Donald Trump

America's Centrists and Crazy Extremists

America’s Centrism and Crazy Extremists                                                                                                                                              Robert A. Levine

America’s citizenry is basically moderate and centrist. This has been confirmed over the years by various surveys that give independents, moderates, centrists a plurality no matter how they are labeled. When moderates and centrists in the two established parties that lean to the left or the right are included in the tally, centrists generally achieve a majority. Yet both Republicans and Democrats appear to be under the control of the extremists in the parties in terms of policies and candidates who are given party support. This merely adds to the rancor and partisanship between the parties and the inability to get things done that benefit the country.

Increasingly, politics has come to be perceived as a zero-sum game. If a bill introduced and supported by the Democrats is passed and becomes law, Republicans see it as a loss for them. And vice versa. The parties give little consideration to whether bills that are passed will be of value to the nation.

A prime example of this zero-sum thinking is the recent passage of the infrastructure bill by the House. The Senate had passed the bill months earlier with bipartisan support, including that of Mitch McConnell, the Minority leader. But the thirteen Republicans in the House who voted for the bill were considered traitors by many of the other House Republicans expecting a straight party line vote on important measures. Many GOP members feel that the dissenting Republicans who voted for the bill gave Biden and the Democrats a victory, without considering that the bill was badly needed and greatly benefits America.

In fact, a number of GOP Representatives asked Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, to remove the Republicans who voted for the bill from their positions on House committees as payback for their votes favoring the bill. Even worse, because of the extremism that has infected the base of the Party, the thirteen supporters of the bill have received thousands of threatening, damning and viciously offensive phone calls. Marjorie Taylor Greene posted the home phone numbers of these members and Steve Bannon gave out the numbers of the 19 Republican Senators who backed the bill. Ex-President Trump labeled them all as RINOs- Republicans in name only. The phone calls not only included threats to murder the Republicans supporters of the bill, but also to murder or torture them or members of their families. How far has extreme tribalism deviated from the moderate center of the electorate to spawn these messages of hate?

Meanwhile, in the Democratic Party, six members of the so-called extremist “Squad” voted against the infrastructure bill necessitating the Republican votes in order to insure passage in the House. These “progressives” do not seem to care about the re-election chances of the moderates in their party and it seems that for them it’s “my way or the highway” in the bills they support. They are willing to lose control of the House if the Democrats do not adhere to their precepts.

On the other hand, Biden’s Build Back Better bill that contains many social measures and has already been cut by more than half, has its passage in doubt because of imaginary moderates in the Senate, Manchin and Sistema who say they are reluctant to spend so much money and increase the national debt. However, in Manchin’s case, it’s probably more about cutting the use of coal to try and contain climate change. Maybe enough has been done to reshape the bill to generate the two recalcitrant Senator’s support.

Tribalism and extremist beliefs in both Parties are a danger to America’s democracy, much more so on the Republican right with its threats of violence than on the Democratic left. America is basically a moderate, centrist nation. How do we control extremism and rabid hatred against political opponents, spread by virulent demagogues over right-wing media and social platforms? It seems to be getting worse rather than better.

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Choosing Trump and Party Over Country

Choosing Trump and Party Over Country

                                    Robert A. Levine 9-12-22

Republican politicians and a large portion of the Republican Party know that Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election by millions of votes. The popular vote totals showed 81,200,000+ for Joe Biden and 74,200,000+ for Donald Trump. The Electoral College totals were 306 for Biden and 232 for Trump. Yet despite these overwhelming totals, Donald Trump claimed and still claims that he won the election and that it was stolen from him. Refusing to accept the will of the people in the election, he tried to have election officials change the vote totals in several states where his losses were relatively close. In Georgia, a criminal investigation is now going on regarding Trump’s attempts to overturn the election.

Given Trump’s propensity to lie and cheat, his actions and refusal to acknowledge his loss is not surprising. What is truly astonishing is the willingness of other Republicans to support Trump’s denial of his loss and spout the fiction that the election was stolen. These are supposedly intelligent men and women who hold high offices in the federal, state and local governments. Yet they are willing to bolster Trumps claims and provide them with credibility knowing that this will lead to more support from the Republican base that has accepted Trump’s lies all along. It also casts doubt on the reliability of America’s election system and of democracy itself.

The willingness of Republican elected officials to support Trump’s lies about a stolen election is a major threat to American democracy, convincing many Americans of the veracity of Trump’s claims. It has made numerous Americans question the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency and the various accomplishments of the current administration. It has made partisanship much more rabid and more difficult for Republicans and Democrats to work together at all levels of government.

Why have all of these knowledgeable Republicans who are aware of Biden’s victory refused to accept it as fact and continue to argue that the election was stolen. They surely realize the corrosive effects it has had on American democracy and ignore what it has done and is doing. The GOP politicians are supporting Trump’s claims because they want his backing and that of his base in their future runs for office. Not only do Republican officeholders and aspirants want his verbal backing, they are also hoping for financial aid from Trump and his wealthy acolytes. They know that they are lying for Trump’s benefit, that their lies increases partisanship and divisiveness between Americans, increases the possibility of riots and violence, and are detrimental to America, but they simply do not care. Their belief in Trump’s power and his ability to hurt their political aspirations outweighs their devotion to America and the Constitution. Trumps political supporters are willing to ignore the damage they are causing to American democracy to further their own political goals.

Some in Trump’s base can be excused for their allegiance to their leader and the acceptance of his lies because they are ignorant of the truth and do not know any better. But those Republicans who are educated and knowledgeable about politics, particularly politicians and business people, cannot be forgiven for their collusion with Trump and willingness to sacrifice the nation’s democracy for the furtherance of Trump’s, the Republicans’ and their own ambitions. Shame on them.

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The Teflon Donald

The Teflon Donald

            Robert A. Levine  8-29-22

The Mafia mastermind John Gotti was labeled by the media as the Teflon Don years ago because of his ability to evade punishment for his criminal activities. His abilities to find a way to make criminal charges and illegal activities not stick to him appears to have been transferred to our previous president Donald Trump. When you think about it, it seems amazing how many illegal or unethical situations he has wiggled his way out of over the years. Not only that, he has managed to accumulate tens of millions of followers who accept his false statements as truth had worship his corrupt persona. Is he coated with some sort of invisible material that forces the truth to bounce off him but allows his lies to escape?

Prior to entering the political arena Trump was considered a successful businessman by large numbers of Americans, even though many of his businesses were abject failures. Though he claimed to be a billionaire real estate mogul, four of his real estate ventures filed for bankruptcy in the past. These include the Trump Taj Mahal in 1991, the Trump Plaza Hotel in 1992, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts in 2004, and Trump Entertainment Resorts in 2009. In some of these restructurings, billions of dollars of debt had been accumulated with Trump having personal liability and loss of some of his stake, as well of those of his investors. The Trump Airline Shuttle was never a profitable business and defaulted on its debt in 1990. The Trump University, aka the Trump Wealth Institute functioned from 2005-2010, supposedly teaching students how to make money in real estate and other investments. It was not an accredited institution and used high pressure tactics to recruits students, though it was actually a scam. There were several lawsuits against Trump and the company which he settled by paying $25 million in 2016, post-election. Successful businessman? Give me a break. Yet millions of Americans still see him in that light.

Since his election to the presidency in 2016, there have been multiple questions about illegitimate activity, many of them not yet resolved. The Mueller investigation regarding Trump’s involvement with Russian officials for help in his 2016 election campaign concluded there was insufficient evidence of a conspiracy. However, the investigation noted that Trump accepted Russian assistance and believed it would benefit him. He was impeached twice in the House because of his questionable actions but not convicted because of Republican support in the Senate. The first impeachments in 2019 were initiated with charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The second impeachment was on charges of incitement of insurrection relating to the Jan 6 raid on the Capitol.

In addition, after the 2020 presidential election, Trump claimed and continues to claim that the election was stolen from him, though there has been no evidence of fraud and the courts have turned down his suits multiple times. Notwithstanding, Trump still denies that he lost and has encouraged his followers to change election laws and place supporters in positions at state and local levels to decide any future elections.

Currently, a grand jury in Georgia is investigating whether Trump tried to influence officials to change the vote totals to favor him, an obviously criminal act of election interference. The DOJ and FBI have taken boxes of classified and top secret documents in a search of Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago that Tromp brought with him illegally when he left the White House. The taking of these documents which were left in various parts of his home may have compromised national security. This may open him to a number of criminal charges if the DOJ pursues it further including obstruction and violation of the Espionage Act.

Alan Weisselberg, the Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization, recently pleaded guilty to 15 criminal charges involving tax evasion and has agreed to testify against the Trump Organization. Whether this will include Trump himself is uncertain, but it does appear that Trump valued his holdings differently for tax purposes and to acquire bank loans. It could lead to charges against him for tax evasion. In a deposition regarding this, Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment multiple times.

In addition to the above possible criminal actions, Trump also faces a host of civil lawsuits for various actions. However, the bottom line is with all the charges and lawsuits that are pending, Trump has not been found guilty on any of them yet, has not spent a day in jail and has not paid a dollar in any of the suits against him. So far! He also has the backing of his Republican base and the vast majority of Republican politicians. Teflon perhaps?

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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 Should White Nationalism Be Addressed?

How Should White Nationalism Be Addressed?

                                    Robert A. Levine

White nationalism and white supremacy have always been woven into the American fabric, even before the Revolution. Over the last decade however, it has grown in power and adherents. Is it possible to subsume this movement into the maw of American democracy, taming its tendency towards violence and moderating its racial exclusiveness to promote its other ideas? Can nationalism cross racial lines and be a unifying movement for the nation?

During his four years in office, Trump’s repeated messages about keeping immigrants out of America (unless they were from Northern Europe) and building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico buoyed white nationalists. The president refused to denounce white supremacists and racists who supported him, saying that they were very fine people. Some of the white supremacist groups were outgrowths of the Ku Klux Klan, the White Citizen’s Councils, the John Birch Society, and neo-Nazi organizations that supported Germany prior to World War II. Some arose from local political groups and militias and some from Christian identity movements. A number also formed as if by spontaneous combustion over the Internet, with like-minded people finding each other.

Many of the white supremacists are white working men and women, blue-collar workers, and unemployed people who need to feel privileged in a world where they are on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. Their white lineage makes them feel special. However, there are white collar workers, corporate executives, professionals and successful business men and women who are also racists, believe in white supremacy and support these organizations either overtly or covertly. A number of policemen and members of the military are active white supremacists as well.

Counterintuitively, many white supremacists started with feelings of white victimhood, with the concept of ‘whiteness’ arising from many European-Americans during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The idea of whiteness provided working class European-Americans with some social and psychological advantages, along with economic ones. But during the late 20th and 21st century, job losses and economic stresses accentuated the idea of white victimhood. Forming or joining white supremacist organizations provided the working classes with feelings of pride and the notion that they were members of a privileged group. This ‘specialness’ of the white working classes and racist attitudes was reinforced by Trump, earning the devotion of the working classes.

When unjustified killings and maiming of blacks occurred during 2020, Trump took the side of the police instead of chastising them for the use of excessive force. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, he visited the police department after a black man was shot seven times in the back and paralyzed in front of his three young children. Trump ignored the man and his family. He also disregarded or made light of the Black Lives Matter movement, focusing on the riots and destruction that sometimes accompanied BLM demonstrations. He has denied as well that there is systemic racism in policing and American culture that needs to be addressed. What better president could there have been to bolster white ethno-nationalism?

Trump also tried to frighten voters, making law and order, racism and white grievance the driving forces of his campaign for re-election as president. He claimed that the Democrats and Biden would destroy the suburbs by moving in poor black families. Crime and violence would then increase and property values would drop. No president in recent history has aligned himself so completely with white voters, using overt racism in his speeches and tweets. Trump has also manipulated his nationalist supporters with conspiracy theories, such as his declarations that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

The FBI, CIA, and Homeland Security are aware of possible domestic terrorists and do not want to be caught flat-footed as they were with the Oklahoma City bombings. Among private organizations with an interest in white nationalists are the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Anti-Defamation League and the ACLU. The SPLC is particularly active in tracking down and exposing white supremacists who may be dangerous. Other groups include the Action Network and the Legal Aid Justice Center.

Making white nationalist groups more transparent is a step towards diminishing violence. Education about the humanness of other ethnic and racial groups through schools and churches, and the need for compassion and understanding might sway some of the less diehard members. However, using disaffected white supremacists and nationalists who were once members of these groups to explain their transformation might be more helpful. Of course, those who engage in violent acts or threaten terrorist actions must be brought to the bar of justice and incarcerated. But even in prison, attempts can be made to change views. It will be a heavy slog to try and change the hearts and minds of white nationalists who have been imbued with ideas of white supremacy since childhood and do not want to change their perceptions, particularly if they live among tribes of similar believers.  But attempts at change must be pursued.                       

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A Partisan SCOTUS- Is It Here To Stay?

A Partisan SCOTUS- Is It Here To Stay?                                                                                                            

Robert A. Levine      

McConnell and Trump got what they wanted. A partisan Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority. McConnell prevailed by using unethical tactics, but he did not care. Though Trump and McConnell did not and still don’t see eye to eye on many issues, they both agreed that a conservative Supreme Court was a vital matter and any means that were necessary to reach their objective was worth it: by hook or by crook and they used both. No moral or ethical compass for either.

The unethical procedures began in the last year of Obama’s presidency when a seat opened up on the Supreme Court and the president nominated Merrick Garland, a centrist candidate who was well thought of in legal circles for the position. Disregarding precedent, McConnell decided that a nominee for the highest court should not be confirmed in the last year of a president’s term. This had never happened before, but McConnell proclaimed a new rule. He was hoping that a conservative Republican would next win the presidency and nominate a conservative candidate for the Court. His wishes were granted and Trump was elected president because of the arcane and undemocratic mechanism of the Electoral College, even though Trump lost the popular vote.

Trump’s initial nominee to the Court was conservative Neil Gorsuch who took the seat that should have gone to Merrick Garland. His second nominee was conservative Brett Kavanaugh who was accused of attempted rape by Professor Christine Blasey Ford when he was a high school student, and of sexual assaults on other occasions. He was also known in high school and at Yale as a heavy drinker. The FBI was not given permission by Trump and the Justice Department to look into all the complaints of sexual assault before Kavanaugh was confirmed by a Republican majority Senate. It was believed that Kavanaugh had likely lied to the Senate when questioned about the assaults.

The most hypocritical confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee shepherded in by McConnell came at the end of October 2020 when President Trump only had two and a half months left on his term. Amy Coney Barrett, another conservative was confirmed by the Republican controlled Senate, 52-48. She rose from being a little known law professor at Notre Dame to the Supreme Court in three years. Mitch McConnell simply changed his mind about nominating a member of the Court in the last year of a presidential term when that person happened to be a staunch conservative. And it wasn’t in the last year but the last two and a half months. Barrett replaced Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal justice who was held in very high regard in legal circles.

Prior to Trump’s presidency in 2013, the Supreme Court voted to overturn the main part of the 1965 voting rights act by a 5-4 vote, allowing nine states, mainly in the South, to alter their voting laws without obtaining federal approval in advance. The Court said that society had changed and federal supervision was no longer necessary. Since then, there have been major efforts to suppress minority voting in a number of states, by making registration and voting much more difficult. In fact, the Justice Department recently sued the state of Texas for their restrictive laws, a case that is certain to go before the Supreme Court. This term, the Court will also rule on a restrictive law regarding abortion passed by the state of Mississippi. Given the questioning by the Court of both sides, it is likely that Mississippi’s law will be upheld and Roe v Wade may even be overturned.

It is sad for our democracy that presidents who lost the popular vote have handed the Supreme Court over to conservatives who were confirmed by Senators who in total had less popular votes in being elected than their Democratic opponents. Is this the way democracy works? Unfortunately, it is. The only way this partisan Court can be changed is by Democrats maintaining control of the Senate and voting to expand the number of justices on the Court. Limiting the terms of justices so there is more frequent turnover would also be a sensible idea.     

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Setting Limits on the Treatment of Covid 19

Setting Limits on the Treatment of Covid 19                                                                                                                   

Robert A. Levine

Vaccinations have been a major medical advance, preventing many deaths and disabilities in various illnesses in the last two centuries. In today’s world, it defies belief that so many people refuse to accept scientific data and get vaccinated against Covid 19, particularly when they have already received so many other vaccines..

The conflict over Covid 19 vaccine mandates between the federal and state governments could be settled by physicians and nurses. These health care providers constantly put themselves in harm’s way to treat patients with Covid 19. In fact, many of them have been hospitalized after being infected with the disease and have died. From now on, doctors and nurses should refuse to treat any patient with Covid 19 who has not been vaccinated. Children who have not received the vaccine under parental guidance is another story and deserve accepted treatment if they are infected by Covid.

Physicians are supposed to treat any sick patients regardless of financial considerations, political or religious differences. However, physicians are also obligated to maximize public health and do what is proper for the greater good. With a highly infectious virus causing a pandemic and responsible for well over 600,000 deaths in America, it is incumbent upon physicians to see that their patients are vaccinated against this virus and also encourage patients to wear masks.

People who are not vaccinated are a danger to others in their communities as well as to themselves. Not obtaining the vaccine is a mark of selfishness and ignorance, not of freedom. Those who are unmasked in indoor settings are also a threat to public health and themselves, but masking cannot be sufficiently monitored to stop treatment of these people. Aside from causing unnecessary deaths and illnesses in other people by infecting them with Covid 19, and driving up the cost of health care, the unvaccinated also prevent patients with different illnesses and accidents from receiving necessary care. This occurs because unvaccinated patients who are sick use up limited resources such as ICU beds, ER beds, physicians’ time, ventilators and so forth. Why should physicians waste their time, effort and medical resources, and place themselves in danger to treat patients who did not care enough about other people to take the proper preventive measures themselves. It is also strange that unvaccinated patients who refused to be vaccinated are willing to be treated when sick with monoclonal antibodies.

There are some physicians who will disagree with this stance and say they are ethically obligated to treat any sick patient. But they are also obligated to consider the public health in the measures they take and this means pressuring unvaccinated patients to get the vaccine. Government alone will not be able to force the one third of the population that remains unvaccinated to be vaccinated. They need to be pushed by all health care providers refusing to treat patients who have not taken the proper preventive measures to maximize public health and end this pandemic. It is a necessary step to take to help the community at large, the unvaccinated themselves, people with other serious illnesses who cannot receive treatment, and the hospital staffs. Aside from health concerns, the economy will also be bolstered if the vast majority of the population is vaccinated.


Afghanistan- A Lesson in Nation-Building

Afghanistan- A Lesson in Nation-Building                                                                                                                                                                                Robert A. Levine

Afghanistan was a series of blunders right from the beginning. Our goal in invading this primitive Islamic nation, or rather a conglomeration of Islamic tribes, was to hunt down Osama Bin Laden and members of Al Qaeda to punish them for 9/11. We also wanted to make certain that Afghanistan would no longer be a sanctuary for extremist Islamic Groups intent on damaging America and killing Americans. At the onset, there was little thought of transforming this anarchic undeveloped country into a modern Western liberal democracy with universal education and equal rights for women. After Bin Laden was killed, we should have left Afghanistan

However, somewhere along the way our objective changed and our leadership decided that Afghanistan was ripe for conversion to a modern nation that subscribed to Western ideals. What a mistake that was. In addition to being a society where people’s major allegiance was to clan and tribe rather than a central government, corruption and payoffs were rampant at every level. To get a job, one had to give kick-backs to the person hiring, whether it was in the government or private businesses.

Salaries in the government and in the military were often not paid or only partially paid to lower level workers or enlisted men. In fact, many of the fighting men often went hungry because the purveyors of food may not have been paid, with the money kept by high-ranking officers or government officials. In addition, ammunition for Afghan Army weapons were frequently minimal or unavailable, with payment again stolen by higher-ups. Sometimes, ammunition and weapons were sold by these higher-ups directly to the Talaban or through intermediaries for cash. Fuel for vehicles was also in short supply at times. Yet the American military expected the Afghan soldiers to fight the Talaban to the death when they were not being paid and necessary supplies were lacking.

Leaders of the military were also incompetent, usually obtaining their jobs through family or political connections, most unwilling to put their lives in danger when leading their men. Many of these officers knew nothing or little about military strategy or tactics. When American soldiers joined the Afghan soldiers in battle, it provided the latter with backbone that their leaders could not or would not provide. American air support was another factor that bolstered Afghan soldiers, knowing that drones or planes would come and aid them whenever they ran into trouble in battles with the Talaban.

Government corruption was ubiquitous and any project that would benefit the populace had to pay bribes to officials at all levels. Education was available for both boys and girls, but the quality of the teachers and administrators was variable because of the low salaries and the necessity of kickbacks.

Besides the Talaban, warlords and bandits put up roadblocks on the roads or the streets of the cities, making travelers and shopkeepers pay for protection and safe passage. And most Afghanis were wedded to their traditional ways of life and did not necessarily favor modernization. Though they were happy to have and use cellphones and running water and even television, they did not want their way of life changed by ideas of equality of men and women, or women working at more prestigious jobs than men. Society was governed by a strong patriarchy where wives and daughters followed a husband or fathers’ orders and only men were barely literate and allowed to go to school.

So notwithstanding the messages of progress sent to Washington by the top military and diplomatic brass, the complete collapse of the Afghan army in just days and its unwillingness to fight should not have been surprising. Hunger, lack of supplies, unpaid salaries, lack of leadership and the absence of Americans and their air support made collapse a foregone conclusion. The speed with which the Afghan government and army disintegrated was not expected, but it should have been. When the president of the country cuts and runs instead of trying to rally his forces, you know that there never was any hope of building a strong modern society, even after twenty years of effort.                                                                                                  www.robertlevinebooks.com                                                                                                                                                                                                   Buy The Uninformed Voter on Amazon and Barnes and Noble


Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Between a Rock and a Hard Place                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Robert A. Levine

President Biden has been taking a ton of flack recently for the way the evacuation from Afghanistan has been going. While the planning for the removal of all American personnel and Afghanis who aided the American military, NGOs and press appears to have been problematic, it should be remembered that the Trump administration boxed in Biden with it’s initial agreement to have all U.S. troops out by Christmas 2020. This was contingent on the Taliban’s promise to stop fighting and negotiate an end to the war and shared governing.

Trump and Biden both agreed that it was time for American forces to leave Afghanistan after twenty years and for the Afghan troops to defend their country from the Taliban on their own. They had been well armed and trained by the Americans but aside from the commando units have shown no determination to fight. In fact, they have taken off their uniforms and surrendered all theirs arms and equipment to the Taliban, afraid to resist the Taliban’s advances. This occurred in city after city adding even more urgency for America to evacuate all personnel. It also was a reminder of the foolhardiness of spending twenty years, several thousand American lives, and trillions of dollars supporting a corrupt Afghan regime that had little support from its population. Even President Ghani ran away instead of trying to rally the Afghan people and military against the Taliban.

With Kabul and the entire country now controlled by the Taliban, the United States has had no option other than to withdraw from the country. Much of the chaos surrounding the evacuation through Kabul airport has been because the Taliban has not kept their promises of allowing all foreigners and Afghanis who wanted to leave, leave. They have prevented their own citizens and foreign personnel from getting to the airport, the only open exit from the country. People outside of Kabul have had difficulty getting to the city because of all the checkpoints and roadblocks on the highways. People in the city have had problems reaching the airport, being turned back by the Taliban at the checkpoints they have established within the city. These actions were contrary to the promises they made with the Trump negotiators and that great statesman Mike Pompeo.

Thus Joe Biden and the American military have been caught between a rock and a hard place. Do they send troops into Kabul and the countryside to locate and evacuate any Americans, foreigners and Afghans who aided us and want to leave, and risk likely casualties to our troops? Or do we just evacuate those who are able to get through to the airport and leave the others behind? Either path is a losing proposition left by Trump for his successor. Why didn’t Trump try to end the twenty years war himself and evacuate all the personnel who needed to get out?

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Party Over Country

Party Over Country                                                                                                                                                                                                     Robert A. Levine

Why does it seem impossible for politicians to understand that doing what is best for the country is more important than doing what is best for one’s political party? Truly patriotic Americans must know that sometimes one has to sacrifice one’s personal ambitions and aiding one’s political party if the necessary actions will injure America and its democratic system. While members of both political parties don’t seem to accept the notion of country over party in all instances, the Republican Party is overwhelmingly self-interested and unwilling to do what is best for the nation, using various excuses and placing the blame on the Democrats. Their use of misinformation and false information is fired off in a constant barrage to assuage their leader Donald Trump and to confuse and/or capture the American public.

Republican leaders are not ignorant and know that Democrat Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election by a wide margin. Yet virtually all Republicans insist that the election was stolen by Joe Biden and the Democrats, and that Donald Trump should really be president. At all the Trump rallies he emphasizes that the election was stolen and that Biden’s position is rightfully his. He uses these lies to fund raise and scam money from uninformed supporters who believe what Trump tells them. His rallying cry of “Stop the Steal” is repeated endlessly by his base and seen in bumper stickers, flags, advertisements and so forth. The fact that Republican leaders support Trump’s false claims provide them with some credibility although they are blatant falsehoods.

Trump’s personality of malignant narcissism may make him detached from reality to the point where he may believe his own lies about the election. But the remaining leadership of the Republican Party know these are lies and that Biden is the rightful president. Yet the vast majority of Republicans are willing to back Trump and his lies. They are afraid of incurring his wrath and being primaried by his supporters. Aside from Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, Republicans and their leaders are totally lacking in courage.

They must also know what their stances are doing to American democracy. A large percentage of American citizens have no faith in our electoral system and democracy itself, believing that elections can be stolen. There is also no faith in our political institutions doing the right thing for the nation, including Congress, the Courts and the presidency. This is all because Republicans are reinforcing what they feel is best for their party instead of what is best for the country. How can Americans turn this around? How can we restore faith in our government institutions and in democracy itself when it seems that the Republicans just do not care and keep propagating Trump’s lies?

A third party of moderate Republicans willing to stand by the truth together with centrist Democrats may be able to restore faith in democracy to the electorate. However, given the tribalism and the strong attachment of the far right and far left to their concepts of the truth, forming a centrist third party with any chance of winning is remote. Perhaps when the youth of America flood the voting booths, an opportunity for change will arise.                                                      www.robertlevinebooks.com                                                                                                                                                                         Buy The Uninformed Voteron on Amazon or Barnes and Noble


Advertising and Fake News

Advertising and Fake News                                                                                                                         Robert A. Levine

From the moment our parents allow us to sit in front of a television screen or listen to a radio, we are inundated almost continuously with advertisements trying to sell us various products. And during campaigns for elective offices, campaign managers and their staffs try and sell us on the virtues of the candidates they support or the vices of their opponents. The information we receive about both products and people may be valid, partially true, or false and it is usually difficult to differentiate. To capture our attention and obtain our votes for a candidate or a product, exaggerations or bald-faced lies may be utilized. And these may be repeated over and over again.

Use so and so for beautiful skin. Use so and so to improve your memory. Use so and so to improve your sex life. Use so and so for lustrous hair.

As difficult as it is for adults to discern what is true and what is false or exaggerated on TV, it is impossible for a child. Thus, children as they grow up start believing what they see on television or hear on the radio. Information that adults may question is accepted as true by youngsters because they saw or heard it repeatedly. This also happens with the news or with speeches given by politicians. Because of their lifetime exposure to advertising, many people in our nation cannot tell what information is real and what is fake. Politicians take advantage of this inability by propagating fake news which many Americans believe. This allows them to propose policies that mainly benefit the affluent people who fund them, though their ordinary constituents also think it helps them.

The biggest proponents of fake news have been Donald Trump and the Republican Party, pushing the theme that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump. Republican politicians know this is a lie but continue to repeat this fiction, convincing their base that it is true and retaining the support of Trump. In a major disservice to the nation, many Republicans also have declared that the Covid vaccine is dangerous and that people should not be vaccinated. And large numbers of ignorant Americans have not received the protection of the Covid vaccination because they have believed those who claim it is dangerous, leaving themselves and their families unprotected against the virus. Americans have also been told that global warming is not real and nothing has to be done about it.

In addition to exposure to TV advertising of questionable validity, many of those who accept fake news never investigate information that may be questionable, but just accept it because it sounds credible and is from a media source that they trust. And besides, their friends and neighbors accept the information as true. However, a large proportion of Americans are misinformed or uninformed about news or politics and cannot be trusted to validate what is true or not. Whether advertising or supposed news, American citizens have to be more suspicious about what they see and hear and investigate whether or not it is true.                                                  www.robertlevinebooks.com                                                                                                             Buy The Uninformed Voter on Amazon or Barnes and Noble