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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Day 165. 

The latest yelling about a war on free speech” comes after the University of California at Berkeley cancelled Ann Coulter’s speech for what they say are “safety concerns”.  We must remember that there is a group of anarchists that have caused violence during speeches at Berkeley before.  Maybe, the university is right, maybe it is wrong.

The question really isn’t about why the speech was cancelled, but whether or not it is another “battle” in the war on free speech.  I guess that depends upon our definition of free speech.  Which makes us look at just what free speech is.

We have seen lots of cases where this so-called war on free speech could be used by both sides.  But, it is the fringes on both sides that use the free speech argument the most.  In just the past year or so, we have seen many people blasted for their opinions on different issues.  We could call those attacks as a war on free speech.

There was a big problem when Milo Yianapolis tried to give a speech at Berkeley.  We also saw and heard all kinds of attacks against Kapernick just because he chose to kneel for the national anthem as a protest in favor of Black Lives Matter.

Those attacks are still going strong, and many conservatives are very happy that he seems to be having a problem landing on new team.  Couldn’t we call that a war on free speech?

Free speech is one of our fundamental rights a citizens.  The speech we use is not limited to “correct” speech.  I have written before that even hate groups like the KKK or the American Nazi Party have a right to hold rallies.  That is what free speech is all about.

Even still, there are limits to our free speech rights.  We do not have a right to cause disturbances or riots from our speech.  We do not have a right to cause public safety concerns with our speech.  For example, we cannot simply yell “fire” in a crowded theater just for fun and claim free speech.

We are even seeing this play out in the courts right now.  Three protesters at trump rallies are suing the trump campaign, their supporters, and trump himself for inciting violence at his rallies.  Even one of the accused trump supporters has said that he was encouraged by trump to attack the protesters.

The odd thing is trump isn’t really arguing against the claim of inciting violence, he is arguing that he cannot be sued because he is president.  You may argue that protesters do not belong at a political rally.  But, if that is the case, what about your free speech argument?

In 1968, I attended to protest at a rally for George Wallace in Chicago.  During that campaign, Wallace took great joy at protesters disrupting his rally because it put his name in the headlines.  He ran into a problem in Chicago that time.  Whenever he used his hate speech towards the protesters, they sarcastically cheered his hate.  As a result, no one was “thrown out” and there were no “violence” headlines at the rally the next day.  Needless to say, Wallace kept getting angrier and angrier as the night went along.

We are hearing that people like Bill O’Reilly are victims of liberal attacks just because he is a conservative and liberals are trying to shut up conservatives.  The argument goes that sponsors were bullied to pull their ads from his show by liberal extortionists.  They claim that liberals just wanted to stop a conservative from expressing his views.

That argument is bogus.  O’Reilly thought that his position allowed him to abuse and harass women.  He thought he could get away with it because he was “famous” and that meant he could do whatever he wanted.  Just like beloved leader bragged about in that Hollywood Access tape during the campaign.

Then you have the Kapernick argument.  If you are claiming that O’Reilly shouldn’t have been fired because he is a conservative, then Kapernick should be left alone too.  If you wrote a letter or complained openly about his protest, than you are doing to him exactly what you complain liberals are doing to O’Reilly.  You are trying to silence his political views.

Conservatives have tried to paint the Black Lives Matter movement to anti-American activities.  Even calling them “terrorists” on Fox News more than once.  Where is the cry about waging a war on free speech?

The biggest problem we have with our right to free speech is the speech itself.  In the 1960s protesters were met with violence.  Many times they were attacked by police just because they were protesting.  That was really the case in the Civil Rights movement.  But, the anti-war protests against the Vietnam war faced similar attacks.  As Mayor Richard J. Daily famously said on television: “The police are not there to cause the violence, they are there to preserve the violence”.

That sentiment still goes a long way today.  When violence breaks out over a conservative speech, the rioters are trying to “suppress conservative views”.  When violence breaks out when a liberal speaks, then the liberals are just a bunch of anti-Americans trying to cause trouble.  Yes, the same can be said in both directions, but today it mostly comes from the right.

In order to have a proper discussion and/or debate over issues, we need free speech.  We need to hear both sides of the argument and then decide which direction the nation should go.  However, we also need to have rational debate.

Ann Coulter is not better than any other right-wing fringe wacko.  The pundits try to place her more in the main stream, but her speech and her writings are anything but mainstream.  She has never had a good word about anyone who isn’t white, Christian, and conservative.  She is a white supremacist nationalist who hates anyone who is not white and wants to keep any non-white out of the country.  That is not mainstream.

Still, she is entitled to her opinions.  However, others have a right to their opinions, and if they decide to show up and peacefully demonstrate against her then they are exercising their right to free speech.  Yet, that isn’t how her supporters see the world.  They see the world as she can say whatever she wants, and no one can protest against her.

In our history, we had the fringe wackos on the left do the same thing.  There have been times when they argued they were right and everyone was wrong and therefore any protest against them should not be allowed.  Today, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction.

Before you take sides in this so-called war on free speech, remember it works both ways.  You may feel like the victim today, but the other side was the victim before.  The only answer is for each side to understand that hate speech of any kind is not really political speech.  It is hate speech pure and simple.

Both sides have a right to say what they want.  I am not advocating for a ban on any form of speech.  However, if anyone is wanting to give a speech, they should expect blowback from those who disagree.   If you are not willing to accept that blowback, then you shouldn’t be giving a speech in the first place.

You should also be careful of what you say.  Yelling from the podium words like “get ’em out of here” or “I will pay for your lawyers” can and should be considered incitement to violence.  That is what the suit against trump’s campaign is all about.

We have a right to free speech.  We also have a responsibility to control our free speech.  You cannot have it both ways.  If you claim your side has a right to free speech, you cannot deny free speech to the other side.  If you agree that you can protest against a speaker, then you cannot argue the other side doesn’t have the right to protest against your speaker.

For example, when something like the resistance movement protests against your leader, you cannot simply call them “paid protesters” to dismiss them.  Neither can you reject someone’s right to give a speech, even if you disagree with the content.

The oddity to me is that Berkeley is known as the birthplace of free speech from the 1960s.  That same birthplace cannot tamp down on conservative views either.  Free speech must be allowed so anyone can express their views.  Yes, public safety must be taken into consideration.  We do not need violence just because some is giving a speech.

The point is that there really is no “war on free speech”.  There is simply a politicization about what free speech is all about.  That is the real problem we face today.  Free speech actually shows us where our problems lie.  It puts on full display the evils and the corruptions that we face as a nation.

The discrimination problems we face today are the same as we faced 100 years ago.  They are bases on race, sex, national origin, color and sexual orientation.  Immigrants are hated, especially if they are immigrants of color or non-Christian religion.  It is the same as it was throughout our history.

Instead of stopping these speeches, we should simply show up and peacefully protest against the views we disagree with.  We should let our voices be known as well.  That is the best way to stop the spread of hate and the formation of an authoritarian government.  When free speech is controlled by the government, we all lose.

Free speech can be controlled in many ways.  Not allowing a speech to take place is one form of controlling it.  Another way is to label the protesters as anti-American.

Protests are a form of free speech.  Marches are a form of free speech.  And, yes, hate is also a form of free speech.  In order for our democracy to survive in troubling times, we need to fight hate speech, but not with violence or trying to silence it.  We need it to be heard so we know how to fight it.

Throughout hour history, hate has eventually lost in the fight for our nation’s soul.  There is no reason why we should expect it to win this time either.  Unless we go off the rails and try to silence dissent.  Fight hate with love and we will win.  Fight hate with hate, and we all lose.

 

 

 

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Day 140. 

I know that a lot of people may take exception to that question.  I also know that the knee-jerk reaction is “what the hell is he talking about?”  I hope both assumptions are correct, because it is time we have a real discussing about this issue.

I have been around for some time, and I have seen politicians come and go.  I saw the Civil Rights fights that led to the Civil Rights Bill.  I saw the conflicts that led to the Voting Rights Act.  I was part of the anti-war protests over the Vietnam War in the sixties.

I watched George Wallace bring his bigotry to the national debate with his independent run for the Presidency.  I watched as the old Dixiecrats all began to fade away the leave government either by retiring or dying.  I served under five different presidents with varying views of civil rights.  But, everyone of them loved America and American democracy in their own ways.  Even Richard Nixon.

Things were getting better.  Life was getting better for everyone.  Americans were beginning to feel good about themselves again.  Then, something happened and I cannot put my finger on exactly what that was.   In my view it started with Ronald Reagan.  It was Reagan who started coining the term “welfare queen”.

When Reagan was President, we had Iran Contra where his administration broke a real law by selling guns to Iran in order to raise money to fund the Contras in Central America which was breaking another law.

Several of Reagan’s people wound up in jail over the incident, but Reagan escaped untouched.  Then after Bill Clinton was elected, things got real nasty.  Clinton was actually impeached because he had sex with an intern in a consensual relationship.  What was his “impeachable” offense?  He lied about it, like every Republican who also got caught in affairs.

George W. Bush took us to war.  I didn’t have a problem with the war in Afghanistan since that was where the terrorists who committed the atrocious act of 9/11 were.  However, that wasn’t good enough for W.  He wanted to take out Iraq too.  As a result, it turns out he lied about getting us into the war.  He said over and over that Iraq had weapons of “mass destruction” and that was the justification for his war.

After the war, we found out that he did lie to us because Iraq did not have any weapons of mass destruction.  It was “proven beyond a reasonable doubt” that the President lied to the American people to start a war and kill hundreds of thousands of people.

The Republican Party began using lies as the only way to speak to the American People.  In the past, they used to wrap it up in “patriotic” language.  They would say things like “I am only dong what the American People want”.  or, “That is what the American People elected us to do”.

And they proved all of this was a big lie too.  When the Sandy Hook massacre took place, 70 percent of the American people wanted reasonable gun control laws.  The one they most wanted was a universal background check law.  The Republicans voted it down with “I am only doing what the American people want” lie.

We have started seeing more and more legal discrimination laws being passed, especially at the state level.  Republican state after Republican state are passing anti-abortion laws, voter restriction laws, anti-LGBT laws, and anti-local rule laws.

They have been trying their best to masquerade these laws as “liberty defense” bills.  For example, they claim that the anti-abortion laws are not intended for anything but “protecting woman’s health”.  Bullshit, they are intended to make safe and legal abortions unlawful.

They tell us that we need Photo IDs in order to vote.  Then they look at the types of photo IDs people have and the ones that are mostly used by non-whites or by the elderly or by young people, become not “authorized” as proper photo ids.  Then just to make sure no one can get around this, they shut down the government services, like Driver’s Licenses offices is areas that are primarily minority.  Making them drive or hitch a ride up to 250 miles to get the ID required to vote.

They pass laws they call “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” claiming that “Christians are being persecuted”.  They claim these laws are necessary because Christians cannot act like Christians anymore and everyone is “picking on us”.

But when you look at the laws, you discover the only purpose of them is to allow people to legally discriminate against any minority they want under the guise of “religious belief”.  They mainly targeted the LGBT community and tried to make it possible that a bakery could discriminate against a same-sex couple and not sell them a cake for their wedding.

Under this hateful behavior, they claim that if a baker must sell a cake to such people they would be “endorsing” the same-sex marriage.  BULLSHIT!  That is like saying that if you sell a cake to a member of the Chinese Embassy, you are endorsing Communism.  Or if you sell a cake to a member of the Iranian Government visiting America, you are endorsing the Iranian political agenda.

The only reason for these RFRA laws is simply to allow “government sponsored discrimination” against minorities.  Maybe they were only targeting the LGBT community, but every minority faces the same hate under these hateful laws.

Republicans claim they are the party that “wants government out of our lives”.  They claim to be the “small government” party.  Only their actions show otherwise.  When it comes to ensuring their pet projects get to see the light of day, they are more than willing to let government tell you what to do.

During the ongoing fight over the ACA, Republicans say they want the government out of the way and not get in the way of you and your doctor.  But, they are more than willing to tell doctors what they can and cannot do if a woman wants to talk about abortion or birth control.

Several Republican states passed laws “requiring” ultrasounds before an abortion could be performed.  Not because they were necessary for the woman’s health, but because they showed the fetus and they hoped that would change people’s minds.

They pass laws, like in Utah the other day, that are very dangerous to women’s health and even their lives.  They passed a law that says doctors “must inform women that after the first of two medications to perform an abortion is given, she can change her mind after the first medication was given and the abortion would be reversed”.  That is absolute nonsense and very dangerous to the health of the woman.

They pass laws like HB2 here in North Carolina.  This bill has several effects on our citizens.  First it mandates who is female and who is male.  It then says that you can only use a bathroom that matches the sex on your birth certificate.  It also says that local governments, like the city of Charlotte, does not have the power to modify this law in any way.

It does not recognize the LGBT community as a protected group under the Civil Rights laws.  It is still legal for a company to fire you simply because you are an LGBT person.  No other reason, just because you are gay.  But, Republicans say they are protecting “civil rights” of all of our citizens.

There is a push to reverse this horrible law, but the “compromise” they are announcing today is not very good and keeps in place the rule that local governments cannot pass their own laws or protecting LGBT from being fired just because they are gay.  The only reason this repeal is even being considered is because the Republicans are afraid the NCAA will lock them out of hosting any part of the tournament through 2022.  Since this law was passed by our Politburo the state has lost about $3.1 billion.

Republicans claim that women’s health care is very important to them.  Yet, they have been on a mission to destroy women’s health issues in insurance.  They have been making it difficult for women to get coverage for birth control in their “standard” health care coverage.

They have been going after Planned Parenthood for decades.  They don’t like the idea that you can get an abortion at Planed Parenthood.  So, they are lying to the American people telling them that Planned Parenthood is using federal dollars to perform those abortions.  Only that is untrue and illegal.

They latched onto the phony “sting videos” that claim that Planned Parenthood was “selling body parts” of fetus tissue after an abortion to “make money”.  The videos were proven to be heavily edited and fake.  That didn’t stop Republicans.  They insisted that Planed Parenthood be investigated.  So, many states did just that.

Problem came up.  After dozens of investigations, it was discovered the Planned Parenthood was not “selling baby parts” and they were doing absolutely nothing illegal.  The thing was someone was doing something illegal.  The people who made the videos.

In Texas, the City of Houston brought charges against them.  Felony charges.  Then just this week, California charged the makers of the video with 23 felony charges!  So, Republicans demanded investigations, but now that the only crimes found were by the people who made the videos, they are mysteriously silent.

Still, in the Americans Without Health Care Act that crashed and burned last week, one of the biggest things and most loved part of the bill by Republicans was the defunding of Planned Parenthood.  Again, Republicans say, “that is what Americans sent us to do”.

Only 70 percent of the American People do not want the government to defund Planed Parenthood.  7 in 10 people know that the services that Planed Parenthood offer are only offered by them.  Poor women and poor working women get their health care from Planned Parenthood.  Including cancer screenings, STD prevention and treatment, birth control, and a whole host of other services.

Did you know for example that unwanted pregnancies and abortions, especially among teenaged women and poor women are at their lowest in decades?  Did you also know that these women get birth control form Planed Parenthood and if you remove those services, unwanted pregnancies will increase.  How can you care about women’s health when you want to allow more unwanted pregnancies rather than fewer.

When you look at the whole picture, you have to wonder why today’s Republicans hate America and American democracy so much?  What indoctrination did they go through in order to become so anti-American?

In 2016, it was shown that Russia interfered in our elections.  But, even with this very serious problem, Republicans don’t seem too interested in getting to the bottom of the problem.  They are definitely putting party ahead of country.  Why?

Well if you are a conservative, you claim they are following “conservative principles”.  But, Ayn Rand had no “conservative principles” she only had selfish principles and Ryan is a huge follower if her principles.

If you are a Conservative Christian you will claim they are “protecting” Christian values.  I don’t know any true “Christians” who believe we should abandon the weak and the poor and the sick.  So there are no Christian values in their laws.  Only hate.

If you are a “small government” Republican you will claim they are trying to get government off of our backs and let us live in freedom.  Only,the laws they are passing have nothing to do with individual freedom.  They onely increase discrimination on minorities and favor corporate profits.

These factions of the Republican party are kidding themselves.  Today’s Republican Party is interested in power, and not for the People of America.  They are interested in their power, and mostly in the power of the American Corporations.  They want an Oligarchy.

That is why it is so easy for them to lie and lie and lie.  It is the reason they won’t answer a direct question with a direct answer.  Our current Republican beloved leader claimed he would work for “the average American”.  But, so far, he has only worked for corporations and the Republicans love him for it.

Today’s Republican Party is interested in destroying our democracy.  They are interested in removing civil rights for the people.  They are interested in destroying the middle-class because they are a threat to the oligarchs.

Today’s Republican Party is more enthralled with the way Putin runs Russia than in keeping our country a free country under a great Constitution.  They see the Russian Oligarchs getting richer and richer at the detriment of every other Russian, and that is what today’s Republicans want in America.

Somewhere along the path of our nation, the Republican lost their way.  Somehow they emerged out of a forest, and we discovered they were a lot more greedy and power-hungry than before.  Hate, greed, and discrimination are the Party’s mantra and their religious creed.

Are these the reasons why today’s Republican party hates America and American Democracy so much?  Are they the reasons this Republican Party has passed more intrusive laws against average Americans than any other party in our history?  You don’t do that if you love you country.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 137. 

Well, a new week and new issues.  The trump administration is fresh off of getting its clock cleaned by his own party, so he plans to move on.  The first thing he did was name his son-in-law to head up a new thing to remake the government with a “business view”.  Bad idea from the get go.  Don’t forget, trump’s business savvy resulted in six bankruptcies.

Before conservatives start to howl, think about it.  Every state that elected a “business man” to be their governor, the state’s economy crashed.  Look at states like the Soviet Socialist State of Kansas.  It was supposed to be the Tea Party Utopia.  It has failed miserably,  The massive tax cuts only raised the debt so much that basic essential government operations have been cut to the bone and are basically ineffective.

The State of Kansas is struggling so bad that the Republican controlled legislature even passed a tax hike bill to save the state from bankruptcy.  Only Chairman Brownbeck vetoed the bill and the Republicans couldn’t overturn the veto.

It was said that there would be some “privatization” of some government services.  That is also a bad idea.  Everything that Republicans have “privatized” in government services has wound up costing us more money than it did when the government ran it.  There is a basic reason for that.  Companies need to make money, the government doesn’t.  We already know what will be the first thing to be “privatized”.  The Veterans Administration.

It is trump’s view that after serving our country, we veterans should be handed a voucher for our benefits.  Forget that those vouchers won’t cover the cost of our care, that is what they will try to do.  The administrations’ view towards veterans is simple.  “Risk you life to serve our country, and get your voucher.  Then just go away”.

Then trump and his crooks are going to “reform the tax code”.  Reforming the tax code may be necessary in the long run, but the attention to detail that trump showed the Americans Without Health Care Act, or rather the lack of attention, doesn’t speak well that we will really get tax reform instead of a huge tax cut for the rich.

As usual, we will need to look and watch what the wacko fringe groups in the House do.  Already, the so-called deficit hawks are backing away from their idea that we need pay for the tax cuts to avoid raising the deficit.

“I think there’s been a lot of flexibility in terms of some of my contacts and conservatives in terms of not making it totally offset,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told ABC News on Sunday on “This Week,” arguing that tax cuts would provide financial relief for ordinary American families.

“Does it have to be fully offset?” Meadows asked. “My personal response is no.”

As usual, the Republicans do not have a plan ready to talk about.  Again, they have only had like 30 years to put one together, but they didn’t bother until now.

Some of things that Ryan and trump want are huge cuts in tax rates.  Ryan want to eliminate all personal deductions with the possible exception of mortgage deductions and charitable giving.  That might not go far enough for some in congress.  There are still those who are looking for a flat tax with no deductions at all.

As discussed several times in the past, a flat tax would hugely help the rich pay even less taxes and the middle class and poor working class would pay on average $2000 more in taxes.  Which is exactly why conservatives love it so much.

Then there is the big kicker.  Under what Ryan has been talking about, these tax cuts would explode the deficit.  Even taking into consideration economic growth, it is estimated that Ryan’s plan would add $2.5 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years.

One way Ryan figures he can offset some of these losses is by implementing a “border tax” on imports.  He has talked often about a 20 percent tax on all products coming into the country.  But, in typical Republican fashion, Ryan has never considered exactly what that would mean.

Ryan claims that with the border tax, we would see more growth in American industry.  But he also forgets to mention that prices would explode as well.   There are a host of business interests that are against the border tax.  But, Ryan, as usual, doesn’t care about that.

Nor does Ryan consider that his border tax could result in an import tax war.  If we are going to raise import taxes at our borders what makes you think other countries won’t do the same thing to us.  Meaning our exports would be severely cut due to higher prices for our products overseas.  How is that making American Products competitive in the export business?

You can also bet that this massive tax cut for the rich will result in Ryan and Republicans going after the social safety net.  You can bet that we will see them try to “privatize” Social Security.  You will see them try to make Medicare a voucher program.  These two actions would have a severe adverse impact on our senior citizens.

But, Ryan and the Republicans don’t care about that.  They only care about the tax cuts for the rich.  If poor people and the elderly must suffer for that end, so be it.  And don’t feign surprise at that thought.  Ryan and the Republicans have pushed this for about 40 years now.  And, since they have an incompetent president now, they are licking their chops to get it done.

Republicans also tell us that corporate taxes need to be massively cut.  They say that our corporate taxes are too high.  Only, about half of the corporations in America do not pay a single dollar in taxes now.  Are they going to make it so corporations will have to pay taxes who don’t now?  Are they going to ensure that all of the loopholes that favor corporations are eliminated?  Yeah, like that will happen.

If there is one thing you would think would bring the Republicans together, you would have thought it would have been the repeal of the ACA.  It didn’t happen.  There are a lot more, and bigger, differences between Republicans on tax reform.

Like repealing the ACA there is only one goal they share on taxes.  Cutting taxes for the richest and corporations.  How they cut those taxes and how much they hurt the rest of the people and how big they are willing to let the deficit grow to achieve these cuts is where these differences lie.

As I wrote yesterday, Democrats in Congress is not the opposition to Republicans getting anything done.  Their main opposition is their own party.  The other thing to consider is that we are at the end of March.  The Republicans do not have anything firm in writing as to what they see tax cuts would look like.  Yet, they plan to have it done by August.

It took them seventeen days to fumble the ACA repeal bill.  It took them less than three months to totally screw up their health bill.  Now, they plan to put together a “tax reform” bill in four months.  Really?  Does anyone in the Republican Party even think about what they are saying?

The tax code has not seen a major reform in 30 years.  What makes them think they can do a “reform” in four months?  Are they planning to write their bill in a closet like they did the ACA repeal bill?  Are they going to try to ram through a bill like this without holding any real hearings complete with witnesses from both sides of the argument?  That is about the only way they can do this in four months.

And, what about their dear leader?  Are they going to allow him to have any input in the bill?  It is already known that trump is “cool to the idea” of the border tax.  Of course he would be cool to that idea, it would affect his family’s businesses directly since they don’t make anything in America and don’t have any plans to do so.

The resistance cannot take a rest because the ACA repeal failed.  There are issues that are just as dangerous to the American people on the horizon.  The “businification” of our government will kill our people.  And, the tax cuts they are looking to impose will allow the rich to save hundreds of millions in taxes while the rest of us pay the price.

If you think this is all a bad idea, don’t forget that trump still wants some kind of infrastructure bill that will cost about $1 trillion dollars.  He still wants to build the Berlin Wall on the southern border that will cost about $21 billion.  Those numbers are not included in the deficit explosion that Ryan’s tax cuts will already cause.

Trump promised his base that he would not touch Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.  The ACA repeal bill proved he was lying on Medicaid, so what makes you think he will keep his promise when it comes to Medicare and Social Security?

Nothing trump or the Republicans have done so far was done to benefit the average American.  Everything has been done to benefit the wealthy.  The Americans Without Health Care Act was nothing but a tax cut for the rich masquerading as a health care bill.

The proposed budget from our beloved leader shows us just what he thinks is important.  It isn’t the people.  He wants to cut Public Broadcasting, Education, Environmental Protection, Science Research, Health Research, the State Department, and other areas that you depend upon.

Republicans and trump have brought the knives out, and we the average people are the ones who are going to bleed to death.  The class war to eliminate the middle-class and make this a two class society is in full swing.

Watch what they are doing very carefully.  When the “facts” start coming out about theses bills on the horizon, be ready to resist just as much as you did against the Americans Without Health Care Act.  Our resistance and actions is all that stands between what is right and wrong for average Americans.  Republicans have proven time and again they are on the wrong side.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 136. 

You can point to a lot of reasons that the American Without Health Care Act failed.  For one it was a really bad bill.  Secondly, the president can’t figure out that dealing with over 400 people in the House is not like threatening some other contractor that he fails to pay.  Third, Ryan is a lousy leader.

But most importantly, you can look at the Republican Party as the major fault.  And, I am talking about something that began years ago.  Things started becoming really partisan under Ronald Reagan.  But, once Barak Obama was elected President, things really went from bad to worse.

That fact that a black man could actually win an election and become President was too much for the wacko fringe of the Republican Party.  They started organizing under different banners, but the one that stuck out was the Tea party.  With huge money backers like the Koch Brothers, this movement gained momentum.

In 2010 the ultra-conservative nut jobs known as the Tea Party started pealing off seats in the House.  In 2010, the Republicans took control of the House and things started to get worse and worse.  Obstruction became the normal political practice of the Republican Party.  No matter what President Obama wanted, it would be voted down or simply ignored in the House.

This became the entire policy of the Republican Party.  After the Sandy Hook shooting and 70 percent of the country wanted universal back ground checks on gun purchases, the House said no.  When the Senate passed a bi-partisan Immigration Reform Bill that was really good, the House put it in a drawer and it has remained there since.

These actions were not because any of the bills that reached them were bad, it was simply because the House made a concerted effort to declare that nothing that was supported by President Obama would see the light of day.  There would be no hearings, no discussions, and especially no votes.

The Republican Party simply rolled over and let the wackos take charge of their party.  They allowed the so-called Freedom Caucus run Boehner out of town.  They failed to fight back for the principles that the majority of Republicans in the country stood for.  Instead, they let the wacko fringe begin to dictate policy.

They could have stopped all of this simply by talking to the Democrats in the House in order to get things done that would move the country forward.  In the past, they were able to work with the Democrats and there were compromises in legislation that helped everyone.

However, the party stuck to a Reagan Era rule known as the Hastert Rule that said no bill could go to the floor of the House without the party ensuring passage without Democrat help.  That was a huge mistake.  As a result, the wacko Freedom Caucus found themselves with way too much power for their little number of members.  The Freedom Caucus has about 40 members in total.

Only, that number of people is just enough to kill any bill they don’t like.  If a bill is going to help anyone but rich people in the country, the Freedom Caucus simply says no, and the bill fails.  If the party reaches across the aisle, the Freedom Caucus starts complaining that they are RINOs and fires up the country’s fringe against the party.

This whole mess came to light this past week.  In their absolute hate for the Affordable Care Act, a bill one of their own wrote in the 1990s, they ran on the “promise to repeal and replace” the ACA.  They have had seven plus years to put together a plan that would replace the ACA.  Only, the Freedom Caucus wackos would not support anything but a repeal with no replacement.

Being too afraid of the caucus running to Fox News and complaining about how establishment Republicans are trying to pass a health care bill that helps poor people, they simply sat on their hands and did nothing.  They complained and complained about the ACA.  They did everything they could to undermine the bill.  They did everything they could, except write a decent replacement bill.

Then came the election surprise of 2016 and donald trump became our president.  Here they were with control of both Houses of Congress and a Republican, well sort of a Republican, sitting in the White House.  Repealing and replacing the ACA was going to be a slam dunk.

Only they didn’t have anything to replace the ACA with.  They never even bothered to write a plan.  They showed their total incompetence when it comes to actually governing.  As a result, Republican leadership locked themselves in a closet and wrote a bill in secret.  Then a couple of weeks ago they held a Press Conference to show off their work.

The bill had some things that most Republicans loved.  They did away with the mandates in the ACA.  They cut way back on the subsidies intended to allow poor people, poor working people, and the elderly get health insurance which would have either thrown people off their health care or make it so expensive they would pay half of their income to keep it.  And, of course, they eliminated the taxes on the rich and corporations that paid for the ACA.  And, finally they were going to gut Medicaid.  Everything was smelling like roses for Ryan and his leadership team.

But, as usual when Republicans are in charge, something happened on the way to the Forum.  First, people found out that they were going to be severely hurt by the plan, especially trump supporters.  They would either lose their insurance or see their premiums go through the roof.  Then it was figured out that up to 24 million people would lose their health coverage mostly due to the gutting of Medicaid.

That was bad enough.  People started showing up at town hall meetings and blasting their Representatives for taking away their health care.  They demanded they vote against the bill.  But, that was just the tip of the iceberg.

The Freedom Caucus showed just what freedom they were interested in.  Freedom from poor people.  They dug in their heels for one reason only.  The tax credits that were in the bill to help people actually purchase health care coverage.  Forget that these tax credits were miserly compared to the subsidies, it was still something that the “little people” could use.  Their whole philosophy on health care is that it is a privilege not a right and if you can’t purchase it on your own, simply get sick and die.

Republican Moderates went into a tizzy as well.  They started realizing that the bill would surely mean they wouldn’t get reelected.  They started to realize that the old white people they counted on to keep office would be the big losers and that would certainly mean a loss in their next election.

Ryan and company were in trouble.  They started negotiating with the two different groups one by one.  They even relied on trump and his “great deal making” abilities to help them out.  Ryan and his cronies talked to the moderates, and trump would bring along the Freedom Caucus wackos.

The problem was every time Ryan made a promise to the moderates, the right-wing wackos dug their heels in deeper.  When they made promises to move even further right to appease the wackos, the moderates said no even louder.  In order show how things are done, trump sent his hitman, Steve Bannon to speak with the right-wing wackos.  Rather than speaking with them, Bannon threatened them.

A presidential threat of support or taking away support in the upcoming elections would usually work.  But, with trump’s approval rating at just 36 percent, the wackos were not afraid of him.  In the end, the Republicans had to pull the bill without even a vote.  The wackos claimed victory.  The president blamed the democrats who were never even asked to participate in the process.  Ryan said that “governing is hard, but we were really close”.  No shit!

I don’t care if you like Nancy Pelosi or not, but she had some good advice for Ryan and the president.  She said” You don’t pick a date for a vote and then try to ramp up support.  You get the support you need and then hold a vote.”  The one thing about her is that when she was the Speaker of the House, she knew how to get legislation passed.  Something Republicans apparently forgot how to do.

After the calamity of this loss for the Republicans, trump said that Ryan did all he could and he doesn’t blame him.  Only on Saturday, trump told his followers on twitter to watch a Fox News show that night.  The show was Judge Jeanine.

During the show, she directly went after Ryan and said he should step down immediately.  She went after Reince Priebus for having just as much blame as Ryan.  She claimed that trump had no blame in this disaster.  So much for trump backing Ryan.  Obviously, Judge Jeanine is backing the wacko fringe.

This is what happens when a political party puts party over country.  It happens when a party decides to complain and not rule.  It happens when they allow the fringe groups of the party take control.  In the name of obstruction and hate the Republican Party made a pact with the devil and they are now seeing just what that pact has done to its soul.

Instead of looking for ways to work with Democrats for the last eight years, they sold their soul to the wacko fringe groups in order to gain numbers to they could get power.  Now that they have power, they are being defeated by those very people they thought would make life beautiful.

The problems Republicans are facing in the House and Senate are of their own making.  The very fact that our president is trump, is all because Republicans sat quietly back and let the wackos into the mainstream.  They made a pact with the devil, and now they are paying the price for that pact.

This is not going to end with the Americans Without Health Care Act either.  The whole mess over climate change, the environment, education, the economy, North Korea, Iran, Russia, and a whole host of issues will meet the same fate if Republicans keep to partisan politics instead of governing.  The wackos are driving the policy of the party in these matters as well.

If the Republicans are really interested in moving the country forward and governing in a way that will help the average person on the street, they need to cast off of their fringe wackos and start to talk to the Democrats.  They will need to understand that compromise is the best solutions for the country.  They need to get over their hate and start to act like reasonable people wanting to do the best they can for the American People.

Until Ryan and his cronies in the party understand this simple fact of life, we will continue to be held hostage by the wacko so-called Freedom Caucus.  True Republicans with real policies for the country need to grow a spine and fight back against their own fringe groups.  In normal times, I might think this would be possible.  However, since the Republican party is more interested in power than they are in governing, I don’t expect anything reasonable to come from them.

It is a very simple fact.  Republicans will not be able to govern until they wipe out their opposition.  That opposition is not the Democrats, it is the wacko fringe of their own party.  Unfortunately, they don’t have the will or the courage to take them on.

As a result of their cowardice, the shirts keep marching along!

 

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Day 134. 

The great deal maker failed.  The leader of the Republican controlled House of Representatives failed.  For trump, this is his second strike.  The first was the Muslim Ban that was stopped by the courts.  Yes, there is Muslim Ban 2.0 that is still being held up in the courts with the case to move forward, but the first one made him back down and try again.

Today was strike two since they had to pull the Americans Without Health Care Act.  They had to pull the bill because the “great dealmaker” couldn’t make a deal.  The bill was so bad, conservatives and moderates were both against it.  Conservatives were against it because it wasn’t cruel enough.  Moderates were against it because it was too cruel.

In typical trumpism he went on to blame the Democrats.  You know, the party that was never asked for their input.  The party that was completely locked out of the process.  The party that doesn’t want to see millions of Americans lose their insurance.  The Republicans claimed they would “repeal and replace” the ACA despite the Democrats because they didn’t need them.

So, naturally, it is all their fault trump couldn’t make his great deal and fulfill his promise that “the first thing we are going to do is repeal and replace the terrible Obamacare”.  Republicans thought this would be a slam dunk.  Only it wasn’t.

But, don’t start celebrating just yet.  Don’t even think that trump is telling the truth when he say he is going to now move on to tax reform and “let Obamacare fail”.  The other day I wrote about how Rubio and the Republicans stopped paying back losses to insurance companies as the law said it would do for ten years, and that caused them to pull out of the exchanges.

That is just the beginning.  Remember, Tom Price is still the Secretary of HHS.  That is the department that runs the ACA.  If you think that Price will not do everything he can to undo as much of the ACA as he can you are kidding yourself.  Price is the number one enemy of the ACA.  He hates the ACA more than the thought of dying and going to hell.

He will issue administrative orders wherever he can to undo the ACA.  He will probably start with the mandates and regulations.  He will probably move on to the taxes that actually pay for the ACA so it will be starved of the cash it needs to work.

He will ensure that more companies pull out of the exchanges by promising something stupid in the future that will help them make more money.  And, don’t forget those same for profit insurance companies will be hammering away at him to do everything I just mentioned and probably even more.  The trump administration will do everything they can to make sure the ACA fails.  And, he will get Ryan to help out by repealing the taxes in the bill so it will be starved if Price can’t do it administratively.

You must keep in mind that trump is a very vindictive son of a bitch.  Every time he loses on something, he goes after someone he believes stopped him from getting what he wants.  In this case, he will figure out that he couldn’t get enough votes because House Members were scared to death of losing their seats if they voted for it.  In other words, the real villains in trump’s world right now is the American People and he will go after them with a vengeance.

If that vengeance means that you lose all of your health care, so be it.  If it means that you suffer bankruptcy over health care costs, so be it.  If it means you die because you can’t get coverage after his revenge mission, so be it.  All trump cares about is trump, and you stopped him from looking good to himself, and you must pay the price for that slight.

The ACA can work with some tweaks to the bill.  But, I still say the real answer is a universal health care law like Medicare for all.  The time to end the stupidity of “free market insurance” has come.  This is when the resistance movement that has taken room must demand universal health care, now.

It is the time when the resistance demand from their representatives to put together a bill making universal health care the law.  It is time to only support candidates, from both parties, that will support and make universal health care a reality.

This cannot wait until next year either.  It must begin today.  Letters, email, tweets, and phone calls must be made to demand universal health care.  It is the only way that we will really reduce the cost of health care and make sure that everyone in the country really has health care coverage.

Of the 11 most developed nations in the world, we rank 11th in health care costs.  We rank 11th in life expectancy.  Of fifteen different categories of health care, we rank no higher than 5th in any category.  We rank at the bottom in 10 of those categories.

What is the difference?  The other 10 most developed nations all have universal health care and pay about one half of the costs per person for health care as we do.  If you want to see health care costs go down, if you want to see Medicaid and Medicare not needed as separate costs to the country, then you must demand universal health care.

If you are a conservative, think about it.  With universal health care we don’t need a separate thing called Medicaid.  We don’t need a separate thing called Medicare.  Look at the saving in just those two programs.

If you are a progressive and believe health care is a right and not a privilege, then you must demand universal health care.  And, if you are a progressive and you help get a bipartisan universal health care law to the floor of both Houses, you will help kill the so-called Freedom Caucus.  They only have power because Republicans don’t want to work with Democrats.  If they did, the Freedom Caucus would become the lonely fringe group they should be now.

Yes, trump just got strike two against him.  But, the fight isn’t over, and it won’t ever be over until we get what most Americans want.  Affordable Health Care for all.  Only universal health care coverage is the answer.

Don’t fall asleep.  Keep resisting.  Keep calling your Reps.  Keep writing them.  Keep showing up at town halls and demand universal health care.  Make them toe the line.  If they won’t find a candidate who will and then and vote the bums out!

Now is the time for the people to get what they have been demanding.  Now is the time to rise up and make the politicians do what the American People want.  Right now, Republicans still don’t get that.  All day you kept hearing them say they will vote yes because that is what the American People want.  But, only 17 percent of the people were in favor of the Americans Without Health Care Act.  So, what people were they listening to?  Not the vast majority.

Every now and again, the people get a chance to make their voices heard and make their demands become reality.  Even trump supporters hated this abusive law.  They finally realized that they were the people who would lose their health care coverage.  Don’t leave them on the sidelines in the fight.  Bring them along with us so we have real power that even Republicans won’t dare to fight against.  The Americans Without Care Act has shown everyone that health care includes everyone.

Everyone needs health care coverage.  Democrats, Independents, AND Republicans need to join this fight.  So, with the wackos on the right holding up their own party and the incompetent trump sitting in the White House, now is one of those special times.  Don’t let it go by without acting.

It is the best chance we have to keep the shirts from marching along.

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Day 134. 

As you know, one of the main plans in the trump administration and the Republican Party is to pass laws that go uncovered because of all of the distractions going on at the same time.  This week is no different.  While you were all watching the Americans Without Health Care Act fight, and Nunes showing just what a trump shill he is, the Senate was busy passing something that will affect you personally, and you probably didn’t notice.

Naturally, it was an appeal of another of Obama’s rules that were made in order to protect the general population from exploitation.  If this bill gets to trump’s desk, there are a lot of companies who will be able to make money off of you and there will be nothing you will be able to do about it.

There rule involves the internet, something we all use.  The rule, which hasn’t even taken effect yet said that internet providers could not sell your personal information without your permission.  This included things like using precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history for advertising and internal marketing.

In the usual Republican lying mantra, McConnell said that the repeal of this rule was necessary because the rule “makes the internet an uneven playing field, increases complexity, discourages competition, innovation, and infrastructure investment.”  What he really means is that if you use the internet, you are supposed to be a cash cow for internet providers whether or not you want to be.  And, they don’t have to give you anything in return.  Hell, they don’t even have to let you know they are selling your information.

The Internet and Television Association, a trade group, in a statement praised the vote as a “critical step towards re-establishing a balanced framework that is grounded in the long-standing and successful FTC privacy framework that applies equally to all parties operating online.”

There is a law called HIPPA, which makes your health information confidential.  Yet this repeal allows a third-party to sell your health information to anyone they wish in order to make more money.  Isn’t that a violation of HIPPA?  Apparently, McConnell and the Republicans don’t care.  According to them, your health information is open for sale without your permission.

I also find it amazing that this rule change is being made right at the same time that Congress is trying to remove 24 million people from their health care coverage.  More people will be using the internet to find insurance they can afford.  With this rule change, you are going to be bombarded with advertisements because your private information isn’t private anymore.

Part of dismantling democracy is to remove privacy for the citizens.  More than that, it is making each and every citizen a cash cow for people you don’t know, who is selling your personal information to anyone and everyone.

This rule would not have hampered the playing field, complexity, competition, innovation, or infrastructure investment as McConnell said.  It would simply make it possible for you, as a consumer, to tell Internet Providers they could not sell your personal information.

Republicans have actually made it easier for Russia and terrorists and criminals to get your personal information without having to bother to hack into your computer.  They just have to set up a shill company and buy everything they want from Internet Providers.  And, they say they want to keep us safe from these criminals.

All during the Obama Presidency the right-wing was complaining about “losing their rights”.  When asked which rights they lost, they couldn’t name a single one, because they never lost a right.  So, what is one of the first things they do?  They pass a law that takes away your privacy when it comes to your financial and health information.  This is the second right lost under the trump administration and we are only in month three.  The first was your right to clean air and drinking water with his rollback of EPA rules that protected those rights. How many more are on the horizon?

This presidency is all about rights for corporations and screw the “little people”.  The proposed budget, if passed, will screw the “little people” even more.  And, I can’t wait for the so-called tax reform on the horizon that will really screw the “little people”.

Our right to privacy is one of our most fundamental and important rights we have in our government system.  Republicans just told you that your rights are not as important as corporation’s money.

I consider health insurance not only a right, but a necessity.  Republicans have told us we don’t need clean water to drink or clean to breath.  They have now told us we don’t have a right to privacy.  And, if the Americans Without Health Care Act passes we won’t have a right to health insurance.

Yes conservatives, our rights are being stripped away.  Only it wasn’t President Obama that stripped them, it is trump and his Republican gang of thieves that are stripping them away.  Hope you are happy.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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Day 130. 

Today should be a day when the real fights begin.  The hearings to fill the supreme court opening begins, and the House Intelligence Committee holds its first hearing about the Russian hacking of our elections.  There is also some haggling going on over the Americans Without Health Insurance Act.  Conservatives want more cuts, and moderates want better protection for older people.

You would think these three things would consume our president.  He did show some interest in the House Committee by tweeting that the Russian Hacking hearing was “fake news”.  Even before it starts.  Maybe that is because he wants to deflect away from his own bogus claim about his “wires being taped”.

But, to show just how stupid our current president is and to make us really wonder what the hell is going on, he went full trump on Germany.  And, as usual, he showed he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

The day after he met with Angela Merkel, he tweeted this nonsense:

Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!

Well, despite his usual bad spelling and poor grammar, he is also wrong in is biggest complaint.  Germany does not owe vast sums of money to NATO and the United States.  NATO does not have any “accounts” that each member of the alliance pays into.

There are two major parts to the NATO agreement.  The first is that “an armed attack against one or more of them… shall be considered an attack against them all” and that following such an attack, each member would take “such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force.”

The second is that each country agreed to spend at least 2 percent of its GDP on their own defense spending.  Let me spell that out again, each country agreed to spend at least 2 percent of its GDP on their own defense spending.

That spending includes a whole lot of things.  Like maintaining their own defense and military.  Assistance in NATO peace keeping operations.  And any assistance they give in fighting ISIS.

After the 9/11 attack in 2001 NATO enacted the clause that they considered the terrorist attack that day as an attack against all of NATO.  That was the first and only time that article was enacted.  And, it was to support the U.S. not the other way around.

It is true that some NATO countries, including Germany, have spent less than 2 percent of their GDP on defense, but that does not mean they owe the U.S. “vast sums of money” as our stupid leader claims.

If trump would stop treating the NATO alliance like some kind of “protection racket” and start treating it like the most vital alliance we have, maybe he might actually learn something.  Maybe that learned knowledge might go beyond just the defense alliance and he will start treating our allies like allies and not like the enemy.

He needs to understand that NATO is not a protection racket.  The U.S. is not in the alliance to “make money” protecting other nations.  The other NATO countries have agreed to increase defense spending over the next few years.  They actually see Russia as a real and growing threat unlike our beloved leader who seems to think Russia is the perfect model of how to run a country.

In just sixty days, our beloved leader has pissed off Australia, and that really takes some effort, Germany, France, all of the Baltic States, and even England.  Europe is sitting across the pond wondering if our leader is really that stupid or if he can be trusted in protecting them if Russia should attack one of them.

The NATO alliance is not just for the protection of Europe.  It is for our protection as well.  This administration seems to want to build a wall around our country and withdraw from the world scene.  That may sound like it will save money, but it will also destroy our alliances and make us less safe and more open to attack.

NATO has helped keep the peace in the western world since 1949 when it was first established.  Our leader now seems to think we don’t need it, when in fact we need it more than ever.  Russia is trying to flex its muscle and retake most of if not all of Eastern Europe into a new Russia Empire.  China is flexing its muscle and spending more on their own military.  North Korea is probably our biggest threat to breaking the peace.

Add to that the fight against international terrorism, and you can see that we need friends.  NATO is our best friend.  They should be embraced and not pushed away in some financial ploy.  They don’t owe us “vast sums of money”.  They were there when we needed them after 9/11.  The question is will we be there for them if needed?

This is just another example of the total ignorance our beloved leader has in international matters.  One of his campaign promises was that he would surround himself with very qualified and “great people” to help run the country.  To show he meant it, he picked an oil executive to run the State Department and then decided to cut its budget by 30 percent.  Right when we need a stable State Department to help keep our alliances together.

So, today the House Intelligence Committee will hold open hearings on the Russia hacking of our election, and trump is calling it “fake news” before it even begins.  The Senate Judicial Committee will begin hearings on Neil Gorsuch to become our next Justice on the Supreme Court.

The Republican Party and trump are planning to cut 24 million people off of their health insurance.  The administration’s proposed budget will basically leave our country sick, stupid, and starving.

Yet, trump thinks he can show how good he is by tweeting something that only proves just how stupid he really is.  But there is good news for trump in his tiny isolated world.  He holds the record.

Over the weekend, a new poll showed that only 37 percent of the American People approve of his job so far.   A record!  No other president even came close to those numbers in their first 60 days.  So, trump definitely is number 1!  Only it isn’t a record any normal person would be proud to hold.  But this is trump.  So, if his lackies just tell him he holds the record on job approval without telling him it is on the wrong side, we will probably see a tweet bragging about holding the record.

Wouldn’t it be nice to return to the days when our president actually knew what he was talking about?  I don’t believe trump’s “wires were tapped”.  But he is showing that his “wires have been crossed for years”.

And, the shirts keep marching along!

 

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