When People Put Party Over Country, It’s Time To End the Party

While it’s no secret that I have no love of the Republican party, especially since it was completely taken over by hard line conservatives, the party and its elected officials have, with a few exceptions, basically turned a blind eye to the string of of apparent lies, deceptions and potentially treasonous acts committed by the Trump administration. Many in the GOP just ignore the threats by saying there’s no proof and dragging out or sabotaging Congressional investigations. The truth is they don’t want to turn up proof of the Trump campaign’s collusion with the Russians, Trump’s attempts to derail the FBI’s investigation by firing Director Comey, and now his apparent leaking of top secret intelligence to the Russians.

Why? Because proving any of these allegations would completely delegitimize the election results and jeopardize their agenda to pay back their wealthy contributors by passing legislation to arrange one of the biggest transfers of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the wealthy with tax cuts for the rich funded by stripping away our healthcare, our environmental protections, our financial protections, our rights as workers and more. Literally, the GOP cares more about party power than they do about the country.

What we need is a fully independent special prosecutor to investigate all of the allegations. The old adages of “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” and “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck,” seem relevant enough with what we have seen happening to justify the investigation. When the truth is sorted out, we may very well find Donald Trump’s cooked goose. Trump protests his innocence while continuing to do things that sure make it seem like he has something to hide. These perceptions are crippling our standing in the world and creating serious questions about who even cares about the country.

Tomorrow, Trump is scheduled to speak at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy commencement in CT. And in many ways it will be an insult to those graduates, who are tasked with protecting our borders and enforcing the law, to be addressed by a man that wants to take money from the Coast Guard to build his wall and who has no respect for the law since he doesn’t believe it applies to him. But an even graver insult to these graduates is the failure of key Republicans, including Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, to call for a special prosecutor to investigate Trump’s ties to the Russians. The questions need to be answered and the issue needs to be settled by collecting evidence and testimonies that will prove or disprove the allegations.

We need the investigation to remove the cloud over this administration or remove this administration depending on the results. We need to again establish that no one, even the president is above the law. And, we need to prove that the rule of law is more important than party loyalty and power. Otherwise, America is doomed to become a Russian oligarchy and we can kiss out freedoms good-bye.

Call your Congressional representatives now and demand that they call for a special prosecutor to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and determine if they colluded to influence the election and if there are other illegal activities involved.

We deserve to know the truth! Demand it!

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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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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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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