Friday, October 07, 2016


It is no surprise to most people when, every one or two days, Donald J. Trump says something, or something is revealed about him that makes jaws drop world-wide. His vulgarity, crudeness, bullying, name calling, misogyny, rudeness, business practices, tax evasion and lying are astounding, and can't possibly get worse, we think, until it does. 

I have predicted that the snowball of backlash rolling down the political hill would reach a point where it suddenly started to grow so large that impending doom would be certain. I think that point has been reached. Donald J. Trump is going to lose the 2016 election by an historic margin to Donald J. Trump. And the President-elect will be Hilary R. Clinton; thank you Donald.

The Trump campaign will have it's own special place in the history books and the tutorials for political campaigning as the best example of how to beat yourself in an election. Perhaps the Donald's self-destruction is an expression of the probable fact that he never thought, and never really wanted to be President of the United States. After all, he would certainly have to give up running the Trump business empire, take a huge pay cut, have to put his tax returns on public display every year, actually do hard work every day, and behave in a manner uncharacteristic of himself. What a bummer that would be! 

So even though nobody, including Donald, ever imagined Donald Trump would last long in the field of Republican candidates, and certainly not make it to the final few, and never, ever, ever be the actual nominee of the Grand Old Party...well, as Jeb said, stuff happens! `So now what? I think we are witnessing his answer to his own question. 

And by the way, does the J in Donald J. Trump really stand for Jerk?


Monday, September 26, 2016


First, let me say that I don't think of these televised spectacles in terms of winner and loser; the voters will decide that. Here is my very simple take on this first matchup:

1. Mrs. Clinton did what I assume her campaign wanted her to do. She showed her base that she is smart, tough, not easily rattled, very well prepared, and an excellent choice for POTUS. She did not change any minds in the Trump base; however, it is possible that thoughtful, open-minded, undecided voters might give her a closer look.
2. Mr. Trump stayed true to the Trump Way, which is what appeals to his base. He was arrogant, sometimes rude, loose with facts, not well prepared, and slippery. He did not change any minds, with the possible exception of people who were undecided, leaning his way, but also thoughtful and open minded who might question voting for him after seeing this performance.
3. Any candidate running against Trump populism, and who has been in government, has a serious problem that was very clear in this debate. Mr. Trump wants to make America great again. Mrs. Clinton consistently said that government/we need to do better, need to work on this and that, need to improve; this simply validates Mr. Trump's position that things are not good, and need to be fixed, and that the reason things are the way they are is because politicians and political hacks have screwed it up. "You've been in government for almost 30 years and you haven't fix it" was the Trump refrain. 

In fact, there is some truth to the Trump assertions. Mass incarceration didn't just happen by itself, government made it happen, and therefore "we need to fix the justice system (Mrs. Clinton)." Poverty, the recession, gang violence, jobs going overseas, trade imbalances, national debt, and etc. didn't just happen, government made or allowed it to happen. Because he has never been in government, Mr. Trump can point the finger at any and every politician who has, and place the blame for every grievance people have with government. 

If nothing else, the first debate lived up to our expectations - Trump was Trump. 


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.