Closing Thought–17Jul17

Don’t Spend All That Money In One Place!

From time to time I try to be an FYI blog as well as an opinion blog with a little education thrown in for good measure……

Since so many of us bloggers are old farts that retired and depend on social security I thought I would pass on the news about the COLA for this year….

Millions of Americans who rely on Social Security can expect to see their biggest pay increase in years in January, per projections released Thursday by the program’s trustees, the AP reports. The increase is projected to be just 2.2%, or about $28 a month for the average recipient. For context, this year Social Security recipients saw an increase of 0.3%, after getting nothing in 2016. Some good news for seniors: The trustees project Medicare Part B premiums will stay unchanged next year. Most beneficiaries pay $134 a month, though retirees with higher incomes pay more. Both Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment and Medicare Part B premiums will be announced in the fall.

More than 61 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses, and surviving children receive Social Security benefits, with an average monthly payment of $1,253. Medicare provides health insurance to about 58 million people. Unless Congress acts, the trust funds that support Social Security are estimated to run dry in 2034, the same as last year’s projection. Medicare’s trust fund for inpatient care is projected to be depleted in 2029, a year later than last year’s forecast. Over the past decade, Social Security and Medicare made up about 40% of federal spending, excluding interest on the debt; 50 years ago, the figure was 16%. The programs are expanding in part because the US is growing older: In 1960, there were 5.1 workers for each person getting Social Security benefits; today, there are about 2.8 workers for each beneficiary.

Just thought you might like to know…..

TTFN….I will be back tomorrow with more stuff….chuq

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No Democracy–No Weapons

Everyone the regularly visits IST knows that I am an antiwar supporter…..and that I feel that the US Congress has relinquished is power of the use of military force to the president…..there have been a few bills, mostly from Dems, that have tried to re-establish Congress’ power but they usually go nowhere…..

For two years the Saudis have been systematically destroying Yemen under some pretense of fighting terrorism and the US has been supporting the Saudis behind the scenes mostly….but they could change…

The House version of the nearly $700 billion 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes multiple amendments aimed at limiting US involvement in the Saudi War in Yemen, explicitly forbidding the deployment of ground troops there, or spending any money on military operations outside the scope of the 2001 AUMF.

The Nolan Amendment prohibits the deployment of troops to participate in any way in the war, which is seen not only as restricting ground troops being sent to Yemen to fight on the side of the Saudis, but also appears aimed at limiting mid-air refueling operations for Saudi warplanes.

The Lieu Amendment requires a report from the State Department and the Pentagon on whether or not the Saudis are complying with the US-provided “No Strike List” for Yemen, as well as their improvement of targeting capabilities to avoid hitting civilians.

Finally, the Davidson Amendment prohibits all US military action in Yemen that is outside of the scope of the 2001 AUMF. This would preclude operations against the Shi’ite Houthis, who obviously were nothing to do with 9/11, though it would not restrict US operations against al-Qaeda forces inside Yemen.

(antiwar.com)

Small efforts that I suspect will go down in flames…but I give them an “A” for effort.

A better idea is one that comes out of Sweden….

Sweden’s Social Democratic government has received general support from opposition parties for a new legislative plan to curb weapons sales to so-called autocratic and nondemocratic nations.

The proposed legislation would have a direct impact on weapons sales to certain countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America. Military sales to countries applicable under the new proposal would be regulated according to tougher humans rights criteria.

The proposed legislation will amend Sweden’s existing Arms Export Controls Act. The strong degree of opposition party support for the legislative initiative means the new law could be introduced as early as 2018.

Countries that will be affected by the proposed legislation, like Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all remain important customers for Sweden’s defense industry companies.

(defensenews.com)

A helluva idea….no democracy, no weapons!

Of course the M-IC will fight this tooth and nail…..but what a great way to promote democracy……

The Qatar Crisis–Update

The mash-up between the Saudis and the Qataris are still going full blast….the “demands” by the Saudis have been toned down a bit…but they are still demanding some unreasonable things from Qatar…

The US has their largest military base in the Middle East in Qatar and the Saudi coalition has been trying to persuade the US to close it down and move it elsewhere…..

The latest in a series of moves by President Trump that appeared to throw a wrench into State Department efforts to calm the Qatar blockade situation saw him telling the Saudi King today that the US could well just abandon their largest military base in the Middle East, the al-Udeid Airbase in Qatar.

Officials from the blockading states have previously suggested that the US ought to consider finding an alternative to the Qatar base, as State and Pentagon officials express concern the protracted blockade could start impacting US wars in the region, which are run out of the base.

This is a hugely important base for the US, and that’s a big part of why State Department officials have been so desperate to try to resolve the dispute. President Trump, however, has treated this base with relative ambivalence, and in his talk with King Salman today said he was confident other countries in the region would “gladly” build the US a replacement base if they abandoned Qatar.

(antiwar.com)

This seems like a bit of an overreach by the Saudis…..they want that cash from the US and will do whatever it takes to see the base closed….even helping in the hack that started this whole affair….at the time Qatar said they were hacked and the accusations were untrue…..and then they were vindicated….

In a stunning turn of events, the Washington Post is quoting US intelligence officials as saying that the “fake news” hack which started the Qatar blockade was actually the product of a plot concocted by top leaders of the United Arab Emirates, one of the blockading states.

The officials say US intelligence agencies were able to confirm a May 23 meeting by UAE leaders discussing the plan, and that the very next day, a Qatari state media outlet was hacked, and false quotes attributed to the Qatari Emir were planted there. The quotes praised Hamas and talked up Iran as an “Islamic Power,” and fueled an immediate backlash from Saudi Arabia, as well as its allies.

Qatari officials were quick to note the hack at the time, and brought in the FBI to help. At the time, there was speculation in the media that the US involvement meant Russia was suspected of involvement, though there was never any plausible reason why this might be the case.

The UAE, however, has long-standing grievances with Qatar, as do the other three blockading states, as all object to Qatari media outlets’ coverage offering more conflicting viewpoints than is common within the Middle East.

(antiwar.com)

Pres. Trump has been ignoring the evidence to make the Saudis happy….why?

While it is true that Qatar allows some factions to run an office out of their territory…

It wasn’t accidental, or surprising. Qatar has historically been very open to allowing controversial foreign factions to run offices out of their cities, with groups like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood finding a welcome in Qatar that simply doesn’t exist elsewhere.

This is also a big part of the foreign blockade against Qatar, as more restrictive nations like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the Egyptian junta don’t take kindly to Qatar playing host to their (often banned) opposition parties, and treat their permission to operate as tantamount to Qatari “support.” With openness to dissenting opinions also pervasive in Qatari media, but literally nowhere else in the Middle East, it’s turned them into something of a pariah.

Another thing to consider is that during the “Arab Spring”…while the more restrictive countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE were scrambling to protect their authoritarian rule, Qatar was often on the side of the protesters….thus began their fall from grace among the “kingdoms”.

For this reason should put the US squarely on the side of the Qataris……that is if we truly stand for democracy and freedom…but it appears that the opposite is becoming the norm under the Trump admin.

Time to make a stand!

Why Did Hillary Lose?

Really?  How long are the Dems gonna screw this dead donkey?

No this is NOT a post trying to understand why Clinton lost….most real voters know why….she was a shitty candidate.

Instead this is a look at something that I thought was either dead or dying….the anti-war vote.

There is evidence to support that her loss in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan were from the votes of military families that are weary of all this war stuff….talk and action……

Now an important new study has come out showing that Clinton paid for this arrogance: professors argue that Clinton lost the battleground states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan in last year’s presidential election because they had some of the highest casualty rates during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and voters there saw Clinton as the pro-war candidate.

By contrast, her pro-war positions did not hurt her in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California, the study says; because those states were relatively unscathed by the Middle East wars.

Source: Clinton lost because PA, WI, and MI have high casualty rates and saw her as pro-war, study says – Mondoweiss

I can see why these people would vote against her as she was perceived as a pro-war candidate where Trump was not…..

This is something that the DNC needs to keep in mind as they scramble to find a message that will play with the voters.

But yet the people in the Clinton admin from the 90’s are trying to get the DNC to move more toward the center…..

“Reject the siren calls of the left” is the advice Mark Penn and Andrew Stein offer for the Democratic Party in a New York Times op-ed. The two make a case for why Democrats have to move back to the centrist position advocated by President Bill Clinton in the mid-’90s—a position they say reversed into a “rush to the left” during President Obama’s last few years in office. That U-turn resulted in an upswing for “identity politics, class warfare, and big government,” all of which have worked against the Democrats at the voting booths, with big losses during Obama’s tenure in terms of legislative seats and control of both houses of Congress.

It has also hurt Dems’ standing with working-class voters, who’ve witnessed “the party being mired too often in political correctness, transgender bathroom issues, and policies offering more help to undocumented immigrants than to the heartland,” the authors write. The “good issues” Democrats should be pushing on as they “reject socialist ideas,” Penn and Stein write: better protections for US workers, a focus on rural areas, the opioid epidemic, and a more balanced take on immigration. “Americans are looking for can-do Democrats in the mold of John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton—leaders who rose above partisanship to unify the country, who defended human rights and equality passionately, and who also encouraged economic growth and rising wages,” they write. Full op-ed here.

Seriously?  If they find a Clinton-esque candidate for 2020 then they will lose again.

The longer these wars continue the more the anti-war vote will come into play…..is my hope…..

Hillary lost because she was a horrible candidate and if they run a centrist next time then they will be asking all these same questions again.

Keep in mind the government of Bubba Clinton is what has brought us to this spot in time……do we want to relive all this again?

The DEms have lost sight of the “fronts” that help their power….the trip to the Center has made the Dem Party a toothless tiger…

“The solution of social problems consisted in the adjustment of conflicting interests; and the real business of politics, then, was simply the control of work and of the conditions under which work was performed. The liberals were altogether wrong in their insistence on individual liberty; in society, the parts must be subordinated to the whole.”

— Saint-Simon, 1802, digested by Edmund Wilson, To The Finland Station, 1940

Source: The Democratic Party’s Abandoned Fronts

The Dems need to get in touch with the people they abandoned in the 90’s……or they can watch the party crash and burn yet again.

Thoughts?

Remove The President

NOTE:  I am not saying that Trump should go…this is nothing but an FYI of what is being said and why.  Please try not to attack me for these are not my thoughts just a regurgitation of what others are saying….

These days there is this back and forth about what the President knew and when…some think he is getting a raw deal while others think he dug his own grave…..and that debate will rage on until some new shiny object is dangled in front of their faces.

But for the sake of argument let’s say that the “bad guys” find a way to remove Trump from his Ivory Tower….what then?

Many think that he will resign to save losing…apparently he must win……

The decision to name the universally-respected former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel on the Russian election scandal is a defining moment in modern American history that sets off a chain reaction that probably leads to the ultimate resignation of President Trump.

On Feb. 15, I wrote an op-ed in The Hill titled, “Putingate is our Watergate.” It was true then. It is true now. The Putingate scandal will probably end the same way the Watergate scandal ended, with a presidential resignation followed by a pardon.

Source: Why Trump will likely resign as Mueller pursues ‘Putingate’ | TheHill

Even Trump’s co-author of the “Art of the Deal” does not see it ending well for Trump……..

The co-writer of President Trump’s bestselling book “The Art of the Deal” predicted Thursday that Trump will resign before he is consumed by one of the scandals rocking the White House.

In an interview with CNN, Tony Schwartz said that Trump is in “pure terror” that the scandals surrounding his administration could boil over to impeachment, and will likely walk away.

Source: ‘Art of the Deal’ co-writer: Trump will resign so he doesn’t ‘lose’ | TheHill

Will it solve all the problems in this country?  Some seem to talk that talk.

Well according to The American Conservative…..not much!

America is in crisis. It is a crisis of greater magnitude than any the country has faced in its history, with the exception of the Civil War. It is a crisis long in the making—and likely to be with us long into the future. It is a crisis so thoroughly rooted in the American polity that it’s difficult to see how it can be resolved in any kind of smooth or even peaceful way. Looking to the future from this particular point in time, just about every possible course of action appears certain to deepen the crisis.

What is it? Some believe it stems specifically from the election of Donald Trump, a man supremely unfit for the presidency, and will abate when he can be removed from office. These people are right about one thing: Trump is supremely unfit for his White House job. But that isn’t the central crisis; it is merely a symptom of it, though it seems increasingly to be reaching crisis proportions of its own.

Source: Removing Trump Won’t Solve America’s Crisis | The American Conservative

With all the hearings these days the term “impeachment” has re-entered into the discourse…..but what do most people know about the process to impeach?

Let me help…….

Former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee exacerbated concerns that President Donald Trump may have tried to kill an investigation into his national security advisor, and in so doing committed a criminal offense — obstruction of justice. On the same day but across the Atlantic, the British election that demonstrated surprisingly weak public support for Prime Minster Theresa May served as a reminder of how different the tools are here, in the United States, for dealing with an unpopular or failing elected leader than they are in a parliamentary system.

We cannot call snap elections or votes of no confidence. A president is elected to a four-year term and is not subject to recall. In four years, the people weigh in again and say yes or no to a second term, after they have some perspective on his performance. To cut short a president’s term in office before it is finished is to contravene the will of the people as expressed in the election — the most fundamental act of democracy — and should be done in only the rarest and most exceptional of cases.

Source: On impeaching Trump – LA Times

Now we have even more ammo for the “Dump Trump” movement……thanx to his son and some emails……

Do you think President Donald Trump will get impeached? These gamblers do. The Irish website Paddy Power says odds are for the bet, “Will Trump Be Impeached In His First Term?” are the highest it has ever been.

Spokesperson Lee Price told Fortune that odds shot up to 60 percent on Wednesday. Trump “had gone quiet over the last month, and we were starting to wonder if he might have ridden out the initial controversies – but he’s back with a bang today,” Lee said in an email.

The spokesman said hundreds of thousands of pounds were placed on impeachment. Odds of the process happening as soon as this year were at 33 percent.

Source: Will Donald Trump Be Impeached? | Law News

Hopefully if they support Trump they would be courteous and read the entire post plus links….if they did then this link is for them…..

The president may not be in as much trouble as some would like…..

Source: The Simple Reason Trump Isn’t in Any Actual Trouble – VICE

What do you think?