America Needs Immigrants

America Needs Immigrants

                        Robert A. Levine

If America is going to continue to be an economic colossus, we need more workers. The “great resignation,” Covid retirements and low birth rates have all contributed to a need to fill open jobs. That can only be accomplished by increasing immigration. Throughout American history, immigrants have always played a large role in America's workforce.

Population growth has been declining in America as birth rates have become lower, a trend that will only be exacerbated in the future. In the 1970s and 1980s, population growth of people in their prime working years-25-54, in the United States was over 2 percent, fostered by both elevated birth rates and immigration. Currently, population growth in these prime working years has slipped to 0.2 percent. With birth rates continuing to decrease and immigration being restricted, a further dearth of prime age workers can be expected in the future. Recent surveys have noted that over 20 percent of young women want to remain childless and never have children.

Even in this age of automation and increased use of robotics, our economy cannot continue to operate efficiently and grow without the availability of more workers. This includes both unskilled laborers and highly skilled and educated high tech workers. The most recent unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, an extremely low level. And job openings are going unfilled as there are not enough workers to take these positions.

It is true that the pandemic of Covid 19 has played a role in the increased number of job openings, with large numbers of workers resigning from their jobs, looking for higher pay, better working conditions, or just retiring. But an insufficient number of workers are returning to work and there are not enough men and women stepping into the work force to replace them. And this will only get worse given the nation’s low birth rate. It is not only the United States that is having lower birth rates in recent years. This trend has been present in virtually every advanced nation.

Reasons for lower birth rates include more women who are career oriented and people marrying at later ages. In addition, America does not provide enough affordable child day care options for mothers who want to work and does not sufficiently subsidize the cost of raising children. This includes the costs of education, particularly for parents who expect their children to pursue higher education.

While it is possible that the nation’s birth rate could increase if government provided a sufficient supporting role for parents and children, those who were born in the next few years would not be ready to enter the work force for at least two decades. We need workers now. The only way to immediately augment the number of workers would be through allowing more legal immigration.

Lower skilled workers are needed for agricultural jobs, butchering and meat packing work, construction jobs, positions in the hospitality industry which is now growing again, truck driving and so forth. High-tech workers are also required. And workers in health care are in great demand. This includes physicians, nurses, and health aides. Shortages of primary care physicians and nurses are particularly acute in many areas of the country.

It should be remembered that high-tech immigrants are responsible for large numbers of America’s patents as well as producing start-up companies. The latter provide jobs for many American workers and help the growth of our economy.

Though there are white nationalists who would like to restrict the number of non-white immigrants and worry about changing demographics, a strong economy is what makes America exceptional and allows it to play an important role on the international stage. In addition to raising immigration quotas, the government should also do whatever is possible to increase domestic birth rates by putting better child care and financial subsidies in place.

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The Loser

The Loser

       Robert A. Levine

The term “loser” has haunted Donald Trump since his childhood, but even moreso as an adult. To “The Donald,” the worst epithet in the world is loser. He has some deep psychological fear of people thinking of him as a loser. This need to avoid being labeled, or thought of as a loser has motivated a number of his actions, some of which have been illegal or ethically questionable. He has lied about his grades and class standings in prep school and his colleges, and has threatened to sue his schools if they released his grades or SAT scores. He has bragged that he is a genius when his general knowledge is known to be paltry (Finland as part of Russia?).

To provide extra protection for himself against others describing him as a loser, he has exaggerated his wealth and dismissed his bankruptcies and debts as the machinations of a smart businessman taking advantage of establishment rules. He has denigrated the elites when he has been unable to buy acceptance and has denounced and insulted institutions that have rejected him. Trump has always been a boor and a bully, his behavior keeping him from the status he so ardently desires. Discerning people see him for who is and want nothing to do with him.

Since he has been involved in politics, it has become even more important for him to cast off any suggestion he is a loser. Trump refuses to acknowledge that he lost the 2020 election and claims that it was stolen from him by Biden and the Democrats. (According to Trump, losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 was because illegal immigrants had voted.) Even before the 2020 election, when the polls had him lagging behind Biden, he claimed that the election was going to be rigged, giving him an excuse when he believed he might lose.

Many people in America perceive Trump as a riveting orator and entertainer, particularly those leaning right. If those in his base lack knowledge of the facts, they readily accept what he tells them as the truth. They are unwilling or unable to independently seek out the facts and instead listen to those in the media and politicians who back Trump’s lies. Trump does not care about the damage he has done to America’s democracy and democratic institutions.

His actions since the election, with his initial efforts to overturn the results and the January 6th attack on the capitol at his behest, have been unlawful. Trump’s behavior has completely ignored past political norms in his quest to prevent his being labeled a loser. Asking Republican state officials to “find” votes for him to overcome his deficits in those states certainly sounds like a president pressuring people in lower government positions to do his bidding and cheat the voters out of their choice.  Is this not a criminal act for which he should be punished? Even at this late date, he is still pursuing ways to overturn the election. Trump’s continued unwillingness to accept his loss suggest a disconnect from reality and serious psychiatric illness.

Because he has been able to convince so many of his followers that the election was stolen, Trump has driven a deeper cleft between the right and the left, in elected officials as well as in the general public. This has made it difficult for governmental bodies on a federal level to pass necessary legislation because of increased polarization between the parties that he has further inflamed. Aside from a few brave souls, Republican elected to office at all levels have publicly backed Trump’s assertion that the election was stolen, afraid that Trump might turn his base of believers against them if they acknowledge that he lost. Privately, however, many of them recognize that Trump did actually lose the election.

In many Republican dominated states, elected officials and state legislatures have been changing the laws to make it more difficult for minorities and people of color to vote, because they tend to support Democrats. This is being done based on the lie that the last presidential election was stolen and to prevent it from happening again.

It is close to two years now after the 2020 election and Trump persists in spreading his lies and denying that he lost. He is willing to subvert American democracy merely so that he will not be known as a loser. But in fact, he is the ultimate loser, a traitor to his country, because of the harm he has caused to the American system of government. A loser is a loser and Trump has well earned his reputation as a loser by those Americans who are aware of the truth.

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Hate and Identity

Hate and Identity

            Robert A. Levine

The concept of identifying with a group and seeing outsiders as a threat is known to be present in many animal species below humans on the phylogenetic scale. This can be seen in a pack of wolves, in lions, monkeys and chimpanzees, who follow the alpha male in the group and may harass or attack other groups, particularly during mating season. Prehistoric man tended to live in small groups, always suspicious or antagonistic to outsiders. When man advanced to living in tribes, the members of these groups identified with their fellow members and were often hostile to those whom they saw as interlopers or those outside their tribes. This need for identity or to be part of a special group or community continued during the period when nation states were formed.

Bonds between people were formed on the basis of national identity (nationalism), the similar characteristics including race, religion and ethnicity or genetic origins. Again, people who were different in various ways, even if living in the same territory and citizens of the same state, were considered as interlopers who did not belong to the in-group. Because of their status as outsiders, they were often feared and seen as threats, and hatred of these ‘others’ grew more pronounced. In Europe, this antagonism and hatred of other ethnic groups has been occurring for centuries in many nations, leading to pogroms and massacres of minorities living in these nations. Though the population of every European nation participated to varying degrees in the hatred and conflict against outsiders, it seemed to be more prevalent in eastern European countries and Germany.

Certainly, tribal and national identities and hatred and killings of outsiders has not been limited to Europe. It is a general condition of mankind and has been present in Asia and Africa on a large scale as well as in North and South America. Unfortunately, white Christian identity movements have been growing throughout America as well as in European nations. Animosity towards other religious, racial and ethnic groups has been increasing and becoming more mainstream, with some white Christian groups feeling that America is being taken away from them. They tend to forget that indigenous peoples lived in America before whites colonized the land and if any group should feel hostility towards others it should be them.

The main reason for the hatred generated from ethno-nationalists is because some people are different than them and may come from other ethnicities, worship in other ways, or be of other races. There is nothing wrong with identifying with a particular group and feeling proud of your identity and of the accomplishments of your group. However, that does not preclude living in harmony with other ethnic, racial or religious groups and respecting the identity of the people in these groups. Hatred arises from fear of outside groups and supposed threats eminating from them. These threats are generally imaginary and are based to a large degree in difficulties in communication between groups.

There should be no reason that pride in one’s identity should threaten another group’s identity and cause hatred on one or both sides. Different people should be able to live together side by side in the same nation and cooperate in making life better for all citizens. Those who espouse hatred and foment conflict between peoples should be shunned by all of those who believe that a better and more peaceful world is possible.

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Sex and Abortion

Sex and Abortion

            Robert A. Levine

The recent Supreme Court ban on abortion is not the first time religious conservatives have tried to take away women’s rights. And we are not the first society where there have been attempts to make women subservient to men and dependent on them. And this is not the first time that religious zealots have tried to tie sexual relationships to having children, trying to deny women the right to sexual pleasure without bearing children. What is wrong with men and women having sex purely for pleasure and not to conceive?

Religion and ancient societies have always been patriarchal in structure, emphasized in the Bible and all religious texts. Remember that Eve was fashioned from Adam’s rib. She was just part of a man while Adam was the superior being. In some primitive societies, women are still considered chattel at the disposal of the men who are their protectors and actual owners. There is even an aura of evil in some religions regarding women, who are labeled as temptresses who will lead men to sin and infidelity. Religious texts do not emphasize pleasure for women in sexual congress, believing that sex is for men to have pleasure and to create children.

Islam allows men to have four wives and original Mormonism also allowed men multiple wives, showing that men were superior beings. Conservative Protestant religions expect their women to stay home and have children, rather than pursue education and careers separate from their men. Religious Catholics believe that use of contraceptives is a sin and that the purpose of sexual intercourse is to produce children. Orthodox Jews are split on abortion but it is felt to be a conjugal duty that a man provide pleasure for his wife in conjugal sex.

In none of the western religions is there any text on the right of men and women who are not married to have sex purely for pleasure. Banning of abortion by the Supreme Court furthers the idea that sex that does not produce children is evil and that the mother must be forced to carry an unwanted child because she sinned by having sex. Of course, many married women become pregnant and believe they cannot afford or do not want to have a child and so have an abortion.

It is not a surprise that all of the Supreme Court Justices who voted to overturn Roe v Wade are religious Catholics, though Justice Gorsuch labels himself as Anglican/Catholic. The fact that these six justices allowed their religious beliefs to guide their decisions against the views of the majority of the nation is a detriment to our democracy. Though it is certainly not necessary to have justices proportional to the nation’s population, it is aberrant to heave 6 or 7 Catholics on the highest court in the land, with all of them appearing to follow religious dogma. How could they not overturn Roe v Wade when they have been taught all of their lives that abortion is a grave sin?

When John Kennedy was elected president in 1960, many Americans called him a papist, believing that he would be adherent to church doctrine. This did not occur but it is now the Supreme Court that is following the precepts of their church against the popular will. Their decision to allow religious schools to receive state funding in Maine that was given to private schools is further evidence of their religious beliefs and is contrary to the Founders desire for the separation of church and state. No religious institutions should be receiving government funds. And no teachers or coaches should be able to hold prayer sessions on public property after or during a school function where students might feel obligated to participate.

These justices who are Catholic acolytes might do better to try and clear their church of its rampant pedophilia which seems to be an ingrained problem at all levels, instead of interfering with secular laws that have been on the books for fifty years and have the support of the majority of the population. It is also unfair that presidents who did not win the popular elections and senators who represent a minority of the population have been able by hook and crook to fashion a minority Supreme Court who follow their religious precepts in ruling on their cases, bringing America back to a less open and less modern age. There are a number of ways that the Court could be changed to be made more modern and realize that sex for pleasure between loving individuals is not such a bad thing after all, even if it results in an unintended pregnancy. Women should be able to have children when they desire it, and abortion and contraception should not be made more difficult because of prudish men and one woman.

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Trump's Lasting Legacy

Trump’s Lasting Legacy

                        Robert A. Levine

Excluding Trump’s role in changing America’s relationship with NATO and other nations, his largest and lasting domestic impact is and will be his three appointees to the Supreme Court. These appointments transformed the Court from a moderate political body into a deeply conservative one which with lifetime tenure for justices will remain so for decades to come. There are two ways this conservative predilection could change, neither one of them very likely.

One would be by placing term limits on SCOTUS justices. Instead of life time appointments, this could be changed by a constitutional amendment to a set number of years, probably a lengthy term of ten, twelve or eighteen years. Given the increase in life expectancy since the Founding Fathers approved the Constitution, from 30 to 40 years in the 1700s, to around 80 in the 2000s, this would not be an unrealistic move. Depending on a justice’s age when appointed to the Court, the expected length of a term in the early 1800s might have been considered to be around 20 years or less. An appointment to the Court currently could be 40 years or more if an appointment were made when a person was in his or her forties. These gerontologic justices may well be out of touch with changes in society by the time they retire or die. Setting term limits would restore some credibility to the Court which has seen diminished approval ratings by the general public in recent years.

Another suggestion in a similar vein is to allow every president to appoint two justices in every four year presidential term, with the two longest standing justices retiring. With current standards, a president like Trump could appoint three justices in one term, while another president might get to appoint none, purely by chance. Having a set law on the books to provide equitable appointments by presidents to the Court would be fairer and allow more representation from different political groups. Trump was elected in 2016 by a minority of the American population and the senators who approved his nominees also represented a minority of Americans. These appointments are not indicative of a democratic system.

Some SCOTUS analysts believe that the way to transform the Court is to increase the number of justices on the Court as the population of the nation has grown dramatically since the Constitution was written. Only a small number of cases presented are handled by the Court each year and having more Justices might allow a greater number of cases to be examined and ruled upon. Opponents have called this “packing the Court” but it does seem to have some basis in the reality of the nation’s increased population.

Unfortunately, the way the Senate is structured, with two members from each state regardless of population, make new laws or dramatic changes in old ones unlikely. The Founding Fathers in their infinite wisdom had two senators represent each state in the union regardless of population. This means that California with 20 million citizens and Wyoming with 600,000 each have the same power to write laws in the Senate. Small rural states tend to be generally conservative and send conservative senators to Washington to represent them. This results in more conservative Justices being appointed to the Supreme Court.

We can point to Mitch McConnell refusing to appoint Merrick Garland to SCOTUS when he was nominated by President Obama during his last year in office. McConnell said that appointments to the Court should not be made during a president’s last year in office as the electorate should make this decision depending on for whom they vote. However, McConnell turned 180 degrees when Amy Coney Barrett was nominated by Trump in the last few months of his term, rapidly pushing her nomination through the Senate. McConnell did not seem to be bothered by his barefaced lie.

So far in the recent SCOTUS term, we have seen the Justices overturn Roe v Wade which had been law for half a century, disregarding prior precedents. Open carry of firearms was supported by the Court, notwithstanding the mass killings and the plague of individual deaths that have occurred because of the easy availability of guns. The Justices have also approved state payments to private religious schools, disregarding the separation of church and state. The three Justices appointed by Trump have formed the majority in all three cases.  This is his lasting legacy and does not seem likely to change in the foreseeable future unless changes are wrought in the Constitution, another unlikely possibility. Conservatives gaming the system have won.

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Common Sense vs. Politics on Gun Control

Common Sense vs. Politics on Gun Control

                        Robert A. Levine

There appears to be great hoopla among politicians in Washington over the new proposed gun control bill which will likely become law on a bipartisan basis. Unfortunately, it accomplishes very little because Republicans remain afraid of the gun lobby and the NRA. While it may put a crimp in the ability of 18 to 21 year olds to obtain guns instantly, they will still be able to get guns after an extended background check. The ‘red flag’ law may be of some value, but will depend on domestic partners, relatives or neighbors reporting someone as unsuitable to possess weapons. People may be reluctant to report individuals to the police because of repercussions if the weapons are not taken away or are returned after a certain period.

It is clear that the best way to prevent mass shootings is to ban assault weapons from the general public. While a case can be made for possession of pistols in the home for self-defense and rifles for hunting, there is absolutely no reason why civilians should be allowed to possess assault weapons or extended magazines. Assault weapons are weapons of war and large magazines allow more bullets to be shot at a faster rate without reloading. Why aren’t these weapons purposefully engineered for mass killings and quick killings during wartime banned for civilian use.

We all know why. Pure politics. The NRA and gun lobby gives campaign funds and advertises for those who support the easy purchase of assault weapons and advertises against those who want to make possession of assault weapons more difficult. During the ten years that an assault weapon ban was in force, from 1994 to 2004, mass killings were decreased, rising again when the ban was allowed to lapse. The initial ban on assault weapons was supported by Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter and received bipartisan backing in Congress.

Common sense tells us that if assault weapons and large magazines were unavailable to civilians, mass killings would decrease. America is the only developed nation in the world that allows possession of assault weapons by civilians, and gun deaths in America exceed those of any ten developed nations combined. The two major causes of death among young people are gun deaths and automobile accidents. It must also be emphasized that at the time the Second Amendment was written, assault weapons did not exist. The Founding Fathers relied on common sense when writing the Constitution and it is likely that the Second Amendment would have been altered if assault weapons had been invented by that time.

The goal of those in this nation who truly want to stop mass killings should be the complete elimination of assault weapons and large magazines in civilian hands. Polls have shown that the majority of the population agrees. Unfortunately, Republicans who refuse to ban assault weapons either lack common sense or are so dependent on support from the NRA and gun lobbyists, or are afraid of them, that they will not act in an appropriate manner to keep assault weapons out of civilian hands.

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Pro-Life Hypocrisy

Pro-Life Hypocrisy

            Robert A. Levine

There seems to be a pattern of beliefs associated with those who are so-called pro-lifers. They are against abortion as they believe the procedure takes a life even if it is done prior to the fetus’ viability. Yet once a child is born they do not mind if it is killed by a crazed gunman or someone seeking publicity or attention by killing children. The same people who are pro-life are also pro-guns and want gun rights in this country to be expanded even though gun deaths in America are higher than in any other nation in the world. For the most part, those who are vehemently against abortion are vehemently pro-guns.

They do not see any reason why the possession of assault weapons by civilians should be curtailed, even though these weapons were designed primarily for maximal killing on the battlefield. Their mantra has been “guns don’t kill, people do.” Of course, if people did not have guns, they couldn’t use them to kill innocents. The pro-life adherents generally don’t want enhanced background checks for people buying guns, age limits on the purchasing of guns, or licensing of guns. They see no reason why laws should prohibit the carrying of guns in public and it appears as if the conservative Supreme Court may go along with this idea.

Why should America be such an outlier among all the developed nations in the world, with more guns than people and more gun deaths and mass killings than all the European nations and Japan combined? Countries that are most similar to America like Australia and Canada have strict gun regulations. Common sense and rationality should show Americans that our gun laws need to be more restrictive. And the majority of Americans and perhaps even gun owners agree with this. But not the most ardent pro-lifers.

But aside from guns, pro-lifers in general do not want to help families properly care for children after they are born. They do not want to increase the availability of health care for poor families, including post-partum care for mothers and babies. They do not want federally subsidized day care to allow mothers to work. They are against food assistance for poor families. They are against spending more money on education, both K-12 and college. In fact, they are usually against any increased social spending by the federal or state governments, as increased spending can lead to increased taxes.

These interconnected ideas- pro-life, pro gun, decreased social spending, decreased taxes- are all part of the conservative agenda in America. Conservatives claim to favor individual rights over government regulation, but make an exception for pregnant women. As far as women who become pregnant and do not want the child for various reasons, the conservatives expect state and federal governments and the courts to force women to carry their pregnancies to term. They refuse to acknowledge the contradiction between their views regarding individual rights and government laws and regulations where women’s bodies are concerned. If one was truly pro-life, gun control and government assistance for poor children would be part of conservative policy prescriptions. Life does not begin and end in the womb.

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Demographics and Replacement

Demographics and Replacement

                        Robert A. Levine

Since the Buffalo shooting by a deranged and paranoid white supremacist, more attention has been focused on the “great replacement” theory promulgated by white supremacists. They claim that the Caucasian population is being purposely replaced by Jews and liberals who are helping immigrants of color enter the United States. These white nationalists affirm that these immigrants are specifically being brought in to replace whites in their jobs by paying them lower wages and to increase the votes for Democratic candidates.

Actually, America needs immigrants to maintain its economy because white women are having fewer children than in the past and not enough to replace the whites who are dying. According to UN population statistics, births per 100,000 in the US in 1950 were about twice what they were in the last five years. The most recent decline could be attributed partially to the Covid 19 epidemic, but the birth rate has been steadily declining since the 1950s. Associated Press has noted the birth rate in the U.S. as 56 per 1000 women of child bearing age last year, the lowest birth rate on record. Though the decline includes all ethnic groups, white women had the greatest decline numerically since they were the largest group. The U.S. might be able to increase the birth rates among educated women with improved and free child care, greater subsidies for children and diminished costs for education.

However, the drop in birth rate has also been present in virtually all European nations, Japan and China. China’s one child per family regulation may have contributed to their low birth rate even though the government is now encouraging families to have more children. The drop in birth rate has been noted by analysts to be correlated with a country’s development, particularly with the rate of education for women. It appears that numerous women find more satisfaction in careers than in raising children and that many educated women have smaller families, some with one or no children.

The legalization of abortion likely does not have a specific relation to decreased white birth rates compared to other racial groups, since abortion is employed to terminate births across the racial spectrum. Legal abortion, however, likely is a factor in the total decrease in birth rates.

At some point, the drop in population in every nation, including the United States, affects the economy and produces a drop in the GDP. If American women are having fewer children, immigrants are necessary to maintain the population base. With the job market currently so tight, immigrants are not taking jobs away from white men and women but are filling positions that are open, many of which are important for the economy.

H1B and educated immigrants are needed particularly for high-tech companies and the health care field. Not enough physicians are being produced to meet the needs of the population of the United States and immigrants are playing a major role in medicine, as nurses and technicians as well as physicians.

Immigrants also head some of the nation’s top technology companies. Forty percent of Fortune 500 companies have been founded by immigrants or their children. Immigrants also have a disproportionate amount of new patents that are issued and are responsible for a disproportionate number of start-up companies. People who want to come to this country appear to be often motivated by an entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, some wealthy immigrants come to America specifically to start and develop new companies. All of the companies that immigrants have founded and the ones that they run provide jobs for white Americans as well as all ethnic groups.

Sergey Brin who founded Google immigrated to America when he was 6 from the Soviet Union. Steve Jobs of Apple was the son of Syrian immigrants. Elon Musk came from South Africa. Satya Nadella from India currently runs Microsoft. Sundar Pichai is CEO of Google. There are literally thousands of other immigrants in this country who have started or run important businesses that employ Americans.

Aside from H1B immigrants, those immigrants who are less educated also are necessary for American agricultural jobs, meat packing and low end menial jobs and physical labor. They are hard working with lower rates of crime than the general population. And some of them go on to found small businesses like bodegas, restaurants, landscaping and so forth.

The ‘great replacement’ theory by white supremacists is racist and wrong. Immigrants are necessary for the American economy, particularly with American birth rates so low.

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Roe v Wade and America's Secular Democracy

Roe v Wade and America’s Secular Democracy

                                    Robert A. Levine   May 10, 2022

Is America a secular democracy? Is there supposed to be separation of church and state according to the Constitution? If both of these precepts are valid, which I believe they are, Roe v Wade should not be in question. Abortion is a secular medical and psychological issue which should be determined by individual women and their physicians. State governments, the federal government, or the courts should not be playing any role in telling women what they can or cannot do with their bodies. Are any of these institutions able to tell men with enlarged prostates whether or not they should be allowed to have them removed? Or should men with testicular cancer receive government permission to have their testicles removed and kill all their sperm which have the potential to produce life. Of course not. It is up to the individual man to decide what to do with his own body.

So should it be with women. Unfortunately, certain churches are against abortion, even if it occurs before the time of viability for the fetus. Actually, adherents to the Catholic Church and Evangelical sects are the driving forces trying to limit abortion. With political pressure, these church groups have been able to gain control of many state legislatures and the courts in an attempt to ban abortion. They have been successful in many states and it appears that the Supreme Court is about to overturn Roe v Wade and ban abortion. Even though churches should have no political roles according to the Constitution, a minority of people who are ardently religious are interfering in the affairs of the secular state to ban a procedure that the majority of Americans believe should be legal. In fact, it is much more than a majority. Recent polls have had Americans in favor of keeping Roe v Wade as it is in the range of two thirds, varying from 60 to 70 percent.

If religion were removed from the equation, there would be no conflict on the abortion issue. If Americans truly want the Constitution to be followed, and church and state to remain separated, they should allow the majority to rule and keep Roe v Wade as the law of the land. Opponents of abortion say that there was no mention of abortion in the Constitution and thus it is not a guaranteed right for women. But the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion for all Americans and says that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. One must assume that this is also true for all federal and state government bodies. Since prohibition of abortion is a religious issue that conflicts with the secular state, government should not pass any laws regarding abortion one way or another, as it should remain up to every woman to make a choice of what to do when she is pregnant on her own. Roe v Wade should have been considered unnecessary by the Supreme Court as the First Amendment already covered the right to an abortion.

Unfortunately, abortion has become an issue in America because some religions consider it immoral. Well, there is no reason that religious people who are against abortion have to submit to that procedure. But they should not be able to impose their will on the majority of the nation who believe that abortion is a woman’s right and up to each individual. The state should not impose religious values of a minority on all Americans, but should abide by separation of church and state.

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DOJ- Where Are You?

DOJ- Where Are You?

            Robert A. Levine

Anyone who thought that Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice would see that justice was served in terms of the various criminal activities by Donald Trump and his cohort have been severely disappointed. While the DOJ has gone after those who were active in the January 6 insurrection, this was like going after low-hanging fruit, while taking no action against the leadership. It is now sixteen months since the insurrection and sixteen months since the end of the Trump cabal that ruled America. Though a prodigious amount of evidence of wrongdoing and criminal activity seems to be available, Donald Trump and his enablers are still free men with no restrictions upon their activities.

What is holding Garland and the DOJ back from going after the men and women who tried to overturn American democracy and are still trying? Aside from the evidence that the January 6 Congressional committee has accumulated, there is public information and data of what Trump and associates were trying to do. As far as I know, planning a coup and insurrection in the United States is still considered illegal. So why doesn’t Garland get off his ass and go after some of these miscreants and put them behind bars. We have always heard that Garland was cautious, discreet and worked slowly, but this is ridiculous. Many of the people who were involved in Trump’s manipulations are politicians and will be running for office. Early indictments may halt their bids or make voters have second thoughts about them, another reason why quick action is important.

Separate from the actions of the DOJ, recently elected DA Bragg in Manhattan who replaced Cy Vance is another law enforcement official who has been loath to tackle Donald Trump. Two major prosecutors in Bragg’s office with years of experience resigned after Bragg decided not to pursue Trump on criminal charges which the prosecutors believed were warranted. The Trump Organization and the CFO Alan Wesselberg are both being indicted, but Trump is being left out of the equation even though he was head of the business. The process makes no sense and one wonders if Bragg is afraid to go after Trump and his buddies.

Thus at both the federal and local level, law enforcement organizations are not doing their jobs in charging and bring to trial Donald Trump  and the members of his criminal groups. The leaders of the coup and insurrection are being bypassed while the little fish are meeting justice. The Trump Organization is being challenged while Trump himself, the head of the organization is being ignored. Tax evasion by Trump and his organization appears clear cut with different valuations being given for his assets depending on the purposes- for taxes or for collateral for loans. Justice delayed is justice denied and it is certainly being delayed for Trump both federally and locally.

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How Does the Russian-Ukraine War End?

How Does the Russian-Ukraine War End?

                        Robert A. Levine

There are many different possible scenarios about how the Russian-Ukrainian war might end. The main factor standing in the way of a settlement is the fact that Putin cannot lose face, unless he dies or is deposed, both of which seem unlikely. Thus far, Russian troops have performed abominably, being unable to conquer Kviv or any major city aside from Kherson. They have succeeded in destroying Ukrainian infrastructure and residences in many cities and are guilty of committing horrendous war crimes which Russian propaganda has been unable to keep hidden from the rest of the world. Aside from other autocratic nations, the world seems to be fairly solidly opposed to Russian aggression in Ukraine, the damage they have wrought and the innocent civilians including children that they have killed.

The fact is, however, that Putin doesn’t give a damn about his or Russia’s reputation. He just wants to end this” special operation” with what he can label a victory for his military and the Russian people. Unless this new focus on the Donbas region by the Russian military rewards Putin with some significant territorial gains, Putin is going to have difficulty claiming victory despite the loss of Russian lives and military equipment. A revolt against Putin or his assassination by his military or FSB personnel would probably end the war, but appears very unlikely. His control of the Russian propaganda machine and the media have heightened his approval ratings among the Russian public who have supported his actions against the ”Nazi” regime in Ukraine.

Putin stepping down from his position as president voluntarily is also improbable. If there is a stalemate in the conflict, it is hard to imagine Putin allowing the special operation to continue for years, draining the Russian treasury of what little it has, and losing more Russian manpower. Another consideration if for Putin to use tactical nuclear weapons to try and end the war, either bombing a Ukrainian city or a relatively uninhabited area as a warning to Zelinsky and the Ukrainian government. Of course, that would earn Putin even more approbation from the nations of the world, perhaps even from China.

Another way this war could be ended would be by a major power or an ally of Russia stepping in and suggesting negotiations, either at this point before the battle for the Donbas begins or if a stalemate is reached. The United States would be unable to suggest that since Putin has branded the U.S. and the West as the real participants in the current conflict. China and Xi would be the perfect interlocutors as they are seen as allies of Russia and a world power. They could make it seem as if Russia has been winning by destroying Ukrainian cities and Xi wants to end the bloodshed and destruction. This would certainly make China be perceived positively in the world’s eyes and would be a great triumph for Chairman Xi, particularly with Chinese Communist Party elections on the horizon. The question is whether Xi is farsighted enough to realize the benefits that would accrue to him and to China. At the moment, the CCP is spouting Putin’s lies and at least giving him political support.

Orban of Hungary and Erdogan of Turkey could also try to intercede but do not appear weighty enough to influence Russia. If no leader is able to intercede, one can see this war dragging on and on, since Putin seems to have no regard for the lives of Russian soldiers or Ukrainian civilians. Putin just wants to save face at this point and be able to claim a victory of some sort for a “special operation” that he never should have started in the first place.

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