Lawyer's explanation of the Mueller Report

See the video below.

This page is for articles and discussion of general political issues.  As Democrats, we are facing political issues way beyond anything we have encountered before.  We (United States voters) picked someone to be our President that is in many ways fatally flawed.  He has demonstrated that he knows nothing about policy, gets most of his ideas regarding governing and who to hire to fill his cabinet from things he hears on Fox News, he has taken extreme positions on a number of issues - ban the Muslims, build the wall, embracing groups that espouse racism, politically it is an environment that is very unfamiliar to everyone.  Some of his campaign promises:

Drain the Swamp - there has never been an administration that actually pulled people out of the swamp and put them in positions of responsibility.  The EPA administrator who doesn't believe in climate change.  The Education Secretary who isn't in favor of public schools.  Economic advisors that undo consumer protection regulations.  A Housing Secretary whose only apparent qualifications is that he lived in a house when he was young.  It didn't work but he proposed his doctor to head the VA without any experience with managing a large corporation.  His promise to choose only the "best" people has resulted in more firings and resignations of more people in less than one year than most Presidents hire in their whole 4 year term.

Build the Wall - somehow he got this idea that a wall would solve most of our border problems - reduce the flow of illegal aliens (despite the fact entry of illegals is at the lowest point in decades), cut off the flow of illegal drugs (paying no attention to the well known facts that drugs coming over the border are a small percentage of the total), and do it all under the umbrella of "protecting" the country (despite there being no evidence that any threat is coming over the border).

Ban the Muslims - he has made a number of legal attempts to carry out the ban under the guise of keeping us safe.  Trouble is he isn't focused on banning potential terrorists, he just wants to ban people of the Muslim religion.  Of course, harking back to our experience between Catholics and Protestants in England, our constitution does not allow making any decisions solely on being a member of a religion.

Support Law and Order - has there ever been an elected official (much less a President) with such a collection of suspicious activities (unusual visits to Russia, refusal to show his taxes, and associations with criminals or suspected criminals)?  His problems are so obvious that we called a Special Prosecutor to investgate in his first year in office.

Electoral College

Why do we have it?  Does it make any sense?  Can we get rid of it?

The following is excerpted from an article in the Winter 2019 edition of the American Prospect.  It has always been an issue for me but this was the best article I have ever seen.  Lee LeFaivre

Problem - five times in American history - in 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016 - the candidate who lost the popular vote became the president.  The United States is the only country in the world that chooses its leader of government this way.

Origins - Alexander Hamilton suggested that the election of the President should fall to a small number of people who will be best suited to evaluate the choices and make wise decisions.  Each state would choose "electors" equal to the number of Congressional representatives they have with two additional added for the two Senators for each state.  Small states favored the electoral college because it gave them an advantage.  It was also an advantage to slave states since the "three fifths clause" in Article 1 of the Constitution allowed slaves to be counted as three fifths of a person to determine the population of the state which influenced the number of representatives.  The state would receive extra electors for people who could not vote.

In the US today, states with only 23 percent of the country's population have enough electoral votes to choose the President.

Problem - in a democracy we have an underlying understanding that decisions are made by the majority.  A small state, like Wyoming with a population of 579,315 voters has 3 electoral votes (1 for each senator and 1 for their sole representative).  This means that each presidential vote in Wyoming represents 193,105 voters.  California, with a population 39.3 million, has 55 electoral votes, so each elector represents 718,818 voters.  Each presidential vote in Wyoming is worth roughly 3.72 times more than each vote in California. We live with this while continuing to say that we have a "one person, one vote" procedure.

The primary justification mentioned lately for the Electoral College is that it forces candidates to pay attention to the small states.  On the other hand, candidates may choose to ignore completely states where the outcome is well known like Democrats in California and Republicans in a red state.  In any case, can there possibly be a reason to ignore the giant discrepancy created by the system.

Solution - obviously what we should do as a government is to amend the Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College and elect the president like we do Senators - by popular vote.  Pushing that vote through congress would require senators and representatives to vote for what is best for the country.  Despite their oath to represent the people, many will vote in their own best interests.  Republicans have found that they can win elections even thought they are out-voted by 3 million in the popular vote.

An alternative would be to encourage states to require each electoral vote to go to the person or party that one in each distract.  The two votes for the state's senators could go to the state's majority.  This would be better than "winner take all" but still would resolve the difference between the number of voters represented by one Wyoming electoral vote compared to those represented by one California vote.

Prejudice in America

Hardly a day goes by anymore without a mention, in one newscast or another, of prejudice in America.  Whether it is Jews, blacks, Hispanics, or Muslims - one group is prejudging another.  Here is an article from the Atlantic Monthly analyzing how prejudices are clustered geographically.

CLICK HERE for the details.

Was George H W Bush really a great president?

Considering the last week of honor and praise, you might think that the answer would be an unequivocal YES.  The following video comes from a person that I really respect, Thom Hartman.  The video is a little long but interesting enough to spend some time on.

Shortly after the Parkland shooting Dennis Baxley was interviewed by HBO.  He was asked why anybody in Florida needs an AK 47.  He answered "why not".  See his comparison of the dangers of an AK 47 and compared to the dangers of a spoon.

Are Medicare, Medicare, and Social Security safe from Trump and Republicans?

It's a long article but an excellent analysis and history about the plan to cut or eliminate social services.


Here's a comparison of Democratic vs. Republican philosophies.

The Top 10 Fallacies
With the 2017 Republican Tax Act

Like most of Donald Trump's policy agenda, the GOP tax cut has been sold on bluster, exaggeration, and outright lies.  The following are ten of the biggest myths associated with the 2017 Republican Tax Act.
Summary of article in the Summer 2018 issue of American Prospect by William Rice.

#1 It will pay for itself.
Originally the bill was estimated to lose $1.5 trillion in revenue, but supporters claimed the shortfall would be made up through greater economic activity which would generate more tax revenue even at lower rates.  No reputable economist agreed with that assessment.  It has become clear that the republicans intend to depend on spending cuts to public services including Medicare, Medicaid, subsidized health insurance (Obamacare), nutrition assistance, and low income disability insurance.

#2  It's meant to help working Americans.
Trump said of his tax bill:  "Our focus is on helping the folks who work in the mailrooms and machine shops of America..."  In reality, once the Tax Act is fully phased in nine years from now, 83 percent of the benefits will go to the wealthiest 1 percent of American households.  Nearly 70 million households making less than $100,000 a year will pay higher taxes than under the old law.

#3 It will boost the economy and create jobs.
Last November, when the basic outline of the Tax Act was clear, a survey of prominent economists found only 1 out of 42 believed it would substantially increase economic growth.  Separate surveys of top corporate finance officers and Wall Street investors found equal pessimism that the tax plan would spur investment of hiring.

#4 The corporate tax cuts will raise worker pay a lot.
One of Trump's top economic advisers claimed the corporate cuts would raise average household income at least $4000.  Other economists were highly skeptical.  If they were inclined to raise wages, corporations could use the record amounts of cash they had on hand to increase wages.  And, in fact, rather than raising pay, corporations are so far using their tax cuts to further enrich wealthy shareholders through stock buybacks and dividend increases.

#5  It already responsible for widespread worker bonuses and wage hikes.
As of mid-June, only 4 percent of workers from just 400 employers (Out of the nation's 5.9 million) had received any kind of payout linked to the tax law.  Three quarters of those payouts were one-time bonuses, not permanent wage increases.  Moreover, the $7 billion that workers are getting this year represents just 9 percent of the $77 billion in 2018 business tax cuts estimated so far.  The vast majority of the tax cuts are instead going to wealthy CEO's and shareholders: Corporations have announce $484 billion in stock buybacks since the tax plan passed - 69 times more than workers getting in bonuses and raises.

#6  The corporate tax cuts will keep jobs in America.
Paul Ryan complained that the then current system "encourages companies to move operations overseas, to make things abroad, and to then sell they back into the US.  This makes no sense and it is costing us jobs."  But, rather than curbing offshoring, the Tax Act actually creates new and stronger incentives to outsource operations and jobs by, among other things, taxing foreign profits at half the rate of domestic earnings.

#7  Before the Tax Act, U.S. corporations paid the highest taxes in the world.
This claim is based on the former statutory income tax rate of 35 percent.  (The new rate is just 21 percent.)  But in realty, because of all the loopholes in the tax code, big corporations on average often paid less than half the official rate, and this "effective rate" was fully competitive with those of other advanced economies.

#8  It's a boon to small business.
Republicans claimed that cutting the taxes paid by non-corporate businesses like partnerships and LLCs was intended to protect the "hard-earned business income of Main Street job creators".  But even after "guard rails" were inserted in the final bill to prevent the even bigger giveaway to wealthy business owners envisioned in the preliminary plans, the real winners from the new rules continue to be huge enterprises like the Trump Organization, which is a collection of 500 such "pass-through" entities.

#9  It simplifies the tax code.
As the law took shape, we heard less of the GOP's initial dubious claim that its plan would so simplify taxes that returns could be filed on a postcard.  Daniel Shaviro, a tax professor at NYU School of Law, has declared that the new law's rules for pass through firms - which make up 95 percent of the all businesses - have made the tax system "less fair, less efficient, and more complicated."  After years of cutting IRS budget, congressional Republicans have been forced to give the agency more money to help Americans navigate the complex new law and combat the exploitation of fresh loopholes.

#10  It doesn't help Donald Trump.
Remember when the president claimed that his tax plan would "cost me a fortune' - but the opposite is undoubtedly true.  But its clear that cuts to the top individual rate, the corporate rate, and the pass-through rate all benefit Trump enormously.  The new law not only failed to close any of the many real-estate loopholes that Trump has exploited for years, it actually opens new ones that are particularly beneficial to the president.

The new lower "pass-through" rate was meant to be denied to organizations like Trump's that have relatively few employees and lots of passive income, since the new rate was supposed to reward "job creators" pursuing real business activity.  But dutiful Republican lawmakers made sure Trump benefited from the generous new tax regime.  They allowed certain kinds of passive income to qualify (rents, royalties, and licensing fees - Trump's bread and butter) and let heavy capital investment (such as in real estate) substitute for large-scale employment.

William Rice is a freelance writer and communications consultant for Americans for Tax Fairness.

How the President personally benefits

The presidents exact tax savings are difficult to estimate because of his refuse to release his tax returns but it is likely to be at lead $11 million a year and perhaps as much as $22 million.

  • He will profit from the real-estate loopholes the new lae failed to close plus a few it added.
  • The top individual was rate is cut to 37% from 39.8%.  Trump is undoubtedly in the top bracket now.
  • He could save between $11 to $22 million from the cut in  "pass-though" tax rate.

Summing up the Issues With the Tax Act

As the only significant accomplishment of the President's first year in office, you would think that it would be front and center in every Republican's pitch for election in the mid-terms.  Obviously, if the general public understands that most all of the points used to sell the plan were bald faced lies, it may become a detriment instead of an advantage.  The simple summary is that we gave a lot (and I mean a lot) of money to all of the wealthy and the big corporations and virtually a pittance to the middle and lower classes.

In addition to the disparity in benefits between the wealthy few and the vast majority of the country, the poor and middle classes are going to bear the biggest burden in the plan to cover the cost of the give-away to the wealthy.  The Republicans are already gearing up to say that there is no way to handle our massive deficit without cutting social programs that help working families stay afloat, from Pell Grants to job training programs to the Affordable Care Act's subsidies.  They plan to decimate the budgets of the EPA (34% cut) and Department of Labor (21%), it includes deep cuts to medicaid, food stamps and federal housing assistance.  The real prizes for Republicans are Social Security and Medicare.

Some estimates extracted from an article by Joshua Holland - pg 49 Summer issue of American Prospect.

The next Supreme Court Justice

With the retirement of Justice Kennedy there appears little hope that Democrats can avoid having President Trump do what he has promised during the campaign and since - he will nominate a jurist who is committed overturn Roe v. Wade.  He can nominate whomever he wants and the Republican majority in  the Senate will undoubtedly support him by approving his nomination.

Is that it?  do we have any options?

One is to delay the vote till after the fall elections.  We simply explain to Senator McConnell that he needs to use the same logic he did in 2016 to delay the approval of Justice Merrick Garland - he offered a very clear explanation why no one could be approved prior to an election.

If he did it for the Republicans, he will certainly do it for the Democrats, right?

Since it is true that President Trump has sworn to refrain from nominating anyone who is not prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade we can take him at his word (even though he is recently saying he won't even ask the question of a nominee).  First, which would you believe - what he says now or what he said then.  I would go with the latest.  He is also looking to choose from the 25 justices that have already been vetted by several right wing groups and they say that every one of them is ready to make abortion illegal.

If we make the assumption that no matter what Trump or the nominated justice says, they are looking to overturn Roe v. Wade, then we can argue with Republicans in the Senate that a vote for the nominee is a vote against women's control of their bodies.  All we need is one Republican Senator to vote no.

Corey Booker made another proposal.  If Trump is able to choose a new justice while he is under investigation for collusion and conspiracy, would he not be expected to choose someone who would side with him in the case that the Supreme Court is called to decide whether he can be indicted, subpoenaed, and pardon himself (or others).  Is there a legal issue with having him make a decision that could mean so much to his own case?

In any case, the best we can hope for is that the actual decision will be made after the fall elections and that we indeed take back the Senate.  Without both of these things, we need to resign ourselves that abortions will become illegal, possibly birth control will also be illegal, gay rights are in jeopardy as are civil rights, other decisions on immigration, voting rights, and consumer protections may all be up for change.

Here are some comments from Cory Booker about Judge Brett Kavanaugh;

President Trump recently announced Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee for the Supreme Court. I will be opposing his nomination for a number of reasons, and will be fighting tooth and nail to prevent him from being confirmed by the Senate.

We should all be concerned about what it would mean for our country if Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Not only does Judge Kavanaugh have a long, disturbing record — from demonstrating hostility toward Roe v. Wade and the Affordable Care Act to his decisions showing a clear favoritism toward corporations over workers trying to organize for better wages and working conditions — but he has a long-established view that a U.S. President should not be subject to a criminal investigation while in office.

With President Trump currently a subject of an ongoing criminal investigation that has already produced significant results — over 190 total criminal charges, 5 guilty pleas and 1 person sentenced — Judge Kavanaugh’s views on this subject should make his nomination a non-starter.

With such a clear conflict of interest at hand, President Trump — who has an established history of loyalty tests for appointments — should not be able to nominate someone who could effectively serve as a get-out-of-jail-free card if issues surrounding the special counsel’s investigation end up before the Supreme Court.

And there is even more at stake than the criminal investigation involving President Trump. Judge Kavanaugh has a long record of handing down decisions that are detrimental to everyday Americans.

His record shows he passes the Trump administration’s litmus test of overturning Roe v. Wade; he has shown a clear hostility to the Affordable Care Act; and his previous rulings have led to voter disenfranchisement and favored corporations over workers fighting for better wages and working conditions.

Unless we spend the coming weeks and months fighting this nomination, Judge Kavanaugh could soon become a deciding vote on not only these issues, but on issues pertaining to the criminal investigation involving President Trump.

The rulings handed down by this court will affect all of us for generations to come, which is why we cannot back down.

Still Separate, Still Unequal: The Role of Black Women and Girls in the Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education  AAUW May 17, 2018

As an organization committed to improving women’s and girls’ access to education, AAUW has often been at the forefront of the push for equity in education by working to improve school environments and make them safer through Title IX enforcement; examining the status of women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields; and supporting cases that ensure the rights of students are upheld within the classroom. Quality education for women and girls is a crucial step toward achieving equity.

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