Lies, Damn Lies and Trump’s Address To Congress

Calling out Trump for not just stretching the truth, but ripping it up and spitting on it has become rote because he does it all the time. As Yogi Berra used to say, “It’s like déjà vu all over again!” And while Yogi’s lines were alway humorous, this situation is quite disturbing.

Sadly, Americans accept a lack of integrity on the part of politicians as a fait accompli — it’s just the way things are. I used to say the same thing, but not anymore. As I’ve said before, it’s time we demanded a much higher standard of truthfulness and accountability from those who seek and hold office at any level in this country.

Unfortunately, politicians tell us what we want to hear to get our votes regardless of whether what we want to hear is actually the truth. This goes back a long, long way, so we can’t necessarily blame today’s politicians for starting it, but we can  certainly demand that they stop it here and now. These falsehoods that they’ve perpetuated are what continues to drive us farther apart on so many issues.

For example (and you should’ve been expecting it), let’s take Donald Trump’s speech to Congress last night. I will give him credit for improving his presentation by leaps and bounds in terms of style. On the other hand, as I pointed out in my last post, his facts were essentially alternative facts or, in plain English, untruths.

Just to clarify, I used two different sources that fact checked his speech and both reached the same conclusion based on real facts. Trump must love Burger King because he was peddling some “whoppers” last night.

I will focus on just a few here, but I encourage you to check the links below to read the full stories yourself on WashintongPost.com and MSN.com. It definitely changes the perspective on just how things really are.

To quote from the intro to the WashingtonPost.com article: “An address to Congress is such an important speech that presidents generally are careful not to stretch the truth. The ’16 words’ in George W. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address that falsely claimed Iraq’s Saddam Hussein sought uranium from Africa led to significant turmoil in the administration, including the criminal conviction of a top aide.

“President Trump’s maiden address to Congress was notable because it was filled with numerous inaccuracies. In fact, many of the president’s false claims are old favorites that he trots out on a regular, almost daily basis.”

For example, Trump spoke about draining the swamp and his order banning executive branch officials from lobbying for 5 years after leaving. However, it’s not what it seems. The ban only applies to an official lobbying the department/agency he/she actually worked for. It doesn’t stop them from becoming  a lobbyist and doesn’t apply to legislative branch officials. The truth is a whole lot less impressive than his alternate facts.

In another example of vastly overstating his early accomplishments, “Trump again takes credit for business decisions made before his election.”

Ford’s decision to expand a plant in Michigan and not build a plant in Mexico was driven by sales results and long-term business goals, while Fiat Chrysler’s plans to invest $1 billion in a factory in Michigan were put into place over a year ago. Trump had no influence on these decisions to name a few, yet claimed credit for them. That’s not an encouraging sign.

And, to quote from the MSN.com article, Trump “cherry-picked the findings of a recent report, saying it found immigration costs U.S. taxpayers ‘billions of dollars a year.’ The report said immigration ‘has an overall positive impact on long-run economic growth.’

“Trump said ’94 million Americans are out of the labor force,’ a figure that includes the retired, college students and stay-at-home parents. The vast majority — 88.5 million — said they didn’t want a job.

“Trump said he would ‘promote clean air and clean water,’ a vague claim that came hours after he had signed an executive order to roll back a 2015 ‘Clean Water Rule.'”

I again encourage you read the full analysis in both articles so you can see for yourself why we should all be concerned. It’s not being fair to the American people to make policy decisions based on false facts. That helps no one but these in power who have a vested interest in perpetuating the big lies.

Call and write your representatives in the House and Senate as well as the media to demand real transparency and accountability from all levels of government. NO MORE LIES!

Let the R.A.I.N. come down and let the truth shine through!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

 

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Trump’s Address to Congress: Style And Smiles, But No Substance

I admit to missing part of Trump’s address to Congress Tuesday night. However, what I did see left me totally unimpressed, especially watching Pence and Ryan pop up and applaud so often they acted like trained monkeys. (That may be petty, but it was really overdone!)

In an effort to avoid any further sniping, let’s get to the crux of what Trump was saying and what it actually meant. Seriously, there weren’t a lot of surprises aside from his attempt to project a more positive message. Unfortunately, style is not nearly as important as substance. And as far as substance is concerned, he ducked, bobbed and weaved or just outright ignored it. Probably for good reason, because the substance is not going to be particularly palatable for most Americans.

It’s important to understand the realities that affect how things work in our government, at all levels, especially these days. The 1% who have the most wealth (and consequently the most power) pour millions of dollars directly and through Political Action Committees into electing mostly conservative Republicans representatives, senators and presidents. They don’t do this out of the goodness of their hearts. They have an agenda that works for them and only them. It’s easy for them to extoll free enterprise and rolling back government regulations, and talk about affordable healthcare in terms of competition and ending entitlements, because it puts more money in their pockets and takes it out of ours.

According to an article in The Nation, The 400 richest Americans now have more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the population, in a [December 2015] report by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) …

“The concentration of wealth at the top isn’t the result of some sort of organic process. The top one-10th of 1 percent of American households controlled about 7 percent of the nation’s wealth in the mid-1970s. By 2000, their share had grown to about 15 percent, and today it’s well over 20 percent. Those at the very top didn’t become three times as smart or lucky or good-looking in the intervening years. They’ve benefited from changes in things like trade policy, the tax code, and collective-bargaining rules—all policy changes they’ve used their wealth to champion.”

Even worse, Trump has served to distract us from the economic issues by attacking immigrants, rescinding Federal support of equality for transgender students in schools, and fostering a mean-spirited rise in racial and ethnic  prejudice as part of a nationalistic policy.

So the challenge for Democrats is to not become just the party of “NO” like the Republicans during President’s Obama’s administration. It is time, however, for the Democratic party to come up with realistic options that do not compromise our values while addressing the needs and concerns of all Americans.

First and foremost, we need to address the wealth and income inequality situation by making sure that those who make the most pay their FAIR share to support the country that allowed them to make so much money. Much has been made about tax cuts for the wealthy spurring investments in companies which in turn produces more higher paying jobs as the money trickles down. Sorry, but that has not worked worth a damn so far. It’s better to put that money in consumers’ hands first, because demand stimulates production rather than the other way around.

Supporting unions, raising the minimum wage, and some form of universal, affordable healthcare, along with lower taxes, factor into increasing disposable income among the middle and lower classes. Plus, making improvements in the quality of public education and lowering the cost of post-high school college and vocational education are critical elements in creating the skilled workforce of the future. And, we must assure equality for all in employment, housing and public accommodation regardless of religion, race, sex/gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s simple … we must be a nation of equals and respect those who not exactly like us. Our differences are what make us a stronger nation.

In the same vein, we need to change how we treat the 1% with stricter campaign finance laws, no income cutoffs for social security and medicare taxes, and fewer overall tax breaks. Now, I do suggest, for those who invest in start-up companies and select other business opportunities, that we offer them targeted tax breaks that reward them for contributing to specific growth. We should also maintain strict regulation of the financial industry, because 2008 taught us that they cannot be trusted to act wisely without oversight.

Finally, as far as environmental and safety regulations are concerned, we should establish a bipartisan commission of experts in various fields to examine regulations with an eye to making them more efficient in achieving their purpose in protecting people and the environment. that should also help make them most cost-effective, although that is not the primary focus.

This is hardly a comprehensive list of things we need to do, but it should be a good start for conversation. Now is the time to get engaged and participate in shaping our future by determining party platforms and encouraging people to run for office who support those platforms.

The revolution rests with each of us. Get involved!

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the old ways and help new ideas grow!

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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 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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