Will Biden Erase The National Debt?

There is a distinction between national debt and deficit. For example, the United States had an awe-inspiring $26.70 trillion in debt as of August 31, 2020. But that doesn’t account for budget deficit, which changes with each new budget that passes through the U.S. Congress. Debt is how much the United States owes to lenders. Deficit is the net “income” of our country. It’s usually in the negative numbers. That means we’re not making more money than we spend, which is why the national debt continues to grow.

To answer the obvious question: no, President Biden will not “erase” the national debt. It’s impossible. The best any president can hope for right now is to ease the increasing budget deficits and right this ship before it sinks any further.

It’s not like the United States government can hire a debt settlement lawyer to wipe the slate clean. And our national debt is projected to continue growing. Is anyone worried about it? These days, only the party opposition — and then once the tables turn and the opposition is in power, they seem less inclined to care. This trend could result in a number of doomsday scenarios.

Right now, borrowing money from other countries — like, say, China — isn’t as big a problem because interest rates are historically low. But the real worry of growing debt is that sooner or later the United States could default on a payment, lowering our credit rating in the eyes of the world, and making it harder or impossible to secure future borrowing. And you never really know when we might need to borrow.

Another obvious scenario results from foreseeable events. The less money the country has onhand, the more difficult it is to fling it around. And why would we need to “fling it around?” Because man-made climate change will result in rising tides, populations shifting, erratic weather, natural disasters, and perhaps more frequent pandemics — and we don’t need more of those. With less money, we can expect a reduced response.

The CBO also warns: “If the federal debt stayed at its current percentage of GDP or increased further, the government would find it more difficult to undertake similar policies [another stimulus] under similar conditions in the future. As a result, future recessions and financial crises could have larger negative effects on the economy and on people’s well-being. Moreover, the reduced financial flexibility and increased dependence on foreign investors that accompany high and rising debt could weaken U.S. leadership in the international arena.”

The CBO added, “That increase in interest rates would reduce the market value of outstanding government bonds, causing losses for investors and perhaps precipitating a broader financial crisis by creating losses for mutual funds, pension funds insurance companies, banks, and other holders of government debt — losses that might be large enough to cause some financial institutions to fall.”

Controversial Equality Act Passed In The United States House Of Representatives

The Equality Act’s passage in the United States House of Representatives was lauded as a huge win for the LGBTQ+ community — even though it has a long way to go if it wants to pass a very divided Senate. The new bill would guarantee equality and criminalize discrimination on employment or renting on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Needless to say, Republicans aren’t having it.

Conservative lawmakers have continually said that we should all “trust the science” and that there are only two genders, which, of course, God decided — not us. Of course, science says something completely different (as it so often does).

According to Ignacio T. Moore, a biological sciences professor for Virginia Tech, “Sex is a biological term, gender is a social construct. In other words, gender can vary with society and culture.”

The Native Americans, for example, were noteworthy for having many different genders and gender identities. 

A clinical assistant professor at Brown University, Dr. Jason Rafferty, said, “What science really tells us is that it is more complicated.”

Rafferty added, “Human nature is diverse in many ways that goes beyond simply biological and anatomical differences between people, and we are coming to understand that gender is such a characteristic that can be both complicated and personal. A person’s gender identity may be masculine, feminine, a combination of both or neither, or it may shift over time.”

The CDC defines gender as “the cultural roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes expected of people based on their sex.”

Should the Equality Act become law in its current form (which seems unlikely), then businesses would no longer have the option of denying service to a person or persons simply because they are gay or transgender on the basis of religious freedom.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 5.6 percent of adults living in the United States identify as LGBTQ. But identity and orientation are two very different things.

Trump Casino Demolition Turns Political

To say Trump had an impact on the United States of America — love or hate him — is a massive understatement. He left by reminding us of the deep divides we harbor, of the differences between us all, having failed to bring Americans together in any meaningful way. It should be no surprise then, when a failed hotel and casino were demolished last week to a cheering crowd. 

The New Jersey casino opened in 1984, long before Trump’s string of failures led to its bankruptcy. He decided to remove himself from this particular business venture in 2009, but the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City would always cement his failed legacy by using his name — until the demolition by 3,000 sticks of dynamite last week, anyway.

Former casino events manager Bernie Dillon said, “The way we put Trump Plaza and the city of Atlantic City on the map for the whole world was really incredible. You had Madonna and Sean Penn walking in, Barbra Streisand and Don Johnson, Muhammad Ali would be there, Oprah sitting with Donald ringside. It was a special time. I’m sorry to see it go.”

Of course, not everyone feels the same way. Many lauded the event as symbolic of Trump’s failures but watched with glee as the demolition seemed to put an exclamation point on his most recent failure: obtaining a second term. 

Others tried to put a more nostalgic cap on the event.

Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small said, “As you heard the dynamite, the explosives go off, it just sent chills. [The casino] meant a lot to so many people. People made a livelihood there, it provided a lot of jobs and people were able to purchase homes. And during its heyday, all the big time fights, the Mike Tyson fights, were there.”

Spectators needed to pay only $10 to watch from their vehicles, and they cheered as the building came down in a puff of smoke and dust. The demolition took only twenty seconds. The building had been 34 stories tall. And the proceeds from the event added up to $16,000. Small had hoped for $1 million. Whoops.

There was an initial auction for seats and special overnight packages to enjoy the event — Small’s idea — but the property owner objected on grounds that it might lead to unsafe conditions around the demolition site and the auction house canceled. 

Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino was one of the worst performing casinos in Atlantic City by the time it went out of business in 2014. The empty building lay dormant and unused for seven years, quickly falling into disrepair. We note, however, that this casino wasn’t the only one enduring financial struggles — especially since 2008 — and that Atlantic City has experienced a slide in casino-related tourism for more than a decade as visitors choose sites in Vegas or other cities instead.

Want to watch the demolition for yourself? Check it out:

Understanding Trump’s Impeachment Trial Acquittal

57 United States senators voted to convict Donald Trump, including every single Democrat and Republicans Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and Pat Toomy. This was ten votes short of the two-thirds majority required to successfully convict a president, which is an extremely high bar in such a fragmented Congress. Five people died in the Capitol riot on January 6. Two police officers who were there committed suicide in the days and weeks directly after the riots.

Why did the majority of Republicans vote to acquit the former president? Very few Republicans argued that the president was not guilty of the crimes laid out before them. Instead, they argued that Trump could not be convicted because the trial of a former president was unconstitutional. This is untrue according to many Constitutional scholars. There is also precedent for impeaching a former public official. 

Trump’s acquittal means he is free to run for office again, including for president in 2024 — an event that he has said repeatedly will probably happen. 

Former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voted to acquit the former president, but he also had some of the harshest words to level: “There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president. And having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.”

He added: “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations has run. He didn’t get away with anything yet. Yet.”

Trump is the subject of a number of investigations right now, including for tax fraud and illegally trying to compel Georgian officials to “find votes.”

The Second Trial Of Donald Trump: UPDATE

Impeachment is the only means available to remove a corrupt president from office — and it should come as little surprise that the mechanism has been employed twice to attempt to remove Trump. He’s the most corrupt politician to ever hold the office of presidency. But now that Trump is out of office, many are asking a simple question: “Why bother?” There are a couple really good reasons to hold another impeachment trial for Trump’s wrongdoing. 

Trump was impeached twice for abusing the power of the office of the presidency, but he has been accused of innumerable crimes during his stint in office. He is under investigation for potential tax fraud, he broke the Impoundment Control Act when he withheld funds from Ukraine, he shimmied around the Emoluments Clause when he resisted separating himself from his business ventures. His failures in office parallel his failures outside of office: not one to choose bankruptcy alternatives over bankruptcy himself, he has remained wealthy even after his businesses declared bankruptcy six times. Trump himself is in enormous debt. 

One reason to hold another trial is because it’s important to hold our elected representatives accountable for illegal or corrupt activity while they’re in office. Successful accountability improves the chances that the next president will stay in his lane. But that’s less likely with an acquittal, which at this point seems more than likely.

The next reason is the most important. A successful Trump conviction would allow the Senate to bar Trump from ever holding public office again. We imagine Republicans would love the opportunity to accomplish this feat, considering many of the Republicans who seem forced into their cult-like relationships with the man are likely planning to run for president themselves in 2024. Too bad for them, since Trump has routinely teased another run for president in 2024. He’s even teased creating his own political party. No one should be shocked if he starts his own news channel.

Chief Justice Roberts will not preside over this trial as he did the last one, citing that it is not his responsibility because Trump is no longer in office. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy will preside as president pro tem of the Senate.

You’ll want to know the name of Maryland’s Representative Jamie Raskin, who took on the role of lead impeachment manager and will similarly take on the role of chief prosecutor during Trump’s trial. Other prosecutors include: Diana DeGette, David Cicilline, Joaquin Castro, Eric Swalwell, Ted Lieu, Stacey Plaskett, Madeleine Dean, and Joe Neguse.

Trump’s first team of lawyers quickly fled the scene and abandoned him. Reports suggest that Trump had urged them to lay the foundation of his case on widespread voter fraud during the election, accusations that have been debunked repeatedly even by members of his own administration. Lawyers cannot openly refute or lie about facts when they make a case. Doing so is grounds for disbarment. 

We expect impeachment managers to provide new insight into the Capitol riots when they begin to make their case. Expect it to be an emotional day.

What Should You Expect From Impeachment Trial Number Two?

The historic second impeachment of former president Donald Trump set up yet another showdown between Democrats, who would like Trump to be held accountable, and Republicans, who say they believe a former president cannot be impeached (even though he was impeached before he left office, and Mitch McConnell had the power to reconvene the Senate to begin the trial before Biden’s inauguration as well). 

What you shouldn’t expect is a conviction. Republicans have shown little stomach for asking Trump to take responsibility for his (many) crimes in office, and they are expected to acquit the former president a second time. There are rumblings that as many as five to ten Republicans will join a more-than-likely unanimous Democrat vote to convict.

During a vote on whether or not the trial should move forward at all, most Republicans voted “no.”

Susan Collins (S-Maine) said, “Do the math.”

The strength of the case against Trump is stronger than any impeachment case in history, and some Democrats have said that if Trump is not convicted, the impeachment clause might as well be scrapped. The representatives and senators were there on the day of the capitol riot — in fact, they were the targets. To think that any among them could vote to acquit is unthinkable.

A House impeachment brief said that “terrified members [of Congress] were trapped in the Chamber; they prayed and tried to build makeshift defenses while rioters smashed the entryway … some Members called loved ones for fear that they would not survive the assault by President Trump’s insurrectionist mob.”

One year ago, Senator Mitt Romney was the only Republican to vote with Democrats to convict the then-president Trump of abuse of power while in office. He is expected to make the same vote for a second time.

Almost more than a year ago, Romney said, “As a Senator-juror, I swore an oath, before God, to exercise ‘impartial justice.’ I am a profoundly religious person. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential.”

Democrat-Controlled House Passes Equality Act Without Republic Support

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives recently passed the historic Equality Act, which strengthens LGBTQ+ protections across the board — but especially within the federal government, where former president Trump consistently removed or dumbed down those protections. Biden also revoked Trump’s ban on trans individuals serving in the armed forces. Only a few Republicans joined the effort to pass the Equality Act, which is unlikely to pass with majority support in the Senate, which is evenly split.

That’s because several moderate Democrats have already displayed skepticism about the wording of the bill, which remains controversial within the government even though 70 percent of Americans — and majorities in every state — support laws that strengthen LGBTQ+ rights.

Before Biden entered office, the job of any discrimination lawyer was only getting harder — even though the increased spate of hate crimes against minority populations was growing during the Trump era. We have Trump’s anti-LGBTQ+ stance to thank for that.

Without the Equality Act, Americans can still be fired or evicted based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Republicans who oppose the law frequently say that this is not true — but it is. 

A Washington Examiner article recently written by an anonymous individual: “The Equality Act’s purpose is to add to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit housing and workplace discrimination on the basis of ‘sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.’ But this is unnecessary because the Supreme Court’s recent decision Bostock v. Clayton County already prohibits such discrimination.”

The author adds that Liberals in the Senate know all about the aforementioned decision, but they are sneaking “anti-science” ideas into the Equality Act to implement protections based on gender identity.

Representative Al Green (D – Texas) said, “You used God to enslave my foreparents. You used God to segregate me in schools. You used God to put me in the back of the bus. Have you no shame? God created every person in the room. Are you saying that God made a mistake?”

Green made a powerful point: conservative members in government have used religion to justify every argument they’ve ever made regarding discrimination, equality, or civil rights — and they continue to do so even in 2021. 

He made those comments in response to Representative Greg Steube (R – Florida), who said, “‘A woman must not wear men’s clothing nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.’ When men or women claim to be able to choose their own sexual identity, they’re making a statement that God did not know what he was doing when he created them.”

The irony is that Steube obviously doesn’t know that sexual identity, sexual orientation, and gender identity are all different: you might choose your sexual identity, but you can’t choose your sexual orientation. But gender identity is used to describe feelings, more similar to sexual orientation in definition. “Identity” is always a choice, but who you are is not. Republicans would do well to take note of actual science rather than relying on the fringe worries of only a few.

Why Do Republicans Remain Skeptical Of The Presidential Election Results?

Recent surveys suggest that over half of Republicans believe that the election was stolen from soon-to-be former President Donald J. Trump. There are a number of reasons why this might be, not the least of which is that Trump himself, his lawyers, and a number of his allies in Congress have all been parading themselves in front of TV cameras lying about how the election was fraudulent. To some, it would seem unthinkable that these lies could be believed by anybody else considering how easy they are to fact check.

But the truth becomes more obvious when you look at other surveys that have asked thousands of Republicans where they find the news. Some will say Fox News, of course, but the vast majority look to the president himself for insight into what’s happening in the world. And that’s a problem since he’s the primary source of misinformation.

Conspiracy theories have also run rampant during this election cycle. QAnon is a favorite of the far-right fringe, no matter how many of the “Q” claims have been debunked. Dozens of QAnon events have been predicted on or around exact dates, and virtually all of them have passed without notice. But conspiracy theorists continue to believe that predicted events leading up until the next presidential inauguration (only six days from today) will result in Trump’s second term in office.

Psychologists also suggest that part of the reason for Trumpism’s influence on politics is the simple redundancy of the lies he spews on a daily basis. Even people who were at first skeptical of some of the things that Trump says have come to take him at his word. This is because, psychologically, if we hear a lie repeated often enough, about half of us will begin to believe it.

Trump lost the election, and his repeated attempts to subvert the American democracy have led to two impeachments. Will the violence continue? Will Trumpism outlive his presidency? Scarily, it seems the answer is “yes” to both questions.

Are The Boy Scouts Of America Associated With A Political Party?

Whether or not the Boy Scouts of America are associated with a political party is a question worth asking. The organization is essentially a club, which means that scout leaders are technically allowed to teach the kids whatever they like. Considering the current scandal regarding the abuse of our children by scout leaders, knowing who the organization does or does not support — and which organizations support the scouts — seems even more important.

The Boy Scouts of America (or BSA) does not enforce a political party. BSA leaders seem to subscribe to the “country before party” doctrine, which means they support whichever leaders best embody American values — something that political parties rarely do when there’s a choice between that and getting reelected.

That’s not to say they don’t participate in “political” events. BSA Eagle Scout Bryan Wendell wrote in 2018: “Troop 605 from Rocky River, Ohio, provided [a color guard flag ceremony] at a 2016 political event in Cleveland. (Nice job Nick S., Tristan A., Grayson N. and Erik H.! The troop served as color guard and then immediately left the stage and the premises. They provided a patriotic service and departed before things got political.”

BSA members are allowed to conduct these types of ceremonies even at an individual candidate’s rally or campaign event, but there are rules they must follow. Most importantly, they can stay only for as long as it takes to present the scout colors and perform the Pledge of Allegiance, and no longer. Individual members can stay if those members want to support someone on their own, but they’re required to remove uniform and any other means of scout identification first.

The reason is that the BSA does not endorse specific candidates or their parties. Should the BSA members be allowed to stay beyond what is deemed “patriotic,” then it might be portrayed as such by the media and other organizations. The BSA considers presentation of colors and recitation of the pledge as one of those aforementioned “patriotic services” and not an endorsement. The BSA does not ask individual members not to vote.

The BSA still takes several controversial stands, such as can be conveyed through its own “Scout Oath”:

On my honor I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my country

And to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong,

Mentally awake, and morally straight.

The associations with religious belief are why it took so long for the scouts to condone homosexuality and allow scout leaders to be openly gay. It is also for this reason that the BSA did not allow scouts to be openly agnostic or atheist. What’s controversial about these stances? Simple: young children have impressionable minds, and they are much more apt to misunderstand what it means to support God and country — if they can conceive of these concepts at all.

What Would Joe Biden Do With The Presidency?

Presidential elections between Trump and a contender usually only happen one way: attack, attack, attack. It can be difficult to sift through the information available — the actual facts, not the misinformation or conspiracy theories Trump is so famous for — when both candidates spend more time attacking the other than actually putting forth their own plans for the presidency. That’s one of the reasons why Biden was such a weak candidate and, arguable, why Trump won his first term. 

What would Joe Biden do in his first 100 days. Believe it or not, he has a plan outlined. Of course, much of that plan was hinged on the likely outcome of a Democrat-controlled  House and Senate.

One of Trump’s biggest hurdles to winning the presidency was the issue of race, for which he received terrible marks even from his own voters. That’s probably why one of Biden’s priorities was the Equality Act.

Biden explained, “I will make enactment of the Equality Act a top legislative priority during my  first 100 days — a priority that Donald Trump opposes. This is essential to ensuring that no future president can ever again roll back civil rights and protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, including when it comes to housing.”

“Too many states do not have laws that explicitly protect LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination,” he added. “It’s wrong to deny people access to services or housing because of who they are or who they love.”

For Trump supporters, the Equality Act — passed last year by a Democrat-controlled House — was the choice between minority equality and religious freedom. The Equality Act would increase protections provided to minorities in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and completely ban any discrimination still legal in sectors like housing, jury selection, public accommodation, and employment. Specifically included are protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Trump notably stripped these protections from LGBTQ+ federal employees during his term.