About AZModerate Rants

My Twitter bio tells how the extreme views of the Tea Party, that infiltrated the Republican Party caused me to leave. Many call me a RINO though my political views haven't changed all that much. I look to logic, reason and sanity to guide my views. Snark is always an option. I suspect that I will offend many on both sides of the political divide, but in doing so, I know I'm doing what's right.

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.

Trade Warus_china_trade-wartradegraph

 

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.

OneVolk

MussolineAd

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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MAWA

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.

GOP Redistribution of Wealth

I know this may come as a shock to many of you but there is something the Republicans are lying about. For years we’ve heard how they absolutely oppose what they coin “Redistribution of Wealth” especially when it involves taxpayer dollars being used to subsidize ordinary Americans with little to no money to provide the basics for themselves and their families. Things like housing, food, transportation, healthcare, even education. Republicans hate how money they say comes from the wealthiest is redistributed to the poor. They add that when they get the chance they’ll get rid of that because everyone needs to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and government shouldn’t enable laziness.

Two conservative Republican policies calls this into question, namely School Vouchers and the Medicare Vouchers that Paul Ryan is pushing through Congress while the nation is obsessed with an Orange Clown distracting them from seeing what’s going on.

School Vouchers are already being used in conservative areas around the country and Betsy DeVos wants to make them mandatory across the nation. Nine in ten American children attend public schools funded by taxpayer dollars. School Vouchers skims that money away from public schools and create a “coupon” worth on average $4,000.00 a year to pay tuition at private or charter schools that cost on average $11,000.00 a year. That’s a nice gift from the taxpayers providing you have $7,000.00 on hand for each child to place in a private or charter school. Surprise, 90% of American families don’t have that kind of money. So they’re forced to keep their children in the public schools that are of course lacking of funds because the conservatives like Betsy DeVos has stolen money meant for Public Education to subsidize the wealthiest Americans. There’s a term for this; Redistribution of Wealth. Only difference is it takes wealth from everybody and redistributes it upwards to those who don’t need the help.

Currently the Congress is getting ready to pass legislation pushed by Paul Ryan for years now to privatize Medicare. Under the same set up as with Education Vouchers, Medicare Vouchers will take money collected by the taxation of all working Americans to fund individual vouchers to purchase private insurance, instead of being covered by Medicare.

The average cost to Medicare for the elderly is $12,000.00 a year. The Medicare Voucher will be $8,000.00 a year. So if you’re not on a fixed income and in fairly decent health you can easily come up with the additional $4,000.00 a year for your premiums. However, you need to remember that Medicare isn’t profit driven and has a 3% administrative cost compared to 15% to 20% of private insurance. The less money available, the less coverage provided. Further, don’t expect annual elderly Insurance to only be the $12,000.00 a year that Medicare funds. Also, when you consider the Republican conservative push to completely repeal The Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act otherwise known as Obamacare, denial of coverage for preexisting conditions return as will life-time caps.

So imagine the majority of our elderly and handicapped living on fixed incomes coming up with $4,000.00 or more a year while they don’t have enough for housing, food, transportation, etc. Further, the proponents of the Medicare Voucher system say that with more buying into the private insurance market competition will reduce costs. Well, you don’t have competition when all the insurance companies are merging. Under Republican deregulation of the industry there are fewer and fewer insurance companies to choose from and those that remain are looking to merge. Premium rates were increasing at a higher annual rate prior to ACA than they are now. With ACA gone, rates will continue to rise at their pre ACA pace, perhaps even higher as predicted by experts in the field.

So again, the Conservative Plan for healthcare is to take taxpayer’s money geared towards a public system, convert that into “coupons” to buy private insurance that only the wealthiest can afford. This too is redistribution of wealth upwards to the wealthiest who don’t need the government assistance.

Money provided to public schools and Medicare comes from taxation of all the people. Public schools via local property taxes and some Federal tax dollars and Medicare from FICA which is collected by all working Americans up to a limit of $110,000.00 of their gross income. Any income exceeding that is exempt from additional taxation. So consider, few people earn more than $110,000.00 a year. With nearly everybody contributing to Medicare and Social Security via FICA, under the Ryan Voucher Plan, that money (collected from everyone) will be denied back to most of them and will only go to the wealthiest Americans. Coupons are worthless if you can’t come up with the rest of the money needed to purchase what the coupons cover. That’s true in fancy restaurants, private schools and especially healthcare.

In the campaign season Donald Trump said he would not allow any cuts to Medicare or Social Security. Since being elected he’s said nothing about maintaining that promise. Further, he’s signed everything put on his desk (apparently without even reading some of his Execute Actions). Trump is doing what he’s told to do by Bannon, Ryan and McConnell.

Although more than enough information has surfaced to warrant an independent investigation into Trump for possible impeachment, the Republicans are holding off. They allow Trump to play the clown because that draws all the public attention to him while they legislate to cut taxes for the wealthy, increase taxes on the middle and working class and then via programs like School Vouchers and Medicare Vouchers redistribute the wealth of the nation from the majority to the wealthiest few.

We need to focus on the House and Senate taxation and spending plans and hold each individual member of the House and Senate accountable to what they’re trying to pull over on us while Agent Orange rants and raves and tweets about “Fake News” and Making America Great Again. He’s an empty Chinese Suit with no power that Ryan and McConnell don’t give him. Seriously, the best recourse for the Resistance is to hit up Congress and force them to respond to our needs and hold Trump in check.

Get active and contact all your local and federal government representatives and be heard.

School Choice: For most it doesn’t exist

Today Donald J. Trump’s nomination for Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (a billionaire who contributed to Trump’s campaign) has had her name sent to the full Senate Chamber for a vote. Two Republicans have announced that they will not vote for her. She is one vote away from not being confirmed. Of note is how my Senator, Jeff Flake stated he supports her by tweeting “you had me at school choice”. Well let’s examined what school choice is all about in hers and conservative thinking.

Our founders were students of The Enlightenment. As such they knew that for this republic to be governed by the People via her Representatives, the People needed to be educated. Thomas Jefferson himself advocated free education even through University. The majority of the founders agreed. What is interesting is that our current Department of Education wasn’t even in existence until 1980 under President Jimmy Carter. Prior to that it was each State’s responsibility to deal with educating the public. Due to problems with rural school districts in Red states funding education, this department helped defray the costs by infusing Federal funding for education. However, early in our existence each State held true to the notion of free education for the people, many including California offered free college education for her citizens. All of this was tax funded locally, but over time the Feds had to step in to assist and also even the playing field.

Towards the end of the 20th Century depending on the State, the funding of public education, curriculum and various extremist views began to impact how Public Schools were to be ran. As Governor of California, Ronald Reagan took offense that College students weren’t enthralled with him and saying the tax payers couldn’t afford it, eliminated tuition free college in California. Religious groups wanting to promote Christianity with the fallen children of the secular nation started to take control of Public School Boards to change the curriculum and insert misinformation and fables into the lesson plan. In short, they worked to indoctrinate children into their way of thinking.

Now we’ve always had private schools for the wealthy. As you know, especially at the time of school desegregation affluent parents who would take advantage of the Public schools began to make better use of Private Schools. They could afford it, but they weren’t happy with paying both local school board taxes and private school tuition. The solution was a diabolical plan called Vouchers.

Under the guise of “School Choice” a movement was created to divert tax collected revenues for Public Schools to fund Education Vouchers so “any parent can choose a private school for their children.” Sounds good. If it’s a private school then logically it must be better than the old dirty Public School and my kids would do so much better there. So voters were convinced to allow money to be syphoned away from Public Schools to fund the Voucher program. However, it hasn’t worked as promised. Of course this was the original plan.

https://www.newamerica.org/education-policy/policy-explainers/early-ed-prek-12/school-funding/

This nation spends $550 billion on public and secondary education. On average $10,600 is spent on each student. The Federal government contributes around 12% of all direct expenditures for elementary and secondary schools. Because of the premise that these are Public Schools, funded by the taxpayers, as long as you are a local citizen, that education is “free.” However, there are those who want their children in Private Schools. On average, the tuition of a Private School is just over $11,000 per student. Whether it be $10.6K or $11K the cost of education is beyond the scope of families who are impoverished, part of the working poor, lower middle-class, even middle-class. So to educate their children, they only have Public Schools or home schooling (which is another rant for another time).

Well here’s the kicker, the average Voucher to get your kid into a private school is about $4,000. A good chunk of money but that doesn’t pay the yearly costs for either Private or Public Schools. So to use a voucher to get your kid into a Private School, a family must pony up on average another $7,000 per child per year. That is beyond the reasonable reach of most families in this nation.

Keep in mind, vouchers are funded by diverting monies meant for Public Schools. So the more Voucher created, the less money available to the Public School. Less money, the worse off the school is in every sense. Another thing to consider, under Federal Law, a Public school cannot turn away a student but Private and Charter Schools (which are private entities) can.

So vouchers created to facilitate School Choice only benefits the wealthiest among us by subsidizing their children at public expense while public schools go underfunded.  Vouchers are a scam to milk the poor and middle-class to subsidize the wealthy, reverse Robin Hood.

Based on economics, there really is no School Choice unless you are wealthy. And one final note regarding vouchers, this is what Paul Ryan and the Republicans want to do with Medicare, subsidize the wealthy to buy private insurance while defunding the publicly funded Medicare program locking the poor and middle-class out.

Welcome to Trump’s American.

  

You might be living in a fascist state if…

north-american-fascism-police-state

Political Scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt wrote an article entitled “Fascism Anybody?” that was published in the Free Inquiry in the spring of 2003. In this article he did an in-depth analysis of fascist regimes. He studied Hitler with Germany, Mussolini with Italy, Franco with Spain, Suharto with Indonesia and numerous Latin American regimes. In his study he found that each of these fascist states had the same 14 characteristics. Much has been spoken about these 14 characteristics and their relationship to what is happening in the United States today under Donald Trump and the Republican Party. Keep in mind that this article was written with another Republican, George W. Bush in mind. Of course after Barack Obama was elected, those on the right attempted to say he was installing a fascist regime himself.

That being said, what follows are each of the 14 characteristics and what exists today in this country. Consider with each of these characteristics what can be laid at the feet of the Republicans and what if any could be laid at the feet of President Obama and the Democrats.

1)      Powerful and Continuing Nationalism: Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public display.

It doesn’t take much to view social media to see how most of the right-wing accounts on Twitter, Facebook, etc. often have flags, eagles, guns on their banners. Some on the left do too, but not as much as the right. Many of these people describe themselves as Patriotic Conservatives, Molon Labe, America First, etc. Donald Trump loves to embrace the flag, be seen with the flag. He speaks of how broken our country is, that only he can “Make America Great Again” in order to stir nationalist favor to him and his cause. In fact, White Nationalists, otherwise known as Neo-Nazis support Donald Trump completely saying he will make our nation powerful. President Obama was patriotic too, he was seen with flags, wore his tie pin and spoke of how we still are a great nation. However, he acknowledged a need to work with other nations to maintain peace and cooperation in the world. Although he used military might against terrorists, he endeavored to work with other nations for assistance and help. He built a coalition. Trump and the Republicans want to go it alone. America before all else and we won’t concede an inch to anyone, not even our allies. So for #1 this clearly goes to the Right.

2)      Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights: Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of the “need”. The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

During his campaign Donald Trump made it clear that he wants to bring torture back. One of his first executive orders says as much. He also wants to deny sanctuary to Syrian immigrants fleeing war for fear of our security. He wants to build the famous wall to keep the Mexican “rapists, drug dealers and murderers out.” He claims to be a “Law and Order” advocate wanting to lock people up for as long as possible regardless of their crimes. He turns the other way regarding reports of Blacks, Muslims, Jews, etc. being harassed and harmed by White Supremacists. He supports legislation that strips away protection from Hate Crimes, he and Mike Pence support legislation legalizing discrimination of others based on “deep held religious views” unless those views of Muslim I suppose.  President Obama recognized human suffering and throughout his eight years by executive order worked to alleviate the human rights violation against Muslims, LGBTQ, Women, POC etc. So #2 is clearly again goes to the Right.

3)      Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause: The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

You don’t need to think too hard about this one. Muslims and “Mexicans” are the greatest threat to our nation according to the right. Trump wants the wall, wants to ban all Muslims from coming to this country and even create a Muslim Registry for those already here. Of course those on the right always condemn the “libtards” out there as those on the left condemn the RWNJs. However, recently Newt Gingrich came out saying that any Federal employee who voted Democratic this year should be fired by Trump. So under the Trump regime, Muslims, Latinos and Democrats are the common enemy of the State. #3 is solidly with the Right.

4)      Supremacy of the Military: Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers a military service are glamorized.

Both side do glamorize and respect our military. With the exception of the Sequester, our military spending did increase under President Obama. Currently the US spends $596 billion, 3.3% of our GDP on our military. We spend more than any other country. China comes second with $215 billion, 1.9% of her GDP. Russia is fourth with $66 billion 5.4% of her GDP. In fact, we spend more on our military than the next 14 nations combined and most of them are our allies. Trump and the Republicans want to increase our military spending more to the realm of a trillion dollars while at the same time want to cut domestic spending towards Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, food stamps, housing assistance, education, etc. Now Trump says he wants to rebuild our infrastructure which both sides agree too, but if we’re starving, impoverished sick and dying, what good does that for the nation? What is our military defending us from? Looks like the real threat is our own indifference to our own people. #4 goes to the Right.

5)      Rampant Sexism: The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

I don’t believe the Right has any further issues with divorce considering their president and their pundits like Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich although they all went after Bill Clinton for having affairs, they blame Hillary for not divorcing him. Trump and the Republicans want to roll back LGBTQ rights earned over the past eight years. One of Trumps first executive order to ban funding of abortions outside the country was witnessed by all White Males. Most of the Trump administration is male whereas Obama had the most diverse administration with men women and minorities in our history. Trump throughout his life has objectified women as property or show things. The Republican Party is very dismissive of Women’s rights and balked at the Women’s March, which was worldwide, on January 21st. #5 also goes firmly to the Right.

6)      Controlled Mass Media: Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

To date I don’t see the Trump administration or Republican Party taking direct control of the media themselves. However, due to the corporate nature of the media and goal to earn more viewership and thus more profit, they do tend to curb their political coverage more right than left. Trump received nearly $3 billion in free coverage in his run for the presidency. Far more Republican politicians and pundits are on the “liberal” media than Democrats. Now Trump has gone out of his way to condemn the media as “Dishonest” for reporting the truth about him. There are indications of backlash from the Trump Administration against the media for doing their job. President Obama had his issues with the media too, but he worked his way through it and actually thanked them for holding his feet to the fire in his final days in office. So #6 isn’t quite there yet for the Right, but it’s not for lack of trying.

7)      Obsession with National Security: Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

Obama was known as the “Deporter in Chief” for all the deportations of undocumented immigrants carried out during his presidency. Trump says “you don’t have a country without borders” and “Mexico isn’t sending us their best people… They’re sending us their rapists, drug dealers, murders.”  Now of course this isn’t true. In reality first generation immigrants are far more law abiding than native born Americans. However Trump and the Republicans spend much of their time convincing Americans that our borders aren’t secured (they are) and we are in constant danger from Mexicans and Muslims (we’re not). In reality White Supremacists are responsible for exponentially more damage, assaults and murders since 9-11 than any other group in the country. If we have anything to fear, it’s our own people. #7 goes to the Right.

8)      Religion and Government are intertwined: Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

Our nation was found under a wall of separation between Church and State, but for generations now the right has been pushing the false narrative that we were founded as a Christian Nation. In recent years to meld with the blame the Muslims rhetoric from the right, they claim Muslims are working to, against the Constitution mind you, to implement Shari ’a law in our nation. Now that is pure crap not supported by any facts anywhere. However, in response the right demands we implement certain laws against Homosexuality and abortion and require adherence to Biblical tenets that they themselves don’t ascribe to in their private lives. In short, they want to institute Christian Shari ’a law in the land. What they say they’re wanting codify in law isn’t even truly reflected in Bible teachings. So #8 is squarely assigned to the Right.

9)      Corporate Power is protected: The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

So, Donald Trump is a billionaire businessman, Rex Tillerson is a billionaire Oilman, Andrew Puzder is a billionaire fast food entrepreneur, Betsy Devos is a billionaire Amway entrepreneur, and the list goes on. Our current government is Corporate Power. Trump and the Republican Party work to cut corporate taxes and regulations to protect workers and the environment in order to raise their profit margins. Worker rights are constantly being thwarted by the Right. #9 is made for the Right.

10)   Labor is Suppressed: Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor union are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

As noted above the Republican Party hasn’t been a friend to labor. Andrew Puzder who’s been nominated for labor secretary hates labor. He wants to do away with unions, minimum wages, sick time, vacation time, even break time. Obama worked to increase the minimum wage nationwide. Red state after Red state impose “Right to Work” legislation which is a euphemism for Right to Work for Less. Unions have little to no authority to negotiate for employees with the government in Right to Work States. The corporations have total control over labor. #10 is assigned to the Right.

11)   Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts: Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

Trump and the Republicans have already announced zeroing out funding for the arts in the budget. They aren’t too keen about paying for education either. Obama worked to make higher education affordable, he believed in climate change and worked with scientists for solutions. The Right dismiss climate change, they dismiss evolution, and another executive order was signed by Trump forbidding anyone from the EPA from releasing scientific data without government review. As Trump said himself “I love the poorly educated.” 11 goes to the Right.

12)   Obsession with Crime and Punishment: Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

President Obama through his Justice Department understood that there are some bad cops out there who are oppressing the citizens they’re support to protect. He couldn’t ignore the continual reports of unarmed suspects being shot and killed. He had his DOJ investigate these departments. This is not to say that Obama was anti-cop. Quite the contrary, however he knew there’s a problem recognized by much of the nation and tried to alleviate it. Trump on the other hand is an absolutist. If it involves a cop, doesn’t matter what the facts of the circumstances are, the cop is a saint and can do no wrong. He claims to be a law and order president (not counting White Collar crime I suppose) and wants to increase criminal sanctions on all criminal offenders and give cops license to do what they want without consequence.

13)   Rampant Cronyism and Corruption: Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

When President Obama took office, like a famous previous president Abraham Lincoln, he appointed a cabinet made up of some of his rivals for the presidency. He even appointed some from the previous Bush administration. Now although Trump accused Hillary Clinton of having a pay to play cronyism inkling, he himself has appointed his bankruptcy attorney, his friends and some of his biggest donors to his cabinet. Worse yet and unprecedented in our history, he’s kept his businesses and stands to make executive actions like KeystoneXL and DAPL to further his own bottom line. #13 is all Right.

14)   Fraudulent Elections: Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district’s boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

In 2000 and conservative right wing Supreme Court gave Republican George Bush the presidency. In 2010 having won the midterms and many state legislatures due to low voter turnout, republicans around the nation in Red states used the census numbers to gerrymander voting districts to their favor almost guaranteeing winning control in State Houses and the House of Representatives for ten years even if they didn’t get the majority of votes (which they haven’t since 2010). A republican FBI director broke FBI and Justice Department rules days before the November election to say the Hillary Clinton was again under criminal investigation for issues involving her emails. In fact, there was nothing new and a follow letter was submitted just before the election that she lost in the Electoral College despite winning the general. Analysts agree that this letter swung the vote in four key states to Trump giving him the Electoral College win. Republicans have been suppressing the vote in red states. Operation Cross Check from a Republican operative in Kansas has resulted in people needlessly being dropped from voting rolls without notice. Now Trump claims 4 to 5 million “illegals” voted for Clinton despite no evidence to support that. However he plans on using this for more Republican legislation to suppress the vote. #14 is now clearly in the Right’s pocket.

Of the 14 characteristics Donald Trump and the Republican Party score significantly on all of them. Only #6 is in question in my opinion, but they’re edging closer to fulfilling it completely. So based on Dr. Britt’s analysis, the United States in just the first week of the Trump administration (though they had a 30 year head start with the help of Newt Gingrich) is now a fascist state. The question is, will it remain so. In 1932 Germany became a fascist state but in the early months, much like today here, there were massive protests against Hitler and the Nazis. They did horrendous things early on, but they did it in such a way that the people got used to it and the protests died off. Then as they consolidated and increased their power legislatively like with the Enabling Act after the Reichstag Fire, took full control and began the roundup of political opponents, euthanasia of the mentally ill, sick and elderly, round-up of the gypsies, homosexuals and Jews who were placed in concentration camps. Then of course in 1939 they went to war.

We have history to reflect on. If we are to remain a fascist state all we need do is nothing. If we want to revert back to a democratic Republic, we need to get out daily. We need to bombard our representatives daily to let them know this will not stand. We need to educate the Republican base, yes the Republican base about what they stand to lose if the current power regime continues. Healthcare, Social Security, Cost of Living, Jobs, are on the line for all of us Democratic, Republican, Green, Libertarian, Independent, if the current Republican leadership in Washington DC and many of our states remain in control. It’s not too late, but it’s getting there.

Join the Resistance while we still can resist.

Donald J. Trump and the “Dishonest Media”

Donald Trump claims to be many things, but the one thing he can get credit for is being the master showman (at least for a period of time before the audience tires of him like with Celebrity Apprentice). As such he likes to come up with short quips that catch on with his followers to gain notoriety and get across whatever he happens to be selling at the time. Mind you these quips have little to no basis in reality, but for the dull-witted among us, they carry weight. These quips are usually in Hashtag form on Twitter. Hashtags have become the bumper-stickers of the 21st Century.

One hashtag this showman (who lack substance) has used a lot to this day is #DishonestMedia. The immediate context from this is of course the media is dishonest in their reporting of him. This accusation is as old as the presidency itself. John Adams was so incensed by how he was treated by the press (at the urging of Thomas Jefferson), he actually had people arrested for writing scurrilous things about him. Of course, Nixon had his “enemies list” that was comprised of many of the newspaper writers, editors and media personalities of the time. The one difference with Trump however, is he goes so far as to openly express his hatred of the media, using ad hominem attacks on them personally. One time he publicly joked about having some in the media killed because he hated them so much

As President, Trump is using his “Suppress Secretary” Sean Spicer to insist what the media portrays are lies and misinformation. Despite side by side pictures, on the ground reporting by experts, he and Trump insist that less than 400,000 people on the mall for his inauguration was actually a million and a half. The media is being dishonest by reporting otherwise and showing film of vacant stands, sections of the mall as the inauguration was underway as well as the Trump motorcade. It is almost… hell, it is Orwellian.

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Now for this post I’m going to speak of media as in cable and network news, newspapers and internet blogs.

Is the media dishonest? Well I like to point out that if you improperly use Inferential Logic you can clearly say in Trump’s case that the media is dishonest because they are reporting on a man quantitatively proven to be the most dishonest man to run for and occupy the White House. If you report on dishonesty, you’re dishonest yourself. Now of course that’s pure bullshit so let’s go further.

There was a time where network news, in order to maintain access to the public airwaves had to broadcast in the public interest. In terms of politics, it had to be honest and balanced between the positions and/or candidates at hand. By FCC regulation, there had to be a firewall between advertisers and the news department. However, under Ronald Reagan the “fairness doctrine” was eliminated. In the years that followed the “liberal media” more and more came under control of corporate interests via actual ownership and advertising dollars. So as a result, over time a not so balanced presentation of the news came to being, usually siding with those you supported corporate interests. By the time cable news came to being, this was par for the course. Studies have clearly indicated that the “liberal media” over the past isn’t so much. Even during the Obama administration, Republicans were seen more on the Sunday Talk shows than Democrats. Oh, same goes for White Males than minorities or women. Here’s the study:

http://mediamatters.org/research/2014/01/30/report-the-demographics-of-the-sunday-morning-p/197783

ideology-sunday-shows-1ah

Now the joke is reality has a liberal bias and perhaps it does. But as far as network and cable news are concerned, and most likely because of corporate sponsorship, the news (even on MSNBC) leans more right than left.

So that being said, is the media in terms of cable and network news “dishonest”? No, but they aren’t completely balanced either. In fact Trump received an estimated $3 billion in free coverage from the “liberal media” in his run for the nomination and presidency. Now if something is beyond all doubt and is shown or talked about on air, they’re being honest. The only ones being dishonest would be those showing a kitten and saying it’s a puppy.

As for another Trump hashtag #FakeNews, to relate a story about an actual investigation or statement of interested parties regarding Trump and/or his staff isn’t fake news. It’s conceivable that nothing substantial will come from the investigations, but if 17 intelligence agencies say they believe something happened and are looking into it, that’s not fake. Saying it is fake is simply ludicrous. Fake news is saying that FBI is investigating a pizza place in DC where child trafficking is taking place despite the fact that there are no FBI investigations or complaints ever being made.

So what of the press. Established newspapers have had troubles in this information age. Indeed they like media required advertising dollars to survive, but they also require subscribers. So with “news” available via Facebook, Twitter, Blogs etc., fewer people will spend the money subscribing to a newspaper or magazine since a lot of the information there is suddenly free on-line.

But here’s the kicker. These papers and magazines (at least the established ones) still hold to journalistic integrity and ethics. Anything of a serious nature or accusation against a person, especially a politician doesn’t get past the editorial board to be published until multiple sources confirm the story. That was the basis of the Watergate reporting. So they do their due diligence, report the story and other internet sites copy, paste, to tell the same story that these reporters did the hard work to get and verify. Sometimes they will get it wrong, but when they do, they print a retraction and are open for lawsuits against them.

The New York Times, Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, Esquire, Time Magazine, Newsweek Magazine are of the few remaining newspapers and magazines that do traditional investigation, verification and reporting. But in this internet age, they’re losing money to those who make use of their work. You will note that their articles are balanced and factual and do tend to lean left. But again, reality has a liberal bias.

Subscribe to a Newspaper

Finally we have the blogs. Blogs have no oversight, no rules, no restraints, whoever runs the blog has the say in what goes in it. That is true of both liberal leaning blogs and conservative leaning blogs. Now some blogs present themselves as news sources (Breitbart, NewsMax, The Daily Caller, The Blaze, etc.). They are nothing but glorified blogs printing without verification a political leaning of their choice. They are not true news and to say they are is being “Dishonest”. This blog you’re reading does have a liberal leaning, and I’ll admit I write in a style dismissive of the right. However when I can I try to be fair, I will post links and I’ll never claim to be the ultimate source of information. Like Randi Rhodes I ask you to do your homework rather than take my word for it.

The media playing tapes of multiple statements from Donald Trump in full context, showing his tweets, repeating his promises then showing him saying he’s doing something different, are not acts of a dishonest media, it’s showing what happened and what was said by Trump.

The media was envisioned by the founders as the 4th estate to hold your government accountable. No president including Obama has had an easy time with media coverage of their presidency but Trump takes the cake. Someone who’s secure in himself, his cause and his job has no need to engage in pointless squabbles with the media. Last president to do that was Richard Nixon and remember what happened to him.

As for the media, do your job. Stay on the offensive and hold this administration accountable for the American People. Give us reason to trust you are covering this man fully and accurately. As for all of you, subscribe to newspapers and read them. They’re pretty much all we have left now to keep us informed especially since Trump is wiping clean all relevant accurate data from the Government website regarding Healthcare and Climate Change. Almost as if he doesn’t want you guy to know something. Trump is the Dishonest President.

A Yuge Christmas Carol

On his final Christmas before taking the oath as President, Donald Trump was having a restless night. Twitter went down due to Chinese hacking and Melania was still in New York. Donald tried to soothe himself to sleep by eating a bowl of his favorite food, KFC gravy.

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After he finished he made his way to bed only to be interrupted and chains dragging across the floor. “Ivanka did you break free again?” he shouted only to have the spirit of his long dead father Fred Trump appear before him.

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“Father, why are you here? I thought I didn’t have to pay you back that loan? By the way what’s the deal with the chains?”

“Donald” Fred replied, “These are the chains I forged myself being a terrible father by giving you all you ever wanted but not teaching you anything about responsibility. Granted that’s how I was raised too but what the fuck, who thought anyone was paying attention?”

Fred looked off into the distance and continued, “Son, I know you think you have all you ever desired but the people upstairs will be sending you three spirits to try to teach you the meaning of the Presidency. I told them you were beyond education and that I blew a fortune on you at Wharton but they wouldn’t listen. I think most of them are darkies so they pay me no never mind. Anyhow you will be visited by the spirit of Presidents past, Presidents present and Presidents future. This is important, not another National Security Briefing, you need to listen to these people.”

Confused, Donald collected his composure and replied, “Okay father, I’ll listen. By the way is it possible you could loan me another $200 million? The RNC are being stingy about paying me back what I spent on this think.”

Fred looked sternly at Donald and firmly stated “NO, fuck off kid” then vanished in a puff of smoke.

Curling back up in his bed Donald heard a Beyoncé song and suddenly clamored in white the spirit of Presidents past appeared.

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“Wait, what, Michelle? You are the spirit of Presidents past? I mean you’re still in the White House and alive. How does that work?

Michelle with a smile on her face explained, “Donald, the spirits of the past are often women, now thanks to the Russians we don’t have a female President to show you what you missed. Further, none of the other First Ladies wanted to be anywhere near you for fear of being grabbed. Knowing you really don’t like to get close enough to touch African Americans I thought I would take a stab at it.”

Donald asked “So what is there to show me about Presidents past that I don’t already know?”

Forcing a smile Michelle answered “Christ Donald we don’t have that much time! Okay all I want to leave you with is that every President in the past whether you believe it or not were experienced in government and or had military experience. You have neither and listening to Alex Jones or watching the History Channel is a poor substitute. Your entire life you just ignored what was happening in Washington DC only to opine some crap whenever there was a camera before you. Now granted you are experienced in bribing government officials to get what you want for you and your business, but being able to keep the government sound, the people happy, the economy flowing so government can pay you the bribes takes a hell of a lot of work and knowledge. You really need to listen to people who are experienced at this, not other billionaires who only know how to bribe, not govern. Got to go, plenty of packing to do.”

With that, Michelle was gone.

Curled up in his bed Donald came to a realization “Crap! If the spirit of Presidents Present is next then that means Barack is coming to talk to me again. God damn it, I’m tired of being showed up by a Black man who knows more than me!”

Then suddenly the next spirit arrived but it wasn’t Barack Obama.

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“Grant?” Trump exclaimed. “Why you? You’re from the past not present.”

Grant looked impatiently at Donald and replied “Well, you see, the way this timeline is working out there may not be any future presidents after you so we’re stuck with past Presidents. Obama couldn’t make it because he’s working his ass off trying to Trump proof the nation before you take over. God I love that man!”

“Anyhow, I and the spirit of Presidents future will try to teach you from our experience what you need to avoid if you will be successful and allow the timeline to change where this nation survives and we can have more presidents in the future.”

Trump smiling replied “Okay, I can listen to you, I see a lot of myself in you and see you as a role model.”

Angrily Grant responded “Shut the fuck up! First of all I served the nation in war, I was an honest man and I wrote my own book, didn’t rely on a ghost writer. What we do have in common is that I surrounded myself with the most corrupt business people the Gilded Age provided to be part of my administration. As a result, my presidency was inundated with corruption and scandal and despite my good intentions, my presidency was a failure that ushered in more years of scandal at the hands of the wealthy and harming the ordinary people of the United States. Hell it also gave us Jim Crow and it took over 80 years to fix that. Now you have no good intentions, no moral compass and are as greedy if not more so than those you are bringing with you to Washington. If you continue, everyone loses including you!”

Befuddled, Donald gazed at President Grant and promised “Believe me, you can trust me, I’m telling you the truth, I’m going to go after Wall Street like I promised, trust me. These Goldman Sachs people I’m talking too, we’re just friends. Nothing to see, just friends, no bribery here to see.”

Rolling his eyes President Grant vanished.

“Glad he’s gone!” Trump exclaimed “I think he was drunk. Well wonder who’s next?”

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With that the faint sounds of “Hail to the Chief” could be heard in the distance. Then eerily the figure of the spirit of Richard Nixon appeared in a dark cloak.

“Dick!” Donald shouted “I’m so glad to see you, no matter what I’m facing there’s no way in hell I’m going to be screwed over like you were! I have a Republican Congress to protect me!”

Nixon in low mumbles responded “Are you serious? Donald the Republicans in Congress during my time joined enthusiastically with the Democrats to run me out of office. Barry Goldwater and John Rhodes from Arizona, Arizona I tell you came to the Oval to tell me I had to resign or face imprisonment after Impeachment. My own Attorney General would do me in. You need to understand that sometimes even Republicans place nation and laws before party and power. Like you I was corrupt but unlike you I had government experience in Congress and the Executive Branch, I was able to negotiate with both Russia and China on terms favorable to the United States, not on terms where either country owned me. Despite that, my corruption caught up to me and I lost, I caused so much damage to the Republican Party they had to turn to Ronald Reagan to get the White House back. Buddy, you’re corrupt and you’re an idiot. You will destroy both the Republican Party and the nation if you don’t get over yourself. Trust me, believe me, I’m telling you the truth, you’re fucked. I’m out of here, you won’t have Nixon to haunt you anymore.”

And Nixon was gone. Trump looked out the window to see the sun was rising. He paused and began to think when suddenly Twitter came back on line.

Trump did what he had to do and Tweeted “Merry Christmas, even to you losers out there. #MAGA”

He forgot about the visits from the spirits and went about his way as before. In the corner of room Kelly Anne Conway muttered to herself, “God help us everyone!”

Dreamers Broke No Laws

In 2012 President Obama enacted DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. These people are known as “Dreamers.” Children of undocumented immigrants who crossed the border with their parents while still too young to even know what was going on. These children only know this country, most of them have been educated here, many made careers here. They are essentially as American as anyone else except for the small fact that as babies, toddlers or very young children they came to this country with their parents without the permission of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca

President Obama’s action allowed these Dreamers to remain in this country (subject to renewal every two years), and continue with their education and careers. They are allowed to contribute to this nation despite how they were brought here in the first place. President Elect Trump and his supporters want to cancel DACA and possibly initiate identification and deportation of the Dreamers for the crime of being brought to this country illegally without the consent of the US government, or their own for that matter.

Recently Rick Santorum demonstrated his Christian love, the love of our nation, the law and hardworking people by telling Elizabeth Vilchis, a Dreamer brought to this nation from Mexico when she was 7 years old and is now a Mechanical Engineer contributing back to the nation she has lived in ever since, that she should take her knowledge and expertise and go to another country.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rick-santorum-dreamers-immigration_us_58481d3ae4b0d0df1837232f

DACA applies to upwards of about 1.8 million Dreamers brought to this nation before they were 16, have been here at least 5 years, are under the age of 31, have not committed any felonies or significant misdemeanor and are either in school, have a High School diploma or GED or have served in the Military. This is not citizenship or even a short cut to citizenship, it is merely permission to work in this country and must be renewed every two years. It’s essentially a reprieve from being denied permitted to work and/or being deported. This only seems fair considering Dreamers themselves broke no laws. At worst, their parent or parents did.

It would appear the legal mindset of Donald J. Trump, his advisors, his surrogates and his supporters is that rather than facing legal consequences for your specific actions made with malice of forethought, you should face them for simply who you are.

It’s not just Dreamers, Muslims because of who they are and their faith are subject to legal consequences, the LGBTQ community are subject to legal consequences for who they are (and the science is clear, by birth).

This is not the first time our nation has gone down this road. Native Americans who made the bad choice of being here for countless generations long before the first illegal immigrants from Europe came here suffered the legal consequences of being relocated against their will. Not for any crimes they committed, but for who and where they were.

During World War II Japanese and Japanese descendants living in this country were rounded up and interned in concentration camps. Not for any crimes they committed, but for their ancestral lineage, for who they were. This isn’t how the criminal justice system should work.

Criminal law ideally is a set of regulations imposed on the community to even the playing field and ensure individuals or groups are not victimized by another person or persons. This is to ensure that if someone with criminal intent physically harms another, steels from another, harasses another, or endangers another there are consequences for their acts. To punish a dreamer is like charging a kidnapping victim for being held against their will on someone else’s property.

Dreamers are here and are contributing to our society. Under DACA they have not been placed ahead of the line for anyone seeking naturalization. Every two years they must still apply for another two years to be allowed to work and remain in this country. To tell them to take what this nation provided them and what they worked for and move to another country is purely hateful and wrongheaded in every sense of the work.

People should only be punished by their acts, intentional and/or recklessly not for who they are. That is the thought that leads to ethnic cleansing and genocide and is something I would hope this nation is no longer in favor of and we have learned from our prior mistakes.