Monday, August 14, 2017

The Alt-Right's War Against Women; RIP Heather Heyer

Liberals, progressives, and Democrats do NOT have any war against Christmas, no matter what the Republicans and fundamentalists say.  

Image Found at Variety  
But the Alt-Right, the white supremacists who marched with torchlights to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend of August 11-13, are definitely engaging in a disgusting, disturbing War Against Women that is just as vile, just as repulsive, as the racism and antisemitism that these people espouse.

Are there more White Supremacists?  Or are they just crawling out of the woodwork now?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Here's Page 1 of the Crazy Memo Written by Former NSC Staffer Rich Higgins

The Crazy Memo Written on the Government's Dime

The article at Foreign Policy magazine about this crazy memo,  the crazy far right memo which was written by a National Security Council staffer named Rich Higgins (on your and my dime as American taxpayers), was published by Foreign Policy magazine on Thursday, August 10th.  It rolled down my Facebook newsfeed yesterday; that is, Friday morning. 

Though Foreign Policy magazine published the whole memo Thursday, I found the format they used difficult to follow.  So I copied the 7 page memo to my blog one page at a time starting here, and I added a few paragraph breaks for readability.

(I will be adding pages 2 through 7 during the week.  This has become more important after this weekend's Nazi march in Virginia.) 

I've also listed links to other information and articles about this whole insanity and some of the people involved.  Those links are found below the copy of Page 1.

Why is this important?  

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Add It Up and Weep, Trump and Republicans!

Enjoy your fun, Trumpsters!

Trump and his Republican allies are gloating about how well the Republicans did in the recent special elections.  They are busy trashing the Democrats and the Democratic candidates.

But here's the reality, which those who live in the alternate facts universe conveniently ignore:

The Democratic candidates in the four Congressional special elections this spring swung those 4 solid red districts an average of 18% in only five to seven months. Any Republican with an ounce of sense should be very concerned about 2018. Here's what happened:

  • Montana at large: The Republican Zimke won this seat by 15% in November. Gianforte (R) won this seat by only 6% last month. That's a 9% swing to the left.
  • Kansas 4th: The Republican Mike Pompeo won this seat by 32% in November. Estes (R) won this seat by only 7% in April 2017. That's a swing of 25% in 5 months.
  • South Carolina 5th: The Republican Mulvaney won this seat by 20% in November. Norman (R) won this seat by only 3% last night. That's a swing of 17%.
  • Georgia 6th: The Republican Price won this seat by 24% in November. Handel (R) won this seat by only 4% last night. That's a swing of 20%.

Lawyers, Guns, and Money: Apologies to Warren Zevon

The Shit has Hit the Fan!

Thanks to my friend Kathleen for the inspiration.  Just a few words changed here and there:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Don't Politicize Tragedy! (Yes or No?)

In "The Echo Chamber of Extremism" at the Daily Beast, John Avlon writes: 

We’ve been playing a dangerous game in America. The more the rhetoric is ratcheted up, the more we increase the risk of an unhinged soul being darkly inspired to take action.
Picture of a victim of the Alexandria, VA, baseball shooter. 

Farther down in the article, Avlon writes:
"In the wake of a mass shooting—take the 2015 attack on a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs that killed three people and injured nine, for example—we’ve often been told not to politicize the tragedy by conservative groups.
Nonetheless, there were predictable attempts to politicize this attack from conservatives like Newt Gingrich and from the alt-right crowd, casting the shooter as somehow representative of Bernie Sanders or Democrats in an attempt to muddy the record of hate-fueled rhetoric in the past and claim moral equivalence if not moral superiority. Guilt by association is the glue of politics in 2017."
It's not that I really disagree with Avlon--

This was a horrible tragedy and my heart is with Representative Steve Scalise and the others who were hurt in this attack.

BUT Republicans favor policies that keep people without health insurance, take away their health insurance, and, therefore, they are policies that result in many more people, millions of people, with no healthcare. How many people have died and will die due to Republican policies?

BUT Republicans are against laws that may help stem the flow of gun violence. How many people have died and will die due to that Republican opposition?

BUT, over the last 40 years, Republicans have tended to favor war and warlike foreign policies resulting in military incursions into many foreign countries. The Dems have also led military incursions, but how many people have died far away from home under the Repubs vs. under the Dems? The numbers are out there.

BUT Republicans do favor economic policies that result in working, middle, and poor classes having less, therefore, dying earlier than wealthier people. And how many wound up dead from stress, suicide, or drug/alcohol use during the Republican-led Great Recession?   

No, Both Parties Are NOT The Same!
So this is not really a "Both parties are at fault because of partisanship" kind of thing. The baseball shooter was a left-wing nut, apparently a long-time loon, but perhaps we should politicize some of the insanity going on these days (even if we try not to policitize the baseball shooter rampage). And, first, I blame much of this insanity on Trumpsters, the alt-right, the right wing blogosphere.. and I blame Republicans who won't stand up to this bunch second.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Republicans Now Body Slamming Reporters?

I'm sure by now everybody has heard the audio of Montana Republican Congressional candidate Greg Gianforte body-slamming Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs in Bozeman, Montana, a few hours ago.

The special election for Montana's Representative-at-large seat is tomorrow, Thursday, May 25.  Ben Jacobs wanted to ask Gianforte what he thought of the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) scoring of the Republican health care bill, also known as #TrumpDontCare.  Gianforte rewarded him for his professional persistence by grabbing "Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slam(ming) him into the ground behind him."

The Fox report continues:
Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, "I'm sick and tired of this!"

Thursday, May 18, 2017

My "Eulogy" for Roger Alies

My "eulogy" to Roger Ailes, who died this morning, May 18, 2017:

Roger Ailes from New York Magazine

"He created Fox News based on lies and hate. He was a filthy, disgusting pig of a man. He turned people, hurting people, people who have been harmed by the anti-union, anti-labor, anti-working class policies of Republicans INTO Republicans themselves!

These people who really needed politicians who would take their side were instead deceived into thinking that uber-rich Republicans, Ailes, Lee Atwater and all of their friends, were on THEIR side. These uber-rich Republicans used the pain, the ignorance, the racism of a large number of Americans, particularly blue-collar and displaced workers, for their own benefit. They made a mockery of our democratic institutions and they brought us (ultimately) Donald Trump.

Without Ailes and his Fox News, we might actually have universal health insurance, good public schools, a lower national debt, more income and wealth equality, and a generally better quality of life in this country.

I generally don't think we should speak ill of the dead, but I make an exception for the pig Ailes.

I spit on his grave, wherever it may be."

Sunday, May 7, 2017

It is NOT TrumpCare!

Don't Call the Monstrous Bill Passed by Republicans "TrumpCare"!

It is NOT "TrumpCare."

 That infers that Trump cares... and we know that he doesn't!
He only cares about lining his pockets.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The TrumpKillBill Passed the House

Republicans in the House just passed the TrumpKillBill:

Republican #shame .

Follow us on Facebook at Molly Middle's America


Whatever you want to call it, the TrumpNoCare Bill, the American No Health Bill, etc., it now moves on to the Senate.

Dry your tears, get strong, get tough, and move on!

Time to beat this piece of sh!t bill in the Senate and time to start working against those Republicans, especially those Republicans in moderate or purple districts, who supported this mess. (I can't wait to see how the Congressional Budget Office scores this thing.)

Time to take back the House in 2018!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Comey Was "Mildly Nauseous"? That's it??

James Comey, the head of the FBI, was questioned today by California Senator Dianne Feinstein at a  Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing. 

The topic was his decision to tell the world that new emails might have been found on former Representative Anthony Weiner's laptop computer...  just ten days before the crucial 2016 Presidential election.  

As the New York Times describes it:
(Comey)  sharply defended his rationale for notifying Congress about new emails related to the Hillary Clinton investigation less than two weeks before Election Day, saying Wednesday that any suggestion he affected the vote’s outcome made him “mildly nauseous.”

"Mildly" nauseous?  Just "mildly"?  Is this a joke? 

The image isn't very pretty, but then what is happening to our country under Trump and the Republicans is not very pretty either.

More articles on Comey's testimony today:

This last one is interesting.  Do people really not know what "nauseous" means?   Does the image of Comey with his head over a toilet for the next four years clear things up, people?

CNN's Collinson Doesn't Get It: Hillary Was Not "Vanquished!"

"Clinton, Trump can't stop airing their 2016 grievances"

The above-headlined article by CNN's Stephen Collinson was published yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, May 2nd.

That headline was annoying enough.

But it's the kind of article in which you can pick apart ALMOST every last line.  I'm not going to pick apart EVERY last line, but MANY of Collinson's lines invite retort, and that is what he is going to get.

The Victorious and the Vanquished?

Collinson started:
America has two ex-candidates, the victorious Donald Trump and the vanquished Hillary Clinton who just can't let it lie.

I felt my blood pressure rise.  Come on, Collinson, "vanquished"?  She beat Trump by three million votes, for heaven's sake!  She lost the anachronistic and gerrymandered Electoral College!
(Let's remember that the Electoral College is automatically gerrymandered.  Each Electoral College vote in California represented 260,000 Presidential voters in 2016.  Meanwhile, in Wyoming, each Electoral College vote represented a mere 85,000 Presidential voters in 2016.  That means that, if you live in Wyoming, you have three times the clout of the average California voter.  Doesn't seem that fair to me.)

"Bitter":  Wow, what a loaded, sexist word.

Collinson talks about Clinton's "bitterness".  Women are often depicted as "bitter" when they are (rightfully) really angry!  "Bitter" is not an adjective used as commonly to describe men's anger as it is used to describe women's anger.  And older women are more often described as "bitter" than younger women.  Hillary Clinton SHOULD be angry!  Isn't Collinson angry looking at what Trump is doing to this country?  If not, he should be, even if that makes him "bitter".

The Russians!  The Comey letter!

A phrase:  Collingon talks about Clinton "pointing to Russia and FBI Chief James Comey as the key drivers of her loss."  Well, YES!  While many people out there are still dissecting the election, many are completely overlooking the point that Clinton would have WON the Electoral College as well as the popular vote had the election been held two or three weeks earlier.  Clinton knows this.  

Did Collinson ever think that Hillary might just be as concerned as the rest of us about what is happening under Trump's Presidency?  That it is scary, repulsive, disturbing, and that Trump's ignorance is just plain dangerous.. not just to "bitter" Clinton but to any of us who have an ounce of sense?  Perhaps Collinson is one of those without that "ounce of sense"?

Is she "bitter" or just plain angry and scared about the future of this country that she loves.. that she obviously loves more than Trump does?  Collinson, have you spent any of the last 102 days looking at what is going on in this country?  The kinds of people that Trump has appointed; the kinds of policies that he has pushed?  Thank heavens that he is not getting his way in most court cases and with the Congress.  He is an ignorant, despicable fool who has no business in the White House.  Clinton bitter?  She knows how incompetent Trump is, just as the rest of us should, including you, Stephen Collinson. 

Deep in his Soul...

Collinson continues:
Trump, for his part, rarely lets more than a few days go by without boasting about his outsider win.  
Perhaps because Trump actually DOES realize that he didn't win the popular vote.. and it bothers the hell out of him.  

Come on, Collinson:
The President is extraordinarily touchy about the merest suggestion that his victory is not totally authentic.   
Perhaps Trump KNOWS that his victory is not authentic and we should know that as well.. even you, Collinson.  What's going to happen when the connections to the Russians actually start to come out, when we find a few smoking guns?  You don't think that Trump fears that?  

We're Not Clinton Fanbots

Collinson writes:  
Clinton has now given her supporters, many of whom believe she was cheated out of breaking the highest, hardest glass ceiling in politics, even more reasons to view Trump as illegitimate.
Clinton voters are not stupid.  The more educated the voter, the more likely the person voted for Clinton.  We're not little fanbots; we don't need Clinton to tell us what is glaringly obvious:  Trump IS illegitimate  and she WAS cheated and it is going to become more obvious as time goes by.
And the President is unlikely to take a pass at Clinton's unflattering description of his performance, including her renewal of her claim that he was unprepared for office.

Clinton's unflattering description?  We don't need Hillary Clinton to tell us that Trump was unprepared for office; that should be clear to anyone who breathes these days.

Clinton is right.

Then Collinson quotes Clinton in yesterday's interview with CNN's 
Christiane Amanpour:
I was on the way to winning until a combination of (FBI Director) Jim Comey's letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me and got scared off. 

The evidence for that intervening event is, I think, compelling, persuasive, and so we overcame a lot in the campaign...
Clinton also added that believed misogyny played a role in her defeat.

OKay, Collinson, what's wrong with that?  She's exactly right.  And I've been saying that for months now; I didn't need Clinton to tell me that, in fact, I'm glad it is becoming apparent to Clinton and a big chunk of the 65 million Americans who voted for her.

Is Clinton "goading" Trump? 

In fact, she seemed positively to be goading the President:
"If he wants to tweet about me, then I am happy to be the diversion because we have a lot of things to worry about," Clinton told Amanpour.
He should worry less about the election and my winning the popular vote than doing some other things that would be important for the country.

What else can I say to this but "Good for her!"  Go Hillary! She's completely right.  Hillary, refuse to let yourself be pigeonholed as "bitter" or a "sore loser".  

A feud with Clinton could help Trump?
Collinson continues:

A knock-down, drag-out feud with Clinton -- a political figure as polarizing as himself -- could cheer his base and rally Republicans who are still cool to him who also deplore the former secretary of state.

Deplore the former Secretary of State?  The most popular woman in the world for years?  The woman who led all of the polls for President in 2015.. before the Russians, the uber-lefties started to pile on along with the misogynists and the alt-right?  If people "deplore" her, it is in part due to the decades of propaganda and brainwashing that have been thrown against her... and then the Russians and the uber-lefties piling on.  Collinson's been writing about the White House and American politics for a few years now; he should know that.  
But blaming Comey for the loss appears to absolve Clinton of her campaign's failure to effectively counter Trump's electorally appealing message in industrialized Midwestern states that went red instead of their usual blue.
Stop with the crap about the "industrialized Midwest"

Collinson, this is bullshit, and I personally am tired of it.  She would have won if the election had been held 2-3 weeks earlier, "industrialized Midwest" or not.  She was leading in all of those states 2-3-4 weeks earlier.  The crap that she lost due to these poor, disaffected old white men is just that... crap.  Why were these people going to vote for her 2-3 weeks earlier?  She lost 3-4% in polling in the last three weeks before the election.  

If you want to talk about "character and honesty", Collinson, let's talk about Trump... 
But on the other hand, Comey's comments were related to the investigation into the private email server that Clinton set up as secretary of state, in apparent infringement of government guidelines. It was that issue and her handling of it throughout the campaign that helped revive questions about the character and honesty of the Clintons that had remained largely dormant since former President Bill Clinton left office in 2001.
Gimme a break, Collinson.  Comey talked about the private email server and never bothered to mention the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling on behalf of the Trump people.  

And "character and honesty":  What about the character and honesty of Trump?  Did you bother to look at Politifact and their Truth-o-meter, Collinson?  Hillary may have made "mistakes", but Trump was the least honest candidate in modern history.  68% of his statements have been rated as mostly false, false, or Pant-a-fire.  And, as the weeks go on, we also have seen that he is the least prepared, least knowledgeable, most corrupt President to take the oath of office.

And let's remember that a majority of the American people knew it.  They did
NOT vote for him.  He did NOT win the popular vote, and that is still important as he tries to get some kind of "agenda" enacted.

Impressing her critics?
Her performance did not impress some critics:  
So Collinson quotes that conservative chick S.E. Cupp. Well, duh, no, her performance will NOT impress conservatives, but then nothing any "liberal" or "Democrat" will do will impress conservatives.

About 2020?
"Yet its familiar faces -- Barack Obama, Sanders and now Clinton -- who appear to be attracting the most attention so far -- underlining its weak bench of up-and-comers ready for the big time."
Weak bench?  Was Bill Clinton on that "weak bench" in 1989?  Was Barack Obama on the "weak bench" in 2005?  And look at who the "weak bench" is up against:  Trump, the most idiotic, the most unpopular President in a long, long time.  So let's just wait and see.  

And Collinson, maybe it is time for you to pack your bags and go back to Britain.  

Saturday, April 29, 2017

100 Days of Trump

Thoughts on 100 Days of Trump... Inspired by a friend:

More thoughts on 100 days of Trump HERE.

Trump's First 100 Days--

Yes, this is Trump's Day 100, and we aren't in a war yet and the economy hasn't collapsed.  But don't bet your last dollar on what might happen in the next 100 days.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Democratic Senators Need to Filibuster and Vote NO on Gorsuch! (Updated Sunday, April 2)

It's one week before the Senate votes for or against a new life long Supreme Court Justice.  Do you know where your Senator is?    (Updated Sunday, April 2nd) 

Neil Gorsuch is too conservative, too right-wing to be confirmed to a lifelong appointment to the Supreme Court.

Even though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republicans have threatened to change the rules and require only a majority to confirm Gorsuch (the so-called "nuclear" option) if the Democrats filibuster Gorsuch, the Democrats must stick to the filibuster and not let themselves be subject to Republican extortion.  (This article is not about why I believe that Gorsuch is not the right man for the Supreme Court; it is about the logistics needed to keep him from attaining that seat as a
lifelong associate justice.)

Action items are listed at the bottom of this article.

Sixty votes in the Senate are needed to break the filibuster.

As of Sunday afternoon, the Democrats need 5 more Senators to commit to the filibuster. 

The Republicans have a firm 52 votes for Gorsuch: therefore, they need 8 of the 48 Democratic/Independent Senators to vote with them for cloture (to end the filibuster).

Democrats voting for Gorsuch?  Why?

Now, why would any self-respecting Democratic Senator vote for the conservative right-wing Gorsuch?  Unfortunately, some Democratic Senators from some very red Republican states fear for their jobs and a few of them are up for reelection in 2018.  They may be hearing from their constituents in those very red states and they may believe they need to vote for cloture.. which is the same as voting FOR Gorsuch.  So far three Senators from very red states...  Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana .. have announced they will break with the Democrats/Independents and vote for Gorsuch.

The Color-Coded List:

Based on this article at CNN, here's the color-coded list of the 48 Democrats/Independents and their status on the filibuster and nomination of Gorsuch.  The list is alphabetical in order by state. The color key is based on information that was last updated by CNN on Sunday afternoon, April 2nd.  CNN plans on updating this list as information becomes available, and we will do our best to keep this color-coded list up to date.

The Key

Bright Blue:  A solid "no" on both cloture and the Gorsuch nomination itself.
Purple/Pink:  Unclear as to whether or not the Senator will vote no on both cloture and the Gorsuch nomination. (See the CNN article for specifics about each Senator.)   
Red:  Senator has announced that he/she WILL vote for cloture and vote for Gorsuch.

  • California:         Kamala Harris
                            Dianne Feinstein
  • Colorado:          Michael Bennet
  • Connecticut:     Chris Murphy
                             Richard Blumenthal
  • Delaware:          Tom Carper
                              Chris Coons
  • Florida:              Bill Nelson
  • Hawaii:               Mazie Hirono
                              Brian Schatz    
  • Illinois:               Dick Durbin
                              Tammy Duckworth
  • Indiana:              Joe Donnelly
  • Maine:                Angus King (Independent)
  • Maryland:           Ben Cardin
                               Chris Van Hollen
  • Massachusetts:   Elizabeth Warren
                               Ed Markey
  • Michigan:            Gary Peters
                               Debbie Stabenow 
  • Minnesota:          Al Franken
                               Tammy Klobuchar
  • Missouri:              Claire McCaskill
  • Montana:             Jon Tester
  • Nevada:               Catherine Cortez Masto
  • New Hampshire:  Jeanne Shaheen
                               Maggie Hassan
  • New Jersey:        Corey Booker
                               Bob Menendez 
  • New Mexico:        Martin Heinrich
                               Tom Udall
  • New York:           Chuck Shumer
                               Kirsten Gillibrand
  • North Dakota:      Heidi Heitkamp
  • Ohio:                   Sherrod Brown
  • Oregon:               Jeff Merkley
                                Ron Wyden     
  • Pennsylvania:      Bob Casey Jr.
  • Rhode Island:      Sheldon Whitehouse
                                Jack Reed
  • Vermont:              Bernie Sanders (Independent)
                                Pat Leahy 
  • Virginia:               Tim Kaine
                               Mark Warner
  • Washington:        Patty Murray
                               Maria Cantwell
  • West Virginia:     Joe Manchin
  • Wisconsin:          Tammy Baldwin 

Action Items

If your Senator is bright blue in the list above, thank them.  Our Democratic Senators (and Representatives) look pretty tired to me lately.  They need a thank you either via email, phone, or on their Facebook page.  Especially thank Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.  Apparently these three Senators, all up for reelection in 2018, were targeted by the Republicans to vote against the filibuster as they represent states that (narrowly) voted for Donald Trump in November.  But those three held firm!  We should ALL thank them, no matter what state we are from.

If your Senator is purple/pink in the list above, you may want to link over to the CNN article to see exactly what comment he or she made about the Gorsuch nomination.  Then you may wish to contact them via email or phone and ask for a clear comment about a clear vote in favor of the filibuster and against Gorsuch.

If your Senator is red in the list above (or if you have Republican Senators), it is unclear that you should do anything other than work to turn your state more blue!  However, I really do believe that writing or calling your Senator about your opposition to Gorsuch IS important, even in a red state like West Virginia or North Dakota.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Paul Ryan: "A Disappointing Day" Because They Couldn't Throw 26 Million off of Health Insurance?

Ryan then tried to sound happy because they came SO CLOSE to getting rid of health insurance (and thus health care) for tens of millions of people?

Let's keep fighting, people! These Republicans are scum and they have to go!

Monday, March 13, 2017

TrumpCare Equals NoCare for 24 Million Americans?!

The long-awaited report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office on the impact of the Republican TrumpCare bill was released this afternoon, Monday, March 13th, just about an hour ago. 

Over a decade, 24 million people will lose health insurance, and therefore, access to health care.     

I saved this cartoon from 2009... I just updated it based on CBO scoring.

The long-awaited report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office on the impact of the Republican TrumpCare bill was released this afternoon, Monday, March 13th, just about an hour ago.  The CBO estimates that, over a decade 24 million people will lose health insurance, and therefore, access to health care.   Let's see how Trump, Fox, and Republicans as a whole spin this report.

From an article at the Hill:
The Congressional Budget Office on Monday projected that the number of uninsured people would grow by 14 million in 2018 under the Republican ObamaCare replacement bill, with that number rising to 24 million a decade.
The long-awaited analysis from the nonpartisan congressional scorekeeper is likely to shake up the debate in Congress over the measure, which could come up for a vote in the House next week.
The estimate of the drop in coverage is larger than even many analysts had predicted.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Republican Thinking: The Poor are "Lazy Turds"!

"Republican Thinking" is often so wrong.. and often terribly sad as well, especially when the poor among us are dismissed as "Lazy Turds".  "Republican Thinking" impacts millions of people in this country and is one of the reasons why we have Trump in the White House and Republicans in Congress... and one of the reasons why we are falling behind so many other developed countries.

As an example, take the following quote, posted in a comment by "Steve" to an article about issues of poverty and economics:

Let me repeat the essence of this quote:
The truth is that, in the U.S., if you are unhappy being poor you can simply get a job and problem over.  Able bodied person (sic) in the U.S. do not have to be poor.  It's a choice. 
Plenty of jobs here in the U.S. if the lazy turds would go to work. 
"Lazy Turds"

I've heard this over and over, that anybody can get out of poverty..  but most people don't go as far as to call the poor, mostly children, older people, people who are disabled, and people working minimum wage jobs "lazy turds".

I don't know whether or not it is worth arguing with people who think this way.  Being poor is a choice?  
  • Is being born into a poor family a choice?
  • Is having some kind of disability a choice?
  • Is having a child or a spouse who gets injured or sick and becomes disabled a choice?
  • Can people always move for a better job?  Is that really a choice for many people?
  • Is losing your job and being too old to get another decent job a choice?
  • Is merely GETTING old a choice?  Is that anything we can do something about?
  • What about having an accident, an injury, an illness and not having family members or friends who are able to help:  Is that a choice?
  • At what age does getting a degree or an advanced degree no longer make any difference in terms of getting a better job? 
Job hunting may be better now than it was 6 or 8 years ago, but many people are still struggling.  

People who were older, in their 50's or 60's when the recession hit, may still be struggling; they may not have been able to get a job anywhere close to the level or the pay of the job they had before the recession.

I have a acquaintance, now in her mid 50's, who lost her job in the recession, who has still only had a procession of temporary jobs, who lost her car in an accident and was not able to get another one, who lost her husband to cancer a few years ago, who has had to move several times because she could not pay the rent.  She would like to move to a different area of the country, but it's not as easy as "Steve" seems to think it is.  She doesn't even have the money for that kind of move right now.  And she's bright and articulate.  

Poor people, people who really can't get a decent job for any of a dozen reasons, may not be "lazy turds"; they may actually work much harder than people with cushy 6 figure desk jobs.  I know that's hard for people who indulge in "Republican thinking" to even consider.  I've known people who sold stuff on eBay, collected cans, did odd jobs for pay, drove people around for uber, wrote for blogs, tried dozens of work-at-home schemes, got certificates or degrees... And they still were making no more than minimum wage and/or couldn't find a "regular" job that kept them above the poverty level.

The article linked to above was originally published at the Atlantic and written by Annie Lowrey.  It's based on an interview with Nobel Laureate Angus Deaton.  

From the article: a speech at a conference held by the National Association for Business Economics, Deaton, the Nobel laureate and emeritus Princeton economist, pointed out that inequality among countries is decreasing, while inequality within countries is increasing. China and India are making dramatic economic improvements, while parts of sub-Saharan Africa are seeing much more modest gains. In developed countries, the rich have gotten much richer while the middle class has shriveled.
The final question of this article is actually the title:  Is it better to be poor in Bangladesh or the Mississippi Delta?

Good question...  What do you think?          

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Trump's Seventh Weekend

Donald Trump has now been President of the United States for six weeks, and we are in the seventh weekend with Trump as President.  Most people reading this consider these past six weeks a scary disaster.

United States of America:  The upside down flag signals distress.
So much has happened, most of it not very good, during these past 7 weeks.  We've seen huge protests all over the country; we've seen Democrats in Congress staging all-night filibusters; we've seen people who are here without documentation (often people who have been here for decades) pulled away from their families, sometimes in front of those families, we've seen incredible messes at airports as the DHS tried to enforce Trump's "Muslim ban"; we've seen and heard Trump apologists, people both inside and outside the administration, say that Trump and his agenda is "good".

We've heard of or seen proposals to make defense contractors even richer while we "rebuild" the military. We've heard of or seen proposals to take money out of the State Department, to get rid of ObamaCare (and pull health care from tens of millions of people); we've heard of or seen of proposals to cut food stamps, Social Security, Medicare, you name it; anything that helps people (vs. anything that gives more and more money to the richest among us) should be cut according to the epistle of Trump and the Republcians.

Jobs?  But he's going to bring back jobs!   

Jobs? Coal?  Infrastructure?  Any of us who have followed these issues over the last few years know that these issues are not easy to resolve and the idea that Trump will wave a magic wand and suddenly we will have tens of thousands of coal mining and road building jobs is just plain malarkey.  I would like to think that many of the Trump supporters were well-meaning people who believed in the propaganda of the Trump "miracle" of jobs (despite the 15 million jobs added under Obama) and they weren't just stone-cold racists.  In case you don't know, Trump is inheriting one of the strongest economics of any incoming president in modern times.  

The Russians!

And the Russians...  We KNOW the Russians were meddling in the 2016 elections; we don't know what the role (if any) Trump et al played in the meddling as we don't have any smoking guns yet.  But we have plenty of blame, consternation, and confusion to go around.      

Yesterday and today, we've heard allegations from the Trump administration that Obama wire "tapped" Trump during the campaign!  Now Trump wants to investigate Obama!  What's that about?

The Best Defense is a Strong Offense.

Now the best defense is a strong offense, and that is what Trump is doing here... He is pulling the focus away from him and his band of Russian-influenced flunkies and he is trying to put the focus back on Obama and the Democrats.  Unfortunately we have many stupid people in this country that will believe him.

So what happens to all of us now?  

How do we make any sense out of this absolute and terrifying chaos?   

First of all, if you are as disturbed about the Trump/Republican administration as I am, don't assume that you represent an overwhelming majority of the people of this country.  The threat is real, and it isn't just coming from Trump; it's coming from people who actually believe the guy and voted for him.  As we look on in horror, we have to remember that somewhere between 38 and 44% of the voters of this country STILL approve of the guy!  I find that number more disturbing than anything that Trump is doing. (We ignore or dismiss polls at our own peril.)

Secondly, we have to remember that people vote with their pocketbooks.  Right now the stock market is on a tear and jobs numbers keep increasing.  (Thanks Obama!)  If these trends continue under Trump, the Republicans may well hold on to Congress in 2018, no matter what horrors the right manages to inflict on our liberties, our Constituion, our voting rights, our democratic institutions.  (Most of the economic "improvement" under Republicans, however, will probably be a bubble, as we really have an economy that Trickles UP vs. Trickles down.  More about that later.)  But we still have to be aware of this.. Many people value jobs and money in their pockets more than they value freedom of speech or voting rights.. especially freedoms and rights of "others".     

So how do we fight back?

1.  Keep informed.  Watch/read at more liberal sites/stations, but also give a cursory look to see what the righties are talking about.  Don't allow yourself to be blind-sided by people spouting Republican or Trump talking points.  Watch for "fake news" from the right or the left --meaning don't get taken in by headlines or clickbait sites.  And if a headline is too good to be true (something like "Republicans turning on Trump.  Impeachment hearings to begin soon."), it probably is not true.    

2.  Indivisible.  There are many, many movements and meetings out there.  Join one.  Find and like a Facebook page for one or more.  Petitioning and letter-writing and calling are great and important, but showing up in person for a march or at a CongressCritter's office really makes an impression.

3.  Choose one or two issues that are most important to you.
 If you spread yourself too thin, you may find yourself depressed, overwhelmed, and unable to do anything.

4.  Keep a dialogue.  Posting and sharing memes that show Donald Trump as Hitler or Trump at his ugliest may make you feel good (and therefore some of that might be necessary), but they don't help in rebuilding this country .. and that's what we need to do:  We need to rebuild this country from the ground up, neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend, family member to family member.  Some people may be too far gone, but many are not.  Trump did not win with a majority, and the Republicans as a whole are not a majority party in terms of the people of this country.  

5.  Be strong in your convictions and your beliefs.  No, shipping out millions of undocumented immigrants is NOT good for the country; it's horrific to see parents being pulled away from their children....    Keeping people out of the country just because they are refugees, students, visitors, or immigrants from certain Muslim-majority countries is NOT good for the country.  Be careful about getting into arguments with people who try to convince you of things such as "they are criminals; they shouldn't be here".  It's much more complex than that and you may not be able to argue with someone who tries such oversimplification.

5.  Take some time for yourself.  Preserving and protecting the ideals and the values of the United States of America in these troubled times is energy-sapping.  There is so much against us.  It's OK to take a few days off from politics, a few days off from even reading about politics.  Especially as we greet Spring.

So far, this has been the most significant (and depressing) year that I can remember.  Work hard, fight hard, keep the faith!  We can win this, for ourselves, our families, the world!  But it won't be easy!
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