Trump’s War Against The Press Is A War Against Democracy

A month ago, I posted about the Trump administration’s war on the media and how important a free press is to preserving our democracy. (Read blog post here.) Now they’ve escalated their war by trying to restrict press coverage as a means of punishing news organizations they view as being “unfairly” critical of the administration and Trump in particular. And with that escalation, the Trump White House has taken a scary step toward censorship and dictatorial power.

Am I being overly dramatic and making a mountain out of a mole hill? Certainly, many of Trump’s ardent supporters and far right conservatives will say that I am. However, I would say that the threat implied by the administration’s latest action cannot be overstated enough!

Trump is constantly calling facts the fake news, similar to like Kellyanne Conway’s reference to “alternative facts”.

As an example, here’s an excerpt from the transcription of Trump’s speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference yesterday (Friday, 2/24/2017)

“They’re very dishonest people. In fact, in covering my comments, the dishonest media did not explain that I called the fake news the enemy of the people. The fake news. They dropped off the word ‘fake.’ And all of a sudden the story became the media is the enemy.

“They take the word ‘fake’ out. And now I’m saying, ‘Oh no, this is no good.’ But that’s the way they are.

“So I’m not against the media, I’m not against the press.

Ah, but here’s content of the actual “enemy of the people” tweet sent out by Trump and reported by the media with a link to it on Twitter for verification.

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing ‪@nytimes, ‪@NBCNews, ‪@ABC, ‪@CBS, ‪@CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

He is attacking the media by saying that the mainstream media is reporting fake news and are thus the enemy of the people. Of course, it is interesting that Trump and his handlers refer to anything that contradicts what they want us to believe as “Fake News”. Yet they embrace actual fake news sites like Breitbart.com, InfoWars.com, WND.com, etc.

So who is right? Well, when the real news media gets information from various sources that conflict with the official story being espoused by a government official or organization,  they are obligated to investigate and report the story. That is the role of a free press, whether the end result ends up corroborating or disproving the official version. In a democracy, a free press is the eyes and ears of the people. It is their role to assure our government is not hiding inconvenient truths from us.

It is not the media’s fault that Trump says things that are distortions or outright fabrications as shown when his statements are fact-checked for accuracy as they were by MSN in his address to CPAC. And, while we should have some healthy skepticism regarding what politicians tell us, especially when they’re campaigning for office, we should also have an expectation that they adhere to a higher ideal of honesty in their dealing with us once elected or appointed.

Essentially, it appears that the administration is engaged in a war on truth, one of the first principles of establishing a dictatorship. Trump wants people to believe his lies are truth and the real truth is lies. Folks, that is beyond scary and calls to mind the line from George Orwell’s eerily prescient novel 1984 about a dystopian society — “War Is Peace. Freedom Is Slavery. Ignorance Is Strength.”

So, what do we do? We must demand accountability from those who would represent us and those who seek to lead us. We must verify what we read by checking multiple sources and share the truth via every means possible. We must show up at town council meetings, public hearings, and town halls held by our representatives to Congress. Plus, we need to show up at the polls for every election.

Specifically, since the thrust of this administration’s attack involves what appears to be an attempt to cover up possible illegal and improper dealings with a foreign power (Russia), write or call your representative and senators and demand an investigation! It’s the only way we’ll know for sure!

“People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” ―
Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the lies and show us the truth!

The Divine Miss Bri

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Anti-Transgender Bathroom Laws Need To Be Flushed: Conservative Fears Are A Lot Of Crap

Why is it that conservatives, in particular, automatically fear what they don’t understand and immediately assume the worst without a single shred of evidence to support those fears? Please, tell me, because I’m totally fed up with their absolutely unjustified opposition to transgender students and adults using the bathrooms that correspond to the gender they identify with. Their fears and assumptions are basically crap!

First of all, let’s establish that being transgender isn’t just something we made up. We’re born this way. It’s not a choice. It’s a fact of life. And just because you’ve never experienced what’s it’s like doesn’t mean it’s not real. As Johanna Olson, a physician who specializes in healthcare for transgender youth at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and who was quoted in an article on The Atlantic.com, says that “genitals don’t equal gender.” Plus, gender identity is not necessarily an either/or proposition, but rather “a continuum along which any individual may fall, depending on a variety of factors, including anatomy, chromosomes, hormones and feelings.”

 According to Transexuality.org, transgender youth face an especially tough challenge both at home and at school. In fact, survey results indicate that 75% of transgender youth feel unsafe at school. And it’s not just bullying from fellow students, but also the way they are treated by school officials, from not being allowed to present as the gender they identify with to being forced to use the wrong bathroom for their gender identity and even being excluded from school activities. This causes extreme stress and negatively impacts a transgender student’s ability to learn, to grow as a person and develop the self-confidence to be successful in life.

Again, the Atlantic article states that the federal Office for Victims of Crime reports that transgender individuals face ‘shockingly high’ levels of sexual abuse and assault. Two in five attempt suicide at least once in the course of their lifetimes.”

And it affects more students than you might imagine. For example, The Atlantic article cites a Los Angeles Unified School District survey which found that 0.5 % of students identified as transgender. But while the percentage seems small, it amounts to 3,000 students. That led to California instituting a landmark law prohibiting discrimination against students based on their gender identity. Unfortunately, a lot of states and local school districts ignore the statistics and the damage that can be done. So, the Federal government needed to take action.

During President Obama’s administration, guidance was given to schools that receive federal funding which classified gender identity as protected under Title IX rules. This meant that students should be allowed to use the bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity regardless of the biological sex listed on their birth certificate. Now the Trump administration is leaving the decision to the states and local school districts. And, just like any other civil rights issue, this is the official code for allowing unjustified discrimination.

Why does this matter so much? Because where you live in these United States should not affect your basic human rights, but for transgender people it makes a huge difference. In Connecticut, where I live now, I enjoy the same basic rights and protections as everyone else. And, since I am a transwoman, that includes the right to use the Ladies’ Restroom wherever I go. Guess what happens? Nothing out of the ordinary. I go to answer the call of nature and that’s it! Nobody has ever seemed to notice or care, because there was no reason for it.

Pre-operative transgender individuals have no interest in exposing their genitals to anyone else. In fact, it’s the last thing they want to be reminded of because it’s just damned depressing. Also, the fears of a non-transgender person being assaulted by a transgender individual in a restroom (or anywhere else) are completely baseless. According to the Advocate in an article on Mic.com., There has never been a verifiable reported instance of a trans person harassing a cisgender person, nor have there been any confirmed reports of male predators ‘pretending’ to be transgender to gain access to women’s spaces and commit crimes against them.

Don’t believe it? Consider this excerpt from the article Sexual Assault Misconceptions by the Sexual Assault and Prevention Awareness Center at the University Michigan:

x Misconception

If we allow transgender and gender non-conforming people to use whichever bathroom they feel safest in, sexual assault in bathrooms will increase.

 Truth

This misconception is rooted in the false belief that people who are transgender or gender non-conforming are sexual predators. There is absolutely no evidence of this. There are no statistics that support the idea that LGBT individuals are more likely to commit sexual assault or be sex offenders than heterosexuals or cis-gendered individuals.. In fact, sex offenders are disproportionately likely to be heterosexual cis-gendered men.

And that’s not all! According to an ABC News story, “a coalition of over 200 national, state and local organizations across the U.S. that work with sexual assault and domestic violence survivors are objecting to the justifications given by lawmakers to forbid transgender people from using the bathroom of their choosing.”

Also, according to the coalition in this story, “Over 200 municipalities and 18 states have nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people’s access to facilities consistent with the gender they live every day. None of those jurisdictions have seen a rise in sexual violence or other public safety issues due to nondiscrimination laws. Assaulting another person in a restroom or changing room remains against the law in every single state.”

Now if you really want some solid statistics involving assaults, try chewing on these for a while:

  • According to Justice department statistics, in 8 out of 10 cases the victim already knows the person who sexually assaulted them.
  • According to a study by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality, 64 percent of transgender people will experience sexual assault in their lifetime.

So, if you’re still hung up on forcing transgender students or adults to use a bathroom that’s not consistent with their gender identity, you’re the problem not them. Get over your inexcusable ignorance and prejudices, because you’re on the wrong side of the facts and the future.

On the other hand, if you believe in in equality for everyone, here’s how you can help. Call or write your state legislators, your Congressional representative and your U.S. Senators to express your support for eliminating discrimination based on gender identity for both students and adults. You can also contact a number of groups that support this initiative including:

Freedom for All Americans , the Human Rights Campaign  and GLSEN.

Remember, there is no equality until it applies to everyone!

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the ignorance and let equality grow!

The Divine Miss Bri

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The New American Revolution: Joining The Surge of Participatory Democracy

In the short time since the inauguration, I have been caught up in something that is both magical and primal. Something that we lost somewhere along the way in our otherwise busy lives. Something we rarely gave a second thought until our values, and even our survival, were threatened. It was brought into focus by a quote Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut cited in addressing the throngs of people who could not get into his Town Hall tonight because of the huge turnout. “Don’t assume democracy is inevitable.”

Don’t assume … But isn’t that what most of us have done for so long? Sure we voted, although a lot of citizens failed that test as well. Now, however, we let a crude, hate-inciting man who dealt in empty promises and slogans occupy the White House and the corporate/religious extremist-owned GOP control the legislative branch of of our national government. We took for granted our candidate would win …and we lost. Suddenly we are faced with an onslaught of threats to our freedom and our future.

Whether you worry about our environment, social justice, LGBTQ rights, civil rights, voting rights, net neutrality, our national security, access to healthcare, economic justice, human rights or any combination of these, they are all threatened by the current administration and the GOP. And, while it may seem an uphill battle now, the grassroots organizing that started with the Women’s Marches continues to build into a massive effort of concerned citizens who have decided that it’s time to take back our country … and our democracy!

Make no mistake. This will not be a quick victory. It demands commitment for the duration to achieve victory in reaching our goals and safeguarding them. And along the way, we will continue to build bridges instead of walls, to find common ground among so many different groups whose ideals and very existence are in danger, and to unite as one voice from many in saying that this land belongs to all of us with liberty and justice FOR ALL … no fine print, no exclusions!!!!!

We will resist! We will fight! And we will do it together!

Let the R.A.I.N. help the roots of participatory democracy grow strong and deep!!!!

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Uncomfortable Truths: How Trump And the Far Right Lied Their Way To Power

The politics of fear! It’s the economy, stupid! The big lie psychology!

As we marshal forces toward a strong progressive push in 2018 and beyond at all levels of government, it’s important to understand and correct the mistakes that allowed Trump and hard-line right-wing Republicans to seize power behind the same big lie psychology that Hitler and other dictators have used with such success.

One of the biggest short-comings on the progressive side was letting Trump and the right define the narrative surrounding the loss of industrial jobs in the heartland. While Hillary and the Democrats touted how well the economy was doing, it fell on unreceptive ears among predominantly white factory workers and miners who saw good paying jobs disappear. And while employment picked up to some extent in these areas, the jobs paid less and offered fewer benefits.

Preying on the anger and fear of this segment of the population, Trump and the GOP garnered support with a supposedly simple three-part explanation that seemed plausible. As quoted in an article in The Nation:

“First, that industry left this country because unions destroyed productivity and made labor costs too high, thereby making us uncompetitive. Second, corporations were the victims of over-regulation and a bloated government that overtaxed them to pay for socialist welfare systems. Third, illegal immigration has resulted in the stealing of American jobs, increased competition for white workers, and depressed wages. Together these three factors led to the collapse of manufacturing in America. This, sadly, is a story that many Americans believe.”

None of this is actually true, but with huge contributions from wealthy conservatives and the angry rantings of fringe radio hosts, like Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck, and fake news websites, like Breitbart, InfoWars, Daily Caller and WND, the big lies were told so often that even sensible people who should know better “drank the Kool-Aid®” and voted against their own best interests. Even worse, once they bought in, they became susceptible to conspiracy theories spouted by the administration that the legitimate news media is untrustworthy when they catch Trump and his advisors lying to the public about everything from crowd size to highly questionable contacts with the Russians. And it’s not so hard to understand — once people commit to a position, a party or a candidate, they tend to consider any news that’s contrary to what they believe as being biased. That again accounts for the rise of Fox News, although even they are having trouble with Trump’s outlandish media attacks, and the totally bizarre sites like InfoWars and Breitbart.

The truly scary part is that, like so many dictatorships in the past, the far right is using their unprecedented power at the moment to try and cement their control permanently with a multi-faceted approach. Take Trump’s outrageous contention that millions of illegal voters skewed the popular vote, which he lost. It’s totally unproven, although the far right sites are echoing it with imaginary evidence. However, Republicans will try to use this to further restrict voting rights until only reliable Republican voters will be allowed to vote, if they don’t cancel elections outright as a threat to security.

Of course, by casting the legitimate news media as pushing fake news, Trump and the right are trying to get people to believe only them so they can lie and their followers will accept the lies as gospel. And, the GOP in the Senate and House are doing a disservice to their constituents by doing the bidding of their masters by following in lockstep to approve Trump’s cabinet nominees who are grossly unqualified for these posts.

As if this isn’t disturbing enough, there is a shadowy organization pulling the strings behind the scenes for this power grab — the Council for National Policy. This secretive cabal of staunch conservatives and alt-right extremists advocates an unholy alliance of corporate and religious interests to place America under their own. supposedly Christian form of sharia law.

Fortunately, we still have time to change the narrative, but the window is narrow. First, while taking our usual stand for human rights, we need to remember the mantra of the original Clinton campaigns — “It’s the economy, stupid!” When people are worried about losing their homes and their futures, they are not particularly receptive to any messages that don’t address their economic situation. We have to grab the high ground by talking straight about their needs with messages that support lower taxes on them, but not the rich; investment in re-training and attracting new industries in depressed areas; a national single-payer healthcare plan that’s not employer dependent; employee cooperatives that buy and run existing plants; and affordable vocational education opportunities as a start.

While we won’t solve all the issues in one blog post or one election, it’s taking the message to the people that need to hear it and backing it up with actions. Force the GOP to either get on the bandwagon or be seen for the true liars that they are.

Together we can make a difference across the board!

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the lies and expose the true!

 

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The R.A.I.N. Catcher: Oprah KO’s Puzdner … Flynn Flam … Trump Playing Russian Roulette … CNP: The Dark Shadow of Fascism

Welcome to The R.A.I.N. Catcher, a new blog feature where I try to gather together a quick overview of the latest developments in our battle against the forces of darkness which threaten our progressive ideals and the basic human rights we have up ’til now always taken for granted.

Puzdner Was Never Going To Work For Labor

Talk about double entendre — Puzdner had a love/hate relationship with his employees … he loved to hate and disparage them. Opposed to the minimum wage laws and virtually anything else that favored labor, Puzdner made Ebenezer Scrooge look like Mister Congeniality. Already a troubling choice, a tape of his ex-wife’s appearance on Oprah talking about being the subject of spousal abuse was pretty much the final nail in the coffin that led to him withdrawing his nomination to which we say GOOD RIDDANCE! Of course, we still have to worry what kind of overseer Trump will nominate next.

Flip, Flop And Spy: Flynn Story Sounds Like Trump Flim Flam

I suppose I’m showing my age, but for you youngsters out there film flam is a classic term for trickery and deception. And wow, we certainly have a lot of that surrounding now-former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Already highly suspect as to his overall sanity, Flynn was appointed by Trump despite warnings that he might be susceptible to blackmail by the Russians. Then in the course of phone conversations with the Russians, he apparently lied to  the Vice President and was guilty of a number of other curious lies, omissions and  highly questionable ethics, if not actual treason, which were leaked to the media. So Flynn resigned, but the stories coming out of the White House are contradictory and actually belligerent, including Trump blaming the media for false news and leaking intelligence. Okay, so which is it: real intelligence or false news? It can’t be both! Very troubling!

Truth About Russian Connection During Campaign Could Prove Fatal To Trump Administration

Along with the Michael Flynn fiasco, more evidence is surfacing that Trump campaign officials may have had contact with, and possibly colluded with Russian government officials (i.e. FBS spies) during their efforts to illegally interfere in our election process and aid in the election of Trump. It could very well spill over into charges of treason. There is increasing demand for a Congressional investigation. We can only hope that the Republicans will pursue it with the same tenacity that they showed in their investigations of the Benghazi attack and Hillary’s emails. Otherwise, they will be demonstrating a level of partisanship that borders on treasonous!

Extremists Make Council for National Policy A Dark Threat To Freedom

If you’ve never heard of the Council for National Policy (CNP), don’t feel bad … that’s exactly what they want. It’s a very secretive cabal of hard core conservatives and far right wing extremists that basically wants to turn America into a fascist religious state. They recently released a manifesto that is quite troubling. According to The Washington Post:

“The five-page document produced by the Council for National Policy calls for a ‘restoration of education in America’ that would minimize the federal role, promote religious schools and home schooling and enshrine “historic Judeo-Christian principles” as a basis for instruction.” [Read the story here.]

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. It should also be noted that Betsy DeVos’ has family on the CNP. Scary!

I’ve started digging into the CNP and it’s like opening a rats nest. Trump has called on a number of its members for input on policy for his administration. Though they try to keep their membership secret, a 2014 list has become public and shows a high number of white nationalists, homophobics and religious extremists involved. You can read more about their dark aims here. It is quite chilling! I promise to shed more light on these “Dark Lords of the Sith” as they are sometimes called.

Get To Know Our Enemies Because Knowledge Is Power!

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the lies and let the truth be seen!

The Divine Miss Bri

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Another Angry Truth: Trump And The GOP Want To De-regulate Us To “Death”

Well, Trump and the GOP are working hard to make it easier for their rich owners to keep getting wealthy by robbing consumers, poisoning our environment and destroying the future for our children and grandchildren. They literally want to de-regulate us to death!

Much is made about the cost of regulations that have been put into place to protect us from harm, as found in this article by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative “supposed” think tank:

Red Tape Rising 2016: Obama Regs Top $100 Billion Annually

Of course, the headline is designed to incite the traditional Republican base, the alt-right / tea party and independents to vehemently call for rolling back regulations. However, they ignore the benefits of these regulations … and what would happen in the event of rampant de-regulation.

For example, according to an article on Bloomberg.com

“A decade ago, coal pollution was killing 13,000 people a year. Today, the number is down to 7,500, which means that more than 5,000 Americans are living longer, healthier lives each year thanks to cleaner power. 

At the same time, jobs in the energy industry have multiplied, led by natural gas and renewable sources such as solar and wind. Today, there are nearly two people working in the solar industry for each person employed by the coal industry. 

What has this meant for consumers’ pocketbooks? Very little. The transition away from coal has been almost undetectable in electricity bills: Residential rates have been essentially flat since 2006.” 

For those who think those regulations cost too much, try telling 5500 people each year they need to die so the rich can make more money. What about the jobs lost? We need to provide re-training and investment to bring new jobs to coal country and other places. When dirty industries close down, jobs tend to open up in new, cleaner industries.

As a matter of fact, though regulations didn’t help the coal industry for example, it was the market that killed it. So while fake news site Breitbart was peddling false headlines such as: It’s Not the Free Market that is Killing Coal, more informed sites were reporting that the market is killing coal.

Trump lied to get the votes of miners, because de-regulating the coal industry won’t bring jobs back!

According to the Motley Fool investment site,

“It’s a hard truth, but the biggest reason the coal industry is in trouble in the U.S. is the growth of U.S. natural-gas production.”

“Natural gas is so abundant and so cheap that utilities aren’t even thinking about building coal plants. In fact, coal plants are being shut down left and right because the average U.S. coal plant is over 40 years old. Since electricity generation accounts for the vast majority of coal consumption, the rise of natural gas can directly be blamed for the decline of coal.”

What about China and India? They were expected to be a huge market for U.S. coal. Basically, they’ve had major issues with pollution and literally can’t see a future in coal usage so they’re switching to natural gas and other fuel sources. In fact, according to a New York Times article air pollution is linked to over one million deaths in China.

And, just in case you’re wondering, Motley Fool is not the only site that shares the opinion that it’s the market not President Obama or regulations that killed coal. The opinion is shared in articles on CNBC.com and Bloomberg.com to name a few.

Get Ready For Another Great Recession

Say what? Trump and the GOP want to strip away the regulations introduced to reign in Wall Street after disastrous lending policies threw the whole country into a black financial hole in 2008. It was bad enough for people like myself who lost a lot of their home equity (which we never got back), but many lost their homes, jobs and more in this crisis brought on by greed and mismanagement in the financial industry. Do we really want to let them do it to us again? I sure don’t!

They also want to get rid of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because it’s hurting the ability of the industry to squeeze more money out of consumers with questionable rules and predatory interest rates.

So what happens when breathing the air or drinking the water makes you sick, but you’ve been swindled out of your money to pay for treatment? That’s what I mean by being de-regulated to death!

****Now, before anyone else raises the issue, I will freely admit that we could do a better job of coordinating and reviewing regulations to make sure they’re doing the job as efficiently as possible. But, they need to be reviewed by an independent, bi-partisan group of experts!

Take action today! Check here to find organizations that need your support in fighting against pollution. Click here for some organizations fighting for economic justice. And, by all means, make your feelings known to your local governments, your state legislators, your Congressional representative and your Senators!

Let the R.A.I.N. clear the air so that all may see the truth!

The Divine Miss Bri

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The Angry Truth: How The 1% Robs The 99% Through Tax Cuts

WARNING: This contents of this blog post should cause a few blood vessels to pop out on your forehead in extreme anger at the way the 1% keeps stealing from the rest of us. If it doesn’t have you ready to snap, you’re either part of the problem or you need to go easy on the recreational pharmaceuticals!
Seriously, there’s a misconception perpetuated by conservatives that lowering taxes on the rich are essential to economic growth and creating more jobs for the middle and lower classes. It’s a case of the crooks telling us they aren’t stealing while at the same time they’re robbing us blind! Sour grapes? You’re damned straight! Do you enjoy being ripped off? I sure don’t and you shouldn’t either!

This is something that goes beyond traditional political boundaries. Blue collar or white collar, military or civilian, stay-at-home parent, single parent, unemployed or anything else that doesn’t put you in the top 1%, you should be totally upset by the gross deception being pulled by the 1% in collaboration with fringe groups. Trying to avoid getting mired in conspiracy theories, the simplest explanation seems to be the most rational — they’re simply greedy! And I mean very greedy!

This is not just some passionate diatribe! No, I have researched this and found numerous articles that have led me to this state of agitation. Now, I know many of you may believe the “conventional” wisdom espoused predominantly by Republicans that cutting taxes on the wealthy and corporations provides money for them to invest in new businesses and expanding existing businesses which in turn generates more good paying jobs. And as these workers have more to spend, they will spend more which creates more demand and leads to more jobs, etc. It’s an appealing argument EXCEPT that it’s purposely skewed to make the wrong people look good.

In actual fact, that’s not really how it works. According to an online article (read it here) on Business Insider from 2013 by it’s CEO and editor-in-chief, entrepreneur Henry Blodget, jobs are created by a “a healthy economic ecosystem — one in which most participants (especially the middle class) have plenty of money to spend.”

The same article cites Nick Hanauer, a wealthy investor and entrepreneur who founded online advertising company aQuantive, which Microsoft bought for $6.4 billion,as saying that creating jobs starts “with the company’s customers.”

Hanauer continues by stating that, “entrepreneurs are an important part of the company-creation process. And so are investors, who risk capital in the hope of earning returns. But, ultimately, whether a new company continues growing and creates self-sustaining jobs is a function of the company’s customers’ ability and willingness to pay for the company’s products, not the entrepreneur or the investor capital. Suggesting that ‘rich entrepreneurs and investors’ create the jobs, therefore is like suggesting that squirrels create evolution.”

Moreover, the article defines who those customers are. “The customers of most companies are ultimately America’s gigantic middle class — the hundreds of millions of Americans who currently take home a much smaller share of the national income than they did 30 years ago, before tax policy aimed at helping rich people get richer created an extreme of income and wealth inequality not seen since the 1920s.”

The article goes on to explain that the middle class has been hurt by tax policies geared to helping the 1% (and making everyone else pay for them), as well as globalization and technological advancements. Essentially, if the money that the 1% got in tax cuts was distributed to workers in the form of wage/salary increases, it would generate far more jobs than it would in the hands of the wealthy.

Okay, so that’s just one article, right? Au contraire. Let me share some insights from a 2014 article contributed by Steve Denning for Forbes.com.  In it, he quoted  researchers Jason Wiens and Chris Jackson of the Kauffman Foundation, who actually conducted research on investment and job creation, “… between 1988 and 2011, companies more than five years old destroyed more jobs than they created in all but eight of those years.

Say what? Yes, jobs were created by new businesses. New startups create jobs and either flourish or drop out of the market quickly which frees up capital for more new ventures. So yes, investment has its place, but not exactly what we’ve been told. And there’s more enlightenment from Wiens and Jackson in the article.

New businesses account for nearly all net new job creation and almost 20 percent of gross job creation, whereas small businesses do not have a significant impact on job growth when age is accounted for. Policymakers often think of small business as the employment engine of the economy. But when it comes to job-creating power, it is not the size of the business that matters as much as it is the age. New and young companies are the primary source of job creation in the American economy. Not only that, but these firms also contribute to economic dynamism by injecting competition into markets and spurring innovation.”

And that’s only exposes part of the subterfuge. You see, it turns out that publicly-held companies tend to either sit on excess funds or use them to buy back shares of stock to increase shareholder wealth.

The article quotes William Lazonick in HBR and the New York Times. “From 2004 to 2013, 454 companies in the S&P 500 Index expended 51 percent of their profits, or $3.4 trillion, on repurchases, on top of 35 percent of profits on dividends… More than three-quarters of compensation for the 500 highest-paid executives came from stock options and stock awards.

“So who gains from open-market repurchases? Their sole purpose is to give a company’s stock price a manipulative boost, and prime beneficiaries are the corporate executives who decide to do them… For corporate executives, stock-based pay is a ticket to membership in the 0.1 percent top-income club.”

Upset now? You should be! Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe that hard work and innovation deserve success and the rewards that come with it. However, those who reap the most rewards under our system should contribute the most in taxes and charitable donations to supporting the country that makes their gains possible. It’s not that alien of a concept!

Yet, billionaires and corporations spend millions of dollars to buy elections so they own politicians who will vote as they’re told. That means they’ll vote for policies that put more money in their owners’ pockets through tax cuts at the expense of the middle and lower classes. And that’s why they’re against universal health insurance, contributing to Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid, and all other forms of social programs. It’s also why they’re against unions and consumer financial protection laws.


It’s all about dollars more than ideology, which just provides the cover for their grand theft.

Time to let the 1% know that the 99% isn’t going to take it anymore!!!

Get active in the political process!!! Contribute to campaigns of local politicians you trust so they rely less on big donors who do not have your interests at heart!!!

TAKE ACTION!!! SPREAD THE WORD!!! KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!!!

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the lies and expose the truth!

The Divine Miss Bri

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Money Talks: How To Hit Trump And The GOP Where It Hurts By Boycotting Their Sponsors

Every day brings a new threat to our rights and our future as well as frightening new insights into just how dysfunctional and dangerous the political situation in Washington has become. From the White House to Congress, the Trump administration and the GOP appear to be in a mad scramble to see which one can do the most damage.

Just as we thought the debacle of confirming the appointment of a totally unqualified Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education might be as low as the Senate GOP could go, self-appointed Senate dictator Mitch McConnell and his band of knuckle-dragging neanderthals slithered to new depths with their efforts to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren, which is another mistake that will come back to haunt them. (Read story here.)

Then, Senate Republicans confirmed Jeff Sessions, a man who was denied a federal judgeship because of past racial concerns, to be our top law enforcement officer with a major responsibility for safe-guarding civil rights. That’s beyond bizarre.

And it wouldn’t be complete without Kellyanne Conway, queen of alternative facts and fake massacres, who violated ethics laws and endorsed  Ivanka Trumps’ clothing line on national television.

I could go on and on, which is the point I want to make … we need to put the
brakes on this runaway tyranny and absurdity before America gets crushed in a massive train wreck. Fortunately, there are ways to start putting a stop to this assault on our rights.

Organize peaceful protests to draw media attention to the issues. Stay in touch by phone and email with your elected representatives at all levels to let them know that you want them to stand up against Trump and the conservatives efforts to eliminate the ACA, ban immigrants/refugees and roll back environmental protections, financial safeguards, civil rights enforcement and LGBTQ gains. Get involved in local Democratic or independent party politics and even run for office yourself. And, just as importantly, use your wallet to hit the other side where it hurts.

There’s an old saying about the Golden Rule: whoever has the gold makes the rules. That’s meant that the big-money Republican donors have been getting their way with Trump and the GOP. However, we can change that by fighting fire with fire. There’s a web site called Adstrike that monitors which companies have ad placements on alt-right hate speech/fake news sites like Breitbart, American Lookout and Drudge Report so you can contact the companies and request they pull their advertising.

We can also choose not to patronize brands / stores that support right-wing politicians and do not reflect our values of tolerance, inclusion and equal rights. I personally refuse to buy Angel Soft, Brawny or Vanity Fair paper products because they’re owned by the Koch Brothers. I also avoid Domino’s Pizza, Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby because of their values and/or their political contributions. You can find more by clicking on the following links.

http://samuel-warde.com/2014/12/10-right-wing-companies-to-boycott/

https://grabyourwallet.org

http://mashable.com/2016/11/15/boycott-donald-trump-business/#kpZ6XMfG1kqg

One additional resource to add to your arsenal is Resistance Manual, a site with
lots of information on issues and policies, plus tools you can use to take action now to bring this runaway train to a halt!

Use every tool to strike back for our freedom before it’s gone!

Let the R.A.I.N. bring a flood of hope!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

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Confirming DeVos for Education Secretary Shows GOP Needs To Be Taught A Lesson

The future of public education in America could very well end up as a barren wasteland with the reckless vote by Senate Republicans to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Widely considered to be totally unqualified for the post, her nomination and confirmation perfectly demonstrate  just how low our political system has sunk with a man voted into the White House who apparently can’t read more than 160 characters (the max allowed in a Tweet) and a Senate full of lap dog Republicans who only serve their rich donor owners rather than the citizens of our country.

The Atlantic raised serious concerns in an article regarding DeVos’ evasiveness in responding to questions about her qualifications. “DeVos—who has never taught public school, never attended public school, and never held elected office—sidestepped questions about everything from how she will ensure that groups she has backed financially in the past will not feel pressure to behave a certain way to whether guns belong in schools.

Or consider this from the New York Times in its coverage of her confirmation. “For many in the education community, Ms. DeVos’s full-throated support for charter schools and vouchers — which allow students to use taxpayer dollars to pay tuition at private, religious and for-profit schools — is emblematic of a disconnection from the realities of the education system. Neither Ms. DeVos nor any of her children attended a public school. And she has never taken out a federal student loan, which is striking when considering she will head a department that is the country’s largest provider of student loans.

It’s no wonder that senators were swamped with calls from outraged citizens demanding that a person so unqualified not be given an opportunity to wreck our public education system and jeopardize the futures of our children and grandchildren. It is heartening that all 48 Democratic senators and even 2 Republican senators (both women it should be noted) cared enough about our concerns and the fate of public education voted against her nomination.

Unfortunately, Mitch McConnell, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch Brothers, and the rest of his Republican Trump rubber-stampers voted to cripple public education in their efforts to create only 2 classes — the well-educated wealthy and the uneducated drones who do their bidding. I wish that was just hyperbole, but that’s what they’re working toward.

However, the Republican arrogance in confirming DeVos and ignoring America’s concerns may well prove to be their undoing. An already restive electorate has just been given another very strong motivation to show these conservative dinosaurs that their time is up and start putting progressives in their place who care about Americans and will work toward a better future for all instead of just a chosen few.

It will be a long haul and take an unflinching commitment, but the GOP will learn  that when you pour gasoline on a fire that’s already burning, it will blow up in your face.

Get active now! Check out www.resistancemanual.org, www.aclu.org, www.hrc.org and www.democrats.org! Together we refuse to go backward!

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the roadblocks to progress!

The Divine Miss Bri 

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Unholy Crusade: Religious Freedom Laws Seek To Destroy Liberty And Justice For All

Throughout time, one of the most persistent and disturbing trends in the history of our world has been the atrocities committed in the name of religion. So-called Christians, for instance, have a bloody history of violence and torture encompassing the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Salem Witch Trials, just to name of a few of the better known examples. It seems they have a burning passion to do harm to others who do not share their beliefs.

Espousing their deeply held religious beliefs, the conservatives of their time used them as an excuse to deny women’s rights, including the right to vote. And, in the South, Southern Baptists and other denominations justified slavery and racial segregation as sanctioned by God. Even the Ku Klux Klan considers itself to be following a Christian mission in perpetrating heinous acts of violence and discrimination against African-Americans and other minorities.

Fortunately, in America, we have worked to mostly remove discrimination from being encoded in our laws. And, while there is always more work to be done, we are closer to realizing the line from the Pledge of Allegiance that says “with liberty and justice for all.” Please note there is no (*) or exceptions listed after it.

Now, however, the modern day Pharisees of the Religious Right are trying to codify discrimination against women and members of the LGBTQ community under the guise of Religious Freedom laws. While these laws keep popping up in states with Republican controlled legislatures, an even more troubling event looms on the horizon with the release of the draft of an executive order that was proposed by some in the Trump administration — “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom.”

It has been reported that Trump’s daughter and son-in-law persuaded him not to sign it. At the same time, there are many in the administration who are pushing this type of order, including Mike Pence. This executive order and any similar laws or edicts represent a threat to the freedoms of all by unacceptably broadening the scope of legalized discrimination. It would allow virtually anyone  in business, medical practice or government to refuse to serve, treat, employ or in anyway assist a member of the LGBTQ community if it conflicted with their deeply held religious beliefs. It also broadens business exemptions from having to provide women with contraceptives through their insurance plans.

Under the First Amendment to the Constitution, it says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  Supporters of these new Religious Freedom laws are claiming that having to do business with the LGBTQ community or provide contraceptives to women prohibits the free exercise of their religion. Actually, they’ve got it backwards.

These so-called Religious Freedom laws are the ones that violate the First Amendment as well as the principles of a free and just society.

(1) Broadening the scope of application beyond actual religious institutions to businesses and individuals, with only a minimal or even tangential religious purpose, to allow discrimination against any segment of our population based on a religious belief, and especially one that is not universally shared, would in effect be unconstitutionally establishing a particular religion by giving it unique privileges and recognition.

(2) The free exercise of one’s religion is subject to certain limitations as are other rights. For example, while we have a right to free speech, we do not have the right to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater or to commit libel or slander because doing so adversely affects the rights of others. You could imagine what would happen if we allowed human sacrifices or witch burning as a free exercise of one’s religious beliefs. If we allow this discrimination, where does it stop? Will Religious Freedom laws be used against other religions, ethnic groups, racial groups? It’s a dangerous precedent. It should also be noted that there is nothing preventing anyone from believing whatever they choose or associating privately only with those who share their beliefs.

(3) The principles of equality and justice demand that the rights of everyone must be respected in the public marketplace and any limitations must be applied in the narrowest scope possible to prevent irreparable harm from discrimination. These Religious Freedom laws put an undue burden on women and members of the LGBTQ community, while threatening their health and safety with the potential to deny them vital services.

(4) Finally, those who seek to impose their “deeply held” religious beliefs on select groups based on their interpretation of the Bible seem to have missed the scriptures that say, “judge not … render unto Caesar … love thy neighbor … do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It makes you wonder whether their “religious beliefs” are simply an effort to justify their hatred for anyone who is different.

If I sound passionate about this subject, it is because I am a transwoman. Fortunately, my friends accept me and I live in a state where my rights are protected just like everyone else’s. However, in other places, members of the LGBTQ community face severe threats to their freedom and even their survival. We did not ask to be this way. We just are. I believe God made me who I am for a reason. All I want, and all we want, is to have the same rights EVERY citizen of our country should be entitled to enjoy. No more. No less.

Please stand up for us and true freedom by staying vigilant and making it known that you do not support religious tyranny and discrimination masquerading as religious freedom. To see what you can do, contact the A.C.L.U., the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom for All Americans or GLAAD today.

We must fight together, because no one is free until we’re all free to live without fear!

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the lies and reveal the truth!

The Divine Miss Bri

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