Posts Tagged Politics

HOW DID THE HORRIBLE MISTAKE, WHICH WAS VIETNAM, HAPPEN?

NOTE:  Following France’s devastating loss at Dien Bien Phu, in July 1954, Viet Nam was partitioned at the 17th parallel. When the Geneva Agreements were signed, many Roman Catholics fled south, and elections were supposed to be held within two years, unifying all of Vietnam. South Vietnamese President Bo Diem’ however, never agreed to hold them

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In 2044 B. C., Chinese People began building dikes, roads and engaged in primitive farming in the Red River Valley of Vietnam.  Throughout history, Vietnam embodied much of Chinese culture, including Buddhism.  The country has always ben an agricultural nation.

During the 20th Century, Vietnam was ruled by China for 1,000 years.  Whenever there was a change in Dynasty, however, the Vietnamese fought for their freedom, but China always re-gained its control. And then, the French colonials ran Vietnam for two hundred years.

Unlike the Chinese rule, which was mostly territorial expansion, the French plundered the agricultural resources by making the locals work for them, and treated the Vietnamese People awfully.  The British and the Dutch were equally harsh in how they plundered the natural resources, and treated the locals in other parts of Asia.

During World War II, the American O. S. S. (Office of Strategic Services), which later became the C. I. A., was involved in sorting out the instigators from prisoners in the various Prisoner of War Camps.  Most OSS agents sent dispatches back to Washington, stressing that the Colonials should not return.

Mao Zedung, in China, Ho Chi Minh, in Vietnam, Sukarno, in Indonesia, etc., were all beloved by their citizenry, and they wanted them to lead.  As one Vietnamese man said:  We hated the Japanese; however, we knew that they would leave.  But, if we allowed the French to return, they would never leave.  Those sentiments were how the other Western Colonials behaved, as well.

President Dwight Eisenhower felt compelled to stand with the Western nations, who had been our Allies throughout WWII.  From then on, America was regarded as just another of the various Colonials, who were expecting to return to their plundering ways.

You might recall the “Domino Theory”, which was a key part of the basic rationale as to why America engaged in the Vietnam War, to begin with.  President Eisenhower gave a press conference in early 1954, just about the time that the Viet Minh, fighting for Vietnamese independence, were about to conquer the French at Dien Bien Phu.

“Ike” suggested that the four countries of Indochina—Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam were like dominoes, lined-up in a row.  And, once once fell to Communism, the rest would also fall, in turn.  After the Paris Peace talks for Vietnam, one of the Vietnamese representatives shot that theory down, however, when he pointed-out that Vietnam fought China for a thousand years.  Would we allow them in now?

With the 1954 Partition of Vietnam, most of the Roman Catholic minority fled south, from the North and the Central portions of the country.  This was a major problem for the Saigon government gaining the support of the People, 90% of whom were Bhuddist.  President Diem only admitted Catholics into his government, as well as the upper levels of his military.

To make matters worse, Diem had ordered his military not to fight; because, he said casualties made him “lose face.” Actually, he wanted the full force to be available, at all times, to rush back and defend him, in case of an attempted coup.  The Vietnamese Army preferred to just call in air and artillery strikes; however, they often killed more civilians, than than Viet Cong, the local guerrillas.

When the SeniorAmerican Advisors told the generals in Saigon that the Vietnamese Military refused to fight, regardless of how much they coerced them, they were ignored. And American junior Generals and Colonels, who tried to report what Washington didn’t want to hear, they were sometimes sent back to the Pentagon and forced to retire.

Washington and the American Saigon Command knew what news they wanted to hear: America and its Vietnamese allies would turn the corner:  with another 100,000 of our combat troops or another $10 billion would help; perhaps an additional six months; etc. And the Diem government was only too happy to tell it.  When I was there, in 1967 and ’68, there were more than 500,000 American GIs in the country.

Around that time, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, specially Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LaMay, kept recommending that we bomb the North back to the Stone Age by targeting railroads; bridges; industrial plants, etc.  Common sense, however, would have suggested that agricultural nations would have very little industrial infrastructure to bomb.  The industrious North Vietnamese People had a solution for the bombs that were raining down on them—make bomb shelters out of the craters.

Perhaps the best example of what America failing to understand Vietnam was the ”Protective Hamlets” strategy.  Whole villages were destroyed, and the farmers were re-located to small hamlets, generally miles away rom their land.  The peasants were let out in the morning so they could work their farms, and return to the hamlets in the evening.  There were two major problems, however, with that solution.

Some of the farms were so far from their land, that the farmers had to walk as far as ten miles, each way, carrying their tools to and from work.  Also, a major part of Buddhism is ancestor worship; but, with the burial mounds are back at the farm, the ancestors are left behind each day.  That’s why we were not “Winning the Hearts and Minds” of the majority Buddhists, and this idea, in effect, was sending them over fight for the Viet Cong.

Additionally, as with most non-industrial countries, the government of South Vietnam was rife with corruption. America financed the Saigon Government; but, Diem and his key associates made sure to send sizable portions those funds to their offshore bank accounts.

We were in Vietnam under false pretenses, and the troops seemed to have been kept their for political reasons.  Previously, the VC or the North Vietnamese always attacked in small hit-and-run ambushes.  Over Tet, the Lunar New Year holiday, of late January 1968, Secretary of Defense Robert Mc Namara was convinced that the attacks would be limited to the  Khe Sanh Marine base and the large city of Da Nang, both of which were in the north of South Vietnam.  As it turned out, the local VC and the North Vietnamese Army attacked the South at many locations, and with sizable force. From that day forward, the war in Vietnam was recognized as being not winnable.

Newly-elected President Richard Nixon, however, decided to keep the war going until January 1973, in case he needed the extra push. How many innocent soldiers, marines, airmen or sailors were killed during those additional five years—just in case Nixon needed the extra political push.

NOTE:   It truly breaks my heart when I think of the more than 58,000 (mostly) young Americans who died in that senseless war, which we had no reason to be in, in the first place.  I have a few friends that I know were killed; but, how many did I know in Naval ROTC that died; boot camp, language school at Monterrey, CA and Infantry OCS, where some young Lieutenants lead from the front, but left their minds behind. But, the total of 58,000+ killed in a senseless war, even 50 years later is still just too difficult to fathom.

If you are in Washington, near the Mall, visit the Vietnam Memorial, either at sun-up or at dusk.  I believe that you will find it a very emotional experience.  Perhaps it is the only war memorial that can be truly viewed as an anti-war memorial. Also, the names of those killed, which are listed on it, have grown over time.

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KEN BURNS LINK:   The following link, about the showing of select clips a The Kennedy Center from Ken Burns’ series, followed by a panel discussion–with a number of present and former Congressional and Administration members–from The Washington Post, is a great introduction to the topic of Vietnam:

 The Daily 202: McCain and Kerry outline lessons from Vietnam after watching new Ken Burns documentary
  September 13

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: Hundreds of Washington insiders gathered last night in the Kennedy Center Opera House for an advance screening of Ken Burns’s new documentary on Vietnam.

Before he showed half a dozen choice clips from his 10-part, 18-hour film, which premieres Sunday, the director asked everyone who served in the military during the war to stand so they could be recognized.

John McCain and John Kerry were among those who rose, along with other famous veterans like Bob Kerrey and Mike Mullen.

Burns then asked anyone who protested Vietnam to also stand. Dozens did.

“I couldn’t tell the difference,” the director said, referring to the two groups.

The veterans, including McCain, joined the audience in applauding the antiwar demonstrators.

That moment set a tone of reconciliation and harmony for a discussion about one of the darkest and most divisive chapters in American history.

— Forty-two years after the fall of Saigon, McCain believes “it is the right time to take notes.” “There has to be a period of time after a conflict where the passion cools,” he said during a panel that followed the screening. “Maybe we can look back at the Vietnam conflict and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes that we did before.”

“Their leaders didn’t lead, whether they were military or civilian,” said the Arizona Republican, who spent 5½ years as a prisoner of war after getting shot down on a bombing mission over Hanoi in 1967. “By telling the American people one thing, which was not true, about the progress in the war and the body counts, it caused a wave of pessimism to go across this country, which bolstered the antiwar movement. We can learn lessons today because the world is in such turmoil: Tell the American people the truth!

McCain said he visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as often as he can to take in the names of the more than 58,000 Americans who died. “Depends on the weather,” he said. “Sometimes once a week. Sometimes once every couple of weeks. I try to go very early in the morning or when it’s near sunset. … It’s really an incredibly emotional experience. … These young men died because of inadequate or corrupt leadership.”

As chairman of the Armed Services Committee, McCain is managing the defense reauthorization bill on the Senate floor this week. Whenever troops go into combat, he explained, it is essential that the country decides “what victory means” and, then, “do not forget it!”

“We need to be able to have leaders who will lead and who will be able to give (the troops) a path to victory so that we will not sacrifice them ever again in a lost cause,” McCain said.

Kerry, who captained a swift boat in Vietnam before returning home to protest the war, echoed similar themes and alluded to the Trump administration’s credibility gap.

“Vietnam has always stood out to me a stunning failure of leadership,” said the former secretary of state. “We were operating without facts back then. In today’s world, it’s (also) really hard to figure out what the facts are. And people won’t honor facts. You know what they are, but you have your ‘alternative facts.’”

The 73-year-old spoke of feeling betrayed by “the best and the brightest” who he had looked up to in the American government. He singled out Robert McNamara, who was secretary of defense under John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

“I thought I had felt all the anger I could feel about the war, but I hadn’t until I read ‘A Bright Shining Lie’ by Neil Sheehan,” Kerry said, referring to the classic book that came out in 1988. “All the way up the chain of command, people were just putting in gobbledygook information, and lives were being lost based on those lies and those distortions.”

Martha Raddatz of ABC News, who moderated the discussion, asked Kerry how society can learn “the right lessons” from Vietnam. “A lot of people don’t,” he replied. “It’s that simple.”

The five-term Massachusetts senator said that war should always be “a choice of last resort” after diplomatic options have been exhausted. He spoke of the need to have an endgame before going in. “So many missed opportunities,” Kerry said, shaking his head. “I hope never again will any generation have to face a moment like we did.”

Kerry explained that his combat experience as a young man has been “tricky” at times, and that he tried to not let it overly color his approach to the world during his tenure at Foggy Bottom. “I wanted to make sure I wasn’t a captive of Vietnam,” he said. “Not everything is Vietnam!”

— By sparking new conversations, Burns and his co-director, Lynn Novick, hope to heal old wounds. Famous for his in-depth explorations of the Civil War and World War II, the director highlighted additional parallels between Vietnam and the present moment: “Mass demonstrations taking place all across the country against the administration … A president certain the news media is lying … Asymmetrical warfare that taxes the might of the United States military … A country divided in half … Huge document drops of stolen, classified material into the public sphere … Accusations that a political campaign reached out to a foreign power during a national election to affect the outcome.”

“So much of the division that we experience today, the hyper-partisanship that besets us, we think the seeds of that were sown in Vietnam,” Burns said.

— Kerry recounted his work with McCain in the 1990s to normalize relations with Vietnam, which grew out a conversation they had during an all-night flight on a CODEL to the Middle East. “We decided consciously to work on this because we felt very, very deeply that the country was still at war with itself, and that we needed to move forward in the relationship with Vietnam in order to be able to move forward with the relationship here at home,” Kerry said. “We wanted to be able to talk about Vietnam as a country, not as a war.”

As the 2004 Democratic nominee for president spoke, the 2008 Republican nominee interjected to say that Bill Clinton deserves credit for backing them up at a time (before he got reelected) when it was not politically easy.

— Former defense secretary Chuck Hagel, who enlisted to fight in Vietnam and received two Purple Hearts as an infantryman, praised the documentary for humanizing the war. “We too often don’t humanize the mechanics of war,” the former Nebraska Republican senator lamented. “We say, ‘Well, we’re going to send six or seven divisions or three battalions or squadrons of planes.’ But what does that mean to the men and women who are fighting and dying? … As secretary of defense, I saw that from many years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The same was true for Vietnam.”

NOTE:  Two books, which I have on my Recommended Public Affairs Tab, which are arguably the two best on Vietnam, are as follows:

The Brightest and the Best, by David Halbersham.

Perhaps the most widely acclaimed book on Vietnam, I believe, along with Bright and Shining Lie, by Neil Sheehan, tell two sides of what until then, was our longest war.  The two books, however, relate it from different perspectives.  While Sheehan recounts the war mostly as related to him by subordinate officers in Vietnam, Halberstram portrays it mostly from the political perspective, back on Washington.  

Both reported that America was losing the war, and the generals only wanted to receive good news from the field.  Many lies and omissions were also bandied about in Washington, as President Lyndon B. Johnson placed more emphasis on his Great Society, and running for President in his own right.  Read both, if you can!

A Bright Shining Lie, by Neil Sheehan.
This is the most exquisite, well-written and comprehensive (790 pages) book that I have read about Vietnam, or any war! It won the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction in 1989.

Sheehan made numerous trips to South Vietnam, oftentimes going out with combat troops on missions; because that is where wars or fought! Our War was mismanaged at the highest civilian and military levels; because, no one understood the culture, nor was flexible enough to consider more relevant ideas and strategies. Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon used the War for their own political purposes.

Additionally, America didn’t understand the Saigon Elite, and the string of unpopular puppet governments that we helped establish. Each of those South Vietnamese governments had two primary concerns: use the Army to prevent an overthrow; and manage both the civilian and military bureaucracy for their own corrupt enrichment.

 

 

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DONALD TRUMP NEVER GETS HIS HANDS DIRTY! HE DIRECTS HIS SURROGATES TO DO HIS DIRTY WORK FOR HIM, INCLUDING STEVE BANNON, THE PUPPET MASTER, WHO IS CURRENTLY ATTACKING HIS POLITICAL ENEMIES.

Which ever way the wind blows, Donald Trump chooses afterward as to whether, or not, he played an active roll in the whatever happened!  When things go well, Donald is out front, claiming every last bit of credit—regardless of whoever rightfully was responsible. On the other than, however, when the shit hits the fan, Donald acts like that was the first that he had heard of it.  Trump never gets his hands dirty!

For instance, when four Army Green Berets were killed in Niger, earlier this month, it took him twelve days to even acknowledge it, and then he began running feud with one of the widows.  Apparently, the soldiers were ambushed under questionable circumstances, and the Pentagon has been investigating.

Trump stated recently that he did not “technically” authorize the combat action.  Now, Donald, isn’t that your Secretary of Defense running the Pentagon?  Why would the so-called Commander-in-Chief receive a free pass, while the battlefield commander could be relieved of his Command?

Here’s where Steve Bannon, the Puppet Master, plays a vital role on Donald Trump’s behalf!.  This prior post provides an earlier description of Steve Bannon’s role in the Trump Regime.

In that earlier post, I had suggested that Donald Trump allows Bannon, who maintains a close relationship with the Ultra Fringe White Supremacist Wing of the Trump Political Base, to pull many strings from behind the scenes. Over the past nine months that Trump has been in office, Bannon has played his evil role, off and on, both from within the White House, and from The Shadows.  Through it all, Bannon and Trump have retained a close personal relationship.

Bannon has been attacking political opponents of Trump, and without shirking back into the shadows.  Perhaps the most visible target recently has been Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who Trump has previously castigated; however, he is currently counting on McConnell to pass his Health Care and Tax Scams.  Meanwhile, Bannon has established a Super Pac to Dump Mitch.

Lastly, let’s consider the 25th Amendment, which, at least temporarily, enables a majority of the Vice President and Cabinet, to relieve the President  when they believe that he is unable to fulfill the duties of his office.  When Donald Trump supposedly “Drained the Swamp,” he seems to have replaced the inhabitants with even more dangerous swamp creatures.

Just about every Cabinet member is a billionaire, who had worked in the various industries, which they are now supposed to regulate?  Would they truly damage the respective industries that they expect to return to?  Apparently, Trump selected the fresher, more dangerous Swamp Creatures, so they wouldn’t dare countermand his regulatory goals!

Meanwhile, Steve Bannon is shirking more openly, this time; but, still pulling the strings which Donald Trump wants to keep hidden.

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TRUMP’S EXECUTIVE ORDER, IS INTENDED TO UNDERMINE THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT! WILL CONGRESS LET HIM?

Donald Trump and the Congressional Republicans have been hell-bent on Repealing “Obamacare,” (A/K/A The Affordable Care Act) either literally or figuratively.  Although today’s Executive Order directly effects small businesses, as it pulls participants from Obamacare, the eventual effect will be to weaken it.

Early polls show that a majority of Americans, based on a poll sample, are leery of their intentions.  Personally, I believe that the Order will face a severe Court attack, by a number of state Attorney’s General.

Let me suggest several key health insurance considerations:

1. Health insurance is something that you buy when you are healthy, so that you will be covered when you are sick or injured.

2. Just “having insurance” is not enough if it doesn’t cover a wide range of potential health problems.

3. Insurance companies set their premiums through an actuarial analysis of the “risk pool”—the demographics of the total number of plan participants.  Such statistical analyses become more accurate as the pool size increases, thus reducing the wide swings in health problems covered, as well as the cost.  Furthermore, premiums will also generally rise and fall as the demographics—average age and projected health—change.

As with any Trump policies, this Order has been wrapped in secrecy, and virtually devoid of specifics.  But, based on assumptions by tax analysts, the following comments are relevant regarding what we know so far.

Small companies would be able to band together, forming “association health plans” throughout the country, and buy insurance outside of Obamacare.  This would constitute a dual-tiered national health care plan, which could possibly add to the participants out-of-pocket expenses.

Association health plans would also permit the purchase of low-cost, limited, and short-term plans.  Low cost, and limited, plans appear to take us back to the pre-Obamacare days, when coverage was quite limited—including maternity and mental health—and “pre-existing conditions” was often used to deny coverage.

Insurance, as noted earlier, should not be considered as a short-term investment.  Yes, investment!   Generally, when you buy any type of insurance, you are hoping that you will never have that serious injury or illness, auto wreck, house fire, etc.  Accordingly, short-term health care plans are insane!

Tax-advantaged Health Savings Accounts are also included.  HSAs have traditionally been available only to somewhat higher-paid employees, employed by corporations, and the money grew tax-free until used.

If the new association health plans pull participants out of Obamacare, they would generally be the younger and healthier workers, who might prefer the lower premiums, as compared to the consumer protection guarantees under Obamacare.

Donald Trump has been, little-by-little, weakening Obamacare and, then, blaming it for its own demise. So far, the American People are pleased with Obamacare and, hopefully, they will convey that message to their representatives in Congress!

NOTE:  Aside from today’s Executive Order, Trump will also terminate the insurance subsidies—funded by health insurers—for low-income participants in Obamacare.

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WHAT DONALD TRUMP PREFERRED NOT TO SEE IN PUERTO RICO!

Last Tuesday, Donald and Melania Trump jetted into San Juan, Puerto Rico, supposedly to survey the situation.  He held court with Commonwealth, Local and Federal officials, in which he did most of the talking.  During the photo-op, he reminded the People of Puerto Rico that they were lucky not to have suffered a Real Hurricane, like Katrina in 2005.

The Federal Government has failed miserably to respond to the needs of the American Citizens who live on Puerto Rico, as well as the US Virgin Islands.  But Donald Trump, in his delusion, boasted of what a great job he and his Regime had done.

Then, Trump also suggested that the clean-up—skipping over the immediate need for basic human needs—will cost his budget quite a lot of money.  Wouldn’t that be an issue for him to take up with Congress, rather than with people who have nothing—few working ATMs to get cash, nothing available to buy, and no jobs!

Donald and Melania then traveled ten miles from San Juan, to a very upscale, gated community, where there was only negligible damage.  If the Trump convoy had only traveled another ten miles, where the average Puerto Ricans live, he would have seen the real horror that is Puerto Rico, and no doubt the Virgin Islands, today!

As U. S. Citizens, the residents of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are free to migrate to the Mainland.  Florida has one million Puerto Ricans, only surpassed by New York; however, many of those (up north) had arrived several decades back.

Florida, on the other hand, has become a mecca for Hispanics—predominately in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale—but, 500,000 Puerto Ricans also live along the I-4 Corridor, the East-West highway, connecting Tampa, Orlando and Cape Canaveral.

The major Florida air and seaports each have processing centers, to provide for the basic humanitarian needs for the new arrivals, and to offer a voluntary health screening to determine what, if any, health care needs the incoming Puerto Ricans might need.  Consider some of the problems which need to be identified:

1. Besides the voluntary Q & A screenings at arrival points, all health care providers, as well as social service workers and educators are encouraged to identify problems to be referred to doctors or hospitals.

2. In the aftermath of violent storms: bacterial infections; puncture wounds; and diseases spread by mosquitos and animal bites can be harmful, and even contagious.

3. Some chronic conditions, such as flu and scabies, can become chronic conditions when not treated due to a lack of power.   They can also spread easily in communal shelters.

4. Herpes B is of particular risk due to the release of a group of captive macaque monkeys in Puerto Rico during the storm, and they could spread the disease through bites and scratches.

With the predominance of senior citizens and children on the island, the usual conditions of dehydration, malnourishment, head wounds, fatigue and depression should also be considered.

Unlike major hurricanes on the Mainland, there are no major highways available to bring supplies and assistance overnight.  Also, the San Juan International Airport was not fully operational.  With SOUTHCOM, the military command having responsibility for Latin America and the Caribbean located in Miami, just 1,100 miles from Puerto Rico, a military airlift would have been relatively simple.

Over the past several decades, as major corporations had closed their facilities, many of the younger workers had moved to the Mainland.  With an inordinately older, non-working population of 3.4 million, just half of what it had been, Puerto Rico no longer needs some of the infrastructure and utility capacity financed by Commonwealth and Utility bonds.  The debt service, however, continues to be due and payable!

Last Thursday, Donald Trump’s trip was choreographed, so that he would only see what he wanted to see, speak with whom he wanted to speak, and basically confirm what he already “knew” to be true.  Unfortunately, the horrific devastation—both currently and it’s lasting after-effects—were just not on his agenda.

For a more in-depth description of the potential long-lasting effects of Hurricane Maria, on Puerto Rican’s Health, these recent articles–from the Miami Herald, and The New York Times–provide on-site descriptions.

 

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THE GREAT RECESSION—PHASE TWO!

When Bill Clinton passed the keys of the Oval Office to George W. Bush, on January 20, 2001, the American Economy was in great shape!  Clinton had just balance the Federal Budget for the first time since 1964.  The Unemployment Rate sat at 4.40%, somewhat lower than what the Federal Reserve deems “Full Employment,” at 5.00%.  (The 5.00% is an assumption for those between jobs, changing jobs, recent lay-offs, etc.)

George Bush then took the Economy and devastated it, in order to accomplish ideological goals.  He commenced to take the country into two never-ending wars, first, in Afghanistan, in 2001 and, then, Iraq in 2003.  Both wars are still going on, which causes one to wonder what our Mission Statement was.  Were they necessary? Will we ever leave?

Also early in his First Term, Bush decided to implement a series of Tax Cuts, which were primarily skewed toward the very wealthiest Americans.  Why?  Generally, a nation doesn’t lower taxes when it has one war to finance, let alone two!  Also, tax cuts for the wealthy do not usually encourage consumer spending.  On January 1, 2005, just after he had won his re-election, the Unemployment Rate was 5.30%, and the National Debt had increased from the tax cuts.

That rate began to edge up as the Economy began to stagnate.  Banks, which were undercapitalized had been taking undue risks.  Sub-prime mortgages were sold to homeowners who could least afford them.  Even worse was the packaging of these questionable loans, which were sold to unknowing bond investors as AAA-rated mortgage-backed securities.  And in the end, many of the banks, insurance companies, auto makers, etc., had to be bailed-out by the Taxpayers.

That Banking Crisis, which is commonly referred to as “The Great Recession” was first made public in October of 2007, when George Bush forced the very largest banks to take tens of billion of dollars, at virtually no interest.  He described the scenario as such: “America is looking down into a Financial Abyss.”  If you hadn’t been deeply concerned during the fourth quarter of 2007, when this all began, you certain became so after Bush’s announcement!

The Unemployment Rate of 5.00% at the beginning of 2008 quickly rose to 7.80% at the beginning of 2009.  The Bush Tax cuts, coupled with financing two wars caused the Federal Budget to spike, and the interest on the, now higher, National Debt absorbed a larger slice of the budget, as well.  Lay-offs reduced the tax polls, consumer spending declined considerably, and many small businesses closed their doors.  And credit became virtually non-existent.

Just after Barack Obama took office, on January 20, 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped to 6,500, from the prior high of 14,015 in October of 2007.  Unemployment continued upward to 10.00% in early 2010.

The Obama Administration did the reverse of what George Bush did by allowing the Bush Tax Cuts to expire; but, he lowered rates for the middle class who, unlike the wealthy, spent their excess cash, thus giving new life to small businesses—the real job creators!  Obama’s combination of Monetary and Fiscal Stimulus began the economic recovery, which continues to this day.  The Unemployment Rate stood at 4.80%, when Obama left office last January.

Let’s consider how the two prior presidents—before Donald Trump—managed the American Economy.  George W. Bush took over a nation, which had balanced its budget, and he ran it into the ground—turning the budget surplus to a deficit, lumping the expense of ineffective tax cuts and two unnecessary wars, doubling the Unemployment Rate and halving the stock market.

Barack Obama took a completely different stance.  He almost balanced the budget, allowed the ineffective Bush Tax Cuts for wealthy to expire while lowering taxes for the middle class—the consumer class, put many small businesses back on their feet, tried to withdraw from the two Middle East wars in a gradual and rational manner, and he halved the Unemployment Rate while doubling the stock market.

Donald J. Trump seems dead set on following President Bush’s scenario.  Are we ready for another Great Recession?

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THE OPTIONAL ELIMINATION OF FREE CONTRACEPTIVES IS MORE THAN AN ATTACK ON WOMEN’S HEALTH CARE. IT DIRECTLY EFFECTS THE POOR WOMEN WHO CAN AFFORD IT LEAST!

Contraceptives are used regularly, for Family Planning, by a majority of women in America, as well as most industrialized countries.  The multitude of reasons as to why they’re ubiquitous ranges from: unexpected pregnancies; a lack of financial support for another child; rape; incest, etc.

The cost of having regular check-ups for most women would still be covered under their private or employer plans, even if they had to pay extra for the contraceptives. For lower-income women, however, the expense could be burdensome, especially if one of the major reasons for the health care plan was to gain free access to birth control.

Many low-income families rely on Medicaid, a Federal Health Care Plan, which is intended for the lowest income families in America.  Besides providing many company plans a reason to revoke free contraceptives, it is almost certain that, once the idea is tested, Medicaid would be next.  Let’s consider who requires Medicaid for their Health Care.

Medicaid enrollees are generally among the poorest of our society, those who often lack high school diplomas, and work at minimum-wage Jobs. Black and Hispanic women are disproportionately represented in this group.  Additionally, Congress could reduce the payments to health care providers, thus encouraging them to drop out of the program.  In fact, OB/GYN’s who accept Medicaid in aTexas, for instance, is already down to 33%.

Some Conservatives ask why poor people have so many babies anyway, suggesting that they just have a few?  Besides the natural course of events, anthropologists and biologists have found that early man, since they had shorter lives, tended to have their children early.

Down through the ages, poorer workers, especially those with more physical jobs, lived shorter lives, and they also had their children earlier.  And oftentimes, they reared more children due to premature death, and squalid living conditions.

The optional elimination from Health Care Plans is obviously an attack on Women’s Health Care.  Ironically, we never seem to hear about a similar elimination of Viagra—the erectile dysfunction cure—for the men!  But, while most middle and upper-income women can still make due, it is the poor, and often minority Women who are forced to suffer the most!

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AMERICA’S KILLING FIELDS—THE FORGOTTEN MASSES.

Sure, the mass murders get our attention!  There have been so many, in fact, that we can’t keep track—Columbine, Virginia Tech, of course Sandy Hook when 20 First Graders and six adults were massacred, last year’s Pulse in Orlando, and this week’s 59 deaths in Las Vegas.  But above and beyond all that, the everyday (unfortunately) shootings take the lives of many, many more Americans, some 8,121 in 2014.  Yes, these murders have become so obscenely common that they are only reported in the local newspapers.

Some Americans have breathed a sigh of relief recently, since Donald Trump, the GOP Majority in Congress and even the National Rifle Association—the face of the Guns and Ammo Industry—have agreed that something must be done about “Bump Stock” devices, which convert semi-automatic riffles into automatic.  That means they can spew their deadly cartridges at the rate of nine per second, rather than only one.  In essence, the death dealers and enablers might be throwing us a bone; but, let’s read the fine print!

Most people in America are killed by handguns, rather than rifles.  Consider: the seven year old girl playing on her front porch who was caught in a drive-by; the 18 month old who reached into his grandmother’s purse for candy; suicides; the boy walking to his high school graduation who was killed in a cross-fire; domestic abuse; neighborhood arguments; armed robbery; drug gang shout-outs; and so many, many more.  When will this madness end?

In 2014, a mass murderer drove around Santa Barbara California, near the University of California-Santa Barbra, shooting people at random—just after he had earlier stabbed a family to death.  Richard Martinez, the father of slain Christopher Martinez, posed a very important question.

As the pro-gun lobby, namely the NRA, led the call to preserve our Right to Bear Arms, Mr. Martinez asked: “They talk bout Gun Right…What about Chris’ Right to Live?” Toward the beginning of our Declaration of Independence, which states the premise for America’s Independence, the “Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” are clearly presented.

So, before we get too euphoric about the potential “Bump-Stock” legislation, let’s keep our focus on the need to control all guns—from purchase, to use, to possession to training.  Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are inalienable rights, which are more basic than the questionable interpretation of the Second Amendment, demand it!

NOTE:  Earlier today, I outlined my basic ideas for acceptable Gun Legislation, enabling law-abiding citizens access to firearms, while also protecting the rights of all Americans to live in peace and safety.  If you wish to plow through it, the outline is as follows:

In the beginning of The Declaration of Independence, which lays the groundwork for who we are, as a People, it states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness…”  Life is a given, without context and wouldn’t change, throughout the years.

Now, Amendment II of the Constitution–“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”  This right was added, as part of The Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments, on December 15, 1791, in response to the British Quartering Act, among other unjust laws of England.

Placing this in context, the Right to Bear Arms was intended to enable the Colonies to defend themselves against external forces.  Additionally, at that time, all men and boys of a certain age, owned muskets to hunt game for the family table.  This was just before “rifling”–the curved groove within the barrel, which enhanced accuracy by spinning the bullet–became common.

I believe that, in that context, universal ownership of guns–especially semi-automatic and automatic assault rifles, high capacity magazines, silencers, bump-stock rifles, and other “Toys of War”, would have required new legislation.  Additionally, safeguard–a 72 hour waiting period to purchase, registration of gun shops and shooting ranges, background checks, a National serial number registry, required courses for the proper use, maintenance and storage should be included.  Background checks should be required periodically.

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