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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An Uncivil War: Reclaiming Our Rights From The Red Menace

During my early years in the 1950’s and 60’s, the Red Menace was communism, a totalitarian form of government, primarily promoted by the Soviet Union and Red China, that allowed no dissent and placed ultimate power in the hands of corrupt men of low morals and and non-existent ethics. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall, we thought, with the exception of Red China (and the hemorrhoid known as North Korea), the Red Menace was pretty much defeated. Little did we know that it had just moved to America and found rebirth in the Republican party.

I am quite sure that Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, two of our most important presidents, would be appalled at what their Republican party has become — a tool of the wealthy and corporations dedicated to trampling out individual rights and maintaining dictatorial power. It is beyond shameful. It is treasonous and un-American.

Sour grapes? Partisanship, you say? Not anymore. With today’s vote in the Senate by the GOP to change Senate rules, the last protection against the blatant misuse of power by the Republicans has been eliminated. However, the so-called nuclear  option has one thing in common with real nukes — you can’t escape the fallout.

Perhaps the most telling commentary on today’s situation is a Facebook post by a dear friend that I found both tragic and very much on point. My friend Heather posted, “What is the point of pretending we live in a democracy?” When I saw that today, it ripped my heart out and fueled a burning rage inside. How dare the right wing destroy everything we’d been taught to believe in!

Now, lest you think that I am just mad ’cause we lost in 2016, I should point out a couple of very disturbing things. Key among them are irregularities in the election process, such as Russian hacking and dissemination of Democratic party emails with the intent of influencing voters to elect Donald Trump, and a sophisticated, but illegal gerrymandering process initiated by the GOP designed to establish and perpetuate minority rule in this country. How, un-American can you get?!

Earlier this week at my local Drinking Liberally meeting in Windsor, CT, I got to hear author David Daley discuss the Republican Party’s audacious and un-democratic moves that he articulates in his book “Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy” (Liveright). It is both compelling and freakin’ scary. As Daley emphasized every so often in his presentation, “You may want to order another drink!”

Simply from his synopsis, I would highly recommend buying and reading his book. At the same time, I would also hide any firearms because you might be tempted to pick them up and start a war all on your own. But don’t, yet. We still have options and we can always hope Mitch McConnell dies a horrible, painful death. No, I’m not advocating that anyone attack him, but I sure as hell won’t refrain from celebrating anything bad that happens to him.

Sorry, I digressed, but I feel much better. Anyway, Daley’s book describes how the GOP used lots of outside, dark money (thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision) to gain control of select state legislatures in order to gerrymander redistricting to create perpetual Republican districts. As a result, while total votes favor Democrats, districts are set up to guarantee a Republican victory. It essentially dilutes and even negates non-Republican votes on a scale that reeks of dictatorship.

An article on Daley’s book in The New Yorker highlights this even better with a quote from “Turd Blossom” as he was called by George W. Bush.

“People call us a vast right-wing conspiracy,” Karl Rove told potential donors to the project at an early fund-raiser in Dallas. “But we’re really a half-assed right-wing conspiracy. Now it’s time to get serious.”

Using this “conspiracy,” Mitch McConnell and the whole Red Menace of GOP stalwarts stole the Supreme Court position they just elevated Neil Gorsuch to fill. Here’s hoping he has a fatal accident on the way to take his post. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving right-wing hack!

So what do we do? First, buy all the assault weapons and ammo you can. Then bury them somewhere safe. (I am not advocating violence, but if they think we’re as well armed as their right wing militias, they’ll think twice about starting anything.) Next, stand united with your fellow protestors. This is a communal effort.We are in this together! (Never forget that!) Then, rally to hold the governorships because they can veto any further GOP gerrymandering!!!! Plus, hang on to all state and local seats!!! We have to stop the GOP locally!! Then, we can move up the chain. It’s like the FBI taking out the Mob underlings to get at the bosses!

Our democracy may be on life support at the moment, but it’s not dead! And it’s up to true “blue” patriots to bring it back from the brink! It’s about activism, being united and never surrendering!

DEFEAT THE REPUBLICAN RED MENACE!!!!!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

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Standing Together: The CT Rally To Support Trans Youth

We won’t go back! Step by step, we’re moving forward!

For the second very chilly Saturday in a row, I’ve been proud to be able to publicly march and stand with others who share the same ideals. As a transwoman, today’s event was especially personal as I joined a surprisingly large number of people, considering the weather, on the steps of the Connecticut Supreme Court for the CT Rally to Support Trans Youth. It was also great to see some familiar faces from the trans community as well as friends and fellow activists. The sun even poked out for awhile as if to show its support!

Growing up is hard enough as it is, but when you’re a trans youth it becomes all that much harder even if you have support. Unfortunately, too many trans youth lack that support at home, school and the community. Here in Connecticut, the transgender community has far more rights and access to services than most states in this country. Even so, trans youth still face a lot of challenges.

As with many transgendered individuals, the toughest challenge is in accepting yourself. You know inside that there’s a disconnect between the physicality of what you appear to be and the internal truth of who and what you really are. Understanding and accepting who you were really meant to be is absolutely critical to being able to grow and become yourself. If you can find support, even a single person to listen, care and be there for you, you have a fighting chance.

(In my youth, there was no support to be found, so I hid my true self for many years and it almost ended up killing me on numerous occasions. Fortunately, I hung in there and found the support I needed late in life.)

However, beyond self-acceptance lies the minefield of societal acceptance. Here in New England, it’s much better than down South in the Bible Belt. In many places like that, especially, transpeople of all ages are at far higher risk of dying from suicide or being the victims of sexual violence and hate crimes. And that is not right!

Today, we came together to show our support for Trans Youth and draw attention to the need to respect and accept them for who they are and help them realize their potential to achieve whatever they set their minds to doing. That’s how a society progresses, thrives and makes the world a better place for all of us.

I was very proud of the transgender youth who spoke at today’s rally and showed themselves to be filled with heart, pride and courage. They are the future that we all need to embrace and support.

What can you do to help? In CT, contact any of the groups below for more information. Outside of CT, look for local chapters since many of these organizations are national.

ACLU-CT
CT TransAdvocacy Coalition
GLSEN Connecticut
New Haven Pride Center
OutCT
PFLAG Hartford
PFLAG Hampton
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
Triangle Community Center
True Colors, Inc.

Get involved today, because “Trans Rights Are Everyone’s Rights!!!”

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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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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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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The R.A.I.N. Catcher: Bad Mojo In N.O. For Transwomen … State AG’s Step Up To School Right Wingers On Trans Student Rights … Another False Claim As Trump Shows He Has Some Wires Loose … Roger Stone: Stone Cold Stupid

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

Well this past week right through this weekend has brought forth a stream of issues to be concerned about (and at least one that shows some politicians have a backbone), so let’s get started.

Bad Mojo: Two Transwomen of Color Murdered in New Orleans

Being transgender in America can be dangerous and transwomen of color are the most likely to be the victims of violence just because of who they are. (Read the Story Here.) While the N.O.P.D. hasn’t actually ruled that the two victims were murdered  because they were transwomen, it’s probably a safe bet that these were hate crimes. Unfortunately, conservatives like to paint the picture that we’re all deviants and undeserving of the right to exist. That creates the atmosphere for this kind of outrage! Report violence and threats of violence against anyone, because that’s not the America anyone should have to live in! Contact the ACLU and the HRC to see what you can do!

A Lesson In Human Rights: States Attorneys General Stand Up For Transgender Student Rights

This week, there was some good news as Attorneys General representing 19 states and the District of Columbia signed “onto a brief to the Supreme Court in support of a transgender teenager who wants to use the boys’ bathroom at his Virginia high school. (Read Story here.)

“The friend-of-the-court brief, filed with the court Thursday night, cites the ‘shared experience’ among the states that allowing transgender people to use bathrooms matching their gender identity creates no public safety, privacy or financial burdens.”

(Seriously, folks, this whole issue was made up by conservatives with no facts, no evidence and no reason except to stir up hate! Hate to tell you, but we’ve been using the same bathrooms as you for years with no problems!)

The Attorneys General took this step to protect the rights of transgender students in traveling to other states. And, that’s important, because we should all have the same rights throughout this country!!!  Nice to see politicians with backbones!!!

Looney Toons: Ding-A-Ling Donald Shows He Has Some Loose wires In Latest False Accusation

Sleep well, America, because the guy who has access to the nuclear launch codes has totally lost connection with reality. Now, of course, that is nothing new. We’ve heard him spout off about massive election fraud without any proof among other things. However, in his most recent unsubstantiated tweet, he accused President Obama of wiretapping his phones. He’s now at odds with his own Justice Department. (Read story here.) Seriously? He is suffering from paranoid delusions without a doubt. At the same time everyone is focused on his insane claims and the Russian connections, the GOP is sneaking bills through Congress that will dismantle just about every protection we have against a corporate police state. Time to join the resistance (See Web Sites Below)!

Stone Cold Jerk: Former Trump Advisor Roger Stone Tweets Proof He’s Just An Ass

Saw a story today about this right-wing mouthpiece’s disgustingly rude tweets to liberals who dare question his outlandish claims. I won’t repeat them here out of respect for my readers, but you can read the story here. While not usually one to advocate violence, I don’t think too many people would be that upset if his thumbs got accidentally broken and his mouth washed out with lye soap. Consequences? Hmmm, just saying …

Join The Fight: Check Out These Web Sites For Information And Tools To Take a Stand Today

https://www.aclu.org

http://www.hrc.org

http://resistancereport.com

https://www.indivisibleguide.com

https://www.resistancemanual.org/Resistance_Manual_Home

https://ourrevolution.com

Keep Up The Good Fight Because We Are At War!

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the hate and make America progressive again!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Divine Miss Bri

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