“Putin Cannot Remain in Power!”

In President Biden’s historic speech in Poland yesterday, he said Putin cannot remain in power!

 The State Department rushed to assure we are not calling for regime change, Russia being a democracy, albeit one overseen by an autocrat who jails dissidents, and clearly far short of fair elections during the Putin regime. 

That statement wasn’t a “gaffe.” This is what everyone in the free world is thinking. Putin must go. It would be easy to “walk back” more effectively than our State Department did, by the President himself stating today, “What I am saying is this: I am urging the Russian people to exercise their democratic rights and select a better President for their great country.” Then let the Russian people decide how to do that—by protesting, by leaving Russia, or whatever means they find the courage to take. 

The world has listened to diplomats, politicians, newscasters on the ground, and Western military experts. We have gone via media into the front lines with Ukrainian military. We have met displaced families, often separated from husbands and brothers who remain, and we have toured field hospitals filled with wounded children. And with all this, for the first major war the world has been able to watch on TV 24/7, we all have opinions as to the best strategy. 

I have opinions:

The larger question at this time is this: Should the Ukraine compromise to save thousands of lives not yet lost; or should they hold out at all costs, to prevent the risk of a crazed dictator moving on to endanger Europe and the world? That would be an enormous sacrifice on behalf of all the people of Eastern Europe.

This decision is for Volodymyr Zelensky and his Ukrainian leadership, but my own leanings are in hopes that Ukraine hold out to the end, no concessions, not even one square mile of Donbas to be surrendered to Putin. They will certainly retain their territory and their sovereignty. They are winning this war with their sheer determination. They will survive to live again as the independent Ukraine.

Perhaps even more important for Russia and the world, the victory of Ukraine over Russia will yield the end of a tyrant who would otherwise claim victory and possibly survive politically in Russia, using a series of repressive measures against any activists who might criticize the Ukrainian offensive and with his autocratic and corrupt control. In his misguided intent to re-establish the Soviet Union of pre-1989, he is in fact destroying the country he leads. In his action to take advantage of a weakened NATO, he has experienced unintended consequences: He has emboldened and strengthened NATO.

 As President Biden said in Poland yesterday, the Russians are a great people and they are not a people who want to invade and force the subjugation of a sovereign state which clearly does not welcome such.

What should the West do next, what should NATO do, and what should the US do? 

I argued for a no-fly zone in the previous post. I still hold that we should have a no-fly zone, either operated by NATO, or under the aegis of the United Nations, which has provisions for such. What about the risk of triggering World War III or a nuclear war? Given the behavior of Putin, nothing we can withhold prevents that occurring, as it increasingly seems clear Putin is cornered and will go to any extreme to prevent a loss in his “special military operation.” 

What else? We must continue and increase humanitarian aid and military aid. We need to assure the immediate transport of MIGs to Ukraine, where Ukrainian pilots are showing great aerial skill. We should also provide advice to Ukrainian military, as well as intelligence. Neither requires us to have Americans on the ground in Ukraine. And, we need to urge/insist that all global democracies join us in such assistance–not limited to NATO members.

The President has announced willingness to accept 100,000 from Ukraine for temporary asylum. That is totally inadequate and globally embarrassing, considering almost 4 million are seeking asylum, with millions of those already in Poland, a country much smaller than the US, struggling valiantly to welcome, shelter, and feed them. We should take at least 1 million. At least 1 million. We have the capacity. Work it out! Let’s save the debate of why refugees from Ukraine vs those from S America, etc. That’s a longer discussion. This tragedy overrides such delaying debates.

We need to continue tightening sanctions and working to assure they are enforced throughout NATO. We need to sanction every member of the Russian State Duma and Federation Council—a total of 628 members, who vote unanimously in favor or whatever actions Putin proposes—or else. 

There is always more we can find to do. Let’s do it!

Are we seeking regime change? Yes, of course we are! We are urging Russians to seek regime change!

“It’s Going According to Plan”

Going back two years, nothing has been going according to plan for me, nor for you. Our plans for health safety, personal freedom, travel, shopping and much more, were upended by Covid.

Vladimir Putin claims his assault on his neighboring country is “going according to plan.” But, Ukrainians have been putting up a fierce fight, far short of the hearty welcome he said he was expecting. And, even his global “friend” China abstained from voting in the UN General Assembly’s condemnation of Russia’s actions against the Ukraine. Abstention from the second most powerful economy and power in the 21 Century sends a powerful message of caution for the Russian autocrat. China didn’t veto.

Now in power for 20 years, in pursuit of a futile dream of reassembling the original pre-1989 Soviet Union, this is looking like anything but “according to plan.” It’s looking like a massive miscalculation, likely to mark the beginning of his autocratic decline.

No matter whether he succeeds in destroying and conquering the Ukraine, his mission appears to portend the likely end of his absolute control of his country and also his influence over other countries. A very heavy toll will be exacted by Western powers, and those won’t end when the fighting ends. His home popularity will certainly wane as his countrymen suffer from the Western response to his autocratic decisions. Money, prices, food, movies, etc. for the common folk. Yachts, villas, foreign bank accounts and travel for oligarchs–and their families.

One is reminded of the later years of Adolph Hitler’s reign of terror. What are the Russian generals and oligarchs really thinking? What are they telling him–only what they think he wants to hear? What are their motives? I assume those motives are fear of reprisal if he succeeds, and hoped continued protection of their finances. They have to know this is not “going according to plan.” They have to know how it went in War Crimes trials for those serving Hitler.

And, for all of us, it’s not going according to plan. We were expecting to start about now to enjoy “normal” lives, due to the decline of Covid viruses. We were hoping to go to the theatre, discard our masks, dine out, and travel to our favored next destinations, which for some might have included Russia or the Ukraine, or neighboring countries. Not going to happen. Instead, we’re going to have to pay more at the pump.

What is the best response for civilized humanity? How to help? What can our wealthy nation do?

  1. We could install a no-fly zone immediately, along with allies. If NATO won’t authorize and support, there are provisions in the UN Charter to enable such a decision. Some fear this would trigger a nuclear war, but the President of the Ukraine is asking for that, and he knows the odds. Furthermore, Russians have already risked equivalent destruction by their wanton shelling of two nuclear reactors in the Ukraine. It is time to take action. And, we can send weapons, along with those of our allies–fast!

2. We certainly can fly hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians out of Poland to the US. We are better prepared to host them temporarily, than are the neighboring countries. We have the apparatus for the visa process, learned from evacuating Afghanistan refugees.

3. We can contribute our $ to help the people of the Ukraine. That takes discretion as to what charitable organizations to trust, and worry as to how long it will take for the money to get there. That shouldn’t prevent contributing. Let’s do it!

If we did this, all of these, the hoped for result is that any military action continuing would have to be ground only, and the US would only risk its share of drones, aircraft, and airmen, along with those of allies, closely coordinated. Losses for western allies would be limited. Russia would have to fight a ground war with people who are fighting for their country and their freedom, along with their homes and possessions. Refugees would sleep in warm beds with food for their families while their futures are decided.

And, Vladimir Putin would likely see the beginning of the end of his mismanaged and personally aggrandizing control of a great country, and a chance for it to be great again…

… just not his way.

What Next, Fox?

Lately, Fox News is reveling in the discovery that a huge swath of America doesn’t want to be vaccinated, or doesn’t want to wear masks. So, they’ve worked to turn this into a Democrats vs. Republicans issue, with Republicans respecting individual freedom and Democrats demanding government control citizens. And the more Fox promotes this crime on Americans, the more previously comfortable citizens are persuaded to join the outraged.

This demand for individual rights has migrated, spread like the pandemic, and is now in the classrooms of our schools across America. Just exactly what Republicans don’t want taught is far from unanimously agreed. In fact, it is far from understood at all by most–just that something might be taught that I wouldn’t like. So, let’s march and protest and claim that parents are not being respected, and that somehow, our teachers have suddenly turned into enemies of the children and the parents–these same teachers who only a year or two ago were personal friends in the neighborhood and were teaching the right things. Then, suddenly, something happened to those teachers, or their principals, or the school board. Seems like brainwashing. Oh, yes, it was probably the federal government, and most certainly it was the President who set all this in motion.

And, that’s not the only complaint we have against this President. Another complaint is inflation. He must be responsible, because the buck stops there. All bucks stop there. And, I hear the gas prices might get even worse if Putin invades the Ukraine. And if Putin does, it means the President did something wrong in foreign policy too, that led to this happening. I’m sure Trump wouldn’t let Putin invade the Ukraine. Just don’t tell me Presidents can’t control the economy or inflation, because they should. Don’t tell me it’s about the pandemic and the supply chain. He should fix it. That’s all there is to it.

So, all in all, there has been lots of fodder for Fox News hosts to keep merchandising–Hannity, Pirro, Watters, Carlson, and all. It’s been a field day for them, especially discovering that parents are easily aroused over the very idea of having no say, no importance, in their children being vaccinated, wearing masks, and even what they’re taught. This seems even better than complaining about the border.

But, what if…? What if the pandemic subsides, as it appears to be already? What if it is virtually gone well before November? What if no one is forced to be vaccinated or to wear masks well before the midterms? And, what if The whole hullaballo about what’s taught also gets old, gets largely resolved throughout school districts all over the country?

Worse yet for Fox, what if we see a significant reduction in inflation, a downward trend line because Covid is resolved and truckers go back to work and supply chains free up?

I’m just saying….What will you find to fill your network hours, which seem at least 50% devoted to something other than “news.” Something like a polemic against Democrats and Biden, filled with half-truths or total un-truths. What’s left to promote, if the above loses interest for your viewers?

Hilary Clinton spied on Trump. Could that work? No, guess not. We made that claim for weeks, until it turned out we did not read John Durham’s work carefully. That was a little embarrassing, but, oh well, we’ll just keep say that “maybe” she really did.

Can we just go back to hours of video at the border? By the way, which President across the last 50 years was able to do a really good job about immigration and the border? Which? The answer is none, and certainly not Biden’s predecessor. But let’s not get into that ancient history. Here’s the video from today. Horrible, isn’t it? Rapists, criminals, drug dealers, child predators, all being let in across our Southern border! Yes! If government controls over individual freedom no longer sells, That’s what we’ll sell! That one will never get resolved–by anyone! The border will always be our backup plan, because we know no one can resolve that one.

But we’ll keep looking for anything that doesn’t work perfectly, because the buck always stops with the President, especially if he’s not a Republican President. If a Republican succeeds Biden, well, most of his problems were simply inherited from failed Biden policies.

We’re good.

Joe Biden-And All the Criticism

The pollsters say his future prospects will be determined by Covid and inflation–two factors a President has little influence over. That’s what will determine the mid-terms and the Presidency in 2024.

So, it won’t be about the roaring economy. Leading economists estimate GDP growth for 2021 at 5.7% and 2022 at 4.1%. This compares to Trump era GDP for 2017, 2018, and 2019 of 2.3%, 3%, and 2.2% respectively—far short of the 4%+ Trump promised in his campaign, well below the Biden era GDP.

And it won’t be about the stock market. The S&P is up 25.82% YTD 2021. 

And it won’t be about wages, which have skyrocketed during Biden’s first year. Wages in accommodations and services are up a whopping +18.4%, information services 12.3%, finance and insurance 9.8%, retail trade 8.4%, health care and social assistance 6.3%, construction 5.7%, and on and on. 63% of private sector workers saw at least a 5% increase 2nd quarter 2021 vs 2nd quarter 2020. Wages under Trump had increased at about a 3% annual rate.

Inflation is estimated by S&P at 5.5% for 2021, 3.9% for 22, 2.7% for 23 and 2.3% for 24. As inflation subsides, the wage increases likely will not—they will sustain. So, workers who are complaining about gas prices will (a) get relief soon in 2022, and (b) should take note of their significant wage increases, which will continue in their paychecks, well beyond inflation subsiding. 

It won’t be about getting out of our longest foreign war, or about preserving world peace during his administration. 

It won’t be about turning a kind eye (vs. a blind one) to those in distress at our border.  

It won’t be about two historic pieces of legislation already enacted—the stimulus to deal with Covid relief and the infrastructure bill promised but not delivered by any previous administration (totaling $2.9 Trillion). These are historic legislative and reformist accomplishments exceeding anything done before, and bringing critical benefits to our people and our economy.

And it won’t be about President Biden’s refusal to blame our problems on government or on foreign countries or immigrants–a ridiculous claim which was believed by many who are not reading or doing any critical thinking.

There are abundant positives in the short time of Biden’s Presidency–some for which he should be credited and others Presidents usually claim, and often get undeserved credit for–such as the economy.

I never expected Joe Biden to be a charismatic President. I knew he was prone to gaffes. He is aging—you can see it in his hair, his face, and his walk. I never expected him to be perfect. Was Trump?

And, I never expected Republicans to do anything other than what they do—criticize every statement and action any Democratic President makes, exaggerate everything to the negative extreme, and claim the Democratic President should have solved problems for which they excused Republican Presidents as “having nothing to do with the President.”

Biden inherited a Covid crisis his predecessor handled poorly. He inherited a foreign war no predecessor had the courage to terminate. No one expected inflation to surge early on his Presidency, not even Jerome Powell. No one expected the Omicron variant to surface in Africa and race around the world.

It seems to this American that the real problems of the Biden Presidency are these: A divided and highly partisan Congress; a national distrust in government and institutions; white supremacy; nationalism; a heightened American pursuit of individualism (at the expense of the collective good); the relentless scheming of the Right to manipulate voting rights to their advantage; and the stream of criticism from the Right, example Fox News, in stoking public discontent and laying blame where it is not deserved.

Seems the likes of Fox have convinced the blue collar guy at the gas pump that he should be angry, that inflation is Joe Biden’s fault. Of course, there is no mention whatsoever of wages on Fox. I know. I watch to see what the ultra-Right is teaching the vulnerable.

I guess facts don’t count, and misinformation abounds.

No matter how 2022 and 2024 turn out, I believe this President will have one of the greatest Presidential legacies–one exceeding that of all the Presidents during my lifetime, with the possible exception of FDR and Lyndon Johnson. He’s achieved far more in one year than Trump did in four!

Build Back Better

Already, President Joe Biden has enacted two unprecedented pieces of legislation: The fiscal stimulus of 2020 and the Infrastructure Bill, a combined total of $2.9 Trillion in investment in the Covid impact on Americans and in our universally agreed aged and dangerous infrastructure. Administrations before Biden have been talking infrastructure needs for decades, but no one before has actually done anything. He’ll have a great legacy, even if only this is accomplished before the Congress makes its regular mid term shift to the opposition party.

Now pending is Build Back Better, which I predict will get enacted in 2022, in some form not radically different than already approved by the House of Representatives. This prediction stands, notwithstanding the position held by Senator Manchin.

This bill has the following major elements:

$555B fighting climate change—mostly tax credits for solar installations, plus 330,000 jobs to restore forests and wetlands

$400B for universal pre-k—for all 3 and 4 year olds

$200B for child tax credits—this is not a new benefit, but extends the expiration one more year

$200B for 4 weeks of paid leave—we are one of the few industrialized nations without one

$165B for health care

$150B for in-home health care

$150B for affordable housing–provides assistance to those unable afford our costly rental housing

Liberal views: Critical assistance to our underprivileged, in a country with the weakest social support system among developed countries, and with the highest inequality.

Conservative views: Adds too much to the national debt and will increase inflation.

Manchin view: The priority elements of the program need to be funded for the full 10 years, and not dependent on future Congresses extending them. He may require a smaller bill if Democrats cannot agree on additional funding. That funding would be available by increasing taxes on the wealthy, so the Democrats have work to do among their own Senators and Representatives.

Notably, none of the Conservative pundits criticize the need or value of these programs–just “we can’t afford it.” They criticize adding taxes, and constantly inaccurately complain that the proposed tax increases will be applied to working class folks and small businesses. That’s not true–just attempts to garner American sentiment against–thus making the polls suggest the bill is unpopular. In fact, all of the social service elements of the bill are extremely popular and in great need.

The facts:

First, the Republican history: No Republican President has reduced the national debt during his term. Most recently Donald Trump dramatically increased it by enacting his tax cut which went 80% to the wealthy and was not financed by any savings elsewhere. The debt rose by $7.8 Trillion during Trump’s term. So the Conservative hype about debt concerns is highly hypocritical.

By comparison, the Congressional Budget Office, non-partisan, estimated BBB’s $1.75 Trillion ten year spend will be short only $250 Billion in accompanying sources of funding–primarily from increased taxes on the ultra wealthy and establishing a minimum 15% tax on corporations, many of which have used a variety of legal loopholes to pay nothing, for years.

Is it a perfect bill? No. Is there ever a perfect bill in our highly divided Congress, where each representative is beholden to frequent returns to the ballot box and to the demands of their constituents? No. Trump’s tax cut bill was abysmally imperfect. Larry Summers said, “I think it’s a serious policy error that will make middle class Americans poorer.” And, Manchin is right that it would be ideal to fund all elements for the full 10 years.

A fan of the Biden’s BBB, Summers thinks it should tax the wealthy more and close tax loopholes. Original plans did so, but so called “moderate” Democrats opposed some of these provisions, regrettably. I belong to Patriotic Millionaires which fights for higher taxes on the wealthy of us.

Will this bill lead to inflation? No. Our inflation is largely Covid driven, and when the supply chain and Covid issues are resolved, we will return to reasonable inflation.

Time Magazine on BBB and inflation: “The major ratings agencies Moody’s and Fitch both agree that BBB and the recently enacted infrastructure legislation would not add to inflationary pressures. Also, many leading economists have concluded that BBB would not make the Fed’s task of controlling inflation more difficult and should not stand in the way of enacting the needed investments in BBB, which would expand the economy’s capacity to produce goods and services in the longer term, strengthen economic growth, and ease future inflationary pressures.”

Larry Summers on BBB inflation:  “Because that [BBB} spending is offset by revenue increases and because it includes measures such as child care that will increase the economy’s capacity, Build Back Better will have only a negligible impact on inflation.”

There you have it. Needs adjustments to satisfy Democrats, including Manchin. A critical piece of legislation that needs to get approved. President Biden’s approval ratings notwithstanding, his legacy is written and it looks equivalent to that of Lyndon Johnson (a one term President) and even to FDR. By comparison, Donald Trump was a legislative failure of great proportions.

The Rittenhouse American Experience

The verdict is in—not guilty on all counts.

It appears the jury delivered a fair verdict, considering the law as it now stands. Questions remain whether that law is just, or whether it should it be overturned by vote? And, how to interpret and justify the responses of the Left and Right, before, during, and after the trial?

In my opinion, the law is not fair and just. We should not condone the rights of citizens of any age to carry automatic weapons into our streets to protect from whatever or whomever they object to. This right is entirely separate from a legitimate right to have a weapon in your home to protect your family. Had Kyle Rittenhouse not gone out into the night with an AR-15, two men would still be alive and a third uninjured. In my opinion, his undertaking should be strictly limited to our police.

The responses which have dominated television news for weeks are perhaps not surprising, considering our political polarization. Considering the heightened emphasis on personal freedom vs. the collective good. Considering the ardor of Republicans and Conservatives after recent state election wins, in which the issue of personal freedom has been dominant.  This has been so clearly illustrated with parental rights overriding those of teachers in our schools. In that context, teachers are seen as a form of government—albeit local government the objectors themselves elected from their own neighborhoods, but still government. We are living in an American age in which there is widespread distrust of institutions of all forms.

The 1619 project has been characterized as attempting to redefine white America as the villain under whose rule blacks have been systematically subjugated for centuries—a designation white America doesn’t like. Any form of “critical race theory” being taught in our schools is also to be stopped. One might ask whether this is symptomatic of white supremacy still reigning? Fox argues the Rittenhouse scenario has nothing to do with racism, but in fact, Rittenhouse went out into a mob which was incensed over a policeman shooting a black man—clearly a racist situation. What was his mission? Which side was he on—Black Lives Matter or Law and Order? We don’t know, but since the protesters were mostly incensed at the shooting, it would appear Rittenhouse viewed those protestors on the side of the black man as dangerous—dangerous enough to justify his AR-15. His victims were not black, but this was a racist situation, and he had a view.

The trial has turned into a national referendum on personal freedom vs. the collective good: Those for Kyle Rittenhouse being acquitted of these numerous charges see him as entirely within his rights to take a loaded automatic weapon and go out into the night, into a potential mob scene environment, and set about to protect personal property (of someone who did not even ask for such protection). These supporters apparently feel it is perfectly acceptable for citizens to act as armed vigilantes whenever they individually deem it necessary.

Those on the other side (my side) are incredulous that a 17-year-old should find it acceptable to take on a vigilante role under such dangerous conditions. To those on this side, it’s simple: Two people would be alive and a third uninjured, had this young man just stayed home, or at least had he gone out without such a weapon. He could have asked police to be sure to watch the business he alleges he set out to protect. 

No surprise, Fox News hits repeatedly daily on Rittenhouse’s rights to do this, heady with the discovery that personal freedom has turned out to a lightning rod issue, a hot populist issue, just as immigration was for Trump in 2016. Parental rights, and personal freedom can be seen under the umbrella of individualism. Individualism—the belief that we are each independent agents, extends to the right that we each have the right to protect ours (Rittenhouse’s neighborhood), just as we had to do in colonial America, when there was no other law enforcement. 

Individualism has been shown to be extreme in the American fabric. No other developed nation shows such lack of regard for the common good. It extends to the view that every person should make it on his/her own—no help is needed. One’s failures are only attributable to his/her lack of ambition or talent, and not to their poverty or skin color, their neighborhood, their parents, or any other. The US welfare system is the worst of the major developed nations of the world. Republicans are finding it no matter of conscience to vote virtually unanimously against both the Infrastructure Bill and the Build Back Better bill—characterizing them as socialist. These are a far cry from socialism. See the analyses of David Brooks and Larry Summers.

Enough said: The Rittenhouse verdict is fair. The law is unfair. The vitriol in support of personal freedoms can sound heroic to our masses, but where is our recognition of the importance of our common good, of the value of our institutions, of our elected government at all levels? Where is our conscience? Where is our heart?

Tax the Rich-Please

As Democrats in Congress sort out the final details of their landmark Build Back Better Act, a bill packed full of aid for American families and long-overdue tax increases on wealthy individuals and corporations, they appear poised to make a significant last-minute mistake that will undermine both the positive economic and political impacts of the bill. If Democrats want their bill to be a success, they cannot lift the SALT cap.

In their sweeping 2017 rewrite of the tax code that handed over billions in tax breaks to the wealthiest corporations and individuals, Republicans in Congress and President Trump included a provision that capped the once limitless deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) on federal returns at $10,000 dollars. Although the cap was initially created as a punitive attack against the GOP’s political adversaries in coastal blue states, it has ended up being one of the few pieces of the bill worth preserving.

It’s disappointing that the Build Back Better Act doesn’t contain more aggressive tax increases on the rich or rollbacks of the Trump tax cuts, but it’s beyond insulting that in the wake of that failure, some Democrats are working to make our tax code more regressive by removing the one progressive tax provision within the 2017 bill. The House’s version of the bill would change the cap from $10,000, an amount that already overwhelmingly affects the well-off, to $80,000, which would give millionaires like me a significant tax break.

But don’t just take my word for it. Estimates by the Tax Policy Center show that raising the SALT cap to $72,500 would significantly benefit wealthy families, with only 1.6% of middle class families seeing a benefit that would average out to a tax cut around $20 dollars. This is simply because many working class and middle class Americans do not make enough to benefit from a high SALT cap deduction. And with the current Democratic plan now at a cap of $80,000 dollars, the benefits are likely to be skewed even farther in favor of the rich. 

As a wealthy individual from a blue state who would directly benefit from an increased cap, let me make one thing clear to Congressional Democrats – I do not want this tax break. Do not raise the SALT cap for my sake. 

In the midst of record breaking wealth inequality the last thing the Democratic party should be doing is working to decrease taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Wealthy individuals like myself are doing better than ever. We’re currently enjoying the boons of a skyrocketing market, exemplified by California’s ongoing record breaking surplus, funded by our capital gains taxes. We don’t need another cut. 

If Democrats are going to insist on changing the SALT cap, there is a targeted approach to adjusting the SALT cap that will ensure relief goes to only those who need it. Last week, Senators Sanders and Menendez introduced a proposal to eliminate the SALT cap for those that make under $400,000 dollars annually, while leaving it intact for anyone making more. Under this plan, working and middle-income folks in California with high property taxes can benefit without giving billionaires a tax cut.

Democrats campaigned on removing tax breaks for the rich and curbing the seemingly exponential growth of wealth inequality. Lifting the SALT cap would be a clear giveaway to wealthy donors and a betrayal of their campaign promises. Democrats are already seen as the party that represents the coastal elites, and if they end their first two years in power by failing to remove a single GOP-enacted tax cut while instead doubling down on a tax break for the rich, then the losses in Virginia will pale in comparison to the disaster waiting for them in the midterms. 

If Democrats want to hold onto the gains they made in the 2020 election, they should be focused on raising taxes on wealthy folks like me, not cutting them. It’s not hyperbole to say that the fate of the party over the next decade could be determined by what our tax code looks like at the end of these negotiations. The American people are fed up with elites always getting their way while they continue to receive the scraps. We are faced with a unique opportunity to unrig our tax code in favor of the 1 percent. I urge Democrats to keep the cap on SALT and continue the fight for tax fairness.  

Ideas I Don’t Like

  • That Americans are the appointed people of God—that we are the new Israel in the New World
  • That Christianity is the only right belief system
  • That the US is only a Christian nation
  • That we are superior to all other countries of the world
  • That we need to maintain the largest military of the world
  • That we need to do all necessary to remain the strongest nation in the world
  • That we tend to idolize or worship those who serve in the military (vs. our teachers)
  • That we need to police the world and control all national behaviors we don’t like
  • That Communism is some sort of dark and evil system which we need to eradicate
  • That personal freedom is more important than the common good 
  • That personal safety via police is more important than fair treatment of our underprivileged
  • That climate change is to be doubted
  • That experts and teachers are not to be trusted with their intelligence—that we can always know better
  • That the underprivileged suffer only because of their lack of ambition, work, or talent
  • And, that those of color deserve no special consideration
  • That no one needs a helping hand—each must do it on his own
  • That immigrants represent a threat and a cost to our country
  • That one race (white) is somehow superior and is threatened by others
  • That our Democracy is without flaws
  • And, that our Constitution is flawless, notwithstanding 300 years have passed
  • That our form of capitalism is also flawless, let the market determine outcomes, no need for government intervention
  • That government is the problem
  • That tax reduction is always the best action
  • That nationalism is better than globalism
  • That dissemination of untruths is ok
  • That inequality is ok, because the successful earned it rightfully, and I hope to do so also
  • That Donald Trump was a good President
  • That Joe Biden is failing in his Presidency

These are some of the troublesome ideas prevalent among significant elements of our society. These are ideas I don’t like, and many of them represent serious dangers to our country. I could say a lot about each of them, but you get the idea.

I am an Establishment Liberal. Take the quiz and see where you stand:

Message to Fox News

September 9, 2021

Here are a few thoughts for Fox News, just based on the last two weeks:

Two weeks ago, you complained that Biden couldn’t get people out of Afghanistan fast enough, forget the paperwork and vetting–just get Americans and friends out! 

Now, your criticism has turned to questioning whether the paperwork and processing was too fast, and whether we may have allowed terrorists in–although none have yet been discovered. I’m fully expecting that soon your concerns will include the settlement of these “immigrants” into our communities, based on the anti-immigrant stance of the previous administration.

You fight against mandates for vaccination and masks: Both are seen by the vast preponderance of Americans and scientists as critical to getting to national immunity. All of this you politicize in the name of resistance to government intrusion and exaggerated need for personal freedom, at the expense of community. Vaccination mandates are not new. In 2002, George Bush mandated a smallpox vaccine for 500,000 troops. In 1777, George Washington did the same for his troops. In 1905, the government authorized breaking into homes to inoculate against smallpox, and the US Supreme Court ruled that the mandate was legal. Nothing new here, Fox. Report on that history, please

You protest “wokism,” suggesting that government, schools, and businesses have no right to express their preference for honoring our minorities and disadvantaged. Kudlow loves to caption his slogan “go woke, go broke.” Doesn’t seem to be resulting in any “broke” so far. Those corporations going woke are enjoying record revenues. Consumers seem to like their attention to our disadvantaged.

You search for any mistakes made by members of Black Lives Matter or Antifa, regardless of whether such actions are endorsed by the leadership of such organizations, or not. You attribute that behavior to the leadership, but the capital rioters of January 6 are argued to have nothing to do with Trump or any other Republican leadership.

You say, suggest, or imply that China is our arch enemy, asking whether the US will take up arms against China if China threatens Taiwan. This, notwithstanding the clear majority of Americans wanting no future American foreign wars. Also, notwithstanding no evidence whatsoever that China is even remotely interested in a future war with America. China only wants respect and a seat at the table. I suggest we let China’s issues with its neighbors remain between China and those countries. I have studied the history of China extensively at the University of London, and I have confidence that your frequent guest, Gordon Chang, is terribly wrong. He’s been a critic of China for decades–try a few other China experts, please. Try Henry Paulson or Nicholas Lardy for a more reasoned and promising road to our future with China.

You have been too busy this month with Afghanistan and Covid to focus on the Southern border. While you are right there is a problem, you are always slanting your reporting by failing to mention (a) it’s always been  problem, was certainly a problem under Trump; and, (b) you offer no suggestions for how to handle it effectively. Trump did not enact a comprehensive immigration solution. He broke this promise to the American people, along with many other promises. You neglect to focus on the dire need of so many south of us, in danger of starvation and risk to their lives. Is “America First” really the right answer when we look at poverty and danger just outside our borders?

Afghanistan after the exit: Your hosts and your guests (e.g., Karl Rove) continue to claim the Taliban are terrorists. That’s not true. If America does not try to work with them on a cautious basis, extending some trust and forgiving some continued misdeeds from their zealots, as they try to get a rebel country under safe control, we’ll make it even worse for those who helped us and want out, plus the millions there facing poverty, deprivation, and imminent starvation. You can’t give up on criticizing the exit, when Trump set the stage for that, but lacked the courage to actually do it.

Fox, no matter how much you criticize Biden, Americans felt and still feel, he’s far better than Trump.

The President’s poll ratings are falling, but so what? So are the ratings for Abbott and DeSantis, your presumed front runners for 2024. Texans and Floridians are not happy with their governors, whose positions are generally opposite from those of the President. On the other hand, Gavin Newson will most likely be re-affirmed by us Californians on Tuesday of this week.

It’s still a good way to mid-terms and a long way to 2024. Most likely, Afghanistan will be forgotten by then, and the pandemic will also be over, along with the arguments over vaccinations and mask mandates. 

Criticize as you wish, but face it: Democrats are in charge now. Sorry, but accept it. You had your turn under Trump. It didn’t turn out well. Americans know that, and that’s the best of all weapons Democrats have in 22 and 24—that Fox and the Republican party largely remain subservient to Trumpism. You’re way out in Right field, Fox, not serving our nation well.

Apologies to the few of your hosts and guests who try to be fair and even handed. Regrettably, it’s very few.


August 25, 2021

(Afghanistan,  previously known as “Khorasan,” a name now attached to a sect of ISIS: “ISIS-K.”)

I’m standing by my belief stated here a few days ago–that President Biden’s exit will turn out to be a great American success story. So, the exit has been poorly executed, but (a) no prior President had the courage to face a likely exit disaster; and no one can credibly argue that any exit would avoid chaos.  As of today, some 5,400 Americans have been evacuated plus some 120,000 Afghans just in these few days. Some have been retrieved from locations distant from Kabul. In addition, coalition forces have removed more. For example, British flights have evacuated 15,000. France, Spain, Italy and Germany have taken thousands more. This is a great success for the US and coalition partners. Reasonable parties couldn’t really imagine Trump could have done it better.

Kevin Barker writes for Politico on August 28 in his piece The Old Cliche About Afghanistan That Won’t Die, “Understanding the historical reality is critical to grasping why the US is unlikely to suffer serious long term effects from its long and wasteful occupation of Afghanistan–or from the bloody, bumbling withdrawal.” Barker lists the long history of many powers who came, fought, lost, and departed with their own chaotic exits, without lasting effect on those powers. The US is just another in this list. Perhaps there will be others.

The dark side, promoted by Fox news and Conservative hawks: Historically, in provinces they controlled, the Taliban has been known to ban TV, movies, music, and has stopped girls from school after age 10. Punishments have been painful and often fatal for those accused of crimes. Stoning was one such punishment. There is fear the Taliban will harbor al-Qaeda and ISIS-K.

The equally likely plus side: The BBC asks, August 18, Taliban are back–what next for Afghanistan?  The stated reason for our entry 20 years ago was to root out al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. Now, the Taliban, terrorists only against their own US supported Afghan government (never accused of terrorism against the US), ends up in control of their country, feeling they have finally rescued their native country from colonial domination (and its practices). The future might surprise many.

Mullah Baradar, one of the top members of the new Taliban government is quoted as saying, “We have achieved a victory that was not expected…now it is about how we serve and protect our people.”

This is the hope offered to all who fear the worst, and especially to those who think we should have stayed, or at least stayed longer. While the Taliban undoubtedly feel this was and now is their country, and they have the right to rule it, they certainly understand three very critical elements of the struggle ahead of them:

  1. They inherit a nation with a significant population of better educated citizens, and a working economy in Kandahar, Kunduz, and other larger cities. While still third world, the main cities are in far better economic shape than the more distant Taliban provinces where some of the seemingly barbaric practices had been occurring.
  2. They must be aware that without international help going forward, removal of sanctions, etc., they have little chance to retain the economic gains, much less to advance the country forward.
  3. They promise not to harbor terrorists, and that they will honor women’s rights.

This reality is more than a faint liberal dream. It has a good likelihood to move in this direction: gradual lessening of punitive practices, gradual acceptance of women in the workplace, going out without male escort, gradual expansion of permission for girls to continue schooling. Sincere efforts to help coalition partners root out unwelcome terrorist gaining entry.

It is not expected that such a possible transition will be swift or that it will be without challenges from Sharia hardliners. It will not be without some bloodshed. And, while we have narrowed the number of Americans who want out to 350, some will likely be left behind on August 31, depending on Pentagon strategies to continue to evacuate them. And tens of thousands of SIV holders, and others claiming refugee status are surely left behind, with similar dependence. 

We’ll all be watching or working across coming week and months to enable as many of these as possible to leave. Even those who subscribe to my positive outlook (hope?) for this ravaged country, might want to sit it out elsewhere while the turbulent transition takes place, likely to require several years.

The Taliban will need to fill all government vacancies resulting from the departures. They will have to reign in their own extremists. They will have to learn how to protect their citizens from extremists within the Taliban and from foreign terrorists seeking a haven. Essentially, they will have to build an entire organization—from the ground up. 

It will be messy, but there are good grounds for the future of this country. Let’s try to support this hope from the Taliban:

“We have achieved a victory that was not expected…now it is about how we serve and protect our people.”