Unpatriotic Devin Nunes, Unpatriotic Donald Trump

February 28, 2018 at 9:41 am | Posted in Abuse of Office, Disinformation, Dysfunctional Politics, Enemies of Freedom | Leave a comment
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Devin Nunes, U.S. Representative from California

Devin Nunes, U.S. Representative from California

Every loyal American would want the investigation of Putin’s interference in the 1916 election to get to the bottom of what Putin’s minions did, and how they did it. Every loyal American would want to refute Putin’s lies, and would want America to have the information it needs to craft defenses against Putin’s future attempts, both on this country and on its allies.

It is iron-clad logic, a simple syllogism: if every loyal American would want those things, then any American who obstructs those investigations and defenses is not a loyal American.

Devin Nunes is not a loyal American.

Donald Trump is not a loyal American.

Devin Nunes is not a patriotic American.

Donald Trump is not a patrotic American.

Devin Nunes is inadvertantly an agent of Vladimir Putin.

Donald Trump is inadvertantly an agent of Vladimir Putin.

Neither should ever have had access to classified information.

Neither should have future access to classified information.

Trump’s primary loyalty is to himself and to his “brand” – not to America, not to freedom, not to fairness, not to honest elections.

There are indications that the same is true of Devin Nunes.

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution begins, “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, …”

The writers of the Constitution never anticipated a President who favored an opponent of the United States.

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet at the 2017 G-20 Hamburg Summit.  Photo by www.kremlin.ru.

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet at the 2017 G-20 Hamburg Summit. Photo by http://www.kremlin.ru.

What about Paul Ryan?

Donald Trump shaking hands with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan at his February 28, 2017 address to a joint session of Congress.

Donald Trump shaking hands with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan at his February 28, 2017 address to a joint session of Congress.

Surely Paul Ryan had some sense of Devin Nunes’ personality and character before appointing him to the House Intelligence Committee.

Why then did Paul Ryan appoint Nunes as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee?

Why did Paul Ryan even allow Nunes to be on that Committee?

Paul, please explain to the American people why you appointed Nunes as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Paul, now that you cannot miss seeing that you introduced a worm into the apple, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to re-assign Nunes?

Paul, are you, too, not a loyal American?

Paul, are you, too, inadvertantly an agent of Putin?

Paul, where are your primary loyalties? They seem to be to the Republican Party in its current debased form, not to America, not to freedom, not to fairness, not to honest elections.

As noted by Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post:

“Real patriotism would be not to denounce the “Russia hoax” but to insist that Congress — and for that matter, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — get to the bottom of what happened in the 2016 election and, even more imperative, that the United States strengthen its defenses to prevent future meddling.”

A Scam Artist as President?

September 10, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Posted in Disinformation, Dysfunctional Politics, Fairness, Presidential election | Leave a comment
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Mitt Romney, photographed by Gage Skidmore, 7 October 2011

Mitt Romney, photographed by Gage Skidmore, 7 October 2011

Legal but unethical.  That describes how Bain Capital operated under Willard “Mitt” Romney, according to an article in The New Yorker.  (Unfortunately, although I remember the article vividly, I have not been able to locate my printed copy, nor a web link to it.  So I cannot cite the article’s author and date.  If you have that information, please provide it to me in a comment.)

Under Romney, Bain Capital used a bait and switch scam to reduce the price it paid when buying companies.

When a company that wished to be bought requested bids, Bain Capital submitted a generous bid.  That shut the other bidders out of the next stage of negotiation, which now involved only Bain Capital and the seller.  Bain capital then found many excuses for reducing its bid, knowing full well that the seller would find it difficult to invite back any of the previously rejected bidders.

This tactic is a type of scam.  It is similar to the tactics of the least ethical used car dealers.

This bait and switch tactic is also similar in flavor to the etch-a-sketch strategy that Romney’s campaign envisioned.

Under Romney, Bain Capital systematically used another legal but unethical trick.  It loaded a acquired company with debt, then used the borrowed money to fund a big payout to itself, and then discarded the indebted company.  Bain Capital was like a spider discarding its prey after sucking it dry.  In an article by John Cassidy (see the section in that article that is entitled “Can you give me an example in which Bain Capital made a lot of money from a company that failed?”), Cassidy reminds us of what Bain Capital did to Armco Steel Corp. and GS Industries.  It is a disheartening read.  Bain’s maneuvers produced success for Bain Capital, but undeserved pain for the employees of Armco Steel Corp. and the other parts of GS Industries.  This and similar gaming of the system is not the kind of ethics and business experience that will be needed for energizing the US economy and job market, nor for reducing the national deficit.

As Louis Menand pointed out in an article in the NewYorker, “… a firm like Bain is concerned exclusively with buying low and selling high. Any other outcome it might pursue at the expense of that concern cheats its investors. This is why talk of job creation or job destruction in the companies Bain invested in is beside the point. Bain was not about jobs.”

But Wiley Willard is not all bad.  As pointed out by Steven Pearlstein, Romney is sympathetic, humane and helpful to those he knows personally, regardless of their economic class.  (An exception is Romney’s comically and needlessly strict rulemaking for his own family.)  But he is heartless and unsympathetic to those he does not know personally, even when their situation is the same as those who he has helped.

Combine those qualities with the fact that both Romney and Ryan make promises they cannot fulfill about reducing the national debt: an many have pointed out in detail, even though their plans are sketchy, they cannot achieve what they promise without raising tax revenues.  Wishful, magical thinking won’t work.

Finally, A remarkable article by Steven Pearlstein points out that Romney is a manager, not a leader.

Romney is often held up as being successful in business, and that is supposed to show that he will be able to fix the economy.  But a lot of his success – and Bain’s success – came from gaming the system, not from doing anything constructive.  Romney’s stratagems and self-serving ethics are not what are needed for fixing the economy.  To fix the economy and create jobs we need to put more money in the pockets of those with immediate unfilled needs, who will spend it immediately.  The economy would not get much of a boost if we instead further increase the wealth of those whose needs are neither immediate nor pressing, as Romney wants to do, in his delusion that the wealthy are the engine of the economy.  Romney’s business experience is of the wrong kind, especially for our present problems.

The Republican Party claims that Obama has had plenty of time to fix the problems that he inherited, but that he hasn’t done so.  (Those problems were created by the Republican Party’s loosening of regulations, by the way.)   The Republican Party’s claim is hypocritical, in two ways.  First, Obama’s stimulus package was a huge success.  The recession would have been far worse without it.  And second, Obama couldn’t do more than that, because the Republicans in Congress adopted – and publically announced – a policy of sabotaging as many of Obama’s initiatives as they could.  They hoped that by limiting Obama’s achievements they would prevent him from being re-elected.  They tied his hands and then sneered that he didn’t accomplish much.  Their sabotage harmed the country as well as Obama.  If you don’t have a job, this tactic by the Republican Party harmed you.  The Republican Party does not deserve to get away with its unpatriotic, partisan sabotage.

Mr Belly Button and the Green Party re: Citizens United

August 19, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Posted in Conceited, Judicial Misjudgment | 3 Comments
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On January 20, 2012, I participated in a demonstration in a small park that faces the Supreme Court.  The demonstration decried the Court’s absurd decision in the Citizens United case.

Citizens United is the case that ignored the fact that corporations are purely legal entities, created solely to shield their executives and board members from personal legal liability for the corporation’s actions, and – secondarily – to obtain favorable tax treatment.  They are not political entities, and their political preferences are certainly not independent of the private political preferences of their executives and board, effectively magnifying the personal influence of those individuals on the outcome of the election.

The Court’s decision favored plutocracy and oligarchy over democracy.  It did so because that is what Chief Justice Roberts and his cronies, like Willard Mitt Romney and his cronies, really believe in.  True to its purpose, the decision spawned the sudden appearance of the super-PACs, with their hidden, very rich donors.

The Court’s decision also spawned efforts to enact a Constitutional amendment that would overturn the Court’s decision.  The demonstration I attended was in support of such efforts.  It was organized by a group that I had never heard of before: Move to Amend.

Those participating in the demonstration were diverse, and included many who, like me, had no connection to the organizers.  Some of the participants were from the Occupy movement.  It was the first time that I had personally encountered any.

The demonstration was in the morning, and during the demonstration the organizers issued an invitation to an open discussion that afternoon about what could be done next.  The discussion was held in a building adjacent to the Supreme Court.  I attended.

The meeting was led by one of the main organizers of the morning’s demonstration.  I will call him Mr. Belly Button, because he was impressed by the fact that every human had a belly button, and no corporation did.  He insisted on showing his to all assembled.

Mr. Belly Button announced that he would next show us Move To Amend‘s proposed amendment to the Constitution.  He said that he was eager for discussion and comments, but that they would not result in any changes of wording.  The wording was already fixed, unchangeable.

Move to Amend‘s proposed amendment is good.  But before the meeting I had come across another proposed amendment, S. J. Res 29, that was more general, and covered aspects of the problem that were not covered by Move to Amend‘s version.  The inability to influence the wording of Move to Amend‘s  proposed amendment made it pointless to raise this issue.  That was a loss for the whole effort to obtain an amendment that would fix the Citizens United decision, and related prior decisions by the Court.

(S.J. Res 29 was proposed by Senators Udall (New Mexico), Bennet (Colorado), Harkin (Iowa), Durbin (Illinois), Schumer (New York), Merkley (Oregon), Whitehouse (Rhode Island), Begich (Alaska), and Shaheen (New Hampshire).)

Because the wording of the proposed amendment was fixed, the focus of the discussion became what to do next.

One particularly self-esteeming gentleman from Atlanta said that eventually the whole Constitution should be rewritten, because those who wrote it were not representative, and included slave-holders.

That is important enough to require some comments.

The barons who imposed the Magna Carta on the King of England were not at all egalitarian.  They were not elected by the adult population that would be affected by their action.  So by the logic of the gentleman from Atlanta, England should now revise the Magna Carta.

To embark on rewriting the Constitution from scratch would ignore the law of unintended consequences, the twistiness and contingence of historical branching, all of which result from the complexity of human society.  Rewriting the Constitution in one fell swoop would be extraordinarily foolhardy.  But neither Mr Belly Button nor any other of the dominant voices at the meeting blanched or voiced any objection.  They even hinted at favoring an eventual complete rewriting of the Constitution.

Any system of government that works fairly well should be changed only incrementally, testing the results of each small step before going on to the next change.  The evolution should resemble biological evolution during an interval that contains no planetary-scale geological or astronomical catastrophes.

That applies also to Paul Ryan’s goal of sweepingly reorganizing and rescoping the government, which underlies and goes far beyond his proposed budget.

It is worth noting some aspects of those in attendance.

Move to Amend appeared to me to be a fixed group of individuals who moved opportunistically from issue to issue.  I got the impression they waited for the emergence of the next new issue that they could ride, and changed the name of their group accordingly.  Most or all of the organizers seemed to be leading activists in the US Green Party.

As far as I could glimpse their underlying agenda, it seemed pretentious and grandiose.  Fortunately, because the group regarded pragmatism as synonymous with impurity, their agenda is unlikely to ever be implemented, or even to contribute to policies implemented by others.

As noted earlier, the audience was much more diverse than the organizers.  Many were practical and non-doctrinaire.  In particular, I was very favorably impressed by those from the Occupy movement.  They had thought long and hard about the issues.  That was understandable, in view of the personal sacrifices they were making.  Unlike the organizers, those from the Occupy movement were very focused on the effectiveness of proposed actions and policies.

Another organization, Public Citizen (URL1, URL2) is partnering with Move to Amend to promote Move to Amend‘s proposed amendment to the Constitution.  Public Citizen is presently trying to encourage people to push for the amendment right now.  That is a big mistake.  This is the wrong time, even though the deformation to the electopral process that has been wrought by the Citizens United decision is presently in full view.  The politically aware portion of the citizenry are and will be focused exclusively on the election until it is over.  For the moment, talking about Citizens United is a waste of time, money and energy, and will detract from the attention that activists are willing to give to the issue after the election.

Should the Democrats Talk About Climate Change?

August 16, 2012 at 9:22 am | Posted in Climate change, Disinformation, Global warming | 1 Comment
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Climate change has long been a divisive issue.  For that reason the Democratic Party has shied away from talking about it before the election.

But this year has been the tipping point for public opinion about climate change.

Drought, fires, and record temperatures this past summer have convinced many who previously doubted global warming.  (Although global warming does not account for all of the present drought, it does contribute to it, and will contribute more importantly to future droughts.  Here is a concise summary of the relative contributions to drought from natural cycles and from human-induced warming.)

The reports of ice melting and the margins of glaciers disintegrating in both the Arctic and the Antarctic have added to the change of heart. The steady drum beat of dramatic changes has cumulatively built up a convincing mass of evidence.

There are probably few farmers in the midwest and southwest who still do not believe in global warming.

The drought is going to push up the price of food.  The melting of the permafrost in formerly cold regions will force hugely expensive replacements of buildings and roads.  There will also be an enormous human and medical cost from fungal  infections, as I’ll discuss in a later post.  It is now clear that the cost of not reducing global warming will eventually dwarf the cost of reducing it.

By the way, what do the Pee Party and Paul Ryan think about the Federal role in drought relief? If they are for it, how do they expect the government to pay for it?

That brings us back to the question in the title of this post.

In the pre-election arguments, the Democrats should point out that, of the two parties, only they are willing to do something about global warming.

If Republicans are elected,
– action will be further delayed
– the problem will be much harder when we finally get around to dealing with it
– the impact on you, your children and your grandchildren will be much more severe.

If Democrats are elected,
– action starts right away
– the problem will not be as hard or as costly
– the impact on you and yours and on the economy will be less severe.

Al Gore was right.  Global warming is an inconvenient truth.  But we cannot avoid having to deal with it eventually.

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