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Member since: Sat Oct 29, 2005, 10:28 PM
Number of posts: 8,138

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MSNBC actually hostile to Biden. Matthews, Kornacki, and Reid definitely. NT

So why did candidates in tonight's debate not "lay a glove on Biden" as Brian Williams noted, as

had been expected? Not even in a veiled way.

We can alleviate outstanding student debt without total amnesty

We can alleviate outstanding student loan debt without breaking the bank

1. Allow bankruptcy discharge for those who qualify
2. Cut interest rates on outstanding debt. Compounded interest is what blows up loans so that debtors end up paying triple or quadruple the amount of the original loan, with a low percentage of monthly payments going to principal
3. Actually give forgiveness to eligible applicants. The federal forgiveness program is not functioning. 98 % of eligible applicants are turned down or their applications not processed. These are folks who have paid over several years, and fulfilled eligibility requirements.
4. Freeze interest during forbearance and hardship periods as well as the period during which payments can be suspended for those who have been out of college for up to nine months and return.
5. Make it more possible for low income seniors to discharge their loans. Right now they have to have paid regularly and on time for ten years. Make it five. Raise the income level for eligibility. Seniors 65 and over who go into default have their social security, up to 15 Percent, garnished. Currently, a very small percentage of seniors qualify for forgiveness.

These and similar or additional measures won’t cost trillions and yet still have a positive financial impact on a large number of debt carriers. At the same time, people who paid loans off diligently and at financial sacrifice over many years can feel the system fairly recognizes their effort.

We need to prioritize spending in real dollars and political capital. As to debt, many forms of debt from mortgages to credit card to medical debt seriously weigh on individuals and the economy.

People may not have taken out school loans, or have paid them off, but be losing their homes to debt they incurred while able to pay, only to find that a job lay-off, a small business decline, medical expenses or any change in fortune puts them in foreclosure. In many cases, elderly lose their homes where they thought to spend their last days.

Big ticket initiatives should not favor only one voting demographic. And we can lower the ticket price working with existing programs, giving sensible breaks to people in need, and making changes that may be less sweeping, but do not offer lopsided relief in one area at the expense of another.

Good news about our aging candidates' minds--they got potential! By the way, only some, by no

means all seniors go on to dementia or Alzheimer’s, a brain disease which can manifest itself much earlier than conventional wisdom would have us believe.

New studies show that judgement and decision making can improve. Further, cognitive reserve and experience can add up to “wisdom” in solving bigger, more complex problems.

The Potential of the Aging Mind
Sandra Bond Chapman PhD from HuffPost blog

If you continue to stay active mentally by challenging yourself to think more deeply, avoiding constant distractions and information overload, and learning new skills and information, chances are your best brain years are still ahead of you, not behind you.

While it is true that many brain processes decline as we age, that is only part of the story. As brain health experts, we are discovering there is more to be celebrated than to be feared. Some brain functions actually improve as we grow older. In fact, as long as no disease is present, the majority of seniors continue to have the capacity to continue to learn new things and make sound decisions.
New research conducted by Joshua Hartshorne at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows us different mental processes peak at different ages. For example, the study finds we tend to be best at remembering facts such as names, dates and places in high school. But this processing speed begins to decline quickly at age 18. Similarly, the amount of information we can remember and use at any given time, called working memory, functions best in our mid-20s. But other abilities, such as emotional intelligence and improvement in vocabulary do not peak until decades later.

As The Wall Street Journal notes, the Hartshorne study examined a number of different brain processes that make up intelligence, rather than viewing intelligence as a single measure as has traditionally been done. At the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas, we, like Hartshorne, feel it is important to examine cognitive health and aging from a broader and more comprehensive perspective.

A few years ago, our BrainHealth team embarked on one of the first-ever studies to examine the link between age, cognitive health and decision-making capacity. Many previous studies had documented a decline in the ability to think logically and solve problems as a person ages. However, these studies had a major weakness: they tended to ignore positive age-related factors such as extensive life experience, reasoning ability and accumulated knowledge that can preserve and even enhance decision-making ability.

More at https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-potential-of-the-aging-mind_b_7989946

Democrats can't afford to ignore Asian American voters in 2020

By Lindy Li

Given that Asian American voters could provide the margin of victory in battleground states such as Nevada, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan, Democrats must make a concerted effort in 2020 to encourage them to vote and to convert the Trump supporters among them.

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, as good a time as any to reflect on the political power of a community that doesn't always get the same attention as other minority groups. Asian Americans are incredibly diverse, making generalizing on topics, like voter patterns, difficult. The fastest growing in the country, this population includes Vietnamese, Filipino, Korean, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and other ethnicities. And each of these groups demonstrates a different level of support for President Donald Trump. For example, according to an October 2018 APIAVote poll, 64 percent of Vietnamese Americans approved of Trump, while only 14 percent of Japanese American voters did.

Granted, Trump did not win the general Asian American vote in 2016, securing just 18 percent. And this figure, too, cloaks sharp internal differences, with 4 percent and 24 percent of Pakistani and Chinese Americans supporting him, respectively. Meanwhile, 32 percent of Latinos supported the GOP in 2016. And yet, the question for many remains: How does one explain why anyone of immigrant heritage would support a man who makes xenophobia a centerpiece of his agenda?

For my own family and other immigrants from countries with painful communist pasts, America was more than Winthrop’s "city upon a hill." America symbolized opportunity, freedom and boundless promise — in short, everything our birth country was not. So when Democrats shifted noticeably leftward, many of these immigrants were aghast.

To continue reading:


What is happening legislatively on stopgap measure to provide emergency funding for migrants

Request for funding to care for unaccompanied migrant children and adults and to hire new judges for asylum claims coming to floor this upcoming week.

Far from enough help, not fast enough, doesn’t address children with families, or the many human rights violations, but such as it is, what’s going on. Read news story for more.

Congress is nowhere near agreement on any major immigration law changes. As a stopgap, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved a modified version of the emergency funding request by a 30-1 vote. It's on its way to a floor vote next week.

The bipartisan vote likely means that the Senate will take the lead in writing the legislation, which needs to pass into law before the House and Senate leave for vacation next week. A spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee chairwoman, Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said the panel has drafted its version of the measure and expects a bipartisan vote early next week.

The legislation contains $2.9 billion to care for unaccompanied migrant children — more than 50,000 have been referred to government care since October — and $1.3 billion to care for adults. There's also money to hire new judges to decide asylum claims.

To win Democratic support, the panel's chairman, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., agreed to drop Trump's request for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds, where adults and a small number of families are held, and agreed to a Democratic provision to block any of the money in the legislation from being diverted to building a border wall.


Obama, others warned Trump that pulling out of Iran nuke deal could lead to war

By Dan De Luce

WASHINGTON — To supporters of the Iran nuclear deal, it's no surprise that President Donald Trump is now facing a potential war with Iran.

Long before Trump was elected, advocates of the nuclear agreement — including then-President Barack Obama, French President Emmanuel Macron and others — had argued that abandoning the accord carried grave risks that could lead to an armed conflict.

"So let's not mince words. The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war — maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon," Obama said in a speech in 2015 defending the deal before a congressional vote.

Trump as a candidate vowed to dump what he called "the worst deal ever" and he made good on his promise in 2018. A year later, Trump is openly discussing the pros and cons of bombing Iran


For Biden Fans: a lasting legacy

What Biden's 36 years experience in foreign policy might reveal about a Biden presidency

From “Slate”

The former vice president has more foreign policy experience than any other candidate. But his record isn’t all what you’d expect.

Joe Biden enters the 2020 campaign as the only Democratic candidate with any experience in making foreign policy, and that experience is immense: 36 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (12 as chairman or ranking member), eight years as vice president, probably more knowledge of the full range of global issues than anyone else on the political scene. So what does this long record reveal about how he might behave as commander in chief?

It’s a mixed picture, as one might expect of someone who was born during World War II, grew up amid the rise of America’s global dominance, first ran for Senate during its disastrous comeuppance in Vietnam, then played an active, sometimes shifting role in the debates on subsequent interventions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond.

Above all, and in starkest contrast to President Donald Trump, Biden has always been a champion of the alliances that he sees as the foundation of U.S. power and values— especially NATO but also with nations in Asia and the Western Hemisphere. He is also—contrary to Trump as well as some of his rivals in the upcoming primaries, notably Sen. Bernie Sanders—an unabashed free trader.

He entered the Senate, in 1973, as a foe of the Vietnam War, which had left him and many others skeptical of America’s ability to be the world’s policeman. As late as 1990, he voted against authorizing President George H.W. Bush to use military force against Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait.

Continue reading

As early as 2012, Joe Biden's influence as a Vice-President was being noted; Obama handed

him several critical assignments and he proved not only a loyal supporter, but a highly effective
negotiator. This article is but one of many which point out how Biden transformed the office to become a key player in the West Wing. It was not merely out of personal friendship that President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

From the fiscal cliff to gun control to Afghanistan, Scranton's favorite son has transformed himself from affable gaffer to West Wing powerhouse.

Barack Obama just can't get enough out of Joe Biden these days. And anybody who's been following Biden's steady ascent in stature over the last several years -- from gaffe-happy presidential contender to one of the most powerful vice presidents in U.S. history -- couldn't be less surprised.

Perhaps the only surprise at all is that, in contrast to a year ago, it took Biden quite this long to become the president's point man on the latest round of fiscal talks. The exact reason for the delay is not clear. Perhaps it is that, only a week and a half ago, Obama had called on his vice president to lead a commission to expedite recommendations on a truly serious national issue, gun violence (as opposed to the present trumped-up issue, fiscal reform, which requires only the smidgeon of political courage necessary to depart from ideological rigidities). Maybe Obama wanted to keep his veep's powder dry for that.

Or maybe it is just that, in the awkward pattern of political dance partnerships that have emerged over the last couple of years, whenever Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner fail to execute -- as they did after the "Plan B" debacle -- it's Biden and his old Senate colleague, Mitch McConnell, who step into the spotlight. The Biden-McConnell duo didn't cut it during last year's cliffhanger over the debt limit, of course. But in a sign of just how important a figure the vice president has become in Washington, Biden's absence until now has been one reason that Republicans doubted Obama's seriousness about cutting a deal, my colleague Chris Frates reported last week.

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