Shooting of Scalise is Deplorable, But We Didn’t Start The Fire!

The shooting on Wednesday at the Congressional baseball practice in Virginia was a deplorable act that should be condemned by everyone. I hope that Representative Scalise and everyone else who was wounded will fully recover from this heinous act.

However, while initially calling for unity following the shooting, some Republicans have tried to place the blame for this act of violence, committed by a Bernie Sanders supporter, on the Democratic resistance to Trump and the GOP agenda. In an article on BusinessInsider.com, GOP Congressman Chris Collins of New York said Democratic political opposition to President Donald Trump had ‘”gone too far.”

“I can only hope that the Democrats do tone down the rhetoric,” Collins said. “The rhetoric has been outrageous: The finger-pointing, the tone, the angst and the anger directed at Donald Trump, his supporters, really then, some people react to things like that, people get angry as well, and you fuel the fires.” Collins also said he would carry a gun in public in the incident’s aftermath.

Well, Congressman Collins, to your arrogant and false accusation, I must simply reply, “BULLSHIT!” And, by invoking the title of a well-known Billy Joel song, We Didn’t Start the Fire! Apparently the shooting of a white fellow Republican and House colleague has affected your perception and your memory. Please allow me to respond with the thing Trump and the GOP hate most — the truth!

While America unfortunately has a long history of political violence as pointed out in a NewRepublic.com article, a story on Newsweek.com put the onus for our current situation right where it belongs — The new era of political thuggery dates to raucous Trump campaign rallies last summer, when the candidate urged supporters to “lock up” his opponent, Hillary Clinton, and promised to pay the legal fees of those who often scuffled with protesters and berated journalists.

The NewRepublic article further reinforced that view. Trump encouraged his supporters to “knock the crap” out of protesters, and even suggested he would pay the legal fees of followers who assaulted his critics.

An ongoing pattern of threats and violence is further documented in the Newsweek.com story. “America’s cold civil war is heating up, with countrywide reports of incidents of political violence. In addition to a congressman-elect “body-slamming” a reporter in Montana and regular clashes between protesters in the streets, two announced Democratic political candidates have now withdrawn their challenges to Republican incumbents, citing death threats.” [It should be noted the congressman-elect who body-slammed the reporter in Montana was Republican Greg Gianforte.]

In addition, Trump and the GOP have embraced many supporters who are are known for threatening violence against Democratic officials. According to a WashingtonPost.com story yesterday, Ted Nugent, who now says he will tone it down, threatened Barack Obama during his first run for the presidency by saying he should “suck my machine gun.” And when President Obama was running for reelection in 2012, the rocker said during the National Rifle Association convention that, “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” The statement attracted the attention of the Secret Service.

And the previously cited Newsweek article also notes that earlier this year, one of Trump’s favorite broadcasters, Alex Jones, threatened on air to “beat” Democratic Representative Adam Schiff and told the California congressman to “fill your hand”—a reference to taking up a pistol. An attorney with expertise in federal law told Newsweek at the time that the threats appeared to break a federal law, U.S. Code Title 18, Section 115, which makes it illegal to threaten to assault a U.S. official and provides a penalty of up to six years in prison. Jones was never charged.

And these are a just a few instances of the violent rhetoric and threats that have come from Trump supporters and those who align with the far right wing of the GOP. No, Representative Collins, trying to blame Democrats for the political violence is the ultimate in hypocrisy. The GOP and especially the tea-publicans have created this environment of extremist threats to energize your constituencies and get out the vote. And now you’re reaping the unpleasant benefits.

These extremist tactics and positions have left a wide swath of America feeling threatened with losing their health care, their social security and their rights through discriminatory policies in voting, employment and more, so you can give more tax breaks to the rich, let religious extremists walk all over the  rights of everyone else, and strip away environmental and financial regulations so corporations can grow rich by poisoning the environment and cheating consumers. So also know, Representative Collins, that while we condemn Wednesday’s shooting and other acts of violence, we will not go quietly into the night and let your party run roughshod over our rights. We will protest, we will rally, and we will march PEACEFULLY!

The Divine Miss Bri

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Hartford Unity & Pride Rally: It’s About Being Able To Be Who We Are

Yours truly, The Divine Miss Bri up close and personal at the Unity and Pride Rally in Hartford

On Sunday, June 11, a diverse group of people representing the LGBTQ community and our supporters gathered on the back steps of the state capitol building in Hartford to stand in solidarity with the main rally in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by Hartford Capital City Pride and CLARO (Connecticut Latinas/os Achieving Rights and Opportunities), this rally provided an opportunity to celebrate who we are and find the inspiration to keep up the fight until all of us everywhere have the right to be who we are.

Standing out there in 90 degree heat Sunday

My sign for the rally!

afternoon, we were both one and many. We recognized how fortunate we are to live in Connecticut, where the LGBTQ community enjoys rights and protections that are rare in other states. But we also know that we have to stay vigilant and engaged to assure that no one can take those rights away. We also have an obligation to fight for the rights of those outside of our state, because it’s vital that we all stand together.

Pastor Louis Mitchell, trans man and activist, speaking at the rally.

Sometimes we tend to lose sight of the fact that the rights we enjoy today did not come easy. They did not come without pain, without sacrifice. From the Stonewall Riots  that occurred 48 years ago this month through the horrors of AIDS to today, pioneers stood up and defied the efforts of so-called “normal” society to make us go away. Now it is up to those of us who have benefited from their sacrifices to move forward to continue the momentum.

I confess that this rally shook me out of my comfort zone

Connecticut Lt. Gov. Nancy S. Wyman speaking at the rally

and made me realize what we need to be fighting for. Unlike many members of the trans community, I have had it very easy. I am surrounded by mostly “straight” friends who accept me as me without reservation. It is a level of caring and acceptance that I wish others could experience. And, therein lies the crux of the message from today. It is up to those of us here and now to keep pushing the boundaries so that others can share what we have — love, acceptance and the freedom to be who we are.

Some of the crowd in attendance at the rally

Yes, we are different … and we’re damned proud of it! We’re all different races, genders, religions, sexual orientations. Hell, we’re a freakin’ rainbow of humanity! However, there is one thing we share with other groups, from women to seniors to the poor, and that’s the fight for equality of treatment, and equality of opportunity. Some fights are too big to stand alone when we can be stronger together.

I am still adjusting to the role of an activist, though I’ve really been pretty open

One of our emcees for the rally! Love that hat!

about being a trans woman, because I want people who’ve never met a trans person to understand that we’re not a threat — we don’t sprinkle stuff in their drinks to make them want to change genders, we don’t molest children (or anyone else) and we just want the right to be who we are.

It was inspiring to be a part of today’s rally which featured so many members of the LGBTQ community, including Pastor Louis Mitchell, a trans man I had met before on several occasions and Hartford Commission on LGBT Issues member Kamora Herrington, as well as our Lt. Governor and the Mayor of Hartford.

Another crowd shot from the rally.

For all my brothers and sisters in the community as well as those who support us, I wish you Peace, Love and Strength to carry on the fight in Unity and Pride!

The Divine Miss Bri

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Honor Those Who Made The Ultimate Sacrifice By Building A Better America … And A Better World!

Memorial Day. It’s a time for honoring those who paid for our freedoms with their lives. They deserve our respect for their sacrifice. But we owe them more than speeches, parades and flags on graves. We owe it to them to continue building on the promise of America to ensure that all Americans should enjoy their inalienable rights and that we should live in one nation with liberty and justice for all.

It is important to recognize the fact that many of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country paid a high price for freedoms they did not necessarily have. Consider African-Americans who served and died in the military when they faced blatant discrimination in housing, education, employment and protection under the law at home and in the military. Or the Native Americans who were treated just as badly. Or Japanese-Americans in World War II who died in Europe while others were imprisoned in internment camps in California. Or Muslims, who are vilified for their religion. Or women, who were treated like second class citizens. LGBTQ service members who had to hide their true nature lest they be killed by Americans. Or …

The fact is that they all answered the call and gave their lives that someday all Americans would  be treated fairly, equally and justly. It is a sacrifice that deserves more than lip service. It demands action. It demands that we not take our rights and responsibilities lightly. It demands that we work together to make America and the world a better place so that one day maybe no one will have to die for their country.

So what can we do? Vote! Not voting, because you don’t like the candidates or you’re too busy or some other lame excuse, is the same as spitting on the graves of those who died to preserve that right. When you don’t vote, you end up with Tea Party nut jobs in Congress and state legislatures as well as a treasonous crook in the White House!

Get involved in a local political party or a group that shares your beliefs. All politics begin at the local level. Go to council meetings, school board meetings and other forums. Make your views known. Activists make things happen.

Call, write and email your local, state and national elected representatives! Express your opinions. It can make a difference.

Protest to support groups and causes you believe in and to express your opposition to groups and policies you find objectionable.

Stand up for your beliefs and the rights of others. When we can do that, we will make this the kind of country our service members died for.

Honor their sacrifice by continuing to fight for a better America for everyone!

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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Put A Little Love In Your Heart This Easter

New beginnings. Re-birth. Spring. Hope. And, most importantly, love. Today, we celebrate another Easter. In the Christian faith, it is the promise of eternal life as Jesus rose from the dead. But what is the real message that we take away from this holiday?

While I have preached in a church before, this is not a sermon. It is simply an opportunity to share a wish for today. As we celebrate the Resurrection, there is a simple message in this act — love. God loved the world so he sacrificed his only son for us. Jesus loved us so much that he died for our sins so we could have a chance at salvation.

Jesus did not lead a massive army of holy warriors to strike down sinners. Jesus did not set himself apart from those others deemed unworthy and chastise them for being poor. Jesus told us to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” But why did he say that is the second most important commandment after “love thy God with all thy heart?” I believe that it is the crucial test of our beliefs and one too many self-proclaimed Christians fail. That’s because it is much easier to hate someone than it is to love them as they are. Very similar to the differences between the light and dark sides of the Force in Star Wars, if you prefer a more contemporary analogy.

In truth, this message transcends denominations, regions, nationalities, races, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, social status, financial means and political affiliations. Hate is easy … and dangerous. Love is hard, but brings with it hope and peace.

So today, I’ll leave you with a wish embodied in this song from my teenage years by Jackie DeShannon, Put A Little Love In Your Heart.

Happy Easter!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

 

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Transgender Day of Visibility: This Is Everyone’s Fight

March 31, 2017 is the International Transgender Day of Visibility!

This is a day when those of us who are transgendered (and those who support us) stand up to be counted and let those who can’t come out for fear of rejection and violence know that we support them. But more than that, we stand for the rights of all who live under threat because of who they are. Trans rights are about everyone’s rights and equality for all!

We are engaged in a fight for survival, folks, against the forces of darkness who masquerade as Christians while doing the work of the devil. They perpetuate a false narrative, born of ignorance, that being transgendered is an affront to their religion and that our very existence infringes on their religious freedom. Smugly secure in that ignorance, they paint us as sexual molesters and pedophiles when, in fact, they are far more likely to be one of these perverts than we are.

In a further example of hypocrisy, they accuse us of being the oppressors in wanting to force our views on them. Bulls–t!!! No one is forcing them to transition. No one is forcing them to deny their faith. Yet, they seem to think that’s it’s fine to make us live in accordance with their beliefs or be marginalized. AND THAT’S JUST WRONG!!! But they have amassed considerable right-wing support, which could lead to the passage of the misnamed First Amendment Defense Act that would codify into law anti-LGBTQ discrimination based on religious objections.

Passage of the First Amendment Defense Act would just be the first step in the far right’s campaign to marginalize religious and ethnic minorities. The more power they gain, the more they want. It won’t just stop with attacking the LGBTQ community, so our fight is everyone’s fight.

Our constitution starts with term “We the people …” and makes no distinction as to excluding any particular types or groups of people. The same applies to the Pledge of Allegiance term ” …with liberty and justice for all.” There’s no disclaimer attached excluding any particular groups. Of course, in practice, that has not always been the case, but we continue to make strides in realizing the truth of these terms. That’s progress. And we need to stand firm against any and every attempt to roll back the rights that been gained.

Jesus told us to “love thy neighbor.” He also told us to “render unto Caesar (i.e., the government) that which is Caesar’s.” That means, if the law says that you can’t discriminate against someone else because of religion (theirs or yours), gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc., then you don’t have a religious ground to stand on in refusing to comply. No one is requiring you to change your gender identity, sexual orientation or anything else. You’re just expected to publicly respect the rights of others. It’s a simple, universal concept.

Join our fight now, because if we don’t stand together, we’ll all fall one by one!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

 

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A Scorched Earth Defense: Stop Gorsuch At All Costs

With all the distractions involving the Trump-Russia investigation, the AHCA debacle, and the headlong rush to destroy our environment, Trump and the GOP have been hoping to wear the opposition out and assure that Neil Gorsuch is confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. THAT SIMPLY MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN!!!

Confirming Neil Gorsuch would be a unmitigated disaster for everyone who believes in equal rights for all and that corporations should not hold ultimate authority over our lives. He is cut from the same mold as the five justices who produced the Citizens United decision, one of the most egregious crimes ever committed against the American people. It opened up a flood of dark money campaign contributions and allowed the far right to literally buy their way into power.

This allowed extreme conservatives like the Koch Brothers to pour billions into electing tea party Republicans, while corporations poured money into financing obstructionists like Mitch McConnell. It’s a sad truth that if you tell a lie often enough to enough people, they’ll believe it. Consequently, we have Republicans in Congress who are some of the absolute dumbest creatures on the planet. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them switched to wearing loafers because they couldn’t figure out how to tie their shoes.

What’s even worse than their ignorance is their arrogance. They only believe in keeping their party in power, regardless of whether that involves trying to cheat the neediest

Crocodile by water edge with open mouth, Australia.

Americans with the AHCA or trying to sabotage an investigation into possible treasonous activities involving the Trump campaign. They are also some of the most racist, misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic bigots imaginable.

They fear progress as a threat to their place in the world. They want to take us back to a time when white, so-called Christian, presumably heterosexual males ran everything and nobody questioned the husband, the boss or the preacher. That, however, is a world that doesn’t exist anymore, if it ever really did in the first place.

Progress comes eventually. You can embrace it and learn to mange it or you can fight it and be destroyed by it. Gorsuch would insure that the Supreme Court helps the right roll back the progress we’ve made to date and prevent any gains. His litany of non-answers to questions from the Senate Judicial Committee, the worrisome nature of many of his lower court decisions and his political leanings leave little doubt that he should not wear the robes of a Supreme Court justice.

In addition, this Supreme Court seat was stolen by the Republicans who refused to even grant a hearing to consider President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. That was a total disregard for tradition and a dereliction of their duty under the Constitution.

This is where Democrats in the Senate must use every tool and weapon at their disposal to block confirmation of Gorsuch! They need to dig up every scrap of potentially damaging informationabout Gorsuch and publicly rake him over the coals. And, if it takes a filibuster, then they MUST filibuster! We are talking about a scorched earth defense with no surrender and no retreat.

What if McConnell and the Republicans invoke the nuclear option? Democrats need to make sure that the Republicans get burned by the fallout. We need to bring government to a screeching halt! At the same time, we need to raise more money, make more phone calls, post more blog entries, participate in more marches until we get enough progressive candidates elected to return control of our government back to all the people!

This is war! Join the fight!

The Divine Miss Bri

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Exercising Our Rights: This Is What Democracy Looks Like

“Use it or lose it!”

We use that line to talk about a number of things, but it is most appropriate when referring to our rights in a democracy. While it’s most frequently applied to voting, which is critically important, it also applies to demonstrations, marches, holding your elected representatives accountable and other forms of active, participatory democracy.

Although I grew up in the era of the Civil Rights protests and the Vietnam War protests, I was mostly too young to participate, plus I lived in a conservative area where protests of any kind were pretty much non-existent. However, at the still young age of 62 (survival tip: it’s safer to agree with me here than to argue), I was inspired by the Women’s Marches right after the inauguration. Since then, as regular readers of this blog know, I have joined the ranks of activists locally to take action in trying to defend the rights of all against the imminent threats from Trump and the far right since the election.

Today, I took another step by participating in my first protest march, an Equality March in Hartford, CT. It may not have been a huge affair compared to the Women’s Marches, but it was important for those of us who took part. Among the salient points that I took from today’s event:

First, we were a very diverse group of people supporting equality and rights over a broad spectrum of groups: Trans Rights, LGBTQ Rights, Civil Rights, Animal Rights, Workers’ Rights, Immigrant Rights and more. Within this diversity, there was a definite sense of camaraderie and fellowship because we recognize that we are all in this together. There can be no equality until we  achieve equality for all! So, we marched and chanted together for each other.

Second, we were all on the same page about making it a peaceful march. We can all be passionate without being violent about it. And there was no reason for even a cross word. Several people waved and gave us a Thumbs Up in support. We also had a police escort to help us get across intersections as a group, so we weren’t worried about anyone bothering us.

Third, the Hartford P.D. officers were very nice and respectful of us and we were respectful of them. Every situation is different, but mutual respect goes a long way in  minimizing “incidents.”  Can’t always guarantee it on either side, but it helps to try at every opportunity.

Fourth, while rarely will a single action / march / protest result in change by itself, the effects are cumulative so we need to keep it up. The only way to get the other side to understand that we are serious is to outlast them. This is not a sprint, but rather a marathon. And the race has just begun. However, we all have to pace ourselves. When we were talking amongst ourselves before the march started, we all realized there are so many events going on that it’s hard to keep track of them all. That’s good, because there’s always something going on that you can be a part of somewhere. We all need to do what we can, while still taking care of things like work, family and life.

For those of you in CT:

Saturday April 1, from 2:30 – 4 PM, the CT Rally to Support Trans Youth will take place on the steps of the CT Supreme Court building (231 Capitol Ave. Hartford) For more details, visit www.GLSEN.org .

Tuesday April 4th there will be a Teach-In: The Immorality of Inequality starting at 6 PM at the Shiloh Baptist Church (350 Albany Ave., Hartford). For more details visit www.FightFor15.org

There’s so much still to be done, so the keep the faith and stay active, my friends.

And remember to chant: We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!

Victory will be ours!!!

Equality Through Peace and Unity

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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A Case of Malpractice: Republican American Health Care Act Will Cause Needless Pain And Suffering

After the Republicans announced their proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act, it took me awhile to calm down, from a state of absolute burning rage at the arrogance of the GOP approach to a cold, controlled fury at their indifference toward the majority of Americans. And I am not alone in my opinion.

Not Good For Young or Old: AARP Opposes Republican Plan

Yesterday, according to an article on CNN.com, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) came out against the Republican American Health Care Act in a letter that said, “This bill would weaken Medicare’s fiscal sustainability, dramatically increase health care costs for Americans aged 50-64 and put at risk the health care of millions of children and adults with disabilities, and poor seniors who depend on the Medicaid program for long-term services and supports and other benefits.” (Read the full article here.)

The AARP stressed that the tax breaks for higher income workers would lead to the insolvency of Medicare, and that “the changes in age rating as well as reductions to subsidies would ‘dramatically increase health care costs for 50-64 year olds’ who purchase insurance through government exchanges.” (Read the full article here.)

AMA Diagnosis: American Health Care Act Will Make Things Worse For Millions

Today, The Hill.com reports that the American Medical Association (AMA) has joined with the American Hospital Association in opposing the Republican American Health Care Act. Dr. Andrew Gurman, president of the AMA, was quoted as saying,  “As drafted, the AHCA would result in millions of Americans losing coverage and benefits. (Read full story here.)

“By replacing income-based premium subsidies with age-based tax credits, the AHCA will also make coverage more expensive — if not out of reach — for poor and sick Americans. For these reasons, the AMA cannot support the AHCA as it is currently written.” (Read full story here.)

In addition, the AMA is opposed to defunding Planned Parenthood.

CDC Cuts: A Danger Of Epidemic Proportions

One of the potentially disastrous provisions of the proposed Republican American Health Care Act that has not gotten nearly enough attention is the elimination of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which is used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) according to a report on MSN.com.

Set up under the original Affordable Care Act, the fund’s goal was to “lower health costs by preventing diseases before they happen. The CDC uses it to help states deliver vaccines, watch for infectious diseases, keep an eye out for lead in water, promote breastfeeding in hospitals, prevent suicide and watch out for hospital-associated infections. It totals $931 million for 2017.”  (Read full story here.)

This is in addition to further budget cuts expected in Trump’s 2018 budget proposal and that worries health officials at all levels because the results could be fatal. That’s because the funds are used to help prevent major killers like cancer and diabetes as well as prepare for bioterrorism and deadly infectious diseases like Ebola. Without them, we really could be facing multiple crises of epidemic proportions. (Read full story here.)

Blood Pressure Alert: Tax Breaks That Will Make You Sick

True to their irresponsible passion for giving tax cuts to the wealthy, Republicans have put health coverage for almost everyone at risk in order to give tax cuts to those who don’t need them. In addition to eliminating taxes on higher income Americans that helped pay for the Affordable Care Act and stressing Heath Savings Accounts (which you have to have enough money to pay into in the first place), The Republican plan will give a $400 million tax break for insurance executives.

According to a report on MSN.com, “The proposed tax break, buried in cryptic language in the Republican plan, would allow health insurers to more fully deduct the value of their executives’ compensation on their taxes. That compensation can be as high as tens of millions of dollars, in the case of CEOs of insurers. (Read full story here.)

“Those deductions currently are sharply limited by the Affordable Care Act, which caps at a maximum of $500,000 the amount of an individual executive’s compensation that an insurer could deduct as a business expense. The cap applies to any executive, not just to CEOs.” (Read full story here.)

By the expanding this cap, Republicans again look after the wealthy and leave the rest of us to suffer.

A Radical Treatment: Time To Rethink The Entire Approach

One of the big issues that needs to be addressed before we can seriously and effectively deal with health care in America is how do we approach it — is it a right or a choice? In all honesty, I find it very difficult to look at as a choice, as if we should just choose between seeing a doctor or buying food, having needed surgery or paying rent, or paying for health insurance or paying for electricity. That would be absurd.

In a country as rich as America, we need to stop thinking about health care as a nicety and treat it as a right we all deserve! We need to forget treating it as a free enterprise competition, because it’s not something we can defer if the price isn’t right or we don’t time to shop around for the lowest ER costs when a loved has had a heart attack or been injured in a car wreck.

There’s also the issue of people who choose not to buy insurance or can’t afford. If and when they get sick, there’s a good chance they’ll get treated in clinic or hospital, but can’t afford to pay the bill. Guess who pays, then? We all do through higher insurance costs, higher hospital fees, higher taxes, etc. So, everyone needs to covered, like it or not!

Plus, what happens when somebody gets infected with a potentially deadly and contagious disease. If they avoid treatment because they can’t afford it, the disease could spread a lot faster and further with catastrophic results!!!  Everyone needs immediate access to health care regardless of income, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity (unless you want another AIDS epidemic)!

Now, while I’m at it, I will be the first to admit that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is far from perfect. It’s still expensive and the cutoffs for Advanced Premium Tax Credits need to be higher because of the high cost of insurance. (Republicans didn’t help by eliminating payments to insurers that were supposed to hold down premiums.) Co-pays and deductibles are also excessively high. (I have ACA coverage so I know this for a fact.)

WE NEED UNIVERSAL, SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH CARE!!!!!!

There really is no alternative if we want to do right by everyone. And, seriously, I’m not alone. More and more people just like you and me are shifting their views  in favor of Universal Health Care. According to Pew Research (pew research.org), “60% of Americans say the government should be responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans, compared with 38% who say this should not be the government’s responsibility. The share saying it is the government’s responsibility has increased from 51% last year and now stands at its highest point in nearly a decade.” (Read for report here.

That constitutes a majority in my book! And it covers a diverse spectrum of ages, incomes, political affiliations, etc. And, in an open letter to Congressional leaders, the AMA said, “The AMA has long advocated for health insurance coverage for all Americans, as well as pluralism, freedom of choice, freedom of practice, and universal access for patients.” (Read full letter here.)

Naturally, there are a lot of details to be worked out, but it can be done. You can’t tell me that a country that leads the world in so many accomplishments can’t figure out how to set up a workable single-payer Universal Health Care system that works for everyone!

Call and write your representatives at every level to demand that they push for single-payer Universal Health Care! It’s not about politics or wealth or business! It’s about people … all people!

Let’s do this today!

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the divisions and help us grow healthier together!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

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