Bristle Software Voting Tips

This page is offered as a service of Bristle Software, Inc.  New tips are sent to an associated mailing list when they are posted here.  Please send comments, corrections, any tips you'd like to contribute, or requests to be added to the mailing list, to tips@bristle.com.

Table of Contents:

  1. Register online to vote
  2. Absentee ballots
  3. When, where, how and why to vote
  4. Fill out your US Census form
  5. WARNING: Fill out the REAL US Census form
  6. Donate to campaigns
  7. How to talk about politics
  8. Volunteer
  9. Single Transferable Vote (a.k.a. "Ranked Choice Voting")
  10. CARES Act -- 3/27/2020 $2.2 Trillion Coronavirus Bill
  11. My 3 biggest complaints about Trump
  12. H-2B visa seasonal workers
  13. 2020 "State of the Union" address
  14. 2020 CNN Democratic Candidate New Hampshire Town Halls
  15. Cheap or Free ObamaCare Health Insurance
  16. Why I call Trump #SadLittleDonny
  17. http://DontBeATrump.com

Details of Tips:

  1. Register online to vote

    Original Version: 9/18/2018
    Last Updated: 10/17/2018

    Register to vote!  Time is running out!

    Not yet registered?  Moved to a new address?  Not sure?

    It's VERY easy to register.  And very easy to check if you're already registered at your current home address.  (Important, since you can't vote if your address is wrong.)

    For college students, it's also very easy to change your registration to your school address, so you don't have to go home to vote on election day.

    In PA and most other states, you can use a simple on-line form.

    Any other good links I should add?

    --Fred

  2. Absentee ballots

    Original Version: 10/21/2018
    Last Updated: 10/23/2018

    Can't get to the polls on election day, Tuesday Nov 6?  Get an absentee ballot!

    When?
    Apply for the ballot ASAP!
    The deadline to apply is typically 7-14 days before the election.
    The deadline to submit is typically 4-7 days before the election.
    In Pennsylvania, apply by Tuesday 10/30, and submit by Friday 11/2.  In both cases, it must ARRIVE at the election office by 5pm on the due date.  Being postmarked by the due date is NOT good enough.

    How?

    1. Download an application online, print, fill it out and sign.  (I just did mine.  Simple form.  Took about 60 seconds.)
    2. Mail or hand-deliver it to the election office to ARRIVE before the apply deadline
    3. Receive the ballot via US mail.
      Note: In PA, you CANNOT pick it up in person.  It MUST be mailed to a valid street address, not a PO box (to prevent fraud).
    4. Fill out and sign the ballot
    5. Mail or hand-deliver it to the election office to ARRIVE before the submit deadline.
      Note: In PA, you CANNOT have someone else deliver it.  Either mail it, or deliver it in person (to prevent fraud).

    Who?
    You can use an absentee ballot if you are:

    What?
    Required on the PA application:

    Where?
    To download an absentee ballot:

    Any other tips or links I should add?

    --Fred

  3. When, where, how and why to vote

    Original Version: 11/5/2018
    Last Updated: 11/5/2018

    Election day is tomorrow, Tuesday Nov 6.
    Be sure to get out and vote!!!

    When?
    Polls are open 7am to 8pm. 

    The most crowded times are typically before work (6-8am), lunchtime (11am-1pm), and especially after work (5-8pm).  If you go mid-morning or mid-afternoon, you can be done in 5-10 minutes.

    Schedule a reminder on your computer or phone for the time you intend to vote.  Or schedule an email or text message reminder at:
    http://ballotready.org

    Note: If you're in line by 8pm, you're allowed to vote.  Even if there's a long line of people waiting, or if a problem with the voting machines causes a delay.

    Where?
    Enter your home address at any of these sites to find your polling place:

    If you've moved recently and not yet updated your voter registration, go to the polling place for your old address.

    If you're a college student living at school but still registered at your parents' house, you have to vote where you are registered.

    Who?
    Run out quickly to vote by yourself.  Or better yet, ask your friends and colleagues if they've voted yet, and ask them to run out with you.  Round up the whole team!  Maybe even ask your employer to give you all some time off so that everyone can vote.

    What?

    1. Find out exactly what candidates and questions will be on your ballot by seeing a complete copy of your personalized ballot at:
      http://ballotready.org
    2. Find out where each candidate stands on each issue, see their credentials and bios, and who has endorsed them, also at:
      http://ballotready.org
      or at special interest sites like
      https://www.aclu.org/voter
      https://www.prochoiceamerica.org/elections/endorsements/
      https://voteprochoice.us/endorsed-candidates/
    3. Decide which candidates and questions to vote for.  Write down your choices on paper or in your phone or somewhere.  Or enter them into the sample ballot, and download, email or print that sample ballot, also at:
      http://ballotready.org
    4. Go to the polls with your notes or sample ballot, and fill in your choices in the real ballot.  See "How?" below.
    5. Share your choices with your friends via email or social media, if you like, also at:
      http://ballotready.org

    How?

    Why?
    Voting is your most powerful way to influence our government, telling it how you want things to be.

    Are you:

    Here's a 5-minute video of Barack Obama arguing against all of the excuses people give for not bothering to vote:

    More info:

    My Opinion:

    Personally, my goal in this election is to stop Trump.  Rein him in immediately, and get rid of him as soon as possible thereafter.  As I said above, I think he is entirely dishonorable, unable to focus, and easily manipulated and that makes him very dangerous.

    I don't necessarily want the Democrats in power, but they couldn't possibly be worse than Trump, Pence, Ryan, Cruz, Kavanaugh, McConnell and Grassley.  When someone sets me on fire, I don't ask if the lake is fresh water or brackish.  I just jump in to put out the fire.

    I'm hoping that with this election, we can:

    OK.  Back off my soapbox.  Any other tips or links I should add?

    --Fred

  4. Fill out your US Census form

    Original Version: 3/20/2020
    Last Updated: 3/25/2020

    Be sure to fill out your US Census form this month (March 2020) at:

    Already did it last month?  See WARNING: Fill out the REAL US Census form.

    By now, you've probably received an official paper mail reminder from the US Census Bureau.  It tells you to go to the website, and gives you a 12-char "Census ID" of numbers and capital letters.

    If not, you can still go to the site and do it without a Census ID.

    It's quick and easy

    It's important
    The counts of people in different regions are used to decide:

    The deadline is April 1, 2020, but no, this is not an April Fool's Day joke.

    Do it right now and get it off your to-do list:

    Could have been done faster than reading this email!  :-)

    --Fred

  5. WARNING: Fill out the REAL US Census form

    Original Version: 3/20/2020
    Last Updated: 3/25/2020

    WARNING:  Beware of using the wrong census form and not being counted.

    Last month (Febriary 2020), the Republican National Party mailed out millions of "census-like" forms to known Democratic households.  Don't believe it?  See any of these sources:

    How convincing is the fake?

    They even took the opportunity to solicit money, with an option that says: "I am enclosing $15 to help pay for the cost of processing my Census Document."  But the money really goes to Trump's campaign.

    Don't be fooled.  There are 3 reasons for such a mailing:

    1. Trick you into sending money to Trump's campaign
    2. Trick you into using the fake form and not bothering with the real form
    3. Confuse you into not bothering with either form

    What happens if enough people in heavily Democratic areas are fooled into not filling out the real census form?  The numbers get skewed in favor of Republican states, regions, and cities.  So Republicans get more:

    Tricking you into not filling out the census is like tricking you into not voting.  For details, see It's important.

    Don't be fooled.  Fill out your real US Census form today at:

    The deadline is April 1, 2020, but no, this is not an April Fool's Day joke.

    --Fred

  6. Donate to campaigns

    Original Version: 10/20/2018
    Last Updated: 11/4/2018

    I generally like to stay out of other people's business, so I've always ignored elections in other parts of the country, figuring those people should decide what's right for themselves, and I shouldn't get too involved.

    But this time, things have gone too far.  Huge amounts of money are being spent on TV and Web ads to influence voters.  And too much of it is being spent to support politicians that I would hate to see elected.  Especially since they support a president that I find dishonorable and an agenda that I find despicable.  Suddenly, it DOES matter to me who gets elected to the US Senate in faraway Texas.  So, my wife and I decided how much we could afford to donate to help with the "Blue Wave".

    Then, I spent days researching which races around the country would benefit most from our money.  We ended up splitting our $2,000 among 30 different candidates that were all in tight races.  Lots of of our info came from sites that I've now added to the Election row of my links page:

    For example:

    --Fred

  7. How to talk about politics

    Original Version: 10/17/2018
    Last Updated: 10/17/2018

    Wondering why you disagree so strongly with some of your seemingly intelligent friends about politics?  Why do they not see the light when you show them the facts?

    Here's a good book I found recently.  I bought a pile of copies (only $12 each) and have been handing them out to friends.  I suggest you buy a copy, and read the intro and the 1st chapter.  I think you'll be hooked.

    It's the first sensible explanation I've found of how seemingly intelligent people can disagree so much with me on such seemingly obvious issues.  How can they actually support Trump, for example?  Are really all malicious, selfish, racist people?  All of them?  Or foolish people who are easily conned?  Or what?

    No.  In many cases, it's because they are locked into a frame of reference that is very different from the one I'm locked into.

    When I toss out a fact that doesn't fit their frame, they disregard it as untrue or some sort of outlier.  And I do the same with facts they toss at me, when they don't fit my frame.

    That doesn't make the 2 sets of facts equally true, but it does explain the bias that makes some facts hard to accept.

    The book does a great job of laying out 2 different frames and how they affect our values, opinions, and ability to accept facts.  According to the book, some people have more of a "strict father" mindset and others have more of a "nurturant parent" mindset, but lots of people have a mix of both.

    The "strict father" types believe that the world is a harsh place with much to be feared.  Kids are born bad and have to be taught to be good.  Fathers must take a strong stance to defend their children from the evil world.  And must punish them when they misbehave.  Also, pursuing your own self-interest tends to lead to the best result for all, with the weak and undisciplined naturally falling by the wayside while the strong and self-reliant prosper.  Even though I lean mostly the other way, I'll admit that some of that does ring true with me.  Especially when I meet people who feel entitled to get free handouts and never want to make any effort of their own.

    The "nurturant parent" types believe that the world is a good place and can be improved.  Kids are born good and should be encouraged to be even better.  Parents must provide a healthy, safe, supportive environment in which their kids can grow to their fullest potential.  Also, protecting the interests of all, in a fair way, tends to lead to the best result for all.  This rings far more true for me.  It fits much better with the Golden Rule that we all learned as kids: "Do unto others..."

    The result is that "strict father" types tend to believe it's wrong to help others too much.  Better to let them wither away as they deserve for being weak.  So they make the "moral choice" to "do the right thing" by voting against social programs that help "bad people" (those in need).  And they vote for programs that reward the "good" (rich successful people and corporations).

    And the "nurturant parent" types tend to believe it's wrong to not help others in need, whenever you are able to.  So they make the "moral choice" to "do the right thing" by voting for social programs that help "unfortunate people" (those in need through no fault of their own).  And they vote against programs that reward the "fortunate" (rich successful people and corporations, who should be more able and therefore more expected to carry the load).

    Until you recognize the "frame" that you or someone is trapped in, there are limits to how much you can change your mind or theirs with mere facts.  Instead, you have to change their frame, and gradually convince them that their idea of "doing the right thing" is actually mean, petty, harmful, self-serving, and generally dishonorable.  And you can't do that by yelling at them.  Only by setting a good example, using the right terminology, and constantly reinforcing your message.

    The effect is so strong that "good" people on both sides will generally vote according to their "values", even when it's not in their personal best interest.  For example, poor minorities may still vote for a cruel, petty, racist candidate if they believe in the values that he claims to support: "strength against our common enemies", "rewarding the successful for succeeding", etc.  They're not necessarily being stupid, failing to understand that they and their families may lose their social security, medicare, medicaid, and other support programs.  They may actually be doing what they think is "right"!

    And rich comfortable mid- to upper-class people may vote for higher taxes, more social programs, etc.  Again, they're not simply being stupid, failing to realize they they will end up paying higher taxes for social programs that they will probably never collect on personally.  They too are doing what they think is "right"!

    Interesting concept. It was a real eye opener for me. 

    That's why it's so hard to change the mind of people on the other side. They have a fundamentally different set of values, and may truly believe what they are saying.  If you do argue with them, watch for them to give up and propose that you just "agree to disagree".  That's a sign that you're getting through to them.  They're starting to listen to the words coming out of their mouths and realizing that they don't like what they're hearing.  It sets up a sort of "cognitive dissonance" in their brain, and they get uncomfortable and want to end the conversation.

    Good luck!

    --Fred

  8. Volunteer

    Original Version: 10/23/2018
    Last Updated: 10/23/2018

    Want to have a bigger effect on the election?

    Don't just vote.  Don't just write a check.  Volunteer your time!  A day, an hour, 15 minutes, whatever time you can spare.  Go door to door, work in a team room, or just sit alone at home.   It's fun and easy!

    All of this is much easier and more fun than you might expect.  My wife and I have never been politically active, but this time we are "all in"!  She's canvassing, I'm emailing and posting, we're both handing out registration forms and campaign literature, we've got signs in the front yard, etc.

    Canvassing is easy. Especially GOTV ("Get Out The Vote") canvassing, where you're knocking on doors only of people who agree with you politically.  The time for convincing is past.  Now you're preaching to the choir, and just reminding them to make the effort to actually get to the polls.  The organizers will give you scripts, talking points, training, etc.  And you can be paired with someone more experienced if you like.

    Here's a page about canvassing, described by people like us who'd never done it before, and were a little nervous:

    And for those who know Brita, or know me and haven't yet met her, here's her segment of the video interview:

    OK, now that you've "met" her, anyone interested in helping her put out campaign signs for an hour after work tomorrow?  Would be much appreciated!

    Any questions? Feel free to email me.  Any other tips or links to add?  Let me know!

    --Fred

  9. Single Transferable Vote (a.k.a. "Ranked Choice Voting")

    Original Version: 10/29/2018
    Last Updated: 11/7/2019

    Are you disgusted with both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party?  Tempted to vote for a 3rd party candidate?

    Voting 3rd party may not be enough.  Unless we can get enough people at the same time to all take a leap of faith together.  Sometimes (especially in the 2016 election), we're forced to vote for the lesser of 2 evils, which may not be our 1st choice.

    That's why I like the idea of a "Single Transferable Vote" (a.k.a. "Ranked Choice Voting").

    Let me vote vote for 1st, 2nd, 3rd choices, etc., with the vote going to my 1st choice, unless that candidate ended up with a low enough count to be out of the running, in which case the vote would transfer to my 2nd choice, etc., until one candidate gets the majority.

    This would allow long shots to have a better chance of beating the main 2 parties.  I don't know how we'd ever get such a change since both parties would be VERY anxious to block it.  But if we could, I think it would work out great!

    See:

    For the first time, in 2018, the state of Maine will be using this system for their federal elections.  Here's a site that talks about the pros/cons, how it was put into place in Maine, etc.  We'll see how it works out!

    Starting in 2021, the city of New York will do the same for primary and special elections.  And it's already used in nearly 20 other American cities, including San Francisco, Santa Fe, and Minneapolis.  Also in other democratic countries like Australia, the UK, and Ireland.  See:

    --Fred

  10. CARES Act -- 3/27/2020 $2.2 Trillion Coronavirus Bill

    Original Version: 3/28/2020
    Last Updated: 4/2/2020

    Here's what's in the "CARES Act", the $2.2 Trillion Coronavirus bill.

    This bill is also known as "Phase III" of the various bills passed this month to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic.  There's already talk of a Phase IV bill, since this one was so rushed.  Hopefully much smaller, just to fine tune a few things.

    Date Pages Cost Name
    I Wed
    3/4/20
    28 $8.3 Billion Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act
    II Wed
    3/18/20
    83 $180 - 350 Billion Families First Coronavirus Response Act
    III Fri
    3/27/20
    880 $2.2 Trillion
    ($2,200 Billion)
    CARES Act -- Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
    IV ???
    4/??/20
    ??? $??? ???


    Note:

    Legend: Color-coding of partisan aspects, as I understand them:

    What's in the bill

    1. $2,192 Billion total

    2. $504B: Emergency grants/loans to large corporations
      1. $25B grants (not loans) to passenger airlines
      2. $25B loans to passenger airlines
      3. $17B for companies (Boeing) critical to national security
      4. $425B for other businesses, cities and states
      5. $12B: For what? I couldn't find details.
      6. Restrictions on companies getting money:
        1. No layoffs
        2. No furloughs (reduced hours, mandatory unpaid time off)
        3. No pay cuts
        4. No stock buybacks to raise shareholder value
        5. No dividends to shareholders
        6. No salary increases for execs
        7. No benefit to Trump, Pence, Cabinet members, Congress, or their families (spouse, child, son-in-law, daughter-in-law)
          1. No such restriction on friends, business associates or other family members.  Only on family members listed above.
        8. Restrictions last only 1-2 years.  After that, anything goes, regardless of whether the loans have been repaid.
      7. Oversight of companies receiving money
        1. Administered by the Federal Reserve following their established policies.  Not personally by Mnuchin as he sees fit.  To ensure it doesn't become a "corporate slush fund".
        2. New "Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR)" to watch for fraud and abuse, like TARP had in the 2008 bailout
          1. Note: Immediately after he publicly signed the bill into law on national TV, Trump quietly issued a "signing statement" saying he won't cooperate with the SIGPR.  He's forbidden his administration to comply with requests for documentation.  And he's told the SIGPR not to issue any of the required reports to Congress without his explicit permission.
        3. Congressional oversight panel to evaluate how the money is distributed
          1. Note: Trump also challenged this provision of the bill after he signed it into law.  Says Congress is not allowed to oversee any spending by the Executive Branch.  It's not yet clear what he plans to do with all the money, but he says he's going to defy the Congressional oversight committee and the SIGPR.  Maybe he wants to use all $2.2T to "build the wall" instead?  Or just put it all in his own pocket?  When asked if he would commit to exempting his business interests from bailout funds, he said "Let's just see what happens."
        4. Airlines must report loans within 3 days, others 14 days, not 6 months

    3. $377B: Emergency grants/loans to small businesses

        Note:
          This section updated 4/2/2020.  No changes, just additions.  Now more specific about Sections 1102 (Loans), 1106 (Loan Forgiveness), and 1107 (Grants).  Thanks to:
          • Mike Tischler, for pointing out the $10,000 Section 1110 Emergency EIDL Grants.  I'd missed that entirely.
          • Craig Rothe, for pointing out the 8 week limit on spending the Section 1102 (Loan) money, to qualify for Section 1106 (Loan Forgiveness).  I'd missed that entirely also.  I guess that's what happens when you read an 880-page legalese document at 3am!

      1. Typically businesses with no more than 500 employees per physical location
      2. Loans: "Section 1102: Paycheck Protection Program"
        1. 4% loan up to $10 million
        2. Actual amount is 2.5 times average monthly payroll for previous 12 months
        3. No payments/interest for 6-12 months
        4. Used only for employee salaries, health care, paid leave, company rent or mortgage interest, interest on existing loans, utility payments, necessities, worker protections, higher salaries for tipped employees, etc.
        5. Only for expenses incurred 2/15/2020 to 6/30/2020
        6. Administered by lenders (banks, credit unions, etc.) certified by the SBA (Small Business Association)
          1. Lender can charge up to 4% interest, and limited fees
          2. Federal government pays additional fee to lender:
            1. 5% for loans up to $350,000
            2. 3% for loans up to $2,000,000
            3. 1% for loans over $2,000,000
        7. Non-profits too
      3. Grants: "Section 1106: Loan Forgiveness"
        1. Loans above can be "forgiven" -- converted to grant, not a loan, not paid back.  100% of the loan amount, subject to the following:
          1. Only portion spent in first 8 weeks of loan
          2. Layoffs increase the percent that must be repaid
          3. Salary cuts increase the percent that must be repaid
          4. Except for employees who earn more than $100,000/year
          5. Unless laid off employees are re-hired or replaced, and salary cuts reversed, by June 30, 2020
      4. Grants: "Section 1110: Emergency EIDL Grants"
        1. Up to $10,000
        2. Grant, not loan, not paid back
        3. Keep the money even if you don't eventually qualify for loans above
        4. Used for employee salaries, health care, paid leave (sick leave or other), increased costs of materials due to disrupted supply chain, company rent/mortgage, other costs as needed due to revenue loss
        5. Only for expenses incurred 1/31/2020 to 12/31/2020

    4. $290B: Checks mailed directly to millions of families
      1. Up to $1,200 per adult (less for wealthier families)
      2. Up to $500 per child (less for wealthier families)
      3. Not taxable, since it's officially a "tax credit"
      4. Including families below poverty level who paid no taxes

    5. $280B: Business tax cuts/deferrals
      1. Payroll tax credit
        Effectively, the government pays your total payroll and healthcare costs for up to 8 weeks (2 weeks/quarter)
        1. Claimed for each quarter of the year.  Starts when gross income drops below 50% of same quarter last year.  Ends when it gets back above 80%.
        2. Credit = 50% of total "qualified wages" for that quarter of all employees not working but still being paid
        3. For companies with 100 employees or less, same credit even if the employees ARE still working
        4. Qualified wages of an employee per quarter = one month salary + one month employer healthcare costs.  Limited to $10,000/employee per year.
        5. Applies only to qualified wages paid 3/13/2020 to 12/31/2020
        6. Used to pay employer portion of "payroll taxes" (6.2% to Social Security, plus 1.45% to Medicare).  Employee portion (same percentages) still paid by employee.
        7. Any excess, above payroll taxes for current quarter, rolls over.  Can be used in future quarters.
      2. Deduct 50% of interest on business loans.  Was 30%.
      3. Deduct more losses against taxable income (more than 80% and from more years)
      4. Defer employer payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare)
        1. Was: Due monthly
        2. Now: Half due 2 years from now (12/31/2021), half due 3 years form now (12/31/2022)
        3. All costs to be paid out of the General Fund, not the Social Security Trust Funds
      5. Defer corporate/business taxes
        1. This might be a repeat of the item above (payroll taxes).  Or there might be additional deferring of corp/business taxes.  I'm not sure.  880 pages is a LOT to read.
        2. Applies to Trump hotels/resorts?
      6. Deduct cost of building improvements immediately, not amortized over time
        1. Hospitality industry only (hotels, resorts, casinos, restaurants, bars)
        2. Applies to Trump hotels/resorts?

    6. $260B: Increase in unemployment insurance benefits
      1. Additional $600/week for 4 months. 
        1. Was $300-$400/week average.  Now $900-$1,000/week average.
        2. Concern:  Unemployment may pay more than a minimum wage job, which discourages people from working. 
          1. Only for 4 months.  And we're currently all being asked to stay home anyhow.
      2. 39 weeks.  Was 12-28 weeks (varies by state), now 39 weeks.  May be extended further if Coronavirus pandemic persists.
      3. No waiting period.  Previously, no benefits for 1st week unemployed.  Now starts as soon as you apply.
      4. People not laid off.  Now available to people not actually laid off, but who can't work because of Coronavirus:
        1. Too sick
        2. Quarantined
        3. Nursing a sick household member
        4. Forced to stay home w/kids due to closed school or daycare
        5. Unable to get to work (public transit closed, etc.)
        6. Suddenly need a job because breadwinner died
        7. Place of employment is closed
        8. Had to quit for other reason due to Coronavirus
      5. People not previously covered.  All of the above now also applies to the following people who were not previously covered:
        1. Freelancers and other gig workers (independent consultants, contractors, Uber/Lyft/Amazon drivers, etc.)
        2. Part-time workers
        3. People who haven't worked long enough to qualify under the old rules
        4. "Partially unemployed" workers (hours cut by employer)
      6. Restrictions.  All of the above does NOT apply if you are:
        1. Able to be paid for working from home
        2. On paid leave (sick leave or other)
      7. Retroactive to 2019.  If your unemployment ran out in 2019, you can retroactively collect up to 13 more weeks.
      8. Paid by the federal government.  The additional benefits are paid by the federal government.  Not by employers that pay regular benefits, since they may not be able to handle the increase.
      9. Additional benefit goes to employee.  Employers and states are not allowed to reduce regular benefits because of additional benefits.
      10. Expires 12/31/2020.  These changes pretty much all expire 12/31/2020, unless they get extended.

    7. $180B: Hospitals, expanded health-care spending
      1. $100B: Hospitals and providers hit hardest by Coronavirus (especially in rural America)
        1. PPE gear for workers, testing supplies, ERs, etc.
      2. $80B: Community health centers, Medicare, Telehealth/home service, public health agencies like CDC

    8. $175B: Emergency aid for state/local governments
      1. $150B: State/local governments
        1. Min $1.5B per US state
        2. DC and territories get less
        3. $8B: Tribal governments
      2. $25B: Infrastructure grants for states

    9. $45B: FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)

    10. $31B: Schools/colleges

    11. $25B: Transit systems

    12. $25B: School meals, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), food banks, etc.

    13. Miscellaneous: I'm not sure which bucket these fall in, or how much they add up to, but you may be interested anyhow.  If they apply to you, you may have to be aware to benefit.
      1. Student loans 
        1. Payments deferred till Sept 30.  Just skip your payments.  No interest, no penalty.  Applies only to some federally sponsored student loans. 
        2. Payments tax-free when paid by your employer, up to $5,250/year.  Previously, courses taught by your employer, and tuition reimbursed by your employer, were not treated as income.  But student loans paid by your employer were.  Now, none of them are taxable income.
        3. Loans forgiven for payment periods when you had to drop out due to Coronavirus.  Don't have to be paid back.
        4. Grants not returned by you or college to federal government if you drop out due to Coronavirus
        5. Period of enrollment adjusted for federal loans, Pell grants, etc.  Not a problem if you take longer to graduate due to Coronavirus.
        6. "Satisfactory academic progress" calculation ignores credits not completed due to Coronavirus
        7. Foreign study restrictions relaxed regarding loans and grants for foreign students studying here, US students studying abroad, etc.  Can go home to a local school, switch to on-line classes, etc.
        8. Work study restrictions relaxed.  College can pay you for hours not worked due to Coronavirus.
        9. Colleges can increase grants to students impacted by Coronavirus
      2. Early withdrawal of retirement money.  In 2020, you can withdraw up to $100,000 from a retirement plan without a penalty for early withdrawal.  Don't have to wait till age 59 1/2.  Applies to IRA, 401(k), 403(b), etc.  Roth and non-Roth versions.
      3. $300 charitable contribution tax deduction.  You can deduct up to $300 that you donate to charity, from your federal taxes.  On Form 1040, even if you don't itemize deductions.
      4. REAL ID deadline pushed back a year, till at least Sept 2021
      5. Foreclosure/eviction protection 
        1. 2-6 months to pay your mortgage before foreclosure
        2. 4 months to pay rent before eviction
        3. No additional interest, penalties, fees
        4. Applies to federally backed mortgages only.  And to tenants of landlords with federally backed mortgages.
      6. No money for Trump's border wall.  Money is allocated for the National Guard to deal with the Coronavirus.  But it's explicitly NOT allowed to be transferred to the "Counter-Drug" account that pays for the border wall.



    What's NOT in the bill

    Here are additional items that are NOT in the bill.  The Democrats wanted them, but the Republicans blocked them all.  Some of this may show up in the Phase IV bill.  (This was Phase III.)

    1. $1,500 check per adult, not just $1,200.
      $1,500 per child, not just $500.
      Up to $7,500/household
    2. $200/month increase in Social Security
    3. $10,000 in federal student loan debt cancellation
    4. Free health care for those with Coronavirus
    5. Funding for vote-by-mail system for 2020 elections
    6. $25B for the US Post Office



    More info

    Full searchable text of Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III bills, and all US Code:

    1. Phase I: 28-page, $8.3 Billion "Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act", Wed 3/4/2020
      - https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20200302/BILLS-116hr6074-SUS.pdf

    2. Phase II: 83-page, $180-350 Billion "Families First Coronavirus Response Act", Wed 3/18/2020
      - https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/hres904/BILLS-116hres904eh.pdf

    3. Phase III: 880-page, $2.2 Trillion "Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act" (CARES Act)", Fri 3/27/2020
      - https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6819239/FINAL-FINAL-CARES-ACT.pdf

    4. US Code of Law.  Useful for looking up details of things like "US Code, Title 26, Internal Revenue Code, Section 72(t), 10-percent additional tax on early distributions from qualified retirement plans" that are referred to so often in Phase III above.
      - https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode

    More info about Phase III (CARES Act):

    1. Good overview, with graphs/charts showing where the money goes
      - https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/26/senate-stimulus-bill-coronavirus-2-trillion-list-what-is-in-it

    2. Another good overview, with graphs/charts (a day or two before the bill was finalized, may have some details wrong)
      - https://www.npr.org/2020/03/26/821457551/whats-inside-the-senate-s-2-trillion-coronavirus-aid-package

    3. Simple explanation of dozens of items
      - https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/25/politics/stimulus-package-details-coronavirus

    4. Brief explanations of hundreds of items (unfortunately, not searchable)
      - https://www.openthebooks.com/assets/1/6/US_Senate_Appropriations_Committee_--_Supplemental_Phase_III.pdf

    5. EXCELLENT resource!  Mentions lots of items I didn't see in any other summary (payroll tax credit, student loans, IRA withdrawals, etc.).  I would NEVER have found these otherwise, unless I read the entire 880-page document closely.  And even where I already HAD read the relevant section of the 880-page doc, it pointed out things in plain English that I had missed in the legalese. 

      For example, it tipped me off to the fact that a small business can get the federal government to pay its full payroll for up to 8 weeks, even if it does NOT have idle workers. I had failed to notice that, in section 2301.c.3.A.ii.II of the 880-page doc, where it describes the "qualified wages" of a company with 100 or less employees, it omits the phrase about "not providing services" that it DOES include in the earlier section 2301.c.3.A.i, where it describes the same for companies of 500 or less employees.  Having already read the earlier section which is very nearly identical, I zoned out and missed the few omitted words in the later section.  I couldn't believe this and many other things I found in this excellent summary, so I searched for each one in the 880-page doc, and yes, all true.  Will save me a FORTUNE this year!
      - https://taxfoundation.org/cares-act-senate-coronavirus-bill-economic-relief-plan

    6. What Democrats fought for, won and lost
      - https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/the-left-makes-a-grudging-peace-with-massive-rescue-package/2020/03/27/1d63b9a4-6f84-11ea-a3ec-70d7479d83f0_story.html

    7. Details of wrangling about unemployment insurance
      - https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/25/politics/senate-stimulus-unemployment-benefits-coronavirus/index.html

    8. Articles about Trump planning to defy Congress after signing the bill
      1. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/3/28/21197995/coronavirus-stimulus-trump-inspector-general-wont-comply
      2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/27/trump-coronavirus-inspector-general
      3. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/us/trump-signing-statement-coronavirus.html

    9. Trump approves of money for Kennedy Center
      - https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/489579-trump-defends-25-million-in-kennedy-center-funding-in-coronavirus

    If you think these sources are all biased, you can find your own sources with a search engine query like the following.  Email me any other sources that significantly add info, or that contradict what I've said here.  I'll add them to the list and update this summary.  Maybe I'll learn something in the process!

    --Fred

  11. My 3 biggest complaints about Trump

    Original Version: 2/25/2017
    Last Updated: 10/26/2018

    Here are my 3 biggest complaints about Trump:

    1. Trump is dishonorable

      Would even his biggest fans really trust him alone with their daughters?  With their money?  Would any of them honestly describe him as an "honorable" man?  I've started to ask that lately, and the answer always starts with "No, but ...".

      For example, during the campaign, Trump saw a graph of murder rates in the US.  It showed a massive DECREASE year after year for 20 years, dropping now to the LOWEST in 50 years.  He noted that after the extraordinarily low rate in 2014, the rate in 2015 was actually a little higher.  He cited that (accurately, but misleadingly and self-servingly) as "the biggest percentage increase in 46 years", claiming that crime is "out of control" under Obama.

      Here's the full graph.  See the slight uptick in 2015 that Trump was talking about?  See also what he failed to mention?  That the rate DROPPED every previous year for 6 years under Obama.  And that it was still well below the rate when Obama was elected.  How could an honorable man see that graph and claim that "crime is out of control"?  Pure scare tactics!

      At least that time the specific fact he cited was technically accurate. Later, he started to claim it was "the highest rate in 50 years", when it was actually the lowest rate.

      Since then Trump has made flat out lying the new normal, introducing the term "alternative facts", as though we can all just "agree to disagree" on facts and each be equally correct -- an effect that will persist long past his time in office.  Permanent damage has been done to the mindset and integrity of the country.

      Updated version:

    2. Trump is flighty

      He has no ability to focus on a single task long enough to actually accomplish it.  Just pokes at stuff for a while, then gets bored.  He seems to think he can just make un-informed snap decisions about whatever happens to catch his attention.

      He wants to "repeal and replace" w/o taking the time to come up with a good alternative.  Wants to "build a wall" instead of considering that most illegal immigrants enter legally and then overstay their visa.  Without considering that drug dealers can easily catapult drugs over the wall in one direction and money for it in the other direction.  Or that the border goes right through the middle of some towns with nearby buildings on each side.  So tunnels, ladders, drones, etc., are all easy ways to get past.

      I read a newspaper article that gives some serious thought to a border wall.  How effective it could really be.  How expensive.  Some stretches could cost as much as $1.7 million per migrant turned away!

      Also, how much land would have to be seized from US citizens.  How much US land would be fenced off from the US and effectively given to Mexico.  The fact that the entire riverfront area of the Rio Grande river and lakefronts of resorts on Lake Amistad would be fenced off, unavailable to US citizens for fishing, swimming, boating, etc.

      The fact that parts of the wall would be miles from the nearest road, so trucks and construction equipment can't get there.  And that other streams flow from the US into the Rio Grande.  Would they be re-routed?  Dammed up?  Allowed to flow through the wall but with grates to prevent people from passing through the gaps?  What about fish?  What about US citizens downstream who need the drinking water?

      Trump doesn't seem to have considered any of these things.  He just wants a sound bite "Build the wall".

      Here's the article:

    3. Trump is easily provoked

      He has such a huge and fragile ego that it's really easy to poke him and make him react.  Sooner or later, countries, companies, and other parties will figure out that they can predict exactly what he's going to do, just by poking at him all the time and seeing what he tweets in response.  And that they can often goad him into doing things they want just by daring him to and calling him chicken.

      If Trump had been the guy planning an invasion to end World War II, and Germany wanted to know whether he was shooting for Normandy or some other landing site, I'm pretty sure they'd have been able to goad him into showing his hand.  His tweets are not only offensive, but also very revealing.

    Dishonorable, flighty, and easily provoked.  Not the attributes I want in a president.  Do you?

    --Fred

  12. H-2B visa seasonal workers

    Original Version: 4/5/2017
    Last Updated: 10/30/2018

    I don't like to get my news second-hand.  Don't want to be swayed by potentially right- or left-leaning news sources.  I try to go by my own direct observations of candidates, issues and facts.  This is a true story from my own life.

    My wife Brita has been working crazy hours for the past 2 years, dealing with the fallout of Trump's attitude towards immigrants.  She's a landscape architect at a US-based and US-owned landscaping company that may be forced out of business.  So, she (a US citizen) may lose her job.  And worst case, we may all start noticing food shortages soon.  Here's why...

    During the 2016 campaign, Trump consistently bashed immigrants from Mexico and South America, referring to them as "rapists and murderers", claiming they smuggled drugs into the US, and rallying his fans with cries of "build the wall".  He made it such a political hot potato that Congress didn't have the heart to renew a long-standing immigation law regarding temporary seasonal workers on H-2B visas.

    In the past, there had been a cap on the number of new H-2B visas issued each year.  But if you had followed all the rules the previous year, applying for an H-2B visa, entering the US legally, working here for the season, and then returning to your home country, you were "grandfathered in".  You could get the same type of visa the next year.  The cap (65,000 in 2017) didn't apply to returning workers.  Only to new workers.

    But Congress didn't renew that law in 2017.  Suddenly, all of the seasonal H-2B workers who had been going back and forth as required for many years, were no longer "grandfathered in".  Instead, they were all treated as 1st time applicants, so only 65,000 of them were allowed to return.  I don't know how many had been returning each year, but I'd guess it was several times the number of new workers allowed each year, so probably hundreds of thousands at least.  Suddenly, the limit was 65,000 total -- both new and returning.

    These are the people who come here to work in farm fields, cut grass, dig ditches, install roofs, clean toilets in hotel rooms, wash dishes in restaurants, etc.  You've seen them all around you, everywhere you go.  You may have noticed that they're generally unobtrusive, hard-working, quietly friendly, smiling people.  They don't talk much because they're embarrassed to not be able to speak English very well.  They work long hard days, often in brutal temperatures, for cheap wages, doing the work that few American workers are willing to do. 

    Have you ever personally felt threatened by them as they worked on your house, in your garden, or in the restaurants or hotels you visited?  Did they seem like "rapists and murderers" to you?  Not to me, but that's how they'd been cast, so we changed the rules to keep them out.

    Meanwhile, Brita's boss has been following the rules for over 20 years.

    He doesn't hire illegal aliens.  Doesn't pay them under the table.  Always gets them official seasonal H2-B visas, withholds taxes, pays into Social Security and Medicaid, buys Worker's Comp insurance in case they get hurt, etc.  Entirely legal.  And very good for the US economy.  The same 12 guys come from Mexico each March, and return each December.  Nice stable family-owned small business for 20 years.  Makes enough money to support himself, his wife, and his kids.

    But in 2017, he suddenly got no visas in March, and almost went out of business.

    He tried to recruit local US citizens, offering the same $12-20/hour that he's paid in the past for simple laborers up to skilled stone masons, foremen, etc.  Brita worked crazy hours, scrambling to help find, recruit and interview about 10 people.  A couple of them didn't even show for the interview.  Another 5 or so quit within the first day or the first week, saying the work was too hard and they'd rather work in the air conditioning at McDonalds.  Or they just stopped coming to work and never said why.  One failed a drug test.  One has stayed, but is a not a great employee.

    Finally, in August 2017, I suspect Trump realized that his own hotels needed seasonal workers.  In any case, he quickly and quietly got more visas authorized, and Brita's boss got lucky.  Got his visas and brought his guys in to start work in August.  But he'd already lost about half a year's income, and permanently lost some customers.  He scrambled, pushing his crews and my wife to work long days and weekends, trying to make enough money to keep the company alive, before they all had to go back to Mexico in December.

    In March of 2018, the number of visas was again very low and Brita's boss again got none.  Again, Brita struggled to delay and appease potential customers, scrambling to try to recruit local workers.  She also ended up doing a lot more design work since the company could still get paid for her designs, even if they couldn't find workers to do the installations.  She continued working 12-hour days, often 6 days per week, just trying to keep the business from folding.  Still no luck finding any local US citizen workers.

    Her boss could try raising salaries to attract more US citizens, but then he would lose lots of customers since the Trump effect has made it so attractive to cheat.  Many of his competitors are doing fine by hiring illegal immigrants under the table, not paying any taxes, not paying into Social Security and Medicaid, not buying Worker's Comp insurance, etc.  But he wants to hire legally, pay taxes, etc., so his costs are higher and he loses a lot of customers to the competition.  If he were to pay the even higher rates that US workers seem to want, he'd never win a bid, and would go out of business.

    Finally in July 2018, again more visas were authorized.  I think the industries that use them are all being crushed, and are complaining enough to be heard a little.  Brita's boss got lucky and won the visa lottery again.  You get all or none of the visas you request.  So, some companies live and others die, at the whim of the government.

    Unfortunately, some of the crew had wised up after losing a half-year's pay in 2017.  They simply didn't go back to their families in Mexico in December.  Instead, they stayed here, desperate to find more work to feed their kids.  So, they became illegal immigrants the way so many do -- arrive legally and fail to properly leave.  How is Trump's wall supposed to help with that?  Doh!!

    Those who stayed illegally knew Brita's boss wouldn't hire them without visas, so they went to work for the competition.  Now that he has more visas, he's trying to get in touch with them, to bring them in legally, but 2 problems:

    1. They're now here illegally, and don't qualify for the visas
    2. Their new bosses are threatening to have them deported if they quit.  And if they get deported, they can't come back legally for 10 years.  So they're now hostages to a law-breaking low-paying employer.  Can never quit their job, and can never go home to their families on Mexico, if they ever want to work in the US again.

    Brita's boss had to be careful what names he put on the visas once he got them.  If he put any of the crew who stayed, he would just lose that visa.  Had to find out which guys were still eligible, and assign visas only to them and to other people they could recruit from Mexico.  So now, he has a less experienced crew, and his customers are getting lower quality patios, walls, outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces, etc.

    And Brita is again very busy, scrambling to do the designs, proposals, scheduling, plant buying, billing, etc., for the next few months in the hope that the company can do enough business before December to survive.  Otherwise, she'll be out of a job.

    So, Trump is "Making America Great Again" by:

    1. Encouraging legal immigrants to stay and become illegal
    2. Encouraging businesses to hire illegal immigrants under the table
    3. Reducing the amount of income tax being paid
    4. Reducing the amount of Social Security and Medicaid taxes being paid
    5. Causing all sorts of seasonal businesses (roofers, landscapers, construction, hotels, restaurants, etc.) to produce lower-quality products and services
    6. Forcing higher costs and thus higher prices at such businesses
    7. Forcing businesses to close, laying off even their US citizen workers like Brita
    8. Turning workers into hostages
    9. Increasing the number of workers without Worker's Comp, so if they're hurt, they go to the hospital without being able to pay their bills, so healthcare costs go up for all of us
    10. And worst of all, from my personal point of view -- depriving me of my wife, who leaves for work before 8am, rarely gets home before 9pm, and often works one or both days of the weekend.  I never get to see her anymore, for the past 2 years.  I can hardly remember what she looks like!

    Watch the news for similar stories. For example:

    I hear from my aunt Mary Jane in California that the agricultural industry there relies heavily on immigrant workers.  And with no American workers applying to work in the fields, this could become a national food crisis.  She's already seeing fields lying fallow or unharvested.

    Not good!  We need those workers!  The US economy, and perhaps the US food supply, relies on them.

    I suggest you occasionally set aside whatever news source you've been watching, and pay attention to what you personally see around you:

    --Fred

  13. 2020 "State of the Union" address

    Original Version: 2/5/2020
    Last Updated: 3/16/2020

    Want to watch the "State of the Union" address, but not have to sit through 1.5 hours of it?

    You can find it on YouTube:

    and play it at double speed.  See:

    Unfortunately, the interactive transcript is totally trashed.  Random characters, not even words.  Bummer!  But you can still read the full transcript here:

    I read through it quickly, ignoring all of the self-congratulatory fluff, and just looking for facts.  I don't have the time or resources to fact-check most of it, but 2 things jumped out at me that I DO know about:

    1. Trump said:
      "Since my election, United States stock markets have soared 70%"
    2. Trump said:
      "Our new healthcare plans are up to 60% less expensive"
      • Not true for me.  How about you?
        My healthcare plan is 30% more expensive under Trump.  At the start of 2017, it was $14,965/year.  Now $19,542/year.  Are any of you paying less in the past 3 years?  Where do I sign up?

    Have any of you checked any of his other facts.  Are they true?  False?

    I also wish he would stop trying to make us afraid of immigrants.  He cited 2 cases of illegal aliens murdering people.  That's 2 murders, out of 15,498 in 2018 (the last year I could find records for):

    That's 0.01% of the murders.  How many of the remaining 99.99% of the murders were committed by US citizens?  I have no idea.  Do you?

    What is your personal experience with legal and illegal immigrants?  I've always found them to be polite, hard-working folks, just keeping their heads down and trying to support their families.  Have you seen otherwise?  If so, please send me details.  Here's an article studying the question in depth:

    Trump also talked a lot about narcotics seized at the Mexican border.  But he totally ignored the narcotics that come in on planes, boats, and through the US mail.  What percent actually walks across the border?  I have no idea.  Do you?  Why walk it across when it's so much easier to ship it?

    All this "FUD" (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) is just because Trump wants to build a wall at the border.  But what good does a physical wall do?  It can easily be bypassed via ladder, catapult, drone, etc.  And there are far greater threats to the US than people walking in to the country.

    What about cyberwar?  The public Internet server for my little old one-man software company blocks thousands of attacks every single day, from all over the world.  How many more are aimed at our utilities, banks, infrastructure, and military?  Forget about a wall!  Why would anyone attack by walking across the border when they can easily take down our poorly protected computers, manipulate our financial markets for profit, impact our elections to support politicians who are friendly to them, etc.  Why kill the golden goose?

    Finally, if you do watch the video, pay attention to the faces of the military leaders when Trump talks about how much he's helped to make the US more secure.  Do they look to you like they believe it?

    Just sayin'...

    Hey!  Just as I finished writing this, I found that someone else has already done some fact-checking.  Could have saved myself some time.  See:

    2/6/2020 Update:
    Thanks to Phil Hostetter for sending me this additional fact-check page.  I really like the format.  A full transcript of the speech, with parts underlined and fact-check comments inserted inline.

    2/6/2020 Update:
    Thanks to Linda Swyderski for sending me this additional fact-check page:

    I skimmed it quickly, and noticed this:

    1. Trump said:
      "We have now completed over 100 miles and have over 500 miles fully completed in a very short period of time.  Early next year, we will have substantially more than 500 miles completed."
      • Not likely.
        It says that, according to Trump's U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as of Jan. 24, Trump has built only 1 mile of new fencing along the Mexican border.  The other 99 miles are all repairs to existing fencing, from before he took office.

        Wow!  After 3 years?  At a cost of how many billions of dollars?  As of 2/6/2020, I think it's $2.5B + $3.6B + $1.4B = $7.5B.  If so, consider the total cost.  In 2016, Trump's campaign estimated $8B.  In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security estimated $21.6B.  A more recent estimate is $45B, plus the costs of buying land, and an annual budget for maintenance.  If we can trust any of those numbers, it sounds like we're going to get anywhere from 1 to 6 miles of new fencing out of this project (or allocate a LOT more money).  I guess illegal immigrants won't need a ladder after all.  They can just walk around the fence.  Winning?

    2/7/2020 Update:
    From Fidelity Investments:


    1. Trump said:
      "the net worth of the bottom half of wage-earners has increased by 47 percent -- 3 times faster than the increase for the top 1 percent. ... This is a blue collar boom."
      • No, not a "boom", and certainly not blue collar.
        Fidelity says:
        • According to the Federal Reserve's "Distributional Financial Accounts", this 3-year increase (about 1.34%/quarter) was just below the average for the past 30 years, which is 1.39%/quarter. 
        • The increase mostly went to whites, college graduates and baby boomers -- those who own lots of stock.  The poorest 50% still have just 1.6% of the nation's net worth.
        • People who didn't graduate college lost $0.4 trillion in household net worth.

        So, you personally, if you're a blue collar worker, have you seen a "boom" in your net worth?

    2/16/2020 Update:
    A friend emailed me to say that if you choose your timeframe and your index VERY carefully, you can actually make the 70% SEEM true.  You have to give Trump credit for nearly 2.5 months of Obama's presidency (Election Day to Inauguration Day).  And you have to ignore both the Dow Jones and the S&P 500.  Even with that carefully chosen timeframe, both of them come in well under 70%.  You have to base it on the NASDAQ which rose 78% during that time (but only 65% while Trump was actually in office).

    It seems to me that my friend was working awfully hard to find some way to make something Trump said NOT a lie.  I give him points for creativity and for effort, but no dice! What index was next in line? Perhaps the Bloomberg KYW Philadelphia Index? Then maybe pork bellies?

    But we're quibbling over details. Trump is a con-man through and through.  You can see it in how he presents his claims, even the ones that are actually almost true.

    Trump claims record highs for the stock market under his watch, with no reference to the giant (Obama) who teed it all up for him.  And no supporting evidence or comparison to others.  Even if we give Trump credit for the 70% he claims, what about the 153% under Obama?  Oh, wait!  Maybe that's what they all meant by "Thanks, Obama!".

    Since Trump took office, yes, the stock market has continued to drift erratically upward on Obama's momentum, with occasional slumps for profit-taking for Trump and cronies.  However, it sure would be nice to get back on the track that Obama set.

    OK.  Let's ignore the slower Trump pace, and discuss the fact that the stock market HAS continued to rise.  Trump likes to brag that it's at an "all-time high".  True, but Trump can't take any credit for that.  Imagine you climbed Mount Everest with someone riding on your back.  And after you carried him to the peak, he laid your backpack on the ground and stepped on it, rising a couple inches higher.  Would he be right to claim he was the "highest climber ever!!!"?

    Trump wants you to accept his "facts" in a vacuum, as evidence that he is single-handedly "making America great".  What about the comparable stats for Obama and other presidents?  How much did the stock market go up under them?  How many trade deals did they negotiate?  How many jobs did they add?  How many Nobel Peace Prizes did they win for their work in the Middle East?  How many threats to US security did they eliminate?  How much did they work to mitigate climate change?  How much more loved and respected did they make the US as a world leader?  How much safer, wealthier, happier, and more honorable did they make us?

    Don't get all your info from Fox News and believe it without applying any of your own critical thinking.  Make some comparisons.  Do some reality checks.

    (I won't mention my friend's name here unless he asks me to.  I don't want to embarrass him by outing him as having been conned by Trump.)

    3/1/2020 Correction:
    Thanks to Jay Whitaker for challenging my numbers.  He was right.  I made a foolish mistake for a math guy.  Obama was not 253% as I first said.  Merely a FACTOR of 2.53, which is a 153% increase over the original 100%.  It was my own personal stock portfolio, not the Dow Jones, that went up over 250% during Obama's presidency.  Now corrected.

    3/16/2020 Update:
    Due to the ongoing #TrumpSlump, Trump's gain is now entirely wiped put.  After more than 3 years, the Dow Jones is back to where it started when Trump took office.  And still falling fast.  We'd have been better off stuffing our money in a mattress!

    --Fred

  14. 2020 CNN Democratic Candidate New Hampshire Town Halls

    Original Version: 2/7/2020
    Last Updated: 2/7/2020

    Want to watch the CNN Democratic Candidate Town Halls from Feb 5 and 6, 2002, but not have to sit through an hour for each candidate?

    Here are all 8 of them (Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Any Klobuchar, and Deval Patrick):

    This is a nice format.  Each candidate gets an hour, but is not just giving a speech.  Is responding to questions being asked by people in the room.  And being challenged and fact-checked, on the fly, by the moderator.

    To watch them more efficiently, click the YouTube link at the bottom right of each, to see it at YouTube directly.  Then you can play it double speed, read the interactive transcript, etc.  If you get bored, you can read ahead to find a more interesting part.  Or go back and re-read earlier parts.  Then click on that line of text to jump to the point in the video where the speaker says it.

    For details of how, see:

    --Fred

  15. Why I call Trump #SadLittleDonny

    Original Version: 2/7/2020
    Last Updated: 2/7/2020

    A friend recently told me:
    "The world watches our President deliver his State of the Union.  Regardless of what you think of the messenger, the message was about the greatness of America and the American people."

    So I went and re-read the transcript to see if he was right:

    Yeah, there was some of that in there, especially towards the end.  But the main focus of the speech was basically "I am great.  You all suck!"

    I found 42 blatantly self-congratulatory phrases.  Many of them comparing himself to Obama, and to the current Democratic candidates for President.  Clearly, this was a campaign speech.  Not to tell the Congress and the American people where things stand, and what still needs to be done.  Not to inform them about the "state of the union".  Just another Trump rally.

    Look at the list below, or at the entire transcript.  If your child talked like this, wouldn't you tell him/her it was offensive?  If they put stuff like this into a college/job application, would you expect them to be admitted/hired?  If you couldn't get them to stop trying so hard to impress people by exaggerating and lying, wouldn't you take them to a therapist to treat their mental health and learn the cause of their extraordinarily low self-esteem?

    I have a nephew who talked like this when he very young.  He was always anxiously watching your reaction, and tailoring his story to make himself look good.  You couldn't believe a word he said.  But we worked with him to get him to stop, and he eventually grew up.  Trump has never grown up.  He's still sad, pathetic, little Donny, who requires an extraordinary amount of praise, delivered constantly throughout the day, and will do anything to get it, no matter how dishonorable.

    The world watches speeches like this and laughs at the US for having elected such an immature, insecure buffoon.

    Here's the list. All exact quotes from the speech:

    1. Three years ago, we launched the great American comeback.
    2. In just 3 short years, we have shattered ...
    3. We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago ...
    4. From the instant I took office ...
    5. I moved rapidly to ...
    6. Since my election ...
    7. ... more than Government experts projected during the previous administration.
    8. Incredibly, ... lower than any administration in the history of our country.  If we had not reversed the failed economic policies of the previous administration ...
    9. Under the last administration ...
    10. Under my Administration ...
    11. In 8 years under the last administration ...
    12. In just 3 years of my Administration
    13. Since my election ...
    14. Since my election ... soared ...
    15. ... transcending anything anyone believed was possible ...
    16. ... for the first time ever
    17. ... I got it done ...
    18. With the tremendous progress we have made over the past 3 years ...
    19. ... no one would have thought possible just 3 years ago.
    20. ... predictions were that this could never be done.
    21. ... under my Administration ...
    22. ... unlike so many who came before me ...
    23. ... I also promised ... Our strategy worked ... groundbreaking ...
    24. ... my Administration reversed the failing policies of the previous ...
    25. I have raised contributions ...
    26. My Administration is determined ...
    27. My Budget also contains an exciting ...
    28. I am also proud that ...
    29. Before I took office ...
    30. I moved quickly to ...
    31. I signed an Executive Order ... massive amounts of money ...
    32. My Administration is also ... at a faster clip than ever before.
    33. I have also overseen historic ...
    34. In the last 3 years ...
    35. My Administration has undertaken an unprecedented ...
    36. Before I came into office ... historic ... unprecedented ...
    37. Last year, I ...
    38. ... my Administration is restoring ...
    39. My Administration is also defending ...
    40. So long as I am President I will ...
    41. My Administration is also strongly defending ...
    42. Last week, I announced a groundbreaking ...

    OK.  So, he's an immature, insecure buffoon, and the whole world is laughing at us.  So what?  Shouldn't we just get him some counseling?  Can't he still be a good and effective president if we all just rally behind him? 

    No.  We can't afford the risk.  Click the link below to see why this makes him such a huge national security risk.  And so ineffective and easily played.

    Thoughts?

    --Fred

©Copyright 2016-2020, Bristle Software, Inc.  All rights reserved.