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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Vocal! Be Adamant! Be Strong!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

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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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100 Days of Trump: My How Time Drags When You’re Stuck With A Narcissistic Buffoon

So, you may infer from the headline that The Divine Miss Bri is not pulling any punches in this blog post! And you’re right! After 100 days, we can safely say that the Trump administration is possibly the worst administration to govern this country since King George III! And it’s not showing any signs of getting better. However, we can’t solely blame the crooked idiot in the White House. He’s had lots of help from a Republican majority Congress that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Money.

Now, let me say that it hasn’t been all bad during the first 100 days. That’s because Trump has a number of failures, which we should  celebrate as good for America, including —

1. Failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) with the American Health Care Act (Ryancare/Trumpcare), which would have resulted in millions of Americans losing their health care coverage.

2. Failure to get approval for financing his stupid border wall.

3. Failure to get an immigration ban that will pass judicial review.

For those failures, let us give thanks!!!!

Unfortunately, Trump still managed to screw over most of us in one way or another via executive order or Congressional bills, including —

1. Stealing a Supreme Court seat and filling it with a conservative political hack.

2. Filling the swamp with alligators and snakes, in the form of Wall Street insiders and big donor cabinet nominees, instead of draining it as he promised.

3. Gutting environmental and worker safety regulations under the pretext of stimulating jobs, but which is mainly aimed at increasing corporate profits at our expense.

4. Backtracking on LGBTQ protections enacted by the Obama administration either directly or through cabinet appointees.

5. Setting in motion the elimination of climate change protocols and public education.

6. Appointing a known racist as Attorney General.

7. Letting ISP’s sell our web search histories and other sensitive information, which sacrifices our privacy.

And, of course, we cannot forget how his actions and those of his staff have diminished the office he temporarily holds, including —

1. Appointing a known fascist to the National Security Council (Steve Banon, who has since been removed)

2. Appointing 2 of the dumbest or most inept spokespersons in “Duh?” Spicer and “Alternative facts” Conway.

3. “Crowd Envy” … worrying more about the size of his “inauguration crowd” than running the country.

4. Refusing to release his tax return as promised and leaving questions about what he is hiding.

5. Constantly whining about the media for holding him accountable.

6. Making idiotic tweets which embarrass him and our country.

7. Single-handedly running up the national debt by spending more time golfing in Mar-A-Lago than he spends in the Oval office.

Plus, and here’s the biggie, trying to hide his Russian connections, including how directly his campaign staff coordinated with the Russians to affect the outcome of the election!

And to think that I have not even addressed his absolute disregard for facts about history.

Keep your signs and keep up your protests! It’s going to be a long 1,361 remaining days until we can say “Good-bye and Good Riddance to 45”!!!!!!

Be Strong! Be Persistent! Be Resistant! We Will Prevail!

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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Lies, Damn Lies and Trump’s Address To Congress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Divine Miss Bri

 

 

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Trump’s 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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Uncomfortable Truths: How Trump And the Far Right Lied Their Way To Power

The politics of fear! It’s the economy, stupid! The big lie psychology!

As we marshal forces toward a strong progressive push in 2018 and beyond at all levels of government, it’s important to understand and correct the mistakes that allowed Trump and hard-line right-wing Republicans to seize power behind the same big lie psychology that Hitler and other dictators have used with such success.

One of the biggest short-comings on the progressive side was letting Trump and the right define the narrative surrounding the loss of industrial jobs in the heartland. While Hillary and the Democrats touted how well the economy was doing, it fell on unreceptive ears among predominantly white factory workers and miners who saw good paying jobs disappear. And while employment picked up to some extent in these areas, the jobs paid less and offered fewer benefits.

Preying on the anger and fear of this segment of the population, Trump and the GOP garnered support with a supposedly simple three-part explanation that seemed plausible. As quoted in an article in The Nation:

“First, that industry left this country because unions destroyed productivity and made labor costs too high, thereby making us uncompetitive. Second, corporations were the victims of over-regulation and a bloated government that overtaxed them to pay for socialist welfare systems. Third, illegal immigration has resulted in the stealing of American jobs, increased competition for white workers, and depressed wages. Together these three factors led to the collapse of manufacturing in America. This, sadly, is a story that many Americans believe.”

None of this is actually true, but with huge contributions from wealthy conservatives and the angry rantings of fringe radio hosts, like Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck, and fake news websites, like Breitbart, InfoWars, Daily Caller and WND, the big lies were told so often that even sensible people who should know better “drank the Kool-Aid®” and voted against their own best interests. Even worse, once they bought in, they became susceptible to conspiracy theories spouted by the administration that the legitimate news media is untrustworthy when they catch Trump and his advisors lying to the public about everything from crowd size to highly questionable contacts with the Russians. And it’s not so hard to understand — once people commit to a position, a party or a candidate, they tend to consider any news that’s contrary to what they believe as being biased. That again accounts for the rise of Fox News, although even they are having trouble with Trump’s outlandish media attacks, and the totally bizarre sites like InfoWars and Breitbart.

The truly scary part is that, like so many dictatorships in the past, the far right is using their unprecedented power at the moment to try and cement their control permanently with a multi-faceted approach. Take Trump’s outrageous contention that millions of illegal voters skewed the popular vote, which he lost. It’s totally unproven, although the far right sites are echoing it with imaginary evidence. However, Republicans will try to use this to further restrict voting rights until only reliable Republican voters will be allowed to vote, if they don’t cancel elections outright as a threat to security.

Of course, by casting the legitimate news media as pushing fake news, Trump and the right are trying to get people to believe only them so they can lie and their followers will accept the lies as gospel. And, the GOP in the Senate and House are doing a disservice to their constituents by doing the bidding of their masters by following in lockstep to approve Trump’s cabinet nominees who are grossly unqualified for these posts.

As if this isn’t disturbing enough, there is a shadowy organization pulling the strings behind the scenes for this power grab — the Council for National Policy. This secretive cabal of staunch conservatives and alt-right extremists advocates an unholy alliance of corporate and religious interests to place America under their own. supposedly Christian form of sharia law.

Fortunately, we still have time to change the narrative, but the window is narrow. First, while taking our usual stand for human rights, we need to remember the mantra of the original Clinton campaigns — “It’s the economy, stupid!” When people are worried about losing their homes and their futures, they are not particularly receptive to any messages that don’t address their economic situation. We have to grab the high ground by talking straight about their needs with messages that support lower taxes on them, but not the rich; investment in re-training and attracting new industries in depressed areas; a national single-payer healthcare plan that’s not employer dependent; employee cooperatives that buy and run existing plants; and affordable vocational education opportunities as a start.

While we won’t solve all the issues in one blog post or one election, it’s taking the message to the people that need to hear it and backing it up with actions. Force the GOP to either get on the bandwagon or be seen for the true liars that they are.

Together we can make a difference across the board!

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the lies and expose the true!

 

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