Truth does matter

“We pay more taxes than anybody else in the world,” said President Trump on August 10, 2017 having said similar statements on more than a few occasions.

“You know this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story,” said the President to Lester Holt on May 11, 2017 which he has said on multiple occasions.

The cut in the subsidies will only affect the “gift” to the insurance companies, said the President to his cabinet in October, 2017 when he defunded some ACA subsidies to the companies to repay them for subsidizing co-pays and deductibles for people making less than 2 1/2 times the poverty limit. He used variations of this theme on several occasions to defend his cuts to financial help to those in need.

The two common threads of these statements are they are all lies and were uttered consistently by Donald Trump. Yet, this should not be a shock to anyone as the man has a hard time telling the truth.

Per Politifacts, on 483 measured statements by the President, 69% of the time they were either mostly false, false or pants-on-fire false. In other words, more than 2 out of 3 statements he makes or tweets should not be considered as true.

In a fairly recent interview with The New York Times, the reporters measured the President averaged lying every 75 seconds. The Washington Post counted 1,950 false or misstated claims in his first 347 days. This is consistent with statements made by his five biographers who note Trump has a hard time with the truth.

But this is not news to most Americans per a Quinnipiac Survey. The survey said 62% of Americans do not think Trump is honest. And, in a University of Missouri Journalism survey, the President was listed in the bottom ten of trustworthy news sources, meaning the ten least trusted sources.

The truth matters. The Russia thing is real, whether it links directly to Trump or not, as intelligence officials say he is at minimum an unwitting participant in the meddling. In fact, General Barry McCaffrey, the most decorated retired four star general said this weekend that the President is a “serious threat to national security,” based on his adoring view of Putin.

On the taxes comment, we just reduced taxes with this lie laying groundwork. We are increasing our debt by $1.5 trillion to try to make a pretty good economy even better. On the health care subsidies, this lie covered for a change that will increase our debt by $10 billion meaning it impacts taxpayers as well as non-subsidized premium payers, not insurers.

Our problems are complex and they are hard enough to solve when we deal with the truth. When our leader lies and others support his lies, solving problems become even harder. The truth matters. And, with respect to his many alleged affairs and sexual misconduct, I would bet on the women’s stories as being more true than his defense.


Why Comrade Trump Why?

I am puzzled. For some reason, the President of the United States has made decisions that benefitted Russia. Why?

The decisions range from failing to condemn Russia once incontrovertible evidence was presented that showed they meddled and still are meddling with our democracy to failing to do anything about the continuing meddling to failing to sanction Russia as recommended by Congress with at least 98% votes in each Chamber. And, there are other examples, such as not including Russia in a list of countries on trading sanctions with North Korea. Why?

The possible reasons might include: significant long term financial ties to members of the Russian oligarchy, desire for future investment for his business, admiration for a dictatorial leader posing as a democratically elected official, unwitting and now embarassing participation in Russia’s meddling in our election, unwillingness to admit such as it would damage the veracity of his election, collusion with Russian meddlers or being a compromised asset of Russia.

Unfortunately, various combinations of the above reasons could be true. To be brutally frank, the financial ties and admiration of Putin are givens. I also think his ego is having a hard time with the fact he may have been aided in his win. What the Special Prosecutor will determine is whether he was just an unwitting participant, involved in collusion or a compromised asset. Given where he gets information, at a minimum he was and is an unwitting participant. The meddlers noted how delighted they were (and are) when the candidate parrots their words.

Given the above and his (and others’) fluctuating storytelling and obstruction efforts, I find it hard to believe Comrade Trump is not more culpable. I truly hope this is not the case, but we will have to see what transpires.


Crickets. The sound you hear at night when other noises are not being made. Crickets are what we are hearing from the White House with respect to any condemnation toward Russian interference.

We, of course, are hearing a man with a fragile ego tell everyone that the “incontrovertible evidence” of Russian interference per his own director of national security, exonerates him of any collusion and did not affect the outcome. The indictment says neither.

Yet, what is indicting is he has not acted very Presidential and condemned Russia for its ongoing cyber attack on the United States. He has also not signed off on sanctions against Russia that were overwhelmingly passed by the Senate and House. He said the threat of sanctions are enough. He has not defined actions we will take to prevent further interference.

The key question we must ask is why? In my view, a man who is not compromised would be very vocally condemning Russia and putting forth sanctions. Crickets are what we are hearing, instead.

I am also dismayed that Congress is rather silent on this issue. I am further dismayed that Devin Nunes, head of the House Intelligence committee and author of a dubious memo, has declined to hold the annual intelligence briefing by directors of various intelligence agencies. These directors just briefed the Senate committee and all concurred that the Russians interfered with our election and will again. Why has no meeting been called? Speculation is he does not want these folks under oath to address the veracity of his memo.

As I mentioned in my previous post, coupling the above with the President’s hoax statement and story changing on this subject along with his overt attempts to obstruct justice, I will be surprised if he is not found guilty of being compromised. To me, it all goes back to significant financial ties to Russia, which this President has denied. Irrespective of this finding, to me it is clear he used his power to obstruct justice and has admitted as such,

Finally, for those who choose to still not believe Mueller or the intelligence agencies, several former Russians who worked for the troll factory echo the accuracy of the Mueller indictment. The President is begrudgingly agreeing to this, but thinks “me first” and wants to clear his name. Not so fast.

So, when a Trump diehard says this exonerates him, ask about the crickets.

I will not be surprised

I will not be surprised if the Mueller investigation finds that the President of the United States has been compromised by Russia. There is too much lying, ignoring and self-preserving going on by the man in the White House. In fact, if it turns out he is not, that will surprise me. At the very least he is an unwitting agent of Russia. Just ask yourself why he did not impose sanctions on Russia nor has he shown alarm over the Mueller findings that Russia has attacked the US and is still doing so?

I will not be surprised if Congress does not do a damn thing about better gun governance. I am so proud of the young people calling for a march begging for action. Yet, Congress and the President don’t have the backbone to do the right thing and do what a significant majority of Americans have asked for – background checks and elongated waiting periods. These actions should be no brainers, but the NRA dictates subservience to Republicans and some Democrats.

I will not be surprised if Congress cannot reach compromise on the immigration bills, especially with the ever-changing President putting his fingerprints on discord. He upset the proceedings on Friday, a few weeks after he stabbed Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin in the back and asked Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue to lie for him. What all legislators have discovered is the famous self-proclaimed negotiator is not trust worthy. If you do so, it is at your own peril.

I will not be surprised if we have more school shootings in the near future. I will not be surprised if the British parliament decides against Brexit. And, I will sadly not be surprised if one of the leader of Norh Korea and United States does something too provocative. On the school shootings and North Korea issue, I hope I am dead wrong. On the former, with our gun laws, it is very hard to stop a dedicated individual shooter. On the latter, I am not confident that judgment can temper ego with respect to these two leaders.


Strange definition of good men

Someone famous has come to the defense of two men, in essence, claiming each is admirable or a good man. While defending people is normally a good quality, choosing to defend these men, and being relatively silent on women they impacted shows a lack of judgment, ethic and empathy. Saying good things only about the accused and not the alleged victims or the issue shows a tone deafness to women who come forward.

These two men are accused of domestic violence against their three ex-wives. Rob Porter had two restraining orders against him from each of his two wives, Colbie Holderman and Jennifer Willoughby. So, two judges thought the claims of the women were valid so as to issue such an order. David Sorenson was accused by his ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, of being verbally and physically abusive. These accusations were shared with the FBI, which is important, as lying to the FBI is a crime.

The fact these two men were still awaiting security clearance to serve in the White House is important. A boss might ask of the FBI, “Why is this taking so long? Is there a problem?” Or, per some news reports, they may have been aware much earlier. But, the story goes beyond these two men and to two other men – John Kelly and this famous man, Donald Trump. They have both botched this mess and, instead of acting as leaders, they are relatively silent on the victims or what the two men are accused of.

The President did not say one word about the victims on Friday or the alleged heinous act of Porter, choosing only to defend Porter and wish him well. Then, even after the rightful push back, he doubled down on Saturday using different words to say the same thing. The closest he got to the victims was to call the accusations “some true and some false.” The other sad story is Kelly’s reaction and concern over when he knew. Kelly is supposed to be the grown-up in the room, but this is yet another time when he has said or done less than thoughtful things, just like his tempestuous boss.

At least the Vice President gave recognition over his concerns over the actions and the victims. One can defend someone, but not condone the actions and support the victims. Domestic violence experts note it is not uncommon for an abuser to make up for (or hide) his heinous actions by being over-the-top pleasant to others in the work place. So, Porter can be a great guy to have on your team, but be a criminal abuser at home. Domestic violence is all about control, so the abuse is not just physical, it is mental.

As for the President, I view this as a proxy for defending himself, as everything goes back to him and his fragile ego. He has been accused by 19 women of sexual misconduct. He has had numerous affairs, one of which he financially settled before the election. His first wife accused him of raping her in divorce court testimony, but later recanted. And, he would be his worst defense if ever put on trial as he has admitted to recurring sexual misconduct on at least three occasions, the most blatant of which is the Access Hollywood tape.

And, in the past few years, here is a summary of whom he has chosen to defend and not defend. He chose to defend Judge Roy Moore accepting his truth over the teenage girls (now women) whom he sexually harassed, stalked and assaulted. He chose to defend former Fox News President Roger Ailes who was alleged of sexual misconduct where settlements were reached and was eventually fired by his Board. The same support was given to Fox pundit Bill O’Reilly, who also settled claims with several women who accused him.

Trump described all of these accused in varying ways as good men. Yet, one man he did not defend was a prisoner of war and Senator, who he denigrated as “not a hero because he was captured.” He did not defend and denigrated two Gold Star parents who lost their child in war as they dared criticize him for not knowing what the constitution was all about. More sadly, I could go on.

Based on this man’s history of sexual misconduct and litigation, I remain incredulous he was elected President of the United States. His five biographers noted before the election, do not think this man will change and all of sudden become Presidential. When he slips up and does something that is such, it is actually newsworthy. Defending people is one thing, but not tolerating what they are accused of and giving credence to the victims’ claims is essential. Porter may be a good guy to you, but two judges thought he had to be restrained from seeing his wives.

Note: In the volunteer work I have done with working homeless families, about 1/3 of our clients lost their home as a result of a domestic violence situation. DV is all about control. If you know of anyone who cannot explain bruises or is missing family events on short notice or confides in you, encourage them to get help and find a way to get out. The abuser will not change, as the success rate of such is low.

Tick, tick, tick – young folks please raise some holy hell on this

Tick, tick tick…the US debt of $20.7 trillion is expected to increase by $10 trillion by 2027 even before the December Tax Bill and last night’s Budget Bill were passed.

Tick, tick, tick…per the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the Tax Bill is projected to increase the US debt by $1.5 trillion or so by 2027.

Tick, tick, tick…last night’s Budget Bill which has now been signed into law is expected to increase the debt by $400 billion over the next two years.

Tick, tick, tick…unless something is done about it, the debt will be close to $33 trillion in 2027. The scarier thought is that might be low.

Tick, tick, tick…the added dilemma we are facing is the interest rates are increasing, since we may have overheated a good economy. That will add further to the annual interest cost on the debt.

If I were in my twenties, I would be raising holy hell about this. I just called several members of the Freedom Caucus, telling them I am an Independent and former Republican voter. While they were right to raise issue with the $400 billion, I said it was hypocritical to vote for a Tax Bill that increases the debt by $1.5 trillion.

Invariably when I called I spoke with a nice young staffer in their twenties, because I asked them if they were. During our conversations I asked them “you do realize we are leaving this problem for you?”

In December, 2010, the US debt was over $13 trillion. The reason this date is important is the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Committee presented their findings and recommendations in that month. In essence, they recommended a series of changes that followed a ratio of $2 of spending cuts to every $1 of revenue increases. Since Democrats did not like the former and Republicans the latter, the Committee’s good work was shelved.

Fast forward to today and not only have we not done much about it, we have made the problem worse with these two bills. In Congress, it is both parties’ fault. It is President Obama’s fault for shelving the Simpson-Bowles study and it is President Trump’s fault for not making this an issue and promoting tax cuts. It is President Bush’s fault for passing tax cuts against the advice of his Secretary of the Treasury after being handed the baton on a balanced budget.

Our deficit was $666 billion in the last fiscal year. It will be over $1 trillion at the end of this one. This is not good. Please let your Congressional representatives, Senators and the President know we need to do something about this. We need revenue increases and spending cuts. The math will not work otherwise. Please check out the websites for the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Fix the Debt and The Concord Coalition for more information.



While we were distracted, look what oozed in through the keyhole

On December 5, 2017, the Department of Labor under the guidance of the self-proclaimed populist President offered proposed regulations that would affect tipped employees. The 60 day comment period just expired, so unless the push back was convincing this proposal may become regulation. The proposal unwinds an Obama regulation which prohibits an employer from garnishing tips from workers who make at least the $7.25 minimum wage.

It should be noted that restaurant workers have a lesser minimum wage of only $2.13 which has been in place for twenty plus years. They can be paid an hourly wage this low, provided their tip income brings their total hourly pay to $7.25. As of May, 2017, the average combined wage and tip income for restaurant workers was $11.82 per hour.

In essence, the proposed regulation would allow an employer to garnish the extra tips above a total wage rate of $7.25. Now, the employer could be altruistic and reallocate this tip income to all workers, such as the cooks and buspeople (those that clean off the tables). This could also include the tipped worker who would receive a reallocated portion, but less than the direct tips garnished.

Yet, a very troubling part of the proposal is the employer could keep the tips and not reallocate them to workers. It is noted therein that the tips could be made for structural improvements or to reduce menu prices. Note, this is a low margin business, so it would not be a leap to see more than a few employers not reallocate all or any of the money. This is especially concerning within an industry where some managers exploit all and harass female workers (note read “Nickeled and Dimed in America” by Barbara Ehrenreich on working in minimum wage jobs that perpetuate poverty).

Per an article in The Washington Post (see link below), “‘There is no way to do a good face estimate and maintain the fiction that this rule isn’t terrible for workers,’ said Heidi Shierholz, who previously served as chief economist for the Labor Department, in a conference call on Thursday arranged by EPI.”

Many things concern me about this. If the employer were made to reallocate the garnished tips to other workers including the affected worker, then it would be more understandable as an employment term. A worker could then decide to work elsewhere if they felt they could make more there. It should be noted that in some cities that are phasing up to a $15.00 per hour minimum, some restaurants are going without any tipping, but that is understood beforehand and communicated to patrons.

The troubling part is the employer being able to choose to keep some or all of the money, provided the below market minimum wage is used. Help me understand how this helps those masses of people who voted for a man to make their lot in life better. Coming on the heels of other changes that have been made to favor Wall Street, such as the Tax Bill, this President does not look very much like a Main Street man.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever worked in a restaurant?