Let’s Discuss “Medicare For All”

People on both sides of the political isle are making a big deal out of the sudden Democratic support for Bernie Sander’s annual “Medicare for All” bill.
This is something he has proposed almost every year since he’s been in Congress. This is the first year the party is showing support for it.
First let’s look at this bill from the Democrat’s perspective:
Nobody in the party expects this bill to pass through a Republican majority in both the Senate and the House to reach the Oval Office for signature by a Republican President.
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For Democrats, this current bill’s only purposes are to force Democrats to decide if they’re going to align themselves for the 2018 midterms with the populist progressive base that rose up within their party last year or that entrenched corporatism of the health care lobbyists and their deep donor pockets.
With that in mind, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Warren, Booker and others are aligning with Sanders, while Pelosi and her camp are still for maintaining the ACA as is instead of using it as a launch pad to something even better. Even Clinton, today, came out against the Medicare for All bill, and Sanders who introduced it..
The folks at Fight For Healthcare are even keeping a running list of which Democrats have supported the bill and which have not along with the tagline:
“If your senator isn’t supporting medicare for all, call & ask them “Why not?”
But for anyone that’s been following along with the political climate for the last few years, there should be few if any surprises on that list.

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For the Republicans, this is a perfect opportunity to continue the intentional conflation of socialized medicine with Socialism.  It will serve as their own rally cry for 2018, as they scream:
“How can we afford it?”
“Who’s going to pay for it?”
“Where’s the money going to come from?”
“Not my taxes!”
But this is nothing new either, we already have decades of proof from the Nixon era on, but especially since the advent of “Reaganomics.” that the price tag for compassion is far to steep for Republicans to tolerate.
So let’s take a moment to answer those questions, because the Democrats, including Sanders don’t seem to be doing a great job of doing so in a coherent and meaningful manner.
From a fiscally conservative standpoint, how can we afford not to?
If the populace had access to Medicare for All for fundamental care, it would immediately eliminate the need for ACA subsidies for health insurance assistance, all of which could be instantly diverted to this pool of money as well.
It would lower the cost of actual health care through nationally negotiated single payer rates.
It would eliminate the necessity for mandatory insurance penalty taxes from the ACA.
It would eliminate the need for employers to carry insurance plans for their employees, as well as the necessity to pay the employer portion of the premiums for those plans.  This would allow them to free up money to pay higher wages or hire more workers, both of which boost the economy.
It would eliminate the need for employees to pay exorbitant health care premiums for care they can’t afford to use anyway because of the massive deductibles.    This would in essence give a net income raise to all of our citizens as their disposable income would greatly increase each month as a result.   Thus making a living minimum wage, a lower requirement for employers to shoulder.   Consider how significant a portion health care and health care insurance play in the current cost of living in our nation.
That release of corporate obligation in health care would also free employers over any concern due to religious objection as to what care is available to their employees.
It would also allow for the closure of quite a few corporate welfare tax loopholes over health care expenses.   The proceeds from which could be diverted into the funds for Medicare for All instead of back to the corporations.
It would eliminate the requirement for “in network” insurance limitations and confusing variable fees for the populace.
It would make insurance valid anywhere in the United States without having to absorb those out of network fees.  Thus making the workforce more open to relocation and travel as well as making leisure travel more likely for people have avoid it for due to concerns over availability of care.
It would lead to people pursing the use of more preventative care to avoid illness instead of focusing on reactive care only after they become ill.   This will mean that employees will require less sick days and health will be less of a factor in creating non-productivity due to untreated chronic illness at work.

The availability of preventative care for all would greatly lower the risk pool for more expensive medical needs.

It wouldn’t take a significant new additional Medicare tax on income for people and/or businesses to cover it, and that new would be more than offset by both the individual savings of the people and their employers.
Finally, it wouldn’t even end the Insurance business as many will ask you to believe.
Even now, those on Medicare can pursue additional supplemental insurance for elective procedures and other issues.   There is no reason those options will not continue, and continue to be quite lucrative for the companies that offer them.
  • A healthier populace.
  • Increase in Net Income for everyone (for many the difference between poverty and middle class) as a result of lifting insurance costs
  • Increase in corporate profits for all businesses already carrying health insurance for their staff for the same reasons, leading to more profits, the ability to hire more or pay more, as well as increase marketing and reinvestment in the company
  • Economic boost from businesses investing more and populace with more disposable income.
  • Removal of insurance as a middle man to prevent care, so insurance can become a supplement for add-on and elective services.

 

How can we honestly accept that not moving to Universal Health Care is the fiscally conservative option?

Finally, there is the wild card in this entire political battle over health care.

 

 

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While Trump campaigned heavily on ending the Affordable Care Act — that dreaded ‘Obamacare’ — but he also mentioned more than once the promise that he’d improve health care and get everyone covered with better care.
If the bill does make it to his desk, I give it a better than 50-50 chance that he signs it, because doing so allows him to claim he ended ‘Obamacare,’ while also punishing all those Republicans who have openly disparaged him throughout his campaign and presidency.
It will play right into his narrative of being an outsider.
And the change will directly benefit every one of his own personal business interests.

“…On Many Sides…”

Back in 2015, Donald Trump spoke about the Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson and Baltimore:

“I saw them with hate coming down the street last week talking about cops and police, and what should be done to them. And that was not good. And I think it’s a disgrace that they’re getting away with it.”

This statement was brought about by his fear and hatred of people of Color — and the White people that ally with them — attempting to stand up and speak out for reform of systemic injustice, police brutality, imbalanced judicial punishments, and denial of both human and Constitutional rights of entire segments of the population by civil servants.

Militias from all over the country came to make sure that “those people” didn’t get out of hand. Police attacked them aggressively, immediately.

Mr. Trump said nothing to condemn the violent response by both citizens and police to the gathering of protesters in those situations.

In January, one week after taking office as the Republican President, his new administration put up their official White House web site. On their page titled “Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community,” they included this statement:

“Our job is not to make life more comfortable for the rioter, the looter, or the violent disrupter.”

In the short time since, we’ve watched his Department of Justice and Department of Education whitewash over half a century of civil rights protections from our governmental structure, and heard him tell police to be more violent with their arrests of “those people.”

Now yesterday, in the midst of a gathering of people armed with both torches and weapons, angrily descending on a city not to defend their human or Constitutional rights, but their privilege to memorialize in public spaces idols to treasonous leaders in a movement to overthrow the government of our nation to retain the right to oppress and literally own other humans as chattel slaves.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

Trump said this during a short statement from his private golf club in New Jersey regarding the domestic terrorism events in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Worse, he then visibly retreated when asked to specifically condemn the violence perpetrated by the White Nationalists as well as the injuries and death created by a domestic terrorist on their behalf.

With his limited statement, his retreat, and the context of his previous statements and actions, he has set the stage for a second civil war.

He has given the political legitimacy of the Presidential Office’s consent to the false equivalency of violent KKK gatherings — David Duke was in attendance in Charlottesville and praising Trump’s support of their cause — with protest against oppression due to racial and religious bigotry.

This is how his message was received by those White Supremacists on one of their leading national websites:

“Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.

He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate…on both sides!

So he implied the antifa are haters.

There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all.

He said he loves us all.

Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him.

No condemnation at all.

When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room.

Really, really good.”

All of this makes him a greater threat to the safety and security of every person on United States soil than any radical extremist from the Middle Eastern nations or fascist North Korean dictator. The fact that he continues to intentionally escalate those threats as well, just makes him even more dangerous to us all.

The only important question that remains is do you stand with the President and his support of reviving the “Lost Cause” or do you stand with your fellow citizens against an assault on human and Constitutional rights from the Oval Office?

The Lost Cause is the name commonly given to a literary and intellectual movement that sought to reconcile the traditional Southern white society to the defeat of the Confederate States of America in the Civil War.  White Southerners sought consolation in attributing their loss to factors beyond their control and to betrayals of their heroes and cause.  Those who contributed to the movement tended to portray the Confederacy’s cause as noble and most of the Confederacy’s leaders as exemplars of old-fashioned chivalry defeated by the Union armies not through superior military skill, but by overwhelming force.  They also tended to condemn Reconstruction.

As long as those of you on the conservative right continue to ignore — or worse, support and defend — their religiously intolerant White Nationalist, Neo-Nazi, racist extremists committing hate crimes and acts of domestic terrorism, there is no legitimacy to the designator of “alternate” for the “Alt-Right.”

A wholesale embrace of this behavior is the path the Republican President decided was necessary to “Make America Great Again [For White People].”

We should strip away the deflection of the rebranding efforts and expose these violent extremists for exactly what they are; which is nothing more or less than modern Republicans.

I have no idea if you identify as Republican or not, conservative or not.

I’m just stating the fact that if you support them at all, you’re allowing them to speak for you. If you don’t approve of their messaging and methods, denounce it and stop supporting them.

Anyone who supports a party whose entire platform and path to success is a wholesale embrace of this ideology, will find they’re going to be lumped into it.

This is the modern Republican party.

Any conservatives that don’t agree with it, need to either form a new party to distinguish themselves or openly and vehemently denounce these extremists and work to purge them, their rhetoric, and their White Nationalist, Christian theocracy policies and legislation from their party.

This is not a fringe element.

This is the Republican party leadership.

This is Congress.

This is the Republican White House administration and the close inner circle of trusted advisors.

This is the President of the United States.

2020 Reelection Campaign Already?!

In July of 2016, the Urban Dictionary added the definition of “Trumpence” as:

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Roughly one month after making a mockery of the Oath of Office — by violating the constitutional emoluments clause while saying the words — Donald J. Trump filed the official papers to open his 2020 reelection campaign.

Today, , writing for Vox, informs us that the Republican president’s first reelection fundraiser is a $35,000-a-ticket soiree at his own hotel.”

You might ask “Why?”

Why would a president less than a year into office already be campaigning for reelection instead of focusing on implementing the policy he pushed during his first campaign?

There are many answers to that question, and all of them are correct.   All of them should prove to you that you should not support this reelection campaign.

First, as the Vox article points out:

 

In hosting the dinner at his hotel, Trump manages to raise money not only for his 2020 campaign but for himself too. After all, any business the hotel does is personal profit for the president, who still owns the Trump Organization. It’s unclear if the hotel will make money from the dinner, but even if the hotel gave the food for free, any money attendees spend on hotel rooms, at the bar, or at shops in the hotel goes straight to the Trump Organization.

 

Hosting the event as his own hotel is a revenue windfall for the hotel even if it doesn’t charge the President’s campaign itself a dime; but they’ll charge in order to funnel the money from the campaign back into the family business coffers.

But there are other several other, and probably far more important reasons that Trump is doing this, and they need to be exposed as well.   Which brings us to the second reason.

By establishing the campaign fund, and officially holding rallies, large donors who want Presidential favor can funnel money into his campaign efforts through various SuperPac funds over the entire first four years of the Presidential term in return for pay-to-play favoritism.

But, wait, don’t order yet, there’s more!

The big trick is declaring all of his public appearances as official campaign rallies or fund raisers.   By doing so, he can block access to whomever he wants without violating constitutional rights of anyone that doesn’t agree with him.   He can have protestors, hecklers, and anyone who speaks out forcibly removed as an “unapproved guest” instead of being forced to hear what those citizens have to say in opposition to him.

It allows him to continue the “Lock her up!” and “Repeal and Replace!” chants while deflecting from his own inability to do either and from the investigations into his own unethical and possibly criminal infractions.

Next, there is the fact that political campaign speech is protected in a way that the official words of a civil servant are not, so it is much harder — legally — to hold him accountable for the “dog whistle” and overt racist rhetoric he uses at these campaigns to rile up the”Alt-Right,” Neo-Nazi, and  White Nationalist voter base that refuses to abandon him as long as he keeps speaking their language.

Let us not forget the fact that the continuation of the campaign allows him to keep the merchandise sales flowing as well.

Finally, there is the fact that he can set up reservations and accommodations in his own properties for foreign government agents to accidentally — on purpose — bump into him for a brief unscheduled meeting that is off the White House records, while claiming those agents were just there at the same time as his rally/fund-raiser purely by coincidence.

Please, I implore you, do not allow yourself to be one of the willfully ignorant targets of this trumpence campaign that gets whipped into enough uninformed outrage to vote for this administration a second time.

Drain The Swamp

It wasn’t so long ago, that the Republican president was screaming about fixing the issues with foreign collusion, pay-to-play access, cover-ups, and bribery.

He claimed he would be the one to end all of that.

 

 

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that if he drained a swamp, he pumped all that sludge and even a few creatures from that black lagoon right into the White House offices.

Just so we’re clear on the sequence of events over the last two days:

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates just pledged $100 million to Ivanka Trump’s fund for women entrepreneurs.

 

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In return Saudi Arabia received a $110B arms deal from the United States, and they get to purchase — through the Blackstone Group —  a significant ownership of the infrastructure work Trump promised his voters during his campaign, which will mostly involve toll roads and other services that American citizens will have to pay to use, on top of paying their taxes to support and supposedly fund.

 

 

 

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So the Trump’s family gets a massive personal payout, Saudi Arabia gets a tremendous amount of weapons while not addressing any of their long list of Human Rights violations, and they receive control over a substantial segment of American infrastructure system.

Robert Reich has some raised some additional concerns specifically about that last point:

 

 

“Saudi Arabia just joined the parade of investors into U.S. public works by pledging a record $20 billion investment with Blackstone Group’s new infrastructure fund.
It’s the latest push around the world by large investors to buy up U.S. airports, roads, bridges, water systems, and other public projects.
Rather than taxing the wealthy and then using the money to fix our dangerously outdated infrastructure, the states and the federal government increasingly are giving rich investors tax credits to encourage them to do it.
The investors then charge tolls and user fees, and earn big profits.
So the public pays twice – once when we subsidize the investors with our tax dollars, and then again when we pay the tolls and user fees that also go into their pockets.
We don’t even get the infrastructure that’s most needed. Projects most attractive to investors are those whose tolls and fees bring in the biggest bucks – giant mega-projects like major new throughways and new bridges.
Not the thousands of smaller bridges, airports, pipes, and water treatment facilities most in need of repair. Not the needs of rural communities and smaller cities and towns too small to generate the tolls and other user fees equity investors want. Not clean energy.
To really make America great again we need more and better infrastructure that’s for the public – not for big developers and investors. And the only way we get that is if corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes.”

Leadership 101

To be a great leader, you do not need to be able to do everything or even know everything. But you do need to know enough about yourself to recognize your strengths, admit your weaknesses, and both understand and acknowledge what you do not know.

If you are capable of that you can assemble a team that compensates for your weaknesses and compliments your strengths.

Unfortunately if you are not capable of that, such a team won’t put up with your inability to lead competently; good people will quit, while the best will never accept the job with you. Then the only people you’ll be left with, that are willing to work for you, are a team of people who either can’t get other work elsewhere or are willing to be sycophants feeding your ego enough to convince you that you’re a good leader while everything around you falls to pieces.

The Republican president is not a good leader, because he thinks he knows more than everyone else, he thinks he can do every job better than every one else. And as this synopsis of a single day of his presidency shows, he is completely and utterly wrong about both of those things. He is also incapable of admitting a mistake, and more importantly incapable of learning from it.

He has already assembled his team of incompetent sycophants, and we’re all watching everything around him fall to pieces. The only one that doesn’t see it — including his supporters — is he, himself. His narcissistic delusions of grandeur shield him from any version of truth and reality.

“Wag The Dog.”

“Ivanka is a mother of three kids and she has influence,” the President’s son, Eric, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph. “I’m sure she said ‘listen, this is horrible stuff.’ My father will act in times like that.”

 

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But let’s set aside the fact that the Republican President’s own son claims his father can be provoked into committing acts of war without Congressional consent by emotional appeals from Ivanka — that could make a very lengthy essay report of its own — because there is still much to be concerned about.

“Why does a dog wag its tail?

Because a dog is smarter than its tail. If the tail was smarter, the tail would wag the dog.”

Interpretations differ as to the meaning of this metaphor.

Some suggest the dog is public opinion, and the tail represents the media; the dog is the media, and the tail is political campaigns; or the dog is the people, and the tail is the government.

Moreover, the expression “the tail wagging the dog” refers to any case where something of greater significance is driven by something lesser.

This concept was explored in Larry Beinhart‘s novel American Hero, which inspired the 1997 movie “Wag The Dog.”

Wikipedia lists the plot of the movie as:

The President of the United States is caught making advances on an underage “Firefly Girl” less than two weeks before Election Day. Conrad Brean (De Niro), a top-notch spin doctor, is brought in to take the public’s attention away from the scandal. He decides to construct a diversionary war with Albania, hoping the media will concentrate on this instead. Brean contacts Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Hoffman) to create the war, complete with a theme song and fake film footage of a photogenic orphan (Kirsten Dunst) in Albania.

 

When the CIA learns of the plot, they send Agent Young (Macy) to confront Brean who convinces him that revealing the deception is against his best interests. The CIA announces that the war has ended, but otherwise maintains the deception and the media begins to turn back to the President’s abuse scandal. Motss decides to invent a hero who was left behind enemy lines, and inspired by the idea that he was “discarded like an old shoe” has the Pentagon provide him with a soldier named Schumann (Harrelson) around whom he constructs a further narrative including T-shirts, additional patriotic songs, and faux-grassroots demonstrations of patriotism. At each stage of the plan, Motss continually dismisses setbacks as “nothing” and compares them to past movie-making catastrophes he averted.

 

When the team goes to retrieve Schumann, they discover he is in fact a criminally insane Army prison convict before their plane crashes en route to Andrews Air Force Base. The team survives and is rescued by a farmer, but Schumann attempts to rape the farmer’s daughter and the farmer kills him. Motss then stages an elaborate military funeral, claiming that Schumann died from wounds sustained during his rescue.

 

While watching a political talk show Motss gets frustrated that the media are crediting the president’s win to a tired campaign slogan of “Don’t change horses in mid-stream” rather than Motss’s hard work. Despite previously claiming he was inspired by the challenge, Motss announces that he wants credit and will reveal his involvement, despite Brean’s warning that he is “playing with his life”. Motss refuses to back down, so Brean reluctantly has him killed and makes it look as if he had a heart attack. The president is successfully re-elected and a news report about a violent incident in Albania is shown, but it is ambiguous whether this is a true event or simply a continuation of the fictional war.

According to Eric Trump, this response undermined “ridiculous” allegations of links between the Republican president’s campaign staffers and Russian officials, which the FBI and Congress are investigating.

“If there was anything that Syria did, it was to validate the fact that there is no Russia tie,” he said.

And that is exactly the point.

They did this to divert us all from their collusion.

Putin needs a war to rescue the failing Russian economy and deflect his domestic rivals from his mismanagement.   Trump needs a war to prove to himself that he’s as tough as he says he is, and to distract his domestic rivals from his own treasonous collusion with Russia.

Both achieve their needs by going to war with each other in a “visually important” manner, in a nation that neither cares about any collateral damage at all.

As The Telegraph reports:

Russia knew in advance that Syria was planning a chemical weapons attack on its own people but did nothing to prevent it, the US has concluded.

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Not only did Russia do nothing to prevent it; but,

A senior US official told AP that Washington had analysed reports of a drone flying over the site, and determined that the drone was operated by the Russians.

 

The drone went up immediately after the April 4 sarin gas attack, and begun hovering over a local hospital as victims began pouring in.  Five hours after the sarin attack, the camera switched off and a Russian-made aircraft struck the hospital. The two military officials said that it was unclear whether the aircraft were Russian or Syrian as the Syrians buy Russian-made aircraft.

 

US officials believe the jet bombed the hospital in an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons.

With even supposedly liberal and/or progressive newscasters calling the action “presidential,” we easily run the risk of being played into a sense of complacency by Putin and Trump as they escalate a war both want to save their combined political power, throwing away as many lives as necessary in the process.

This Is Why We Lost. This Is How We Win.

February 10, 2017 will mark the 10th anniversary of the day a junior Senator from Illinois announced his candidacy to become the first President of the United States who was also a person of color.

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While he would ultimately succeed in bringing out record numbers of first time voters and increasing the civic engagement of people all across the nation, and drawing a record massive 1.8 million people to attend his historic inauguration,

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Both he and his family would become the nations preferred targets for racial hatred and death threats.

As informs us:

According to conservatives on social media, “Republicans have jobs and responsibilities” and therefore couldn’t engage in civil disobedience to voice their discontent with the 2008 and 2012 elections. With this perception of the Obama elections and subsequent claims of “ Republican acceptance,” Trump supporters are now demanding the same “fairness” for Donald J. Trump’s presidency, “We sat through do nothing politics for 8 years, the least they can do is go shut up and sit in the corner for 8 themselves,” on Trump supporter explained.
However, these perceptions do not reflect what actually followed the election of our country’s first black president, much less the difference between why people are protesting Donald J. Trump’s presidency as compared to Barack Obama’s presidency.
Obama’s election in 2008 was preceded and followed by violent attacks and property destruction targeted against minorities.

Evette Dionne provides us with several examples of the discontent of those racists:

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For nearly 10 years those that were against him, would resort to racial slurs, insulting school yard nicknames (so they wouldn’t have to actually speak his real name), incessant harping on a non-existent issue over his birth certificate, and accusations that he was a Muslim terrorist.   These racial attacks, even against his wife and children would continue even through his final day in office and beyond.

For four of those years the cries of “Benghazi” and “Emails” were added to those of “Muslim” and “Birth Certificate,” which became tools used to interrupt and shout down anything they didn’t want to hear.

Throughout it all, every member of his family, but especially he, showed extreme grace, dignity, and decorum — more than anyone could have expected, more than most anyone else would have managed.

Unfortunately, as a result of this, those against him were able to maintain their level of anger, draw more into their fold, and remain willfully ignorant of any information that belied their personal views.  Some were even able to manage the mental gymnastics that would allow them to convince themselves that they were actually the victims of racial policies instead of the perpetrators and supporters of them, while others came to believe that actually denying human rights to a specific group of people was nothing more than a political stance instead of a crime against humanity.

This allowed them to drive turnout during the midterm elections and swing both state legislatures and governorships their way.   This, in turn, paved the way to undermining the Voter Rights Act at the state levels, gerrymander voting districts, and create new forms of legalized voter obstruction.

The first fatal flaw we fell victim to has been trying to fight unreasonable people with reason, logic, and facts — trying to rationalize away the cause of irrational and deeply seated fears.

As we watch civil rights already begin to roll back in the first days of the new President’s term, we must realize by now, that drafting new laws isn’t going to change the cultural bigotries that exist.

Those are still too ingrained in our collective identities.

Slaves started arriving, having been brought by force, to the Americas in the early 1600s.  It wasn’t until 1865 that slavery was made illegal in the United States, although it was some time later before that news reached everywhere and was well enforced.  Segregation started ending in the mid 1950s but the Civil Rights Act wasn’t signed until the next decade.   Even that didn’t stop racist lending and housing practices that manufactured segregation by maintaining racial makeup of communities which are still in practice at some companies today as we just discovered in the lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase Co.   Along the way, we discovered that the “War on Crime” had taken advantage of a loophole in the 13th Amendment that legalizes slave labor for prison inmates, which was further compounded by the outsourcing of that labor to corporations by privatized prisons.

With that information, it is easy to see from the timeline below showing four centuries of racist practices that we are not yet even one generation removed from overt systemic racism in our nation.

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This is why People of Color are not “over it” yet, and it is why those privileged whites that have benefited from it in any way still have trouble sharing their privilege as a right of equality.

The body cannot heal while the wounds are still infected.

We see similar problems being repeated in the fights for the rights of  the Native American people, women’s suffrage, women’s right to make their own health care choices, disabled inclusion, gender equality, LGBTQ rights, interracial marriage, marriage equality, fair housing practices, fair lending practices, and the rights of every other group of marginalized people and the issues surrounding how those rights are oppressed.

The second fatal flaw that we consistently make is treating each of these individual fights as separate fights, and further treating the same issues as separate issues for each marginalized group and having to fight the same battles over and over again.

As we focus our sights on the next issue to tackle, we lose ground on others.   As we saw today.   While the world focused on the historic international event of the Women’s March that brought out over four million women and men protesting several women’s rights issues, the violence against the Native Peoples at Standing Rock protesting the Dakota Access Pipe Line escalated again.

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We need to unite in the fight for human rights for all.

Then we need to force the new laws that protect those rights to be written as all-inclusive laws that protect every grouping at once, and any possible future groupings that may arbitrarily be created in an attempt to circumvent those laws.

However, as we’ve covered above, we know that just having those laws in place doesn’t really protect anyone unless we enforce them.   And getting them enforced fairly and justly requires having the hearts and minds of the public and those that enforce the laws on board with why they are important.

Which brings us to how we win.

Changing hearts and minds, and rewriting societal norms isn’t a matter of politicians arguing, it isn’t a matter of rewriting laws or writing new ones, it isn’t a matter of trying to reason with unreasonable people.

It is psychological warfare.

To win it, we must use the same tactics that were used against us.  We must be angry enough to stay motivated.   We use that motivation and anger to bolster our numbers and drive us to the voting booths.  We must cast a ballot for every local and national office and initiative.   We must show up for midterm elections and off-cycle run-off votes.

Achieving that will require duplicating the interruption tactics, using our own buzzwords to shout down their lies, hatred, bigotry, racism, misogyny, rape-culture, and oppressive desires.

When they start presenting those things, we must be ready with the cries of “Russia!” “Sexual Predator!” “Fraud!” “Racist” and others.

This must be done with the same tireless vigor and venom that they used for the 10 years since Mr. Obama declared his candidacy and we must stick with it until it is done.

We must take to the streets and stand up against all the forms of racism, bigotry and oppression we find.  Even if we’re not the victims of it.  Even if it is our family, friends, and neighbors that are the perpetrators.  Whether it is intentional or unintentional.

No more free passes for anyone.

This isn’t about political differences.  This isn’t about being politically correct.

This is about fundamental human decency and human rights.

And if you’re not willing to stand up and fight for them for anyone else, you can’t expect them to stand up and fight for you when you suddenly find yourself or one of your loved ones in one of the marginalized groups.

After Action Report

On Sunday December 4th, the Army Corps of Engineers, under the direction of President Obama called a halt to the current construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.project, and ordered a study to find alternative routes for the pipeline that do not run through the Sioux Nation lands.

This is a major win for grassroots activism and for the Sioux people, but we must remember it is a temporary victory.   We must ensure that the new route is a safe route and doesn’t just threaten another group of people that cannot or  will not defend themselves as diligently as the people of the Sioux nation or Bismark before them.  We must ensure that as soon as our attention is diverted, the President-Elect who is financially invested in the company laying the line doesn’t just direct it to pick right back up where it left off.  We must not allow a temporary victory to allow us to become complacent again.

In the meantime, there are some lessons we need to take away from the last several months as these events played out.   I’ll cover them here in no particular order of importance because they are all important.

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First:     No matter how much help and assistance was sent, there was no way the protest would have succeeded long enough without the protestors enduring perseverance and commitment to their cause.   As activist allies came and went, they remained, despite the weather and everything the government and the pipeline construction company had to through at them.

The lesson here, is that protest for major reform isn’t going to happen in a one day march, if we want to affect change, we’re going to have to be willing to commit to the the long haul, especially against opponents with virtually unlimited time and resources to use against us.

Without the local community involved and supporting these types of movements cannot succeed.

Protests Continue At Standing Rock Sioux Reservation Over Dakota Pipeline Access Project

Second:     For the first time in history, a large contingent of American military veterans came to the conclusion that their oath to defend the both the Constitution and our people against all enemies both Foreign and Domestic required them to answer a call to stand with these people against our own government.

They showed up and began building winter barracks to protect the protestors from the worst of the Dakota winter weather conditions and committed to stand with and in front of the protestors to protect them from armed and brutal retaliation as they defended their land and rights.   Their presence, and the press coverage generated by them, was no doubt a significant factor in the timing of the ordered halt.

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Third:    The corporate conglomerate had no problem resorting to violence against these people, early on in the protest, which lasted well over half a year.  More than once they released attack trained guard dogs against the protesters.

They even went so far to have a DAPL security agent disguise himself as a protester, drive into the protest camp and fire several shots from his rifle in the direction of the workers in hopes of creating an returning volley from the local law enforcement.  He then torched his truck in an effort to hide the fact that it was an official company vehicle that did not belong to the protesters.

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Fourth:    Unlike the Veterans mentioned earlier, both the Federal and State governments, especially various police forces forgot that they’re job is to protect, serve, and defend the people, not massive corporations attempting to run roughshod over the people.

As a result, police agencies from states all over the country invoked emergency support laws and raided their FEMA disaster funds to send militarized troops to attack the people in an attempt to forcibly drive them from their own land.

In 1996, then-President Bill Clinton signed the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). The statute was created in response to Hurricane Andrew, which wrought an estimated $25 billion in damages when it hit Louisiana and Florida in 1992, necessitating large-scale, interstate relief coordination. EMAC, an agreement eventually entered into by all 50 states, allows for states to share resources and coordinate emergency personnel in case of a crisis. The good-neighbor style law was invoked for disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and, more recently, Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Governors have almost always employed EMAC in the wake of natural disasters, but the bill contains a stipulation that makes it applicable during other types of emergencies including “community disorders, insurgency, or enemy attack.” On August 19, when North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple declared a state of emergency at Standing Rock, he relied on this language to issue an EMAC request.

Standing Rock is one of the few times that EMAC has been called upon to respond to social activism.

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Those officers eventually resorted to the use of both tear gas, stun grenades, and  water cannons and in below freezing night time temperatures, causing serious harm to many of the peaceful protesters.

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Fifth:     The mainstream corporate media outlets maintained as close to a near total blackout on the distribution of any news pertaining to the protests and the violent response to them by officials as possible.  Maybe it was because they were too busy reporting on what each other were saying and focusing on a candidate so vacuous that they aired 30 minutes of an empty podium on all them major networks and nobody seemed to care.   Some believe this was due to the desire to retain their oil industry advertising dollars, while others have raised different concerns.

The limited media coverage, and the biased, inaccurate reporting included in what coverage the Dakota Access Pipeline has received in mainstream media is a microcosm of the endless denigration Native Americans suffer. The New York Times, Guardian, The Daily Beast and some other print outlets have provided ongoing coverage. However, the lack of an on-the-ground presence from major TV media outlets at Standing Rock is a result of CNN and most of the mainstream media’s lazy preference for propagating false narratives based on secondhand sources.

Sixth:     Social media usage easily overcame the lack of corporate media coverage of the events.  Protesters made adept use of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube,  GoFundMe, and Amazon Wish Lists to get information out to the people of the nation regarding their need for protest, their goals, what assistance they could use, and what they had to endure.   This ability to bypass the media blackout would prove to be — aside from their perseverance — the most important key to their success.

Seventh:    Allies fighting for social justice from all over the nation came together.  Many traveled to the sight to join the protests even if they could only stay a short time, but more importantly a tremendous number of people sent food, medical supplies, camping gear and equipment, and money to support their needs and legal fees as they continued their efforts.   Without these people banding together from all over the nation and around the world it would have been infinitely more difficult for the protesters to remain in place for as long as was needed to ensure success.

Eighth:    After centuries of broken promises and broken treaties and a year of government condoned attacks by security guards and police, the Sioux nation released a “Thank you” statement to the people and the government in which they spoke of hope and peace and continued cooperation for common goals.    In that one statement they offered more hope, more grace, and more class than our country’s government has ever offered them.

In Summary, there is much we can learn from this, the most important combination being that for these protests to be successful in bringing change, we need to encourage non-violent protest with long term commitment, led by local communities, and receiving long distance support from all of us who cannot get there to stand together but want to help.

Truth or Consequences

“You focus too much on Trump and racism, there are other important issues too, discuss those instead.”

“You need to stop fear-mongering about Trump.”

“Your girl lost the election, get over it and move on.”

 

For the purpose of this essay, in order to get to the issues at hand, I’ll ignore for the moment that the people telling me that my girl lost must have missed all my posts proving that Secretary Clinton was not “my girl,” in any way; that the people telling me to move on are the ones that spent 8 years screaming about birth certificates and emails and supported over 60 failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and are often sporting the battle flag of a defunct enemy of the state that was defeated in Civil War over 150 years ago; that the people telling me not to “fear-monger” are the ones supporting the NRA’s incessant “They’re coming for all your guns” nonsense for decades now.
Instead, I’ll address three points:

 

Is there anything more important right now to discuss than the incoming Presidential administration and its influence on Civil Rights?

Is it fear-mongering to point out verifiable facts?

Should we move on, without discussing these issues further?

 

To begin to address these questions, we have to start with the fact that the only reason Trump was able to win the electoral college delegates despite a steadily increasing loss in the populace vote, assuming there are not enough faithless electors willing to prevent his ascension to the Oval Office, is a direct result of the fact that the GOP has spent the last 20 years — much more aggressively over the last eight — working at both the national and state level to gerrymander voting districts and dismantle the Voting Rights Act protections.

 

“As bad as it was after Shelby and in this election, at least we had a Civil Rights Division which took these concerns somewhat seriously,” said Scott Simpson, the director of media and campaigns for the The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “And we don’t know what we’re going to get under Sessions. But we can look at his record, and his record bodes very poorly for the future of voting rights in this country.”
    
“Shelby” is Shelby County v. Holder, the June 2013 Supreme Court decision that struck down a key provision of 1965 Voting Rights Act used to determine which voting jurisdictions would have to pre-clear any changes to voting procedures or laws with the US Department of Justice or a federal court. Without it, nine states and parts of six others with a history of racial discrimination related to voting were allowed to make changes as they saw fit. “The election, at least for communities of color, started in June 2013,” Simpson says. “The Shelby decision is when this election began for people of color.”

 

Throughout the campaign Donald Trump screamed about a rigged election, laying the groundwork for his recent tweet about winning despite millions of illegal votes being cast, a claim he cannot prove, but easily proven false.  And the implications of this lie are important, as discussed by the New York Times:

 

In addition to insulting law-abiding voters everywhere, these lies about fraud threaten the foundations of American democracy. They have provided the justification for state voter-suppression laws around the country, and they could give the Trump administration a pretext to roll back voting rights on a national scale.

 

In the wake of the announcement of his win, despite losing on election day, the following weeks would see hundreds of hate crimes reported by followers inspired by his fear-mongering, hateful rhetoric against non-white and/or non-Christian citizens.
Of course, the President-Elect, after much prompting, issued a weak statement condemning the violence of his exuberantly passionate supporters, but, to use his own terminology, he only did so because it was visually important to do so, while still using the rhetoric that incited them in the first place.
Then if there was any doubt about his intentions for the future of civil rights, or his intentions to enable further acts of overt racism, he began to announce his selections for the Presidential Cabinet positions, including people like Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions.
He then continued assembling a list of appointees to his Cabinet.   There appear to be two criteria for such an appointment:

 

A willingness to differ utterly to the whim of the President-Elect.

A history of at least a few years worth of words and actions demonstrating the intent to undermine, discredit, dismantle, and ultimately privatize the division to which they will be appointed to lead.   A clear and obvious example being Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.

 

These appointments include people who have not only joined in, but helped lead the way in normalizing the “alt-right” message of White Nationalism, Racism, Rape-Culture, and Patriarchal Misogyny that send a clear signal on the administrations intents for the future of civil rights for those that any have any combination of the following traits:  people of color, women, and non-Christian.
This is not speculation, each one has a long and well documented history that is easy to investigate on your own.
Now consider the ever-growing coterie of nepotism beneficiaries and sycophants he is assembling, we begin to see the signs of a fascist dictator ascending to power.  One who has modeled his speech methodology from the collective speeches of Adolf Hitler, one who has openly expressed admiration and respect for the dictatorial leadership style of Vladimir Putin.   Consider that in combination with his social media Twitter tantrums, his inability to overlook a slight exemplified by his need to repeatedly attempt to humiliate and insult anyone who expresses criticism of him.  Consider those in combination with the fact that this is a man who has never stood up and faced adversity in any way; he dodged the draft repeatedly; he has turned tail and run from multiple failing businesses to shelter himself instead of fighting for the employees depending upon him to succeed; he bullies and threatens people in order to settle lawsuits in his favor, but settles with all those who stand up to him rather than appear in court to defend himself.   His only concept of conflict resolution is to throw tantrums, insult and threaten.
All together, it paints a clear picture of a man who is a vindictive, petty, spiteful, cowardly despot surrounding himself with similar, but weaker, personalities to do his bidding.  So much so that he has already threatened retaliatory efforts against anyone in the press who publishes anything he considers a lie about him (whether true or not), his press surrogate has said that anyone that has spoken out against him will have to “bow down” to him as President, and he’s expressed the desire to revoke the citizenship rights of anyone that protests his administration or policy efforts — which would eliminate their ability to vote against him in the future.   And before anyone claims that’s “fear-mongering,” make sure you consider that is a logical extension of the gerrymandering that the people he is appointing, and the leaders in the Republican House and Senate, have been working towards for years now.    It is not speculation, it is simple analysis of the actions and words of these same people.
Then we backtrack just a little bit and remember his threat not to honor the rigged election results unless he managed to win.   Once he is in power, he will continue to dismantle voter protections, equal rights, women’s’ rights, while stripping the people of their constitutional rights in favor of increasing rights of corporations, especially those corporations run by his own cadre of cronies.
It isn’t a leap of logic or faith to extrapolate from all of this, the possibility that the Republican Congress, Presidential Cabinet, and Supreme Court appointees he chooses over the next few years, might conspire to use their dismantling of the governmental institutions, constitutional rights, and voters rights,  might well conspire to attempt to undo the two-term limit on a presidential candidacy in order to prevent a swing back to either the Democrats or some other Progressive movement and continue the regime indefinitely.
This is why my blog here, and my Facebook discussion page will continue to raise these issues at every opportunity, even if our major media outlets fear to do so.    Right now, there is no more dangerous threat to the citizens of our nation or the future of our economy and society than the President-Elect.
If we are unwilling to face — or even speak — the truth, we will face the consequences.   And they will be dire.
Spreading truth is not fear-mongering.

March To The Ballot — 2016

The 14th Amendment, which gave citizenship and voting rights to former slaves and their descendants, was passed in 1868.

The 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was ratified in 1920.

Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Equal Rights Act in 1964 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was created.   Now the EEOC enforces laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age in hiring, promoting, firing, setting wages, testing, training, apprenticeship, and all other terms and conditions of employment. Race, color, sex, creed, and age are now protected classes.

In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated five weeks prior to my birth.

Today, these laws are being reversed with the creation of religious right to discriminate laws

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLCreports that “With only weeks left before Election Day, and Donald Trump refusing to say if he will accept the legitimacy of the vote, the radical right is warning of civil war and violence if Hillary Clinton wins. “

“Racists have fretted that the deck is stacked against Trump, and ultimately them. And after last night’s debate, the festering worry boiled over into forecasts of violence.

“’Either way the wind blows this election something’s gonna break,’ a user called ‘StanLeMan’ wrote in August. Another Daily Stormer user identified as ‘AryanUprising,’ offered a less-nuanced message: ‘They want violence? Just let the [sic] try declaring Hillary winner.'”

For most in my generation or younger, this Presidential election presents the first opportunity for us in our adult lifetimes to take a united stand against racial and gender based oppression — to send the message to everyone in this country and abroad, that the majority of our people are still striving to maintain the ideals laid out at the founding of our country for us to eventually attain — that all are created equal and all have the unalienable Rights, to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness and all the other rights granted by our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

We can say, in no uncertain terms, that we support the women and men of our nation, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, sexuality, or skin color simply by showing up en masse to vote against Donald Trump and every politician at every level of government that has not openly and aggressively denounced him and his rhetoric of misogyny, racial and religious discord and calls for sedition.

We must not only make sure that he does not win this election, but that he loses by such a staggering margin that the signal is sent to all those like him that it is time for our country to take our next great step forward on the path to becoming the nation we were created to be.

One where we do not define or attain our own success by the failure and defeat of others, but instead by our combined achievements together to lift our nation and all its people higher and carry us forward into the future.

So if you know someone that is a disenfranchised voter, please share this closing thought with them:

You may not like the choices we have.   I have never wanted to vote less, nor needed to more.  But for the sake of everyone you care about now and in the future, it is imperative that we vote.   And that we vote at every level of the ballot, from National through State and County down to City elections.

If we don’t, the next oligarch dynasty to rule over the United States won’t be the Bush and Clinton families of the last 35 years, but the Trumps of the next 16 to 24.   Consider that both Donald Jr and Eric will be eligible to run by 2020, and if this election, this year, is anything but a stunning and crushing defeat, one of them will.

For our modern civil rights movement we don’t need to congregate in one state or one place to march together.   We just need to all march to our nearest polling station.   Be brave.  Be undeterred.   Send the message.   Together.