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.

Why are Cons defended by their Victims? Why does Trump still get support from his base?

It’s been said and it’s true, the real problem in the country today isn’t Donald Trump per se, it’s his supporters. Hillary Clinton took flack for calling them “deplorables”, but she was over generalizing and the comment was a mistake. To be sure, those in the Trump base who support racism, bigotry, homophobia, any form of discrimination are clearly outside the mainstream of American thought and values and they are now embolden by having a President who allows them to come out from under their rocks preaching and practicing the harm they live for. However, that’s not the entirety of those who support and voted for Trump. Many who voted for Obama turned around and voted for Trump. Much of the Obama base were too wary of Clinton, giving in to the lies and disinformation provided by Trump’s Russian allies via Facebook and Twitter so they didn’t vote at all or voted for Trump. Now the reality is Hillary Clinton received more votes for President than any other candidate in the history of our union with the exception of Barack Obama; Trump lost the popular vote to Clinton by 3 million and there wasn’t any voter fraud at all. Trump only won because of the 70,000 votes spread out over three key states that swung the Electoral College his way.

Those who voted for Trump were in fact conned. He promised a Wall that Mexico would pay for, he promised no cuts at all to Medicare and Medicaid, he promised the repeal of Obamacare to be replaced by cheaper insurance that would cover more people, he promised middle and working class tax cuts, he promised to not give in to Wall Street and make sure corporations and the wealthiest would pay their fair share of taxes and that they would hate him for it. Over a year later, it’s proven beyond all doubt he lied to the nation.  The Wall is not being built as he promised. What little that is being done now involves fencing that he was opposed to, and this will be paid for by American taxpayers. He recently submitted a budget rescission bill to the House to amend their last omnibus spending bill to eliminate $800 million from Medicare and Medicaid to help fund the tax cuts he signed of which 84% of the benefits went to corporations and the wealthiest 1%. Obamacare was not repealed, but has been sabotaged resulting in exponentially higher premiums than what was expected had he done nothing at all. Trump continues to create havoc in the health insurance market resulting in higher premiums for everyone. He promised to have the government negotiate directly with big pharma to lower prescription drug costs for Medicare, but instead told them to charge foreign countries more. Despite all this and more, a good portion of those who voted for Trump still defend him strenuously. Some have expressed buyer’s remorse but most still believe in this conman. Why?

One would think that if they were conned, had promises to them broken, as verified by reality, they would demand justice. In Trump’s case, many do; but others will not. They defend him. It’s as if there’s a symbiotic relationship between Trump and his victims. In fact, this phenomena is not uncommon. Let me give you an example.

Over twenty-five years ago I was assigned to Presentence Investigations for the Probation Department. Our job was to summarize the facts of the crime(s), gather statements of victims and interested parties as well as the defendant, weigh social and criminal history information and provide a sentencing recommendation to the Court based on what the law provided for.

I was assigned a case of a Pastor who over the course of a couple of years conned his parishioners out of well over a million dollars in a phony Alaskan Goldmine scheme. There were well over 50 victims, mostly elderly, who gave this Pastor money they couldn’t afford to give, in hopes of a big return on the investment and a more secured retirement. There was no goldmine and all the money this Pastor collected went to him or simply as he said “disappeared”. Many lost their life’s savings and were too elderly to go back to work. There were nearly a 100 counts filed against him for Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices. However, the Attorney General in this case allowed him to plead to one count on the condition he would pay all the victims back their losses. Many of the victims came to see me as a group to give me their impact statements. I had to reserve a conference room and I let them provide me letters, verification of their losses and personal commentary for my report. I was expecting this. What happened next surprised me.

I started getting letters from many of the Pastors’ victims telling me that he was railroaded by the AG’s office and that despite their losses, felt he shouldn’t have to serve any jail time or pay any restitution. As I collected these letters I noted they all were formatted the same. In fact all the letters made the same recommendation for a “class 6 misdemeanor” sentence. Problem is, there is no such thing as a class 6 misdemeanor sentence. What I found out was that the Pastor had sent a sentencing recommendation letter of his own creation to these victims, asking them to personalize it and send to me and the Judge. I received over 20 of these letters, about of third of the total number of victims in this case. Some of the victims sent me the original form letter that the Pastor had sent them.

So, despite being out thousands of dollars, having their retirements destroyed, despite a guilty plea from the Pastor and promise to pay them back, over 20 victims believed the man who conned them was in fact a victim of the system and fought for his freedom, ignoring reality and believing a false narrative he created. They were clearly victims but they trusted the man who victimized them.

I presented everything to the Court in my presentence report. As required by law, my report was factual, presenting all available information, both pro and con for the defendant. No personal assessments on my part was made to insure the report would be unbiased. The Court under the sentencing guidelines available to him gave the Pastor the maximum he could under the plea agreement, three years probation and one year in jail. A newspaper reporter was in the courtroom during sentencing, as this was a high profile case. He noted the Judge’s comment that the “facts of this case shocks the conscience of the court” and how the Pastor removed his Rolex Watch to give to his wife as he was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom. The newspaper article ended “…for the wages of sin is death, and the Judge in that courtroom doesn’t accept plea agreements.”

He served his year, served his probation and did not pay back any of the restitution he was ordered to pay. At last check, he was a Pastor at another church. He still has some strong community support. I can’t say if he’s still involved in criminal activities, but his victims of 25 years ago were never compensated and many have since died, far less comfortable had they never met this con man.

I won’t get into the psychology of this phenomena in any great detail on this blog post. Suffice to say that there can be a symbiotic relationship between the con and the victim. Con men are practiced at identifying those who will believe them despite reality and defend them to the end. It’s no secret that mega-churches collect millions from elderly parishioners yearly, with the bulk of that money going to the likes of Pat Robertson, Jim Bakker, Robert Jeffress, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn etc. all of whom end up extremely wealthy while those who provided the money get nothing except prayers and a promise of going to heaven for making the pastor rich. It’s no surprise that such cons are common in religious circles nor that the core of Trump’s support are evangelicals.

Those inclined towards a religious outlook of life tend to be pray for those who make promises that can’t be kept and because they identify themselves as “men of God” are excused for behaviors that fall outside the tenets of the teachings of Christ as noted in the Bible. If anything, perhaps these are the “false prophets” spoken of in Revelations. However, the reality is victims who have been victimized will sometimes continue to defend those who victimized them ignoring reality, their own losses and harm done to them.

Some just can’t accept reality or reason and little beyond “one on one counseling” will work to bring them back to the real world.

Is There a “Deep State”?

You hear it nearly daily from Fox News, Infowars, Breitbart and other rightwing outlets as well as certain elected Republican officials, “the ‘Deep State’ is trying to destroy the Trump presidency”. They imply a conspiracy of government employees (focusing now on the FBI) who despise Trump so much they’re abusing power to try to end his presidency for political reasons. Interesting conspiracy theory but is there any merit to it? Let’s try to step back and examine who they are referring to as “Deep State”.

In our two party system of governance, whether it be federal, state or local control of that government often switches from one party to the other. This has been going on in this country since nearly the beginning. However, when there is a change in the party that controls the executive or legislative branches of government they don’t bring in their own group of new government employees to staff government offices. True, they appoint department heads that are members of the party in control, but the rank and file of government employees rarely change. These are career government employees who upon accepting a position swear an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, the laws of the land and policies and procedures of the government agency for which they are a part of. I myself was a government employee in Maricopa County for over 30 years. In all that time I was never asked what my party affiliation was (it was Republican by the way) nor was I ever asked to curry favor to those of one party or the other depending on which party ran the State of Arizona or Maricopa County.

I served as a Probation Officer, later a Supervisor for Adult Probation under both Republican and Democratic Governors as well as Republican and Democratic Chief Probation Officers. Now there was a rule on the job that is Standard Operational Procedures in most if not all government offices, do not allow personal views or political leanings impact the performance of your job duties. On several occasions as a Supervisor I would reprimand staff for openly expressing their hatred of President Obama and his policies. Prior to him I would reprimand staff for openly expressing their hatred of President Bush and his policies. We were there to do a job for the tax payers of Maricopa County and the State of Arizona. We were there as our oaths required to uphold and defend the Constitutions of the United States and State of Arizona and the duly enacted laws of the State of Arizona. We were there to abide by our policies and procedures developed over the years by professionals utilizing evidence based practices to ensure we met our Mission Statement.

Career government officials are essentially all the same. These are professionals doing their jobs based on the law, policy and procedures and evidence based practices developed over the years by other professionals in the field. This applies to where I worked, other State and County government offices and Federal Offices. This especially applies to Law Enforcement and Court oversight. I could go into what was going on with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office under Joe Arpiao since I saw it first hand, but that’s another rant. Let’s focus shall we on those in the barrel as it were today, the FBI and Justice Department.

Since the creation of the FBI under Frankly Roosevelt, it has been led by conservative administrators and filled by conservative rank and file agents. In fact when you really look at it, nearly all law enforcement agencies are manned by conservatives, mostly Republican men and women. Law enforcement tends to entice conservatives to join. That’s a fact. Another fact is that the FBI as well as other Law Enforcement agencies are required by their oaths, policies and procedures and evidence based practices to investigate crimes that fall under their jurisdiction regardless of the political leanings of the suspect. Though ran and staffed by mostly Republicans, the fact that Hillary Clinton was a Democrat didn’t influence the tenor of the FBI investigation into the alleged email case. Despite what elected Republicans and rightwing media would have you believe, they did investigate her, found problems but nothing that made a prima facie case against her that would hold up in Court and get her convicted. They looked at the alleged activities, investigated if any real crimes were committed and if a case could be made. They could make a case so no charges were filed. There were mistakes made by the FBI at the time, not the least of which being the violation of policy in acknowledging she was under investigation. They did however abide by their policy in not acknowledging that one Donald J. Trump and his campaign were under investigation prior and post his election by their counter intelligence agents.

Career staff at the FBI are doing what they are paid by the tax payers to do, investigate events that fall under their jurisdiction to see if actual crimes were committed, who were involved and if a case can be made. Attaching the ominous moniker of “Deep State” is a political distraction by elected Republicans and rightwing media to throw smoke at what the FBI is uncovering about Trump and his campaign by career criminal justice employees doing their jobs, upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States and the laws as enacted by our Congress and signed by various Presidents of both parties over the generations. If no crime can be found, if no prima facie case can be made against Donald J. Trump then like Hillary Clinton, he won’t be charged. To attack them now before a final report is made tends to indicate that those making the attack know more than they’re admitting about the activities of the Trump campaign, especially Devin Nunes.

Elected political officials tend to follow the edicts of their party leadership and those who fund their campaigns. This is true for both Republicans and Democrats. Sadly since most of the Republican campaign donors are billionaire oligarchs we know where their leaning are. Now career government employees follow the Constitution and aren’t sway by political contributions from billionaires. They get paid by the taxpayers of this country, nobody else.

So if by Deep State you mean career government employees doing their jobs as spelled out in the law and policy and procedures and paid for by tax dollars then yes, there is a Deep State and there’s nothing nefarious about what they’re doing investigating Trump. There is something nefarious though about those who insult them and are paid by those like the Koch Brothers, Robert Mercer and other “dark money sources” to include dare I say Russia.

Bottom line, there really isn’t a Deep State, there are career law enforcement officials in the FBI and Justice Department doing their jobs. If someone is accused of wrongdoing they have nothing to fear if they did nothing wrong. To attack career government law enforcement officials before a final report is made tends to indicate that these people fear the outcome and are not upholding the Constitution, the law and earning the wages paid them by the taxpayers, but more their campaign contributors. That’s the common sense reality in this “Deep State” debate.

Dreamers and DACA Factsheet

Dreamers are undocumented immigrants brought to the United States by their parents when they were children. At worst, they’re victims of their parent’s actions not their own.

It is not true that Dreamers are criminals and are involved in criminal acts. One element of a crime is Mens Rea (Criminal Intent). Since these people were brought here by their parents they cannot be charged or convicted of illegal entry into the country.

There are over 800,000 Dreamers. These are people who came out from under the shadow and took advantage of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) implemented by President Obama in 2012. It is a federal government program that allows Dreamers the temporary right to live, study and work in America. Those applying are vetted for any criminal history or threat to national security and must be students or have completed school or military service. If they pass vetting, action to deport them is deferred for two years, with a chance to renew, and they become eligible for basics like a driving license, college enrollment or a work permit.

During his campaign Donald Trump met with Dreamers two years ago and stated on the record “You convinced me.” He agreed they were brought here and since they were vetted and cleared of criminal wrong-doing and continued to follow the rules established under DACA they should be allowed to remain in the country.

When Trump broke his promise to the Dreamers and cancelled DACA, new applications were no longer accepted. As a result those in the program, their legal status (such as to work and attend college) will begin expiring in March 2018. Trump stated he wanted Congress to pass legislation allowing a new channel for temporary or permanent legal immigration status. He stated he supported such legislation by Congress to protect the Dreamers

Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress stated support of presenting legislation to protect the Dreamers. However the Democrats have been unable to get Republicans who control Congress to allow legislation to be debated and voted on for approval.

83% of the nation support Congress passing legislation to protect the Dreamers and not deport them. Only 13% of the nation believes Dreamers should be deported.  In fact a majority of Republicans agree that Dreamers who abide by the rules established under DACA should remain in the country and not be deported as promised.

Several bipartisan bills have been developed to protect the Dreamers. Trump even expressed support for one. However, after getting backlash from racists within his base and immigration hardliners like Tom Cotton, David Perdue and his own Chief of Staff John Kelly Trump reversed his public support to protect the Dreamers.

The current Government Shutdown is primarily due to Congress failing to keep it’s promise to the nation to legislate protection for the Dreamers. It is noted that the Ninth Circuit Court has stayed Trump’s rescission of DACA. Because protection for the Dreamers wasn’t part of the Continuing Resolution, Democrats refused to all cloture in the Senate to pass the CR. Democratic Senators were under pressure from their constituents to include Republicans and Independents to push the issue of protecting the Dreamers.

In much the same was as disinformation over important issues was created in Russia and spread in the United States by gullible if not racist conservatives during the 2016 election (Fake News), information is now circulating that Dreamers are involved in criminal activity in the United States to include rape and murder and have been throughout their stay here. No evidence backs up this outlandish claim. Remember, all 800,000 Dreamers have been and continue to be vetted for criminal activity. If they are found to violate the provisions established by DACA they are rightfully deported.

To summarize, as children these immigrants were brought to this country by their parents to no fault of their own. As they grew up they had no documentation saying they could stay or work in this country and lived under the shadows. Because the Republican Congress wouldn’t act on Comprehensive Immigration Reform (mostly because of pressure from racists in their base) President Obama did what was within his rights to implement DACA via Executive Order to allow these immigrants, providing they remained law abiding, to stay and work in this country until such time as they could establish citizenship. It was the right and moral thing to do and it worked. Trump stated he didn’t like the Executive Order process by Obama and rescinded DACA, but called for Congress to protect the Dreamers via legislation he would sign. During this past year, despite it being a major campaign issue, neither Trump nor the Republican controlled Congress has debated Comprehensive Immigration Legislation that would include a wall and protection for the Dreamers. The racist voices in the GOP base have been too loud and Speaker Ryan, Majority Leader McConnell, and President Trump have been too cowardly or complicit in their base’s bigotry to seriously address this issue as promised.

This is not the fault of the Dreamers or those who stand with them, it’s the fault of bigots and those afraid to stand up to them.

 

Continuing to live with Type 1 Diabetes

Yes I know, isn’t this a political blog? Well I want to talk about something while I’m thinking about it and there is (as always) a political aspect to it as there is everything in life these days (sadly). One disclaimer, though diabetic, I’m not an expert nor do I speak for the American Diabetes Association or the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (both of whom I donate to regularly). What follows are my personal experiences and views of the condition.

In 1971, shortly after my tenth birthday I wasn’t feeling too well. I tired quickly, I was always thirsty, I was always needing to go to the bathroom, and I was getting less attentive and focused in school. Remember, this was long before WebMD and the internet. Nobody knew what was wrong and parents in those days rarely called, let alone took their kids to the doctor for every problem that occurred.

One day I really wasn’t feeling good. I was throwing up and was in pain. I got to stay home from school and my oldest brother was taking care of me. Like all good older brothers, for lunch he went out and got me my favorite snack at the time, Hostess Ding Dongs. Later that night I was in terrible pain and woke my parents. While on the way to the hospital I lost consciousness and have no memory of what happened later that night. According to my mother, upon arriving at the emergency room, I began to scream out incoherent things and was thrashing about. The intern at the time told my parents that it was obvious I was undergoing some psychotic episode and was about to sedate me. Another doctor who was there at the time noticed a sickly sweet aroma coming from my mouth. He stopped the intern, ran some tests and found my blood sugar and ketones were off the chart, I was diabetic. I soon lapsed into a diabetic coma.

Little was commonly known about diabetes in those days. Even today many don’t really understand it. Most don’t know there’s a difference between Type 1 and Type 2. Both have a genetic component to it but Type 1 (commonly known as juvenile onset diabetes) involves the pancreas shutting down completely in production of insulin, the hormone the body needs to break down sugars in the body to fuel it. You don’t need to be a child to get type 1, you can get it as an adult like Mary Tyler Moore did. The more common Type 2 diabetes essentially involves the body still producing insulin, but can’t handle it properly. In many cases Type 2 diabetes can be controlled by diet. Both conditions have severe complications involving blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, neuropathy, amputations, etc. There is no cure or reversal of Type 1 diabetes. You get it, you have it until the day you die and controlling it involves daily injections (or infusion) of insulin. Type 2 diabetes can still require use of insulin injections/infusions but often can be treated via various oral medications.

As a ten-year-old, I had a huge sweet tooth. I loved candy especially chocolate. On one hand I actually thought that giving myself insulin injections daily was cool and I would freak my friends out telling them about it. Protocol for me those days was taking one injection of U-80 Lente Insulin, which was extracted and made from pork pancreases. It was only in the 1980’s that human genetic insulin came on the market. Testing in those days involved dipping a test strip in urine to see how much sugar your body was throwing off. Not very accurate in any sense of the word. Today they have glucometers that test your actual blood sugar to aid in determining how much insulin is needed to deal with background sugar and cover the carbs you’re about to consume. Insulin pumps keep a regular flow of insulin (basal) for background sugars and immediate infusion of insulin (bolus) for meals. Not perfect but much more accurate than injections once a day.

I was not a poster child for diabetes control. I took my morning shot of Lente, rarely checked my urine sugar levels and ate processed sugary treats and snacks and drank regular Pepsi like nothing was wrong. The only saving grace I suppose was that I was always active. I burned a lot of the sugars off. However upon reflection and as I understand today, this routine probably had my A1c very high (something not regularly tested in those days) and also made me prone to “insulin shock” where there’s too much insulin in the body for the sugar there. Insulin shock can leave someone appearing inebriated if not insane. It impacts the mind. Thinking back to those days I probably had multiple shocks and friends or acquaintances simply thought I was crazy up through my teens and twenties (if not still today). So throughout my teens and twenties I wasn’t injecting the proper amount of insulin for my needs, ate all the wrong foods and consumed too much alcohol when with my friends. You could say I was living in denial of my condition and you would be correct.

When I turned 25 I went to work for the Adult Probation Department as a probation officer. Few knew I was diabetic because I wasn’t sharing that information out of privacy and upon learning when I signed up for health insurance I was told I wouldn’t be covered at all for six months due to my “pre-existing condition”. I honestly felt discriminated against and unlike most minorities I could simply hide who and what I was by just saying nothing. Problem was, as noted above, I would regularly succumb to episodes of insulin shock on the job. The logical assumption from many co-workers and defendants for that matter was that I was drunk, on drugs or insane. Eventually I had to make disclosures to save my job. The catch-22 of the time was this was before the Americans with Disability Act. They could have terminated me immediately because I was diabetic.

Eventually I began to take better control (though not perfect) of my diabetes. Though still on injections I started to have a better sense when insulin shock was coming and I began carrying hard candy to get my blood sugar back up. My job performance became more stable and I was eventually promoted to supervisor. However as I grew older it became more difficult to sense insulin shock coming. Fortunately technology came to the rescue. In addition to the aforementioned insulin pump that better delivers insulin to the body, they came up with a pump that monitors your blood sugar in real time. Though not perfect, it’s been able to sense my blood sugar dropping and simply stop infusing insulin and giving me an audible warning to check my blood sugar.

I’ve been on the pump with glucose monitoring for about five years now. Just under 18 months ago I retired from Adult Probation after 30 years on the job, the last 18 years as a supervisor. During my time with Adult Probation I believe I’ve served the community by assisting probationers in adjusting their lives to becoming productive and for those who wouldn’t, getting them off the streets. I’ve assisted victims of crime in getting their restitution paid. I’ve trained many Probation officers who continue to serve the community, some now in management themselves. Had I not lived or had I never been hired or even fired for my condition, I would’ve never been able to make this contribution.

Now you can say that were it not for me, somebody else would’ve stepped in and done what I did. That’s true. In a sense none of us are indispensable. However when you begin to look at people in that way, where do we draw the line? Further, when do we formally begin to determine the level of “dispensability” of people and remove them from the equation?

I’m now retired, still relatively young and I’m about to volunteer my time working with newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetics in adjusting to their condition and life change. However I understand that even coming from a diabetic himself, individuals accept these things on their own personal terms and understanding. I may or may not be able to assist them in a positive manner, but it won’t be for lack of trying.

Now here’s where the politics come in. Diabetes is merely one of many chronic medical conditions we face in this country and the world. The United States lags behind the rest of the developed world in addressing these health conditions and those who suffer from them. As of 2015 there are 30.3 million Americans with Diabetes, 23.1 million who’ve been diagnosed and 7.2 who have not been formally diagnosed. Of these, 1.25 million American Adults and Children have Type 1 diabetes. For myself with insurance, I pay over $600.00 a month for insulin pump supplies, insulin, test strips to control my condition and remain productive. I’m very active still. I run marathons, I exercise nearly daily, I’m volunteering my time to aid my community, and I’m not a slouch.

Under our current Republican lead government, a movement is on to place corporate profits over everything. Medical costs are ever increasing for a myriad of reasons, insurance companies lose profits paying out to those in need of those medical services. To maintain profits for the insurance companies, exclusions for pre-existing conditions or possibly increasing premiums for them or the copays for various medications or medical devices is being looked at and implemented into law to reduce the impact of the ACA (Obamacare). Regulations designed to protect and assist those with medical disabilities are on the table to be removed by a government who despise anything called “regulation” and vowing to remove them to assist the private market and their profit margins. In doing this, we will all suffer as a nation.

Majority of diabetics are Type 2, which though still genetic in underling cause, is exasperated by poor education, poor diets, and use of high fructose corn syrup in just about every snack food these days, issues that some government regulations and/or public education services could address and alleviate thus reducing the numbers of those who end up suffering. But Republicans oppose such efforts while also opposing assisting those who are then afflicted by this condition.

It’s not just diabetes. It’s asthma, heart disease, blindness, cancer, mental health, a whole myriad of medical conditions affecting Americans of all heritage, socio-economic background, religion, party and political ideology. To ignore the needs of these Americans is to betray Americans in need. You can’t allow a government to operate on an ideological premise that people are dispensable; for if that’s true, well I know of a lazy, overweight, elderly man with clear signs of dementia who sees himself as indispensable while eating all the wrong foods, not exercising and not taking the time to learn about or treat his condition. Maybe we need to start there.

 

Russian Active Measures Continue

What are “Russian Active Measures”? The most succinct definition I’ve found comes from this article from Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-russia-successfully-interfered-with-the-2016-elections-2018-1

“Active measures are asymmetric political actions meant to influence an adversary — the art of having your enemy think what you want him to think.

Active Measures include propaganda, media manipulation, disinformation, deception, use of forgery, funding of extremist and opposition groups, spreading conspiracy theories and rumor, cyber-attacks, espionage and even assassination.”

According to this article and other research this isn’t anything new. It’s been going on for decades because Russia sees political warfare as important as military warfare. To use such measures to undermine a nation’s government, sew distrust among the populace only aids the Kremlin by weakening any actions from foreign powers like those in Europe and the United States and permitting Russians to have greater influence in their mission to get what they want.

It is agreed by our intelligent services along with those of our allies that Russia was very much involved in active measures, especially on social media during the 2016 campaign. Malcom Nance has a great book about it. It is also true that it continues and as the Mueller Investigation continues, we are seeing, and we can expect more Russian style disinformation to make its way on social media like Facebook and Twitter to anger, confuse, frustrate the general population in an attempt to get public opinion running against Mueller and our own intelligence services and law enforcement who are about to bring their findings to Court and Congress. It is interesting to note that the only two politicians in the world who affirmatively say there was no Russian Interference in our election in 2016 are Donald J. Trump and Vladimir Putin. Although Republicans in Congress have been less than cooperative in the investigation and prosecution of the Russian interference, they all agree that it happened. They just want those who discovered it prosecuted instead like Christopher Steele.

Both the House and Senate passed new sanctions against Russia for their interference, Trump signed it but won’t act upon it as required by law. The office in the State Department that would establish and execute the new sanctions was shut down by Rex Tillerson. It would appear to the casual observer that Trump and his team are aiding and abetting Russian Active Measures against the United States.

So what are we to do with a Republican Congress that won’t exercise its Constitutional mandate to hold the executive branch in check? Well in addition to contacting your representatives and senators demanding they make America First and hold Russia and her accomplices to account, we must stop helping Russia spread the disinformation.

Yes, we are the ones helping them. How you ask? Simple, by engaging with Pro Trump trolls on Twitter and Facebook. The Russian bots and trolls are easy to spot. Usually they have some common avatar or no avatar at all, very generic bio or none at all, few follows despite accounts that were created years ago, on Twitter they have timelines that are almost exclusively @mentions to others insulting them and usually all in caps, and of course, links to far-fetched stories backing a narrative to their liking but lacking anything in reality. When you engage these people you spread their disinformation on your established timeline and to your followers. You give the disinformation a legitimate timeline to infect and confuse others. You give credibility where none is merited.

Now although we like to think all of these accounts are paid trolls or bots some are legitimate Trump supporters. However they are gullible to believe the disinformation created by Russian Intel and pose as much of a danger of Russian Active Measures as any paid troll or bot. They may have thousands of follows, but they’re still agents of Russian disinformation and engaging them only spreads the disinformation.

If you want to use your social media account to get America “woke” about Trump and the GOP then do so with links to established and credible news agencies, considered & accurate commentary and of course good humor to keep things lively. However, despite the temptation to “show off” trolls and win a battle of wits, ignore them. For one thing, you can’t beat a troll, bot or ideologue on social media. If you engage them, they won’t concede you anything and will claim victory just by you responding, especially if you respond in kind. On twitter I always advise people to ignore, mute or block then move on. You’ll find these folks will not bother you on your timeline if you don’t engage them at all. They will find someone they can have a conversation with instead and in doing so, spread their disinformation. That is why all of us must get everyone on the same page to thwart Russian Active Measures on Twitter and Facebook, everyone must ignore them and move on.

Why Does Trump Merit Evangelical Support?

What is Evangelicalism? For lack of a better source I went to Wikipedia and got this definition:

“Evangelicalism, Evangelical Christianity, or Evangelical Protestantism is a worldwide, trans denominational movement within Protestant Christianity, maintaining that the essence of the gospel consists in the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement.”

I then Googled to find out what Evangelicals believe that set them apart from ordinary Christians. I got this from NewsMax (Keep in mind NewsMax is a conservative source of information that is favored by Evangelicals):

1)      They point to a specific point in time where they were “born again” and place personal trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.

2)      They believe the Bible is God’s inspired Word to mankind, perfect in truth in the original text. It is the final authority in all matters of doctrine and faith and above all human authority.

3)      They believe in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, through his death and resurrection, is the only source of salvation and forgiveness of sins. Salvation is through faith alone.

4)      They are strongly motivated to share the Gospel either one-on-one or through organized missions.

5)      They believe in the rapture where they will be caught up with Christ before the tribulation leaving non-believers to remain on Earth to suffer.

Now theologian have, can and will analyze and debate the views of Evangelicals in terms of Christian faith, history, text etc. but that is not the point of this blog post. Above is a quick summation of who these people are and I want to explore why this group supports Donald Trump with such ferocity.

Though not actually specified in the Bible per se, a 4th century monk Evagrius Ponticus listed 8 “evil thoughts” in Greek that were antithetical to the righteous views of Christianity. They were a counterpart to a list of 7 virtues to live by to be righteous. In AD 590 Pope Gregory revised the 8 sins to a list of 7 and have been an integral part of Christianity ever since and is also part of doctrine for the evangelical movement. The seven deadly sins are:

1)      Lust

2)      Gluttony

3)      Greed

4)      Sloth

5)      Wrath

6)      Envy

7)      Pride

The seven virtues are:

1)      Kindness

2)      Temperance

3)      Charity

4)      Chastity

5)      Humility

6)      Diligence

7)      Patience

Now let’s apply these lists to the history and behaviors we all know about Donald J. Trump. Donald is a three time married man who had admitted adulterous affairs while married to the wives he later divorced. He’s bragged on tape while married to his third wife Melania his attempts to have sex with a TV personality and how women will let famous people do anything to include grabbing them by the pussy (Access Hollywood Tape). He’s told Howard Stern that as the owner of the Miss Teen Beauty Pageant he was able to just walk in on naked contestants. In his first year in office he sexually harassed Hope Hicks resulting in her leaving the Oval Office (Fire and Fury) He has no problem showing the world he like to eat fast food and get extra deserts. His history in business personifies greed and harming those who get in the way of his efforts to make more money via use of eminent domain and lawsuits. He’s also know for bilking business partners and employees. He’s declared bankruptcy numerous times. He has a famous temper that continues to flare up in the White House against any slight from anyone not showing him loyalty. He is obsessed with the success of Barack Obama and continues to try to denigrate him in response to his continued popularity. Finally he takes pride, but not in his actual work, the work of others demanding praise for what he’s accomplished even though he’s accomplished very little positive in his first year.

Now as for the seven virtues, those things one can do to mitigate or cure the seven deadly sins, few who work with him closely, if any ever report anything about Trump where he’s exhibited Kindness, Temperance, Charity, Chastity, Humility, Diligence and Patience. In fact it’s reported weekly by White House staff and other observers that he’s quite simply mean, unforgiving of others, unable to control his behaviors, boastful of his power, lazy in his work and easily bored and frustrated with work in the White House.

Prior to running for President Trump actually supported the one issue that evangelicals oppose most vehemently, abortion. Then suddenly after his announcement he was opposed to it. He took up the mantel of being a good Christian citing how the Bible is his favorite book after his own “The Art of the Deal” that in reality he never wrote. Despite the Bible being his favorite book, he’s still unable to cite any specific verse when asked. He famously referred to the “Two Corinthians” at one event. It is clear to the casual adviser that Trump’s campaign staff told him that courting the Evangelical Vote, people who regularly and “religiously” vote in all elections could give him an edge in the election. So he used techniques noted in “The Art of the Deal” to con, er win these people over and he has.

So he’s won over rank and file evangelicals. However he’s done so with the assistance of their leadership. Now one would expect the Pastors who claim leadership of the movement would know the Bible cover to cover and though may discount references to the Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Virtues as not specified in the Bible, are familiar with the actual teaching of Jesus Christ to include the Beatitudes. What has Trump done to show he’s following the teachings of Christ? Seriously I’m asking because I’ve read the Bible cover to cover on several occasions and though an agnostic, like Jefferson I believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ whether he was the son of God or not or even if he ever really existed. The teachings of Christ are the basis of humanity, the love of your fellow human being and a warning against those who put personal pride and wealth above the needs of the people.

However, evangelicals who say they also believe in the rapture praise Donald Trump as one of their own and lambaste other evangelicals and/or Christians who don’t. Robert Jeffress is among these people enthralled with Trump. He lambasted Mitt Romney as being part of a false religion. Well I ask evangelical pastors like Jeffress who say they believe in the Bible, Revelations and the Second Coming: How can you support a man like Donald J. Trump whose history and current actions and views are antithetical to the teachings of Christ as written in the Bible? It’s almost as if Donald J. Trump is Anti-Christ? So with that being the case and again going to the Book of Revelations and the mythology involved in the Rapture and Tribulation, how are all of you not the “False Prophets” noted who would lead believers astray to confuse them and get them to worship the Anti-Christ?

Donald Trump is no Christian and never was. He’s certainly no evangelical by the definition they give themselves. Donald Trump is a liar and con man. That continues to be indisputable by honest men and women around the world and to support this man as a Christian is simply lying to yourself unless you’re not really a Christian yourself.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Go in peace my children and support those who are truly Christ-like not self-serving greedy Republicans.

Critical Thinking v Indoctrination

Much has been written, editorialized, studied, blogged, tweeted etc. about education in this country. On both sides of the political and ideological aisle there are complaints. However the complaints vary. The left bemoans how underfunded public schools are and how conservatives are taking tax dollars meant for public schools and diverting them to private schools, which they claim have better outcomes. The right complains we spend too much on public schools, we’re throwing money at them with little return on the investment. You can see how these complaints go hand in hand with each other to represent different problems.

I have my Masters in Educational Leadership and I take a keen interest in the politics of education. As a former Young Republican, I once bought into the argument that private schools were better and parents should have “choice” in to where to send them. However as I matured, observed, reasoned, studied, compared and contrasted the situation I came to see that I was wrong. The focus in this blog posting boils down to development of Critical Thinking which is favored by the left to that of Indoctrination which I will show is clearly what’s favored by the Right although they claim it’s a product of “Liberal Thinking”.

in·doc·tri·na·tion: NOUN The process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically:

“I would never subject children to religious indoctrination” · archaic teaching; instruction: “methods that were approved for indoctrination in divinity”

Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the objective analysis of facts to form a judgment. The subject is complex, and there are several different definitions which generally include the rational, skeptical, unbiased analysis or evaluation of factual evidence.

You will hear pundits from the Right complain that Liberal Universities and public schools are centers of indoctrination steering children away from the moral teachings of the Church. That is a very interesting argument to make in light of the fact that Church and Parochial Schools are designed to indoctrinate students into the religious teachings and beliefs of the Churches that run them.

Public schools as part of their overall curriculum once promoted Critical Thinking as part of the subject matter. Critical thinking requires the student to look beyond the historic dates and events, the simple formulas used to determine mathematical equations or chemical compounds. Critical thinking requires not taking facts at face value. Critical Thinking requires reasoning relationships between events, how and why did they occur. What more can be gleamed from what is known, where is it heading and why? Critical thinking requires looking at multiple variables and see how those variables may or may not impact what is considered to work.

Indoctrination is what the Right has been trying to introduce into Public Education, and they have been very successful. By sending tax dollars to private schools (that unlike public schools can deny any student they don’t want) and hold students to a strict curriculum of indoctrination, they defund public schools who in turn struggle to hire qualified teachers who can take the time to help students learn to think for themselves. Further, conservatives have been taking over School Boards to implement curriculum to their liking and eliminates any concept of Critical Thinking.

Conservatives prefer Indoctrination because it simply tells students what they say the facts are. They’re told to memorize them but don’t question them. It goes to Religious indoctrination where they want you to know your Bible or Torah or Quran but not question what they say or religious leaders’ interpretation of what they say. If there are inconsistencies in verses, if something seems far-fetched don’t bother questioning it. Take it as a matter of faith. To question “doctrine” is heresy. This is the opposite of Critical Thinking. (If you didn’t catch it, doctrine is the root word for indoctrination and that word has almost an entirely religious connotation.)

In 2012 conservative school boards in both Texas and Arizona began programs rejecting critical thinking being used in public schools. In Arizona the issue was that they didn’t want expanded thinking regarding Latino history and Latino issues in Arizona Public Schools. The opponents to critical thinking were clear they didn’t want White History blurred with other perspectives. In Texas they didn’t want history books discussing slavery from the perspective of the slaves. They didn’t want students expanding their minds to consider what slavery was really about, how it came to exist, the problems it created and the problems that continue to this day from its history.

Conservatives want students to only learn what they need to learn to pass standardize testing and nothing that interferes with White religious doctrine. You will hear conservatives complain about Liberal schools “indoctrinating students to not believe in Christian values and morals”. The true indoctrination in the Public Schools has been in implementing as part of curriculum religious based education that can’t be proven, like intelligent design, Bible events are real history, etc. It’s in the Bible so trust us, it happened and it’s true, use you faith.

Studies have shown that conservatives prefer order, a hierarchy, a clear set of beliefs based on religious doctrine. Sorry folks, that is indoctrination and that holds people accountable to leadership and dissuades anyone from questioning validity of what they’re being told and contemplating other causes for why things are the way they are. Liberals want people to learn the facts, but to keep learning and if possible come up with their own answers based on observations and studies. Using liberal thought as a basis of education makes it inherently difficult to hold people to a single view or belief because everything is always in flux. However, this is the only way we learn, grow and advance as a society.

When I was 18 years old beginning my college career I was a Young Republican at ASU. I attended the meetings which were of course very orderly and designed to indoctrinate us into the truth of conservative thought and ideology. Problem for me was my studies in Sociology and Social History placed a high emphasis on Critical Thinking. My college education taught me not to take anything at face value while my membership in the Young Republicans essentially told me “hey trust us, we’re right. You’ll understand later”.

I registered as a Republican in the Red State of Arizona when I turned 18. I had the honor of meeting Barry Goldwater in person when he came to a Young Republican meeting and I’ll admit there was some hero worship with him being a native Arizonan like myself and running for President. All those years later as I matured, observed, studied, reasoned and used my Critical Thinking Skills I no longer take conservative views at face value because today’s views from the Right simply don’t make sense on analysis, they don’t add up. Despite that, I’m still a registered Republican, I just don’t vote for Republicans who take positions I find contrary to what is needed to govern all the people fairly and consistently. That has of course meant I haven’t voted for a Republican in a General Election since 2004.

The Right say the Left are the ones using indoctrination. However, telling students to question facts, dwell more, question authority, don’t take things at face value is the opposite of indoctrination. The right projects the concept of indoctrination on the left despite the indisputable fact that it’s how they maintain control. They oppose critical thinking in public schools and colleges/universities because like me, you start to use your mind, the indoctrination you underwent in years past begin to fade away.

The Right fears true education because the well educated person who effectively uses Critical Thinking is less likely to fall for what the Right Wing says. Thus they’re working more and more to implement strict rightwing indoctrination in Public Schools and make College/University out of reach for most Americans. Over the past 30 years they’ve been very successful which is why the Republicans have the power and influence they have today. Fewer Americans think for themselves anymore, they take what Republicans say on faith.

Whether it’s believing a three time married adulterer President who is on tape boasting he can as a celebrity grab pussy whenever he wants and has walked in on naked teenagers changing for a pageant is a devout moral Christian, or a man who admits as a 30 year old hung out at the Mall trying to hook up with 14, 15 and 16 year old girls and was then banned from that mall is also a devout moral Christian, or believing that a third major stab at huge corporate and 1% tax cuts will finally trickledown despite the fact the last two time led to recession. You will trust the lies the GOP tells you because over the past 30 years, you’ve been indoctrinated.

Christians and the Republican Party

Full disclosure, the best way to describe me is Agnostic. That is not to say I deny the existence of God or Jesus Christ I just can’t prove they exist or existed. In reality nobody can. The most devout followers of that and other deity based faiths can only prove existence by citing faith. However I cannot deny that the Bible exists and Jesus is a character (possibly real) in the Bible and there are teachings attributed to him. To be Christian is to be “a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings”. The key phrase in this definition is “and his teachings” which exist for all to read and interpret. To say you’re a Christian and not cite the followings of Christ is to be dishonest about yourself.

I’ve made a study of the Christian faith in most of its manifestations as well as other faiths. I find them fascinating not necessarily in the historical or Deity perspective but the actual teachings. All faiths discuss how the faithful should interact among others in and out of their faiths but I find the teachings of Christ to be particularly inspiring whether he existed or not. What is sad is that the strongest, loudest voices of those claiming to be Christ’s representatives on Earth walk the walk. They talk some of the talk but they also add in some things that are not there and also in opposition to Christ’s teaching take in huge sums of cash and bestow upon themselves power over others which is not within the teaching of Christ that I’ve ever been able to find.

No organized Christian religion from Catholicism through Latter Day Saints and beyond can say their doctrines fully embraces all the teachings of Christ cited in the Bible. For example all Christian faiths call for public prayers but in the Bible Jesus says in Matthews 6:6 “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Perhaps the worst group of people who say they ascribe to being Christians are the Evangelicals. Though there are multiple denominations of this belief system most take on as matter of doctrine things Christ never spoke of or things Christ did speak against. They add in their own believes based on spurious beliefs brought up over the centuries from people claiming this is what Christ meant and some actually make up verses attributed to Christ. Many Evangelical leaders make a whole lot of money preaching their Word of Christ and when confronted they essentially fall back on Calvinism and the Prosperity Theology.

Calvinism and Prosperity Theology essentially states that anyone who’s wealthy is wealthy due to the blessings of God. That’s an interesting position to take especially in context to what Jesus states in Luke 16: 19-31 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'” Briefly stated, just because you’re wealthy doesn’t mean you’re Godly.

In fact there are no passages in the Bible that specifically states that being a Christian will make you wealth and free from debt. As for what Jesus states about wealth in the Bible in Luke 16:13 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Preachers like Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen and the like who maintain mega-churches and have media access really hit people up for money and a lot of the money ends up paying them for their mansions and lavish lifestyles. They clearly prefer money to God if Jesus is to be believed.

Barry Goldwater had to deal with Jerry Falwell and his attempts to influence politics via the Republican Party. Goldwater hated Falwell and warned the party of the problems people like Falwell would bring them. The original Mr. Conservative said “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.” As for what Jesus said in the Bible regarding getting involved in governmental/political matters we all know Matthew 22:20-21 regarding taxation and government rule. “And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” The Bible clearly states governments are to be obeyed whether they’re Christian or not. Evangelicals would have you believe that we were founded as a Christian nation. They cite that God is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence four times. They neglect to mention that God isn’t mentioned anywhere in our Constitution. Further, the Treaty of Tripoli, which was ratified by a unanimous Senate made up of our founders clearly stated we were not founded in any way as a Christian nation.

Even before Goldwater, Jefferson and Madison made their positions about mixing religion with government as dangerous to both government and religion. They wanted the wall of separation to protect both.

Today evangelicals who claim to follow the teachings of Christ support and control the Republican Party and demand they legislate evangelical teachings. Here’s the problem, most of the tenets of what they call the Christian Faith aren’t supported by Jesus anywhere in the Bible. They oppose any liberal views citing Jesus oblivious to the fact that Jesus is quoted speaking liberal beliefs that exist today. The Beatitudes can be seen as the foundation of liberal views. Further, Jesus supported welfare, opposed the death penalty, supported taxation, preached peace over warfare, caring for others, love thy neighbors, he opposed bigotry, racism and expressed love for those outside his faith, which happened to be Judaism. Evangelicals angrily demand government outlaw homosexuality, eliminate welfare, build up armies for war, cut taxes, discriminate against outsiders and others. These are all things Jesus would be appalled to hear.

Finally, an interesting facet of those who claim to be Christian today involves “end of days” theology. They are big believers we are in the final days as predicted in the Bible and the rapture is coming and an antichrist will rule supported by false prophets. A few things about this. The only book in the Bible that talks about this is Revelations. That book was written by the Apostle Paul who never met Jesus Christ. Further, scholars believe most of what he was referring to involve the Emperor Nero whose numeric name was actually 666. The term “rapture” doesn’t appear anywhere in Revelations. Many have interpreted and expanded what the final days would be like. To take this belief at face value, Christians must beware of false prophets and the anti-Christ and who best represents false prophets than those who use the Christian faith to get rich in violation of the teachings of Christ and who best represents the Anti-Christ than a leader who claims to be “Christ like” but has nothing Christian in his history to back it up and in fact has done many unchristian things like adultery, stealing, lying, living up to the seven deadly sins. I of course am referring to Donald Trump, the current idol of the evangelical movement in our country. I don’t believe in end days theology as advertised. However if I did, I would say it’s the Evangelical Movement and Donald Trump who are ushering in the tribulation and with no rapture coming, those who help them in power will stay here suffering with the rest of us.

If you want to call yourself a Christian, then read the New Testament and carefully study what Christ taught and realize that Donald Trump, Judge Roy Moore, Pat Robertson, Paul Osteen, Franklin Graham Jr aren’t following all the teachings of Christ so are not Christians in the strictest sense. They more mirror that other group I talked about.

 

Who to Blame and Fear More? Trump or his supporters?

I recently posted a Twitter Poll asking the question “Biggest threat to civil society and rule of law in the United States, Donald Trump or those who still support him?” It was only up for a day and only had 84 votes but the results came back as I expected; 46% for Trump and 54% for his supporters. The most common response I had to the poll was “where’s the both button?”
Poll
Though close, I agree with giving the edge of who is to fear and blame more to Trump’s supporters rather than Donald himself. Here’s why I think this is the case.
Trump’s support in the country hovers just above 30%. That number is key because that was his support in the GOP primaries. Since he competed with numerous other Republican candidates, the remaining 70% couldn’t center on one candidate and Trump’s support was solid so he won. As for the general election, although he was able to pick up some additional support from Independents and even some Democrats of the “Never Hillary” crowd, his core support was still only just above 30%. Since that core support turned up in four battleground states, a total of only 70,000 votes from those who showed up to vote swung those states to Trump and gave him the electoral college win, because voter turnout was just above 50% nationwide.
Now in Europe, there are other groups of hard core right wing white nationalists working to win votes in parliamentarian government. Of the European population, that group is a fairly consistent 30% too. As with the GOP primaries, the remaining 70% have multiple parties to vote for, the ones who get that solid and consistent 30% have been winning. In fact just yesterday Austria has elected a conservative White Nationalist with just over 30% of the voting population. You go back to the 1930’s in Germany, the Nazis, who were the White Nationalists of the time, actually at best only won only 30% of the seats in the Reichstag.
Regardless of the time or place in the world, historically and socially there always seems to be around 30% of the population that supports essentially an extreme right wing dictator to rule. I will add that there are studies that show that conservatives tend to want to be led and told what to do by authority figures. You can Google that research. Their selections are rarely in their best interests and often end up harming them. Combine the solid 30% voting bloc to low voter turnout and assistance from say other nations and rightwing media confusing the issues and propelling “fake news” to an intellectually lazy population, you end up with a Donald Trump as President.
Donald Trump is as Rex Tillerson says, “a fucking moron.” He’s unfit to sit in the Oval Office and he is dangerous to our Republic, Rule of Law, Civil Society and National Unity. However that’s only because he’s inept and unable to learn about the office he holds, the Congress he works with and the nation he’s supposed to govern. If Donald Trump hadn’t ran for office, that same 30% who voted for him would’ve voted for someone even worse for the mere fact they’re more intelligent. It could have been a Ted Cruz or Rand Paul. 30% of eligible voters will literally support people and things not in their best interests and they will always vote in unison while the rest of the country either doesn’t vote at all or are easily distracted with making “protest votes” for people who haven’t a chance.
The 30% who supports Donald Trump also in large numbers support Vladimir Putin. They support White Nationalism, bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, antisemitism, etc. They believe in untenable views that the government shouldn’t tax them, but must continue to provide them with roads, infrastructure, and government assistance like Social Security and Medicare. They oppose regulations that protect our air, water and food supplies because regulations are government interference. Their entire belief system amounts to cognitive dissonance and they are committed to that belief because that’s what their guts tell them, even though it never works out in their best interests. These people always have and always will exist and they are the danger we face.
The only solution is for the remaining 70% to keep themselves educated to what’s in the nation and their best interests. They must get politically motivated to cancel out the influence of the 30%. The remaining 70% must also get smart and realize they may not get the choice they want and may have to vote for the lesser of two evils. Protest votes are quite literally throwing your votes away. Those who say otherwise have a hard time finding evidence where a protest candidate actually won and election and made things better. Think about how protest votes for Ralph Nader in Florida got us George W. Bush and protest votes for Jill Stein and others may have swung Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to Trump.
We are a complex and large society. As such we require a complex and large government of professionals and intellectuals to operate that government or it will fail. That is what’s happening now in this country. We have an inept President and a Tea Party GOP running Congress. Congressional leaders ran on breaking government and don’t know how to run it for the best interests of all the people. It’s beyond them. However they’re there because 30% of the nation voted for them and the majority of the rest either stayed home or threw their votes away.
Trump’s supporters would support any moron intelligent or otherwise taking the stage to lead them. They are gullible, intellectually lazy, generally angry but most of all, dangerous when their candidate is in power. Only way to cancel their influence is to vote better people in, whether they meet your complete litmus test or not. Idealism is nice to have, but pragmatism is what keeps the nation running and keeps society safe.

Believing in Alternative Facts Will Get You Killed

Even Donald Trump supporters know he lies, he lies constantly and he lies about things he really doesn’t have to lie about. During the campaign Politifact checked and found that Trump lied 76% of the time. Throughout his current regime he’s been caught lying continuously about Muslims, being wire-tapped by Obama, his inauguration crowd size, his popularity, climate change, China, Russia, Obamacare, the list continues. Early in his reign when Chuck Todd confronted Kelly Anne Conway over Trump’s lies, she introduced into the political lexicon the term “Alternative Facts”. Todd correctly told her that alternative facts are “untruths” otherwise known as lies. She continued to sidestep the issue. Since then, the number and power of her “Alternative Facts” have grown, taking on a new reality outside of reality and creating havoc for the nation and world in which we live.

It has been revealed that Russian intelligence has orchestrated and pushed Fake News over social media in this country to rally Trump support both during the campaign and even today. Of course Donald Trump projects the term “Fake News” onto legitimate and established mainstream media when they print the truth about him. However the real “Fake News” that mostly comes from Russia or local conspiracy minded nuts like Alex Jones and basement dwelling dweebs on Breitbart often gets picked up by mainstream media and then retold to the rest of the world, giving it a higher degree of unintentional credibility. Pizzagate is a good example of this. Nothing existed to support the crazy allegations in the story, but the story was carried on mainstream media as kind of aside. Then a nut job drove down to DC and shot up the pizza shop based on the fake news, “Alternative Fact” story. Sad yet, many still believe this story to be true.

With Trump and Conway pushing the concept of Alternative Facts as a basis to make decisions that impact the lives of others, we have a real problem. Important decisions must be made based on reality not politically motivated “Alternative Facts”. However, the Trump Regime, Congress, State Governments and now some foreign governments are making decisions based on Alternative Facts not reality and they feel fine doing so while the world is left scratching their collective heads asking why?

Consider the claim that child vaccines cause autism. This has been proven to be an “Alternative Fact”. In 1998 a paper, that was later to be determined as fraudulent was published in the British Paper “The Lancet”. It claimed research demonstrated a direct link between vaccines and autism. The author of the study, Andrew Wakefield was found to have multiple conflicts of interests, manipulated evidence and data and violated numerous ethical codes. To date no link has been found and the story that is at the center of the belief was declared to be “utterly false”. However today people still believe it to be true. They deny the history of how the claim came to be and consider the theory, which has no basis in reality true. This has resulted parents not having their children vaccinated, which has resulted in childhood diseases once under control to start to break out again in higher numbers. Children are suffering and some are dying as a result.

Sadly, a growing number of Americans are becoming intellectually lazy. Worst yet our President and his administration appear to fall under that same category. Whether knowingly lying or having faith in “Alternative facts” our current administration ignore inconvenient truths in reality to make decisions for our nation as a whole. These decisions impact gun control (or lack thereof), healthcare, environment, food safety and even diplomacy. To act on, make decision on a falsehood is only to invite problems upon yourself and others.

If reality isn’t to your liking too bad. You can’t change reality by telling “Alternative Facts”. You must accept reality for what it truly is and then make decisions on how best to deal with the reality that is there. Mainstream media needs to take a stronger stance on reporting reality and calling out bullshit from alternative news sources like Breitbart, The Daily Caller, InfoWars, Sputnik, etc. When confronted they can’t defend their alternative facts without going deeper into the well of paranoia and doublespeak. These groups create and perpetuate “alternative facts” to push an ideological agenda that runs counter to reality. To allow them to go on unchallenged leads to our leadership making decisions that harm us all.

Media and ordinary Americans must educate themselves and call these liars out, especially those in the White House that Alternative Facts aren’t reality and making decisions based upon them is harmful to human life.