AN APPEAL TO THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA aka THE FREE PRESS

The free press has been part of the American people since before we were a nation. In colonial days we had rebels (who were to become patriots following our successful revolution) printing pamphlets supporting rebel views and acts against the Monarchy and Parliament that ruled our people. “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine is perhaps the most famous pamphlets to come out, educating and persuading the colonists why we needed to rebel.

The founders realized that through a free press (4th estate) the people in this new government of, by and for the people, could be better educated and persuaded to act in the national interest. So much so that the first amendment of our Constitution protects free speech and the free press.

Now that is not to say that there weren’t problems with the government and the free press. Even in those early days, there were extremes in the press that irritated our elected government. Political opponents would go to the press to get stories, innuendos, embarrassing facts, and even dare I say “Fake News” printed to go after each other. Thomas Jefferson was adept at this in his battle against John Adams.

As President, John Adams response was to sign the Alien and Sedition Act legislated by the Congress who were controlled by the Federalists. Under the Sedition part of the act, it was illegal for anyone to express “any false, scandalous and malicious writing” against Congress or the president. Interestingly enough, it excluded the Vice President who at the time was Thomas Jefferson. People were arrested, convicted and sentenced to prison for “sedition”. This sparked debate across the entire country regarding what Free Speech and Free Press were. Adams and the Federalists lost after his first term.

When Jefferson became president and his Democratic Republicans (today’s Democratic Party) took over congress, the Alien and Sedition Acts were repealed and Jefferson confirmed in his inaugural address a new definition of free speech and press as the right of Americans “to think freely and to speak and write what they think.”

In the 200 plus years the relationship between the Free Press, Government and those running for office has always been fluid and mostly frosty.

After all it was a free Press that due to investigative journalism and revealing the facts to the nation, which brought down the Nixon administration.

It’s been a free press from the conservative side of the equation that has (via Fox News among others) that has hampered and misinformed the population about Democrats. Note that Dems never called for restricting Fox News and their allies from saying what they want, they merely defend themselves with the facts.

Since Fox came into existence and following Reagan’s repeal of the Fairness Doctrine (which required both sides to get equal time to present their views to the public), the free press has become more and more corporate. That is not to say that there still aren’t “liberal” journalists out there, however they are leashed by their corporate masters who are more concern with viewership, advertising and profits than telling the truth to the nation. Sadly it appears too many Americans prefer lies and innuendos from liars and provocateurs than basic, boring truth.

So our free press has become more corporate and due to their corporate control, and thus tend to go easy on conservatives, or those who “claim to be conservative” like Donald J. Trump.

Now Trump has made it a point to go after the media as a selling point to his base. He tells them they’re all (except for Fox) “Fake News”. Now that is interesting because the very concept of “fake news” came from Russian operatives during the 2016 campaign inundating social media with blatantly false news stories about Clinton and Democrats. In doing so, they got mainstream media to pick up on the stories and spreading the lies. This has been researched and confirmed and did have an impact on voter turnout. So now Trump tries to tell his supporters that the real news is fake news.

During his campaign, the media went easy on Donald Trump. The information was already out there regarding serious problems with his honesty, competency, professionalism, lack of real success. However the media only focused on his rallies with little commentary about the accuracy of his comments. When mainstream focused on Clinton it was only in context with Fake News and emails and not on her policy agenda or experience. Further, they didn’t even cover Clinton to the extent they covered Trump.

Trump received in excess of two billion dollars in free coverage. He received more coverage that didn’t educate the people on who he really was, the coverage was merely for entertainment value, ratings. With the help of Russian Bots, Fake News and a complicit/lazy mainstream media, Donald Trump fooled an ignorant nation and won the Electoral College.

Since being elected, instead of thanking the mainstream media for helping him in his win, Trump continues to attack them. It plays well with his base, but not the truth or majority of the nation. Media is only now starting to do the job they should’ve done during the primaries and election and are researching and reporting on Trump, his associates and his campaign. However, they still baby Donald Trump in their coverage.

They still tend to report out how successful and intelligent he is using the flimsiest of justifications, he won the election.

As with everything in Trump’s life, he’s been bailed out by others and this includes his presidency. It’s an easily verifiable fact that Donald Trump has failed in nearly every endeavor he’s been involved in, only to be bailed out later by others.

When Trump says or tweets something that makes no sense, media still tends to translate what they think he meant rather than simply say “that was stupid and made no sense”.

When Trump is interviewed and prefaces a comment with something like “most people believe” or “most people are saying” or “I think you’d agree” the media lets it go instead of responding “I don’t agree” or “There’s no polling to suggest that most people believe or are saying.”

When Trump out and out lies in front of reporters things like “Obamacare is a failure” they don’t immediately respond with “Show us the evidence” or better yet, “that’s a lie and we have the data to show it’s a lie.”

Mainstream Media, Donald J. Trump has no respect for the truth, reality and certainly not you. Trump uses people and institutions to his advantage and never thanks them, only causes them more harm and grief. You don’t owe him any more respect than he shows you.

He rarely ever has press conferences but he still meets with reporters or makes statements in front of reporters.

Call him out on his lies, call him out on his bizarre statements, and call him out on his stupidity as he makes his statements.

Trump’s support is at 36% and falling. Your support is higher but not by much. Give the nation a reason to support a free press even more, call this man out in front of his face and get his reaction live on air. By the way, it will be good for ratings.  

THE GREAT AMERICAN EXPERIMENT: THE FINAL FIELD TEST?

In 1787 following the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was asked “Well doctor, what have we got, a Republic or a Monarchy?” To which he famously responded “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Representative democratic self-rule had never been tried before on such a large scale when our founders invented this new form of government, this new Republic. All previous governments were ruled by strong monarchs, dictators and/or elites because of the view at the time that the general population, “the mob” were too unsophisticated, limited in education, experience, foresight, intellect to rule themselves. The idea of the general population choosing their representatives and holding them accountable via the ballot box in both State and Federal elections was unheard of. It became the “American Experiment” or as Lincoln so eloquently said in the Gettysburg address “Government of the people, by the people and for the people…” He coined that phrase during one of our greatest Field Test to see if this experimental government could survive, the Civil War.

Human beings are not all humane angels, saints and intellectuals. There will always be a segment of any population who for whatever reason thrive on bigotry, racism, intolerance, fear, hatred, greed, self-centeredness, etc. over all else. This was the concern our founders had in allowing representative government by the People. What if these less refined people selected their government? Could a nation survive such instability, anger and violence? Surely only the wealthy elite, people from Royal lineage can govern such a population by the Grace of God. To allow lesser people to have a say in governing is to allow “mob rule.”

There’s always the argument regarding whether the Civil War was an issue of Slavery or an issue of State’s Rights. In my opinion it was both. The Southern States wanted to maintain their rights, (from the people who installed their leadership) that the views of Racism and Bigotry held true over the views of humanity and equality of all people. Thus Slavery was natural and just. The “State Right” to hold human beings in slavery was the core of what led to the Civil War. Mob rule polluted the more egalitarian aspects of government and threatened the experiment of self-rule by the people. Monarchies around the world at this time were already outlawing slavery, only the Southern States wanted to maintain it.

Well the United States with great effort, pain and loss actually passed this Field Test. Not only did the Union Hold, it became greater. Our constitution was amended to outlaw slavery and guarantee rights to all Americans regardless of race. However, the people who thrive on negative views of life and civilization were not silenced. That is contrary to the concept of our National Experiment and an impossible task. These people have and will always exist and will be heard (first amendment). The theory of our Republic is the numbers of the more positive views and natures of the people will ensure that although these negative voices are heard, their views could never be institutionalized in government to cause harm to others. Further, if representatives were to ever gain power in government, installed and supported by either those who thrive on negative views and/or corruption they could be removed if found to be corrupt and dangerous themselves. Our constitution, before even talking about the office of the Chief Executive explains how the Congress will remove via impeachment members of government for High Crimes and Misdemeanors. States around the country have statutes for recalling State representatives and Governors by the people if they’re found to be lacking in positive or popular leadership.

For over 200 years our “Experiment” in self-rule, our Republic underwent numerous field tests of which we all passed. As mentioned above we had the Civil War, we also had two World Wars, we had Chief Executives who were less than ideal who were controlled and held to account by Congress and/or the Supreme Court. We even had Congresses who were lacking to the American Idea held to account by Chief Executives and/or the Supreme Court. The field tests were not always “aced” but we completed and passed them. In terms of the Chief Executive, the Nixon test showed how despite winning a popular re-election and having almost “cult-like” support among a segment of the population, as his crimes became more apparent, his own party aided in convincing him to resign from office. Congress did her job as the founders intended. As Gerald Ford noted, “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule”.

Not all people were happy with the outcome. Some felt Nixon should’ve been allowed to serve out his term, some wanted him in prison, but most were glad this was over and the nation could move forward. It was a Constitutional crisis but the Constitution did ultimately win.

The Great Depression is another example of how our system worked. Over time pro-business and pro-greed representatives took over Congress and the White House. Deregulation of businesses and the banks ensued, safeguards removed and then the Market crashed resulting in a worldwide depression. The people organized and changed the country via the ballot box to install a government that fixed the harm the previous government had created. The “better angels of our nature” took control and our nation survived and thrived. We will never be rid of the “worse demons of our nature” taking charge or influence, but until recently, we’ve been able to correct the harm they’ve imposed.

Today we face a field test I don’t believe the Founders could have ever consider. They knew there would always be a segment of the population with negative views who would have influence on governing, but how could they have ever imagine a foreign adversary being able to influence our elections by hacking private communications and using bots via the internet to influence our electorate to believe fake news accounts. A perfect storm of dangers imperils our Constitution and our American Experiment today:

1)      A political party more interested in their Party and power has gained control of Congress (Something the founders warned against)

2)      The free press was more interested in ratings and getting advertisers to buy time than to report balanced and important news. The press provided Donald Trump free coverage in the amount of up to $3 billion without going into details about his shady past, his inexperience, his cohorts, and blatant unfitness to rule. By treating Trump as a ratings cow, they helped Russian bots influence the electorate into believing Trump was legitimate and able to rule.

3)      Congress per their corporate donors’ demands are legislating to give them more tax cuts and improve their bottom lines via deregulations of banks, corporations and environmental controls. These acts have a direct negative impact on the people they represent in terms of social safety net, environmental protections and their tax burden. Knowing they need a President willing to sign off on their regulations they’re allowing Donald Trump who is clearly compromised to remain in office despite growing evidence of collusion, corruption and incompetence.

4)      The electoral process with help from the Republicans is being changed to institutionalize voter suppression under false pretenses in order to thwart the voice of the majority of the people.

5)      The Federal Court system to include the Supreme Court has been infiltrated with more and more Justices more concern with a business/corporate agenda than human rights and as such has become more politicized (Something our founders warned us against).

6)      Our education system has been compromised over the past several decades in that civics and critical thinking are no longer part of the national curriculum resulting in generations of Americans not understanding our system of government, the need for their involvement and the ability to think out solutions instead of just learning how to pass a test.

7)      Less educated and more ideologically inclined people in rural areas of the country are able to have a higher influence in the Electoral College system. Land mass thwarts population. Despite what Trump says, the Electoral College favors Red States because they are more sparsely populated with more ideologically minded people while liberals and moderates congregate in more densely populated cities. This along with gerrymandered districts gives one party more control over government than the other.

8)      Along with voter suppression, voter apathy has become mainstay and as a result, record low percentages of registered voters even bother to vote. The views that “my vote doesn’t matter” “the system is corrupt” “both sides do it” have taken control and too many Americans have simply given up.

So, due to an increasingly under-educated public (founders warned us about this), the party system (the founders warned us about this), big money influence (the founders warned us about this), a stifled and/or compromised free press (the founders warned us about this) and covert foreign influence of the electoral system (founders didn’t envision this) we currently have the most unqualified and incompetent President in the White House. Even though the Constitution provides an immediate remedy to this problem, the ruling Republican Party appears unwilling to take the steps necessary to correct the situation and do the bidding of the People they’re “constitutionally” required to represent.

At this time, should Congress fail to do its Constitutional duty to remove Donald Trump from office and instead follow the bidding of a small segment of the wealthiest Americans with the help of a small percentile of Americans who support racism, bigotry, intolerance, sexism, xenophobia and nationalism and ignore the over 70% who have the opposite views then the experiment is over. Our Constitution and the idea that governance of, by and for the people will have failed.

Since our Constitution was ratified this nation has suffered through corrupt members of the House, Senate and Executive Branch, we’ve suffered through bad Supreme Court Decisions, we’ve suffered through the worst elements of our population taking too much control or influence in our democracy. But in the end, the people have always took charge to fix it. This time however, because the worst elements of our government have had the time (hiding behind the complacency and stupidity of the people), have changed the system to make it harder for the people to step up and correct the situation. There is even a movement led by Billionaires influencing State Representatives to (under the Constitution) hold a new Constitutional Convention to rewrite the Constitution in their favor. They nearly have all the States they need to accomplish this.

So here we are. Can the majority of the country once again rise up, influence our elected government to look to us and the “better angels of their nature” to bring us back to a functioning government of by and for the people or do we give up and permit a government to take complete control led by a party more interested in power and personal wealth than the people they represent and a President who is clearly not up to the challenge of leading a diverse and large population of people?

If this can be fixed and the experiment allowed to continue, it’s up to you to get yourself and others involved. It’s only your lives and freedoms that are at stake here.

NRA – IT’S ALL ABOUT SALES

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about one of my favorite topics and villains, the National Rifle Association. As you all know, this group is extremely outspoken in their “view” that only gun ownership keeps this nation safe, only gun ownership keeps the tyranny of government at bay, only gun ownership makes you a man, etc.  Of course when they make the ads portraying the attacks on the 2nd Amendment, how guns in schools would’ve of protected the children at Columbine and Sandy Hook, how an “armed society is a safe society” they cite no validated facts to support their positions. When confronted with real peer reviewed studies about the dangers of gun ownership, they move straight to their paid “researchers and historians and their bought off conspirators attacking the 2nd Amendment. We’ve all seen this.

Last week the NRA released a new ad which in my opinion clearly illustrates what I’ve always believed to be true about the NRA and their paid trolls, it’s not about public safety, it’s not about home safety, it’s not about constitutional rights, it’s not about holding tyranny at bay, it’s about sales. Here’s the ad of which I speak:

This ad actually contradicts many of the talking points the NRA has used in recent years to inspire gun owners to buy more guns. Note I said “inspire gun owners to buy more guns” not people to buy guns. Studies (something the NRA hates) clearly show that despite growing number of gun sales, the percentile of the nation who own guns in this country is essentially unchanged. In fact, it’s been shown in some studies to have been dropping. So in effect, only those who only buy guns are buying more guns. Why? Well NRA advertising was focused on one talking point: “President Obama wants to take your guns away!” coupled with the old tired lines about government tyranny and attacks on the 2nd Amendment. So avid gun users went out and bought even more guns. However, few people who never had a gun before decided to go out to get a gun for the first time. This didn’t matter to the NRA as long as they sell more guns. It’s like car dealerships contacting you a couple of years after a sale telling you how you can upgrade to another care with just a few buck more than what you’re already paying for the one you just  bought.

President Obama was the best thing that ever happened to the Gun Industry and their NRA Lobbyists. Despite President Obama expressing his outrage at senseless gun violence across the country, he did little to nothing to curb gun ownership or sales. He commissioned studies, issued meaningless and unenforceable executive orders and had conversations with an unreceptive Congress about acting, but nothing was done. In fact, he allowed firearms to be permitted in National Parks. In reality, President Obama expanded gun rights in this country.

But the NRA told people through their advertising the opposite was true and gun sales skyrocketed during the Obama administration. Gun manufacturers reported in the final year of the Obama Administration where they feared was Clinton would become president and impose the bans they said Obama would impose, gun sales reached 52,600 a day (27.5 million gun sales in 2016). They went further by predicting 2017 would continue to break all records (under a Clinton administration). Unfortunately for them and the NRA, Donald Trump was “declared” the winner.

Yes, the candidate who once favored a total ban on assault rifles and longer waiting periods for gun purchases changed his views when he hired the NRA to back his candidacy:

Well, the NRA candidate won yet gun sales in the Trump administration have continued to fall. Gun advocates now say it’s because everyone who needed to buy a gun did so under Obama. However, why then the new NRA ad? If everyone they feel has a gun already, why scare them into buying more guns?

Under an “NRA Friendly” administration and Congress, the NRA can no longer focus their sales ad on the government wanting to take your guns away, or government tyranny. No, now they have to focus on another enemy, the American People.

Per the NRA it’s the American People exercising their right of free speech, their outrage of bigotry, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia and bad cops who are the real danger in this country and only if you who support bigotry, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia and bad cops were to buy more guns and keep them in your “clenched fist” our nation is in danger.

And of course they use misleading video shots and infer misleading statements of our nation today to increase their gun sales. Under the NRA sales team, we’ve moved from a nation in fear of her government to a nation in fear of the majority of her people. Facts, reality and logic do not matter when it comes to increasing sales. After all, Murica!!!!

Facts remain:

2nd Amendment had nothing to do with holding government tyranny at bay and by the way, Philando Castile was a lawful gun owner exercising his 2nd Amendment right to own a gun when he was killed by an obviously scared cop who couldn’t equate a Black man owning a gun as being normal and overreacted.

Gun ownership in the home increases the likelihood of being killed in the home by a gun five times.

More guns on the streets always results in a proportional increase of gun violence on those same streets.

Majority of the nation fully supports bans on military style assault rifles, high capacity magazines, longer waiting times to purchase a gun, stricter enforcement of private gun sales, and restrictions on the mentally ill, domestic violence offenders, and/or those with a violent criminal record from being allowed to own a gun.

However, those facts are bad for gun sales so don’t expect the NRA to give them any credence, or you.

Voting Rights, Crosscheck and Kris Kobach

Were you aware that in the US Constitution, there really isn’t anything granting each US Citizen a right to vote? The only thing the Constitution provides for under the 15th and 19th Amendments is protecting people from being denied the right to vote specifically because of race or sex. If voting laws are broad enough to impact an entire population then they stand. Voting is left totally to individual states and individual districts. So say a law requires “everyone” to provide ID to vote, it’s constitutional despite the fact some people have easier access to ID than others based on income, which may be based on race or age. Federal Civil Rights’ law granted protections, but those protections were tenuous at best and recently they were overturned by the Supreme Court since as I just mentioned, the US Constitution doesn’t provide a right to vote per se.

Worse yet, if an election is shown to have been compromised via say a cyber-attack or willful removal of people from the voter rolls without legitimate cause, there’s nothing in law or procedure that permits a new election or “re-vote.” So in reality if someone or some organization is successful in throwing an election that election result remains until the next scheduled election. A sad reality for a nation that publicly prides itself as being a free democracy.

It is no secret that the only the Republicans oppose easy access to and the unrestricted right to vote for all citizens of this country. Conservatives Republicans are on record recognizing the fact that the more people who vote, the less likely their party and their agenda is likely to win. See below:

So over the years, Conservative Republicans push for anything they can do to suppress the vote. Voter ID’s, limited polling hours, restricted days for early voting, etc. Voting restrictions are carefully crafted so that on paper, they appear to impact an entire population. However, upon examination of the specifics, looking into the weeds, they disapportionately impact those more likely to vote left of center, which happens to be the majority view of our nation. Republicans know full well that as long as they can successfully keep people from the polls, either by making it too difficult for them to vote, or subversively finding ways to remove them from the voting rolls, they win and there’s no way a new election can be called to correct the voting results.

Recently Donald Trump appointed Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to co-chair with Mike Pence a commission to uncover “voting fraud” in this nation. Voting fraud is always the excuse Republicans use to justify their voting suppression efforts despite the fact study after study after study proves it is nearly nonexistent. Studies show at best, the type of voter fraud Republicans claim is 0.0005%. However, Trump who still claims he had record numbers of people at his inauguration, claims that all if not more of the 3 million more votes Hillary Clinton received over him were all fraudulent. So publicly he created this commission. However, is that the real reason?

Kris Kobach was the author of Arizona’s discriminatory SB1070 law that gave Arizona law enforcement Nazi Germany like authority to demand paperwork from Brown People to prove they were here legally. However, Kobach also heads up a blatant national voter suppression organization known as “Crosscheck”. In theory, crosscheck analyzes voter registration data across voting district and state lines to investigate if people are registered in multiple places and if so, remove their names from the voting rolls. Crosscheck removed well over 1 million voters from the rolls in 2016. 450,000 were removed from Mississippi, 270,000 in Arizona, 590,000 in North Carolina. It is interesting to note that most of these people were of color and/or Latino. Further, these numbers far exceed the number of votes Trump won by in those states. Coincidence?

Trump likes to point out how dead people are still on voter rolls. Well a couple of things there. Each voting jurisdiction has their own rules on removing people from the rolls. Dead people find it difficult to remove their names and family members rarely see it as a priority. Further, having a dead person on a voting roll is one thing, that person actually voting is quite another. No evidence of widespread dead people actually voting has come to light most likely because it didn’t happen. As for people being registered in multiple places, well that has been documented. People like Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, and Ann Coulter have been found to be registered in multiple places but the number is far below the 0.0005% “voter fraud” percentile discussed earlier. It happens but not in the numbers that would impact an election and not likely for any devious purpose other than laziness, forgetfulness or poor record keeping.

Kobach has asked the Secretaries of State of all 50 states to provide him the names, dates of birth, last 4 digits of social security numbers, party affiliation and voting records of their voter registration rolls. Why? Is it in an attempt to expand his own “Crosscheck” scheme to then compel each state to remove “suspect” people from the rolls? Probably.

November 2018 is just over a year away and from their past behavior we know the Republicans want to suppress the vote as best they can to hold on to Congress despite overwhelming national discontent with their governance. Kobach using flimsy at best justification is using the office provided him by Trump to facilitate the removal of millions of lawfully registered voters from the rolls. These people may not realize their names were removed until voting day (like in 2016) and there will be nothing they could do about it. Once the election is complete, there’s no new election to be held regardless of how many people come forward to show they were unjustifiably or even illegally removed from the rolls.  And of course there’s 2020.

The evidence is clear, there is no voter fraud of the kind reported by Trump and Kobach in this country, at least nowhere near the numbers required to have any impact of election results (0.0005%). However, voter suppression to throw an election is at the numbers required to throw an election and voter fraud is the excuse Trump, Kobach and the GOP will use to justify their efforts to orchestrate election fraud.

We must be proactive because once Election Day concludes, there’s no going back, there’s no mechanism in place to hold a new election because millions were denied their lawful right to vote as citizens of the United States. Election law is the mandate of the States and local jurisdictions. Demand from your Secretary of State transparency in maintaining the voter registration rolls. Demand and safeguards be in place to ensure names aren’t frivolously removed from the rolls based on dubious at best claims, check to see if you’re still registered on a monthly basis so you’re not surprised on Election Day and most importantly, VOTE!

Here’s where to go to check your registration status:

http://www.canivote.org/

 

Can Lessons of the 4th of July Be Applied Today?

As we near our 4th of July celebrations for 2017 I think it’s important to note some similarities of the political atmosphere then and today. The 4th is the celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. What few realize is that for over a year prior to drafting the document, before a unanimous 2nd Continental Congress voted to sever our ties with Great Britain, we had already been at war with Britian.

Since 1763 the British Parliament had imposed several taxes on the Thirteen Colonies to replenish their coffers after the 7 Years War (1754 to 1763). The War was essentially a World War of the great European Empires that was fought on 5 continents to include North America. Because the British had deployed troops to the Colonies to protect them from the French and the Native population. Parliament only felt it was fair to tax the colonists. However, what few understand is that Parliament wasn’t just taxing the colonists to raise revenues, they forced the colonists to trade only via British interests to include the East India Company owned by the Royal Family and members of Parliament. It wasn’t just taxation without representation in Parliament that the colonists opposed, it was corporate control of their lives. EIC was responsible for colonial restraint of Trade. In fact the Boston Tea Party wasn’t about colonial taxation, it was a revolt against the EIC for the tax break they received from Parliament. The East India Company were like Koch Industries, Wal*Mart, Exxon today; large corporations who received benefits from the government at the cost of ordinary people’s livelihood.

Politically, of the colonists during the time leading up to the Declaration of Independence, a third favored severing our ties with Great Britain (Rebels), another third wanted to maintain the relationship (Loyalists) and the final third didn’t care either way, just wanting to get on with their lives as best they could. Today the divisions are not that dissimilar, a third support the conservative cause, another third support the progressive cause and the final third just want to get on with their lives.

When you read the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence, they lay just about everything on King George the III. However, we must realize that the power and actions against the Colonists actually came from Parliament in the King’s name. It was the conservatives who ran Parliament that enacted the various acts that harmed the colonists. Although King George was aware of what they were doing, he wasn’t involved in the details and many suggest he really didn’t understand them. He was King, but he was more controlled by Parliament than the other way around.

This is very much like the situation today in this country with President Trump and the conservative controlled Congress. Today our Congress is controlled by conservatives, backing the corporate cause over everything else with a deluded figurehead of a President who doesn’t understand what they or he is doing. At the time of our founding, Parliament was controlled by conservatives backing the corporate cause for personal wealth with an arguably deluded figurehead of a Monarch who didn’t understand government or the consequences of his actions or the actions of Parliament.

King George the III gets a lot of the direct blame for the colonial rebellion, but more of the blame belongs to Parliament for their acts in defiance of the people they were supposed to care for. Today, Donald Trump is an easy target for the blame over what is happening with our social safety-net; but the real blame belongs with the conservative controlled Congress doing the bidding of corporate and wealthy interests in much the same way the Parliament did in the 18th Century.

The most memorable and compelling line in the Declaration of Independence is “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It is said that Abraham Lincoln believed and held that our Constitution was clearly derived from this view. The British Parliament did not hold this belief, perhaps neither did King George the III ,but our founders did. It is also noted that twice in Constitution (The Preamble and Article 1) the founders make note of the responsibility of government to “promote the general welfare.”

Preamble:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Article 1, Section 8, 1:

Section 8

“The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States”

How is the “General Welfare” not the health and well-being of the people this government is supposed to represent and see too? Healthcare is arguably one of the most important component of the “General Welfare” we can point to today. However the conservative led Congress of the United States ignores this much as did the conservative controlled Parliament that we rebelled against; and for which in reality the Declaration of Independence was meant for.

Back in the 18th Century as today in the 21st Century, corporate based conservatism that places profit and wealth above humanity is destined to be rebelled against and defeated. It was bloody in the 18th Century so perhaps we can avoid that by using the means presented us by our followers to address these grievances with our government.

No, I don’t mean the 2nd Amendment which had absolutely nothing to do with holding our government accountable. I’m talking about the ballot box, about getting intelligent, qualified and humane Americans to run for office and bring us back to the type of society our founders envisioned. To marginalize and control the corporate conservative views of the current Republican Party and our very own Mad King Donald.

We must educate ourselves and others, must be insistent and must never sleep on the important job of keeping the “Revolution of 1776” alive today because the demons of those days are threatening us again.

MadKingDonald

 

 

A Historical Perspective

When observing the current political drama and trying to come to grips with the status of the two major parties, one should look to our history for both understanding and a possible solution for many of our concerns. What I’m going to write here isn’t anything new to anyone familiar with history and able to understand what happened then and how it relates to us today.

Over 150 years ago the Democratic Party, following the views of Andrew Jackson were the Republican Party we have today. In the mid nineteenth century they were the power brokers of both State and Federal governments. Their power came from the White male rural populace. They believed in State’s Rights over Federal overreach. They believed in the inferiority of non Whites to include Native Americans and the Blacks. Though their numbers were made up of mostly poor and middle-class laborers, they had a certain reverance to the elite, the plantation owners and other wealthy people who financially backed the politicians to ensure government operated in their best interests, even if it harmed the less fortunate members of the party. They were the conservatives of the age.

At the same time there was the Whig Party formed in the 1830’s and grounded in the Federalist movement of Alexander Hamilton. They were the alternative to Andrew Jackson disciples in the Democratic Party. They believed in a stronger Federal influence in government. They were mostly urban and backed small businesses, but also favored government setting the stage for a level playing field. They opposed how the Native Americans were being treated and opposed slavery. They were the Democrats of today.

By the 1850’s despite having four Presidents and support of the growing abolitionist movement the party was in disarray. They had difficulty holding party members together. In national and State elections they were losing despite offering what majority voters favored. They were so poorly organized and had so much difficulty in presenting a message that would reach the poor White rural voters, the party died. Many prominate members left the party. Some joined the Democrats while others joined a new party based on the proposition of a stronger Federal government dedicated to use that power to build infrastructure, invest in technology and keep slavery from expanding. This was the Republican party.

The new Republican party came out with a strong populace message that countered the faux populace leanings of the Democrats. In a short period of time, this party that essentially rose from the ashes of the Whigs began winning seats in Congress, State legislatures, and with Abraham Lincoln, the presidency. The Democrats were none too happy and worked to obstruct the progressive movement of the Republicans. Eventually the conservative, slave loving States of the South under Andrew Jackson like Democratic control, seceded from the Union to begin the Civil War.

Today the Republican Party operates on the same philosophy of the Andrew Jackson Democrats of the nineteenth century. They were strong but lost to the original Republican Party that almost mirrors today’s Democrats, but not quite. Today’s Democrats are more like the Whigs in terms of party structure and messaging. Perhaps it is now time for the best, strongest & dedicated members of today’s Democrats form their own Party, enlist independents and disenfranchised Republicans. Perhaps history could repeat itself while avoiding another Civil War. 

Pre-existing Conditions and For-Profit Healthcare

My story isn’t particularly dramatic but it is indicative of what’s happened with healthcare in this country over the past 50 years as it has moved from essentially part of the commons to a mostly profit driven enterprise.

In 1971 when I was ten years old I went several weeks not feeling too well. I was lethargic, nauseous, thirsty, constantly urinating, couldn’t get a good night sleep, couldn’t concentrate in school. One night I collapsed and lapsed into a coma. My parents drove me to a hospital where I was diagnosed as having Type 1 Juvenile diabetes.

My father was an attorney in private practice and my mother was his office manager. They had insurance for the family through Blue Cross and Blue Shield. In those days, BC/BS was a non-profit health insurance company that was easily affordable. In fact during those days, the Federal government subsidized non-profit health insurance. Also in those days, medical costs were nowhere near where they are today.

In the days before glucometers and insulin pumps my treatment for my diabetes was daily morning injections of U-80 Lente Insulin. Other than seeing the family doctor every year for a blood check, my parents’ out of pocket costs for the insulin and syringes wasn’t significant and insurance copays for supplies didn’t even exist. It was all out of pocket.

I had several jobs from the time I was 15 until I moved out of my parents’ home when I was 23. However, I did not have my own insurance until I was 25. What is interesting and forgotten by many is that when Ronald Reagan became President in 1980, he successfully eliminated Federal Grants and Loans to Non-Profit Health Insurance. As a result, many plans became “for profit”. Now although I was able to easily afford my insulin and syringes on my take-home pay, I didn’t have insurance to see a doctor for several years. In 1986 I got my first job that offered Health Insurance. I figured I would go ahead and make an appointment to see a doctor, only to find out that my plan wouldn’t cover that visit for six months because I had a “pre-existing condition.” I also found out that if I were to have gotten seriously ill during those first six months, my plan wouldn’t cover any of it. That plan was Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Over the years, things changed slowly with healthcare and health insurance costs. Not only did the cost of medications and supplies increased, so did the cost of overall healthcare. The increases were incremental and almost unnoticeable.  As the years went by my payroll deduction for health insurance increased, the costs of getting my insulin and supplies increased and at some point insurance copays for pharmaceuticals entered into the equation. Big Pharma increased the costs of their medication to fund what they said was research. They failed to mention that the Federal Government, through research Grants, funded much of their research. In reality, they were increasing the costs of their products to increase their profit margins for their stockholders and CEO’s.

Now it is true that there have been major advances in medicine over the past 50 years. For diabetics like myself, we now have glucometers that better determine blood sugar levels, we have insulin pumps that mimic the how the pancreas delivers insulin throughout the day, we have insulins that work far better, but the costs have skyrocketed too. Without insurance, just buying a bottle of Novolog will cost you $538 a bottle, added to that a long lasting insulin like Lantus that costs $385 a bottle.

Type 1 diabetes isn’t caused by living a poor lifestyle, it is a genetic disorder from birth. For anyone with diabetes or any other chronic disease to survive in today’s world and be productive it’s very expensive, especially without insurance. I’m currently on a pump and see an endocrinologist every four months to monitor my health. At 56, I’m actually in fairly good health and my condition is under control. I cycle and run weekly, I recently retired from my job after 30 years and I’m now on my wife’s insurance plan. Thanks to the Obamacare insurance mandates, there was no six month waiting period before insurance would kick in. However, even with insurance, my out of pocket costs to treat my diabetes with insulin, testing and pump supplies is well over $400.00 a month, and that is low compared to many. If not for insurance and coverage for pre-existing conditions I wouldn’t be able to afford to live. That is a fact for me and most others suffering from diabetes, asthma, cancer, heart disease, etc.

In 1981, 88% of our nation’s HMOs were non-profit. In 1986 that number fell to 41%. By 2000, they were nearly non-existent. Because of this there was a push to improve the healthcare system. I honestly felt that Obamacare didn’t go far enough. It should have included a single-payer option like the rest of the world and even Candidate Donald Trump himself said single payer like they have in “Canada and Scotland” is the best kind of coverage. After the House approved “Trumpcare” (which if it becomes law, not only brings back exclusions or higher premiums for pre-existing conditions, it also brings back lifetime caps on coverage) he said Australia’s single payer system is better than our system.

So if you have a lifetime chronic health condition, insurance can end your coverage and life at the same time. Another problem with Obamacare was that it did nothing to reign in the cost of medical care in the first place, no price controls beyond requiring insurance companies to devote 80% of your premiums to actual healthcare instead of profit.

Now like 61% of the nation in recent polling, I’m with those who prefer fixes to Obamacare, not repeal and replace. Trumpcare has only 17% approval. Trumpcare is so unpopular, the House Republicans exempted themselves and their staff from Obamacare repeal. That says a lot.

Conservatively over 52 million Americans have a pre-existing condition. Most of those conditions are derived from issues they had no control over like genetic predisposition to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, asthma. Trumpcare actually lists rape as a pre-existing condition. This gives for profit insurance companies license to either deny service to these people or raise premium costs to offset the expense of care and thus, improve their profits. Money from Obamacare to subsidize coverage came in part from a $300 billion tax of the top 2% of Americans. Trumpcare eliminates that tax. Without insurance provided today by Obamacare, 50,000 Americans a year will die from not receiving proper care. Are the lives of 50,000 innocent Americans worth giving the wealthiest Americans another tax break?

The wealthiest Americans have no need for insurance because with the millions and billions they have, they can pay out of pocket rising healthcare costs. The rest of us in the lower 98% aren’t so lucky. Medical costs will continue to increase and those with pre-existing conditions will continue to exist because even if you die from lack of care, several more will take your place due to issues beyond their control.

If we are to be a humane and just nation that places a high value on life over the profits of a lucky few, we need to impose single payer coverage and we need to look at ways of cutting excessive profits to the healthcare industry. It is the only logical, fiscally responsible and moral thing to do.

Can the United States prevail in a Trade War?

For the simple-minded and impatient, all problems have a simple and quick solution. Problem is, when you try to impose simple-minded and quick solutions to complex problems, you only make matters far worse.

There is majority agreement in this nation that too many of our manufacturing jobs are now overseas and that trade agreements often don’t work in our favor. Some will make compelling arguments to the contrary, but I’m going to focus on the premise there is a problem, but the solution being presented by the Trump administration will only make matters worse.

The issue with Trade dates back before President Obama, in fact it dates back before Ronald Reagan who opened the door to corporate deregulation and tax incentives that became part of Trade agreements he started. Most blame Bill Clinton for NAFTA, but in reality the negotiations began under Ronald Reagan, pushed under George H W Bush and signed into law by Bill Clinton with a Democratic Congress. To be fair, the goal of NAFTA and other international trade agreements is to improve our standing in the world, increase exports of what we do grow/manufacture and help consumers here, pay less for items. In short, we can have our toys and not have to pay a lot for them. Unfortunately as we moved into a more consumer orientated economy from a manufacturing economy, better paying jobs were lost in the process. But hey, you can buy that huge 72 inch LED Television for a song. But I digress.

When we severed our ties from Great Britain, the nation actually didn’t have much of an industrial base. Under British rule (to maintain the British economy) the colonists were required by law to buy textiles and other goods from Britain and her allies. Under Alexander Hamilton’s plan, George Washington and Congress implemented our nation’s first Tariffs. The purpose was twofold. Tariffs would actually fund our fledgling government as opposed to taxing the people (although Tariffs do that too) and inspiring local entrepreneurial minded citizens to open shop and manufacture the goods and items the nation needed for a cheaper price than to buy abroad and pay a tariff on those goods and items. And it worked, but that isn’t the end of the story.

Our industrial base did not grow overnight, it in fact took several generations. All during that time, trade remained a divisive issue in this country throughout the early nineteenth century to today. Early on it was the Northern manufacturers who sought the protection of high tariffs on competing imports while the southern cotton producers backed open-trade policies to promote their exports.

Our nation, throughout the nineteenth century and early twentieth century wanted to remain isolationist. Despite our involvement in the Great War, we rejected the League of Nations and their call to end tariffs throughout the world in order to improve the economies of member states. The United States never ratified our membership in the League (despite it being created in part by President Wilson). The attempt to end worldwide tariffs failed and the major European powers enacted higher tariffs on more products. The United States followed suit and in 1930 passed Smoot Hawley that increased tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods.  Higher tariffs were placed on agricultural goods to aid our farmers and slightly smaller tariffs were imposed on manufactured goods to keep our nation competitive with Europe and Canada. However Europe and Canada retaliated and imposed higher tariffs on our goods. The trade war could not have come at a worse time as we were already in the Great Depression. Smoot Hawley made the depression worse due to our inability to sell abroad. US imports did decrease by 66% but our exports also decreased by 61%.

Under the Franklin Roosevelt administration, Free Trade took the driver’s seat in Washington as one of many projects to pull us out of the depression. In 1934 Secretary of State Cordell Hull, (who was a free trader) contemplated how best to remove the high tariffs under Smoot Hawley. Instead of going to Congress to reduce the tariffs (for fear they would only be raised again) he opted to begin to negotiate trade agreements with foreign nations. This became possible because Roosevelt was able to get Congress to pass the Reciprocal Trade Act of 1934. Since we had a surplus of manufactured goods, we were able to increase exports with the nations we negotiated with. Although trade barriers still remained high during the 1930’s, the trend was reversing.

After World War Two as a continuation of negotiating limited bilateral agreements with individual nations and in an effort to rebuild the post war economy, the United States led the creation of the multilateral General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Trade barriers were lowered around the participating nations. A series of “negotiating rounds” to reduce trade barriers continued through 1994. As a result United States Tariff rates fell from Smoot Hawley on average of 60% in 1930 to 5.7% by 1980. They are currently at 2.7%. In addition to improving our economy, these trade agreements helped bind free-market democracies together during the Cold War and effectively blocked the Soviet Union and People’s Republic from gaining a foothold around the world.

As noted above, by the Reagan administration, a concern developed with competition with Europe and Canada ending her economic isolationist policies to compete worldwide. Treaty negotiations between the US and Canada began as a way to improve our leverage in the growing Global Economy. Before the negotiations were ended, Mexico became part of the plan and NAFTA was born. Much has been said about manufacturing jobs moving to Mexico as a result of NAFTA and it’s true. However what many fail to recognize is that it also improved Mexico’s economy with minimal impact on our economy. In fact, with a more vibrant Mexico; California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas had more trade opportunities with a growing consumer class in Mexico.

As bilateral accords shifted to regional accords that brought us NAFTA, CAFTA and the TPP, coupled with Republicans deregulating US based corporations and giving them tax breaks to move overseas where labor was cheaper, we began to lose more manufacturing jobs. In fact, over the course of the last 60 plus years, we have been transforming from a primarily manufacturing  based economy to a consumer based economy.

Since 2001 when China entered the World Trade Organization, American manufacturers have been shipping jobs overseas at an increased rates. As of 2009 we had lost 42,400 factories (including 36% of factories that employed over 1000 workers) to overseas nations that provide cheaper labor. In case you weren’t aware, President Trump and Ivanka Trump’s merchandise are manufactured overseas, not in this country.

By October 2009 manufacturing employment dropped to 11.7 million. The last time we had less than 12 million manufacturing jobs was in 1941. Further, October 2009 is the first time more people were unemployed (15.7 million) than were working in manufacturing.

In the eight years since, there has been improvement with unemployment dropping to 4.6%. However most of those jobs are in the service professions and government. Some manufacturing has returned but nowhere near what we once had. Further, the middle-class (the driver of our consumer based economy) income is stagnant and many believe it is shrinking. Despite increase in wealth among the wealthy few, the middle-class has been stagnant for over 25 years. Further, costs in housing, food, energy, healthcare, childcare, energy, etc. continue to increase. Since the middle-class is the driver of our consumer economy, without more disposable income available to them, our economy becomes stagnant and will crash.

I apologize for how long the preceding information was but it is important to recognize that our current problem is well over 80 years in the making and is very complex. Americans like cheap goods to spend their money on. However, to have your Flat Screen TV’s, cell-phones, tablets, gadgets and gizmos manufactured here significantly increases the costs to you. Like it or not, labor is cheaper overseas. Further, we’ve been losing manufacturing companies over a span of over 30 years. It’s unlikely you can bring back manufacturing overnight or even over one Presidential Administration. Historically it took generations for this nation to even create its first manufacturing economy.

Here’s the dilemma of President Trump’s simplistic solution to a complex problem. A trade war implemented now by imposing huge “Smoot Hawley” tariffs on any nation is in fact a tax increase on the consumer. We are a consumer based economy and will remain so until manufacturers return to our shores. Even if they did, it would take years and the costs of what they manufacture will also be higher than what consumers pay now. So spending decreases in our already fragile economy. As a result, we lose more of our disposable income due to job loss, increased cost of living and taxation. Less spending, fewer jobs in a consumer based economy.

We live in a global economy years in the making and as a result, we are almost fully dependent on goods manufactured elsewhere. With a fragile middle-class and a manufacturer base that has been decimated over the past 30 years, we would lose a Trade War with any other nation. We’re simply not armed to fight one and it would take years of government investment in infrastructure and people to get us to a place where we could even begin such a war.

It’s easy to say we’ll impose Tariffs, Jobs will come back, and American (will) be Great Again. However as with anything Trump, talk is cheap and we already “know how complicated” trade is in a Global economy that’s not going away anytime soon.

Trump has only recently discovered how complicated healthcare is. Healthcare is nothing compare to world trade and the underpinnings of our economy. However, what can you expect from a businessman who has no MBA and has declared bankruptcy four times in a business he inherited from his dad, not built himself.

Any efforts to improve our economy in the manner he proposes will certainly cost more jobs and drive us into another depression. No Donald, we cannot win a Trade War.

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How Nationalism Destroys a Nation

From Merriam-Webster

Na·tion·al·ism: noun,

1:  loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially :  a sense of national consciousness (see consciousness 1c) exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups Intense nationalism was one of the causes of the war.

2:  a nationalist movement or government opposing nationalisms

We have all heard of the “Alt Right” movement and the nationalist tendencies of Donald J. Trump’s inner circle, especially well known White Supremacist and Nationalist Stephen K. Bannon, formerly (though still influencing) the Right-Wing propaganda site known as Breitbart.

Nationalists gain support by claiming that a national identity in of itself makes you great, and if (in their minds) a nation is not great, it is because of the devious actions of other groups and/or nations belittling and sabotaging their nation. Control of the message, use of propaganda, “alternative facts”, vitriol and hate towards others touches the fear and anger of those caught up in their rhetoric.

History gives us numerous examples of great nations caught up and taken over by nationalist movements. In 19th Century Europe “popular sovereignty” grew out of the wars of conquest initiated under Napoleon, who himself inspired a French Nationalist Movement destined to rule all of Europe. French culture was seen as separate of the other ethnicities of Europe and of course, superior. This in turn led to German Nationalism after being conquered and occupied by France. Throughout Europe, individual nations coalesced over the threats of other nations and internal nationalism thrived, especially in Germany. Historians believe this was a major contribution to the Great War. Germany was united under a Nationalist movement where Prussia was considered the core of the “German Spirit” and Germany was superior to all other nation states in Europe.

Despite the numerous treaties that existed, the nationalists who controlled the aggressor nations of 1914 saw themselves as superior and used the pretext of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand as the excuse to wage total war. The end result was they bit off more than they could chew and created annihilation across Europe, with Germany and the remains of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire devastated. The power of the European monarchs almost entirely dissolved to be replaced in many cases with new nationalist people’s parties. In Russia, the Tsarist regime was replaced by the nationalist communists and of course in Germany, the Kaiser Wilhelm regime was replaced by the Weimar Republic, who couldn’t hold down the new growing nationalist movement in Germany led by the Nazis. In Italy, the nationalist fascists took over under Mussolini.

The end of “The Great War” set the stage for more extreme and powerful nationalist movements throughout Europe because the victorious nations imposed harsh restrictions on the defeated powers. This provided grounds for nationalists to say “outsiders are responsible” for your terrible existence in what was once a “Great Nation.” Worse yet, the harsh policies imposed on Germany bled over to other nations in Europe and even here in the United States by (with the help of deregulated banks) and led to the Great Depression.

Both Europe and the United States suffered and nationalist movements grew and were in full swing everywhere and used the same message to gain influence and power. “We were once ‘Great’ but other ‘lesser’ nations and people (Jews) deceived us and are destroying us for their own good.”

They were successful from the end of World War 1 through the beginning of World War Two in gaining nationalist control in Germany, Austria, Italy and Spain. Germany and Italy are prime examples of the techniques used to gain control. They told their people that other nations were supplanting the greatness of their people with dishonest use of banking and media (Lügenpresse) to fool the citizens. They convinced their native purebred nationalists that “subhuman” groups such as Gypsies, Homosexuals, immigrants and Jews were responsible for their lot in life. They convinced the people that under pure German, or Italian control of government their nations would be “Great Again” especially when their leaders negotiate “better deals” with other nations rather than the bad treaties they currently have.

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Japan

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Italy was first to go nationalist under a fascist regime followed by Germany in 1932. What is interesting to note is that during the same time there was a nationalist movement in the United States. We were in the same Great Depression that Europe was in. While Franklin Roosevelt was being realistic about the true cause of the nation’s woes (unregulated banks and powerful money interests) he cautioned a nation by saying at his inaugural address (which was upbeat by the way) that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”, and told Americans to be hopeful and get to work with your neighbors and world community to get out of the mess we were in. Germany on the other-hand told her people that their nation was in terrible trouble and that they should be afraid and respond in anger to the immigrants, gypsies, homosexuals and Jews who conspired against them.

When your power is based on nationalism, which is to say based on “we’re the greatest” and the rest of the world is substandard and dangerous to our rightful place, people tend to go after their neighbors, after the Gypsies, Homosexuals, Immigrants and Jews have been dealt with resulting in society becoming fearful, unstable and violent. A nation starts to renege on treaties, using threat of force to negotiate other treaties that favor mostly and then such nations will bite off more than they can chew and go to war. This is what happened in Germany, Italy and Japan. The rest of the world, a community of nations working on a common goal against a common enemy fought back and destroyed the Nationalist governments and people of Germany, Italy and Japan.

In the aftermath of World War Two, instead of repeating the mistakes of the Great War by harshly punishing defeated nations and their people indefinitely, not only was the United Nations created to give all a voice in international affairs, Europe was rebuilt by the American people in the spirit of fostering a world community where we all helped each other (The Marshall Plan). They were allowed back into the community of nations and worked with each other for their own national good, at least in Western Europe and Japan. Eastern Europe unfortunately fell under the control of Stalinist communism.

Eastern Europe was made to suffer for generations. The Soviet Union was in their own way nationalistic by placing themselves apart from the rest of the world and claiming superiority. They kept their citizens convinced that outside “western” influences were harming their success. However their rule and nationalist economic policies were untenable in a global economy and like so many nationalist states, bit off more than they could chew. The Russian economy collapsed and the Soviet Union disintegrated. However, the fall of the USSR gave talking points used by Vladimir Putin to gain a new nationalist control of Russia. Under Putin, though much more strategic

On the other hand, in the years following World War Two, because the United States worked on equal footing with the nations of Europe and the European nations began to work on equal footing with each other, all prospered economically and socially. At least until Putin began to sow the seeds of discontent among European nations by supporting new nationalist movements there in an attempt to break up the European Union. By destroying democratic Western Nations via creating a lack of confidence in their electoral processes and governments, Russia comes off greater and more powerful in world affairs.

It is no coincident that White Supremacists in this nation echo the same talking points and advocate for the same policies as the Nationalists of fascist Germany, Italy and Japan of 80 years ago. They claim inherent superiority over all other nations and outsiders. The blame immigrants, Muslims, Jews, Homosexual, bad treaties, for all the woes they “say” exist whether they exist or not.

History shows us that within a nation state, nationalism sews the seeds of division, distrust in others and existing government. By claiming all is horrible when it isn’t, those who do feel left out, whether they are left out or not blame others. In our case they’re blaming Jews, Muslims, Homosexuals and Immigrants. By outlawing and removing them the nation will be “Great Again”. This is a historically proven way to gain power, but history also shows it is a poor way to maintain power and often leads to catastrophic results.

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What nationalists fail to understand is that by outlawing and removing “others” you weaken the economic base of a nation leading to real problems in terms of financial security, job growth and spending power. By using fear, anger, hate and violence society crumbles leaving “strong men” to pick up the pieces and consolidate power over everyone. Such a government, as history shows us, tends to battle other nations while it’s battling itself. Their economy becomes unsustainable in a world economy and collapses upon itself over time. Nationalist nations that exclude others only serve to isolate themselves while taking on more than they can effectively handle without willing help. Such an existence, especially as a governing philosophy is untenable and doomed to failure.

The Trump Nationalist Regime, orchestrated by Stephen K. Bannon created a false narrative that the nation wasn’t great anymore, that immigrants, Muslims and Jews were to blame. This gave them a bigoted base to begin their movement to take over the nation. Then they said government lied to you about jobs, economic growth and pushed conspiracy theories to a gullible group. They pushed the premise that the media is dishonest whether they supported their regime or not, like Germany harped on the “Lügenpresse” (lying press) to place doubt in the minds of the public and open the door for them to accept their own propaganda via sites like Breitbart, The Daily Caller, NewsMax, Drudge Report, InfoWars, etc. to confuse and indoctrinate a growingly uneasy population. This is how nationalist regimes begin, and history shows us they all end up like Germany, Italy, Japan because of their overreach and lust for power using citizens as pawns and props.

The Trump Nationalist Regime is already working on weakening our nation by deregulating the banking industry, deregulating big oil and coal allowing them to pollute our water and air. They are working to weaken our healthcare system and economic security of our nation. They are weakening our national security system that will eventually allow a terrorist attack to occur giving them their own “Reichstag” fire to consolidate control. They are already working to grow military spending to place American troops in harm’s way overseas thus needlessly adding to our national debt. They are weakening the underpinnings of our nation created and expanded over the last 227 years since our constitution was ratified. The Nationalism of the Trump Regime is textbook in its creation, growth and ultimate destruction. Problem is, we as a nation could be destroyed too if we allow it to go on too long.

No Elected Office is Unimportant

Over a generation ago, conservative think tanks, financially backed by corporate interests like the Koch Brothers taught the Republicans an important lesson that they have followed to this very day. Namely, no elected office is unimportant. Over the years Republicans have ran for school boards, corporation commissions, Justices of the Peace, city council, mayors, county boards, and all down-ballot offices in all jurisdictions while Democrats have only focused on National offices and a few Governorships. In fact, under former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz they haven’t even ran for all Senate & House seats that were within reach. As a result, by running the table up and down the ballot, Republicans have today an almost intractable grip on most every city council, school board, county board and State Legislature across the country. This represents the greatest danger to our democracy, even more so than having Donald Trump as president.

Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution:

“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”

Most who understand basic Civics already know what’s needed to “amend” the constitution. What few understand is that under Article V, if two thirds of the several States (34 States) Legislatures call for it, our nation, (separate from interference of Congress or the Executive Branch) can call for a new Constitutional Convention and if three fourths of the several States (38 States) ratify what the convention comes up with, we have a new nation.  As of this year, 32 State Legislatures are completely controlled by the Republicans.

A simple search of right-wing blogs and sites reveal that they want those two more States to call for that Constitutional Convention. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the corporate sponsors of the Republican Party would push under a new Constitution. They would push to remove the Commerce Clause, used by the Executive Branch and Congress to keep individual states from imposing discriminatory laws, abiding by national standards for clean air, water, food, pharmaceuticals, etc. And that would just be the start.

Each election year I’m amazed of the lack of Democratic candidates for not only congressional districts in Arizona, few even try to run for our State legislature. I suspect that much like most “Red States” local Democratic parties won’t spend time and effort running candidates for these down ballot races. However, despite Arizona being a Red State, there is a very noticeable Democratic influence. We have elected in the recent past Democratic Governors, Secretaries of State, Attorneys General, Senators. This past year in “conservative Republican” Maricopa County we elected a Democrat (Paul Penzone) to replace Joe Arpaio. I do not believe Arizona is unique among Red States. In fact, more people across the country are becoming more aware of the broken promises and pro corporate, Wall Street, 1% agenda of Republicans and would give an alternative serious consideration.

Article V should scare everyone in this nation, liberal, moderate and conservative. If we allow the GOP to take two more State legislatures, there most likely will be a Koch Brothers-ALEC call for that convention and all could be lost for ordinary Americans who struggle to work and survive in this nation. The sad thing is that currently (from what I observe) the DNC is still doing little to focus on individual State legislatures and other down ballot races across the country, focusing instead on the Senate, House and Executive Branch.  Keep in mind, if there’s a new convention, those three branches could be changed along with the Supreme Court. The Republicans, on the other hand continue to fund all these down ballot races across the country.

Thom Hartmann points out the success of the “Tea Party” (sponsored by the Koch Brothers mind you) to infiltrate and take over the Republican Party to do their bidding. He says the best way to counter is for liberals and I hope moderates to infiltrate and take over the Democratic Party in much the same way. Now would be a good time to start. In addition to telling Tom Perez and Keith Ellison to divert resources to down ballot races, we individually should take the bold state to run for those offices ourselves.

I have hinted in my Twitter timeline my ongoing consideration of formally registering as a Democrat and running for our State House. I’m not there yet, but I suspect I’ll be making my formal announcement before year’s end. For me, there are several personal and financial considerations to deal with, not the least of which being would I have Arizona Democratic Party support for such a run? If not, can I pull it off myself? However the dangers to my State and Nation are certainly pushing me in the direction to run for office. My hope is that nationwide, in the Red States around the nation there are others like me willing to make the same sacrifice.

More to follow.