Tuesday, September 20, 2016


This is an example of news reporting that, in my opinion (remember, that's what you're entitled to!) doesn't tell the complete story. And not telling the complete story leaves a news consumer like me without some important information.

Wells Fargo, one of the top three financial institutions in the USA, was found to have cheated it's customers by setting up accounts for them without the customers knowledge, and assessing fees for these accounts. 

The big story is that, not only did Wells Fargo get caught, but that they were fined a total of $185 million, including a $100 million penalty by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This is the largest penalty imposed by the Bureau in it's 6 year history.

Wow! That's a big story, and that's a big fine! 

Unfortunately, here is the information that the news media, including NPR and the NY Times (from the reports I heard and read) leaves out.  

In 2015, Wells Fargo had a profit of 22.89 billion dollars. That's $22,890,000,000. Profit. 
In 2015, the Wells Fargo CEO compensation package was 19.3 million dollars. That's $19,300.000.

A fine of 185 million dollars ($185,000,000) is 0.78% of the 2015 profit made by Wells Fargo; that's less than 1 percent.

A fine of 185 million dollars is 9.3 years of the 2015 compensation of the Wells Fargo CEO; however, during the years that this consumer scam was going on in his company, the personal stock holdings in the company held by CEO John Stumpf increased by over $200 million!

So what do you think; is a fine of $185 million painful for Wells Fargo, or a footnote on their balance sheet? And as for the CEO, should he continue to have his job, and make over $9 million a year, and retain the value of the Wells Fargo stock he holds? 

This is the context missing from the news stories about the Wells Fargo fraud, and I think it is bad journalism.


Saturday, September 10, 2016


I seriously don't get it. Why do you support Donald Trump to be President of the United States? From what I've read, here are possible reasons, and my comments :

1. We need an outsider, someone who isn't part of the D.C. political establishment, to put this country back on track.

OK, I kind of get that. But wouldn't it be better to "hire" someone to be POTUS who actually has some experience governing and in politics? If you checked into the hospital for major surgery and as they wheeled you in they explained that a real estate developer was going to do your surgery, would that be OK? Folks, Trump doesn't have a clue about how government works.

2. We need someone, like Trump, who is going to look out for the interests of the middle and working classes instead of the wealthy elite.

Yeah, that's a good one, putting an alleged billionaire in charge to look out for the little people (the fox running the hen house)! Have you paid attention to all the news stories about how Trump has cheated small business contractors out of money he owed them for building his hotels and casinos? How about his exploitation of immigrants? How about his line of clothing that is all made in China? And on and on. This guy has absolutely no interest in the little people, he simply exploits them every chance he gets.

3. Trump represents my values.

I understand this, if you are a bigot, a misogynist, a narcissist, an egomaniac, a cheater, a liar, a bully, one who thinks your privileged status makes you so much better than everyone else. If the above doesn't describe you, then I don't get it.

4. I dislike Hilary Clinton.

You can dislike whomever you want, but do you love your country? Are you willing to put your country in the hands of a man like Donald Trump (see 1 through 3, above)? In a very crazy world like ours, with terrorism and climate change and economic instability and wars and waves of refugees.....does Trump really seem to be the person to out in charge? Really?

So, dear Trump supporters, explain this. Truly. I don't get it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Excerpts from Bernie Sanders speech at the Democratic National Convention, 
July 25, 2016

[For those who did not listen to the speech by Senator Sanders, I have excerpted what I think are the key points. Bernie’s speech was spot on, in my humble opinion. He gave credit to the millions of people who voted for him, the thousands who worked for and donated to his campaign, and to those delegates for him present at the convention. Bernie did two major things in his speech: 1) he outlined the basics of the political revolution his campaign started and vowed that it would continue, and 2) he clearly and very strongly endorsed and pledged his support to the campaign of Hillary Clinton for President of the United States

Below are my excerpts from his speech.

I understand that many people here in this convention hall and around the country are disappointed about the final results of the nominating process. I think it’s fair to say that no one is more disappointed than I am. But to all of our supporters – here and around the country – I hope you take enormous pride in the historical accomplishments we have achieved.

Together, my friends, we have begun a political revolution to transform America and that revolution – Our Revolution – continues. Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the 1 percent – a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice – that struggle continues.

Let me be as clear as I can be. This election is not about, and has never been about, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders or any of the other candidates who sought the presidency. This election is not about political gossip. It’s not about polls. It’s not about campaign strategy. It’s not about fundraising. It’s not about all the things the media spends so much time discussing.

This election is about – and must be about – the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and grandchildren.

[The following list is excerpts from Bernie’s speech. For each of these points, he stated that Hillary Clinton understands and will work towards change.]  

This election is about:
  • ending the 40-year decline of our middle class; 
  • the reality that 47 million men, women and children live in poverty;
  • understanding that if we do not transform our economy, our younger generation will likely have a lower standard of living then their parents;
  • ending the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality that we currently experience;
  • remembering where we were 7 1/2 years ago when President Obama came into office after eight years of Republican trickle-down economics;
  • not forgetting that as a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, our economy was in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression;
  • which candidate understands the real problems facing this country and has offered real solutions – not just bombast, fear-mongering, name-calling and divisiveness;
  • overturning Citizens United, one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in the history of our country. That decision allows the wealthiest people in America, like the billionaire Koch brothers, to spend hundreds of millions of dollars buying elections and, in the process, undermine American democracy;
  • the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate and what that would mean to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country;
  • the thousands of young people I have met who have left college deeply in debt, and the many others who cannot afford to go to college;
  • climate change, the greatest environmental crisis facing our planet, and the need to leave this world in a way that is healthy and habitable for our kids and future generations; 
  • moving the United States toward universal health care and reducing the number of people who are uninsured or under-insured; 
  • the leadership we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform and repair a broken criminal justice system;
  • making sure that young people in this country are in good schools and at good jobs, not in jail cells; 
  • bringing our people together, not dividing us up.

We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor. We need leadership which brings our people together and makes us stronger – not leadership which insults Latinos, Muslims, women, African-Americans and veterans – and divides us up.

By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that – based on her ideas and her leadership – Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States. The choice is not even close.

It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues. That’s what this campaign has been about. That’s what democracy is about. But I am happy to tell you that at the Democratic Platform Committee there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns and we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.

Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency – and I am going to do everything I can to make that happen.


Saturday, July 23, 2016


I sat and watched parts of the Republican National Convention (RNCon), and even watched a number of the speakers on YouTube. It was painful, but I subscribe to the theory of know thine enemy. And I have grasped some things about them. Especially Donald J. Trump, the RNCon nominee.

Mr. Trump. is not a politician, and he does not have the skills or knowledge of a politician. He might have a rudimentary grasp of politics, but he doesn't care about the art of politics. Trump is a business man, the type that sees an opportunity and tries to turn it into wealth for himself. And it is the "himself" part of the description that is the most important. Trump is for Trump, no matter what he says about being the voice of the American people.

But it is more nuanced than that. In his run for POTUS, Trump sees himself as a corporate fixer, a specialist brought in to turn a losing enterprise into one that, at the least, can generate wealth for the corporate elites who own/run it. These fixers don't always have in mind keeping the entity they are fixing in business; their goal is to turn things around enough to make a profit for themselves and anyone else who is a major shareholder or top executive, and then get out. (And, by the way, Trump isn't the first corporate fixer to run for POTUS - remember Mitt Romney?)

So think about it for a moment; Donald Trump has only one kind of job experience: he is a wealthy generator of wealth, using real estate development, casino building, and a number of other dodgy endeavors to make himself wealthier. And he has also raised some wealthy kids in the same mold.

Trump approaches his bid to be POTUS as another business deal. His Plan, such as it is, is to fire and hire his way to better governance, to make superior deals when it comes to foreign policy, to fix any and every problem or thorny issue by bringing in experts to make things work better, by instituting human relations policies that keep the work force limited to certain types of people. Immigration issues? Start a capital project (build a wall) and send the bill to someone else. Illegal immigrant issues? Lay off (deport) everyone who does not fit the job description (native born or legal immigrants). Institute hiring criteria that exclude certain applicants (Muslim immigrants). Retool supply and sales agreements (import and export treaties) to maximize corporate (government) profits and protect company (national) interests.

The Trump campaign is voracious. It feeds on bigotry, anger, fear, jingoism, white privilege and a range of other negative emotions of a mostly-white, Christian demographic. A major contradiction of Trumpism is the calling out of the billionaire class by a family of billionaires, and the buy-in to this by people in lower classes. This is classic autocracy.

I don't know if Trump sees himself the way I, and many others, see him; in fact, I doubt he does. He likely does not see himself as a dictator, but rather as the aspiring Director or CEO of a privately-held large company. And the Director of a privately-held company often is the equivalent of a dictator.

Let's be clear; the Trump phenomenon is a perhaps logical extension of the trend in America towards corporatization of government. It is no secret, and it has been demonstrated and proven many times, that the government of the United States is run for and by corporate interests. Follow the money. So it is perhaps logical then to go to the next step in the corporatization process and elect a corporate Director to run the business, the business being the United States of America. It would be great to at least elect a more benevolent Director than Trump, but if he wins, it is game over.

This is the biggest challenge the other candidate, Hillary Clinton, has in this contest. I think running against Trump's negatives is the wrong strategy. Mrs. Clinton is a career politician, not a career corporatist. As such, she needs to convince voters that retaining professional politicians to run the country is better than installing a corporate Director to run the company/country. After all, everything said at the RNCon about the ills of America, and the need to Make America Safe/Work/Strong/Great Again is easy to agree with on the surface. There are a lot of things wrong in the world today, and America is not in the same global position it has been for the past half-century or more.

In other words folks, we have a problem!


Friday, July 15, 2016


This post is directed to young, progressive and intelligent people who fall into the "Bernie or Bust" and similar categories. You are young people who ardently supported Bernie Sanders and his ideas, his political revolution, and who now say that you will not vote for Hilary Clinton. Some will not vote at all for a candidate for president, some will vote for Jill Stein; I hope none will vote for Donald Trump.

What I want to say to you young, progressive people is: "Why won't you vote for Clinton?" Whose narrative have you listened to, whose talking points have influenced your opinion, and, perhaps most importantly, have you truly considered what will happen if Clinton loses the election to Donald Trump?

I was, and remain, an ardent supporter of Bernie Sanders - the ideas, no longer the candidate. I agree that we need a political revolution in America - I have written about this for years. But now the political reality in America is that we have an important choice for the next POTUS: Clinton or Trump.

Let me also say something I say to young people like you. This is a democracy. Vote for the candidate of your choice - that is what democracy is all about. I often argue with those who tell me that Al Gore lost the election to George W. Bush because some Democrats voted for Ralph Nader. My point is that the people who voted for George W. Bush are to blame for his ascendency.

However, even with the above paragraph in mind, it is very important to carefully weigh the importance of your vote this time, because the stakes are so very high. We are faced with a Trumpocalypse, an historic shift that has already released the demons of hate and racism and nationalism, and allowed them to be public and prominent in the media. The Trumpocalypse has sanctioned hate, and whether or not Trump becomes President, it is too late to put it back in the bottle. (see footnote 1)

So I ask you to ask yourselves: "Where have I gotten the information about Hillary Clinton that makes me not willing to vote for her?" This is an important question. Anti-Hillary writings and talking points have been the bread and butter of Republican strategists for many years. They hate The Clintons - always have, always will. They have spent years honing the anti-Hillary message, until it is inculcated in "common knowledge." Is Hillary perfect? No, and I have often said that. Is Hillary an establishment politician? Yes, no doubt about it.

But here is the take away: our political system is establishment politics, and no matter how hard we try to wish it to be different, no matter how many primary votes a Social Democrat got, our system is still establishment politics. And there is no doubt in my mind that Hillary Clinton is a very good establishment politician. There is also no doubt in my mind that the Bernie Sanders candidacy, and continuing political revolution, has pushed Hillary, as well as the Democratic Party establishment, to the left. No, a Clinton presidency will not result in Democratic Socialism in America; however, with the continuing political action by young, progressive people like you, a Clinton presidency can be a step in that direction. A Trump presidency will be many steps in the opposite direction, and will wreak unimaginable havoc on our system for years to come.

Here is an assignment; find and read a recent article on Vox by Ezra Klein titled "Understanding Hillary." I respect the journalistic integrity of Ezra Klein, and this article is worth reading because it helps us understand Hillary the person for who she is and how she works, based on interviews with many people who have worked with her.

Hillary Clinton was not my first choice for POTUS for a variety of reasons, and I have some concerns about a Clinton administration (just as I have been very concerned about some aspects of the Obama presidency). But know this well, I now support Hillary Clinton and will vote for her. For me, the choice is clear.

I ask you, the young progressives who state that you will not, cannot vote for Hillary Clinton, to apply your considerable intellect to an honest appraisal of how and why you got to this decision, and what the political situation today in America demands you do. Then vote your choice. And then stay politically active, carry on the political revolution that we so desperately need. Your job will be easier in the future if Trump is not elected.

Footnote 1. In some ways, I think it is a good thing to shine the public light on hate, because once it is so much out in the open, we have to deal with it. Many of us are afraid of it, as we should be, but when it was mostly hidden from every day view, we could more easily ignore it. Now that Trump has brought it out from under the rock, we have an opportunity to try to squash it.  

Sunday, June 26, 2016


“OK Bernie, we get it about your political revolution, but can’t you be nice about it? Can’t you just step down for the sake of Party unity? Can’t you just endorse Hillary already, for gosh sakes? I mean, after all, you lost!”

I think a lot of people are feeling this way, especially people who are in the Hilary camp. And don’t get me wrong, I understand it, and it’s OK. You are entitled to your feelings, just as I’m entitled to my opinion (which you happen to be reading). 

I, too, had been wondering what Bernie Sanders would do once Hilary got past the magic number and was labeled the “presumptive nominee.” Bernie, however, has been very clear about this for a long time; he will continue campaigning to get as many votes and delegates as he can, and then take his political revolution to the Democratic Party convention. 

And why not? After all, what is a political party presidential convention? It used to be a gathering at which delegates from every state cast their votes for the candidate of their choice. It used to be a gathering at which political ideas met head-on in order to pound out a Party platform that the selected nominee would champion. It used to be a gathering at which delegates cast votes for the candidate they represented based on the votes of their state’s voters (there are a number of permutations of this last point, based on the state). Maybe it is still this way, and so let’s let the process roll on.

If you think that Hilary Clinton is now the nominee of the Democratic Party, you are wrong. She has the delegate count, but the delegate votes have not been cast. If you think the race is over, then why have a convention? In other words, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. Yeah, I know, the convention is just the formality that seals the deal; however, how many of us are hoping the Republican convention is not a done deal, and that somehow, magically, Donald J. Trump does not emerge as the nominee? 

“Yes, but it’s so different this time because of Donald Trump. The stakes are so high, we can’t risk a divided party!” Yes, it is different, Trump is a dangerous man, the stakes are very high; however, does that mean we should toss democracy out the window? And isn’t this an opportunity to stage a political revolution? 

I don’t know Bernie Sanders (I wish I did). There are people in politics who I respect who do know and support Bernie, including Robert Reich and Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley. I also know that Bernie perfectly represents my political thoughts and ideas. I called for revolution in a blog post during June, 2005; and pointed out that the definition of revolution is "a drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving.” Drastic. Far-reaching. The state of American politics, the ascendency of Donald Trump, the excesses of the moneyed class, the great disparity in wealth between the top 1-percent and the rest of us, global warming and energy use, poverty, education and on and on - all of these issues define the political realities of our nation at this time and fuel the large-scale discontent of both the right and left ends of our political spectrum. 

I understand the Bernie Sanders strategy at this time. I think it is very simple: do not concede to and endorse the presumptive nominee, but rather, maintain a position of strength backed by 12,000,000 primary votes and carry that into the convention for maximum influence. After all, the Bernie campaign is based on building a political revolution, whether or not Bernie Sanders becomes President. 

Bernie has said in interviews that he will vote for Hilary Clinton, and he will do everything he can to stop Donald Trump from being elected. These are significant statements, and should be enough prior to the convention to allay fears that he will go rogue and split the party. In his “where do we go from here” speech, Bernie outlined ideas to continue building the political movement. He asked people to sign up if they are interested in thinking about running for political office, such as local school board, city council and others. It looks like there has been a large response to this. Bernie has a set list of issues and programs; he has been hammering away with them for the entire campaign. In my opinion, he is capitalizing on his primary success to continue building a political movement, with a focus on younger people. I agree with this goal.

As far as I am aware, there is no law of nature that guarantees human societies can be governed in a way that benefits every member of the society. Many systems have been tried; most, if not all have failed. Maybe it is not possible. Maybe only the strong, the greedy, the evil, the lucky, the manipulative or some other trait succeed. But that doesn’t mean humans shouldn’t try to build an egalitarian society. I’m not talking about classic models of socialism, communism, capitalism, monarchy or anything else that’s been tried before. The Bernie Sanders model is not fully fleshed out; it has a basic framework of common-sense ideals that we can strive towards. 

So let’s do our best between now and November - and beyond. Feel the Bern if that floats your boat. Be thrillery for Hillary, if that rolls your Prius. Stay engaged, keep your cool, be thoughtful and wise. 

What an amazing election! 


Saturday, June 25, 2016


So tonight, let us resolve to build that bridge to the 21st century, to meet our challenges and protect our values. Let us build a bridge to help our parents raise their children, to help young people and adults to get the education and training they need, to make our streets safer, to help Americans succeed at home and at work, to break the cycle of poverty and dependence, to protect our environment for generations to come, and to maintain our world leadership for peace and freedom. Let us resolve to build that bridge.
 August 29, 1996. President Bill Clinton acceptance speech, Democratic National Convention, Chicago, Illinois

President Bill Clinton’s “Bridge to the 21st Century” speech twenty years ago was an inspiring call to action as he was poised to run for his second term. Whether or not the bridge was built is a question I’ll leave to professional historians. 

I do know that a number of things have changed for the good so far in this century: 
  • greater acceptance of LGBT persons and same-sex marriage in the United States and other countries;
  • an African-American President of the United States, a woman presumptive nominee for President of the United States (and, of course, a strong challenge for the nomination by a Jewish socialist!);
  • wider acceptance of human-caused climate change as a reality (with notable holdouts);
  • advances in implementation of alternative energy production methods;
  • advances in and dissemination of information and computer technology;
  • globalization (positive aspects);
  • improved relations between the United States and Cuba. 

We now have the cloud, the twittersphere, Facebook, Instagram and a legion of computer applications that do almost everything we can think of doing. In many ways, the world is smaller and more accessible for many millions of people. 

But then there is the other list, the list of things that contribute to what I’m calling the Big Churn. In my view, we are living at a moment in human history in which great turmoil will result in a resorting of societies and a reordering of geopolitics. It isn’t pretty, it isn’t nice, and many people are frightened by the potential outcomes. 

Here is the other list: 
  • disruptions related to climate change, and effects to weather patterns, destructive storm frequency, agricultural production, sea levels, water supplies, drought and wildfires, distribution and persistence of flora and fauna;
  • the fallout from the Cheney/Bush Wars, and the resulting disruptions to the geopolitics of the greater Middle East;
  • the refugee and migration crises in Europe and North America resulting from: a) political turmoil in the greater Middle East (set loose by the Cheney/Bush Wars), b) effects of climate change; c) political, economic and ethnic conflicts in numerous places;
  • expansion of Islamic terrorism in the greater Middle East, and exports into the Western democracies and other parts of the world;
  • nationalism and expansionism by the Putin government in Russia;
  • nationalism, economic and political disruptions in China
  • militaristic, imperialistic actions by the United States;
  • increasing danger from rogue states, such as North Korea;
  • long-term regional conflicts, such as India-Pakistan, Israel-Palestine, Shia-Sunni states;
  • the Brexit vote, and the decline of the European Union;
  • the rise of the Radical Right in the USA; 
  • the Trump ascendency;
  • spreading populism, nationalism, xenophobia;
  • crushing racism that is pervasive in American institutions and legal systems;
  • increasing political and economic power by the super elites and their corporations;
  • stagnation of wages, loss of jobs by the working and middle classes in Europe and USA;
  • globalization (negative aspects);
  • ethnic and religious violence world-wide;
  • degradation of infrastructure, affecting health and safety (e.g. lead in drinking water, unsafe bridges, etc.);
  • conflicts over hydrocarbon energy resource extraction, transportation and use;
  • declines in major global economic sectors;
  • industrialization of agriculture, with related increases in human health and environmental risks;
  • nascent democracy movements that have mostly failed.

This is a long list, and I’m sure you could add more items to it. The question I ask myself is, “is this list unusual in the history of human societies; or is it always like this?” Again, I’m not a historian, but I do know that there have been many moments in history at which great turmoil has resulted in great upheaval and change. We study these moments in history class; books have been written about them. What will future history students and scholars think about the first quarter of the 21st century? 

 I know a lot of people who are deeply concerned about the rise of Donald Trump and other politicians like him around the world. The vote a couple of days ago by the people of the United Kingdom (dis-United Kingdom?) to leave the European Union has raised the level of concern and stress. Terrorism seems to be growing, America’s wars seem to have no end, the super rich seem to only get super-richer, discontent with government seems to be growing everywhere. Where will it all end? 

The simple fact is that it will end where it ends. Everything I just wrote is already history; every day that passes is another day in history. Individuals can work to make change, or to keep things from happening a certain way; Americans will elect Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, for example. But whatever happens becomes history, and so we will move on. 

This might sound callous and cavalier, but I’m simply trying to be a realist. Too often we humans dwell on the past, on history, when we should be focused on the future, on how we can try to influence the history of tomorrow. Many things have and will occur in my life that I have not and will not like; but I can’t change history. I happen to think that the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States would take the USA and the world in a bad direction, and I will do what I can to keep him from being elected. But if we do have a President Trump, it will be a historic fact that I will have to deal with. I think the British exit from the European Union is a regressive step, but it is now history, and I need to deal with it. 

My attitude doesn’t necessarily make me feel better about what is happening in the world, and I know it is a coping mechanism. It is a way to force myself into objectivity instead of subjectivity, to look toward a better future and not dwell in the past. But it won’t keep me from ranting!