Presidential Campaign: Home Stretch Issues

 

Part II

Gary Johnson,  Libertarian  candidate for President is now on the ballot in all fifty states.  He is reaching about ten percent in many polls and appears to be drawing support from young voters who see their vote as a “protest”.  There is deep concern that these voters may not know or understand Johnson’s goals and programs.  The Libertarian party has always stood for less or no federal government control of citizen’s lives.  Johnson’s 2016 platform favors the following changes and programs:

Abolish the Internal Revenue Service.  No personal income taxes for individuals or corporations.  Establish a national sales tax of 23 percent on all consumer goods and services.  This “flat tax” would hit the middle and lower classes much harder than the upper class. (Original graduated income tax began in 1913.)

Abolish the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) .  Repeal Safe Water and Safe Air legislation that enables the federal government to set standards to protect citizens’ health. These laws control levels of dangerous gases from industrial plants that pollute our air and water and cause diseases.

Abolish the Department of Education. Public education and public schools through high school would no longer exist. Parents would be responsible for deciding how, where and who would educate their children.

Oppose all Gun regulations by states or federal government. Abolish state laws that are now in effect for background checks and banning assault weapons.

Health Care should not be overseen by the federal or state governments. Repeal Obama Care.  Repeal Medicare.

In a recent Quinnipac poll of millennial voters, 18 to 34,  29 percent said they would vote for Gary Johnson if the election took place now. When they were presented with only the two main candidates, most of the young voters said they would support Hillary Clinton. Democrats worry that those voters may not know what Johnson’s Libertarian goals are and how their lives would be affected now and in the future.

In 2,000 Democrat Al Gore ran against the Republican incumbent, George W. Bush while Ralph Nader ran as a third party candidate.  The election was deadlocked when the Florida votes were delayed by “hanging chads”, missing ballots and other serious problems.  The Florida vote count was never completed when the U.S. Supreme Court declared the election over — and George Bush became president.  Ralph Nader had polled about 8,000 votes in Florida that would have gone to Al Gore if Nader had not run.   Nader became known as “The Spoiler” by Democrats and other liberals.

Political observers today see a similar outcome in November when Gary Johnson could draw from Hillary Clinton’s potential voters and carry Donald Trump to becoming President of the United States.

Terror Attacks.  On Saturday, September 17,  bombings in New York and New Jersey  occurred.   Twenty nine people were hospitalized in Manhattan.  No casualties occurred in New Jersey.  By Monday morning, the intense New York police manhunt found the perpetrator, Ahmad Rahami,  sleeping in a doorway.  He had been described as  “armed and dangerous” in a cell phone message to millions of people.  A gun battle ensued and Rahami, a 28 year old  naturalized citizen from Pakistan  was wounded, captured and hospitalized. The bombings were described by Mayor Di Blasio as a “terrorist attack.”

Reactions from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were very different.  Trump immediately tweeted “I called it!”  Then he attended a rally where he sarcastically described how Rahami would be treated in the hospital with the best medical treatment and “room service” for his meals.  Next he launched a full scale attack on our criminal justice system which would put Rahami on trial with the best lawyers.  Supporters in the audience yelled, “Hang him!” as Trump spoke.

Clinton spoke to the press at an airport on her way to Philadelphia for a rally.  She was measured and clear that this was not a time for stoking fear. She criticized harsh rhetoric about how “weak” our vetting system was to prevent entry of immigrants who would become terrorists.   She was firm on the need for vigilance and praised the New York police for their superb work in finding Rahami as quickly as they did.  Analysis by bomb experts pointed to Rahami being the “lone wolf” carrying out both the New Jersey and New York bombings.

Foundations.    Both candidates are connected to Foundations.  They are very different in size, purpose and operations.  The Donald J. Trump Foundation  began in 1988. He remains as its president.  Most of its funds come from other people and groups. At the end of 2014, it reported having $1.3 million in the bank. As a private foundation, it gives money to others; it runs no programs of its own. Some beneficiaries are clients or businesses rather than charities.  It is headquartered in Trump’s New York business offices with no paid staff.

On September 13, Eric Schneiderman, New York State Attorney General, who is leading a lawsuit against Trump University, stated that his office is now investigating the Donald J. Trump Foundation. Schneiderman  said, “ We have been concerned that the Trump Foundation may have engaged in some impropriety.” Under Internal Revenue Rules, the Trump Foundation, despite its name, is technically not a Foundation, but a public charity.  The IRS made this distinction because public charities are funded by many donors, and therefore “self-policing”.  If they do things that undermine public confidence, they either raise less money or shut down.  On the same day, 15 Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking that the Justice Department launch a criminal investigation of Trump in connection with his foundation’s $25,000 donation to Pam Bondi, Florida attorney general who was reviewing Trump’s for-profit education programs.  She later dropped the investigation. The letter specifically cited anti-bribery laws.

The Clinton Foundation was established by former President William J. Clinton in 1997. It is a non profit corporation  with the stated mission to “strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence.”  The offices are located in New York City and Little Rock, Arkansas.  In 2013, the name became the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.  The family members have  served in different capacities without receiving any financial salary.  It should be noted that Donald Trump’s charge that Hillary created a “ pay to play” connection with foreign countries during her service as Secretary of State has no basis in fact.

Through 2016, the foundation had raised an estimated $2 billion from U.S. corporations, political donors, foreign donors and corporations, and other groups and individuals.   Programs and Health Initiatives include:  Anti- malarial drugs for 12 million men, women and children in Africa.  HV/Aids Initiative for millions in Africa and Asia. Disaster relief included:  Indian Ocean Earthquake, 2004 and Hurricane Katrina, 2005.  Staff members are hired to carry out the humanitarian programs across the globe.  Charity Watch, a monitor gave the Clinton Foundation an A rating for 2016, saying 88% of its money goes toward its mission. The foundation has won accolades from philanthropy experts and drawn bipartisan support.

Donna Shalala is president of the Clinton Foundation. She served as HUD secretary in Bill Clinton’s cabinet from 1993-2001. Before that, she had been Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin’s higher education system from 1988 -1993.  Shalala has announced that plans are being made to completely separate the Clinton family connection with the foundation if/when Hillary is elected president.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..Part III  will be posted after the first Debate on September 26.

 

 

 

 

 

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2016 Presidential Campaign: Home Stretch Issues

 

Part  1

 

Tax Returns:   Hillary Clinton released her latest  federal income tax return on August 12, showing that she and Bill Clinton paid $3.24 million in taxes.  This came to about a third of their $10.6 million income for 2015.  This met the Warren Buffett rule that Hillary proposes in her tax plan (See her web site). Anyone with an adjusted income of  one million dollars would pay a minimum of 30% of income in taxes.

The Clintons primarily made their money from writing and speaking in 2015.   They also had income from pension, annuities, interest and dividends.  Bill Clinton as a former president receives about $200,000 a year.  It is important to note that Hillary Clinton has released 38 years of tax returns over the course of her career.

Donald Trump has refused to release his tax returns for the past year.  He insists the reason is that “he is under audit”and he will release them when it is completed.   The Internal Revenue Bureau reports that there is nothing preventing him from releasing his tax returns while an audit is being conducted.   Reporters continue  to ask him for his tax returns and he turns away and changes the subject.

Tax experts explain that as a real estate investor, he is entitled to a sizable number of tax breaks that can greatly reduce his tax bill.  They include writing off the interest paid on loans financing the properties and a favorable depreciation schedule to account for wear and tear. Another way to avoid tax is to sell a property and put the money in trust so long as it is designated to buy a similar property in the near future.  All of these benefits are why many critics of Trump believe that he may have paid little or no federal income taxes in 2015 or previous years.

He may also be very reluctant to reveal investments in foreign countries or off shore islands that would contradict his repeated emphasis on “ America First!”  It is well known that his name, the TRUMP brand has been sold extensively in European, Mid Eastern and Asian countries. Bold TRUMP letters appear  on large hotels, golf courses, clothing and even steaks!

Tim Kaine, Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, has released ten years of returns.  He and his wife,Anne, reported $313,441. in adjusted gross income and paid nearly $63,000 in federal income taxes for a rate of 20% for 2015.  The greatest amount of their income, about $312,000. came from their salaries.

Mike Pence ,  Trump’s running mate and Governor of Indiana, released  joint tax returns with his wife Karen for 2015 on September 9. Their adjusted income was $113, 026 and they paid $8, 956 in federal income taxes.  Most of their income came from his salary as governor.

Health Issues:  Donald Trump’s long time doctor, Harold Bornstein, a gastroenterologist released a brief four- paragraph letter in December, 2015  that gave very few numbers or facts about Trump’s health.  He described test results as “astonishingly positive” and concluded “If elected, I can state unequivocally, he will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”  Doctor Bornstein wrote the letter in five minutes while a messenger waited to deliver it to the Trump campaign.  There was TV coverage of Dr. Bornstein at his desk when he wrote the letter.  The result was widespread skepticism and ridicule of the letter  as a  “health report” from the press and the Clinton campaign.

In early September,  Trump said that he had seen Dr. Bornstein for a “physical” and the results would be revealed on the Dr. Mehmet Oz daytime television show on September 16.  The show was taped with a live audience in advance.  Dr. Oz and Trump were seated on two comfortable chairs facing each other.  Trump reached into his jacket and handed Dr. Oz several pages from Dr. Bornstein.  Dr. Oz  quickly reviewed some of the results and they talked about them.  Trump gave his weight as 236 pounds and said he was taking a statin to lower his cholesterol.  At about six foot two, he would have a BMI, body mass index of 30.3. Dr. Oz described him as “slightly overweight”.  The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute defines obesity as a BMI of 30 or more.

Hillary Clinton’s health had been described in stark terms by Donald Trump for months as “ extremely weak”, lack of stamina and possible illness.”  His campaign floated conspiracy theories about Parkinson’s Disease and brain disorders. The only physical evidence on her vigorous campaign schedule was a cough that appeared at some rallies.  On Sunday, September 11 In New York at the outdoor Memorial service, Clinton  left after standing for 90 minutes.  As she walked to the waiting van, she needed support .   The picture of this happening was caught on TV and shown over and over again. Her campaign immediately reported that “Clinton had become overheated and dehydrated.  As soon as she was in the cool van, and drank liquid, she revived and was fine.”  She was on the phone as they drove to Chelsea’s apartment in New York.  Within a few hours, Clinton emerged from Chelsea’s building and greeted a child,  smiled, walked and waved to onlookers.

Dr. Lisa Bardack , Clinton’s physician, is the chair of internal medicine at CareMount  Medical in Kisco, New York.   She saw Clinton after she returned to her home on 9/11.  Campaign plans for the next few days were put on hold. On Wednesday,  Clinton released a letter from Dr. Bartak that reviewed  her physical fitness and recent medical history. She had seen Clinton on September 2 for a low-grade fever, congestion and cough brought on by seasonal allergies.  Clinton was determined to continue her campaign and did so.  After the 9/11 incident, Dr. Bartak had a chest scan done. It showed “ mild non-contagious bacterial pneumonia “ and was being treated with anti-biotics.”  She concluded that Clinton “continues to remain healthy and fit to serve as President of The United States.”

The story turned into her lack of “Transparency” The cable news coverage was a deluge of criticism that they – The Press—“ weren’t told about pneumonia immediately”!! David Axelrod, former advisor to Obama, labeled it “Clinton’s penchant for privacy”.  (Et tu, David…) Hillary had not shared that information with the Press and the American people!  The facts are that thousands of people every year continue to work with “walking pneumonia.”  When Clinton did return to work on Thursday, she was greeted by a thunderous reception from the men and women at her North Carolina rally.  Apparently, they were not upset by the two day lack of “transparency”.  They were   thrilled to see her looking fit and hearing her  speak— clear,  strong and coherent as always in her presentation. When she said, “I have never been a quitter!”,  they went  ballistic, cheering and applauding.

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Next Blog:

Part II of Presidential Campaign:Home Stretch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Racism. Prejudice. Discrimination. Bigotry!

During the first Republican Primary Debate, with sixteen candidates lined up on the big stage, Donald  Trump introduced his proposal to deport twelve million Mexican illegal immigrants and build a wall to keep any more Mexicans out. He warned that  “drug dealers,  criminals and rapists” were crossing our Southern border and it must be stopped.  His words were  classic stereotyping an entire national group with abhorrent descriptive language.  Some of the other candidates took immediate issue with him: Jeb Bush.  Marco Rubio. John Kasich.  Trump  coined  belittling labels and used them repeatedly in future debates.  “Low energy Jeb”.  “Little Marco”.  He never deviated from his formula about The Wall, except to add that “Mexico will pay for it!”

In his ground-breaking book, “The Nature of Prejudice”,  Gordon Allport,  social psychologist at Brandeis University dissected  the aspects and effects of prejudice and discrimination.   His book was the text when, as a Sociology professor,  I taught “The Individual and The Group” at Atlantic Community College from l969 to l983. Allport’s book explained how prejudice grows from ugly words (epithets) to threats and culminates in violence. I learned along with the students,  as we all lived through a time of riots and burning cities in the l960’s: Watts, Newark, Miami, Detroit.  In most instances, the rioters were black people in the inner cities destroying their neighborhoods as they reacted against a history of maltreatment by the police.  They were not acting directly against white people.  It was also the tragic time of the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Senator Robert Kennedy in l968.

There’s a song from the smash hit musical, “South Pacific” that explains one of the main origins of prejudice in almost every country across the world . “You’ve Got To Be Taught” :  First verses:

“You’ve got to be taught to be afraid of people whose eyes are oddly made. And people whose skin is a different shade. You’ve got to be carefully taught.

“You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late.  Before you are six, or seven or eight, to hate all the people your relatives hate.  You’ve got to be carefully taught.”

Donald Trump learned early from his father Fred Trump when they both were building their real estate empire in the l960’s and l970 in New York City.  All applications were screened and African Americans had a C for Colored circled on them.  Almost all apartments were rented to white applicants.  When, in rare instances a few black applicants raised objections and caused “problems”,  law suits occurred.   The Trumps lost the suits and several of the black residents still reside in those apartments.

There are also psychodynamic origins of prejudice.  Certain individuals or  groups have a distinct  need to feel superior to other people or groups. This may be stoked by different  social,  educational, political or residential backgrounds.   Our history since the nation’s inception has been based on people coming from every part of the globe.  Those who emigrated from Europe and Asia sought to find better lives or to escape religious persecution.  Those who came from Africa  were brought as slaves against their will; many did not survive the brutal Middle Passage.  Thus, most black Americans are 14th generation Americans, here much earlier than most white Americans who came centuries later.

Different immigrant groups have clashed over the centuries as waves of people arrived and settled in the crowded cities.  After the Great Famine in Ireland sent millions  to America in the mid l840’s, anti-Irish mobs roamed the streets. Signs in shops said, “No Dogs or Irish”.   Jacob Riis catalogued with his pictures, the bands of young boys who lived in the streets of New York as scavengers while the rich lived in mansions .  Settlement houses were started to care for the needy.  At the turn of the century, Will Rogers described our country as” the only place people would go to the poor house in an automobile.”  As the economy grew, fringe groups also grew.  The Ku Klux Klan built their message of white supremacy with robes, marches, burning crosses  and lynchings of  black men who were suspected of being “troublemakers.”

By the 20th century, segregated housing and schools became de jure (legal) in the South and de facto (by custom) in the North.  Jews were not welcome in certain communities, hotels or colleges which had published quotas. The Chinese Exclusion Act had  passed in l882.  A quota system was set up in l924 to limit immigration to The United States  from Southern and Eastern European countries with preference to Northern and Western European countries.  This system remained in effect until l965 when it was abandoned during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration.   All these laws and customs were examples of Discrimination (actions) which grew from economic and political prejudice (belief systems).  The greatest changes occurred during L.B.J.’s tenure as president.  He oversaw the passage of the Civil Rights Act, 1964 and The Voting Rights Act, l965 as well as The Fair Housing Act, Medicare, Medicaid  and the Poverty Program.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only president to serve four terms – 1932 until his death in l945,had  brought  Social Security and Aid to the Blind and Disabled as the stellar legislative advances.

When Barack Obama was elected as our first African-American president in 2008, millions  of Americans celebrated  a new era of  understanding among our many diverse citizens.  At the same time,  other individuals and fringe groups as well as political opponents met to make sure Obama would be a “one term president”.   Donald Trump was one of the first to question  that Obama was really born in Hawaii.  He and others became known as Birthers.  They demanded to see his original birth certificate and proclaimed that he had been born in Kenya.   For years, Trump made headlines  with his persistent press releases and tweets on the subject.   Of course, he also disparaged all of Obama’s accomplishments leading the economy out of the Great Recession and being elected for a second term.  Trump’s aim and that of other Birthers and Republican opponents appeared to be a negation of Obama’s legitimacy as president.

Bigotry describes  deep seated antipathy to a person or group based on their race, religion or ethnic  identity.   Donald Trump declared at a recent rally, “Hillary Clinton is a bigot!”,  and repeated it emphatically several times.   There were gasps as some in the audience absorbed the epithet he had used since it made no sense.   During the long campaign, Trump  has committed so many examples of bigotry toward Mexicans, Muslims, African Americans,  immigrants,  women and the disabled  that the American public now understands that bigotry is one of Trump’s salient characteristics. Psychologists would cite his statement about Hillary Clinton as “classic projection” — when the speaker casts upon another person his own beliefs and behavior.

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The  best source on racism and hate groups in the United States is The Southern Poverty Law Center. They publish their Intelligence Report twice a year.  The current summer issue features a major article, “Hate in The Race” , covering Donald Trump’s campaign from June, 2015 to the present.  See spicenter.org