Sep
29

Breaking down the first presidential debate, September 26th, 2016, Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton:

The debate video and transcript, and my source for Trump and Hillary quotes is here. (New York Times)

My bias: strongly left leaning, certainly, but self-identified Independent

My personal opinions:
On the “pro-Hillary at least in the sense of anti-Trump” side: Trump appears to have no knowledge of key issues, does not have clear oratory skills, lacks calm temperament and diplomacy, and offers only attacks rather than specific plans, proposals, and solutions.

On the “I still can’t vote for Trump, but anti-Hillary” side: I feel that a(n) (even marginally) smarter person could have reasonally attacked Hillary point for point on nearly every issue.  (speculation: Perhaps this was intentional, in that “the crowd” might not favor reasoned academic debate over rabble-rousing Trumpian soundbites, or so Trump, the entertainer, might think)

And, noted, it appears that people on each side of the debate essentially say the exact same thing about the other candidate, just switch the names: liar, lack of transparency, the other one has better temperament, the other one has more noticeable health issues, the other one flip flops on their issues so you don’t know where they stand, their candidate will help the middle class best, the other candidate is too personally biased towards Wall Street… and so on

The one thing I can say, from everyone, both sides of the aisle, I have encountered, is that everyone hates this election, everyone is angry, and it seems most people would rather have nearly anyone else except for these two – yet these two clearly indisputably won the primary votes.

Question One: Job creation

My personal thoughts: I thought this opening part of the debate was rather GOP v. Democrat party platform textbook answers.  Of course the Democrats would be for taxes on the wealthy and increased regulations, presumably to help raise federal income – while appealing to middle to lower class voters, and counter pollution.  Of course the Republicans would be against taxes on the wealthy and against regulations – one side sees this as the rich making themselves richer at the expense of the poor, the other side sees this as “trickle down economics,” now called the “job creation” argument.  (of course, it is not that hyperbolic, nor that simple)  My only point here is that I felt the answers here were pretty standard main party positions.  Both try to appeal to the middle class.  As a voter, are you pro or against increased regulation, want to raise or lower capital gains taxes, want to reform tax laws or not, for or against EPA regulations, believe trickle-down economics doesn’t work, or believe that capitalism should not be hindered by the government, or that it is not the government’s domain to constrain private industry in any regard, and so forth…

The candidates made reference to the past.  Yes, the ’90s were an era of relative economic prosperity, that does correlate to the Clinton regime.  However, a) to what degree is that an accurate reflection of Hillary Clinton’s contributions?  b) The ’90s had a very different economic climate than now and may not be currently relevant.  (to which I could also add, what is the correlation and relevancy of Trump’s business record, or any business record, with regard to political governance and presidential ability?  but that is a whole other can of worms…  it could also be that a vote for Trump is not so much a vote reflecting his competence, but a political statement against career politicians…)

Specific answer time.  I will attempt to evaluate candidates by their ability to answer the question, in terms of offering a specific solution and how to achieve that proposal.

Hillary:
proposing solutions: “invest in…jobs in infrastructure, in advanced manufacturing, innovation and technology, clean, renewable energy, and small business, because most of the new jobs will come from small business. We also have to make the economy fairer. …raising the national minimum wage and … equal pay for women’s work.  [and] I also want to see more companies do profit-sharing.  …paid family leave, earned sick days. …affordable child care and debt-free college.”

how to achieve solutions: “by having the wealthy pay their fair share and close the corporate loopholes”

Criticisms: How much of this can a president – given Congressional approval, which is a big “if” – actually accomplish?  The government is a large employer.  Improved infrastructure is needed.

The government can set a minimum wage.  The government can not make private companies engage in profit-sharing.  The government could potentially incentivize companies to hire a net positive amount of jobs within the United States, as opposed to outsourcing, via tax incentives.  (Bill Clinton on jobs.)  Debt-free college seems a stretch, and a large amount of colleges and universities are in the private sector.  I’m not sure what “close corporate loopholes” entails.  Legislation may be in place to regulate Wall Street (if it is), but enforcement has to be on par.  Do we see bankers and others involved in financial crimes getting duly punished?  To what degree could, or would, Hillary Clinton come down hard on Wall Street, given her interests?  To what degree would Congress let her, given theirs?  (same goes for Trump, not to mention personal conflicts of interest)

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr, and employees who work work study or receive tips can legally receive less.

If you have one full time job at minimum wage, $7.25/hr, (and good luck getting full time), with no other source of income, this roughly equates to $15,000 annual income (per this calculator).  The current poverty line is $11,880 for one individual.  I would personally suggest that the poverty line be raised.  The average annual cost of living, for one person, in the United States (according to here) is $28,474.

Trump:
mentioning the problem: (I will attempt to paraphrase, when not in quotes, on occasion, in my words, for brevity and clarity, when I feel appropriate, to actually give Trump the benefit of the doubt.)  The problem is with outsourcing, to Mexico and other countries.  “China…[is] devaluing their currency, and there’s nobody in our government to fight them. And we have a very good fight. …Because they’re using our country as a piggy bank to rebuild China, and many other countries are doing the same thing. …Mexico…[is] building some of the biggest plants… Ford[‘s] …small car division [is outsourcing]…Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio.”

 
proposing solutions: “As far as child care is concerned and so many other things, I think Hillary and I agree on that. We probably disagree a little bit as to numbers and amounts and what we’re going to do … We have to renegotiate our trade deals, and we have to stop these countries from stealing our companies and our jobs.”

 
how to achieve solutions: “I’ll be reducing taxes tremendously, from 35 percent to 15 percent for companies, small and big businesses.”

Criticisms:  Trump spent the majority of his answer expounding vaguely on the problem, which seemed primarily to be outsourcing, while not offering much in the way of solutions.  He did specifically mention renegotiating trade deals and reducing taxes for companies from 35 to 15 percent.  He is either referring to capital gains tax, which would make more sense with regard to business and the real source of revenue for top earners, or federal income tax, which would make more sense with regard to the 35% reference.

Capital gains tax was at roughly 20% during the Clinton years and George W. Bush’s 1st term, then reduced to 15% during George W. Bush’s 2nd term and throughout the Obama administration, where it is currently at 15%, according to wikipedia, for one. (admittedly a poor source)
Since Reagan (insert Reaganomics and stagflation) was brought into this, the capital gains tax was raised to 28% from 20% in 1986.  And, technically, the Reagan era had the highest earners paying increased income taxes, while the lowest earners paid a decreased percentage of income taxes (wikipedia).  Is it possible that Reagan would be too left-leaning for the GOP today?

George W. Bush brought the capital gains tax down to 15%, and Obama administration extended the 15% capital gains tax, but 20% for the highest bracket.  “Section 2011 of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 exempted 100% of the taxes on capital gains for angel and venture capital investors on small business stock investments if held for 5 years. It was a temporary measure but was extended further through 2011 (wikipedia).”  An additional 3.8% tax was added in 2013 (wiki).  So…the capital gains tax is already at 15%; does Trump intend to lower this?
Or, it is more likely that Trump is referring to federal income tax.   If this is so, then reducing 35 to 15, in this context, would mean requiring an individual who makes $411,501 to $413,200 to pay the same tax percentage rate as an individual who makes $9,226 to $37,450.  (irs.com; publication 17, 2015, irs.gov, page 264) (which, with a poverty level at $11,880, includes individuals 25% below the poverty line up to individuals roughly three times the poverty line)  Again, I suppose the theory is trickle-down economics.

As for renegotiating trade deals…well, for one, that is very vague.

see video here regarding foreign response to the US debate (Rachel Maddow, MSNBC)

(for the record, here is Ford CEO’s response to Trump.)

oh my god, I haven’t even gotten through question one.  I will have to streamline this.  I will post this as part one and continue from there.

Sep
20

Maybe one of these days I’ll get around to doing a real blog, regurgitate some of my self-rants on aging, life, and crap.  But, for now, today I stumbled upon this video, and I liked it.  So, kudos to Jenna Marbles:

Aug
18

Steve Terreberry

“Happy Deathcore”

Jared Dines

“11 Styles of Metal”

“10 New Styles of Metal”

“Every Rhythm Guitarist”

 

Sweet Bassy Goodness

More Strings….

Rob Scallon

…and less strings

Shovel Guitar!

Jul
16

 

 

drummers make me happy.

—————————————————

non-musician musicians:

Will Ferrell, undisputed king of cowbell

and spotlight Jimmy Fallon:

as Neil Young:

as Bruce Springsteen:

Bob Dylan:

Bowie:

Jim Morrison:

Jimmy Fallon has some respectable musical talent.

 

May
24

Makes me think, are we even a democracy at all?

Mar
23

An excerpt from the book, It Can’t Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis (1935).

“If Bishop Prang, our Savonarola in a Cadillac 16, swings his radio audience and his League of Forgotten Men to Buzz Windrip, Buzz will win.  People will think they’re electing him to create more economic security.  Then watch the Terror! God knows there’s been enough indication that we can have tyranny in America—the fix of the Southern sharecroppers, the working conditions of the miners and garment-makers. and our keeping Mooney [a political activist wrongly imprisoned] in prison so many years.  But wait till Windrip shows us how to say it with machine guns!  Democracy—here and in Britain and France, it hasn’t been so universal a sniveling slavery as Naziism in Germany, such an imagination-hating, pharisaic materialism as Russia—even if it has produced altogether too much power and money.  On the whole, with scandalous exceptions, Democracy’s given the ordinary worker more dignity than he ever had.  That may be menaced now by Windrip—all the Windrips.  All right!  Maybe we’ll have to fight paternal dictatorship with a little sound patricide—fight machine guns with machine guns.  Wait till Buzz takes charge of us.  A real Fascist dictatorship!”

“Nonsense! Nonsense!” snorted Tasbrough.  “That couldn’t happen here in America, not possibly!  We’re a country of freemen.”

“The answer to that,” suggested Doremus Jessup, “if Mr. Falck will forgive me, is ‘the hell it can’t!’ Why, there’s no country in the world that can get more hysterical—yes, or more obsequious!—than America.  Look how Huey Long [a proponent of socialistic wealth redistribution] became absolute monarch over Louisiana and how the Right Honorable Mr. Senator Berzelius Windrip owns his State.  Listen to Bishop Prang and Father Coughlin [evangelist] on the radio—divine oracles, to millions.  Remember how casually most Americans have accepted Tammany grafting and Chicago gangs and the crookedness of so many of President Harding’s appointees?  Could Hitler’s bunch, or Windrip’s, be worse?  Remember the Kuklux Klan?  Remember our war hysteria, when we called sauerkraut ‘Liberty cabbage’ and somebody actually proposed calling German measles ‘Liberty measles’?  And wartime censorship of honest papers?  Bad as Russia!  Remember our kissing the—well, the feet of Billy Sunday, the million-dollar evangelist, and of Aimee McPherson [con artist evangelist], who swam from the Pacific Ocean clear into the Arizona desert and got away with it?  Remember Voliva [Flat Earth proponent, in 1914] and Mother Eddy [creator of Christian Science]? …Remember our Red scares and our Catholic scares, when all well-informed people knew that the O.G.P.U. were hiding out in Oskaloosa, and the Republicans campaigning against Al Smith told the Carolina mountaineers that if Al won the Pope would illegitimatize their children?  Remember Tom Heflin [a white supremacist and Democratic senator] and Tom Dixon?  Remember when the hick legislators in certain states, in obedience to William Jennings Bryan [a famous populist, also pacifist], who learned his biology from his pious old grandma, set up shop as scientific experts and made the whole world laugh itself sick by forbidding the teaching of evolution?… Remember the Kentucky night-riders?  Remember how trainloads of people have gone to enjoy lynchings?  Not happen here?  Prohibition—shooting down people just because they might be transporting liquor—no, that couldn’t happen in America!  Why, where in all history has there ever been a people so ripe for a dictatorship as ours!  We’re ready to start on a Children’s Crusade [crusades, to drive Muslims from the Holy Land in the 1200s] –only of adults—right now, and the Right Reverend Abbots Windrip and Prang are all ready to lead it!”

“Well, what if they are?” protested R.C. Crowley.  “It might not be so bad.  I don’t like all these irresponsible attacks on us bankers all the time.  Of course, Senator Windrip has to pretend publicly to bawl the banks out, but once he gets into power he’ll give the banks their proper influence in the administration and take our expert financial advice.  Yes.  Why are you so afraid of the word ‘Fascism,’ Doremus?  Just a word—just a word!  And might not be so bad, with all the lazy bums we got panhandling relief nowadays, and living on my income tax and yours—not so worse to have a real Strong Man, like Hitler or Mussolini—like Napoleon or Bismarck in the good old days—and have ’em really run the country and make it efficient and prosperous again.  ‘Nother words, have a doctor who won’t take any back-chat, but really boss the patient and make him get well whether he likes it or not!”

“Yes!” said Emil Staubmeyer.  “Didn’t Hitler save Germany from the Red Plague of Marxism?  I got cousins there, I know!”

“Hm,” said Doremus, as often Doremus did say it.  “Cure the evils of Democracy by the evils of Fascism!  Funny therapeutics.  I’ve heard of curing syphilis by giving the patient malaria, but I’ve never heard of their curing malaria by giving the patient syphilis!”

….”[T]his chewing the rag is all nonsense anyway.  As Crowley says, might be a good thing to have a strong man in the saddle, but—it just can’t happen here in America.”

And it seemed to Doremus that the softly moving lips of the Reverend Mr. Falck were framing, “The hell it can’t!”

(p.16-8)

Lewis, Sinclair. (1935). It Can’t Happen Here. New York: New American Library.

——————————————————————————————————-

Imagine the following:

“If Rush Limbaugh and David Duke swing their radio audience and the League of Forgotten Men to Donald Trump, Trump will win.  People will think they’re electing him to create more economic security.  Then watch the Terror! God knows there’s been enough indication that we can have tyranny in America—the fix of the poor Southerners, the working conditions of the miners and retail workers. …  But wait till Trump shows us how to say it with machine guns!  Democracy—here and in Britain and France, it hasn’t been so universal a sniveling slavery as Naziism in Germany, such an imagination-hating, pharisaic materialism as Russia—even if it has produced altogether too much power and money.  On the whole, with scandalous exceptions, Democracy’s given the ordinary worker more dignity than he ever had.  That may be menaced now by Trump—all the Trumps.  or Bush – all the Bush’s. All right!  Maybe we’ll have to fight paternal dictatorship with a little sound patricide—fight machine guns with machine guns.  Wait till the Donald takes charge of us.  A real Fascist dictatorship!”

“Nonsense! Nonsense!” snorted Tasbrough.  “That couldn’t happen here in America, not possibly!  We’re a country of freemen.”

“The answer to that,” suggested Doremus Jessup, “if Mr. Falck will forgive me, is ‘the hell it can’t!’ Why, there’s no country in the world that can get more hysterical—yes, or more obsequious!—than America.  Look how Bernie Sanders wants to redistribute the wealth, how Bobby Jindal ruined Louisiana.  Listen to Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson on the radio—divine oracles, to millions.  Remember how casually most Americans have accepted Chris Christie’s bridge scandal or Rick Perry’s felony indictment or Chicago gangs or police violence targeting unarmed black men and the crookedness of so many of senators?  Could Hitler’s bunch, or Trump’s, be worse?  Remember the Kuklux Klan?  Remember our war hysteria, when we called french fries ‘Freedom fries’? Remember the Patriot Act?  And wartime censorship of honest papers?  Bad as Russia!  Remember our kissing the—well, the feet of Pat Robertson, the million-dollar evangelist, and of Kenneth and Gloria Copeland?  Remember Scientology ? …Remember our Red scares and our Catholic scares and our Muslim scares, when all well-informed people knew that the KGB were hiding out in Oskaloosa, and how Catholicism was an issue when John F. Kennedy ran for president? Remember Tom Heflin and Tom Dixon and David Duke?  Remember when the hick legislators in certain states, in obedience to William Jennings Bryan, who learned his biology from his pious old grandma, set up shop as scientific experts and made the whole world laugh itself sick by forbidding the teaching of evolution? or only teaching creationism? or abstinence? or that global warming isn’t real?… Remember the Kentucky night-riders?  Remember how trainloads of people have gone to enjoy lynchings?  Not happen here?  War on Drugs—mandatory minimums just because they have a small amount of cannabis?—no, that couldn’t happen in America!  Why, where in all history has there ever been a people so ripe for a dictatorship as ours!  We’re ready to start on a Children’s Crusade–only of adults—right now, and Donald Trump and Cruz are all ready to lead it!”

“Well, what if they are?” protested R.C. Crowley.  “It might not be so bad.  I don’t like all these irresponsible attacks on us bankers all the time.  Of course, Cruz has to pretend publicly to bawl the banks out, but once he gets into power he’ll give the banks their proper influence in the administration and take our expert financial advice.  Yes.  Why are you so afraid of the word ‘Fascism,’ Doremus?  Just a word—just a word!  And might not be so bad, with all the lazy bums we got panhandling welfare nowadays, and living on my income tax and yours—not so worse to have a real Strong Man, like Hitler or Mussolini—like Napoleon or Bismarck in the good old days—and have ’em really run the country and make America great again.  ‘Nother words, have a doctor who won’t take any back-chat, but really boss the patient and make him get well whether he likes it or not!”

“Yes!” said Emil Staubmeyer.  “Didn’t Hitler save Germany from the Red Plague of Marxism?  I got cousins there, I know!”

“Hm,” said Doremus, as often Doremus did say it.  “Cure the evils of Democracy by the evils of Fascism!  Funny therapeutics.  I’ve heard of treating cancer with chemotherapy, but not giving cancer to patients on chemo.”

….”[T]his chewing the rag is all nonsense anyway.  As Crowley says, might be a good thing to have a strong man in the saddle, but—it just can’t happen here in America.”

And it seemed to Doremus that the softly moving lips of the Reverend Mr. Falck were framing, “The hell it can’t!”

————————————————-
Footnotes:

James Thomas Heflin was a white supremacist and Democratic senator.  David Duke was a former Grand Wizard of the KKK, he ran for president in 1988, he switched from Democrat to Republican in the ’80s and was actually a senator of Lousiana from 1989-92.  Apparently, he forced welfare recipients to be tested for narcotics before they could receive aid.  He almost was the governor of Louisiana in ’91.  (and Trump certainly knows who David Duke is, apart from the 2000 clip where he mentions him by name, as it states that David Duke and Pat Buchanan were the reason Trump dropped out of election in 1999)  Apparently Duke was convicted of tax fraud in 2002, and arrested in the Czech Republic in 2009 for promoting Naziism.  He was expelled from Italy.  The Swiss don’t want him either.  And this guy endorsed Trump, and Trump didn’t speak out against it, at least not for awhile, until Trump finally tweeted later, something akin to, “ok fine, I disavow. whatever.”

 

 

 

Related Links

It Can’t Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis, (barnesandnoble.com)

No, Not Trump, Not Ever, David Brooks, 3/18/16 (nytimes.com)

Rush Limbaugh calls Sandra Fluke a slut (youtube.com, The Young Turks)

2012 GOP candidates not exactly disagreeing with Rush Limbaugh’s comments (youtube.com, The Young Turks)

Limbaugh and other Republican media hosts siding with Cruz (youtube.com, The Young Turks)

Limbaugh confused by Trump (youtube.com, The Young Turks)

http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/

Rachel Maddow: Republican Party May Just Survive Trump (hulu.com)

Daily Show with John Stewart on global warming: Burn Noticed (youtube.com)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Climate Change (youtube.com)

Bernie Sanders on Scandinavian socialism (youtube.com, Late Night with Seth Meyers)

What Americans Don’t Understand about Nordic Countries, Business Insider (businessinsider.com)

It really can happen here: the novel that foreshadowed Donald Trump’s authoritarian appeal (salon.com)

WordPress:

The Plot Against America, P. Roth

Hitler was a Christian? Trump is a Christian!

is there an emptiness of Trump?

The Truth about Trump?

Opinion: Why Donald Trump is the Worst Presidential Candidate

It Can’t Happen Here, a video about fascism

Us, Them & the Boogeyman

Just for Fun:

Donald Trump quiz, with facial expressions (playbuzz.com)

12 countries draw political cartoons of Trump (playbuzz.com)

Quiz: Real Trump Policy or policy of our warped imaginations? (playbuzz.com)

#SaferThanaTrumpRally: TheWrap, GlobalNewsLatin Post, Twitter

Sample Questions from Trump University Exam (newyorker.com)

http://donaldtrumpisanasshole.com/

 

Mar
18

March is colon cancer awareness month.  Join a walk/run, donate, wear blue, share photos, get screened, spread awareness.

Chris4Life

Colon Cancer Alliance

Scope it Out 5k

toms tornadoes

we came

in memory of Tom

Mar
18

(following quote:)

It was for the sake of this day that he had first decided to run for the presidency, a decision that had sent shockwaves of astonishment throughout the Imperial Galaxy.  Zaphod Beeblebrox? President? Not the Zaphod Beeblebrox? Not the President?  Many had seen it as clinching proof that the whole of known creation had finally gone bananas.

… Zaphod Beeblebrox, adventurer, ex-hippie, good-timer, (crook? quite possibly), manic self-publicist, terribly bad at personal relationships, often thought to be completely out to lunch.
President?
No one had gone bananas, not in that way at least.
Only six people in the entire Galaxy understood the principle on which the Galaxy was governed, and they knew that once Zaphod Beeblebrox had announced his intention to run as President it was more or less a fait accompli: he was ideal presidency fodder.*
What they completely failed to understand was why Zaphod was doing it.
…President: full title President of the Imperial Galactic Government.
The term Imperial is kept though it is now an anachronism.  The hereditary Emperor is nearly dead and has been for many centuries.  In the last moments of his dying coma he was locked in a stasis field which keeps him in a state of perpetual unchangingness.  All his heirs are now long dead, and this means that without any drastic political upheaval, power has simply and effectively moved a rung or two down the ladder, and is now seen to be vested in a body that used to act simply as advisers to the Emperor—am elected governmental assembly headed by a President elected by that assembly.  In fact it vests in no such place.
The President in particular is very much a figurehead—he wields no real power whatsoever.  He is apparently chosen by the government, but the qualities he is required to display are not those of leadership but those of finely judged outrage.  For this reason the President is always a controversial choice, always an infuriating but fascinating character.  His job is not to wield power but to draw attention away from it.  On those criteria Zaphod Beeblebrox is one of the most successful Presidents the Galaxy has ever had—he has already spent two of his ten presidential years in prison for fraud.  Very very few people realize that the President and the Government have virtually no power at all, and of these few people only six know whence ultimate political power is wielded.  Most of the others secretly believe that the ultimate decision-making process is handled by a computer.  They couldn’t be more wrong. (Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 1980, p. 37-8)

reference: Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 1980 (a book everyone should read and also own)

Mar
13

 

 

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Feb
01