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May You Live in Interesting Times

By Dale Lucht

This saying, purported to be an ancient Chinese curse, is an apt comment on life today in Trump World. In just the past few weeks Trump has ordered millions of dollars from the military budget to be reassigned to his “wall”. His ego is so intertwined with that wall that if the wall fails, he fails. Like his business dealings, somebody always bails him out. This time he took money away from middle school students in Fort Campbell, Kentucky; our NATO allies in Europe will be weakened by these cuts, and our citizens from the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico will not be getting disaster relief from Hurricane Maria. I’m sure you remember when Trump went to Puerto Rico; he came, he saw, he tossed paper towels. Now he’s tossing them another pile of disrespect.

Recently he invited the Taliban to Camp David for negotiations. It was supposed to occur just prior to 9/11. John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Advisor, disagreed with that meeting. Trump either fired him or Bolton resigned. Who do you believe? John Bolton is a far Right Wing Conservative, so far right that the only question the world should ask is: What is good for America? Unlike many other military hawks, Bolton did serve in the military. He was in the National Guard and then the Army Reserve for a total of six years, although he was able to stay out of Vietnam, at least he served. The fact that John Bolton has a higher moral authority than Donald Trump has is truly startling.

Donald Trump also wanted to look into the possibility of the US buying Greenland. That probably would have been a good idea if Denmark wanted to sell. When Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen dismissed Trump’s idea of buying Greenland as absurd, he called her remarks “nasty”. He then called off his scheduled visit to Denmark. We should probably consider ourselves lucky that he didn’t order an invasion.

Recently President Trump said that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama, so on an official US Weather Service map Trump extended the line of the front to Alabama. He used a Sharpie or a Crayola or some such marker; I think his aides probably keep sharp objects away from him. On the surface this is a minor obstruction, but it is against the law to change an official US Weather Map. If responders do not have the correct information they may divert resources to an area where they’re not needed.  People could die from having the wrong information. This is like crying “fire” in a crowded theatre. But we all know Mr. Trump does not adhere to any moral authority; his only credo is Donald Trump.

Three Republicans are now challenging him in the primaries. William Weld, the former Governor of Massachusetts, favors fiscal restraint, free trade and moderate immigration reform. He ran as the Vice Presidential Nominee in the Libertarian Party in 2016. Joe Walsh, the former incendiary tea party congressman from Illinois, is now running against Trump. He now regrets his racial slurs and falsehoods against President Obama. He still favors the elimination of the Affordable Care Act, but not until the Republicans come up with a viable alternative. He also promotes free trade and acknowledges global warming is a problem. Currently Trump’s final competitor is Mark Sanford, the former Governor of South Carolina, who is probably best known for disappearing in 2009 and spending time in Argentina with his girlfriend, unbeknownst to his wife and his constituents. He has apologized and has acknowledged that he was humbled by that experience. He now wants to return the Republican Party back into the fiscally conservative roots that they say they believe in. Trump of course, in his usual tactfulness, calls these competitors the Three Stooges. Four states are considering not having Republican primaries. Is somebody scared?

Now for the flip side, there are a lot of choices on the democratic side. Ten of the front runners will be debating on September 12, which will be after you’ve read this. Hopefully you watched it or caught the salient points of view on your favorite news source. This election, the Democrats aren’t afraid of competition; and whoever is deemed the winner is a step up on the competition. There is a lot of time left before the Iowa Caucus on February 3, and I hope whoever wins the nomination includes their competitor’s ideas in the Democratic Platform at the convention next year.

The first nominee I’ll talk about is former California Attorney General Kamala Harris; her focus is on criminal justice, she is against the death penalty and would like to eliminate private prisons. She would also mandate paper ballots, raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour and boost teacher’s pay. Her fund raising has currently slowed but perhaps the debate may give her a boost. One suggestion I have for her is, no more pant suits.

Elizabeth Warren, the former law school professor, has an opinion paper on just about any topic. She is prepared and energetic and she could very well win this thing. She also is against private prisons, and believes we should eliminate mandatory minimum sentences. When she taught law, her primary focus was on bankruptcy law and she was a fierce advocate for consumer protection. She served as the first Special Advisor to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under President Obama. She is a big proponent of replacing the Glass-Steagall Act which was repealed under President Clinton. If there is a “one” cause of the recession of 2008, it was the elimination of this regulation. She is one of the few candidates that is in favor of reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act. Shame on the rest of the candidates.

My favorite is probably Andrew Yang. He also has position papers on many topics; Capital Gain/Carried Interest Tax, Data as a Property Right, End Bidding Wars for Corporate Relocation, NCAA should pay athletes, eliminating the penny, and adding a Value Added Tax. A VAT is a consumption tax levied on a product at every point of sale where value has been added. He wants to combat climate change and preserve public lands and water, a novel idea in Washington, under this administration. Perhaps his most controversial proposal is what he calls a Freedom Dividend. This would be a universal basic income of $1,000/month for every adult over 18. This would enable all Americans to pay their bills, educate themselves, start businesses, be more creative, stay healthy, relocate for work, and have a real stake in their future. This is what the VAT would be used for.

As I said, whoever the Democrats nominate, life has got to get better. All of these candidates have websites where you can look up their ideas to see if they agree with yours. I’m sure the Republicans also have websites. Check them out also.

Until we get a new Constitution, we are stuck with what we have. Try to make it better.


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