The Taxing Issue of Taxation

You all know how the saying goes, “nothing is certain but death and taxes”. However, for generations now the Republicans have been working tirelessly to end taxation (or so they say) far more than they have been working to extend healthy lives. When you look at their campaign rhetoric and legislative agenda and accomplishments, every election cycle taxation is too high and nearly every year in nearly every legislative district they control they have cut taxes. However, you need to look past the bumper-sticker approach to their mission and examine the reality of and need for taxation. Not just taxes in general, but taxation in a way that is fair to the people, generates sufficient revenues for the necessities of government while also expanding the economy in such a way where everyone comes out better. It is possible because it has happened before.

Taxation is as old as society itself. No matter the type of governance a society has, no matter the type of economics that prevails in that society, revenues must be generated to meet certain needs to keep that society in existence. Why is that?

When you live beyond a small communal society, certain things need to be addressed. Things like food supply, living accommodations, skills, education, safety from the elements, and security from those who may mean harm. As the society becomes larger, encompassing more people of more diverse talents, skills and needs over a larger territory, these requirements only grow and become more specific, more complex and more expensive. Communes and small communal communities often rely on bartering for skills and services. However, bartering loses values when the needs grow and become more complex. Thus money comes into play not only to pay for goods and services among a growing population and society, but for the governing institutions to ensure the security and existence of the society it governs.

So larger societies over larger territories require roads, infrastructure, transportation, abilities to bring in water, remove trash and sewage. As technologies improve, specialized skills sets are required to build and maintain these more complex systems. Food and water supplies must be monitored and checked on to prevent disasters. Regulations become necessary to ensure the society that things are built and maintained properly, food supplies and water is safe, air is clean, streets are safe, people are properly educated, institutions are properly staffed to aid in both local, national and international security and diplomacy, militaries are created, trained, supplied and maintained to defend against enemies, relief agencies need to be created for natural and not so natural disasters. The larger, more complex and more populated the society the bigger the need to provide for it to keep it functioning, expanding and stable.

This all of course requires revenues from taxation, which has always existed. Now in years past, only the vulnerable were taxed, forced to provide money for the elites that controlled the society to pay for those services (often known as the “commons”) to keep things in check. Peasants who had little were often forced to pay more than they had to keep the society functioning and the Kings, Caesars, Emperors, Lords, etc. in control and prosperous. Often if a wealthy person ran afoul of the ruling class, the family was stripped of its wealth and the money was used to pay the troops, civil servants, build the roads, infrastructure etc. the keep things moving along. Over time, people began to resent this iniquity in society and slowly things began to change.

Taxation itself never went away, but as democratic Republics began to emerge where the people in theory governed themselves via representatives they voted and paid for (taxation for representation) then the tax system slowly became fairer. Those with the most paid the most, those with the least paid what they could. Certain goods and services that only the wealthy could afford would be taxed to help fund maintenance of the commons. In the case of our country, over time our population, especially after the Great Depression and the epidemic of poverty that swept the nation, came to the realization that government of, by and for the people needed to help the neediest of the people to keep society from collapsing upon itself. The impoverished, the elderly, the sick, the uneducated were a drain on the productivity of the nation. The expense needed to care for individuals was beyond the abilities of most families. This realization actually predated the Great Depression and it was during the Lincoln Administration, trying to bring in enough revenue to fight the Civil War from a population that could barely make ends meet began imposing the first truly “Progressive Tax Code” where the wealthiest who benefitted the most from a stable secure society paid more to maintain it because they could.

Now to continue with this, the wealthiest ended up paying more towards the cost of maintaining our government. Now to be fair, there were poorly implemented spending programs that came up, things that had little to do with maintaining a functioning society. This gave the Corporations who have to bring in the most profit they can and the wealthiest ammunition to go to Congress and argue that government was too big, taxing everyone too much and it had to end.

After World War II, there was a 90% tax rate for the wealthiest Americans. That was the tax rate on the books for the millionaires. Revenues collected were used to pay off the debt ran up for the war, fighting the depression and building a modern infrastructure in the United States under Republican President Eisenhower. However, what isn’t well known about that time is that special tax loopholes were inserted in the tax codes that only benefitted the wealthiest. So the effective tax rate was far less than 90%, but higher than it is today. During the Kennedy run for President, he proposed cutting taxes which he did, but he also eliminated many of the loopholes thus keeping revenues coming in about the same. However, that isn’t told, especially by the Republicans. It was this time they ran on saying taxes were too high for everyone, all government spending was wasteful, government was too big and it had to end.

Under Ronald Reagan, taxes were cut for everyone, that it to say the official tax rates were cut for everyone. What isn’t told is that the loopholes for the rich were placed back in the tax code in the years between Kennedy and Reagan and those loopholes remained when the tax rates were cut again. However, loopholes enjoyed by the middle and working class were eliminated almost completely. For example, Prior to Reagan, you could write off Credit Card and Car Loan Interest rates from your Federal Taxes. That was eliminated. So although tax rates went down, only the wealthiest ended up paying less taxes, the middle and working class ended up paying more to fund government. The concept of a progressive tax code was being turned on its head.

There was even a push from Republicans for a “Flat Tax” that they said would be fairer than the current code. They suggested that a flat tax rate for all Americans regardless of income would be fairer and bring in more revenue. Well consider that for a moment, in simple math terms, a person who earns more money a year will have even more money to spend on other things or ship overseas, a person who makes less would have less money cleared to pay for necessities of life like food, housing, clothing, education etc. placing them in greater need of government assistance. However, government is too big; remember?

So cuts to government programs implemented to help those who can’t earn enough to survive go away so those with more than they could possibly spend in a lifetime, get even more. Republicans want to replace the progressive tax code with a regressive tax code where the biggest tax burden is removed from the wealthiest and placed instead on the most vulnerable people in our country.

Another thing the Republicans won’t tell you is that they want a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution to balance the federal budget. Now they refuse to raise revenue to meet costs so that would require major cuts in government spending. They refuse to cut spending to the Military, so the cuts would have to come to programs like Medicare, Social Security, government agencies created to regulate medicine, food safety, water safety, infrastructure, police, disaster relief, education and supplements to individual States. Did I tell you? Each State in our Union is already required to have balanced budgets. Red States, usually the least prosperous in our nation ran by Republicans won’t raise taxes on the wealthy and business who do very well there thank you so they depend on Federal supplementary funding via numerous programs to balance their budgets. Now those who have corporations would say that they could provide for citizens was government does, you would merely just have to pay for it at a cost that ensures their profit margins, if you can. If not, well too bad.

By cutting taxes and eliminating spending or complete programs that actually stimulate the economy that in turn create jobs that in turn generate more tax revenue, Republicans have placed more and more on our credit card and no, we can’t deduct the interest rate on that card from our national debt. Their taxcuts have become more and more unfunded and untenable for our economy, especially with increased spending on our military. They still want more tax cuts and are now openly saying they will need to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to pay for it. These programs came into being by demand from a nation in distress because most families needed assistance to survive in a society that’s continues to be more expensive and wages for the average worker isn’t keeping up with that inflation.

Our current tax code and spending priorities in this nation is a mess, no doubt about it. However the simple bumper-sticker campaign slogan of “Cut Taxes, Shrink Government” isn’t working for this nation and is leading us to economic and societal collapse.

The United States is the largest, most diverse, most advanced, richest nation in history. As such we require a well-funded and well-functioning government to regulate, monitor and nurture this society for the best interests of all citizens. This requires sufficient revenues from taxation that is fair and progressive. Spending priorities must be addressed too. Government spending that has a return on the investment include, but are not limited to Education, Healthcare, Food Stamps and Infrastructure building and repair. Our military spending is bloated and has little if any return on the money spent, even less if we actually continue to engage in wars we need not be involved in.

It’s a simple premise, those with the most can take on a greater tax burden with no loss to their standard of living. Corporations dependent upon an educated workforce, US infrastructure and transportation can afford to pay the nation back by paying taxes to maintain what they need and should pay for it instead of shipping their assets overseas or paying no taxes at all.

Remember, the last Republican tax plan reduced corporate and wealthiest Americans tax rates, but kept all the loopholes in for just them. Many pay little to no taxes, some are even getting money back for taxes never paid. Meanwhile working everyday Americans go paycheck to paycheck fearing loss of their social safety net because their needs don’t measure up to the wants of the wealthiest Americans and the Corporations they own.

Kennedy said it best, a rising tide lifts all ships. The American people are the tide. By progressive taxation to assist them in becoming more productive and successful, our entire economy improves, tax revenues increases, the national debt is lowered and even the wealthiest do better in an improving economy.

It’s the story of Post-World War II middleclass expansion that spanned into the sixties but was cut short in the 80’s by the Reagan “shrink government, cut taxes” fraud on the American people that has started our societal decline. The plan to shrink government and cut taxes ended up shrinking the middle class and cutting their wealth.

We need to turn things back to the right direction and not fall for this crap anymore.

 

HAS POPULAR TV FICTION DESENSITIZED AMERICANS TO THE HORRORS OF TRUMP?

“When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there for a day without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.” Newton N. Minnow May 9th, 1961.

The quote was from Newton to the National Association of Broadcasters when he was the FCC Chair. Over the past 57 years there’s been much debate over the context and meaning of this quote. The consensus was that this was a rebuke against commercial television playing to the more mundane and less sophisticated urges of Americans for simple entertainment. Not substantive debate, examination of societal problems, informing Americans of the realities of life, just entertainment.

Over the years there has been excellent television and of course poor television. However it comes as no surprise that the goal of television is to make profit. Best way is to get advertisers for commercial television, subscribers to cable and internet shows and rake in the money for airing shows that entertain the public. We all know that over the years, news has more and more become infotainment as Randi Rhodes would tell us. Reality bores, upsets, and infuriates viewers. Fewer and fewer people want to watch it. So to get advertisers news programs more and more have incorporated tabloid news, focus on conflict among people and ideology that once was part of fiction, the things we once only read about in books, magazines or seen in movies. The things that were borrowed from the popular fiction aired on television to get people interested in the news.

Now here’s the possible impact of this phenomena in today’s world, some political leaders knowing what entertain Americans begin to incorporate the fictional storylines into governance. To maintain power they must be popular and to be popular they must be entertaining.

Only recently have I began watching House of Cards after finally after all these years subscribing to Netflix. I enjoy news, I enjoy investigative journalism, but I also enjoy good fiction. Like many Americans I enjoy the “Anti Hero” the person who really isn’t Lily White and pure and gets things done that harms others. Although a villain in the show (and as it turned out in real life) the Kevin Spacey character of Frank Underwood was fascinating. He’s a corrupt, vile, self-centered monstered who murdered his way to the top and kept power. People like this kind of character.

However there’s something that true about enjoying these types of characters, its fiction. Despite what they do on the screen, no one gets hurt, no one gets devastated financially or emotionally, no one dies. We know that watching it so we don’t feel any real sense of guilt for enjoying it. However, what if a politician begins to do such “anti-hero” activities openly for all to see?

Donald J. Trump is admittedly an entertainer. He was a so-so real estate mogul and businessman who never successfully managed anything on his own. He has been constantly bailed our financially by others for his horrendous errors in the real world. However, he manufactured a persona that was a deceit about how successful he was and how he got things done. He entertained people with a book “Art of the Deal” (actually written by somebody else mind you) that talked about manipulating and conning partners, governments and people to be successful. He had his reality show “The Apprentice” (which in reality was stolen from a British reality show) where he honed his entertainment skills. Like most entertainers, what you saw was scripted to gain viewership. Becoming popular and already being narcissistic, he began to air his political views on news programs who gave this man airtime for their ratings, not for the substance of his positions that often changed with the times and television viewers tastes. Trump was a self-described Democrat who once espoused progressive ideas like free choice, government assistance, gun control, etc. only to change to being a self-described conservative republican espousing their views. In reality (as has been pointed out numerous times) Trump has no true ideology beyond himself. He contradicts himself on key issues three or more times in just one sitting. The recent brouhaha over his Helsinki Summit and the interviews afterwards show this to be true.

So here’s the problem, television viewers are less and less able or willing to distinguish entertaining fiction from reality. I wonder if the Trump base actually realize or care that Trump’s actions, unlike say Frank Underwood has actual consequences in the real world and to themselves. Economic security suffers for millions, wars break out, people get hurt, and people die. Trump’s actions have real consequences felt by real people, not storylines that only impact other fictional characters. Reality is a bitch with is why the Trump Administration pushes an alternative reality based on fiction because they know he does better in fiction, than reality. We need to step back and realize this fact and work to make the real world safer and more prosperous for real people, not just sit back and be entertain fooling ourselves that “no one really get’s hurt”.

Regarding Immigration in America

In 1585 Sir Walter Raleigh founded the first English Colony in what would later become the United States. Though the Colony of Roanoke would fail and go down in history as “The Last Colony” it was the first round of generations of immigrants coming to these shores, much to the chagrin of the Natives who had already been here for thousands of years. To be sure these weren’t just people from England immigrating to North America, there were French, Spanish, Dutch, Irish, Scottish, Portuguese even Russians who immigrated both here, Central and South America as well as the Caribbean islands. Now our history refers to them as “Colonists” but they were in fact immigrants, people leaving their native lands to settle elsewhere where other people already resided.

As European Colonies grew throughout the Western Hemisphere, they built their cities and towns, established their farms, industry, infrastructure. While doing so they of course relocated the Native Americans away from where they settled while welcoming more immigrants from Europe to join them and expand their lands and influence.

To focus on this country it is a fact that the original English Colonies that rebelled from Great Britain were filled with the sons and daughters of immigrants. Some of our revered “Founders” were in fact first generation immigrants from England and Europe. The rebellion was successful and the newly found nation expanded westward, essentially immigrating further west displacing the Native Americans and moving them to reservations.

Interesting if not ironic to note that although we “Remember the Alamo” but we don’t focus on the fact that those who fought and died there for “Texas” were actually immigrants from the United States to what was Mexico at the time. They were immigrating south of the border to build their lives and fortunes.  

In the nearly 500 years since Europeans immigrated to the Western Hemisphere, the lands here always attracted immigration from other parts of the world and within the Western Hemisphere itself. Some of that immigration was forced in that indentured servants came over to pay debts and ended up staying here and of course African Slaves were brought over in chains and forced to remain here. In the 19th Century we brought Chinese labor over here to build the railroads and they remained. However what is beyond all doubt is the fact that what we call America came about from immigration and displacement of the Native tribes.  We are a nation of immigrants and their descendants. First generation immigrants actually built much of this nation, were behind much of her innovations, her growth to being a world power and destination for people from all over the world to come over and make their lives better or at the very least, escape violence, oppressive governments, inhumanity, all aspiring to do what generations of previous immigrants did themselves.

So are why people, descendants of immigrants themselves opposed to continued immigration here? First of all, this is a minority view per Pew Polling. In fact only 24% of the nation believe that immigration should be reduced.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2018/06/29/trump-is-losing-the-country-on-immigration/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e9cc78276678

Despite the calls from Trump and his inner circle to include Stephen Miller whose great-great grandparents came to this country seeking asylum from Russia in 1903 to escape the Jewish Pogroms the nation overwhelmingly supports immigration and asylum seekers.

https://www.metro.us/president-trump/stephen-miller-architect-immigration-policy-descendant-asylum-seekers

The majority of Americans understand that immigration is essential to our economy and always has been. However there are those who throw out false claims that immigrants cause more crime and violence in our country. This is not true.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/immigrants-do-not-increase-crime-research-shows/

They make additional false claims that immigrants are a drain on government services while not paying taxes. This is another lie.

http://econofact.org/do-undocumented-immigrants-overuse-government-benefits

http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2016/oct/02/maria-teresa-kumar/how-much-do-undocumented-immigrants-pay-taxes/

So why the lies and disinformation? Some speculate that this is just pure racism, others that it’s a way to rally support by making an enemy of a group in order to rally nationalist support like Hitler did with the Jews, other that perhaps it’s a knowledge that immigration destroyed the culture of the Native Americans and stole their lands and they see it happening to them. There are many reasons but the fact remains most Americans see through this fraud.

Good moral Americans support asylum seekers knowing they deserve to be able to make their claims and knowing they do come from violent places in the world. Further most Americans know that those immigrants from south of the border do most of the heavy labor native born Americans refuse to do or can’t. In reality our population is aging due to low birthrates and only immigration reinvigorates our labor force. Further, the taxes they do in fact pay helps fund the programs that American citizens need and enjoy.

Finally, to treat human beings as less than human, to tear apart families all in a sick attempt to rally political support for a regime that does nothing to merit support from the governed is abhorrent to anyone who considers themselves humane. I personally believe that Trump and the GOP allow this to continue because fascists love to instill fear to rally support when they provide nothing of substance from the population. In their case, they’re taking things away from the middle and working class to fill their own pockets so all they can do is try to convince them there’s worse people out there. Immigrants from south of the border are their Jews.

Defend immigrant human rights, defend American humanity, rally to support the immigrants and vote out the people and party who betray our history and promise to the world.

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.