Fatal Miscalculations: Who Will End Up Paying For The Red Plague?

I freely admit that I considered the 2016 election results as a catastrophe for individual liberties, the environment, consumer rights and more. Now, I see that I totally underestimated the damage Trump and the GOP threaten to do to the vast majority of Americans. I’m talking about the 99% who struggle to get by while the 1% feast off of our miseries.

Between the latest version of the AHCA (Anti Health Care Act), that was pushed through the House of Representatives without anyone knowing how it would actually impact Americans, and Trump’s robber baron budget, which portends an unholy transfer of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the 1+%, we are facing a financial threat to our very survival. With a flair for the melodramatic at times, I have chosen to call this threat The Red Plague, since it was brought about by all the red states on the electoral map. And, make no mistake, it is a plague upon our country.

Hyperbole? Exaggeration? Paranoia? Well, I suppose it depends upon where you are in the spectrum of differences that seem to divide rather than unite America. If you’re wealthy, white, a religious conservative, bigoted and a fervent nationalist or some combination thereof, then you probably think all of what’s happening is good. You’re the ones that Trump and the GOP are counting on. They keep you happy by appealing to your fears and prejudices while stealing your money as well as our money and our rights.

On the other hand, it’s a very real threat for those of us who believe in liberty and justice for all, the welfare of others, that health care should be a right not a choice, that people should be paid a living wage, that greed is not good, businesses have a moral responsibility to their employees and their communities, that our environment needs to be protected and that those who need help should get it

Now, I do understand that a number of otherwise good people voted for Trump because he said he was going to bring back jobs to this country and put more people back to work. Well, like everything else he said, it’s a case of over promise and under deliver. As an example, take the big deal he made about getting Carrier to stay in Indiana rather than move jobs to Mexico right after the election. Well, that didn’t last long, because Carrier is going to lay off over 600 people in Indiana and move the jobs to Mexico. (Read the Chicago Tribune story here.)

Then he was going to repeal and replace Obamacare with something so much better that would cover everybody for less. What we have so far is the 2nd version of the AHCA, which the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) now says will result in 23 million people losing their health coverage and those who have low incomes, people with pre-existing conditions and older Americans will get socked with huge premium increases and less coverage. And that’s just part of the pain we’ll be enduring while the wealthy will get huge tax cuts out of it. Call me crazy, but I don’t see that as an improvement. (Read more about the CBO report here from CNN Money.)

Then we have Trump’s attempt at a budget, which is based on a combination of avarice, cruelty, alchemy and wishful thinking. Under the banner of supply side / trickle down economics, which has proven to be a failed approach, this budget gives huge tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and corporations plus spends massive amounts on defense, while cutting welfare, medical research, medicaid, children’s health insurance, food stamps, student loan programs and public education. Apparently, Trump thinks the poor shouldn’t have chosen to be poor in the first place. Wonder if he has ever heard of King Louis XVI of France and  how that kind of thinking turned out to be a real pain in the neck? (Read about Trump’s budget in this CNN.com report, and it’s miscalculations in this MSN.com story.)

So what does all this mean? Right now in this country, we have a huge problem as more and more of the money is siphoned out of the economy and into the hands of am wealthy few. That is unsustainable. Automation, irresponsible and obscene pay for CEOs without long-term performance goals, predatory financial policies, outrageous health care expenses even with Obamacare and other issues have left many Americans feeling like they have nothing left to lose. And that is how revolutions start. The heads will roll — just look at Louis XVI!

Those in power might want to ponder just how much pain the people can endure from The Red Plague, before they turn on the ones who are spreading it. A miscalculation could be fatal.

Stand up and be counted! Demand your rights! Tell your representatives in Congress that Trump’s budget and the AHCA are DEAD! We want Medicare for all and a budget that assures the wealthy pay their fair share!

Be Vocal! Be Adamant! Be Strong!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

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Our Country Is Being Stolen: It’s Time To Take Back The Real America

There comes a time in every person’s life when they look around and start to wonder what the hell is going on? Well, for those of us brought up to believe in the promise of America and what it could be, we have reached that point as Trump and conservative Republicans are hard at work trying to steer us into becoming something far more sinister and repulsive.

Today’s House vote that rushed through an even worse version of the AHCA, now Trumpcare 2.0, is symptomatic of what has become a persistent march toward an America that is defined by equality only for the wealthy, white males and the religious right. It is extreme capitalism, nationalism, racism and religious extremism all rolled up into one unholy movement that rejects our basic rights as being un-American. They believe America must be purified under the auspices of far right conservatism. All we need is a swastika across the Stars and Stripes or just adopt the Confederate battle flag, and call ourselves Amerika!

Again, I point to the latest iteration of the ACHA, or a I call it, the Anti-Health Care Act. Without CBO estimates, because it was rushed through without complete details, there’s no way to know for sure just how many millions of Americans will lose coverage or go bankrupt because lifetime caps may be reinstated. What we do know is that the wealthy will get big tax breaks and older Americas, poorer Americans and Americans with pre-existing conditions will get royally screwed. Plus, Congress exempted itself from being covered by the new act’s provisions. That smacks of the way the pigs changed the rules in Orwell’s Animal Farm from “All animals are created equal” to “All animals are created equal, but some are created more equal than others.”

Add in the steady stream of bills and executive orders that favor corporations and businesses over workers and consumers, from overtime rules changes to loss of internet privacy to ripping up regulations to protect the environment, everyday Americans keep losing ground and our rights. And, just yesterday, activist Desiree Fairooz was convicted in U.S. Court for apparently laughing at a controversial (and it was laughable) remark made by a Republican panelist during Jeff Sessions’ hearing on his nomination for Attorney General.  (Read Story Here.)

Today, Trump also signed an executive order giving churches and religious  institutions more leeway to endorse political candidates without losing their tax exempt status. It stopped short of allowing what the fundamentalists really wanted — the ability to discriminate against LGBTQ citizens without fear of sanctions. It’s a bad step on the slippery slope toward ignoring our long-standing principle of “separation of church and state.”

Frankly, I’ve had enough of this whole ugly state of affairs. Lord knows America has its share of problems, but the key to solving them is to move forward as a more egalitarian society that works for the collective good while respecting individual liberties. Certainly free enterprise is a key component, but it has to have boundaries because “greed is not good!” The wealthy should pay their fair share because they benefit the most from the system. And the system should help lift up those who need help.

Unlike conservative perceptions, the poor and the sick are generally not responsible for their situations, nobody’s race or religion makes them eminently superior, and all of us are entitled to the same rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Finally, the most egregious sin committed by the GOP has been their not-so-subtle attempts to limit voting rights in order to create and maintain their electoral advantages. That’s an attack on our very foundation of democracy. It is time NOW for all true Americans to stand our ground and say NO MORE, NOT HERE!

Petition! March! Protest! Rally! Blog! Tweet! Contribute to candidates if you can! Get active in local politics! Run for office! Call your representatives! Make your voice heard until it deafens those who would trample our rights and makes them quake in fear of what comes next! We should not fear our government! Our government should fear us!

LET’S TAKE OUR AMERICA BACK!

The Divine Miss Bri

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Marching Against Greed and Ignorance

I made my sign for the Tax March on Friday night, but was too sick to attend on Saturday.

While issues in my personal life kept me from participating in the local Tax March and the March for Science, I stand with my fellow concerned citizens who are trying to stop the current administration’s mad rush to devastate the middle and lower classes financially plus ravage our environment. What’s behind this mad rush? It’s fueled by a “political” formula of sorts: Greed + Ignorance = Power x Stupidity = Disaster.

Call it a formula or a recipe, the result is the same. If allowed to continue unchecked, Trump and the GOP will do more damage to America than Kim Jung Un could ever do even in his wildest dreams. And you can thank the Citizens United decision for that. If it seems like I keep coming back to this, there’s a good reason. Everything we’ve been protesting against is a result of the 2016 election results and how ridiculous sums of money, along with some timely help from Trump’s Russian buddies, conned America.

The amount of money tainting our election process is obscene!

Last week, we had the Tax March to demand that Trump release his tax returns,which shouldn’t be a problem if he has nothing to hide. Apparently, he must be hiding something then. But the Tax March was also an opportunity to protest the sense of entitlement the wealthy seem to feel. Their owned GOP representatives keep coming up with tax breaks for people who don’t need them and aren’t going to use the extra money to create jobs. And here’s why, based on my analysis of information found on open secrets.org.

“In the 2016 election cycle, 12 of the 20 top individual political donors contributed $19,465,831.00 in hard money directly to the Republican party and its candidates.  But that’s not all. Seven of these same 12, plus two spouses not in the list of 12, contributed $166,780,558.00 to Super Pacs supporting conservative causes. And that does not even include corporate contributions as well as other large individual contributors. If they can afford to spend that much to buy politicians, they can damn well afford to pay their fair share of taxes instead of shifting the burden onto the poor and working classes.

Greed and ignorance are a toxic combination when it comes to our environment.

These people, and their corporate brethren, are also the ones fighting to discredit science, whether it’s about vaccinations, global warming, air and water pollution, or food safety. Interestingly enough, they think science is great when it comes up with money-making products companies can sell, but not when it indicates they need to change how they operate. Companies will spend fortunes on tainted research to support their current way of doing things, lobbying state and federal governments and buying elections. They should just spend that money on complying with regulations.

The other thing all this money does is purchase ignorance. Say what? Yes, it buys ignorance through disinformation spread through fake news outlets to discredit climate change and blame environmental regulations for killing jobs and whole industries. And people believed it enough to elect the most dangerous government we’ve ever had.

We need to keep marching, keep protesting and keep pushing back against these threats to our survival at all levels! We must bleed the conservative donors dry by mounting serious races to oust their chosen representatives and replace them with progressives. The conservatives had better be looking over their shoulder, because we are coming after them.

Join the revolution and fight for our rights, our planet and our survival!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

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Government for Sale: How The Few Are Screwing The Many

“How much is that Congressman in the window?” A sadly modern take on an old song, which rings with far more truth than is healthy. While money really isn’t the root of all evil, it has certainly played a prominent role. There are those who use it to obtain dangerous levels of power, like the Koch brothers and their fellow billionaires who have used the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision to pour enormous sums of money into elections across the country to help them gain control of our government.

Since the Koch brothers exclusively back conservative Republicans, they essentially exercise control of all levels of our government at the moment. In effect, a cabal of rich people, who are out of touch with the needs of everyday Americans and were never elected, in effect pull the strings in subordinating our rights in favor of the rights of corporations and the wealthy. If you don’t find that scary, you’re either one of their rich friends, one of their pet elected officials or a freakin’ idiot! Sorry, not pulling on any punches on this.

Through their political action committees, they flood districts with media campaigns that distort the truth if not just outright lie to get their candidate elected. (Too bad there isn’t a truth-in-advertising rule that applies to political advertising.) And we have seen what happens when lies and half-truths find a foothold in voters’ minds. That’s how Trump stole the election and how Republicans gained a majority in both houses of Congress.

Now, the Koch brothers are pushing the buttons as Republicans steadily role back regulations designed to protect our environment, provide worker safety and protect us from being ripped off by the financial industry. Most recently, they’re trying to strip us of any chance of getting decent health care by gutting even minimal tax credits in the American Health Care Act. Interesting that those who have the most money raise the biggest objections to government helping those who have the least! They make Ebenezer Scrooge look like the world’s greatest humanitarian!

Today, in another vote you can be sure they were behind, the senate voted to roll back a regulation that would have prevented internet service providers from selling customer usage data, much like if the post office could open your mail and sell a copy of the contents along with the address information. Corporations are taking our money and rights, including the right to privacy!

Currently, another battle is brewing over Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. It’s evident that Grouch will side with businesses against citizens in his decisions as well as favor restricting the rights of racial and sexual minorities.

Here’s what really gets me — Koch and the other rich conservatives spend billions of dollars on getting their candidates elected. They could fund universal health care, erase the deficit and more with that money, which apparently is pocket change for them. Instead, they spend it to gain tax cuts and deprive the less fortunate of essential services. That is pure unadulterated greed! It’s the worship of money and power. That is the worst kind of evil!

They should perhaps consider that nothing lasts forever, including their power. And when their fall comes, they should expect a lot of people lining up to kick them on the way down. In the interim, we can do a number of things to try and mitigate the Koch brothers power.

Call and email your senators and tell them NOT to approve Gorsuch for the Supreme Court under any circumstances.

Support efforts to overturn Citizens United.

Pledge not to buy any of these Koch consumer products if you can avoid it.

-Angel Soft bathroom tissue

-Angel Soft Ultra bathroom tissue

-Brawny paper towels

-Dixie products

-Insulair cups

-Mardis Gras napkins

-Perfect Touch cups, paper products

-Quilted Northern

-Sparkle paper towels

-Vanity Fair napkins & paper towels

-Zee Napkins

While it may not make a huge dent in their income, it’s a start!

Keep the faith and keep up the fight!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

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This Is War: The Fight To Save Our America Is Just Beginning

It has been just a little over 8 weeks since Herr Donald took office as Liar-in-Chief and proceeded to continually prove his unfitness to occupy our nation’s highest office. Not because he is inept (I wish that was simply the case), but because he is a devious con artist who engages in trickery and deceit to keep everyone distracted while he and the Republicans in Congress dedicate themselves to stripping away our rights and protections in order to give more power and money to a ruling class of wealthy individuals and corporations.

Call it Libertarian. Call it Conservative. Call it whatever you choose, but it is a dire threat to our progressive values and our freedoms as individuals. It replaces government protections with licenses for the wealthy, corporations and religious extremists to bully and discriminate against anyone (especially immigrants, LGBTQ, seniors, poor and low income Americans), pollute our environment, mistreat workers, invade our privacy and more. Even worse, they are also working hard to leave us with no recourse through the court system to stop these abuses.

Now, it is true that we “supposedly” live under a democratic form of government in which citizens vote and governing is done by majority rule. It has become quite apparent, however, that our system has been “corrupted” by the Citizens United court decision, which essentially allows elections (and thus politicians) to be bought with unlimited campaign contributions, and Russian intervention in our political process, especially since it appears that Trump benefited from that intervention. This calls into question the actual validity of the election results and, consequently, the validity of the current government.

With his initial budget proposal, Donald the Destroyer, has take a slash and burn approach to the “liberal enemies” of the far right and corporate rule — such as those notoriously slacking seniors who are served by Meals on Wheels, those future protesters and criminals who are served by free school meals and other beneficial programs, those lewd anarchists in theater, music and painting who benefit from support of the arts, and those elitist revolutionaries served by public broadcasting. At the same time, he is proposing a massive investment in our military, but why? What are they protecting? An underpaid, overworked and over-taxed population of drones who have no healthcare, no rights to privacy, no safety nets and no protection from corporate abuses. Hmmm, maybe that’s really why Trump wants his wall — to keep us from escaping!

Well, enough is enough! The longer this goes, the harder it’s going to be to stop it. And stop it, we must. Any way we can! Many of us have already begun to fight back, but this is going be a  long war. Yes, I did say war, because it is nothing less than a war against tyranny, against ignorance, against prejudice and against the rule of money. It will require many battles and many sacrifices. Freedom does not come cheap. For now, we have a number of peaceful means at our disposal that we must use to the max, including mass public displays of protest, contributions to organizations that are battling for us, access to our representatives at all levels and the ability to organize in groups to stay focused and active in the fight. We must also get involved in local politics to build the kind of progressive government we want and need.

However, we need to recognize this may not be enough. If that time comes, we need to be ready to “just say no!” No, we will not comply! No, we will not surrender! No, we will not disperse quietly! No, we will not accept this anymore! How far do we go with this civil disobedience? As far as necessary! We simply cannot compromise our values, because they define who we are. We cannot acquiesce to their surrender.

We are powerful when we are united in righteous indignation. A government that does not fear the people has no checks on its power. Let them tremble!

The Divine Miss Bri

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Like A Sci-Fi Movie, Republicans Selling Out Our Rights To Corporations

Face it, folks, we live in the scariest of times. Responding to the bidding of their rich corporate masters, Republicans in Congress along with Trump the Terrible are in the process of stripping away our rights in the interest of making corporations even more profitable and powerful. Pretty soon, you won’t be able to go to the bathroom at home without your boss’ permission (or even worse, without him or her watching).

Between Trump’s appointments from the wealthy insiders’ club and the GOP corporate lackeys in Congress, the government is trying to eliminate all citizen protections from Wall Street greed, corporate pollution, debilitating health care expenses, hazardous workplaces, unpaid overtime, corporate restrictions on what we can access on the internet, and NOW forced genetic testing by employers.

According to a story in the Washington Post, a bill introduced in the House of Representatives would allow employers to require that employees submit to genetic testing as part of a wellness program. And, if employees refuse they could be penalized! Holy invasion of privacy, Batman! (Read story here.)

“Employers could impose hefty penalties on employees who decline to participate in genetic testing as part of workplace wellness programs if a bill approved by a U.S. House committee this week becomes law.

“In general, employers don’t have that power under existing federal laws, which protect genetic privacy and nondiscrimination. But a bill passed Wednesday by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce would allow employers to get around those obstacles if the information is collected as part of a workplace wellness program.”

Conspiracy theory? It would be hard not to see this as part of a vast conspiracy to undermine our fundamental rights and transfer all power to a vast corporate oligarchy. They are setting it up so that you can’t afford to leave a company because you can’t afford to buy health insurance on your own, while at the same time they can use your genetic testing to raise the amount you pay for company coverage. Eventually it will become like the company store where miners were paid in script that could only be redeemed at the company store, where products were over-priced and miners could quickly get in over their heads and “owe their souls to the company store.

This sudden onslaught of fresh efforts to transfer our last remaining liberties to the corporate monster is very much akin to the rise of the evil galactic empire in Star Wars. As the Dark Lord of the Rich, Darth Trump, consolidates his power with the help of his henchmen, we will soon find ourselves imprisoned in the mind-controlling corporate matrix or clawing for survival as ciphers in the barren wastelands.

So, how do we fight back? First, we contact our representatives and tell them to block this bill in any way possible, even if we have to make it a scorched earth policy. We should also look carefully for the corporations that donate to the GOP and start boycotting their products until they stop. And in the event that this bill passes, we should organize protests and boycotts against any companies that try to institute such testing.

There are some lines we can’t allow to be crossed!

Let the R.A.I.N. make the revolution grow!

The Divine Miss Bri

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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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