity across generations will occur because of the exit of whites from the younger ages as both old and new minorities take up the slack. Between 2014 and 2060 the minority share of the youth population will rise from 48 percent to 64 percent. While the senior population will also become more diverse, in 2060 whites will still comprise a majority of the age 65 and older population at 55 percent.”

These are the facts as based on projections. Now, we must ask ourselves another important question: What does it all mean and what will be the social effects of such changes? This is a complex question but I have a few ideas.

How has such Population Projections Affected American Culture?

Many people in America today seem to feel exacerbated, frustrated (and exhausted) over the fact our country is so politically divided. Unfortunately, race seems to be the hidden bogyman in the room.

Race should be a non-issue in an educated and democratic country. But lack of education in some quarters, along with a moderately sized group (guess who I’m referring to folks) who only reticently give lip service to democratic institutions, has kept race alive as an issue of some concern.

A predicated notion of race should really be based on knowledge and awareness that most of us really have more in common with each other, rather than differences. At an individualistic level, it is both our similarities and differences that make humans so unique.

Socially dividing people today by skin color is a mindless activity that has little meaning when looking back as to where we all originated.

All of us have an identical origin. We are all Afrikaners. Most of our ancestors in the distant past were migrants who left Africa between 180,000-200,000 years ago. Those who stayed in Africa formed what are the African nations today. Not only are we all brothers and sisters under the sun, but we all have the same mitochondrial DNA from one black maternal grandmother living in Africa prior to the mass migrations that occurred so long ago.

In human genetics, the Mitochondrial Eve (also mt-Eve, mt-MRCA) is the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all currently living humans, i.e., the most recent woman from whom all living humans descend in an unbroken line purely through their mothers, and through the mothers of those mothers, back until all lines converge on one woman.

In an article (New gene variants reveal the evolution of human skin color) by Ann Gibbons dated October 12, 2017, she reports:

“Most people associate Africans with dark skin. But different groups of people in Africa have almost every skin color on the planet, from deepest black in the Dinka of South Sudan to beige in the San of South Africa. Now, researchers have discovered a handful of new gene variants responsible for this palette of tones.

The study, published online this week in Science, traces the evolution of these genes and how they traveled around the world. While the dark skin of some Pacific Islanders can be traced to Africa, gene variants from Eurasia also seem to have made their way back to Africa. And surprisingly, some of the mutations responsible for lighter skin in Europeans turn out to have an ancient African origin.

“This is really a landmark study of skin color diversity,” says geneticist Greg Barsh of the Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Alabama.

Researchers agree that our early australopithecine ancestors in Africa probably had light skin beneath hairy pelts. “If you shave a chimpanzee, its skin is light,” says evolutionary geneticist Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania, the lead author of the new study. “If you have body hair, you don’t need dark skin to protect you from ultraviolet [UV] radiation.”

Until recently, researchers assumed that after human ancestors shed most body hair, sometime before 2 million years ago, they quickly evolved dark skin for protection from skin cancer and other harmful effects of UV radiation. Then, when humans migrated out of Africa and headed to the far north, they evolved lighter skin as an adaptation to limited sunlight. (Pale skin synthesizes more vitamin D when light is scarce.)”

Most anthropologists today will view race as a very flawed concept. But that discussion is reserved for another time.

As a former social scientist I tend to think of human behavior in factual, psychological, sociological, anthropological and historical terms. This viewpoint is broad, not narrow in scope or limiting. It’s all part of the scientific approach to understanding human behavior. Some people will say culture is more important than one’s genetic make-up. Really? Well, both are important!

Assessment of American Culture Today

Right now, nothing is more contrary to a collective understanding of human behavior than the disconcerting fact that American society has so misread their own social environment. The causes of this are numerous. But fear stands out as a major factor in seeing the world as only “us” and “them.” It is simplicity of observation at its most absurd. Said another way some people prefer to see differences only; other people tend to see our similarities. Those that see similarities are using a wide-angle lens. Those who have a tendency to see only differences just can’t seem to get their social camera working in the first place.

This fear I’m referring to doesn’t act in a social vacuum. It is constantly reinforced by two major elements of American society: (1) Donald R. Trump, and (2) an underlying racist Republican Party, at best a party of abject fools in denial of facts, and at worst, a political party intent on destroying America from within so their treasonous connections to Russia can be hidden from public view. Both elements feed off each other in a callous and sordid political drama that serves no one but themselves.

White America has allowed itself to be duped (and sucker punched) by a racist Republican Party and by that degenerate, bombastic, narcissistic personality defect in the White House. Their purpose is to divide people and instigate conflict—all in the vain hope of returning America to a white dominant society.

All of the recent racist and religious violence from the Ultra-conservative, Nazi, KKK and Alt Right affiliates have been based on a racist ideology (for example, the Charlottesville fiasco and murder, murders committed by Dylann Roof of nine black churchgoers, and the murders of people in various Jewish synagogues across the country).

The assumptions made by these ideological entities, or individuals, have no basis in fact. They simply manifest value judgments that run counter to most values such as egalitarianism, humanism, or moral principles like everyday decency,  sensibilities, and caring for other people.

Why is White Paranoia so unjustified?

As corny as this sounds at times President Franklin Roosevelt got it right. He said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

There are several major reasons whites have viewed their future in America incorrectly. For one obvious reason, a white majority minority will still outnumber any non-white racial/ethnic group in 2044. At that time, whites will make up 49.7 percent of the population compared with 25 percent for Hispanics, 12.7 percent for blacks, 7.9 percent for Asians and 3.7 for percent multiracial persons. Collectively, non-white minorities will be 49.3 percent of the entire population in 2044.

Here are some speculations that generally support the belief that whites will have nothing much to fear in 2044:

  1. There will be both positive and negative unintended consequences as a result of a new white majority minority. Liberals and moderates will thrive in 2044 while conservatives will lose much political power except in the rural areas of America (if we still have rural areas that haven’t been made into a paved-over tarmac by then).
  2. Whites will continue to have a disproportionate influence on society but will lose their power through strength in numbers. In this regard issues, not racial designations, may finally become more important. This will impact non-white minority voters as well as white majority minority voters. If this is the case, people having common objectives just might start to act like adults and individuals, not defined any longer by their racial identity. Or at least, less so!
  3. All groups need to finally acknowledge that racial identity is a non-issue. Only social cooperation and individuality is all that really matters. Only time will tell if society in general is capable of achieving Dr. Martin Luther King’s original dream. His speech was a message of unity, not division. He set the bar high for the country.
  4. The country will truly become more democratic consistent with the original intent of our nation’s founding fathers.
  5. Whites will continue to maintain a higher average income but its middle class will continue to shrink. Helping every group’s middle class is an important goal. In order to achieve greater income equality liberals and independents must retake the White House and Congress in 2020.
  6. Whites, for better or worse, will continue to be the best armed majority minority consistent with its income level, and consistent with a 2nd Amendment that remains unaltered.
  7. Assumptions about a monolithic voting block among different racial groups just does not exist. Why? Because thinking the same way on any issue is very unlikely. No group thinks monolithically; all groups are made up of individuals. People vote across racial lines all the time. Joe Biden, a white politician, is favored by 51% among blacks in South Carolina. Or Just think back to 2016 when a fair number of minority voters went for Trump. Obviously, whites were not the only people who got duped in 2016. This reinforces my argument. It doesn’t matter—no one thinks alike. This is at the heart of democratic principles. In a democracy—we want people to think for themselves.
  8. I predict politics will, for the most part, remain the same. There will still be liberals, moderates and conservatives. There will still be a left, right, and a center.
  9. Society will become much more egalitarian with women occupying more places in the House and Senate. Women will have much more political power in 2044.
  10. I predict more non-white minorities will become judges at every level. And they will occupy more seats in local elections and more seats in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. More minorities need to be nominated to the United States Supreme Court.
  11. Democracy will demand accountability in 2044 just as it should now. I predict a century from now historians will look back on 2016-2020 as a pivotal point at which American society had to internally step up and protect the grand experiment of a democratic country against all forms of tyranny foreign and domestic.

Final Comments

Recent comments on Twitter against four women of color suggest that the notion that Donald R. Trump is a racist American is no longer in any doubt. There is a long history that has also documented his racism. His father was a racist who had been arrested at an altercation at a rally for the KKK in Queen’s New York in 1927.

In the 1970s Donald Trump was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for violation of the Fair Housing Act. He discriminated against blacks by lying about the availability of his apartments. In 1989 Trump went on a crusade to villainize the Central Park Five, all four blacks and one Hispanic teenager for a vicious attack on a white female jogger in New York’s Central Park. All five were later exonerated by DNA evidence.

Trump’s opening campaign address was riddled with racial epithets toward Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers. When he engaged in the racist Twitter rants about four minority black women in Congress, Civil-Rights Icon John Lewis of Georgia was asked about that. He said of the President’s remarks, “I know Racism when I see it.”

It’s now time for Americans to stand up and take back the country. A good first start is to Impeach Donald R. Trump. There is one book that will never be written by a Republican. The name of that book is, “Profiles in Courage.”

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How the Trump Administration Harms Science

 Preface

     Donald Trump has been in office since January 20, 2017. In just 28 months no one has done more to harm the scientific research community than him. Trump supporters fail to understand just how much they’ve been harmed by having helped elect this President.

     In order to explain just what has happened and who is affected by his policies I will present a refresher overview of what exactly science is all about. Then I will show an article from the Journal Nature that articulates the harm that has been done, particularly to funding. At the end of this blog I will discuss my final comments.

Science and the Scientific Process

The academic science research community (both physical and social sciences) in this world of ours has always had a daunting task of teasing out relationships in data like important correlations among variables. However, science’s goal has always been to explain, “cause and effect i.e., what causes something to happen and why.”

Only tightly controlled double-blind research experiments with random assignment of subjects (the Cadillac of research models) can truly determine cause and effect. But even with well controlled experimentation science will always be a building block and revision process. Why? It is because there is no truth (absolute) in this world of ours. Why? Because truth will always what we agree it is, nothing more and nothing less. While absolute truth is not really the goal—building knowledge is. And, that is an exciting process!

We develop knowledge and carry out a process over time in three coordinated ways: (1) by promoting and conducting experimental research (2) by asking critical research questions and developing workable hypotheses and theories, and (3) by analyzing statistical or self-reported data, and publishing results of one’s findings.

All these processes in science are important. Among these processes it is my opinion that one of the most important functions any scientist can ever perform—is to ask intelligent thought-provoking questions. Such questions become the actual basis for developing hypotheses (statements of relationships among and between variables).

In a way, even journalists, although more open-ended and less controlled in their approach to the process of collecting information, try to ask intelligent thought-provoking questions. It is done by these folks with the same intention—to report facts and build a consensus about the world and the people who live in it.

However, although thoughtful and at times perceptive, journalists do not build scientific explanations for events. Too many questions are often not addressed or left unanswered, and the scope of their inquiry is almost never scientific. Generally the MO of the journalist is not to build scientific knowledge but to elicit responses from people being interviewed (A strictly qualitative undertaking). This is due to the short term nature of their business. You know—“Got to meet that deadline!” What factual data they do collect tends to come primarily from secondary sources such as documents or archival information.

However, as part of the consensus building nature of science, scientific research uses what are called paradigms.

Definition of a Research Paradigm

“A research paradigm is an approach or a research model to conducting  research that has been verified by the research community for a very long time. Research paradigms emerge from one of two approaches to research. One is the positivist approach and the other is called the interpretivist approach. Every research uses one of the research paradigms to use as a guideline for developing research methodology and to take on the research venture in a manner that is most valid and appropriate. Basically, there are two paradigms. But there are several other paradigms that have emerged especially in social science research.

 

One of the other paradigms that have emerged in recent years is mixed-method research. In pure sciences, quantitative research methodology is clearly the most favored approach to conducting the research. In social sciences, there has been debate for over half a decade about the best methodology to use and this resulted in the emergence of mixed-method paradigm or mixed-method methodology.

The word paradigm originated from the Greek word “paradeigma” which means pattern. This word was first used in the research by “Kuhn” in 1962 to describe a conceptual framework that is accepted by a community of researchers or scientists and that provides them with an in-depth guideline to conduct the research.

Since that time a debate between scientists regarding the best paradigm to conduct research has always been there. Until 1980s scientists believed that the quantitative research paradigm is the only paradigm or research approach that should be used in both pure science and social science research.

 

Types of Research Paradigms

  1. Positivist Paradigm

Most of the scientific or quantitative research use positivism as a conceptual framework for research. Quantitative research always follows positivist approach because positivists believe in empirical hypothesis testing. In pure sciences, positivism is preferred because of its empirical nature to study facts. In quantitative research, the research follows a probabilistic model that is determined by previous research.

Positivists believe that the findings of one study can be generalized to another study of a similar kind regardless if it is conducted in a different environment and situations. This is true of scientific variables like volume, speed, density, strength, and weight. For example, if a scientific study proves the hypothesis that if a certain finish is applied to fine cotton tulle fabric it will lose some of its natural strength. Therefore, these results can be generalized to another similar fabric that gets the same after-finish.

When talking about social and behavioral sciences quantitative researchers believe that any human behavior can be studied and predicted quantitatively and they believe that behavior can be explained using a scientific approach to research. While using the positivist paradigm in social sciences the researcher controls all the other factors that can ruin his/her research by having their impact.

To achieve a controlled environment the researcher has to conduct the research in a laboratory setting like a scientific experiment, though human behavior is difficult to study in a controlled environment; this makes it difficult for the social science researcher to use a positivist paradigm in the study of human behavior.

For example, if a researcher hypothesizes that adolescents who drop out of high schools are also involved in criminal activities, he/she has to study those students who dropped out in a natural setting rather than in a lab. As human behavior cannot be studied in lab settings it’s difficult to generalize human behavior to a wide and varied group of people regardless of if they have several similarities.

  1. Interpretivist Paradigm

Most of the qualitative research in social sciences uses a interpretivist approach to research. Interpretivists believe that human behavior is multilayered and it cannot be determined by pre-defined probabilistic models. It depends on the situations and is determined by environmental factors other than the genes. A human behavior is quite unlike a scientific variable which is easy to control. Human behaviors are affected by several factors and are mostly subjective in nature. Therefore interpretivist believes in studying human behavior in daily life rather than in a controlled environment.

 

Distinction between Positivism and Interpretivist

  • To summarize positivism and interpretivist we can say that positivism is governed by objectivity, measurability, predictability, probability, controllability and control laws that can predict human behavior. On the other hand, anti-positivism or interpretivist is governed by subjectivity and studying human behavior in a real-life setting.
  • Though, both of these paradigms are opposite of each other, they represent reality in two different approaches. Both of them have their own value and significance in the growth and development of knowledge.

References

  1. Cohen, Louis, et al. Research Methods in Education, 5th Edition. London, 2000
  2. Dr. Nirod K. Dash, Module: Selection of the Research Paradigm and Methodology, Manchester Metropolitan University, June 2005

Summary of Scientific Methodology

Regardless of paradigm selected, gathering information for explaining human behavior, it is critical to develop a convergence of the evidence devoid of bias and value judgements that all too often cloud our own reasoning and judgments.

What I’ve just presented to you, of course, is the textbook notion of scientific inquiry—clean and pure. Unfortunately, falsification of data and personal biases can influence what comes out in scientific journals (just as it does with U.S. Supreme Court decisions).

Fortunately, this is a very rare event among scientists as a profession. But it does sometimes occur (like the famous Piltdown Man—A Paleoanthropological hoax from 1912). Sometimes the problem stems more from selfish motives or pure biased value judgments clouding a person’s judgment.

Nevertheless, regardless of the power of societal values to influence our lives from childhood onward, the vast majority of scientists do their work with diligence, honesty, thoughtfulness and integrity. As we all know, you’d need a microscope to find any of these positive attributes in the White House or Congress these days.

In the final analysis, data must inform people making value judgments, not the other way around. When people try to do the latter they often resort to denial, distortion, or outright lying about research findings.

Societal or political forces must not have any control over scientific research and findings. Because of these attacks on science, one can only conclude that its purpose is to undermine the entire scientific community. A perfect example of data distortion today is the nonsense that comes out of Donald Trump’s administration on a daily basis, where we are told there is such a thing as “alternative facts.” What F^ %$@* moronic nonsense is that?

In his administration, there is so much lying and deceit all the time, it makes one think Trump lies more often than the entire American advertising industry ever has. And that would take some doing!

There is also a very clear and present danger to the scientific community when funding for scientific research is denied by governmental funding agencies in Washington, D.C. With that please read the article below.

 

Trump Seeks Big Cuts to Science Funding—Again

The president wants to cut spending at the National Institutes of Health and Environmental Protection Agency, but it is not clear whether Congress will go along

Nature’s news team reports on what Trump’s budget would mean for U.S. government science agencies.

National Institutes of Health

The White House plan would give the National Institutes of Health (NIH) U.S.$34.4 billion, roughly $5 billion below the current level. The plan would move the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), an independent agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, to the NIH.

“I think it would be a disaster for science if it was enacted,” says Benjamin Krensky, associate director for legislative affairs at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Rockville, Maryland.

But Krensky and others are skeptical that Congress will go along with the Trump plan. This is the third year that Trump has proposed cutting the NIH’s budget. Congress has rebuffed Trump’s proposed cuts the past two years, and last year rejected his plan to move AHRQ to the NIH.

“I look forward to Congress rejecting these budget cuts, just as they have rejected all the other cuts the president has proposed,” says Benjamin Corb, director of public affairs at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Rockville, Maryland.

Corb adds that the president’s budget makes no sense in light of the proposal that Trump unveiled in January to halt the spread of HIV over the next decade. “The president committed to eradicate HIV/AIDS by 2030, and cut the very programs that would be necessary to make that goal happen,” he says.

National Science Foundation

The budget request includes $7.1 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), roughly 12% below the current $8.1 billion. But the Trump plan does not include any detail on how to distribute that money within the NSF.

“Like everybody else, I don’t know what the details are,” says Joel Widder, a research lobbyist at Federal Science Partners and a former NSF public affairs officer. He says that the White House proposal would reduce the NSF’s budget below the 2015 level. “They’ve set the agency back at least five years with this budget request.”

Environmental Protection Agency

The Trump plan would provide $6.1 billion for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a 31% drop from the agency’s current $8.8 billion budget. That includes $440 million for science and technology. Trump proposed similarly drastic cuts to the EPA’s budget in 2017 and 2018, which Congress rejected.

NASA

NASA’s proposed budget of $21 billion—2% below the current level—focuses heavily on the administration’s goal to return astronauts to the Moon. The Trump plan would set aside $10.7 billion for various programs to advance human and robotic exploration of the Moon, including $363 million for a lunar lander that could carry cargo and astronauts to the lunar surface. Smaller commercial landers could fly to the surface as early as this year, and the agency claims it will put humans on the Moon by 2028. “We’re looking at going fast,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine in an agency-wide address on 11 March.

The White House plan would cut NASA science by 8.7%, to $6.3 billion. Of the agency’s four science divisions, planetary science would receive the biggest pot of money; the administration’s proposed funding of $2.6 billion is 4.9% below the current level. The Trump plan includes funding for a mission to retrieve rock samples from Mars; it could launch as early as 2026. The samples would be gathered by NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, now in development. It also includes funding for a mission, set to launch in 2023, to fly past Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. The project was championed by former Rep. John Culberson (Republican, Texas), who was voted out of office in November in part because his constituents felt he focused too much on Solar System exploration and not enough on their issues.

Astrophysics would suffer the deepest cuts. The budget request would fund the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, at $353 million. That would keep it moving toward a March 2021 launch. “This administration is committed to the James Webb Space Telescope,” Bridenstine said. But the White House proposal would cut the rest of the astrophysics budget to $845 million, a drop of 29%. And for the second year in a row the administration has sought to cancel the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, which is designed to hunt for exoplanets and dark matter. Congress restored funds for it last year despite Trump’s requested cuts.

The proposed $1.78 billion budget for Earth science is 7.8% below the current level. The Trump plan would cancel two missions that the White House has twice tried to eliminate: the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, Ocean Ecosystem satellite and a solar-reflectance mission called CLARREO Pathfinder. Two others that had previously been on the chopping block—the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3, which is expected to launch in April, and the Earth-observing instruments on the DSCOVR space-weather satellite—are not threatened this time around.

Funding for heliophysics would drop 2%, to $704.5 million. The Trump plan would continue funding for missions such as the Parker Solar Probe, which is currently swooping around the Sun closer than any spacecraft has come before.

Department of Energy Office of Science

The Trump plan includes $5.5 billion for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, just over 16% below the 2019 funding level. The 2020 request would set aside $169 million for quantum information science, $71 million for research into artificial intelligence and machine learning, and $500 million for supercomputing. The office’s current budget includes $936 million for advanced supercomputing research; it is not clear how the administration’s $500 million proposal for 2020 compares to the 2019 figure. The White House provided few other details on its 2020 request for the energy department. It is unclear how Congress will greet the plan; last year, the Trump administration sought $5.4 billion for the Office of Science, but Congress ultimately gave the office $6.6 billion.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The White House budget documents do not include a detailed proposal for funding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which received $5.4 billion in 2019. It does list $1.2 billion for NOAA’s satellite program, including “polar weather satellites, space weather instruments, and satellite data collection systems.” The Trump budget also seeks to eliminate NOAA’s National Sea Grant College Program, which supports more than 30 U.S. universities that conduct research, education and training about ocean and coastal topics. The White House proposed ending the Sea Grant program in 2017 and 2018 as well, but Congress has continued to fund it.”

Final Comments

One of the best cliché’s out there these days is, “Speak Truth to Power.” I’m going to do that right now.   

If Donald Trump is not impeached before 2020, he will nevertheless lose the election for his second term. While Jimmy Carter and George Herbert Walker Bush were only one-term presidents, they were honorable men and deserve the respect of our Nation. Donald Trump by comparison is simply a dishonorable man who will never rise to the level of a real president.

For those voters who simply don’t understand or care about scientific research, perhaps this message might be better made a little closer to home.

In the upcoming 2020 election, 54% of all voters will be women. Since Donald Trump took office January 20, 2017 he has done more to harm women in the United States, and worldwide, than anyone. All of that is in juxtaposition to his behavior prior to coming into public office.  Trump has a long degenerate history of having affairs and numerous encounters with prostitutes prior to taking office. Remember, he was alleged to have raped and beat a 13 year old prostitute with his good friend Jeffrey Edward Epstein, a wealthy registered sex offender in New York. Yet, some voters just don’t care about his history. But like the old expression, “what goes around comes around.”

According to the Los Angeles Times article on March, 2018, they reported:

“Trump almost certainly has contributed to the movement of women toward the Democrats, a long-term trend that gained strength in the past two years. More than half of women, 56%, now side with the Democrats, compared with 37% for the Republicans, Pew found.”

This large voting block is going to win back the White House, and hopefully the Senate. Then the United States can finally return to its normal squabbles and imperfections. But no longer will people of our country be so fearful and mistrusting of one another (Yes, I’m always optimistic). “The miscreant in the White House will soon be gone.”

We are not headed to disaster if we stay strong and resolved. Why am I so positive about this? I’m positive because I witnessed troubled times before in my life. It was 1965 and a war was raging in South East Asia with the United States at the forefront of the conflict. It was to divide the nation like nothing before, except for the Civil War 100 years earlier.

As a man in uniform, but also vehemently opposed to the war in Vietnam, I know the divisions well that can split us all apart. We were a very troubled nation at that time. In some ways, the conflicts of today reminds me of a title from a top 1965 Folk rock protest song by Barry McGuire—called, “Eve of Destruction.” We survived that period of history and “Eve of Destruction.” We will survive again the current “Eve of Destruction.”

The national embarrassment will soon be over folks!! Keep the faith!! In the meantime the United States Congress should move ahead with impeachment of the President. We must as a nation have the fortitude, and the courage, to get rid of the bastard once and for all.

The strategy of the Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate to protect Donald Trump is basically a “Fool’s Errand.” If Donald Trump does make it to the November, 2020 election that ship will sink, and Republicans will drown right along with him. The majority of American voters are really pissed at the Congress as well as the White House. Like I said, “what goes around comes around.”

Post Script

Given the news events of the last several days, it is noted that the “King of Obfuscation” has solicited Attorney General Barr to declassify data from all agencies including national intelligence agencies. We know the purpose. What we don’t know are the real motives of Attorney General Barr, who lied to Congress and effectively destroyed his own reputation and his legacy after what appears to be a very distinguished career. Why would such a man castrate himself like that in public view?

I’d like to suggest two things are hidden here. First, I’d like to suggest that some sick ideology is not what motivates him. He’s too pragmatic for ideology alone to be a motive. Second, I believe his financials should be investigated by both the House and Senate judiciary and/or intelligence committees. Greed is the oldest motive in the world. What research question should all committees ask?   It’s this one: Did Attorney General Barr take a bribe?    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Transformational Ideas in the Era of Social Change and the Upcoming Presidential Election

Seeing Society through the Crystal-Ball of Ideas

 

Introduction

I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed these days during this political season. This is because there are so many candidates running for the Office of the President of the United States. At last count there were potentially 24 democratic candidates (some declared and some not), five or more independents, and potentially several Republicans ready to challenge Donald Trump in 2020.

So how does one decide who to vote for in the next election when there are so many candidates? What criteria does one use to make sound judgments? It is a daunting task, especially if one wants to do diligence and cares about our democracy. So, what do you do?

Many factors may guide you (e.g., party affiliation, values, facts on issues, beliefs, prejudice, social pressure, past history of voting or lack thereof, what your significant other(s) may think, etc.). However, voting is, for the most part, a solitary decision. So once you’re in that polling booth or filling out a form at home, the question still remains—what do you do?

In order to answer this question one needs to take a long term and wide view at politicians and their promises in addition to culture, society and the individual. Each individual operates in his/her own realm of individuality and consciousness. That realm is mostly in the present, the here and now, where immediate needs play our center stage of concern. We all have needs every moment of every day. But voting should be an activity that transcends the present. One needs to look beyond his/her immediate environment, and think about the future needs of others, not just oneself.

Sociology I-A

While our immediate daily needs are important to meet, the act of Voting is more than this, or should be. Voting is a statement of desired direction, a kind of non-descript message to a culture and society bigger than ourselves. We are all trying to say with our vote, “You better wake up and pay attention.” Well, you say wake up and pay attention, but what you really mean is—You want change, however ill-defined and nebulous at that moment it might be.

If you’re conservative you’re probably thinking to yourself—change for what? The conservative mindset is very troubled these days. Conservatives prefer no change to society most of the time, despite a long history of change they have also benefitted from. Nevertheless, they are all fearful of a changing world and landscape they do not understand or control anymore. They dwell psychologically in a constant state of perpetual uncertainty and many have secretly underlying doubts and misapprehensions about their own beliefs.

Most conservatives are white. Most sociologists suspect that the underlying concern of not wanting things to change is the irrational fear of “White Fright-White Flight.” While there are interesting sociological questions ahead to be answered, like will America become more harmonious, less violent and less group oriented, once there is real equality when only minorities (including a white minority) will make up America? That discussion is for a latter Blog. While such a question is titillating to the academic community, there is still an irrational fear on the part of conservatives that the sky is falling all around them. And that intense fear translates into blaming all others for their own short-comings in life.

The driving force in culture (defined as our learned behavior patterns) and society is for change, or a desire for no change. It is predicated on values and value judgments. Change does not create value judgment per se, only people do. Some may argue that value judgments are a product of early childhood experiences in growing up in small social unit or group like the family. And it is true that by age 25 most of our personal beliefs and values are firmly lodged in “social concrete.” But as people become adults, larger social forces begin to enter their lives and influence them. I’m being polite. Let’s call it what it is—Social Control.

What is Change Anyway?

Observing change is simply a perception of difference in our physical and mental environment. It is a catchword used to describe movement in time. Either something occurs or it doesn’t. That is the nexus of change that connects the past to the present and the present to the future.

But when we talk about social change, and its importance, we’re really talking about value judgments and ideology directed by something very specific. Society doesn’t always change because one holds value judgments; society changes because of something very specific. Change for change sake is unto itself—meaningless.

What are those specifics? They are ideas folks. Ideas move society. Ideas move individuals. Ideas, and their formulation, are the real basis for social change in society. Value judgments and ideology may still play a role in evaluating what is a “good” idea from a “bad” idea. But ideas turned into actions are what ultimately will lead to social change.

     So, if good ideas are the real pathway to social change, why then aren’t there more of them? I don’t know. My theory is that it takes real effort to come up with good ideas. Most people would prefer to be lazy and rest, not on their laurels per se, but rather depend on their value judgments alone.

     However, sometimes politicians are capable of creating and coming up with good ideas. Ahead you’ll hear about one candidate for the highest office who has the best most transformational ideas at this point in time, and has done his/her homework.

     The best political presentations, by the way, are well crafted when they collectively incorporate transformational ideas, values, and facts and describe issues with the precision of a jeweler’s eye. That kind of political presentation gives a more complete and total picture from which to make choices or judgments.

Read on.

It is ideas that propel what we call change. But ideas are not all alike in nature. Some ideas are rather ordinary, while other ideas can be transformational.

Transformational Ideas

When I talk about ideas in the context above, I’m not referring to everyday or ordinary ideas that lead to human decisions of little relevance, such as making decisions as to what car to buy or what neighborhood to buy a home in.

Transformational ideas by comparison to ordinary ones, can and do affect the lives of large numbers of people, or even an entire nation. They have a much bigger impact on society; they generate real currency value in any society.

Transformational ideas are what you need to look for in a candidate for public office, especially the Office of President of the United States.

Warning: If a candidate talks about issues, that is fine. But if their stock answer is—we need to change—but solutions are absent in the presentation, you might take that as a sign that the candidate for office really has not thought about the issue(s) very deeply.

We all know talk is cheap, but actionable ideas require planning and insight. Said again, transformational ideas have great value when they are highly specific, not obtuse statements lacking specificity or time frames. Otherwise, you as a voter are passing off “bullshit” for insight. Don’t be misled by the politics of obfuscation in political speeches whenever, wherever, and by whom it comes from. Listen carefully to what is being said. I know this requires effort on your part, but who you vote for really matters.

Another way politicians obfuscate their presentation is they constantly dwell on “values rather than facts.” Value statements are fine because values reinforce what they believe you care about. Politicians on the left and the right do this all the time. They know voters are influenced more by their values than by facts alone. Just be careful not to get caught up in the emotion candidates like to drum up.

People can get quite emotional about their values. We’ve seen this idea of values and emotions when they merge into a lethal combination that leads to hatred expressed, and violence carried out, at political rallies. You may agree or disagree with their statements, but you are the one who ultimately must decide who to vote for.

I’m not so naïve as to think that the masses of voters in our country will be astute enough to decipher “bullshit” from well-thought-out analytical assessments of political candidates. If this were not the case, then the country might not have elected a mentally and socially challenged degenerate president in 2016.

A lot of time remains before November 2020. Nevertheless, many democratic candidates have announced their candidacies. I’ve made it my personal duty to listen intently to first campaign speeches because they tend to set the tone for what is important to each candidate. Who I will actually vote for in 2020 will have to wait until I have a clear idea of the transformational ideas, if any, from all the candidates regardless of party.

Nevertheless, right now my analysis has led me back to whom I supported during the 2016 campaign season. I’ll keep this a secret for now and let you guess. This candidate, in my opinion, already has a plethora of transformational ideas. These ideas I like.

I want to make two things perfectly clear at the onset. I like, with one exception, all the democratic candidates this year running for the Office of the President of the United States. I say Kudos to Corry Booker, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. They are all worthy candidates and decent human beings. There are other democratic candidates running for president and may be just as worthy. We as citizens just need to get to know them a little better.

The second point I want to make is this: It is a myth that conservatives don’t care for social change. They do and especially when it benefits them personally. Does anyone really think conservatives in Congress today would sponsor a bill to overturn the 1935 Social Security Act? I think not! They pay into the social security system just like everyone else. Social security was a profound social change to this country (transformational) and it is now 84 years old.

Now that conservatives have daughters playing organized sports in grammar school, high school and college, do you really think they want to go backwards in time when all the money went to just male sports teams? I think not.

Virtually every good thing that has ever been passed into law since our nation’s inception has also benefitted conservatives as much as the rest of society. They basically enjoy things now they themselves may have originally opposed. That makes them the most disingenuous hypocritical mental slackers ever to inhabit our great nation. Someday, I’ll tell you what I really think of them!

As I have now redundantly said, conservatives embrace change in their own lives when it benefits them. But their eternal characteristic is just the fact that they have the nasty propensity to deny, unwittingly or otherwise, others their rights to the good life. Just like everyone else Conservatives are the type of people who always book a flight on a plane whose destination is the future. Problem is—once onboard that flight, they just don’t seem to want anyone else sitting next to them.

A Candidate with Transformational ideas

This shouldn’t be a difficult test for you to identify the candidate I am supporting at the moment. This particular candidate announced his/her candidacy within the last two months. In his/her opening speech issues, facts, reinforcing values and transformational ideas were all presented. This candidate is the complete package for integrity, likeability, insight and comprehensive vision and understanding.

The clock is ticking now. Let’s see how long it takes you to figure who I am talking about. The following is a listing of the transformational ideas, issue statements and value statements made by this candidate.

“When we are in the White House, we will attack the problem of urban gentrification and build the affordable housing our nation desperately needs.”

“We are not going to cut Social Security benefits. We are going to expand them.”

“Yes. We will pass a Medicare for all single-payer program.”

“We intend to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy and, in the process, create millions of good paying jobs.”

“Today we say to the American people that we will rebuild our crumbling infrastructure: our roads, our bridges, our rail system and subways, our water systems and wastewater plants and our airports-and when we do that we create up to 13 million good paying jobs.”

“Today we say to the parents in this country that you and your kids deserve quality, affordable childcare. The children are our future; they deserve the best possible head start in life with a high quality, universal pre-K program.”

“Good jobs require a good education. That is why we are going to make public colleges and universities tuition free, and substantially lower the outrageous student debt that currently exists.”

“Today, we say to our senior citizens, that we understand you cannot live in dignity when you are trying to survive on $13,000 or $14,000 a year in Social Security Benefits. My Republican colleagues want to cut Social Security Benefits but we have some bad news for them. We’re not going to cut Social Security benefits. We are going to expand them.

“We are going to provide legal status to the 1.8 million young people eligible for the DACA program, and develop a humane border policy for those who seek asylum. No more snatching babies from the arms of their mothers.”

“We will move aggressively to end the epidemic of gun violence in this country and pass the common sense gun safety legislation that the overwhelming majority of Americans want.”

Final Observations

Bernie Sanders launched his initial speech in Brooklyn New York on March 2, 2019 (if you haven’t figured out whom I was referring to by now).

Bernie Sanders has lots of other ideas that are transformational. But I wanted to convey to you most of the really good ideas. The interesting thing about a lot of politicians on both sides of the aisle is that few ever tell us how they are going to pay for their intended legislation. Bernie however, does tell us how he is going to pay for his transformational ideas. He’ll tax the very rich and the super-rich or the top 1% of Americans who own 50% of the wealth in this country.

As Bernie said on March 2, 2019:

“no, we will no longer stand idly by and allow 3 people in this country to own more wealth than the bottom half of America while, at the same time, over 20 percent of our children live in poverty, veterans sleep out on the streets and seniors cannot afford their prescription drugs. We will no longer accept 46 percent of al new income going to the top 1 %, while millions of Americans are forced to work 2 or 3 jobs just to survive and over half of our people live paycheck to paycheck frightened to death about what happens to them financially if their car breaks down or their child becomes sick. Today, we fight for a political revolution.”

Other candidates on the democratic side have ideas as well. Even a few Republicans have a few good ideas. But unfortunately, Republicans in a political environment doesn’t lend itself to getting things done. Just like the Freedom Caucus among the larger body of Republicans in Congress they get nothing done and have certainly earned the reputation as the party of “NO.”

Trust me! When Bernie’s transformational ideas eventually come to fruition, Republicans will be first in line (hat in hand) with glassy eyes, like an exuberant panting little puppy (and not so cute), begging for their fair share of society’s benefits.

One other issue does deserve some discussion, but will have to wait for a future Blog. Fear mongering is the stock and trade of the Republican Party these days. Now they want you to tremble in your shoes because Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist. Somehow that label foretells doom and gloom. This is, of course, total nonsense. Democratic Socialism is a good thing not a bad thing.

In a future Blog I will explore this false narrative promoted by the Republican Party in more detail. I will discuss Socialism and Democratic Socialism and how they differ. I will also explore both the strengths and weaknesses of Capitalism and suggest to you how merging two different underlying philosophies and economic systems just might produce the best of all worlds. There are no perfect economic systems in the world. Who knows perhaps merging just might be a Transformational Idea people in society can get behind and really embrace?

 

Just like Paul Harvey would end his famous newscasts (1952-2008) I say to you—“Now you know the rest of the story and Good Day!”

 

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[The Republicans Need to Review the Statutes on Treason Right Now!]

 

Introduction

There is a growing body of evidence that certain high level Republican senators and congressmen have been taking vast substantial campaign donations from Russian operatives and Russian oligarchs.  If by chance you’re wondering why the Republican leadership, along with Donald Trump, are holding 850,000 federal workers hostage with the government shutdown just consider the following facts:

The Russian government conspired to interfere with democratic elections in 2016 in the United States. This was an act of war.

Our founding fathers had good reason to create an Emolument Clause in the United States Constitution because they wanted to remove a president or other members of the government such as senators or congressmen for corruption. Emolument traces back to the Latin word emolumentum, meaning “profit, gain,” which is believed to have referred to payments made to millers for grinding corn — emolere means “grind out.” Today, perhaps coincidentally, people refer to work as “the grind.”

The following is a report by the Brookings Institute, dated December 16, 2016. It is titled,“The Emoluments Clause: Its text, meaning, and application to Donald J. Trump. It was written by  Norman Eisen, Richard Painter and Laurance H. Tribe. They reported that:

“Foreign interference in the American political system was among the gravest dangers feared by the Founders of our nation and the framers of our Constitution.  The United States was a new government, and one that was vulnerable to manipulation by the great and wealthy world powers (which then, as now, included Russia).

One common tactic that foreign sovereigns, and their agents, used to influence our officials was to give them gifts, money, and other things of value.  In response to this practice, and the self-evident threat it represents, the framers included in the Constitution the Emoluments Clause of Article I, Section 9.  It prohibits any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States]” from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Only explicit congressional consent validates such exchanges.

While much has changed since 1789, certain premises of politics and human nature have held steady. One of those truths is that private financial interests can subtly sway even the most virtuous leaders.  As careful students of history, the Framers were painfully aware that entanglements between American officials and foreign powers could pose a creeping, insidious risk to the Republic.  The Emoluments Clause was forged of their hard-won wisdom.  It is no relic of a bygone era, but rather an expression of insight into the nature of the human condition and the preconditions of self-governance.

Now in 2016, when there is overwhelming evidence that a foreign power has indeed meddled in our political system, adherence to the strict prohibition on foreign government presents and emoluments “of any kind whatever” is even more important for our national security and independence.

Never in American history has a president-elect presented more conflict of interest questions and foreign entanglements than Donald Trump. Given the vast and global scope of Trump’s business interests, many of which remain shrouded in secrecy, we cannot predict the full gamut of legal and constitutional challenges that lie ahead.  But one violation, of constitutional magnitude, will run from the instant that Mr. Trump swears he will “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” While holding office, Mr. Trump will receive—by virtue of his continued interest in the Trump Organization and his stake in hundreds of other entities—a steady stream of monetary and other benefits from foreign powers and their agents. In the attached brief, we examine the Emoluments Clause in detail and conclude that Donald Trump’s diverse dealings violate both the spirit and the letter of this critical piece of the U.S. Constitution.”

Norman L. Eisen, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, was the chief White House ethics lawyer from 2009 to 2011 and ambassador to the Czech Republic from 2011 to 2014. He is the chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Richard W. Painter, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, was the chief White House ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007. He is the vice chair of CREW. Laurence H. Tribe is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard University. 

 

Who are these Republicans?

The following is a column for the Dallas News by the Dallas Morning News in August, 2017.

“Party loyalty is often cited as the reason that GOP leaders have not been more outspoken in their criticism of President Donald Trump and his refusal to condemn Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Yet there may be another reason that top Republicans have not been more vocal in their condemnation. Perhaps it’s because they have their own links to the Russian oligarchy that they would prefer go unnoticed.

Donald Trump and the political action committees for Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich and John McCain accepted $7.35 million in contributions from a Ukrainian-born oligarch who is the business partner of two of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s favorite oligarchs and a Russian government bank.

During the 2015-2016 election seasons, Ukrainian-born billionaire Leonard “Len” Blavatnik contributed $6.35 million to leading Republican candidates and incumbent senators. Mitch McConnell was the top recipient of Blavatnik’s donations, collecting $2.5 million for his GOP Senate Leadership Fund under the names of two of Blavatnik’s holding companies, Access Industries and AI Altep Holdings, according to Federal Election Commission documents and OpenSecrets.org.

Marco Rubio’s Conservative Solutions PAC and his Florida First Project received $1.5 million through Blavatnik’s two holding companies. Other high dollar recipients of funding from Blavatnik were PACS representing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at $1.1 million, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham at $800,000, Ohio Governor John Kasich at $250,000 and Arizona Senator John McCain at $200,000.

In January, Quartz reported that Blavatnik donated another $1 million to Trump’s Inaugural Committee. Ironically, the shared address of Blavatnik’s companies is directly across the street from Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in New York.

Len Blavatnik, considered to be one of the richest men in Great Britain, holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and the U.K. He is known for his business savvy and generous philanthropy, but not without controversy.

In 2010, Oxford University drew intense criticism for accepting a donation of 75 million pounds from Blavatnik for a new school of government bearing his name. Faculty, alumni and international human rights activists claimed the university was selling its reputation and prestige to Putin’s associates.

Blavatnik’s relationships with Russian oligarchs close to Putin, particularly Oleg Deripaska, should be worrisome for Trump and the six GOP leaders who took Blavatnik’s money during the 2016 presidential campaign. Lucky for them no one has noticed. Yet.

Oleg Deripaska is the founder and majority owner of RUSAL, the world’s second largest aluminum company, based in Russia. Len Blavatnik owns a significant stake in RUSAL and served on its Board until November 10, 2016, two days after Donald Trump was elected.

Deripaska controls RUSAL with a 48 percent majority stake through his holding company, EN+ Group, and the Russian government owns 4.35 percent stake of EN+ Group through its second-largest state owned bank, VTB. VTB was exposed in the Panama papers in 2016 for facilitating the flow of billions of dollars to offshore companies linked to Vladimir Putin and is under sanctions by the U.S. government.

Deripaska has been closely connected to the Kremlin since he married into Boris Yeltsin’s family in 2001, which literally includes him in the Russian clan known as “The Family.” According to the Associated Press, starting in 2006, Deripaska made annual payments of $10 million to Paul Manafort through the Bank of Cyprus to advance Putin’s global agenda.

Len Blavatnik’s co-owner in RUSAL is his long-time business partner, Viktor Vekselberg, another Russian oligarch with close ties to Putin. Blavatnik and Vekselberg hold their 15.8 percent joint stake in RUSAL in the name of Sual Partners, their offshore company in the Bahamas. Vekselberg also happens to be the largest shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus.

Another oligarch with close ties to Putin, Dmitry Rybolovlev, owns a 3.3 percent stake in the Bank of Cyprus. Rybolovlev is known as “Russia’s Fertilizer King” and has been in the spotlight for several months as the purchaser of Trump’s 60,000 square-foot mansion in Palm Beach. Rybolovlev bought the estate for $54 million more than Trump paid for the property at the bottom of the crash in the U.S. real estate market.

The convoluted web that links Putin’s oligarchs to Trump’s political associates and top Republicans is difficult to take in.

Trump and Putin have a common approach to governance. They rely heavily on long-term relationships and family ties. While there have been tensions between Putin and Deripaska over the years, the Kremlin came to Deripaska’s rescue in 2009 when he was on the verge of bankruptcy by providing a $4.5 billion emergency loan through state-owned Vnesheconombank (VEB), where Putin is chair of the advisory board.

VEB, known as President Putin’s “pet bank,” is now in crisis after sanctions applied by Europe and U.S. in 2014 have isolated it from the international banks that were the sources of its nearly $4 billion in hard currency loans that, according to Bloomberg, mature this year and in 2018.

Russia’s international currency reserves are near a 10-year low, which has put further pressure on the president of VEB, Sergey Gorkov, to find sources of international rescue capital. Notably, it was Gorkov who met secretly with Jared Kushner in December at Trump Tower. Kushner’s failure to report the meeting with Gorkov has drawn the attention of the Senate intelligence committee that now wants to question Kushner about the meeting.

Ruth May is a business professor at the University of Dallas and an expert on the economies of Russia and Ukraine. She wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News. Twitter: @ruthcmay

CORRECTION, 12:11 p.m., August 7: The headline on an earlier version of this column incorrectly said Blavatnik is Russian. He was born in Urkraine during the Soviet era.

An earlier version of this column used the name Leonid “Len” Blavatnik. He changed his first name to Leonard.

The column has also been updated to remove language describing the online presentation of a press release about Blavatnik resigning from the RUSAL board because it lacked context.”

Since the original article more information has been revealed. The following is an update completed in May 2018.

Editor’s note May 8, 2018: This column originally published December 15, 2017. New allegations about $500k in payments from a Russian oligarch made to Trump attorney Michael Cohen have placed it back in the news.

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team probes deeper into potential collusion between Trump officials and representatives of the Russian government, investigators are taking a closer look at political contributions made by U.S. citizens with close ties to Russia.

Buried in the campaign finance reports available to the public are some troubling connections between a group of wealthy donors with ties to Russia and their political contributions to President Donald Trump and a number of top Republican leaders. And thanks to changes in campaign finance laws, the political contributions are legal. We have allowed our campaign finance laws to become a strategic threat to our country.

An example is Len Blavatnik, a dual U.S.-U.K. citizen and one of the largest donors to GOP political action committees in the 2015-16 election cycles. Blavatnik’s family emigrated to the U.S. in the late ’70s from the U.S.S.R. and he returned to Russia when the Soviet Union began to collapse in the late ’80s.

Data from the Federal Election Commission show that Blavatnik’s campaign contributions dating back to 2009-10 were fairly balanced across party lines and relatively modest for a billionaire. During that season he contributed $53,400. His contributions increased to $135,552 in 2011-12 and to $273,600 in 2013-14, still bipartisan.

In 2015-16, everything changed. Blavatnik’s political contributions soared and made a hard right turn as he pumped $6.35 million into GOP political action committees, with millions of dollars going to top Republican leaders including Sens. Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham.

In 2017, donations continued, with $41,000 going to both Republican and Democrat candidates, along with $1 million to McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund.

So is this legal?

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking Democratic leader on the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News in September: “Unless the contributions were directed by a foreigner, they would be legal, but could still be of interest to investigators examining allegations of Russian influence on the 2016 campaign. Obviously, if there were those that had associations with the Kremlin that were contributing, that would be of keen concern.”

Under federal law, foreigner nationals are barred from contributing directly or indirectly to political campaigns in local, state and federal elections.

Should Blavatnik’s contributions concern Mueller’s team of investigators? Take a look at his long-time business associates in Russia.

The Oligarchs

Oleg Deripaska is said to be one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s favorite oligarchs, and he is founder and majority shareholder of Russia’s Rusal, the second-largest aluminum company in the world. Blavatnik holds a stake in Rusal with a business partner.

Further, nearly 4 percent of Deripaska’s stake in Rusal is owned by Putin’s state-controlled bank, VTB, which is currently under U.S. sanctions. VTB was exposed in the Panama Papers in 2016 for facilitating the flow of billions of dollars to offshore companies linked to Putin.

Earlier this year, The Associated Press reported that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, began collecting $10 million a year in 2006 from Deripaska to advance Putin’s interests with Western governments. Deripaska’s name turned up again in an email handed over to Mueller’s team by Manafort’s attorneys. According to The Washington Post, in the email dated July 7, 2016, just two weeks before Trump accepted the Republican nomination for president, Manafort asked an overseas intermediary to pass a message on to Deripaska: “If he [Deripaska] needs private briefings, tell him we can accommodate.”

Viktor Vekselberg is one of the 10 richest men in Russia. He and long-time business partner Blavatnik hold a 20.5 percent stake in Rusal. (They met while attending university in Russia.)

In 1990, Blavatnik and Vekselberg co-founded the Renova Group for large-scale investments in energy, infrastructure, aluminum and other metals. One of their earliest investments was in Tyumen Oil Co. (TNK), founded in 1995. TNK is best known for its contentious partnership with British Petroleum after the two entities formed a joint venture in 2003. That rocky relationship ended 10 years later when they sold out to the state-controlled energy giant, Rosneft, under pressure from the Russian government.

As for BP, that pressure took the form of growing harassment and intimidation from Russian authorities who at one point, according to Forbes, refused to renew visas for BP employees, forcing BP’s joint venture chief Robert Dudley (who is now chief executive of BP) to flee Russia and manage TNK-BP from a foreign outpost in a secret location.

Vekselberg has connections to at least two Americans who made significant GOP campaign contributions during the last cycle. They are among several Americans who also merit Mueller’s scrutiny.

The Americans

Andrew Intrater, according to Mother Jones, is Vekselberg’s cousin. He is also chief executive of Columbus Nova, Renova’s U.S. investment arm located in New York. (FEC records list his employer as Renova US Management LLC.)

Intrater had no significant history of political contributions prior to the 2016 elections. But in January 2017 he contributed $250,000 to Trump’s Inaugural Committee. His six-figure gift bought him special access to a dinner billed as “an intimate policy discussion with select cabinet appointees,” according to a brochure obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

Alexander Shustorovich, chief executive of IMG Artists, attempted to give the Republican Party $250,000 in 2000 to support the George W. Bush presidential campaign, but his money was rejected because of his ties to the Russian government, according to Quartz. So why didn’t the Trump team reject Shustorovich’s $1 million check to Trump’s Inaugural Committee?

Simon Kukes is an oil magnate who has something in common with Intrater. From 1998 to 2003, he worked for Vekselberg and Blavatnik as chief executive of TNK. Redacted CIA documents released in 2003 under the Freedom of Information Act said “TNK president Kukes said that he bribed local officials.” The CIA confirmed the authenticity of the reports to The Guardian newspaper but would not comment further. In 2016, Kukes contributed a total of $283,000, much of it to the Trump Victory Fund. He had no significant donor history before last year’s election.

There is no doubt that Kukes has close ties to the Putin government. When he left his job as CEO of TNK in June 2003, he joined the board of Yukos Oil, which at the time was the largest oil company in Russia owned by the richest man in Russia, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Four months after Kukes joined the board, authorities arrested Khodorkovsky at gunpoint on his private plane in Siberia on trumped up charges of tax evasion and tapped Kukes to be CEO. This decision could only have been made at the highest levels in the Kremlin. The arrest of Khodorkovsky rattled the nerves of international investors and was the first tangible sign that Putin was not going to be the kind of leader that global executives and Western governments had expected him to be when he first took office in 2000.

Khodorkovksy was given a 13-year sentence in a Siberian prison and served 10 years before being released by Putin in December 2013, a month before the start of the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi, as a sign of goodwill. As for the fate of Khodorkovksy’s company, its largest oil subsidiary was sold in a sealed bid auction to Baikal Financial Group, a shell company with an unpublished list of officers. Baikal was registered at an address that turned out to be a mobile phone store in Tver, Russia. Three days after the auction, all of Baikal’s assets were acquired for an undisclosed sum by Rosneft, the Russian oil giant that went on to buy TNK-BP in 2013.

In total, Blavatnik, Intrater, Shustorovich and Kukes made $10.4 million in political contributions from the start of the 2015-16 election cycles through September 2017, and 99 percent of their contributions went to Republicans. With the exception of Shustorovich, the common denominator that connects the men is their association with Vekselberg. Experts who follow the activities of Russian oligarchs told ABC News that they believe the contributions from Blavatnik, Intrater and Kukes warrant intense scrutiny because they have worked closely with Vekselberg.

Even if the donations by the four men associated with Russia ultimately pass muster with Mueller, one still has to wonder: Why did GOP PACs and other Trump-controlled funds take their money? Why didn’t the PACs say, “Thanks, but no thanks,” like the Republicans said to Shustorovich in 2000? Yes, it was legal to accept their donations, but it was incredibly poor judgment.

McConnell surely knew as a participant in high level intelligence briefings in 2016 that our electoral process was under attack by the Russians. Two weeks after the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a joint statement in October 2016 that the Russian government had directed the effort to interfere in our electoral process; McConnell’s PAC accepted a $1 million donation from Blavatnik’s AI-Altep Holdings. The PAC took another $1 million from Blavatnik’s AI-Altep Holdings on March 30, 2017, just 10 days after former FBI Director James Comey publicly testified before the House Intelligence Committee about Russia’s interference in the election.

And consider Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s campaign finance chairman. Could he have known that the Trump Victory Fund, jointly managed by the Republican National Committee and Trump’s campaign, took contributions from Intrater and Kukes? Mnuchin owned Hollywood financing company RatPac-Dune with Blavatnik until he sold his stake to accept Trump’s appointment as the Treasury secretary.

Which PAC officials are making the decisions to accept these donations?

 

The Supreme Court

The contributions are legal because the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling, Citizens United, and several subsequent decisions, allowed American corporations and citizens to give unlimited amounts of money to PACs and non-profit 501c4 organizations, regardless of how they make their money, where they make their money, or with whom they make their money. The only caveat is that PACs and non-profits cannot coordinate their activities with the political candidates they support.

The man who led the winning fight for Citizens United was David Bossie, president of the conservative non-profit since 2001. In 1996, Bossie was hired by Republican Rep. Dan Burton to lead an investigation into President Bill Clinton’s campaign fundraising. Burton fired him 18 months later for manipulating recordings of conversations among law officials and Webb Hubbell, a Clinton confidant who resigned as associate attorney general and pleaded guilty to tax fraud during the Whitewater investigation. CNN reported at the time that Newt Gingrich, who was speaker of the House, called Bossie’s tampering with the Hubbell recordings an embarrassment to the Republicans.

Bossie served as Trump’s deputy campaign chairman.

The Super PAC, Make America Number 1, is primarily funded by Trump’s largest donor, Robert Mercer. His Renaissance Technologies hedge fund donated $15.5 million to the PAC.

Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah, assumed control of Make America Number 1 in September 2016 and is now tainted by her role in the communications between Wikileaks and Cambridge Analytica, the firm that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, hired for $5.9 million to handle the digital portion of the Trump campaign.

Robert and Rebekah Mercer are major investors in Cambridge Analytica. According to The Wall Street Journal, Rebekah Mercer asked Cambridge chief executive Alexander Nix if the firm could compile stolen emails related to Hillary Clinton so that they could be more easily searched. (This suggestion came from someone she met at an event supporting Sen. Ted Cruz, according to The Hill. Cambridge Analytica had worked on digital marketing for Cruz before he dropped out of the Republican primary.)

Nix confirmed that he had asked Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to forward the Clinton-related emails. Assange said he declined the request.

Rebekah Mercer also heads the non-profit Making America Great, formed in March 2017. The non-profit ran a seven-figure ad campaign highlighting Trump’s achievements. Bossie is the group’s chief strategist.

Erik Prince, brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, contributed $150,000 to Mercer’s Make America Number 1 PAC and another $100,000 to the Trump Victory Fund. Prince has recently testified to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence about his trip to the remote Seychelles for a secret meeting in December 2016 with a close ally of Putin, Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. The purpose of the meeting was allegedly to setup a back channel of communication between then president-elect Donald Trump and the Russians, though Prince has denied this allegation. Before the 2015-16 elections, Prince’s political contributions totaled a mere $31,800 as far back as 2007, according to FEC records.

The hybrid super-PAC, The Committee to Defend the President, was formed in 2013 under the name Stop Hillary PAC. It is managed by Dan Backer, the lead attorney who won the McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission case in 2014. The Supreme Court decision eliminated the cap on how much wealthy individuals can donate to federal candidates, parties and PACs in a single, two-year election cycle.

Like Bossie, Dan Backer helped to open the floodgates to millions of dollars of influence brought to bear on incumbents and their political challengers who are now pressured to kowtow to their donors with the biggest bank accounts, even if their billions are earned in Russian rubles.

Backer was born in Russia and emigrated with his family to the U.S. in 1978.

The changes to our campaign finance laws created an avenue for Russia to try to influence our elections. There are holes in our firewall and they aren’t on the internet.”

Post Script

There’s an old expression—“Follow the Money.” There is another old expression—“We have the best politicians money can buy.” It’s tempting to conclude that these are unrelated or at best some form of weird mixed-metaphors or non-sequiturs (like Nazi jackboots sing their swan song).

Instead, I’d like to suggest posing the hypothesis that where the current Republican Party is concerned, the two old expressions are very much related. It’s important to follow the money in the Mueller investigation of prominent Republicans. And, we await with great anticipation the results of the Mueller investigation for their data and their conclusions.

But, in the meantime, here’s something you can take to the bank for sure: If you’re still a Trump supporter (after all these last few years) you either have your head up your #$@& %*!( oh, excuse me!) or it’s buried in the sand on an unmovable permanent basis. Another possibility is that Trump’s hard-core supporters desperately need the services of a psychiatrist. These last two axioms are definitely related. Let’s make America great again folks by sending Donald Trump and his Republican lackeys to prison.

On a personal note, I’d like to see the F.B.I. to investigate the financial background of all 30 members of the Congressional Freedom Caucus, especially Jim Jordan of Ohio. In addition, all Supreme Court Justices need to be investigated by the F.B.I. for any hint of financial corruption. This more in-depth type of prosecutorial investigation would serve our nation very well during these times when there is such a lack of trust in our political and governmental institutions.

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The Mission of the 116th Congress

January, 2019

“I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it.”

― John Stewart Mill

[John Stuart Mill, in a Parliamentary debate with the Conservative MP, John Pakington, May 31, 1866.]”

 

Introduction

 

The voters of the 2018 mid-term elections have spoken and have made an important move toward restoring democracy in America. It is now time to focus on an agenda for the new 116 Congress. This Congress will convene on January 3, 2019 perhaps even before noon.

It is one thing for candidates in a campaign mode to make promises in order to get elected; it is quite another thing to now face the reality of actually having to govern. Now that the Democrats will be in control of the House of Representatives, everyone is anxiously awaiting the results of the Mueller investigation. As they say, “Inquiring minds want to know.”

A wrench was thrown into the Muller investigation on November 6, 2018 when interim Attorney General Mathew Whitaker was appointed by Donald Trump to replace fired Attorney General Sessions. Unfortunately, the new interim A.G. possesses a strong ideological tie to Donald Trump.

It terms of legal precedent and the United States Constitution, Whitaker’s beliefs about established law make him something of an odd-ball. His fitness for the job has yet to be determined, although there is the strong suspicion he is not qualified and should not be appointed permanent Attorney General. He is also currently under F.B.I. investigation. This is about his involvement as a member of an advisory board for World Patent Marketing (WPM). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently shut down WPM for fraud and scamming people. Some of these people were disabled veterans who were scammed out of their life savings. Whitaker also made legal threats against litigants wishing to sue WPM. Whitaker’s lack of professionalism and history of this company will likely end his position as the interim United States Attorney General.  We’ll just have to wait to see how all of the interactions between Mueller and Whitaker play out during the weeks ahead. I’m hoping that Whitaker too will be indicted by the Mueller team for obstruction of justice if he makes any move to undermine the future indictment of the President of the United States, or any in his administration or family members.

Now What?

In the meantime, the 116th Congress needs to develop and carry out specific goals and objectives to achieve over the next 2 years and beyond. I am going to suggest in the pages ahead what their platform ought to be. They need to be successful in order to convince the American public that they are capable of real change. They need to convince the American public that voting Republican in 2020 would be as catastrophic as it was in 2016. Aside from differing value judgments this is because Republicans seldom succeed at what they undertake.

Why did Republicans nearly always fail during the last 20 years? What is holding back Republicans more than anything else are the groups within the party known as the Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus. Belonging to these groups must be a “sweet job.” They get paid for putting up roadblocks to everything, then sit back and collect their paychecks all for doing nothing.

Conservatives as a group are historically almost always on the wrong side of history. Just consider at a minimum the issue of Integration back in the 1950s and putting up roadblocks to enactment of the Social Security Act in 1935. On August 14, 1935 The Social Security Act established a system of old-age benefits for workers, benefits for victims of industrial accidents, unemployment insurance, and aid for dependent mothers and children, the blind and the physically handicapped.

This was a monumental piece of legislative reform the likes of which the world could only imagine. It was a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress who spearheaded the creation and passage of the Social Security Act of 1935. Republicans could have been part of this landmark historical achievement. Instead, they sat on the sidelines during this whole event in American History.

The following should be the goals and objectives of the 116th Congress:

Goals

Return Democracy to America

Improve the Over-all Well Being of Americans

Regain International Status and Respect as a Nation

 

The Nature of Goals

Goals tend to be end states, the thing one wants to aim for, achieve and bring about. Granted, the above goals need to be more specific, and measurable. Otherwise, goals are simply value judgements and lacking concrete steps and specificity to know when one arrives at the final destination. However, life is seldom clear-cut and well-defined. Ambiguity, normlessness and vagueness are all-to-often our reality when setting goals.

Nevertheless goals, however nebulous at times, can still provide a direction and be something to work for and move toward when trying to achieve that “end state.”  Not to burden my reader with the complexities of goal setting, let me give an example: I want to buy a new jaguar car in January, 2019. This goal is specific, has a time line, and is measurable (either you buy it or you don’t). Compare this goal to one that is more diffuse or vague in nature. “I want to save the world.” This goal is terrible. How does one define “save”? There is no time line and measuring it is not defined or specified, and there is total ambiguity; that is, what does that goal really mean in the first place?

In the world of American party politics goal planning can be very unwieldly, especially when parties are constantly re-defining themselves. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the real motivations and values underlying the goal planning process.

Objectives

Objectives lead one to the strategies or methods developed to achieve one’s stated goals. In January, 2019 the 116th Congress will convene to begin the difficult process of governing by undoing certain things that have been implemented by the Trump Administration. In addition, they will need to simultaneously forge ahead with their own agenda for change and their own set of goals, objectives (including methods and strategies). It is a job of great importance and awesome responsibility. And, leadership will be crucial at every step.

The purpose of this Blog is to explain what I think their goals and objectives ought to be. As a progressive with ultra-liberal values [90% of the time] yet sometimes conservative on national defense and military issues [10% of the time] the following are the objectives I think this new Congress should work on, support and achieve.

 

Goal

Return Democracy to America

Objectives

Impeach Trump

As the late Howard Cosell used to say, “Tell it..Like..It is” Well, enough has already been written about Donald Trump. But I do have something to say about his immoral character. Cutting to the chase, he is a psychiatrically and intellectually challenged individual. He is naïve, dishonest and a gifted liar. He is a classic ego-maniac, narcissistic insecure white racist, and a misogynistic degenerate. He is a sociopathic bully, a phony, a con man, a charlatan who lies every time he opens his mouth. Donald Trump of course only does two things wrong in life: everything he says and everything he does.

To say that he suffers from feelings of inadequacy or inferiority is to point out the obvious. More importantly, he is a criminal, a traitor to his country and deserves to be behind bars. Said another way; he is a menace to civilized society. If that wasn’t enough—just consider the following. He is also the most incompetent, unknowledgeable buffoon to ever be elected to public office in the United States. (Now, I’d like to tell you what I really think of him, but civility demands that I not use any expletives and/or rhetorical commentary). From my perspective as an artist (color me blue) he needs to be in an orange jump suit or a white straight jacket.

The late Will Rogers once said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” As we all know, Will Rogers never met Donald Trump. Impeaching Donald Trump is the most important objective for the 116th Congress to address. His removal from Office of the presidency is long overdue.

Eliminate Gerrymandering in the United States

Gerrymandering is the manipulation of voting boundaries to benefit a particular political party. Both gerrymandering and cheating are perpendicular in definition. Although Gerrymandering provides benefits by packing district votes, the method utilizes dishonesty.

In an article by  the AP on June, 25, 2017 a very convincing argument was made that gerrymandering helped the Republican Party in 2016 more than it did the Democrats. It was achieved by political cheating and voter disenfranchisement all in deference to political party. Here is an abbreviated part of this article:

“Analysis: Partisan gerrymandering has benefited Republicans more than Democrats

The 2016 presidential contest was awash with charges that the fix was in: Republican Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged against him, while Democrats have accused the Russians of stacking the odds in Trump’s favor.

Less attention was paid to manipulation that occurred not during the presidential race, but before it — in the drawing of lines for hundreds of U.S. and state legislative seats. The result, according to an Associated Press analysis: Republicans had a real advantage.

The AP scrutinized the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage. It’s designed to detect cases in which one party may have won, widened or retained its grip on power through political gerrymandering.

The analysis found four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones. Among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were nearly three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts.

Traditional battlegrounds such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia were among those with significant Republican advantages in their U.S. or state House races. All had districts drawn by Republicans after the last Census in 2010.

The AP analysis also found that Republicans won as many as 22 additional U.S. House seats over what would have been expected based on the average vote share in congressional districts across the country. That helped provide the GOP with a comfortable majority over Democrats instead of a narrow one.”

Reverse Trump’s Executive Orders

His entire barrage of Executive orders need to be (on day one) reversed and an assessment report undertaken to report all damages done to people and resources. Go to court if necessary to get this objective done.

Create Laws to eliminate all Money from Politics

If this objective is achieved, it will help to finally elevate the status of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate to a status like that of the United States Supreme Court. No more will Americans be able to say, “We have the best politicians money can buy.” Money has tainted politics in America from the very beginning. If politicians ever want to achieve any degree of respectability, they need to eliminate all money in politics.

Eliminate the Electoral College in deference to popular vote only

The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The Electoral College is an arcane process for electing a president. The election of 2016 is filled with irony. It is incredibly ironic because the Founding Fathers were afraid of direct election to the Presidency. Why? Because they feared a tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come to power. So, the Electoral College, no matter how originally perceived, has now failed in the 21st Century to prevent a tyrant from becoming President of the United States.

The Electoral College also created the primacy of its own electoral process, over that of the popular vote. It renders popular vote more symbolic than real or significant. In the 2016 election some 3 million voters were disenfranchised by this arcane Electoral College system. The popular vote should have made Hillary Clinton President of the United States.

The time has arrived for a new Constitutional Amendment on electing presidents. If we pay lip service to the idea that every person’s vote count, then we as a nation ought to damn well mean it. The Electoral College flies in the face of any notion of a true democratic process. Real democracy is not static or immutable; real democracy is capable of counting every vote and making every vote count.

Initiate a new Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

It’s been nearly 100 years since women first earned the right to vote. It was called the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As a nation we are long overdue for an Equal Rights Amendment.

Make sure 50% of the leadership roles such as Heads of Committees are held by women

Given the opportunity to show the country just how much more capable Democrats are than Republicans it’s time to set in stone a new egalitarian standard for the nation. Women are truly equal with men. What differences there are between men and women such as height, weight, and muscle mass or “perceived privilege” has absolutely no relevance when compared to innate intelligence, thinking ability or leadership qualities.

Reopen the case against Supreme Court associate justice Brett Kavanaugh. This time a real investigation will be conducted

Although I am in favor of liberal judges rather than conservative ones, the real issue here is trust. During the early part of his confirmation hearing Nominee Kavanaugh said some things that convinced me, when he talked about how he analyzes judicial cases, he seemed very reasonable and objective. He was on point.

It must be pointed out that judicial or legal reasoning is not like any other way of thinking. Legal thinking and analysis needs to be fact-driven and respectful of legal precedent. Highly intelligent judges tend to put their biases aside when analyzing data and the law. I would direct you to previous blogs where I discussed various theories of judicial reasoning and analysis, especially with respect to how the United States Constitution is interpreted.

Sometimes judges on the U.S. Supreme Court change political stripes. And it is true that historically more conservative judges leaned to the liberal side once they were on the highest court, much more than the reverse where a former liberal Court of Appeals judge turned conservative once they were elevated to the highest court.

The following is an interesting article written by Jon D. Hanson and Adam Benforado,

For the Boston Review, dated April 9, 2016.

It is titled, “THE DRIFTERS: Why the Supreme Court makes justices more liberal.”

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in Boston Review. At the time of original publication, Antonin Scalia was still alive. Scalia died this year.

“When Justices William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O’Connor left the bench last year, conservatives were in an anxious mood: though pleased at the prospect of shifting the Supreme Court to the right, they were worried by the record of past Republican appointments. The refrain in conservative commentary, repeated with special intensity during the Harriet Mires affair, was: Not another Souter. Not another Kennedy. Not another O’Connor. And they might have added: Not another Blackmun. Not another Stevens. Not another Warren.

They were right to be concerned. While there have been a number of relatively reliable conservative justices over the years—Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Rehnquist being prime examples—and some important right-shifting exceptions—notably Felix Frankfurter, appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Byron White, appointed by John F. Kennedy—the tendency in recent decades to drift leftward has been strong enough to gain both popular and scholarly attention. Indeed, Larry J. Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, has suggested that about one quarter of confirmed nominees over the last half century have wound up “evolving from conservative to moderate or liberal.”

 

Richard Nixon, for instance, thought he was getting solid right-wingers when he appointed Harry Blackmun and Lewis Powell, only to find, several years later, Blackmun authoring Roe v. Wade and Powell swing-voting to permit affirmative action in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. Coincidentally, in Bakke, Justice John Paul Stevens—then a recent Gerald Ford appointee—wrote a dissent joined by the court’s most conservative members, though a few decades later he would emerge as the most consistently liberal voice on the bench.

Justices O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy—though they remain tied to their conservative mainstays on certain issues, such as federalism—both seem to have embarked on similar leftward journeys, particularly with respect to individual rights and liberties. Appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981, O’Connor struck a resoundingly conservative chord in her early opinions on women’s and racial-minority rights, only to join with liberal colleagues in cases touching on the same issues over the last 15 years—most strikingly in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe’s central holding, and Grutter v. Bollinger, which vindicated a law-school affirmative-action program. Kennedy, also a Reagan appointee, was initially celebrated by conservatives as “Bork without the beard.” Yet he later provided key votes to knock down anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas and overturn the death penalty for juveniles in Roper v. Simmons—prompting Dr. James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, to rechristen him “the most dangerous man in America.”

There is no doubt that the presidential nomination process greatly influences the large-scale jurisprudential trends in expected directions. Still, that a Supreme Court appointment is both so important—in President Bush’s words, “one of the most consequential decisions a president makes”—and so scrutinized, casts the many examples of unpredicted drift as a real mystery. Why are presidents, and other backers, so often disappointed by the eventual performance of their nominees? And why do so many Supreme Court justices drift to the left, especially on matters of individual rights?

One fashionable theory is that, in our post-Borkean world, presidents must put forward nominees who can survive the contentious confirmation process—thus, ones who have shorter paper trails and less ideological baggage. This “advice and consent” bottleneck allows through only candidates with unpredictable judicial dispositions.

While this has some validity, presidential buyer’s remorse is as old as the process itself and may develop even when a president nominates a lifelong ally or a well-known public figure. By the time of his nomination, Earl Warren had established himself as a dedicated conservative: he had been the attorney general and three-term Republican governor of California and Thomas Dewey’s running mate in the famously narrow loss to Harry Truman and Alben Barkley. In short, Earl Warren hardly seemed an unknown quantity when Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed him as Chief Justice in 1953; and yet it was Earl Warren—the same Earl Warren who as attorney general during World War II backed the internment of Japanese citizens —who as chief justice inaugurated a liberal revolution on the court and became a champion of minority rights.”

To read the full body of the article just go online and use the article’s title as your search term.

Now, back to judge Kavanaugh:

That having been said earlier I still think it is important to know if Judge Kavanaugh has any skeletons hanging in his closet. The testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was very compelling to say the least. In this situation a real investigation needs to be carried out if not by the FBI then perhaps in conjunction with a Congressional investigating committee. Perhaps then either Judge Kavanaugh will be vindicated or he won’t. As Sgt. Joe Friday said in Dragnet long ago, “Just show me the facts, ma’am.”

After the 2020 election install new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court for a total of 15 justices. It’s also important to require a 2/3 vote in the Senate in order to confirm and approve any nominee for the highest court in the land

Rationale

When Roosevelt was reelected in 1936 he had to deal with a Supreme Court that wouldn’t pass his New Deal legislation. He did this by getting passed the 1937 Judicial Procedures Reform Bill. What this bill did was to require all justices on the court to retire at age 70.

The U.S. Constitution says nothing about how many justices can compose the court. The number of justices we have now is simply based on prior arbitrary decisions of the U.S. government. In other words, the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t necessarily have to be composed of just 9 justices.

Roosevelt’s “packing the court plan” worked and a host of New Deal legislation was subsequently approved by the highest court. One could argue that Roosevelt’s political interference to subvert the highest court in the land isn’t any different than current Republican attempts to pack the court with ultra-conservative tainted judges. They’ve done everything they can to subvert an honest process by having no real investigation done by the FBI, hiding Kavanaugh documents during his time with the Bush administration, and only half-heartedly, if at all, showing respect toward witnesses and victims of sexual battery, lewd licentious behavior, and attempted rape.

Goal   

Improve the Over-all Well Being of Americans

Objectives

Create a New Tax Plan for the Country

All individual tax rates should be 10%. All Corporate tax rates should go back to 35%. Since January 1, 2018 corporate tax rates are a flat 21%. We can thank the Trump tax plan for that boondoggle. If one adds corporate tax monies that are hidden overseas a lot of tax money is lost by the American people.

All small businesses’ tax rates should be 10%. However, a corporation or small business could reduce their tax burden conditional upon the number and percent of new hires over the number and percent of new hires in the previous tax year. The greater the number and percent of new hires—the greater the tax relief provided.

In these two types of business entities taxes are conditional on results, not promises. In this way all businesses would be incentivized because of conditionality. I recommend small business owners bear a much smaller tax burden since they employ the vast number of workers in this country. Simultaneously, the minimum hourly wage should become $20 an hour, effective January 1, 2020.

Enact a Brand New Immigration Policy with an Ellis Island Approach to integrating non-citizens into society and help them become American citizens.

Under this plan racial or religious profiling as criteria for admission to the United States is dead. Unlike Ellis Island in New York during the early 1900s and before, the 21st Century will require one Processing Center to be along the Canadian border, another in El Paso, Texas, and a third Processing Center near Los Angeles, California.

Develop a Proven and Effective Ground to Air and Sea to Air Missile Defense Program

There is a great need for the 116th Congress to play a leadership role with respect to a viable effective Missile Defense Program. This issue has been a bi-partisan issue that both Democrats and Republicans have worked toward.

The new Congress needs to stay on top of this issue. Given the importance of protecting the nation during an actual nuclear strike by a foreign power, efforts must proactively be implemented including the once defunct Star Wars Program originally proposed by President Reagan. However, it’s time to come into the 21th Century. Call such a program the new Strategic Missile Defense Program or NSMDP. A broader title might be SHIELD, which could apply to all systems directed at countering incoming missiles.

Create a One-Payer Health Care System for all Americans

Currently, Medicare is a single-payer national health insurance program in the United States, begun in 1966 under the Social Security Administration and now administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the U.S. federal government.

It provides health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older who have worked and paid into the system through the payroll tax. It also provides health insurance to younger people with some disability status as determined by the Social Security Administration, as well as people with end stage renal disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Medicare is currently funded by a combination of a payroll tax, premiums and surtaxes from beneficiaries, and general revenue.

Under this objective the Bernie Sanders model should be enacted into law. It will include a viable and enriched health care benefit system and put every citizen under Medicare. In addition, affordable supplemental insurance could augment anyone’s Medicare program especially for long term care and in-home health care services.

A new enriched Medicare program must provide all medical services from Surgery to Psychiatry. In addition, all drugs, especially ground-breaking experimental cancer drugs will be free-of-charge to everyone covered under Medicare or Medicaid. The federal budget for all medical research should also be quadrupled over current governmental allocations. This is America; therefore we ought to have the best healthcare in the world bar none

Now money is realistically always an issue. I recommend a very first time ever federal national sales tax of 5 percent. Why? The GDP in 2020 will be an estimated 22.23 trillion dollars. Using a 2020 time frame a 5% sales tax would annually raise 1.1115 trillion dollars. But as everyone knows, health care costs are estimated to be 17.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

That 17.9 percent would represent about 3.3 trillion dollars in 2020. Said another way, health care in this country is astronomically expensive. However, mandatory spending cuts by the Trump administration had eliminated a net $2,033 billion (B) over the 2018–2027 periods. This included reduced spending of $1,891B for healthcare, mainly due to the proposed repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare). Republicans failed to repeal the ACA.

Doing the math 1,891 billion is actually 1.891 trillion dollars. When you add this amount to my sales tax plan, we now have 3.002 trillion dollars which comes close to the 3.3 trillion in healthcare costs. Last year under the Trump administration corporations paid only approximately $400 billion in taxes when corporations still had a tax rate was 35%.  Going back to a 35% tax rate for corporations would close the gap or short-fall. Theoretically, the 3.4 trillion in revenues could be dedicated exclusively to healthcare.

However, obviously my “steal from Peter in order to pay Paul” idea does need a lot of work. Anyone with viable ideas would be welcome to express them in some kind of forum. But this is getting to the heart of what politics is really all about—making hard decisions about scarce resources; it is an ominous responsibility.

Whether one is a Democrat, Republican or Independent, we all need good quality healthcare. Therefore, the 116th Congress has got its work cut out for it. I wish I had better more definitive answers for my readers on the issue of health care and its cost, but I don’t. It is a hard nut to crack. It is doable but will require really tough resource and tax decisions.

Institute a New National Call-in Center for Identifying Hate Groups and White Nationalists

This Call-in Center needs to be directly under the Control of the United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. The “eyes and ears” of 300+ million citizens is much better than a simple string of agency generated leads or criminal acts or events after the fact. In particular, people in rural areas of the country will be pivotal to detecting and reporting hate militia groups hiding in the forests or mountain areas of the U.S. landscape.

Pass a New Law for all 50 states to adopt the Gun Law Restrictions of California and/or Massachusetts

As a registered gun owner from California I can say I had to jump through a bunch of hoops in order to buy my guns. I use my guns primarily for target practice and home protection.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with strong gun laws. Guns should not be in the hands of everybody. And safety is job one for me. Massachusetts has the best most restrictive gun laws in the nation; California is second. Guns are never going to disappear as they are protected by the Second Amendment. You should read former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia’s case response to District of Columbia vs. Heller (2008). This was a landmark case that made a lot of sense. The Associated Press reported the following back in 2015 following Scalia’s death:

“Opponents of a ban on the kinds of military-style weapons often used in spree killings – most recently in San Bernardino – often say that denying civilians the right to own such guns would violate their Second Amendment rights, or that it is not possible in any case to define such weapons in law.

So let’s turn to an undisputed conservative – one who opposes abortion, same-sex marriage, affirmative action and so many other liberal agenda items. Is it possible to define the kinds of weapons that should not be in civilian hands, and does regulating them violate the Second Amendment?

Here is Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Supreme Court reversed a long-held position and ruled that the Second Amendment did give Americans individual right to own firearms. The court said the District’s ban on handguns in private homes went too far, but that regulation of gun ownership was compatible with the Second Amendment:

We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. ‘Miller’ said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those ‘in common use at the time.’ 307 U.S., at 179, 59 S. Ct. 816. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’”

 

Justice Scalia also wrote:

 

“It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service — M-16 rifles and the like — may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.”

The prefatory clause, to which the justice refers, of course, is the one about “a well-regulated militia.” The AR-15, used in San Bernardino, is an M-16 knockoff. unusual’ and subject to regulation or an outright ban under the Second Amendment.” So rather than saying “assault weapons,” in the future perhaps we should say “the kinds of weapons that Justice Antonin Scalia has defined as ‘dangerous.

The Mission of the New 116th Congress will be to bring suit where necessary when dangerous weapons are involved. This tact of specificity when creating regulatory legislation (with citations referring to District of Columbia vs. Heller) just might bear fruit.

 

 Double or triple the resources of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in order to investigate all civilian shootings by a Police Officer in the United States

Nearly 1,000 people are killed by police every year in the United States. Putting local police or local district attorneys in charge of investigating their own is like putting a fox in charge of the hen house. It makes no sense at all. All investigations of these killings need objectivity and impartiality. The FBI has several thousand agents nationwide. If they need more agents to investigate killings by police officers—then so be it!

 

Goal

Regain International Status and Respect as a Nation

Objectives

Make a Formal Apology to our Allies

In addition, after Trump is removed by the 116th Congress it needs to make an unprecedented gesture to the world—a heartfelt apology to all our allies around the world for our countries colossal error in judgment for electing a total buffoon to the White House. Both a verbal and written proclamation of regret needs to be promulgated to the entire world, and in a timely manner.

Institute a strong policy of coordination among the Congressional Judiciary Committee and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to surveil all U.S. Congressmen, Senators, and Federal Court Judges for any corruption.

In conjunction with this, a new Cabinet level Czar of Government Ethics needs to be created with powers of investigation, promulgation of facts, and the authorization to censor, terminate employment, or otherwise convene a grand Jury to charge those whose ethics violations rise to the level of criminality.

In addition any current statutes on Moral Turpitude would now include crimes of omission as well as crimes of commission. As an example of moral turpitude involving crimes of omission consider the example of Representative Jim Jordan failing to report sexual abuse of young collegiate wrestlers at Ohio State University during his tenure there as a wrestling coach.

Convince the United Nations to eliminate all countries to the UN that are based on a dictatorship. Work to destroy all dictatorships in the world and their leaders (tyrants)

The United Nations is an institution that needs to defend its own Declaration of Human Rights, a landmark post-World War II proclamation that was passed back in 1948. It was one of the  most prodigious accomplishments of this multi-nation organization. The HR Proclamation laid out what the world needs to stand for. The United Nations stands as a beacon for the world in spite of the fact some countries are unwilling or unable to adopt the explicit Human Rights Declaration that was promulgated to the world.

It is from the pulpit of the U.N. that it needs collectively to stand up for what it believes in. As a world body of nations, it needs to demonstrate real courage. They could make a too long overdue commitment to oust dictatorships from the United Nations, to isolate and topple them from the rest of humanity. That is the goal. One objective that would follow would be to eliminate all dictators and dictatorships altogether from the face of the earth.

Final Thoughts

Having the power to make societal change is an awesome responsibility especially during an era of so many attacks on Democracy and democratic institutions. I can only hope that the gravity of the situation in American, with its utter lack of leadership in Washington D.C. will soon change course. I hope that the new 116th Congress will show real courage, and act quickly, decisively and responsibly.

 

 

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