Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Endless war & Tulsi

As usual, I’m putting this up when my thoughts aren’t entirely organized yet. This needs to be edited. I’m trying to organize my thoughts in response to some of the provocative statements that Tulsi has been making recently and evaluating whether I agree with her or want to continue supporting her, in view of the way she expresses herself.

Some of what Tulsi says sounds so strident.  Sometimes I cringe.  Yet, when I look at it in detail, I see that she's right -- even though she's not very measured in how she says it.

First, I tried making a list of endless war examples, regime change war examples -- or CIA regime change

  • overthrowing a popular government in Iran, to install a shah — a shah, i.e. a king, when we fought our revolution back in the 18th century to get rid of kings — oh, and, surprise, then people hate us
  • lengthy war in Vietnam out of fear that they would elect a communist government — dropping napalm & agent orange (NB chemical weapons), killing millions of civilians — basically trying to prevent elections
  • overthrowing an 84 year old constitutional democracy in Chile to install a brutal dictator, Pinochet, again out of fear of an elected communist — oh, but we should bomb the “brutal dictator” in Syria.  
  • taking the side of the mujahideen in Afghanistan.  These people were fighting the Russians because they were right wing religious bigots who wanted, for instance, to keep girls out of school.  Many of those people who we were helping went on to become the Taliban.  The Russians were the good guys there, trying to bring civilization to savages — but we took the attitude that anyone who opposed the Russians must be our friends — NOT
  • taking the side of Kuwait against Iraq when, at the time, Iraq was a country where women had better status than in Kuwait. I don’t think we should ever defend a country that does not guarantee civil rights to women.
  • Invading Iraq and creating a state of violent anarchy there that is still not entirely resolved, because we wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein, who, as it turned out, did not have nuclear weapons. In any case, who are we, the only country who has ever used nuclear weapons, to say that others cannot have them?  And why invade Iraq for allegedly having them, when Pakistan already has them and we don’t invade Pakistan?
  • Why do we keep supporting Pakistan when they harbor terrorists — including Osama bin Laden.  Why, historically, did we not support India, the world’s largest democracy? Merely, because they had good relations with Russia? Stupid.
  • Killing Gaddafi and instituting a state of violent anarchy in Libya — a state that persists today and is a fertile breeding ground for terrorists.
  • Why aren’t we recognizing that these so called “brutal dictators” in the Muslim world are actually trying to improve the lot of women and give their countries more secular mores, while the so-called “freedom fighters” are really religious fanatics?
  • Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia alleges that we started the current war in Syria.  In any case, who are we to judge them if they did use chemical weapons?  We used chemical weapons as well, in Viet Nam. In any case, starting or escalating a war causes more suffering to the people of Syria than whatever the leader was doing.  We’ve contributed to making that country virtually uninhabitable.  Yet, we are not prepared to take in the refugees who have fled the state of war there.
  • And then Trump continues to support Saudi Arabia against Yemen -- and sends our troops there -- a country where women are effectively still property.


I have to conclude that Tulsi is right in saying that we’ve had a failed foreign policy for a long time, under the supervision of both Democratic and Republican parties. 


The photo that was widely circulated of Bush holding hands with the Saudi king is a telling example. We have been unduly influenced by these religious fanatics, out of fear of disadvantage to US oil companies who operate in Arab countries. She’s right to demand that we investigate the influence of Saudi Arabia on US foreign policy.  It does seem to be true that we are often mercenaries for Saudi Arabia out of fear of loss of oil or oil money.  Being mercenaries is undesirable, but still the word "pimping" seems unduly ugly.


I guess it’s understandable, too, how confrontational she is with Hillary. After all, she feels that Hillary contributed to the Democratic Party undermining Bernie. She was warned that Hillary would take revenge on her later. Then it does appear that Hillary is contributing to spreading these Internet rumors about Tulsi being somehow a Russian asset, supported by Russian bots, or repeating "Russian talking points."  Still the words "personification of rot," seem too strong, and to undermine the hard work that Hillary has done in the right direction.


Miscellaneous thoughts:

I do sometimes wonder about why Putin was so anxious to avoid Hillary as president.  Some of my friends think it's just because she was competent and he wants to destroy us. I still think that he read her as likely to actually go to war over Crimea.  Contrary to Trump's allegation that she lacks stamina [of course, he's the one who lacks stamina, as exemplified by $115 million of golf vacations to date], she's actually quite the pit bull, who never lets go or shows weakness. Query: what if she had been elected and gone to war over Crimea?  Would we better off than we are today?  Clearly not. 


I was an exchange student in Russia.  I visited the mass graves where 1/3 of the population of Leningrad was buried, who starved to death during the Nazi blockade -- and the city never surrendered.  20 million Russians died in WWII, but they pushed Hitler back, blocking bullets with their bodies. When the USA entered the war, they had already cleared Hitler out of Eastern Europe and had him on the run.  We were Johnny come latelies. Russians never give up.  They will fight to the death.  They will never surrender.  It will be total war.


Republicans have asserted that communism fell, because of our economic pressure. That's just totally untrue.  The Soviet Union opened up to the west, because Ronald Reagan charmed them.  They don't give in to economic pressure.  They just don't.  They'd rather starve.

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Where is the open discussion of what would happen if we did lose the ability to profit from Arab oil?  Are the effects so bad that it justifies insane foreign policies?  This discussion has been occurring behind closed doors.

And where are these alleged "Russian talking points" that Tulsi is accused of copying?  What if the Russians have been pointing out that our foreign policy is insane?  Does that mean that we should continue it?

BTW, our historical terror of elected communists was totally misplaced. The communist governments that we disliked -- USSR & PRC -- were not elected, and not responsive to the people.

****

It's interesting that Tulsi seems to garner so much crossover support from Republicans.  It's certainly not due to her politics.  She's fairly socialist, which we normally don't associate with Republicans.

So after all this rambling, I haven't given up on Tulsi yet. 

#tulsi2020 #whytulsi #tulsigabbard

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Fantasizing about primarying Tom Abinanti -- platform


 I’ve been fantasizing about primarying Tom Abinanti

That leads me to thinking about laws that I want to have changed. It’s funny when you read campaign literature they seldom have specific proposals for laws they want to have changed. They mostly emphasize that they’re cute and smart and have lots of wonderful experience. I have lots of laws that I want to have changed.  Is this bad?

This is going to be a long list. I’ll probably bore you to tears. This is probably why I would never be elected.

Aid in dying

I am in remission from cancer. Under the right circumstances I want to have this option. I’m not appreciating those people who want me to stay alive during a long, torturous, painful death.

I know from having watched my father that morphine is no solution. In older people, it causes painful constipation and distressing hallucinations. Morphine is addictive for some people, but very unpleasant for others. I had it after surgery, and I hated it. So did my father. I personally don’t like having cloudy thinking.

Tailgating

There is an epidemic of tailgating on our highways. This is very dangerous. There’s virtually no enforcement. It’s particularly dangerous when it’s a semi truck tailgating a passenger vehicle.

I want to see penalties for tailgating upgraded. Especially if a semi truck tailgates a passenger vehicle -- trying to force the passenger vehicle to pull over so that the Semi truck can exceed the speed limit. That should be an offense that mandates prison time. It’s too dangerous

I’d like to see more cameras on the road, also, to issue tickets to tailgaters.

Election security

I am appalled by the ongoing revelations regarding the vulnerability of computer systems that are used for voting and voter registration. Want to go back to all paper systems for voting and voter registration. It will take more time and be more expensive, and it may be vulnerable to small scale corruption, but it will be impenetrable to foreign nation states. I read that the Netherlands has adopted this approach.

Plurality take all  voting

The system is very undemocratic. It allows people to be elected, when the majority of voters voted against them.

Moreover, it basically forces voters to choose based on negative criteria.  In other words, they have to vote for the strongest candidate opposing the one they hate most. For instance people would vote for Hillary, even if they didn’t like her very much, because they hated Trump, and Hillary seemed to be the strongest candidate running against Trump. If people didn’t have this motivation on the first round of voting, they could vote for some other candidate.

Eliminating plurality takes all voting can have several forms. One form is the jungle primary, which has been adopted by several states.  Jungle primaries resembles the run off system that they have in France. Another possibility is ranked choice voting, which has recently been adopted in New York City, and was previously adopted in Maine. This saves the expense of having a runoff election. I feel both systems have some advantages, though I prefer the former.

In the 2016 presidential election, in 12 out of 13 swing states, there was no majority winner. Allowing someone to win, who does not have a majority of the votes, is not democratic.

Entrapment of young people

There has been a long tradition of convicting suspected drug users and dealers by entrapment. In other words a police officer offers to buy or sell drugs from or to a suspect. If the person goes along with the deal, the person can be convicted of a drug offense.

I find this procedure completely unacceptable for people under 25. Sure, you can convince young people to do dumb things. But it should not be police officers who are doing the convincing.

Especially if there is no violence involved, I would like to see this technique stopped for those under 25

Drug war

The drug war has completely failed. In any case, drug addiction is a disease not a crime. We need to have an entirely different process for addressing this problem. This process should focus on a medical approach, not a criminal approach.

Expunging criminal records

If a person was convicted of a single non-violent offense when they were under 25 and they have remained crime free ever since, then that single conviction should be expunged when they’re 40. It should not remain on their records forever.

 Public restrooms

I believe that using the toilet should be recognized as a constitutional right. Currently there is no guarantee of access to a toilet. Yet, people can be convicted of relieving themselves in public.

A very large group of people have disabilities relating to urgency in needing to relieve themselves. This includes virtually everyone under five, most people over 60, and most women who’ve born children. In fact, it may be the majority of the population. This requires accommodation.

I believe every retail merchant should be required to make a restroom available to the public. I do think, though, that they should be allowed to charge for these restrooms, so long as they don’t do so in a discriminatory fashion. Moreover there have to be restrooms available at night when merchants are closed.

Excessively long adhesion contracts

Whenever I get a software update for my cell phone, or indeed any piece of software, I am asked to agree to an adhesion contract. Sometimes I’ve downloaded these contracts and looked in Word to see how many pages they had. One time I found that the agreement came out to 43 pages. It is unconscionable to expect consumers to read this much legal verbiage. I would like to see it illegal for any adhesion contract to be longer than two pages, 12 point type, single spaced.

Procedure for licensing of plumbers and electricians

Currently, in order to become a licensed plumber or electrician, you first have to be a journeyman working for a master plumber. This type of requirement is not present with most other professions. To be a lawyer or a doctor, for instance, you need attend a professional school and take a licensing exam.

The requirement to work as a journeyman for a master plumber leaves these professions open to corruption. It’s an old boy system. It promulgates incompetent plumbers and electricians. We have a shortage of people in these professions, and my experiences that they frequently break things when they come in to do work at my house.

We need a new system, which makes these professions open to everyone, not just members of the old boy network.

Online time limits
I was interested to see that China has enacted legislation to limit the amount of time that an online computer game can allow a child to play. They set the limit to 1.5 hours.  I think this seems very sensible and would like to see a requirement like this in NY.

As a parent, I’ve been particularly frustrated when my kids say they can’t stop playing a game to attend to something around the house, because they’ll lose something or let down fellow players.  Games, both online and local, need to be configured so that they can be quickly paused, so that the player can attend to reality when needed.

I feel that legislation to protect families in this area would be a good idea.

#TomAbinanti #Abinanti #politics #platform #politicalplatform #westchestercountyny

Monday, November 11, 2019

Fake news about Biden

Responses to the fake news video about Biden and the Anne, don't fall for the false Trumplican propaganda points. These are from my FB post

The EU, IMF, the U.S. government, and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, all urged Ukraine to fire it's prosecutor general at the time, Viktor Shokin, due to his flagrant corruption. It wasn't just Joe Biden. Oh, and our Dartmouth classmate, GOP Senator Rob Portman joined several other U.S. senators in a February 2016 letter to the then-Ukraine president urging anti-corruption efforts.

Shokin had never opened an investigation of Hunter Biden, or even of the Burisma Group energy company whose board he had joined in 2014.

Shokin had launched, and then dropped, an investigation into the Burisma Group's founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, for suspected corrupt activities that occurred *before* 2014. Shokin himself, though, was largely incompetent as well as corrupt.

BTW, former Trump Regime member and convicted felon Paul Manafort was paid at least $17 million by Ukraine's former president and Putin suck-up, Viktor Yanukovich.

Don't let the Trumplicans distract you, Anne. The issue here is:

1. Donald Trump trying to get a political opponent criminally investigated ...
2. By a foreign government, rather than his own FBI ...
3. And doing so by soliciting a bribe: Publicly announce an investigation of Biden AND publicly cast doubt on the Russian attack on the 2016 U.S. election, and I'll stop withholding the $400Mn of aid you desperately need to defend against Russia in Crimea ...
4. This bribe makes Trump a threat to our national security.
5. And obstructing justice by hiding the relevant documents and ignoring Congressional subpoenas ("consciousness of guilt").

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/09/23/fact-checking-trumps-latest-claims-biden-ukraine/

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Well I note it’s presented as opinion not fact.  And it’s not fact.

Biden was, as is US policy, trying to get the Ukrainians to prosecute corruption.  Some of the bad guys over there had a corrupt prosecutor who was not doing so.  Guiliani wound up representing them and peddled lies to try to get his corrupt clients off.   Trump saw these lies as a way to gain a political advantage over Biden which is what led the the call and other misconduct that is, by any objective standard, impeachable conduct.  But to try to throw sand in everyone’s eyes, Trump’s supporters continue the lies.  The WSJ editorial page, which is a joke and should not be confused with its news pages which are excellent, continues to push the lies.  

An excellent op-Ed by a Ukrainian journalist who has been fighting corruption and was smeared by the bad guys lays this all out.  I’ll find and post it.

Here it is.  Please please please everyone let’s keep our eye on the ball here.  Trump and his cronies lie and lie and lie.  Don’t give them any credence.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/09/21/why-is-rudy-giuliani-trying-drag-my-countrys-president-into-trumps-reelection-campaign/%3foutputType=amp

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It's important to be specific about what the impeachment inquiry is about. It's not actually the quid pro quo that is a problem, per se. A "This for that" is one of the tools of international negotiation, and what Biden is describing here is a QPQ.  Trump is accused of using the powers of his office to trade aid money for an investigation into an opponent in an upcoming election. It's a misuse of power for personal gain. Biden's story is about withholding aid to further the strategic interests of the US.

Also note that the story in the video has nothing to do with Hunter Biden.

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The prosecutor was viewed as corrupt by the entire diplomatic establishment. Trump alleged that it was because the prosecutor was looking into a company Biden's son was on the board of but what the prosecutor was looking into was at a different time than Biden's tenure and not related.

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Biden delivered the same message that European countries were sending - that everyone knew that prosecutor was not pursuing anti-corruption cases. If he wasn’t replaced, aid money was going to be cut off.