What You Personally Deserve

Do you like clean air? How about clean water? I’m kind of fond of them myself.

Some places don’t have clean air. We can wonder why not. Take Kolkata, India. Their air is so bad that people don’t even want to go out. Children literally struggle to breathe at night, and lots are taken to the hospital. It’s truly awful.

There are several reasons for this disaster. Farmers burn the residue from their crops, which causes a lot of smoke. Cooking fires make smoke. Old cars make smoke. Thermal inversion parks it all at ground level. All that is needed is for people to control these things. Why don’t they just do it?

Clean water is nice too. Ever see what passes for water in some parts of the world. Somewhere under all the plastic and oil and feces and so on, there is a stream of water. It stinks something terrible. Why don’t they take care of the plastic, oil, feces, and other stuff?

Do you like to go to the doctor when you are so sick you can’t stand it? The doctor would be able to tell what’s wrong and what to do about it. What about a really bad diagnosis? Cancer, which everybody is afraid of. So why don’t you just go to the doctor?

How about education? Should it be sold, like a custom bicycle, or a $5,000 coffee maker? Or should it be available to everyone?

I don’t think it’s a big secret that we would all like to have these things and more. I think everyone deserves them. They are all very ordinary, and we don’t pay much attention to them. But they are like bodily functions: you don’t worry about bodily functions much—until one of them malfunctions.

Astute readers like you will realize that the connecting element in all these things is government. The much hated Big Government. Isn’t it odd that we small creatures must rely on Big Government? If everyone is to have affordable health care Big Government will have to require it. If you want these things, Big Government will have to pass laws to protect them: clean air and water, medical care, schools, and more. If you personally decide to clean up the water it won’t be enough. Unless laws compel behavior change, it won’t change. Car seat belts weren’t installed until it was compulsory, long after we knew they were needed. Detroit objected.

If you have been to places overseas where the air is not protected, you know how your eyes burn, and you can imagine what your lungs look like. You know that only carefully constructed laws can make air clean for everyone. And there must be no loopholes that allow corporations to continue polluting as they have.

Here’s a timeless rule I just invented: All the truly significant elements of good life for everyone must involve Big Government. Significant elements don’t include stuff like widescreen TV.

What else does this say. It says that Republican focus on the uncontrolled free market is guaranteed disaster, because no corporation will participate in making things right unless they are forced to. Republican focus on the so-called free market (which is not free at all) can’t avoid hurting everyone who needs things like clean air and water, education, and sensible medical care.

What happens when the things that everyone needs becomes privatized? First, the overall effect is to worsen conditions in general. Corporations will not give care to something like clean water because it does not contribute to profit. The more schools become privatized, the worse the public schools will become; fewer children will have a good education.

There are lots of things better achieved by the free market. Justice isn’t one of them either. Nothing is, where individuals must battle corporations for essentials. Only when the whole government is involved can we preserve the things that are important to everyone. Prove it to yourself by looking at places where government is weak.

…of the People…

The Republican and Democratic platforms are the same, but separated by 60 years. The 1956 Republican platform is nearly identical to the 2016 Democratic platform. Long ago, however, Republicans abandoned all semblance of a platform “for the People”. Now we can substitute “the very rich” for “the People” in all three parts “of the People, by the People, and for the People”.

We see this very clearly with the Republican plutocrat Donald Trump, who hasn’t the slightest interest in making things better for the mass of poor and middle class people who voted for him.

What should we People want from our government?

IMHO, the top priority should be to serve the people. By design, not accidentally. It means to address the needs of all the people in the most effective way possible. It also means to cease all the ways that government thwarts serving the people, such as laws meant to serve only the rich.

One can make a long list of ways to serve the people, but almost all of them flow from this single priority statement—serving the people.

During the campaign, only Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein were above reproach. The best Jill Stein might have achieved would be to earn a place at the bargaining table for the Green Party, which happened here in California a few years ago. That leaves only Bernie to batter against the reinforced oaken doors of the very rich. Hillary was of course on the right side of history, but she also earned millions giving speeches to corporate and banking figures who have little interest in the needs of the people.

Republicans have totally succumbed, however, and now serve only the wishes of the super rich, the people be damned. Trump spent his entire campaign creating hatred, which will continue through his time in office. The coming disaster in governance is the fault of Trump and the dishonest ways Republicans have conducted themselves. For example the entire party policy for the past eight years consisted of blocking everything that President Obama suggested. That’s it in toto.

But it wasn’t only Republicans in Congress. Republican governors in several cases ignored the solid historical evidence that giving money to the rich makes everything worse, so they gave tax breaks to the rich, and of course ended up with reduced tax revenue and slashed budgets. The people were not served. Having proved once more it doesn’t work, they are now again in the process of proving it doesn’t work at the national level. I mean, how many times will it take before they get it?

Worse than that, Republicans have devoted endless time and money trying to prevent people from being able to register and vote. You’ve all read about it, the shortened registration times, the closed offices, the strange office and voting hours, the dozens of gerrymandered districts that minimize the Democratic vote.

And the grand plan called Crosscheck. The ostensible purpose is to prevent people from voting twice. The plan consists of matching names across states. When a name occurs twice, fraud is assumed, and one or both voters are removed from the list of registered voters, no matter how long they’ve lived at the same address, no matter how many times they voted in the past, and regardless of the solid fact that virtually everybody’s name can be matched with others. In many cases Social Security numbers were not even checked, because, of course, the purpose was to prevent Democrats from voting.

These schemes were transparent lies that fooled no one, but prevented people from voting by tens of thousands. The illegality and amorality of these schemes seemed to bother very few Republicans.

Recounts of votes, combined with deep corruption in the Republican party, exposes the rot throughout Republican-land, and risks the very survival of the republic. Trump voters behave much like the German Nazis of the 1930s, with violence against individuals, hateful graffiti targeting virtually all groups of people even vaguely unlike the “superior” whites, arson of homes, businesses, and religious buildings, and blatant murder. When Trump becomes president he will begin to demolish the best of government and transfer the profit to multibillionaires. The lowest half on the income ladder will drop down a rung, and they will become even more hateful, blaming everyone but the guilty parties for their plight.

OK, Fellow Libtards, What’s Next

For two reasons, that Great American president-elect might not quite make it to the White House.

First, there are so many anomalies in this election that the election itself stands a chance of being nullified.

As the official count nears completion, Hillary Clinton leads the popular vote by 1.7 million votes. Now, Electoral College personnel are not compelled to vote as their state dictates, and could theoretically elect HRC. The need for this escape was foreseen by Alexander Hamilton, and is not something Democrats dreamed up lately. The EC vote is not close, but, given the large percentage of Republicans who urged a vote against Trump, it’s not impossible they could reverse the result.

Some claim that the swing states that went to Trump all were won by 1%, which they say is a statistical impossibility. I’m not so sure of that, but I am convinced that Republicans have spent more than a decade trying to prevent Democrats from voting. States like North Carolina have a long list of unconstitutional nuevo-James Crow laws designed to cheat on an election. Voters by tens of thousands were unable to vote, and for that reason I am suspicious of all voting in states with Republican governors and legislatures. There should be a complete observed and certified recount in all such states.

Consider Ohio. That state showed us highly suspicious activity in previous elections—including a Republican election official who illegally and prematurely closed the door on the vote counting and sent everyone home, leaving only himself with the ballots. There is too much of this kind of stuff, obviously designed to minimize the Democratic vote, and suspicious enough to be legally investigated.

Then there is the question of electronic vote machines. Quite aside from previous reports of votes that were changed to the opposite party, virtually all such machines are susceptible to hacking and manipulation. In some experiments it took only minutes to hack the machines, and once hacked, all similar machines are at risk. Moreover, there is usually no way to check back to see if the votes agree with each other, because the electronic vote is present in only one place. With machines that can be reviewed they are not. In fact, there is reason to believe that Russian hackers may have compromised the Florida vote count in this go. Trump’s relationship with Putin is questionable enough.

Second, Trump thinks he can run the presidency the way he runs his businesses. He has so far refused to put his businesses into a blind trust, as all other presidents have done. Instead, he plans to let his children manage them, and pretends that he won’t be in touch with them every day to run the businesses as he pleases. Word is that he plans to spend one day a week in his hidey-hole in Manhattan, and that he wants to spend more time playing golf. It sounds to me like he wants to run his businesses as his primary concern and manage the United States of America in his spare time.

Trump has various holdings in other countries. He hasn’t told us which of these he still has his hand in. He sold many condominiums in Russia. In the news this morning was a story of hotels in India which bear his name. The owners or investors are pleased because as president-elect the Trump name promises them more profit. Any such business in which he is part owner would benefit Trump.

Obviously, there’s a huge conflict of interest here that cannot be allowed. It’s as if he planned to be a feudal prince, and own and manage literally everything for his own benefit. It’s not remotely possible for him to delegate responsibility for his investments to his children because they simply cannot avoid his daily influence.

When one thinks about it, it’s nearly impossible to avoid numerous conflicts of interests even with a true blind trust, because as president, all businesses that bear his name would have an unfair advantage. The only ethical solution would be for him to divest of all his businesses. Short of that, divest of all businesses that bear his name and put the rest in blind trust.

But so far Trump has given no indication that he plans to do anything about these enormous conflicts of interest. Given his rather indefensible business practices, it’s quite possible he plans to maintain things just as they are. It seems unlikely to me that the courts system could allow that, and, if so, it’s one more reason to think he will not make it to the White House.

Well, we can hope.

We Don’t Have a Choice

I’ll check my Constitution again, but I don’t believe any of the things Republicans are promoting these days are part of it.

Free speech is protected, but I don’t see anything about hate being a right protected by the Constitution. Yet the recent election has established hate as a foundational principle of the Republican party. It has become acceptable, even required, to hate whole classes of people—gays, the poor, blacks, Jews, the disabled, liberals, refugees, Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims—all of whom were persistently badmouthed by Donald Trump. This earned him the endorsement of every hate group in the country, the KKK, the skinhead Nazis, the southern racists—all of them are now mainstream. None of them represent any part of the American ideal.

Some of the most virulent right wing haters are in fact becoming members of the White House personnel, entrusted with protection of the rights embedded in our foundational documents. People who have coined new terms of hate, and used them until they became common coin for the hating right.

It’s so easy to be tolerant. You don’t have to like everyone. In fact, I suspect there aren’t many people who can truthfully say they like everyone. But all you have to do to be tolerant is not hurt anyone, in any way. Just leave them alone.

But haters can’t even do that. Hate groups want to kill or injure people. Government haters want to make laws that hurt people for being who they are.

As everyone except the right is painfully aware of, the United States is entering a period we might not survive, because of people who look for those to hate. Those of us who are not haters have no choice. If the noble ideals of the American democracy are to survive at all, we must somehow defeat the forces of hatred.

Not an easy task, because, no matter how much we deplore the viciousness of the rampant hatreds that have begun to define us as a country, it is hate we want to defeat, not our brothers and sisters, no matter how far astray they have gone.

As I and many others pointed out during the campaigning, the people who fell for Trump’s incessant lies did have some legitimate gripes. Likewise, sprinkled here and there among Trump’s endless lies were some reasonable goals. Those of us on the left must accept the legitimate complaints, and work to address them. It should be enough to point out that Republican plans simply will not work, and in fact will make them worse. But it won’t, because they don’t want to solve problems. They want to punish people for being who they are.

The biggest failure among Trumpsters was believing that Trump was their champion. He said he was for the working class, but he doesn’t give a damn about those who work for a living, which we can tell by he way he shafts his employees at every opportunity. Trump is a billionaire, and his interests are the interests of the rich.

As a rich Republican he will grant favors to the rich that will make them even richer, and all the rest of us poorer. He will want to do away with as much government as he can, because rules and laws tend to help the rest of us.

One of his first goals is to end Obamacare and Medicare. That will leave many millions without health care. Every person with a serious medical condition, like cancer or a heart condition, will simply die. There is no way they can find the money to treat their condition or even to buy insurance.

A Few Minor Observations for the Coming Age

Hillary Clinton was elected to the presidency, but it’s the fifth time the loser will move into the White House, thanks to the obscenely useless electoral college. Republicans and their disaffected are rejoicing.

Donald Trump is a despicable person, a persistent liar, philanderer, misogynist, and cheat, singularly unqualified to be president. A man with the attention span of a kindergartener, who has probably never actually read a book in its entirety. He won with lies and appeals to hatred, telling white America they have been cheated by Democrats. Trumpsters have short memories: it was Obama who rescued Michigan from economic oblivion, yet they voted for Trump.

I read what he wants to accomplish, and agree with some of it. But most of it is the usual Republican nonsense that gives money to the rich at the cost of those who aren’t, the triumph of Big Money. Not only will we now have a billionaire for president, the very rich will have complete control of all parts of the national government. The very rich and their Republican puppets will rearrange things so they can burn unlimited fossil fuels, which will affect the entire world in calamitous ways.

Unfortunately, Republicans and the very rich have almost no understanding, or even belief in, the most significant issue in the entire history of humankind, the inexorably changing climate. A Republican carried a snowball onto the Senate floor to “prove” that warming is a hoax, and too many others presented such stupidities like, warming can’t be real because carbon dioxide isn’t poisonous. 

But climate change is already here, increasingly obvious, and can only get worse. Melting of “permanent” ice is already decades old, and now it looks like the entire ice mass of Greenland and both polar ice caps will melt over the next century or so. This will increase the depth of the ocean by over eighty feet. Likewise, temperature increase is already advanced. In several parts of the globe extended periods of 120ºF or higher cause tens of thousands of deaths every year, and the hottest US cities and regions experience a month or more when the temperature never drops below a hundred. Eventually the average ambient temperature will cross the 125ºF mark, above which human life is not possible.

But these concerns are long range. Besides casual attitudes toward our descendants, Republican dominance means thoughtless voiding of laws that protect the lives of us all right now.

Trump never failed to play to the anger and racial hatred of people who feel they have somehow been wronged by people with darker skin. This is a common tactic of tyrants, one played masterfully by Adolph Hitler. The “wronged” come to believe that Those Others are the reason they are not rich and respected, and therefore they are treacherous and inferior. In so doing Trump earned the full support of the KKK, the neo-Nazis, and every other racist, white supremacist hate group in the country. In effect, Trump gives them all license to commit violence against Jews, blacks, homosexuals, Mexican-Americans, Muslims, immigrants—anyone. Nazi graffiti appeared even on election day. In many places it will become dangerous for anyone who seems even slightly different to walk down the street. With some 350-million guns in the country, Trump has issued a general license to kill.

One wonders why white supremacists believe as they do, since their only achievement is accidental paleness, and not one of them has accomplished anything of real significance.

A third element lies in the realm of economics. Trump has repeatedly proven to economists that he knows nothing about the subject. In fact, Republicans in general tend to be ignorant of it. Paul Ryan, majority leader of the House, is widely admired by Republicans for his economic plan for the nation, a plan of sheer nonsense that depends on many billions of dollars of phantom cash from mysterious unexplained sources that not even the GAO can find. Or perhaps they expect that doing away with their favorite boogiemen will put money into the budget and somehow make it work.

They will almost certainly rescind social programs they don’t like, programs that millions depend on: Social Security and Medicare, particularly Obamacare. This will throw Americans by tens of millions into abject poverty with no escape, including millions who believed Trump’s fantasies. These cuts will have absolutely no effect on the budget, but many bureau budgets will be cut enough to make their departments ineffective, thus crippling essential government programs. Since Obama already cut the bureaus, it’s hard to imagine how further slashing will help.

Trump himself brags about his business prowess, but it doesn’t really exist. As economist Robert Reich pointed out, if he had simply invested his entire inherited fortune in an index fund, he would be at least four times more wealthy than he is. Even the money he did make was largely due to up-front payment for use of his name, as well as out-and-out cheating of his clients and employees. Most of his ventures either went bankrupt or earned far less than he claimed. Frankly, he’s a liar and a cheat, which his election is unlikely to change. The economic benefits he promised followers simply do not exist.

Perhaps he didn’t really expect to win, and now finds himself confronted by his own ignorance, with a plan that will punish his followers. How long will it take them to realize that? What will happen when they do?

Welcome to Our Violent Future

Many thanks to Donald Trump, who has made hate and violence acceptable once again. We’re once again just a step or two away from Saturday night lynching parties, and the outcome of the election is almost irrelevant in this regard.

The depth and breadth of the racism and hate that Trump summoned up and encouraged was shocking to many of us. We had hoped that things were better than a century ago.

As we all know now, Donald Trump has insulted and cheated practically everybody, and encouraged hate and violence against all kinds of people. I have no doubt he’d be able to find some venom that would be strong enough to make his followers consider violence directed at me, as he repeatedly suggested should be directed at the person of Hillary Clinton.

We watched and read about his gatherings, and saw how he approved of violence against anyone who wasn’t all-out pro-Trump. How he encouraged his crowds to hurt anyone he perceived as an enemy, how he even ridiculed disease. Trump has repeatedly told his hired goons to grab a protester roughly and throw him or her out, leaving marks on the victim in the process. Victims have included various people with darker skins, including Trump supporters, including news reporters covering his rallies, including people with incurable diseases he ridiculed, including various others who had quite legitimate reason for being there.

Because of Trump’s nonstop spouting of hatred, literally every hate group in the country has backed him. Nazi skinheads, Klanners, racists, haters of Jews, of immigrants, of African-Americans… Their newspapers have followed suit, officially backing him for president. The people who follow him have burned black churches, Jewish temples, and Muslim mosques. They have refused to allow construction of mosques. They have painted hate slogans on the sides of people’s houses, on their stores, on religious buildings. They have attacked and severely injured innocent people whose skin is even slightly darker than their own, anyone even slightly different from themselves. They have destroyed people’s property.

They have brandished firearms in all sorts of peaceful places. Shopping malls and supermarkets, city streets, with machine guns on their backs. They have threatened to show up at voting places to “protect the vote”. They have surrounded mosques carrying their guns. They have even threatened children, badly frightening them.

We would like to believe that these hatreds would simmer down after the election, but they won’t. Trump has made hate acceptable. He has encouraged it.

Trump and Republicans devoted most of their energies in the run-up to the election to demonizing Hillary Clinton. Without the first shred of evidence, Trump constantly referred to her as “crooked Hillary”, and Republicans have for decades tried to prove it. There isn’t the slightest reason to suspect Hillary Clinton of any sort of crime.

Republicans devoted many millions of tax dollars and whole decades to searching for evidence —any evidence—that she did something illegal. In their many investigations, in their several summonses to testify under oath for many hours about their imagined transgressions, they were completely unsuccessful.

They discovered that she had used a private email server, and devoted month after month trying to find something punishable. They lambasted her for deleted emails, but ignored the 22-million emails of obvious importance deleted by the Bush administration. The FBI worked tirelessly to find something crooked that “crooked Hillary” did—with no success. Even the last-minute discovery that a computer belonging to Clinton’s staff person, Huma Abedin, disgraced Anthony Weiner’s estranged wife, failed to produce anything. A quarter century of effort found nothing and wasted many millions of our tax dollars.

But all this was nothing compared to the fantasy tales the Trump rumor mill generated: that Hillary murdered about one person a month, beginning with Vince Foster during Bill Clinton’s administration, with many additional and equally fantastic tales. Is there nothing too ridiculous for them to claim?

The damage that Trump and Republicans did will not end with the election, because Trump has shown his followers by example that they are free to do whatever they wish to anyone who doesn’t agree with them. And so the violent, racist gun nuts will feel free to shoot at people, and Trump will claim no responsibility.

Ordinary people will be potential targets. Demonized Spanish speakers whose ancestors were here long before statehood will be targets. Anyone vaguely Middle Eastern will be targets, including Indian-Americans, and anyone who wears head coverings that aren’t baseball hats. Their places of worship will be bombed and burned, hateful slogans painted on them. Because of Trump, all that is OK now—but of course Trump is not responsible.

How did we get this way?

Republican legislators consist almost exclusively of older white males who believe they are the true rulers of the nation. But they are not. The cultural composition of the country is changing rapidly, and will very soon depose them from their majority status. They also believe they should be the ones who determine what women can and cannot do, including all matters that have to do with reproduction and women’s bodies, in spite of their proven gross ignorance on such matters. Likewise, they believe that people with skin darker than theirs are automatically lazy and criminal. The same people who will shortly outnumber them.

Republicans spent the entire eight Obama years dedicated entirely and exclusively to opposing everything Obama and/or Democrats proposed. They failed to perform the duties for which they were elected, creating a dysfunctional Congress that has cost us all dearly. If they continue this plan under the incoming president, they may fatally injure their own party, if that hasn’t already happened. Worse, their failure may fatally weaken our democracy.

If Republicans don’t decide to act for the benefit of the people, then the people who have failed to benefit from the eight years of improved economy under Obama will become increasingly violent. Since Trump has already given them permission to commit violent acts, the entire country could fall into a downward spiral, regardless of who the president is.