Monday, November 16, 2015

Picking a President is like picking an investment stock

I wrote this essay 8 years ago, and much of it is still applicable today.  I don't know why I didn't publish it then. 

Picking a candidate for President is like picking an investment stock. When I plan to buy a stock, I first investigate its fundamentals. I begin with the historical prices. This is like evaluating the candidates historical votes and acts from their previous government positions. I can find the voting record of all our members of Congress at

Then I like to read about the company. I like to invest in good companies with good products that have good management practices, a good balance sheet, and good growth of EPS over the years. I like to vote for a good candidate that has good platforms to offer, that have proven themselves to be good executive managers, whose money is not beholding to special interests, and who have a proven good track record in their previous government positions.

I invest in companies that provide a good service to our society, that are dedicated to human health and the health of our planet, that take responsibility for their mistakes, that have women and minorities on their Board of Directors, and provide good benefit packages for their employees. Likewise, I seek a candidate for President that will provide good service to our society, that is dedicated to the health of our population and of the environment, that takes responsibility for his/her mistakes, that respects the rights of women and minorities, and will strive to give the American people benefits equal to the ones they enjoy.

The companies that I have invested in due to their high-class, glossy promotional literature have almost all declined in value to a hand full of coins. I have learned my lesson not to invest in stocks by the glossy look of its cover. I believe it is the same for candidates for office: you can't judge the book by its cover. Yet, the American people are obsessed with how good the candidate looks. I'll never forget that people voted for Arnie because he was the Governator!

When we look over the candidates contending for the Presidential nomination at this time, we have a long list to investigate, 115 announced candidates to whit according to Of the main 16 contenders, there is only one that fulfills my criteria, yet is ignored by the media. Obviously, the media have an entirely different set of criteria for what makes a good presidential candidate.

Rudolph W. Giuliani is plagued with ties to organized crime, was an unfaithful husband, did nothing to defend NYC after the first jet collided with the WTC on 9/11, and ordered a cover-up of the air pollution after the Twin Towers collapsed. Doesn't sound good to me.

Mike Huckabee is strongly in favor of promoting education and the arts. While governor of Arkansas, he facilitated legislation that improved roads, state parks, and health care for children. These are all good! Huckabee is an ordained Southern Baptist minister who believes in Creationism over evolution. Its beginning to sound like he might change Democracy to Theocracy. Not good!

John McCain looked like Nosferatu at the 2007 State-of-the-Union address. Creepy! He proved he was willing to sell out to the theocratic Christians at Liberty University and claims to share values with Jerry Falwell. He may have been a prisoner of war and an opponent of torture, but he is all for continuing the occupation of Iraq. McCain is a war hawk and is affiliated with the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). Bad!

Ron Paul is an OB/GYN MD. Having worked in the perinatal field for nearly two decades, I found that men often became gynecologists because they were misogynists and wanted to control women when they were most vulnerable. Of course, I can't assume that Ron Paul falls into that category. He is a distinguished scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute known for its economic theories depicting government intervention as destructive, whether through welfare, taxation, regulation, or war. Therefore, we can assume that Congressman Paul is anti-war, and also anti-welfare, anti-taxation, anti-fascist, anti-socialist. He believes that life begins at conception and wants to give legal rights to the unborn. Not good!

Did Mitt Romney announce his candidacy at the Henry Ford Museum in order to affiliate himself with one of America's most vocal anti-Semites? Having graduated cum laude from Harvard Business School, we know he's a smart businessman. This is good. He transformed the Massachusetts budget deficit into a surplus. Very good! First he was pro-choice and for gay rights, but is now pro-life and against gay rights. He supports the death penalty and the three strikes law. Not so good!

Tommy Thompson was governor of Wisconsin for four terms. I guess they liked him. As governor, he implemented welfare reform, health insurance for low-income families, and a school choice program that used public funds to send low-income students to private schools. He wants to let the Iraqis decide for themselves whether they want to be occupied by American forces. And he was involved with improperly hiding the true cost of the Medicare Prescription Drug program before it was passed into law. Mr. Thompson is for injecting Veri-Chips into our skin for ID and financial data, admires George Bush, and is pandering for the Jewish vote.  Some good, and much not good. 

A Wall of Separation Between Corporation and State

The Tea Party advocates told me that the Constitution protects capitalism.  That perplexed me.  I have read the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights several times and couldn't recall seeing anything about capitalism.  As a matter of fact, I carry a copy of the Constitution with me like a Christian will carry a Bible.  I can't say that I am a great Constitutional scholar, but I have a pretty good familiarity with it.  

I contended that I never saw anything about capitalism.  The closest thing I could imagine is the right to own private property.  They responded that this right IS capitalism, but the founding fathers just didn't have that word yet.  I again contended that capitalism means buying low and selling high, which is not at all the same as the right to own private property.  They disagreed, and affirmed that it is the same.  

So I looked up the word Capitalism: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision for profit, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market. 

The first real capitalists were the Dutch East India Company founded 1602.  They used capital for investment, but no one ever used the word Capitalism until it was coined in 1867 by Karl Marx in his book co-written with Engels, Das Capital.  The meaning Marx gave it was using capital (money) to buy commodities to sell for profit.  That seems pretty simple to me and confirmed my contention that capitalism is not the same as the right to own property.  There is no right in the Constitution to own property for profit.  Although the founding fathers assumed that shops and businesses would conduct commerce everywhere in the new Republic, they found no reason to guarantee the right to free enterprise or the right to make profits. 

That's why I believe we need to amend the Constitution to guarantee Constitutional rights only to human persons, as well as making election financing answerable only to the Public for which they will be elected.  These together will make a wall of Separation between Corporation and State. 

Racial discrimination within my family

Yesterday was my mother's 99th birthday.  I've been thinking some about my dad lately, now that he's been gone for about 10 years.  It has always been a conundrum why he was such a splendid father to me and my eldest sister, Susan, and an abusive father to my middle sister, Bonnie.

We all heard over and over how Bonnie used to bemoan how dad treated her differently and discriminated against her.  I never saw it until my dad was almost dead, at age 90, when my 2 elder sisters helped him to the bathroom, one under each arm to support him.  He graciously thanked Susan and sneered at Bonnie.  That's when my mother disclosed that she had noticed his discrimination for Bonnie early on and tried to reason with him about it.  He just responded that he found Bonnie to be annoying.

And Bonnie WAS annoying!  Typical of the second child, if they can't get positive attention, then they demand negative attention, better than no attention at all.  Yes, Bonnie was annoying.  As a young child, I remember teaming up with my older sister against Bonnie and taunting her.  As an adult, I apologized to her for that.  But Bonnie was molded into a much different person than me even though we had the same parents due to my father's emotionally abusive discrimination of her.  For over a decade, I have been pondering why my dad did this, and I finally got an answer yesterday.

We are New York Jews.  All of our ancestors came from Eastern and Western Europe.  We are Caucasians with blue or brown eyes, frequently hooked noses, mostly with curly or wavy European hair.  Both my parents fit that description, and all of my grandparents, as well.  But not Bonnie.  Bonnie was born with dark skin, the typical deep blue eyes of the Cohen side of the family, and kinky nearly black hair.  For the first time in my life, I realized that my dad disliked her from the day she was born because she had dark skin.

I remember the horror in my brother-in-law's face when he gazed upon his newborn son, Barry.  I was also with Ronnie the day he gazed upon his first-born, Lori.  Lori's head and part of her forehead was bashed in from the forceps assisted birth.  Ronnie was beaming with pride at his wrinkled infant with a bashed-in head.  But when he gazed upon newborn son Barry, he was struck with horror and disgust.  Barry was born pinto.  He had dark skin and light skin right across the middle of his face.  One side of his neck was light skinned, and the other side was dark.  I could understand it as horror of a deformed, imperfect baby, but Lori was imperfect and deformed, and Ronnie's response was very different.

Today I am thinking that both my dad and Ronnie were more offended by having a child with dark skin.  As I recall the racial attitudes of my parents, my mom said she grew up in NYC with all the races and didn't see much difference.  But my dad was more surreptitious with his attitudes.  Both he and Ronnie felt Blacks were lazy, untrustworthy, and  inferior.  Could it be that they gazed down at their 100% Jewish newborns and saw a Negro?

Bonnie has since gotten vitiligo and her face lost it's Middle Eastern hue to become colorlessly white.  But in her youth, her beauty was striking by those blue eyes in contrast with her dark skin and dark Jewfro.  I was proud of her striking Moroccan-like beauty.  It never even occurred to me at the time that she was "different" or "other" because of the color of her skin being so different from mine.  There was no doubt as to her heritage since she was the spitting image of our grandmother Rose, except with dark skin.  She looked more like the Cohen side of the family than any of us.

I'm not sure my sister Bonnie has ever known happiness.  She hates when I write personal things about her for the public to see.  That's why I am writing it here in my blog, since nearly no one ever reads my blog.  And also, I will skip the details of Bonnie's sources of anguish.  Let's just say that her life might have been much happier if our father had treated her with as much love as Susan and me.  Thankfully, our mother had enough love for us all.  Even in my mother's self-indulgent years, she still made it a hard and fast principal to treat us all equally.

Some might question my right to judge that Bonnie isn't happy as she gazes at the East River from her luxury Manhattan apartment with obscene amounts of money to spend and 2 employed sons and 5 healthy grand-children.  But I think I know my sister Bonnie, and even if happiness was right in front of her, she wouldn't accept it, because our father rejected her. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Why do counties keep public funds in private, for-profit banks?

  • I and my team are trying to make Mendocino into a charter county. After 15 drafts of a charter over the last 3 years, there was little or no political will for our Board of Supervisors to put one on the ballot. So the only other way to become a charter county is to elect a charter commission. This is a 2-step process. First, we need to collect 2003 valid signatures by January to get the charter question on to the June ballot. We are aiming for 4000. Then later in January, anyone registered to vote in the county can run for the unpaid office of Charter Commissioner. When the time comes, I plan to run for this voluntary elected office. I am currently raising funds and cultivating fellow candidates. This will be an amazing opportunity to think outside the box and redesign our local government to assure more social and economic justice, more direct democracy, more citizen participation, more local control and more accountability.

  • The current legal opinion is that a county must be a charter county in order to open a public bank. Ideally, the charter will be a fundamental step in that direction. It is yet to be seen whether language about a public bank will be included in the charter. It will be up to the charter commissioners what language will be included.

  • There are 3 kinds of money: coins, currency, and credit. Coins are printed by the Federal government. Currency is printed and controlled by a private banking conglomerate called the Federal Reserve (nothing "federal" about it). Money greases the wheels of commerce and causes economies to boom when there is enough of it in everyone's pockets. When money is scarce, the economy tanks. The third kind of money is credit. Per Federal Reserve policy, every bank can issue credit of up to 90% of their reserves. Each time they loan out credit, the "note" gets added to their reserve of assets. In other words, their assets are based on loan notes.
  • The credit market is a kind of Ponzi scheme which occasionally implodes. In 2009, the government bailed out the banks from their Ponzi scheme losses, yet the big Wall Street banks continue to glean obscene profits using business plans based on fraud. All counties in the USA keep their public funds in private, for-profit banks, which use those funds in their reserve for their credit Ponzi schemes.
  • SBMC stayed healthy during the 2008 economic downturn because they only issue credit up to 60% of their reserves. And credit unions even have a lower limit. Only the big Wall Street banks like Bank of America issue all 90% of their reserves in credit.
  •  A public bank could serve the purpose of parking and distributing our own public funds instead of Bank of America. Why not keep our public funds in our own bank? And if the law allows banks to issue credit based on a fraction of their reserves, then why not use the county's reserves to underwrite economic development loans issued by the local partners like Savings Bank of Mendocino County and MendoLake Credit Union to keep the money circulating right here in our own county?

    So why should we keep public funds in a private, for-profit bank?  We shouldn't!  

Friday, July 17, 2015

Criticizing Israel doesn't make me anti-Semitic

I usually stay far away from the issue of Israel and Palestine because I am an active member of the Jewish Community and I love my fellow Jews. But as a Buddhist, I love all beings and wish no harm to any, even those that wish harm to me. As a mother of 2 sons, I am well aware how children always blame the other for starting. As a divorcee, I realize how painful it is in the middle of separating from someone with whom you have shared a home for a long time. I also know that it is dysfunctional to retain hates, bitterness, blame, and thoughts of vengeance, and much better for my heart and whole being to forgive and love.

I never say forgive and forget. NO! Forgive and remember! By remembering, we learn and hopefully grow in wisdom and compassion.

The world is shrinking rapidly, and a bunch of myopic international corporations are making obscene profits on promoting fear, hatred, discord, and war. My position is that both sides have their issues. Both sides are full of hate. Both sides are tired of fighting. And both sides are violating international human rights. This is basically a racist war. It is racist for Netanyahu to believe that every Israeli life is worth 500 Palestinian lives. It is a genocide, much like what the USA did with the Indians, and what Australia did with their aborigines. Much like what the Cro Magnin did with the Neanderthals. The way I see it, the Jews of Israel were an oppressed ethnic group, having now been freed of oppression, decided to turn the tables and oppress another ethnic group as they were once oppressed. Yes, it is true that we Jews were slaves in the Third Reich, and the Israelis haven't enslaved the Palestinians yet.

If I love being a Jew, and I criticize the fascist genocide of the Palestinian people by the Netanyahu government, that does not make me anti-Semitic.

I was just discussing the other day how racism all over the world affects dark-skinned people. In Israel, the Yemeni dialect of Hebrew has become the gold standard in common language, even all over the world. The Yemeni rabbinic scholars are touted as the wisest and most profound. Yet, the Yemeni people are discriminated against in Israel because they have dark skin. That is similar to White culture co-opting Jazz, Hip-Hop, Blues, and standards of beauty that include thick lips, and round nostrils in men, yet discriminate against Black people.

I don't love being White. I see it as a quirk of fate. I don't love the White Privilege I receive resulting from that quirk of fate, although I find it ridiculously funny. But if I criticize my racist, sexist, classist, perpetually warring culture, that doesn't mean that I am anti-American.

PS. I am not one to criticize anyway.  I may point out the ironic facts of injustice, but I am one to make a plan to change it rather than waste my time criticizing. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

My response to Senator Feinstein's letter about Fast Track

My answer to Senator Feinstein when she explained that she crossed the aisle and voted with the Republicans to approve Fast Track Authority for the President to negotiate the TPP.

Dear Senator Feinstein,

In response to your letter explaining why you voted for fast track authority, I agree that trade is crucial for the economy and has been since the founding of this nation. Our Founding Fathers also understood the value of tariffs which fund the government and protect fledgling industries. They also understood the importance of sovereignty and the negative effects of powerful corporations, i.e. the British East India Company. They were so enraged about the special privileges that giant corporations received compared to local businesses that they threw all the East India tea into the sea. Perhaps you have forgotten the anti-corporate history which founded this nation.

Previous trade pacts have not only ruined the American economy, but have also bankrupted the government by eliminating import tariffs. Previous trade pacts have moved good jobs offshore and turned the USA into a banana republic.

You stress the importance of trade for California's economy, yet conflate that with why the President should have fast track authority to negotiate secret international trade treaties that are kept from the eyes of the sovereign people who rule in a Democracy. Either we are no longer a democracy, or you and the President are hiding something very foul in the TransPacific Partnership (TPP).

You mention how trade deals in the past have "negatively affected certain areas of our work force." Those certain areas include good union jobs. By eliminating good union jobs, the standard of living in the USA has plummeted. You say that because so many jobs were lost due to previous trade agreements, you support the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). There is no point in retraining people for jobs that do not exist. I have personally seen several of my friends lose their good jobs and been retrained for jobs that don't exist. Your preference to mitigate the expected damage from the TPP with TAA retraining programs is a betrayal of your constituents.

Lastly, you mention how the TPP is key to our national security and foreign policy objectives. If by foreign policy objectives you are referring to overthrowing democratically elected sovereign rulers who block our corporate exploitation of their natural resources as our CIA has done time and again since 1953, and the further expansion of our imperialist incursions into sovereign nations around the world, then you have obviously drank the kool aide and owe more allegiance to your corporate donors than to your human constituents.

Please tell me how allowing corporate interests to override local environmental laws improves our national security? The way I see it, the USA is far more secure with healthy local industry and manufacturing jobs and locally grown food than by sending our military onto foreign soil or by extrajudicial assassinations by drone. I believe your priorities have been subverted and you no longer represent the best interests of the people of California.

Your disappointed constituent

• Here is the letter from Senator Dianne Feinstein in response to when I complained about her approval of fast track authority for the President. 

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns regarding Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).  I appreciate the time you took to write, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

First, please know that as a U.S. Senator, I carefully review each free-trade agreement that comes before me to ensure that the best interests of American workers and businesses are served, and that the agreement will not adversely affect the U.S. economy, human rights, labor rights or environmental standards.

As you are aware, I voted in favor of TPA—otherwise known as fast-track authority—because it grants the President the ability to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). I believe that increasing free trade with our neighbors in the Pacific Rim is squarely in our economic and national security interests. 

The process of considering trade legislation has enabled me to see the extraordinary importance of trade to California's economy, and I wanted to share some of this information with you.

Today, trade supports more than 4.7 million jobs in California, and nearly 40 million nationwide. More than 75,000 California businesses export goods out of the state, and 95 percent of those are small- or medium-sized, meaning they have fewer than 500 employees. Since 2009, jobs related to merchandise trade have increased by 11 percent in California, and research has shown that firms that export pay their employees 15 percent more than those that do not.

Three of California's major sectors benefit substantially from trade:

  • The services sector—both high-skilled professional services as well as lower-skilled services such as accommodation, food and administration—have helped lead California's economic recovery since the 2008 recession. Services exports have been a key contributor to that sector. For instance, in 2013, California exported $114 billion in services, a 58 percent growth over 2006. This has translated to job growth: last year, 66 percent of all new jobs in California were in the services sector. By reducing barriers to services exports, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is expected to boost this critical sector of our growing economy.  

  • In 2014, California exported $174.1 billion in total merchandise goods and over the past 10 years, exports from California to existing free-trade partners grew by 50 percent. If past trade deals are any indication of the future, then our merchandise industry will continue to grow under TPP. Today, California's exports of computer and electronic products face tariffs as high as 35 percent, while transportation equipment and machinery face tariffs as high as 70 percent, both of which will be reduced under TPP. 

  • California agriculture also relies on exports. In 2013, agricultural exports were valued at $21.2 billion, making our agriculture industry the largest by value in the United States. According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture study, under TPP nationwide agriculture exports are expected to increase by 5.4 percent by 2025. As with our merchandise exports, our agriculture products currently face steep tariffs in the Asia-Pacific region. Dairy products face a tariff of up to 35 percent in Japan while walnuts face a 30 percent tariff in Vietnam. With these tariffs reduced or eliminated, the TPP will help California's farmers, ranchers and producers. 

The bottom line is that trade has been critical for California's economic growth, and it will be vital to sustaining that growth.  

As you know, past trade deals have negatively affected certain areas of our workforce. This is why in addition to supporting TPA, I also strongly support Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). TAA provides workers displaced by trade with job retraining and other assistance. I look forward to TAA becoming law as soon as possible, and as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to push for funds for the program each year. 

Lastly, it is important to note that beyond economic considerations, the proposed TPP is key for our national security and foreign policy objectives. TPP will require our trade partners to raise their standards with respect to human rights and workers' rights. Further, it will require countries like Vietnam and Malaysia to improve their laws and enforcement against human trafficking and wildlife trafficking, which I believe are absolutely critical. 

Additionally, TPP will help the United States re-balance our global priorities to take into account the increasing role of the Asia-Pacific region. Pursuing free and fair trade with our allies in the region is a key part of that re-balance. By creating a free trade zone, we will be ensuring its member countries play by internationally-recognized rules that we will help establish. Rejecting this trade deal would cede influence to countries that do not share our commitment to worker rights, human rights and environmental stewardship. 

As the information above demonstrates, trade is economically vital for California and the nation, which is why I will continue to support Trade Promotion Authority.

Sincerely yours,

  Dianne Feinstein
         United States Senator