Posts Tagged Human Rights
trumpAnyone with TV or broadband access, undoubtedly saw videos of the dead and wounded, following a poison gas attack, in Syria on Tuesday. The U. S. responded with a massive 59 Tomahawk Missile attack on the Shayrat Airfield, the base which the U. S. believes that the planes, loaded with the Sarin-laden bombs, took-off from. Russia helicopters also uses that base, however! It is unclear as to whether the Syrians, or the Russians, heeded the advanced-warning of the attack; however, there did not appear to be any aircraft debris on the field, in photos that I saw on the following day.
It is commonly believed that, since the War began six years ago, President Bashar Assad’s forces have killed 500,000 of his own people. The photos of dead and wounded, after the Sarin air strike, were horrible to watch; but still, I remember the lifeless body of a three year-old boy, a couple of years ago, who drowned while crossing the Mediterranean, with his mother and brother. That still photo reminded me of just about any small child, just curled-up sleeping; but, that small boy was dead! Why hasn’t anyone acted before—the U. S., Russia, the U. N., the Arab League, etc? How approaching this problem like the seven nation Nuclear Agreement with Iran?
Why didn’t Donald Trump delay the meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, iust a day or two, so that he could devote his full attention to the missile attack? Or, he could have changed the venue to the White House, rather than to his Mar-a-Lago estate. How much time did the two presidents, and their various advisors waste, in flying down to Palm Beach? And that faux “situation room”, with flags a-flutter, truly looked just like a group of businessmen waiting for their dinner reservation. The flags were a photo-op give-away, in a room where tough decisions were charaded to be made? And, no jackets off. sleeves rolled-up?
In a recent post, I had suggested that Congress needs to reaffirm its sole authority to Declare War! Whether we like it or not, Syria is a sovereign state. Also, as a signatory to the United Nations Charter, we can only use military force on another country’s soil, either with its consent, in cases of self-defense or with the approval of the U. N.
As morally warranted as last Thursday’s attacks might have been, what the Trump Regime did was unconstitutional, and also against International Law. The U. S. Department of Defense justified the attack as being: “intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again,” That is clearly NONSENSE!.
An initial use of force against an enemy, by the way, would generally be the first of several, or ,many, narrowly-focused actions, designed to progress toward a long-range, strategic mission. So far, however, since no end-game has been revealed, it certainly appears that the Trump Regime is just making this up as it goes along!
During the Administration of President (and former General) Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Defense Department formulated its “First Offset Strategy”, which has always been expected to be an on-going blueprint, for keeping militarily our superiority over the Soviet Union. Ike’s Plan was to take advantage of on-going advanced technological applications within our weapons arsenal. Currently, that top tier of adversaries is composed of Russia and China, with lesser adversaries grouped accordingly. Two years ago, Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, described the newest version of that blueprint, the “Third Offset Strategy”, to a group of U. S. partners and allies. In his presentation, Mr. Work said:
“While the United States and our closest allies fought two lengthy wars over the past 13 years, the rest of our — the rest of the world and our potential adversaries were seeing how we operated. They looked at our advantages. They studied them. They analyzed them. They looked for weaknesses. And then they set about devising ways to counter our technological over-match.”
Donald Trump boasts about his unpredictability. After the Election in November, when he received the full Presidential Briefing, he allegedly asked: “Since we have nuclear weapons, why don’t we use them?” So here we are, just three days after the (conventional) attack on Syria, and he’s already talking about installing nuclear weapons in South Korea. He had also suggested sending a (presumed) special ops team to assassinate Kim Jong-Un, the Supreme Leader of nuclear-armed North Korea.
Donald Trump boasts about being unpredictable and, with his lack of any clearly defined strategic objectives, as well as his total disregard for the Rule of Law, I am deeply concerned about the potential outcome. He does;t seem to realize that Power Kills, and that means real people’s lives! Under his misguided “Leadership”, Donald Trump could transform America into just another irrational state, but with a vast nuclear arsenal!
Given Mr. Trump’s unprecedented conceit, he doesn’t realize how ignorant he is about: knowing where the Syrian attack might lead America to militarily; the disapproval that the recent action might bring from the International Community; the ramifications from ignoring the U. S. Constitution and the International Rule of Law…and, now he wants to “Do it again”–in North Korea. The GOP seems enamored with him; but, only so they can push through their Draconian laws. But, when will the American People put a stop to this Megalomaniac?
President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, was designed to provide health insurance for poor Americans who could not afford it. Many people already have health insurance through employer-sponsored programs, or through Medicare, for Senior Citizens. Small businesses, however, often do not offer insurance, and minimum-wage workers cannot afford it anyway. Uninsured Americans were just left to fend for themselves and, of course, private insurance has always been quite expensive.
The Affordable Care Act provide subsidies for poor Americans, including seniors who could not even afford Medicare, and to extend the Medicaid program to more low-income citizens. Many GOP-controlled states, such as Florida and Texas, have not accepted the Extended Medicaid, even though the Federal Government picks-up most of the cost for the first ten years.
Prior to ACA, cheap health insurance policies, designed for young adults, excluded “pre-existing conditions”, and even maternity was often excluded for young women. For older Americans, the premiums were exorbitant, and out of reach for many. Policy holders took comfort in being “insured”; however, they didn’t realize how little the policies actually covered—that is, until they became sick or injured!
The total number of previously uninsured Americans, who were able to buy subsidized health insurance, through ACA, approaches 30 million, when the 11 million covered by the Medicaid Extension is included. Many state Legislatures, that have Republican majorities, have not even allowed their Insurance Commissioners to negotiate for lower premiums, with the insurers. Basically, those states were working against ACA—and against their own residents.
ACA was assumed to be the first step in providing Affordable Health Care for all Americans. Like Medicare, some 50 years before, this comprehensive program was expected to need to be amended and modified over time. But the Republicans, at the Federal and State levels, just fought against the program every step of the way.
TChe Affordable Care Act also required the Health Insurance Industry to meet certain goals: pre-existing conditions would be covered; contraceptives and maternity must be included for women; equal premiums for males and females; premiums for the elderly could not be more than three times those paid by the younger insured; and no more than 20% of customer premiums would go toward expenses. Many of these requirements have been dropped, or watered down, under the GOP’s AHCA.
When people do not have health insurance, they only seek medical assistance when they are gravely sick or injured, generally at hospital Emergency Rooms. By then, the medical condition is usually more aggravated, and the medical personnel are working without any knowledge of the patient’s medical history. The cost of health care, in this advanced stage, is normally much more expensive, and society and the hospitals bear the expense.
The most humane, as well as the most cost-effective, way to address the need for Affordable Health Care, is to make it available on a regular preventive basis. Should we ignore the grievously sick, and allow them to die on the streets? Do we continue to just ignore the overall costs—assuming that they will just go away? Realistically, we should take pre-emptive action!
Among all of the world’s industrialized nations, American spends the most on health care; but, it gets the lowest return on its investment, by most every metric. Is this how we wish to continue on? Should we address the need for providing Health Care for all, in a caring and effective manner? Or do we, as a Nation, just continue to sink. further and further into the bowels of Humanity.
NOTE: I was wondering who Donald Trump would try to make the scapegoat when his first foray into major legislation had to be canceled twice, for insufficient support. Would it be House Speaker Paul Ryan or the entire GOP? No, he blamed the Democratic Party since they were perfectly happy with the ACA, which they passed seven years ago! Next stop: Trump’s Tax Scam!
As the Irish are one of the oldest, and most easily assimilated groups of immigrants, St. Patty’s Day has come to be a day of celebration, not only for the Irish, but for many Immigrant groups.Ω even those who might seem to be flying under the radar—because they are of European stock. But they realize that Trump’s racially-motivated immigration ideas today could turn against all other groups tomorrow. So, they stand together!
Sure, Donald Trump might have toasted Irish Prime Minister Enda Kelly with green beer, on Thursday, and both men had-on green ties, and the fountain on the White House’s south lawn glowed green, for a day or two. The undocumented Irish find little solace in those hollow events, however, due to the fact that they entered the U. S. on perfectly legal Visas, and remained here after they had expired. Besides the Irish, many others, like the Polish, the Mexicans, Nigerians, Filipinos, etc., are hard-working taxpayers, who are raising families here.
Perhaps the Irish won’t be the first group to be deported; but, how can they ever be sure that, as Trump or some other demagogue like him, works their way down the list of nationalities that, at some point, they might be next! As much as Trump talks about creating jobs, he doesn’t realize that immigrants often are the reason for economic expansion as they add (usually) younger workers, entrepreneurial and technological skills, and they also increase the consumer base, as more spenders can grow the economy exponentially.
Undocumented immigrants normally enter the U. S. incrementally, and they are eventually assimilated into our society. Unfortunately, racist actions do make it difficult for some, such as today’s Muslims, and of course blacks after centuries of living in America!
In 1981, 120,000 Cubans came ashore in Miami, in just two months time, and they were quickly assimilated into the local, very large Cuban-American community. That many refugees, arriving in one area, and being quickly assimilated was, of course, an aberration. Even though some of those “Marielitos” were, as Donald Trump would say, “Bad Hombres”, their proportion generally pales when compared to the overall percentage of criminals in American society.
So, while Mr. Trump was toasting Prime Minister Kelly at the White House, Joe McHugh, Ireland’s Minister for the Diaspora and International Development visited the Aisling Irish Community Center, in Yonkers, N. Y. Aisling is one of a number of community centers that provides social services, health screenings and other assistance to, what it calls, the “forgotten Irish”. Staff members at Aisling, and other such centers, say that anxiety is peaking because of Trump. Minister Joe McHugh, said, after his visit: “They live in fear.” But why?
Is this what America has come to: like those billionaires, who have more money than they could ever hope to spend, and they just seem to want more? Everyone of us are descendants of people who had come from somewhere else–even the Native Americans. And for all of those “god-fearing Christians”, I surely wonder how you can mouth the words: “Do unto others…”
NOTE: This is an open-letter that Nicholas Kristof wrote, in his regular NY Times column, to awaken all Trump Voters:
Dear Trump Voters,
You’ve been had. President Trump sold you a clunker. Now that he’s in the White House, he’s betraying you — and I’m writing in hopes that you’ll recognize that betrayal and hold him accountable.
Trump spoke to your genuine pain, to the fading of the American dream, and he won your votes. But will he deliver? Please watch his speeches carefully. You’ll notice that he promises outcomes, without explaining how they’ll be achieved. He’s a carnival huckster promising that America will thrive with his snake oil.
“We’re going to win, we’re going to win big, folks,” Trump declared Friday at the CPAC meeting, speaking of his foreign policy.
Great! Problem solved. Next? He then outlined his take on drug trafficking and what will surely be his outcome:
“No good. No good. Going to stop.” Wow! Why didn’t anyone else think of that?
Similarly, all looks rosy for tax outcomes: “We’re going to massively lower taxes on the middle class,” Trump said. But that seems like a classic shell game.
The Tax Policy Center estimated that Trump’s tax plan (to the extent that there is one) would hugely increase the federal debt and give middle-income households an average tax cut of $1,010, or 1.8 percent of after-tax income — while the top 1 percent would save $214,690, or 13.5 percent of after-tax income.
Trump made more than 280 campaign promises as a candidate, and a few — such as infrastructure spending to create jobs — would be sensible if done right. But there still is no infrastructure plan, and The Washington Post Fact Checker is tracking 60 specific campaign promises and found only six cases so far of promises kept.
It’s still early, and Trump has nominated a smart conservative to the Supreme Court and followed his campaign line on issues like barring refugees.
But while you voted for Trump because you put faith in his gauzy pledges, I bet he will do no better with campaign promises than with marriage vows.
Health care will be one of the greatest betrayals. On Friday, he described his plan: “We’re going to make it much better, we’re going to make it less expensive.”
Yet the steps that Republicans seem likely to take on health care will hurt ordinary Americans.
For example, Trump seems poised to weaken the contraception mandate for insurance coverage and curb funding for women’s health clinics. The upshot will likely be more unintended pregnancies, more abortions, more unplanned births — and more women dying of cervical cancer.
The biggest Trump bait-and-switch was visible Friday when he talked about giving Americans “access” to health care. That’s a scam his administration is moving toward, with millions of Americans likely to lose health insurance: Instead of promising insurance coverage, Trump now promises “access” — and if you can’t afford it, tough luck.
This promise of “access” is an echo of Marie Antoinette. In Trump’s worldview, starving French peasants wouldn’t have needed bread because they had “access” to cake.
Many of you voted for Trump because he campaigned as a populist. But instead of draining the swamp, he’s wallowing in it and monetizing the presidency. He retains his financial interests, refuses to release his taxes or explain what financial leverage Russia may have over him, and doubled the fee to join Mar-a-Lago to $200,000.
The greatest betrayal of all will come if, as some of his advisers recommend, he “reforms” and tears holes in some of the big safety net programs like Medicaid, Social Security or Medicare. Medicaid is particularly vulnerable.
Trump howls at the news media, not just because it embarrasses him, but because it provides an institutional check on his lies, incompetence and conflicts of interest. But we can take his vitriol: When the time comes, we will write Trump’s obituary, not the other way around.
Let’s not get distracted by his howls or tweets. What’s most important at this moment is not Trump’s theatrics, but the policies he is putting in place in areas like health care and immigration that will devastate the lives of ordinary Americans.
Trump’s career has often been built on scamming people who put their faith in him, as Trump University shows. Now he’s moved the scam to a much bigger stage, and he boasts of targeting Muslims, refugees and unauthorized immigrants.
Please don’t cheer, or acquiesce in these initial targets. The truth is that among the biggest losers from Trump policies will be you Trump voters, especially those of you from the working and middle class. You were hoping you’d elected a savior, and instead Donald Trump is doing to you what he did to just about everyone who ever trusted him: He’s betraying you.
The sooner you recognize that, the sooner you can fight back and push for policies that will protect your health care and Social Security, defend the integrity of our election system and protect your own interests. You have a false savior, and you will have to turn on him to save yourselves and our nation.
Note from Mr. Kristoff: I invite you to sign up for my free, twice-weekly email newsletter. Please also join me on Facebook and Google+, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter (@NickKristof).
Americans tend to be low-key when it comes to politics, then they become more enthusiastic during the Presidential Elections, and they fall back to just monitoring the local happenings afterward. Since June of 2015; however, the venom has spewed much hotter and heavier than usual, among and between the citizenry. Donald Trump hit a nerve when he appealed to those who feel that they had been left behind in the economic recovery, and they believed him. when he said that only he could “Make America Great Again!”
Donald Trump is someone who you either love, or you hate, and neither side can understand the other’s passion–either for or against him. And neither the haters, nor the lovers can understand this disparity, nor refrain from verb ally spewing their frustrations on one another. And since the November Election, and even since his Inauguration, Donald Trump has done nothing whatsoever to bring the two sides back together again!
Trump appears to be frustrated that he is following a Black man, President, Barack Hussein Obama. This fact might have just added to the Racism, Bigotry and Fear that he has been spewing all along. Fear is a primary tool that demagogues use to divide a Nation, one group at a time—as Germany realized back in the 1930s and 40s.
Trump also has a hot temper, which seems to always be simmering just under his skin. When the Ninth Circuit Court rebuked his Anti-Muslim Ban, he washed-out by attacking the overall Judiciary. Then, Donald ordered raids to round-up and arrest peaceful undocumented immigrants, and prepare them for expedited deportation.
Toward the end of his campaign; however, Trump had promised to tone-down his vow to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, and he said that he would only deport those with police records. Tomorrow, we’ll probably be told that, since they were arrested, they were subject to deportation, since they then had police records.
The problem, as I see it, with a divided American Population is that things have become emotional. If the various individuals were aware of the facts behind each of the issues—Immigration, Health Care, Income Inequality, etc—there might be room for discussion. With politics being mostly an every-four-years event: however, many Americans today rely exclusively on TV and digital media for their news.
I intend to contact the local County Democratic Party office, and offer my services to form with a team of like-minded, issue-oriented people. After Donald Trump bamboozled America with demagoguery, perhaps we can appeal to their current frustrations with common sense!
SOCIETAL SUICIDE: FIGHTING OVER ISSUES, RATHER THAN WORKING TOGETHER TO SOLVE THE UNDERLYING CAUSES.
Over the past couple of years, the political environment among many Americans has become heated. Friend against friend, neighbor on neighbor, they are now embattled; but, they often know little more than the political slogans or the soundbites, and there is little focus, if any, on understanding, either the underlying causes, or finding possible solutions.
Over the next several weeks, I intend to describe some of these issues—how they appear on the surface, and what, I believe, the underlying problems might be. If Americans wish to work together, we can possibly find workable solutions. But first, we need to take the political boxing gloves off, and discard our biased emotions.
For some of these problems, I have already posted blogs: the Infrastructure Scam; the impact of Immigration Policy on our economy; Institutionalized Racism in our Public Schools, etc. But, only when we consider these issues, as part of a greater, and even more important, problem—Preventing the Destruction of America—might we possibly find solutions!
I don’t claim to have all of he answers or, perhaps, even know all of the questions. But, if America keeps festering from within, What Will We Become?
Toward the end of the 2016 campaign trail, Donald J. Trump seemed to take the edge off his vow to “Deport 11 Million Undocumented Immigrants”. He narrowed his pledge, in time, to evict only “Illegals with Police Records.” Recently; however, Trump has been rebuked at several stages, by the Federal Judiciary, with regard to his anti-Muslim Ban. But, Trump doesn’t accept defeat easily: its just not in his DNA! Accordingly, Donald has reverted back to his schoolyard bully persona.
There have been numerous protests, especially at some of America’s major airports, which apparently turned-up the fire in Donald’s belly, even more! He then ordered raids in various cities, literally grabbing undocumented people off the streets or from their homes, and is scheduling them for deportation. Are there any bets as to whether these undocumented immigrants will be afforded “due process,” under our Legal System? In effect, they can be deported under the guise of his “kinder, and gentler” declaration; because. they now have police records.
What impact will these raids, and expedited deportations, probably have on America? Actions generally do cause results, Donald, and not necessarily positive ones! California, for instance, produces an extremely large portion of our Nation’s supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. Under Trump’s mass deportations, there will be a shortage of farm workers. Farm crops are mostly harvested by low-paid workers, performing back-breaking work. The same goes for Washington State apples, Florida fruits, vegetables and sugar, and the same problem will effect the economies in many other states. So, get ready for higher prices and a shortage of fresh produce in America!
The prices of many other products and services, which we buy or use, would increase substantially without the immigrant workers. Consider: lawn services; restaurant kitchen help; construction workers; road crews; hotel household staff, etc. A drastic reduction in the labor supply would only result in an equivalent spike in expense for those products and services. Once the workers are deported, the Trump Regime can fine the employers, all he wants; but, there would still be a labor shortage!
Just consider a major stumbling block that China, Germany, Japan and other countries are beginning to face—an aging workforce! As national economies have improved, the birth rate naturally declines. China’s One-Child Policy (since 1980) has truly devastated its supply of young workers, and the Japanese and German economies have similarly been effected. Germany’s labor pool, however, has had a resurgence, due to the migration of rouge workers, due to the European Union’s Open Borders Policy.
America—pre-Trump—had always been considered the Model of Democracy, Capitalism and Humanity. America has benefitted over the centuries, from wave-after-wave of Immigrants from Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, South America and Africa. Many of those flocking to our shores—whether economic or political refugees—have worked hard, raised their families, fought in our wars, paid taxes and, in other words—have always continued to Make America Great, Again and Again!
Might we be delivered from this Trumpian Plague? The GOP has been saying, all along that it can control what they have allowed to develop. Well, as more and more Americans become disgusted with Donald J. Trump, perhaps the Republican Party will be ousted from its majority roles, in both the House and Senate. That might enable the Democrats to put a muzzle on Trump, but, one question still comes to mind: Might the schoolyard bully be contained before he destroys America?