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A Change Has Gotta’ Come

by Ron Jacobs

The United States is in crisis. The world is in crisis. Inequality in all of its manifestations defines the economics that run our lives. For those in what we used to call the Third World, war or the threat of war is a fact of daily life. For those of us living in the rest of the world, those wars frame our existence in ways we accept as normal–militarized security, refugees in camps and detention centers, and the possibility of a terror attack in almost any public venue. Of course, the fact that there would be fewer war refugees if Washington and its NATO supplicants did not insist on instigating and fueling war is lost on most citizens of the northern nations. Meanwhile, the climate melts around us, a phenomenon exacerbated by an unsustainable pursuit of profit…

Source: A Change Has Gotta’ Come

Unless You’re Privileged, Trump Spells Disaster

Some aspects about Donald Trump not likely to be seen on the nightly news or even the upcoming debates. – RJC

BroadBlogs

Trump disaster Trump disaster

Even as Trump says he wants to help the working class:

  • He says US wages are too high
  • He’s failed to pay small businesses who did work for him — bankrupting a few
  • The fraudulent Trump University bilked many out of their savings
  • He opened a modeling agency and hired illegal foreign women, then took all of their earnings — following the pimp model of doing business
  • He takes from charities and gives to himself
  • He wants less Wall Street regulation — meaning Main Street will likely bail them out again

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Media Madness and Campaign 2016

Recent days have continued on with the American Presidential Campaign Scripted In Wonderland. In many ways, the media have become more of the story than the candidates themselves. NBC sponsored a candidates forum for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to discuss national security issues. The main takeaway from this for many was the fact that Today Show host and event moderator Matt Lauer allowed Donald Trump to state bald-faced lies as fact without questioning their veracity. He did not, in fact, oppose invading Iraq from day one. The Trump campaign style thus far has done about as good a job of playing fast and loose with reality and facts as I can ever recall being subjected to in the course of an election campaign.

Soon after the national security forum, Mike Barnacle of MSNBC fired the shot that scored the biggest hit of this sordid campaign to date when he asked a totally dumbfounded Gary Johnson (former governor of New Mexico and current Presidential candidate on the Libertarian  Party ticket) what he would do about Aleppo if elected. Like most Americans – including those who depend on MSNBC for their political news – Johnson wanted to know what Aleppo was before responding. How would Donald Trump have responded to the same question at the same time? Clinton, I am sure, would’ve at least come up with a reasoned response with ease. Would Trump bluff his way out of it with his normal bluster, or would he have been as flustered as Johnson?

This is the last American Presidential election for which all eligible voters were born prior to 9/11/2001. Hopefully, subsequent campaigns will include candidates somewhat better informed about world affairs affecting our lives. I certainly hope they don’t make such a mess of the selection process as was done this go around.  Perhaps journalists will also ask pertinent questions of all the candidates – and question the responses when they are comprised of pure garbage and made up out of thin air. In this day and age of 24/7 news coverage, the instantly televised media wields an increasing importance in terms of how voters become informed and what they learn regarding the candidates, their policy proposals and personal styles. Shortcomings in this coverage to date, on the part of both the candidates and the media, leave me wondering just how informed American voters will be when casting their ballots (or not, as may be their choice) in November. In depth and accurate reporting of facts us tremendously important in avoiding costly mistakes like electing someone president who fancies themselves a monarch or autocrat.

Minor party candidates, such as Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein, rarely have the financial resources necessary to gain the national name recognition and prominence required for conducting a campaign competitive with those of the two major parties. Free airtime (which is what Donald Trump has been more heavily dependent upon than any other candidate in recent memory) is extremely scarce for candidates other than Republicans or Democrats. CNN had specials showcasing the Libertarian and Green candidates, but that sort of coverage pales in comparison to the huge media entourages accompanying each of the major party candidates – starting with early primaries and moving on through the general election. Chances of them overcoming a weak, bumbling response such as Johnson’s last week are slim to none – despite the fact that Trump has done far worse in nearly every public speaking engagement he has engaged in since announcing his candidacy.

The fact that MSNBC was able to spotlight what it perceives as a shortcoming in the candidacy of Gary Johnson is not so surprising as its unwillingness to see similar or even worse shortcomings in the ideas/policy proposals/moral character of the candidates most likely to end up winning the election. Other than some cursory references to party platforms during their respective conventions, issues have primarily been framed by the candidates themselves. Trump has been the main beneficiary of not being pressured for specifics by the media (refusal to release his tax returns leads the way here, followed closely with the lack of any specifics concerning his immigration, economic and trade policies – if they exist at all other than as figments of his imagination). Clinton, it should be pointed out, has had to deal with seemingly endless Congressional and other inquiries leading to nowhere regarding Benghazi, email security and the Clinton Global Initiative. Unlike Trump, she has not had the luxury of being able to tell somebody “none of your business” when pressed on these issues.

If the Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates, starting later this month, are to be useful as a means by which voters may make an informed decision as to how to ultimately cast their ballots in November, the moderators need to do a much better job than Lauer did last week in keeping discussion rooted in reality. New renditions of the tragic comedies that comprised the Republican debates during the primaries would further insult our intelligence. Being able and willing to call out an obvious falsehood and not letting either candidate get away with preposterous statements may make good political theater, but it does nothing to elevate the level of political debate that has spiraled downward ever since the party conventions concluded.

Clinton has been waging a traditional campaign, complete with numerous policy proposals and paid political advertisements highlighting them. Trump has done little of that, depending mostly on media coverage of stump speeches and contrived events such as his trip to Mexico to gain attention without paying for commercial TV and Radio ads to get his message out. Got to hand it to the guy, he has been playing the media better than just about any candidate I can remember. He has intentionally ticked off more different groups of people with minimal backlash than most pundits ever thought possible. Gaffes more severe than those which have doomed previous campaigns to he dustbin of history seem to have left him unfazed.

Personally, I would have preferred to see candidates more likely to serve the interests of humanity and society as a whole to remain competitive at this point in the campaign. The campaign remaining must be made to address real human issues and present prospective solutions to the dilemmas that face us now and have the potential to overwhelm us in the near future. We’ve heard enough schoolyard bullying and name-calling to last several lifetimes. Get down to telling us what you intend to do if elected and how it will improve our lives. Once the dust settles and a president elected, along with a new (and hopefully more diligent) Congress, our jobs will have just begun. We must then hold the new political leadership accountable and make them work for us, whether that was their original intention upon deciding to run or not.

What Has This Endless War Achieved?

This November, American voters will cast ballots for the fourth consecutive election while at war in the Middle East. Not a war in the conventional sense, where our military fights against easily identifiable opponents with a defined set of objectives and preferred outcome marking the end of hostilities, but definitely a shooting war with killed and wounded combatants and innocent civilians alike. Over a trillion dollars have been spent by US taxpayers so far, with thousands of dead Americans and allied soldiers, many thousands more injured and hundreds of thousands of casualties in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Like every war the US has participated in since the end of the Second World War, these wars were never officially declared by Congress as prescribed by the Constitution, but were enabled by resolutions and funding approved by that branch of our government. An Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) was passed in the wake of the tragic terrorist acts of September 11, 2001 which has basically been used ever since as authorization for the resulting madness which has been perpetrated on that part of the world ever since.

The war(s) have ebbed and flowed with the passage of time, and American casualties have slowed since Obama has taken office, but the overall political situation in all of the above named countries is far from stabilized. The advent of ISIS has muddled the situation further, resulting in more political chaos and drastic changes in the American response and further conduct in the war effort, as well as expanding the participants to include Russia, Iran and now Turkey. Meanwhile, the situation has also deteriorated in Yemen, with the Saudi military taking on adversaries in that country.

To his credit, President Obama did seem to resist capitulating to the voices of hawks in his Administration and Congress who sought to expand operations and bring a lasting victory amid even greater death and destruction. He even sought a new AUMF from Congress to address the changed situation regarding ISIS. Congress, true to form, came up with nothing once again. They simply keep approving requested funding to maintain an ambiguous status quo hoping for the situation to improve without their having to stick their necks out politically.

Oddly, all this war and its attending political chaos, along with the Arab Spring and the upheaval that has taken place in Libya, Egypt, Yemen and much of the rest of the Arab world, has seemingly had little effect on American political campaigns, even during Presidential election years. Some anti-war candidates have come forth in previous years (Dennis Kucinich is one who readily comes to mind), but never was there really an attempt to convey the notion that we needed to make a major change in our policy pertaining to these conflicts which was taken seriously. Bush was able to win re-election in ‘04, pretty much everyone was agreed that things weren’t going well in ‘08, but that we were winding things down, and in ‘12 Obama was re-elected handily with only mild modifications of the script handed him by Bush.

Since the shift to using Special Operations forces, arming and training forces in Iraq  and Syria to fight ISIS, tactical and strategic gains seem to be made slowly in some areas, but the main political fight here has shifted once again to fighting terror, not creating any sort of stability in the part of the world where our drones and missiles and bombs are detonating, whether it be our forces pulling the triggers or those of people we’ve trained and supplied them with. While our military is still over there trying to gain control over the situation on the ground, we have major political figures here spending most of their time verbally blasting Radical Islamic Extremists and seeking to solve the world’s problems by rolling up in a ball and keeping all Moslems out of the country. No debate of any kind is coming out of Congress or Presidential campaigns calling for a comprehensive peace process to stabilize the situation over there.

Third party candidates and some progressive Democrats in Congress aside, the main thrust in this Presidential campaign cycle has consistently ignored the Middle East situation, except, perhaps, for Trump’s bellicose ranting about bombing the hell out of the Islamic Extremist Terrorists and building a wall to keep out Mexicans. Clinton seems content to further the policy given her by Obama, which is a continuation of that of Bush, which has, in the view of many, achieved little more than spending lots of money killing tons of people and creating millions of refugees that nobody knows what to do with or how to help.

The time is long past due for the American people to call this BS for what it is. Instead of adding fuel to the fire, we should move to get it under control and stop the bloodshed. Maybe I’m a bit naive, but it seems that our foreign policy is acting just a tad too callously when we seemingly ignore the plight of the millions of innocent men, women and children who have become victims of not only violence perpetrated on them by their own leaders, but by our own incompetence and the failure of our weapons to adequately discern whether their victims are deserving of their destructive power.

This War on Terror is being used as an excuse to conduct all manner of immoral behavior against our “enemies”, foreign and domestic. Bush and company used it to justify creating the terrorist prison at Guantanamo, where people are detained indefinitely without charge or trial. Torture was used and excused as a means to avoid future 9/11 – style attacks or worse. Obama has seemingly stopped that, but nobody has faced prosecution for conducting or ordering it in the first place. Trump wants us to use more of it. Media coverage of war in this country has deteriorated dramatically since Vietnam. When people aren’t being shipped home in body bags, it’s as if no war is going on at all to most Americans. Self-censoring media coverage doesn’t help matters.

Hopefully, the Presidential Debates will delve more deeply into foreign policy and war than rallies and stump speeches have so far. Clinton’s foreign policy role as Secretary of State and before that as a Senator in the run-up to the start of the invasion of Iraq do not indicate that she will change our approach to future conduct in the region or world as a whole. She may even turn out to be more of a hawk than Obama or even Bush. Bill certainly did plenty of bombing in Yugoslavia and Iraq when he was President.

Forget Trump. After he builds his wall and extorts payment from Mexico for it, he only wants to know why we have nukes if we can’t use them (Actually, I have the same question, but I doubt seeking the same answer). His temperament is such that I wouldn’t want him negotiating in situations where millions of lives lie in the balance.

Congress is unlikely to change its non-participant status when it comes to this endless war. There have been numerous opportunities for Congressional action to affect the situation. The House and Senate as a whole have steadfastly deferred to the President (whichever one it was). Some dissention has been voiced, but by too few Senators or Representatives to make a difference. In the absence of a viable and vibrant antiwar movement in this country, the situation could continue indefinitely, interminably even. If we truly want to wage peace, this isn’t the way to do it. Making millions of our fellow human beings destitute, homeless and without hope of redemption is shameful.

How much more good could the trillion plus dollars have done than being spent on this futile effort to bomb people into submission? For that matter, how could that money have possibly been more wastefully spent? The time has long since passed to stop the incessant destruction and begin trying more constructive ways to deal with conflict. Our retaliating for wrongs done us by others – both perceived and real – will not be effective if it continues to cause more “collateral damage” than it prevents. Early in his first term, President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Hopefully, our next President can do likewise – and actually achieve peace in the process.

Further Suggested Readings:

The One Trillion Dollar War with Absolutely Nothing to Show for it.

His name is Omran and He is Alive

It’s not only Omran: Thousands of kids suffer in hellish Aleppo

The US is promoting war crimes in Yemen

War to ‘Stop’ War: Why the Obama Doctrine is Ravaging the Middle East

Aid Worker Recounts Harrowing Experience of Working in Aleppo

Hillary and the War Party

Lawmakers, Peace Groups Team Up to Block ‘Disturbing’ US-Saudi Arms Deal

Such a Long Silence on Yemen

A Clinton Family Value: ‘Humanitarian’ War

The US has warned Syria not to fly warplanes by where American troops are operating

US Hawks Advance a War Agenda in Syria

U.S. Foreign Policy: Relentless War

A U.S. Government Hooked on, Obsessed with, Perpetual War

Arms Industry Donating to Hawkish Clinton Over Incoherent Trump

Pundits, Decrying the Horrors of War in Aleppo, Demand Expanded War

Pentagon Has Flooded Iraq and Afghanistan with More Than One Million Guns

Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria

An Army of Dead Children. We Ignore Them at Our Peril

Revoke Mylan’s Corporate Charter

Something needs to be done to stop the price gouging by the pharmaceutical industry. Perhaps this would be a good place to start.
– RJC

Mike the Mad Biologist

By now, you’ve probably heard about Mylan Laboratories’ massive price hikes in the EpiPen, which is used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions. You might have even heard how the EpiPen technology is entirely the result of federally funded research. Perhaps you even read about the possible (who are we kidding, probable) anti-trust violations that Mylan has committed. But this is simply par for the course (boldface mine):

EpiPen price hikes may be causing outrage, but those pale in comparison to the huge increases that Mylan Laboratories took on dozens of other medicines earlier this year.

For instance, the company raised the price of ursodiol, a generic medicine used to treat gallstones, by 542 percent. There was also a 400 percent boost in the price for dicyclomine, which combats irritable bowel syndrome, and a 312 percent increase for metoclopramide, a generic drug that treats gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Those eye-popping…

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Labor Day Is A National Holiday?

In Presidential election years in the United States, Labor Day is often referred to as the unofficial start of the general election campaign. What can workers look forward to in terms of having their needs addressed for the remainder of this campaign and during the advent of the new administration? Thus far, with the possible exception of two hot-button issues – immigration and trade policy – it has been tough to nail down either major party candidate in terms of how they will each deal with the major issues affecting the lives of members of the American working class.

At least since as far back as the New Deal, the Democratic Party has been perceived as the party representing workers’ interests in our government, while the GOP has been perceived as defenders of a status quo most beneficial to economic and corporate elites. The Republicans like to dispute this characterization, claiming that their tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations make job creation easier, raising prospects for all in our society, but unions and others look at the results of nearly four decades worth of trickle-down economics, right-to-work (for less) laws passed in predominantly Republican-controlled state legislatures and scoff at such claims.

Donald Trump is taking a non-traditional (from a standard GOP perspective) approach in attacking the TPP trade pact as a means by which to further accelerate the trend of American corporations to shift manufacturing to countries with lower wages and harsher working conditions – thus losing good paying jobs for workers in this country. This stance has gained him some traction among white blue collar workers who know this has happened with NAFTA and other international trade deals which preceded the TPP. He promises to scrap the TPP and rework trade terms to bring jobs back to this country from abroad. Little mention is made of the fact that many of his companies have thrived on using cheap foreign labor to make their products. Bringing manufacturing back here would be more by means of lowering wages and worsening working conditions in this country rather than by improving them abroad.

Trump’s approach to immigration also attempts to pit American workers against immigrants to this country. He states that undocumented immigrants are stealing jobs from American citizens by working for lower wages. Millions of immigrants lower wages by competing for a finite number of jobs. Of course, Trump’s enterprises have also benefitted from lowered wages caused by an overabundance of adequately skilled workers. He merely gives part of the story, feeding into workers’ fears of never being able to achieve the American Dream due to inadequate border security.

Little is being said in the campaign so far of bread and butter worker concerns like increasing wages and improving benefits available to workers in this country. Hillary Clinton has had little to say about working for such issues as raising the minimum wage, improving access to affordable health care and higher education or providing benefits such as paid sick leave, vacation and family leave, except in response to the urgings of her primary opponent for the nomination – Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders, while being unsuccessful in his attempt to gain the nomination, was able to gain traction with his progressive policy message concerning labor and the economy. She has made some movement in the direction of workers vis-a-vis their bosses in these areas as a result of the support he brought to the campaign. As the first major party woman presidential nominee, she certainly also needs to show interest in gender equality issues in the workforce and society as a whole.

This Labor Day sees more workers than in the past working on their holiday. Other than banks, schools and government entities, most businesses seem to treat it like just another Monday. Retail stores, restaurants, and other segments of our increasingly service-sector economy stay open for business – meaning many workers end up working holidays just like any other workday. Some employers will pay a premium to those who work, while others will not. There is no legal requirement that they do so, just as there is no legal requirement for paid sick leave, vacation or family leave in most occupations in most of the country (some local ordinances to the contrary).

This pro-corporate profit/anti-worker attitude towards holidays is true of all holidays, not just Labor Day. Often, those at the bottom of the economic pyramid get the least consideration in this regard. How many businesses remain open 365 days a year now? I’m not talking about essential services like hospitals, police and fire protection and places like that. Most employees in such occupations are recognized (and compensated) for their sacrifice in having to work holidays. Grocery stores, discount retail outlets, convenience stores, restaurants and other businesses stay open to get that added business. CEOs and other corporate bigwigs may get them off with full pay, but cashiers and others are not so lucky. In recent years, some noise has been made about making employees at Walmart and other large corporations work on Thanksgiving Day, but little has come of it so far.

Much public advocacy for higher wages and improved benefits for workers has been taking place over the past eight years. President Obama himself has spoken of such issues prominently in his State of the Union Addresses, and even made some proposals to Congress. The Federal Minimum Wage has remained stagnant for the past decade – despite a rising call for it to be more than doubled and made a livable wage. An ever-increasing number of states and municipalities have succeeded in raising it for their jurisdictions in spite of the refusal of Congress to act on the matter. The fact that the vast majority of gains made during the recovery from the Great Recession have gone to the top 1% of earners is an indictment of our economic system as well as the efficacy of the elected officials charged with overseeing the welfare of the populace as a whole.

Donald Trump, despite his claims of being the only one who can fix this country so it benefits us all, sows seeds of division and pits different groups of people against each other who have more in common than either has with him. His blatant hate speech seeks to provoke anger and violence against false enemies in order to increase his own political power and enhance his own celebrity. Hillary Clinton at least has some well thought-out policy positions on issues near and dear to many of our hearts. Hopefully, we can apply enough pressure to ensure she follows through on the Party Platform passed at their convention if elected.

The vast majority of residents of this country have far more in common with each other than they have with either major party candidate. A pity that our political system has become so corrupted that we find ourselves forced to choose among elite oligarchs who have so little true knowledge of us or the lives we lead. It would be nice if at some point, the candidates would address our concerns with more than mere platitudes and promises of a brighter tomorrow. Maybe they could actually do something to fix our economy, reduce inequality, remove social injustice and eradicate insane murderous hatred (or at least make it more difficult to act upon). Maybe they could also stop trying to outdo each other in their desire to use military might to impose their will on the rest of the world.

As for Labor Day, the least we deserve is for it to reflect the respect and dignity due to the people whose efforts make this country and society work at all. We’ve been dealing with increasing economic inequality for far too long. Continuing to ignore the ill-effects of such a system will not improve the lives of any but the most fortunate among us. That is far from the justice which our wannabe leaders claim to want to give us. Making our very attainable goals come to fruition should be their mission – not making up excuses for why they couldn’t or wouldn’t do as promised.

Let this be the last election where we are asked to choose between a multi-billionaire who won’t pay for services rendered (and considers incessantly insulting opponents a sign of strength and an admirable quality) and a person who has mountains of sound policy positions but spends all her time raising money instead of effectively getting her message across to the voters. Labor Day needs to become more than the symbolic end of summer. Labor must be more than something that capitalists buy as cheaply as possible to attain maximum wealth without regard to the wellbeing of the people performing it. Workers rights must be strengthened worldwide to counteract the power that the few exercise over the many with increasingly disastrous results.

Presidential Campaign 2016, General Election Edition

If you have to explain the punch line, it wasn’t a very good joke – or so I’ve been told. Perhaps someone should explain this to Donald Trump and the minions seeking to defend/explain his various statements to the public via the media after any of his recent speeches. His official spokespeople must be either extremely well-paid or among the most masochistic political operatives in recent memory. Watching elected officials tiptoe around the controversies without withdrawing their endorsements is one thing. His spokespeople actually seem to thrive on such rhetorical gymnastics.

President Obama created ISIS, with Secretary Clinton at his side. Given several chances to retract or amend such a statement, Trump doubled down, only to say a couple of days later he was being sarcastic, joking to make a point. But not really being THAT sarcastic. He seems totally incapable of admitting to saying something wrong – only that he is being misinterpreted. His Second Amendment followers statement regarding Hillary Clinton is another case in point. Watching follow-up interviews on any of the networks or news shows has become so predictable as to become a waste of time. About the only time I can remember Trump coming off as sarcastic was when he recently gave what was supposedly a heartfelt apology for saying things that may have caused others pain. He regretted doing so, but neglected to give any specifics about what he had said to warrant the regret, or at whom the wayward comments had been directed.

One of Trump’s most recent forays into political Cloud Cuckoo Land involved a statement he made when he claimed to be addressing African-Americans before a rally crowd of overwhelmingly white Americans in Michigan. He claimed that in four years (presumably seeking re-election) he would receive 95% of the African-American vote. He’s presently polling in the low single digits among members of that group – with good reason. He doesn’t even have 95% support of any group, except maybe his immediate family.

So far, the Trump road show since the end of the primary season has been a series of lowlights. He recently replaced his top campaign advisors for the second time, while spokespeople insisted nothing was amiss with the campaign. He has maintained a rather steady stream of comments which have resulted in increased numbers of down-ballot Republican candidates scurrying to dissociate themselves from him while simultaneously trying to appear to be loyal Republicans. Occasionally, he will speak to point on policy topics (such as taxes, the economy and trade) coherently – reading from a teleprompter, which he abhors when others do likewise.

His economic policy statements have seemed to somewhat mimic standard GOP trickle-down theory which has been tried and untrue for decades now. He advocates a tax cut package which would give maximum cuts to the richest Americans and an end to the Estate Tax – both of which would increase economic inequality in the US even more than the latest recession did, while simultaneously blowing up the deficit to unprecedented levels. His remarks on immigration and trade have remained fairly constant over time, but been slightly modified to take some of the sting out of his initial pronouncements on the subjects. He still gains support by feeding xenophobic, racist and religious hatred – which has earned him little support among any groups other than white blue collar males. Plus some fellow billionaires.

Though specifics on most of his policy positions are scarce, they do generally speak to the fears and angers of his primary base of voters. What he isn’t telling them is that, although he’s talking about bringing jobs back to America, he’s not exactly promising they will be good-paying jobs. He’d like to undo the damage being done by the Clinton ad showing he has Trump goods manufactured in Bangladesh and China by having them produced here – by workers making far less than they were making before their jobs were shipped overseas. Lowering labor standards here is preferable to raising them abroad, at least from his limited corporate capitalist perspective.

Trade policy is one area where Trump speaks to more American voters than any other these days. Both parties passed platforms that included rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Amazingly, Clinton seems willing to concede ground to her opponent on this subject. It could conceivably become a much larger campaign issue before the election is held, but so far little is being made of it by either nominee.

Remember, TPP has been a goal of President Obama for years. He fought hard to achieve fast-track trade authority to negotiate the deal, leave time for quickly debating it in Congress prior to a strict up-or-down vote on ratification without the ability to amend it in any way. Well, it was finalized and signed months ago, but nary a word has been heard since about debating or voting on it in Congress. American public opinion – in both parties – is strongly against ratifying the treaty. Bringing it up for a vote before the election could make it one of the key election issues, with chances of ratification lying in the slim-to-none range. Thus, there is talk of postponing any vote to come in the lame duck Congressional session after the election but before the new Congress (and President) take office.

The problem with this scenario for Clinton is that she was late to come aboard with her opposition to the treaty, having been Secretary of State during much of the negotiations. Although she did recently announce opposition to the pact, she would neither have a vote in ratification nor have to sign it if passed while President Obama still held office. Many Democrats (largely, but not exclusively, Bernie Sanders supporters) are pressuring her to take a public stance against the lame duck scenario in order to back the party platform against a tactic clearly designed to subvert public preference via yet another loophole. So far, she has gotten away without doing so.

Another potential chink in the Clinton armor concerns the potential conflict of interest involving the Clinton Global Initiative. Apparently, someone all of a sudden came up with the notion that there may be some sort of inherent conflict of interest involved when it came to foreign governments making donations to a charity founded and run by influential high ranking US government officials – say, the President. Why this never occurred to anyone when Hillary was Secretary of State boggles the mind. Whether anything untoward ever happened in the world caused by such an event is, to a great degree, irrelevant. Appearances are important. The fact that the charity recently announced that it would not take such contributions should she be elected in November sort of points that out. Why the GOP chose to beat Benghazi and emails senseless all these years when this situation existed is beyond me.

There may be no more to the CGI situation than there was to the email or Benghazi faux scandals, or the recent right wing conspiracy claiming she is deathly ill (yes, Donald Trump played that one up when he said she was physically unable to deal with the threat of ISIS). But whether the potential conflict of interest results in the sort of damage the GOP unsuccessfully sought with their previous costly and interminable investigations remains in doubt. Clinton has certainly withstood far more intensive scrutiny than Trump, the keeper of secret tax returns and numerous pending court proceedings.

I certainly hope the debates more closely resemble the Democratic ones than the GOP farces. Including more than Clinton and Trump might be more educational, as whether Trump can even debate remains in doubt. Might also include some actual policies instead of just personal insults. Libertarian and Green Party perspectives may add depth to discussions of domestic and foreign policy issues that simply wouldn’t exist with just Trump and Clinton in the mix. I’ll grant you, Trump accomplished some feats few thought possible this year. Not only did he wrest the coveted GOP Presidential nomination from a huge field of pretenders, but who would’ve thought anybody could be made to feel any sympathy for Ted Cruz? Do we need a President who prides himself on his ability and willingness to antagonize anyone who opposes or disagrees with him – especially with nuclear weapons on the table?

Less than three months remain until the election. Living in PA, one of the designated key battleground states, that means untold hours of the best and worst pro and anti Clinton and Trump ads. Hopefully, more people will ultimately see through the haze than won’t. Turnout is essential. Voting in the down-ballot races is important, regardless of who is elected President. We need a functional Congress and 50 functional state legislatures to move forward and end gridlock. Getting candidates at all levels of government to discuss fundamental issues and stop the inane mudslinging would help. Hopefully, this will be the worst Presidential campaign in any of our memories. Certainly, the system could use some improvement. The GOP autopsy needs to be more than just another exercise in futility next year.

Some think Trump is throwing the election on purpose. Whether he is or not, he certainly has done nothing to encourage most Americans to vote for him. Many seem to think that Clinton’s greatest selling point is that she is not Trump. She hasn’t campaigned that way, but the message has gotten thoroughly muddled by the 24-hour Trump news cycle. This election should be about US not Donald Trump. He claims that he and he alone can fix America. More likely, he and he alone would be as successful in fixing America as he was in fixing his bankrupt companies and failed marriages. Neither of these immensely wealthy people is one of us. We must decide if either is capable of serving us well, then hold the victor accountable for what happens next. We need to move forward – either with their help or despite their intransigence.

 

Suggested Further Readings:

Friendly Reminder: Donald Trump Still Hasn’t Released His Tax Returns

Hillary Clinton can’t win the White House without Bernie Sanders backers, and that’s going to be tough

My Democratic Problem With Voting for Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton and Her Hawks

The Democratic Party Is Once Again a ‘Plaything of the Super-Rich’ With Clinton at the Helm

Did Trump Just Suggest Gun Nuts Should Shoot Hillary Clinton?

5 Ways To Make Sure Trump Loses

Trump’s assassination call isn’t just a threat to Secretary Clinton.

Some of Trump’s ‘Second Amendment People’ Believe They Have the Right to Fight Government Tyranny with Guns

These three states are making a Trump win basically impossible

People Want to Know, So: Here Are 5 Key Steps To Keeping Trump From the Presidency

Why President Hillary Clinton Will Need Bernie’s “Political Revolution”

The Scary History of Trump’s Second-Amendment Call to Action

The Last Hurrah for Corporate Democrats

Donnie’s Little Lies are Huuuuuge

Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka: CNN Town Hall

For those who missed the Green Party Town Hall on CNN on Wednesday…

 

Dandelion Salad America today news on Aug 17, 2016 CNN hosts Green Party town hall on Wednesday night with the Green Party’s nominee Jill Stein and presumptive running mate Ajamu Baraka.

Source: Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka: CNN Town Hall

The Green Party Convention Speeches: Jill Stein, Ajamu Baraka, Cornel West and Julian Assange

News from the convention of the Green Party – one of the political parties not often covered by mainstream media or Cable News. – RJC

 

Dandelion Salad Jill Stein FULL SPEECH At the Green Party Convention TYT Politics on Aug 6, 2016 Dr. Jill Stein’s full acceptance speech from the Green Party Convention in Houston, Texas on A…

Source: The Green Party Convention Speeches: Jill Stein, Ajamu Baraka, Cornel West and Julian Assange

Maybe Now, We’ll Take Electronic Voting Hacking Seriously?

New technology invites new ways to commit election fraud. May the buyer – and voters- beware. – RJC

Mike the Mad Biologist

This column by Bruce Scheier raises a very good point about the November elections (boldface mine):

Even more important, we need to secure our election systems before autumn. If Putin’s government has already used a cyberattack to attempt to help Trump win, there’s no reason to believe he won’t do it again — especially now that Trump is inviting the “help.”

Over the years, more and more states have moved to electronic voting machines and have flirted with Internet voting. These systems are insecure and vulnerable to attack.

But while computer security experts like me have sounded the alarm for many years, states have largely ignored the threat, and the machine manufacturers have thrown up enough obfuscating babble that election officials are largely mollified.

We no longer have time for that. We must ignore the machine manufacturers’ spurious claims of security, create tiger teams to test the machines’ and…

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