Friday, April 12, 2024

Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

by Compiled by Lorraine H. Marie
| March 26, 2024 7:00 AM

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact. 

A recent sampling:

Numerous media reported that Donald Trump recently backtracked from presidential campaign promises and now says he will support cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

In a 75-22 vote the Senate passed a $459 billion six-bill package that partially funds the government through September. Biden has signed it. Politico said the funding covers veterans, agriculture, energy, the environment, housing, infrastructure, transportation, commerce, and science and water programs. Republicans had sought restrictions on abortion and were denied that.

The night that Trump’s son Donald Jr. announced the old Republican Party is dead, and replaced by the MAGA movement, Trump Sr. hosted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Orban’s history includes takeover of Hungary’s presses, elimination of opposition parties, control of courts, election rigging and creating fortunes for his friends by capturing factories and properties. 

Trump Sr. on Orban’s visit: “There’s nobody that’s better, smarter or a better leader…he’s fantastic.” Orban, he added, simply says “’this is the way it’s going to be’ and that’s the end of it, right? He’s the boss…” 

Orban told media Trump said he won’t help Ukraine, thereby ending that war and handing Ukraine to Russia.

Biden’s third State of the Union speech, from various sources: freedom and democracy are under attack in the U.S. from within and from overseas; he urged Congressional passage of help for Ukraine in fending off Russian aggression, and objected to opponent Trump’s pro-Putin stance as outrageous and dangerous to the free world.

Regarding the Trump-initiated coup attempt of Jan. 6, 2021, Biden encouraged lawmakers who had taken part to uphold their oath to defend against threats “foreign and domestic.” 

On border security: Biden urged Republicans to quit blocking solutions simply because Trump wants immigration as a campaign issue. He said he is ready to sign border security legislation that’s supported by the Chamber of Commerce and the Border Patrol Union (passed in the Senate 70-29), but House Republicans have blocked the bill that would allow 1,500 more border security officers; 100 more immigration judges; 4,300 more asylum officers and 100 more high-tech drug detection machines. 

Biden addressed reproductive rights, which have popular support, by highlighting Republicans’ chaos: he introduced a Texas woman whose fetus had a fatal condition, and who was forced to travel out-of-state for urgent medical help. If an amenable Congress is elected Biden said he will sign to restore Roe vs. Wade. 

On the economy, Biden embraced a future free of “trickle down” economics (see Blast), and said he’d continue to fight for a fair tax code and against price gouging and junk fees. He highlighted passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, and noted some Republicans who opposed it now cheer the investments. 

Economic successes include 15 million new jobs; a 50-year low for unemployment; 16 million new businesses; 800,000 new manufacturing jobs, rising wages and inflation that’s falling. Biden lauded the UAW’s union victory, whose picket line he stood in, (the first president to join a line). 

On Israel and Palestine, Biden acknowledged the devastation caused by Israel, and said the U.S. has worked non-stop for a ceasefire, and says a two-state solution as “the only real solution.” 

Regarding his age -- he’s four years older than Trump -- Biden said his years in office have provided the clarity to value honesty, decency, dignity, equality and respect for everyone. He contrasted that to his opponent who is fueling resentment, revenge and retribution. Other comments included the need to level the taxation field so the ultra-wealthy and multinational corporations pay similar to most Americans, who average 13.6% in taxes paid. He questioned further enriching the already rich via Republican policies.

Republican Sen. Katie Britt’s emotional rebuttal to Biden’s SOTU speech resulted in her party members being dismayed by the performance. She cited a child trafficking case, implying it was related to the Biden administration, but media reported it occurred 20 years prior in Mexico. 

Critics noted that although she complained about sexual abuse, Britt encouraged voting for a convicted sexual predator.

Blast from the past: In 2020 the London School of Economics and King’s College London analyzed 50 years of tax cuts in 18 wealthy countries. They found that “trickle down” impacts did not lead to significant economic growth and employment. Rather, they resulted in big benefits for the wealthy.

And another blast: In his new book The Return of Great Powers, CNN Anchor and Chief National Security Analyst Jim Sciotto documents Trump’s desire to align with anti-democratic nations, such as Hungary, Russia and North Korea. Trump’s former security advisor John Bolton told Sciotto that Trump likes “big guy” abilities to put people in jail sans a judicial process. 

Bolton said Trump, who had never before held office, was shocked to learn that presidents don’t have “dictatorial-type powers.” Trump often praised Hitler, despite advisors saying it wasn’t a good idea; why it wasn’t had to be explained. 

Trump’s former Chief of Staff John Kelly said he had to inform Trump, who admired Hitler’s money-making policies, that the economic gains were used to destroy Germany -- and 400,000 American GIs. 

When Trump praised Hitler’s “loyal” staff, Kelly said Trump was unaware of their assassination attempts.