Trump Campaigns Against Himself With Beauty Queen Insults

Like an alcoholic who cannot throw away his bottle of whisky, Donald Trump continues to damage his own presidential campaign with his attacks on former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. Former House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich has proven all too eager to help Donald Trump commit political suicide by supporting his misogyny. No matter how much damage they are doing to Donald Trump’s campaign, these two men of bovine proportions  cannot stop themselves from criticizing Miss Machado for allegedly having gained weight while she was Miss Universe.

In case there is still anyone who is not familiar with the issue, Donald Trump owned the Miss Universe contest in 1996 when Miss Machado won the title. During her reign as the beauty representative of Donald Trump’s enterprises, Mr. Trump himself undercut her publicity value by claiming that she had put on weight, and he did not do it nicely. He called her “Miss Piggy” and demonstrated his antagonism to her Latino background by calling “Miss Housekeeping” as if he had hired her to clean hotel rooms. You would think that Donald Trump would have enough brains to not criticize someone who publicly represented his company, but Mr. Trump has never been known for his cerebral dexterity.

Hillary Clinton brought up the matter of Donald Trump’s mistreatment of Alicia Machado during this week’s presidential debate. Instead of letting the matter quietly die, Donald Trump himself has been keeping it alive this week by continuing to criticize Miss Machado during TV interviews, stating on Tuesday that she “had gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem.” Donald Trump’s talk-alike, Newt Gingrich, added fuel to the fire by telling a gathering of Republicans “You’re not supposed to gain 60 pounds during the year that you’re Miss Universe.”

I do not believe that Miss Machado has ever gained 60 pounds. Former speaker Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, has accumulated far more than 60 pounds of excess blubber. All that is missing is for Chris Christie to join the fray.

Aside from the humor elicited by two porkers like Trump and Gingrich criticizing someone for allegedly gaining weight, Donald Trump and his surrogates are driving home the fact that Donald Trump is a man who disparages women by valuing them only for their physical appearance.

Miss Machado is now a US citizen, and we can be certain that she will join the multitude of people who once did business with Donald Trump but who can now barely contain their glee at the prospect of voting against him. One thing that Donald Trump has in common with his primary opponent Ted Cruz is that most people who actually know Donald Trump despise him. Most of the people who admire him know little about him.

Those who have expected a new and more presidential Donald Trump to emerge from the campaign are surely disappointed. Donald Trump continues to be the anti-Trump campaigner in chief.

What to do About Aleppo?

I assume I am not the only person who feels distress each day when I see a news report from Aleppo, Syria. The images of wounded children, overcrowded hospitals, and destroyed buildings is difficult to bear. To make matters worse, both Russian and Syrian airplanes seem to be purposely targeting hospitals, civilians, and aid agencies. The aid convoy that was underway to Aleppo carrying food and medical supplies, ostensibly with the consent of Russia, was destroyed by Russian aircraft under the command of Donald Trump’s buddy, Vladimir Putin.

What can be done to stop the carnage short of kidnapping Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and Russian president Vladimir Putin and putting them on trial for genocide? Europe is too militarily weak and disorganized to take meaningful action in Syria. As is almost always the case when a conflict breaks out anywhere in the world, the only country strong enough to respond is the United States.

President Obama had his chance when Bashar al-Assad crossed his “red line” by using chemical weapons against Syria’s civilian population. At that time, Russia was not yet in the war, and the US could have imposed a no-fly zone to prevent further attacks against civilians from the air. However, President Obama backed down. In October 2013 the Assad regime agreed to give up its chemical weapons by submitting them to an international coalition that would remove and destroy them.

I do not know whether Syria surrendered all of its chemical weapons or not, but chlorine gas is easy to obtain or manufacture, and recent incidents indicate that Syria is again using it against its citizens. This time, President Obama is maintaining an ominous silence about the matter.

Now that Russia is engaged in the brutality, there is little that can be done to stop the massacre in Aleppo. Declaring a no-fly zone over Aleppo and its environs could result in the US shooting down one or more Russian aircraft, and Russia has enough nuclear bombs to destroy most human life on our planet, which would include most of the Russian population, of course. Would Vladimir Putin respond to a US downing of one of its aircraft by launching a nuclear missile and thereby possibly triggering a nuclear war? No one knows. What I believe we do know is that Barack Obama is not going to take that risk. He had his chance to slow the Syrian government’s massacre, and he blew it. He is not going to get a second opportunity.

So, night after night we are going to continue to see news stories on TV about dead children being dug out from the rubble of bombed buildings and read in the morning newspaper about the latest hospital to be destroyed by Russian airstrikes.

It is too bad that the concept of Hell is a fiction. Many of you may believe that Hell actually exists, but if it did, Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin would already have places of honor in Hell’s hottest depths. If God existed, could he look down on the suffering in Aleppo with indifference? Aleppo is the greatest proof of our time that both Hell and God are no more than imaginary creations by the mind human beings, more’s the shame. If God existed, he would certainly rescue the children of Aleppo.

It’s Time for Trump to Denounce Putin

It is not a secret that Donald Trump and Russian president Vladamir Putin belong to a mutual admiration society. Well, Donald Trump apparently thinks it is mutual, but is it really? Trump admires Putin, but Putin, a former KGB agent, seems to regard Donald Trump as a Russian intelligence asset under his influence.

It is also not a secret that Vladamir Putin detests Hillary Clinton. She has been far to tough on Russia for his liking. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has responded to Putin’s favorable comments about him with fawning admiration and has even hinted that he would not defend American NATO allies against Russian aggression.

Putin is guilty of great crimes. Not only did he invade eastern Ukraine and annex Crimea with military force, a Russian missile shot down Malaysian Air Flight MH17, killing all 298 people on board the civilian airliner. Now, Russia taking part in the bombing of innocent civilians in Aleppo in Syria to the point of targeting hospitals, women, children, and aid workers. Vladimir Putin is one of the most despicable criminals alive in the world today, guilty of mass murder, yet, Donald Trump has not retracted his admiring remarks for the Russian despot. It is long past time that he did so.

Perhaps the reason that Donald Trump refuses to denounce Putin is that the Russian government is actively and illegally interfering in the US presidential election in an apparent attempt to increase Donald Trump’s chances of getting elected. Russian hackers broke into the Democratic National Committee’s servers and released embarrassing emails through WikiLeaks. Russian hackers have been probing the computers of state election officials including those of my state of Arizona. Russian hackers recently broke into the cell phones of officials of the Democratic Party, and given the information that people store on their cell phones, there is bound to be some more juicy information for Russia to release. Russia has not shown the same aggression toward Republican computers, cell phones, etc. Vladamir Putin regards Donald Trump as being much more malleable than Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump should stand up to Vladamir Putin and renounce the help he is getting from the Russian government. Instead, he invited Russia to hack into and release Hillary Clinton’s emails. Donald Trump appears to welcome Putin’s illegal support of his election campaign.

As Vladamir Putin knows and all Americans should suspect, if Donald Trump is elected president, Russia will effectively have an intelligence asset in the White House. No, I am not saying that Trump will send Putin the contents of secret American military briefings. However, Donald Trump has publicly stated that he would be reluctant to come to the aid of our NATO allies if they faced Russian aggression. With Trump in the White House, there would be no power both willing to and capable of confronting Russia if Putin decided to march back into the Baltic states or Poland. The European Union would protest, of course, but after decades of underspending on defense, Europe is far too weak to do anything but complain.

In Asia, the situation if equally worrisome. Donald Trump has been critical of China, but would he be willing to intervene if China marched into Vietnam or took over a few Philippine islands?

Cummon, Donald! Show some backbone and stand up to Vladimir Putin! You can start by deploring his hacking of American computers, Russia’s shooting down of a Malaysian airliner, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Trump-Clinton Debate: Impressions

Let me start by admitting to a prejudice. I do not think Donald Trump is mentally nor emotionally qualified to be president, and my observations about last night’s debate are almost assuredly colored by that opinion.

My first reaction when the two candidates came onstage was that Trump’s make-up artist must have purposely sabotaged his appearance. He looked older, paler, and more wrinkled than I remember ever having seen him before. That initial impression was not improved by Mr. Trump’s almost constant scowl during the debate.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, looked fresh and well made up. Her make-up seemed to enhance the smile that was on her face during most of the debate. She looked cheery and energetic in contrast to Donald Trump’s tired appearance.

I was most disappointed by Hillary Clinton’s performance, because I had expected much more of her. She was obviously well prepared and had rehearsed the answers to any questions the moderator or Donald Trump might ask. However, she did not seem to be able to think on her feet and respond in real time to some of Donald Trump’s more outrageous tactics. For example, Donald Trump broke the debate rules by interrupting Hillary Clinton frequently during the two minutes that she had to answer the moderator’s questions before the matter was opened to debate. I would have liked to have heard Hillary Clinton say something to the effect of “Mr. Trump, please show some respect and allow me to speak,” and if he had continued, she could have escalated it to “Please stop trying to bully me. Just because I am a woman doesn’t mean that I’m going to put up with your bad behavior.”

Instead, she acted more like a well-programmed robot as she recited the memorized answers to the moderator’s questions. However, she did succeed in getting under Donald Trump’s skin and causing him to lose his composure on several occasions. I think she could have triggered his triads more frequently had she been better able to react quickly.

My standards for Donald Trump were much lower, and he more or less met them. Yes, he scowled through most of the whole debate, and he showed no respect for his opponent or the moderator, but that is the type of bad behavior that one expects from Mr. Trump. His answers to questions consisted almost entirely of generalities with almost no detail, and he had an aura of exhaustion and anger.

I found it interesting that toward the end of the debate, Donald Trump questioned Hillary Clinton’s stamina. After 90 minutes of debating, she looked fresh as a daisy and he looked exhausted, but as I wrote above, he didn’t look too healthy when the debate began.

It will be interesting to see if there is any change in the polls a week from now. Much of what Donald Trump said was untrue, and he displayed a typical Trumpian disrespect for the process, but that is just the type of behavior that Trump’s supporters admire in him. They are not about to abandon him just because of one more demonstration that the guy is a jerk and most of what he says is untrue.

In conclusion, I don’t think that the debate changed many minds. I think that those who backed one or the other of the two candidates before the debate still back the same candidate. Nothing that took place during the debate was dramatic enough to change opinions. However, as I wrote above, we will have to wait for new polls before we know if the debate moved the numbers. The polls may prove me wrong.

You May Have a PayPal Credit Account and not Know it

Wells Fargo is not the only financial institution that signed its customers up for a new financial service without its customers’ knowledge or consent. I missed the news about it when it first became public a few months ago. I have since learned that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau hit PayPal with a $25 million penalty, which PayPal seems to have paid without protest.

PayPal Credit, originally called “Bill Me Later,” was launched in 2008 and soon after started popping up on consumers’ computer screens as an option whenever customers made a payment through PayPal. To entice people to use it, PayPal offered a small discount on the purchase, typically $10, and claimed it would charge no interest if the loan were paid off in a specified amount of time, usually several months. However, in many cases, once PayPal enticed a customer to chose this option, the promised discount evaporated, and the clock started ticking on interest owed.

Many of those who attempted to pay off the loan in a timely manner were unable to. PayPal delayed their payments or “lost” them, resulting in the customer’s being illegally charged additional interest plus penalties.

 I had a PayPal Credit Account, although I was completely ignorant of the fact until a strangely-worded letter arrived in the mail a few days ago. Here it is.

Dear Jack Quinn,

On March 5, 2013, you opened your PayPal Credit account. Due to a technical error, transactions on you account were not charged interest as they should have been, according to your PayPal Credit Terms and Conditions. [How Strange! Can anyone picture PayPal not charging interest on a loan?]

Effective November 10, 2016, all new transactions posted to your PayPal Credit Account will be subject to interest at an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of 19.99%. All existing transactions posted to your account prior to November 10, 2016 will not be subject to interest.

Thank you for your understanding and for being a PayPal Credit Customer. If you have any questions, please call us at 866-528-3733 Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern and Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern.

Thank You,

Customer Care

The lender for PayPal Credit accounts is Comenity Capital Bank.

I did indeed have some questions, and I promptly called the 800 number and was asked to enter my account number. Because I didn’t know I had an account, I had no number to enter, but I pressed zero, and was promptly connected to a real person.

I explained that I was calling because I had never opened and account and wanted it closed immediately. I also asked her to assure me that the account had no transactions. The representative said I had opened the account in 2014. Notice that the first line of the letters says that I opened it in 2013. PayPal and its partner Comenity Capital Bank cannot even keep their lies straight.

I won’t make a long story of it, but the representative told me that she closed my PayPal Credit account, which had no transactions. I have no way of knowing that she really closed it or just told me that she did. Any company crooked enough to open a credit account without the account holder’s knowledge or consent is crooked enough to do anything. I received no confirmation email, and if a confirmation was sent by snail mail, it is too early for me to have received it.

The representative also told me that her group was receiving a large number of telephone calls in response to the letter. I can well imagine that to be true.

I’m posting this information, because some of my readers may also be PayPal victims. If you use PayPal, it is quite likely that you also have a PayPal Credit Account that you did not sign up for. If you would like to check, the number to call is shown in the letter that I quoted above. Of course, if you do call, I cannot guarantee that you will get a truthful answer.

Trump Makes Millions from Campaign

I suppose by now everyone knows about the fake Trump University, which was not a university at all but an unaccredited scheme for ripping off “students.” Everyone has also probably also heard or read the Washington Post revelations that Donald Trump illegally uses donations to his fake charity, the Donald J. Trump foundation, to pay business legal fees. However, you may not know that Donald Trump has also turned his run for president into a profitable business by billing both his campaign and the Secret Service for use of his Boeing 757 airplane.

 The Boeing757-200, sometimes dubbed Trump One, is operated by TAG Air, Inc., one of Donald Trump’s shell companies. Its principal place of business is listed as 725 Fifth Avenue, New York City, which is the address of Trump Tower. TAG Air, in turn, leases the plane from another Trump company called DJT Operations I LLC.

Trump’s campaign funds are supplied by political donations, and Mr. Trump has figured out how to use his airplane to route many of those campaign funds into his own pocket. FEC filings show that TAG Air billed the Trump campaign $3.7 million from June 2015 through March 2016. The campaign money in turn came from Trump’s bamboozled campaign contributors.

However, TAG Air not only siphons money from the Trump Campaign. Donald Trump has also figured a way to bilk the federal government. Because it is mandatory that the Secret Service travel with political candidates, Secret Service agents also fly on Trump’s 757, and the government reimburses the Trump campaign for the cost that TAG Air charges to fly them. In other words, we American taxpayers are not only paying for Donald Trump’s Secret Service protection, part of the money we are paying ends up in Donald Trump’s bank accounts.

According to a study of FEC records conducted by Politico, through the end of August, Trump’s campaign had spent at least $8.2 million dollars at Donald Trump’s own businesses. Trump’s businesses are making much more than that from the campaign and American taxpayers, however. The government pays many Secret Service expenses directly, when they stay at a Trump-owned hotel, for example. These government payments to Trump’s businesses do not appear on FEC filings.

As Donald Trump himself once said, “It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.” Yes, running for president, win or lose, is proving to be very profitable for Donald Trump, and the money he is making comes out of the pockets of his duped political donors and of us unsuspecting American taxpayers.

As to TAG Air, one assumes that it is paying taxes on those millions of dollars in profits, but if it is, no one has yet figured out where those taxes are being paid. FEC filings show the Trump campaign payments going to TAG Air, Inc. in West Palm Beach, Florida. However, the Florida Secretary of State’s Office has no registration of a company named TAG Air. TAG Air does have a business license in Washington State but no tax reporting account.

Are any of Donald Trump’s campaign shenanigans going to cause him legal problems? Some of them undoubtedly will. He already faces multiple civil fraud charges, and more fraud investigations are in progress. There is little doubt that he will end up paying some hefty financial penalties. Possibly, after all of the fines and penalties are paid, Donald Trump will not have made money from his presidential run after all. Also, it is still an open question of any of Donald Trump’s fraudulent schemes will result in criminal charges serious enough to put him in jail.

Different Standards. Clinton Mistrusted. Trump May be Headed for Jail

Donald Trump’s followers remain loyal to him despite the fact that he has committed law and tax-code violations that could theoretically land him in jail. How many times have I heard people say that Clinton and Trump are both liars, as if the two were equally dishonest? Hillary Clinton has made several public statements about her private email server that turned out to be false. She did not reveal the fact that she had pneumonia until she practically collapsed at the 9/11 ceremony at the Twin Towers site. Why she is not more open is a mystery to me. Her penchant to secrecy does her more harm that Donald Trump’s comments ever could.

Donald Trump is in a completely different league. He tells outright lies so often that I suspect he is not even aware that he is lying. He is also a fraudster. I’m not going to list all of the examples here, but here are a few of the notable ones.

Donald Trump claimed a few days ago that Hilary Clinton started the birther movement that claimed that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. She didn’t. Donald Trump started that rumor. He stood in front of a microphone in front of a large crowd of people and made a statement that everyone knew or should have known was a boldfaced lie.

(Incidentally, zero Democratic and at least three Republican contenders were not born in the United States. George Romney was born in Mexico, John McCain was born in Panama, and Ted Cruz was born in Canada. However, all three were American citizens at birth, and no one questioned their right to run for president. Wait! I forgot! Donald Trump did mention that Ted Cruz might not be qualified to be president because of his Canadian birth.)

Donald Trump told lies that may turn out to be criminal in his advertisements for his bogus Trump University. He promised that in return for tens of thousands of dollars in tuition payments, he and people trained by him would teach the students the secret of becoming rich in real estate. Trump University took the “students'” money and give them nothing in return. It wasn’t even accredited as a university. Even the name of the business was bogus.

 Donald Trump has also bragged about his generous charitable contributions. No one has been able to find a single charitable contribution that Donald Trump has made in recent decades. He does have a charitable foundation that accepts donations from other people and has used much of the money to pay legal expenses of Donald Trump’s own enterprises. In other words, he collects donations allegedly for charitable purposes and then uses the money for his business legal expenses and possibly to pay off a Florida State official.

The Clinton Foundation has been accused of arranging meetings between its largest donors and State Department Officials. That is certainly improper conduct, if the accusations are true. However, no one questions that the Clinton Foundation engages in valuable charitable work. The Trump Foundation seems to exist to route donors’ contributions into Donald Trump’s bank accounts preserve money in those bank accounts by paying off debts that Donald Trump owes to the tune of at least $258,000.

Donald Trump supporters kept waiting for Hillary Clinton to be indicted for something or other regarding her use of a personal email server for personal business. Just what was illegal about it, no one could say. Finally the FBI concluded its investigation and Republican FBI Director James Comey, while very critical of Hillary Clinton’s conduct, admitted that she had done nothing illegal.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has multiple lawsuits and investigations in progress regarding his alleged outright fraud and tax-law violations.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has opened an investigation of the Donald J. Trump Foundation. His office has already filed a $40 million lawsuit against Donald Trump related to his fraudulent Trump University. There are also two federal lawsuits in progress, one against Trump University and its managers including Donald Trump himself and a second suit against Donald Trump personally.

Hillary Clinton is deservedly criticized for being less than honest with the American people. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has probably committed acts that will result in his impeachment if he does happen to be elected president. Hillary Clinton’s untruths have earned her the mistrust of many Americans. Donald Trump’s lies and fraudulent schemes could land him in jail.

We Need a New Congress More than a New President

As is to be expected, almost everyone in the United States, and indeed worldwide, is following the presidential campaign. As you know, the campaign features a bland candidate on the Democratic side against a candidate on the Republican side who appears to not be completely sane. I think the choice of our next president is very important, especially given Donald Trump’s ignorance of how politics work, but even if Hillary Clinton is elected, little is likely to be accomplished. Our real problem isn’t the president; it’s Congress.

Barack Obama has a high favorability rating, but he has only been able to accomplish a fraction of what he set out to do. He did get the Affordable Health Care passed, but now that we have some experience with it, it is obvious that the program requires some improvements. The Republican majority in Congress absolutely refuses to do anything to improve it.

Our public infrastructure is decaying. Roads and streets are full of cracks and potholes, bridges occasionally collapse, and our public transportation system is woefully inadequate. However, the Republican majority in Congress refuses to do fund any improvements. Fixing the infrastructure would require raising taxes on the super rich, the very people that Republicans depend upon for campaign funds. Some economists believe that our economy would grow much faster if Congress would just get off its duff and get to work.

I spend a fair amount of time in Western Europe each year. Recently, I’ve been spending most of that time in Spain. Spain has still not recovered from the economic crisis and has an unemployment rate above 20 percent. Yet compared to streets, roads, and highways in the United States, those in Spain are smooth and well maintained. Large cracks and potholes are rare. Passenger trains roll along at speeds of up to 180 miles per hour. In comparison, infrastructure in the United States looks like that of Mexico 20 years ago.

If Donald Trump wins the presidential election, it probably doesn’t matter much who occupies Congress. Nothing will get done in any case, because Donald Trump has shown great ignorance about how the system works. However, even if Hillary Clinton is elected, little is likely to be done unless American voters elect politicians to Congress who have the interest of our country at heart.

When you prepare to vote, please don’t just think of the presidential candidates. Take a look at your Congressional representatives. Have they been working for the benefit of the United States and its inhabitants, or are they obstructionists whose only purpose is to keep anything from being done?

Latinos for Trump Leader Hates Latinos

Marco Gutierrez, the self-appointed leader of the organization Latinos for Trump, was back in the news again a few days ago after once again vocalizing his hatred for people like him. You may remember that he recently said that if Hillary Clinton, Latinos would turn our lives into a culinary delight. Well, that wasn’t exactly what he meant to say, but that’s how the message came across to those of us who like Mexican food. His exact words were: “My culture is a very dominant culture. And it’s imposing, and it’s causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re gonna have taco trucks every corner.”

I think he meant that to be a threat, but his remarks had the unintended effect of convincing taco lovers across the nation that they should vote for Hillary Clinton. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to walk down to the end of the street to buy some fresh, delicious tacos?

Mr. Gutierrez, who is himself an immigrant from the state of Jalisco in Mexico, made headlines again a few days ago when he told a reporter in a television interview, “As Hispanics, we are a primitive and underdeveloped culture. We’ll take whatever we can take if you let us.” When asked if that means that Americans should bge frightened of Mexicans, Gutierrez replied, “Yes, you should be very frightened.”

I estimate that about half of the people on my two-block long street are Hispanics, either immigrants from Latin America or people of Latin American descent born in this country. Am I supposed to start being afraid of these people whom I have called friends and neighbors up till now? Should I be afraid of Eddie (Eduardo), who lives across the street from me and with whom I have spent hours shooting the bull. I am surprised to learn that he is primitive and underdeveloped. His lawn and house certainly look a lot better than mine, because he is constantly working on them while I sit around and read while the grass in my lawn grows wild.

Should I be afraid of the grandfatherly Jesús, who was born in Mexico but who a few years ago proudly showed me his new United States passport. In those days, he carried it around in his pocket, ready to pull out and proudly show to anyone on the slightest pretext. Is this kindly old man also primitive and underdeveloped?

I think people who admire Donald Trump would also like me to be afraid of some of my other neighbors. There are two families from the Philippines, at least two Native Americans, one black family, and at least two single black men. Oh, yes, and there are also a number of us who are of white European descent. The only person to ever live in our neighborhood and make life for the rest of us miserable was one of those. Of course, I have nothing against white Europeans. I am one myself. I have British as well as United States nationality.

I love my ethnically diverse neighborhood. I would find it very boring to live with people who all look, act, and think as I do.

I should mention that the Trump campaign has not exactly welcomed Mr. Gutierrez with open arms. Trump spokesperson Jon Cordova recently stated, “Marco Gutierrez is not a surrogate for the Donald Trump campaign and only represents his own views, not the position of the campaign.”

Obamanomics is Kicking in

Contrary to what Donald Trump has been preaching, the combination of Barack Obama’s economic policy and the Federal Reserve Bank’s monetary policy is working. The economic well-being of the average American family is almost back to what it was at the end of the Clinton presidency before it took a drastic drop during the George W. Bush administration.

This week the Census Bureau issued reports on income, poverty, and health insurance. There was good news in all three categories. The median family income rose 5.2 percent to $56,500 in 2015; the poverty rate declined; and there was an increase in the number of Americans covered by health insurance.

Republicans have claimed that President Obama’s modest increase in the taxes on the rich would stifle economic activity by destroying the incentive that rich people have to invest. That turns out to not have been true.

What is true is that the income of the average worker measured in inflation-adjusted dollars is not yet quite back to where it was at the end of the Clinton administration, but it is far above where it was when President Obama took over from the economically disastrous presidency of George W. Bush.

One of the criticisms of the Obama recovery has been that only the people at the top of the income and education scales were profiting from higher wages. Now there is proof that the economic improvement is also helping those at the bottom of the ladder who work at low-skilled, entry-level jobs. Anecdotally, I can report that here in Phoenix, help wanted signs are popping up all over and have become almost as common as they were during the Clinton administration. True, the jobs offered in the retail, lodging, and restaurant trade are probably not high paying. However, with the competition for unskilled and semi-skilled workers heating up, employers are being forced to raise wages to attract employees.

Part of President Obama’s economic policy has been to distribute benefits, such as health insurance, to those near the bottom of the economic ladder. Republicans said that would never work and lobbied for giving benefits to the wealthy, arguing that only by having wealth trickle down from the rich to the poor would the economy improve. The statistics released earlier this week prove that the Republicans were wrong.

There is still work to be done. The Affordable Care Act, commonly know as Obamacare, has some problems that need to be fixed. However, House Republicans refuse to fix them. Instead, they take vote after vote to repeal Obamacare altogether. They take these infantile votes simply to pat each other on the back for opposing any progress that might make Obama look good. They are like kids who congratulate each other after vandalizing property.

House Republicans need to stop being obstructionist and to start thinking about the well-being of the United States and its people instead of engaging in frivolous political games. If they refuse to get to work and do the job they were elected to do, they should be voted out of office and replaced by representatives who put the welfare of the country above their callow political ideology. I hope voters will keep that in mind when going to the polls in November.

It is also worth remembering that electing a president who is not up to the job can be disastrous. President George W. Bush presided over the worst economic crisis in modern US history and got us involved a war in Iraq that has transformed the world into a less secure place. Now Donald Trump wants to be president, even though he is even much less qualified for the job that George Bush was. The mess that George Bush put this country through was bad enough. Can you imagine just how bad things could get if we elect a president who doesn’t even know how to read a book?