The Electoral College “Trump, A Political Tarbaby”

John Hanno      December 18, 2016

“Trump, A Political Tarbaby

President Obama is absolutely correct; there’s nothing Russia or Vladimir Putin can do to undermine our Democratic principles as long as we stand united. The reason he was able to influence and disrupt our election, was because we’re so polarized that 37% of Republicans approve of Putin. This is a direct result of statements by Trump, and repeated over and over in right wing nut media, stating that Putin was a better leader than President Obama. Trump believes a leader that righted an economy losing 800,000 jobs a month and headed into depression and who led the world’s most powerful country,  through eight years without a single whiff of scandal, is a worse leader than someone who has looted his country’s assets to the tune of $85 billion dollars, probably ordered an airliner shot down, and ordered the imprisonment and murder of opponents and journalists.

Now reported to be the richest person in the world, richer even than Bill Gates, he’s amassed this fortune by plundering a corrupt, failed economic plutocracy, on the backs of millions of struggling and suffering countrymen and women. What would the Republi-cons say if President Obama had accumulated $85 billion as president, while having been unopposed and sham-elected for 20 years. Every American should be so outraged, that 10’s of millions of people should be in the streets protesting this Russian cyber attack on our electoral process. But the Republi-cons praise Putin and respect his predatious business acumen. It’s clear the Grand Old Party has been so corrupted, it’s no longer redeemable.

They’ve long ago exiled any moderate or conservative remnants of the Lincoln, Eisenhower, Rockefeller and even Nixon GOP. And President Obama is absolutely right; Regan is turning over in his grave. It’s become the Old White Party of Winuts. Winuts will forsake any moral integrity or principles in order to win. No level is too low to stoop. Racism, misogynistic and xenophobic conduct, violence, deception and lying are traits to be admired and praised. Trump’s supporters will believe anything he says or tweets, even if it’s a preposterous lie devoid of any credible fact.

Trump is a political Tarbaby of epic proportions. The Republi-cons have forsaken all core conservative, Christian or perceived family values simply because Trump somehow won the election. He told the winuts he would “Make America Great Again” by winning so much, they would get tired of winning. And the gullible  believed him lock, stock and blatant lie after lie. But he’s already done a 180 on virtually every promise he made. The desperate supporters reaching for the gold plated ring, and the never Trumper’s who’ve jumped on the victory merry-go-round, are stuck on the tar and headed for a rude awakening.

The Trump Administration intentions are no longer ambiguous. Nomination after cruel nomination has cemented their blueprint. “Draining the swamp” actually means siphoning the dregs into his cabinet. Hiring the “best and the brightest” means turning the wheels of government over to billionaire Trump toadies. “Bringing the jobs back” actually means giving his labor secretary carte blanche to replace minimum wage workers with compliant robots. Creating better paying jobs means turning multi-millionaires into billionaires. Making our schools better means destroying and privatizing public education, demeaning scientific discovery, and promoting creationism.

Making America energy independent means turning responsibility for protecting our air, water and land over to Exxon Mobil and the oil interests, pipeline companies and frackers, corporate polluters and Russian oligarchs; and also means exploiting every square inch of public lands, National Parks or National Monuments for private gain, no matter the consequences to our environment and America’s National Pride. Would anyone actually hire any of these folks if they had to pay their salaries. I don’t think so.

And “Making America Great Again” means time traveling what’s left of America’s middle class back to before FDR’s New Deal, LBJ’s Great Society, equal rights for all Americans, and of course any common sense governmental regulation.  And balancing the budget means granting unnecessary and undeserved tax cuts to corporations and the richest of the rich, no matter how it blows up the deficit; and at the same time  means attacking social safety net programs and Social Security, privatizing Medicare, block granting Medicaid and replacing Obamacare with….. well with nothing.

Trump’s promises are like the sands of time; extremely fluid. We can only hope 37 patriotic Americans will come to Jesus, and for the sake of their country, their families and their soul, decide to cast their electoral vote for anyone but Trump. Will they shirk their Constitutional duty; will they take America’s future for granted?  Or are they stuck on the tarbaby?                  John Hanno  www.tarbabys.com

A Psalm of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!—
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,—act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Dear Mr. Trump: It’s Not Too Late to Do The Right Thing”

December 16, 2016, John Hanno

“Dear Mr. Trump: It’s Not Too Late to Do the Right Thing”

If you were to join in and demand a thorough investigation of the Russian hacking and interference in this incredibly rancorous election and in particular, how it may have benefited you and hurt Hillary and other congressional candidates in battleground states Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida, there’s still a chance you wouldn’t have to be inaugurated on January 20th.

In spite of overwhelming evidence by our intelligence agencies, now including even FBI director Comey, you still will not admit the Russians, led by President Putin, have attacked an underpinning of U.S. Democracy. It was a 21st Century act of war. If you hope to be the legitimate leader and defender of the our great Democracy, you have to acknowledge that this was not a free and fair election. Stand up for America and not just for your own personal business interests and your party.

You were clearly the benefactor of this interference this time. But who knows who or what will be his next target. Putin, who many think is the richest person in the world and clearly vindictive enough to put in jeopardy, the interests and reputation of the Russian people just to settle a personal vendetta against Hillary Clinton, must be taken seriously. If you or your party were not complicit in this cyber attack, then you must join in the investigation and postpone the electoral college and also the inauguration. If you remain silent, your entire stay in the White House will be diminished by this cloud (pun intended).

You could say that because, as you’ve said before, the electoral college no longer represents what the founding fathers had in mind 240 years ago, and because Hillary has more than 2.7 million (2%) more popular votes than you did, that she should really be the next president.

You can use the excuse that because operatives in the Republican party have systematically disenfranchised democratic voters, minorities, women, students and senior citizens, in every state controlled by Republican Governors and legislatures, by requiring onerous voter IDs, by closing polling places in minority neighborhoods, by restricting early and weekend voting, by kicking democratic leaning voters off the voter roll with the cross-checking scheme, by the elimination of felon’s voting rights, even after they’ve served their time and by possibly even manipulating the voting counts of electronic voting machines, the only fair thing to do would be to allow Hillary her rightful place as our President.

And coupled with gerrymandering, hacking by the Russians, FBI Director Comey’s shenanigans and the latest anti-democratic peril, far right and Russian propagandists spreading fake news stories, the most patriotic thing you can do to “Make America Great Again” is to concede the election to Hillary, someone who has probably aimed for the presidency since she was a little girl.

And by crowning the first woman president in American History, just think how that would rehabilitate your reputation with women. Since you and a great majority of Americans and even your own party didn’t expect you to win, you could just go back to building the Trump brand, something you have worked and strove for since you were also very young, and something I’m sure you plan on passing on to your children and grandchildren.

Lets face it, you place a lot of importance on your image and appearance, but after four years in the hardest, most stressful job in the world, at seventy four, you will probably look like a doddering old man by 2020. Just look at President Obama. When he started in 2009, he was a young man with dark hair, now he looks like Uncle Remus.

But I believe that’s not your worst dilemma. You claim that you will turn your businesses over to your children. Most experts believe that’s just not feasible or legal. The potential conflict of interests, with a President of the United States owning prominent properties in a dozen or more countries around the world, countries that you must deal with as leader of America, and not CEO of Trump Brands, is too implausible to comprehend. All your hotels, residential properties and golf courses will have to be sold.

As President of the most powerful country, which is often the world’s policeman, arbiter and protector, you will be the face of American hegemony, aggression, transgression, imperialism, invasion and any other word anti American forces use to describe our incursion into other countries businesses. Every instance where you must make the tough decisions to send in the special forces or bomb something will have implications for everything belonging to you, your family and to anyone affiliated with the Trump Brand. And those decisions simply can’t be subject to potential ramifications to your business interests.

All those properties with the 100 ft tall stainless steel Trump signs will be the new American embassies, the new potential Benghazi’s. There will be a big glaring target on all of those properties. If some evildoer has a beef with America or with some decision you end up making, they may just find your properties an easy target for retaliation.

The dozens of Trump branded properties don’t have round the clock security forces like the White House, the Pentagon or even American embassies. They’ll be sitting ducks for every terrorist and crackpot. And even if you decide to divest and sell all your properties, the new owners will certainly have to remove any semblance of the Trump Brand. On January 20th, if you’re sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, the Trump Brand will surely cease to exist.

Can you even imagine what would have happened if past presidents had their names plastered on as many properties as you do. What would have happened if there were prominent “BUSH” or “OBAMA” logos displayed on buildings when they were prosecuting the wars and military actions in the Middle East?

And on top of that, you’ve raised the stakes for terrorists when you declared during the election that, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the country.” And many far right and Republican zealots have tried to portray the war on terrorism as a religious Christian war against Islam or portray radical terrorism, as Islam’s war on Christianity. Because so many on the right repeatedly demonized President Obama and Hillary for refusing to label those evildoers as “Radical Islamic Terrorists,” they left no room for moderation. Your own words during the election only amplified that demagoguery.

Who in their right mind would go anywhere near one of your properties, especially hotels, resorts or residences, when you take over America’s war on terrorism from President Obama? All of us can remember when the President stood before the world and announced that they had captured and killed Osama bin laden. What would have happened if he had vulnerable properties all around the world? What will happen if one day you have to announce that you’ve killed a top leader of ISIS or Al Qaeda? Will you have to send troops to lock down all of your properties, to protect your Mar a Lago Mansion, your Trump Towers in Manhattan, the Trump Tower in my hometown Chicago or the new Trump International Hotel near the White House? You may need your own military force. Will the  American taxpayer have to pay for this military security force? And how would the residents and neighbors like being under siege?

And that’s not the only Presidential decision that could have unintended consequences. How about when you sign the bill into law, which Speaker Ryan and the Republican zealots in congress are concocting, to end or privatize Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. You promised senior citizens that you wouldn’t attack those popular programs. They may be angry enough to take a dump in the lobby of one of your prized hotels.

What happens when you pull the rug out from under the 20 million folks who finally have insurance thanks to Obama-care? And when you side with all your fossil fuel buddies against the farmers who depend on bio-fuel subsidies, you might just see a viral video of some farmer using his tractor to dump a load of manure on the front lawn, or using a manure spreader to spray the front door of, one of your exclusive properties.

And you couldn’t even imagine what someone might do to one of your golf courses when the “deplorables” find out you were feeding them a line of bull, after failing to deliver on all the insane promises you made during the election. Your golf courses might look like the Bushwood Golf course in Caddyshack after Bill Murray’s Carl Spackler and the gopher got done blowing it up.

And as an employer and union adversary of thousands of workers and an investor in the fossil fuel industry, there’s potentially hundreds of conflicts of interests concerning virtually every one of your cabinet level departments and nominations, especially those nominees with ties to Putin. Your families business dealings will be under constant and intense scrutiny as long as you’re in the White House.

I guess you have to decide how bad you really want to be president or how badly you want to preserve the Trump Brand and legacy. You canceled the press conference you scheduled with your children on December 15th, to explain how you will deal with your businesses. I think you now realize that separating your business interests and the responsibilities of being President is complicated and consequential. For America’s sake, I hope you make the correct decision.

 

Article from The Hill,  by Ross Rosenfeld, Contributor, 11-22-16

“No, Trump did not win ‘fair and square'”

The problem with many liberals is that they simply don’t know when they should be outraged.

Since the disgusting and destructive presidential election, many pundits, conservative and liberal alike, have remarked that Donald Trump won the election “fair and square.”

They state it with tremendous authority, as if it’s some unquestionable tenet of any election discussion: “Well, we can’t argue that he won it fair and square.” Even Bill Maher and David Axelrod agreed on this point on Maher’s most recent show.

There’s just one problem with this argument: It’s nonsense.

Trump only won the election fair and square if you have no idea what either “fair” or “square” means.

This is not simply liberal sour grapes, though I’m sure many Trump supporters and self-defining “open-minded” liberals will characterize it as such.

First off, once all of the votes are tabulated, it appears that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will beat Trump in the popular vote — the only vote that should count —by about 2 million votes.

Sadly, none of these votes truly matter due to our ridiculous Electoral College system, which we’re the only country on Earth to employ.

Of course, many Trump supporters will cry out against this by claiming that Trump would’ve campaigned differently had it been the popular vote that counted.

Maybe, but, obviously, Clinton would’ve done so as well, and probably could’ve racked up even more votes in cities, especially those in states that she didn’t bother to campaign in because the Electoral College gives such an inordinate advantage to rural areas.

Generally, voter turnout tends to be considerably lower in solidly Democratic or Republican-leaning bastions, such as New York and California, where approximately 52.4 percent and 53.8 percent of eligible voters turned out, respectively, or Texas (51.1 percent) and Oklahoma (52.1 percent) (statistics from The Election Project).

More competitive states like Florida (65.1 percent), Ohio (64.5 percent) and New Hampshire (70.3 percent) tend to have much higher participation rates — a definite argument against the Electoral College. (In fact, the U.S. recently ranked 31 out of 35 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations when it came to voter participation.)

So while Trump would’ve stood to garner more votes in conservative states if the Electoral College didn’t exist, given that Clinton’s lead in big blue states was often bigger than Trump’s in big red states, the overall likelihood is that a straight popular vote would’ve increased Clinton’s popular vote lead.

Even Trump himself has acknowledged that the Electoral College makes no sense. In 2012, he called it a “disaster for a democracy.”

More recently, he told “60 Minutes” that he’d rather see a straight vote.

(Of course, in typical Trump fashion, he followed that two days later with praise for the very same institution, tweeting out, “The Electoral College is actually genius in that it brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play. Campaigning is much different!”)

No one can seriously argue that the Electoral College is not a severely antidemocratic hindrance and that it should be abolished. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

There’s little doubt that Clinton’s popular vote tally would’ve been millions more had it not been for several other factors: the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby v. Holder, which allowed 868 polling stations to close throughout the South; voter ID laws that are especially cumbersome to the poor; the purging of voter rolls based on cross-checking and the elimination of convicts’ voting rights, even after they’ve served their time; Wiki Leaks dumps; excessive voting lines intended to suppress votes (in 2012, for instance, the average wait time across Florida was 45 minutes); and the shenanigans of one James B. Comey, FBI director. (Does anyone doubt that this last one alone was enough to swing the election?)

Many liberals — in typical “blame ourselves” fashion — have consistently repeated the notion that Clinton lost because she didn’t inspire enough people to come out and vote. And there are indeed legitimate complaints to be logged in that regard. After all, she’s likely to finish with about 2 million or so less votes than Obama did in 2012.

But how many votes would Obama have received if he had been forced to contend with the FBI, Wiki Leaks, Russian hackers and a media set on promoting a nonsensical false equivalency for the purpose of improving ratings?

The truth is that our so-called democracy is more of pseudo-democracy, with ridiculously gerrymandered districts, large-scale voter suppression tactics, unequal representation, an Electoral College system that disregards the popular will of the people, and fake news sources that play to echo chambers and voter ignorance.

And although Trump succeeded without it, the ability of rich donors and corporations to pour money into elections should not be discounted either; nor should the corruption caused by the close association of Congress and K Street — both of which Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and others have rightfully decried.

Yes, for all the things you can say about this election and our system in general, the one thing you can’t say is that it operates in a manner which is “fair and square.” Unless by “square” you mean that it squares with the wishes of the Republican leadership.

The question then remains: What can be done?

I’ve heard many liberals argue that nothing can be done — that the peaceful transfer of power and the continuity of government are the most important aspects of our democracy. But they’re wrong. The most important aspect of our democracy is the democracy part: the voting. And if we don’t protect that — if we don’t fight for it — the rest isn’t worth much.

It now appears that change will not come through the Supreme Court. And the prospect of passing a constitutional amendment to fix the Electoral College and the other voting issues I’ve enumerated is extremely unlikely without a wide-scale national movement. The same is true for the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

We need that type of movement. We need protests. We need criticism. We need emails and phone calls to members of Congress. We need a news media that is responsible and that addresses these issues on a daily basis. We need to show our dismay in a very public way.

Ordinarily — in the past — I would’ve always had the greatest respect for the office of the president. Even presidents I did not agree with, I would’ve treated with respect. I would’ve never, if in their presence, have considered turning my back on them or not addressing them as “Mr. President.”

But that’s exactly what I think we should now do. Any American who objects not only to the things that Trump represents, but to the fact that our democratic institutions have largely been undermined, should refuse to show this president — and any president who does not win the popular vote, for that matter — any respect. Because, while we must accept the reality that he is in fact our president now, there is no rule that says we must revere him.

That is how you make your voice heard.

This does not mean that you should not pay your taxes (which support our military) or that you should disobey the rule of law.

But it does mean that you should turn your back on the president; that you should refuse to stand when he enters a room; and that you should refuse to call him “Mr. President.”

It means that Democrats in leadership should do everything they can to stop him from infringing on the rights of our citizens, and that, in the Senate, they should refuse to approve any Supreme Court justices and stop Republicans from getting any of their projects passed — through protests, filibusters and other procedural measures until election reform occurs.

It means that members of the House should emulate their efforts of this past June and engage in sit-ins and other demonstrations to bring Republicans to the table.

Of course, such tactics would bear consequences. The Democrats would be accused of undermining the very republic that they seek to defend.

But it must be kept in mind that these types of things have already been occurring. Our Congress is remarkably inefficient, and Republicans have set plenty of precedent when it comes to obstruction, making it a general policy to strike down or delay practically every reasonable attempt at legislation and every appointment attempted by President Obama, including refusing to take a vote in the Senate on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, whom many Republicans had previously praised.

Despite Republicans’ insistence that Trump should be given a chance, they never gave Obama much of one, did they? Whatever he achieved, he achieved despite them, not because of any real willingness to cooperate.

Still, in order for such an effort to succeed, it would have to be supported by the public — if not a majority, at least a vocal minority. Organize under hashtags like #Inauguration Protest, but keep in mind that hashtags and Facebook posts alone won’t do it. You need to show up.

We need not only a massive protest on Inauguration Day, but regularly scheduled protests outside of the White House and the Capitol. We need a movement, not just the dressings of one. It was large-scale movements that gave us women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights Law and gay marriage.

We need to make our representatives hear the clarion call in no uncertain terms.

Maybe then they’ll get the message that every vote should count and every person should count.

Rosenfeld is an educator and historian who has done work for Scribner, Macmillan and Newsweek and contributes frequently to The Hill.

This piece was corrected on Thursday, Nov. 24 at 11:28 a.m. to accurately note that James Comey is director of the FBI.

 

 

Article From The Huffington Post, Contributor Dr. GS Potter, Founder of the Strategic Institute of Intersectional Policy (SIIP). 11-29-16

“Trump is Right. The Election was Rigged. Here’s What We Know.”

In part of an on-going Twitter breakdown upon hearing the news that Hillary Clinton would participate in the recount of votes from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, he tweeted: There is NO QUESTION THAT #voter fraud did take place.

Trump has said time after time that the election was rigged. And he is absolutely right. The election was rigged. But it wasn’t voter fraud that it was rigged to achieve. It was voter suppression. And Donald Trump is very aware of this.

Perhaps the Candidate doth protest too much.

Donald Trump knows that the election was rigged, because his team of strategists and handlers are responsible for making it happen.

Donald Trump and the members of his team knowingly and strategically engaged in voter suppression tactics in an attempt to alter the results of the 2016 Presidential Election. These tactics include working to gut the Voting Rights Act, working to pass voter ID laws, shutting down polling places, cutting early registration, eliminating absentee ballots refusing to even consider the protections provided in the Americans with Disabilities Act, purging millions of voters from the system and engaging in voter intimidation tactics.

Yes, the system is rigged. And it took the white supremacist network that is behind Trump’s rise to power just over a decade to rig it well enough to take the White House.

The strategic efforts to suppress the votes necessary to secure an alt-right, white supremacist takeover of the White House can be traced back to the efforts of five people: Bert Rein, Richard Wiley, the Koch Brothers, and Robert Mercer.

Bert Rein and Richard Wiley have been key political players since the Nixon Administration. Rein was a member of the Key Issues Committee during the 1968 Nixon campaign and served as the Assistant Deputy Secretary of State under his administration. Wiley also held a position in the Nixon campaign and would go on to become the administration’s Chairman of the FCC. In the 1980’s, Wiley and Rein teamed up with another former colleague from the Nixon Era, Fred Fielding. Fielding was the Associate Counsel to Nixon and was the deputy to John Dean, who served time for his part in the Watergate Scandal. Dean was convicted and served time for his part in Watergate. Together they formed the firm Wiley, Rein and Fielding. After parting from Wiley and Rein, Fielding would go on to represent Blackwater Worldwide. Wiley Rein remains an important part of the conservative landscape.

Wiley and Rein also became prominent figures in the Reagan Administration. Rein worked as part of Reagan’s presidential transition team, while Wiley and Rein both work with conservative billionaire Robert Mercer through collaborations between organizations such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation- a conservative think-tank “whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”

In addition to these strategists, two organizations associated with the Trump also emerge to assert their positions as far right political powerhouses. As described, the Heritage Foundation (associated with Robert Mercer, Ed Meese and Wiley Rein) functioned to influence policy from within the political system. Robert Mercer, Charles Koch and David Koch would also combine forces to form a grassroots education and advocacy group that could apply political pressure from the outside called Citizens United. Citizens United would also produce another strategist for the Trump Campaign – David Bossie.

The Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and Citizen’s United all continued to gather influence in the political field. Charles and David Koch’s organization Citizens for a Sound Economy split into two groups in 2004. One group, the Americans for Prosperity, would become the protest and media arm of the alt-right’s political movement. The other arm, Freedomworks, would serve as the ground team for state and local elections and a political lifeline for the Tea Party.

The Koch Brothers teamed up again with Bert Rein and American Enterprise Institute’s Ed Blum to push their alt-right agenda in the courts through the Project on Fair Representation (founded in 2005). The mission of this organization is to “is to facilitate pro bono legal representation to political subdivisions and individuals that wish to challenge government distinctions and preferences made on the basis of race and ethnicity.” Their primary target was the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 2011, the Charles and David Koch founded Freedom Partners largely to funnel grant money into activist organizations and ground level political actions. In 2013, the alt-right network was successful in their efforts to gut the Voting Rights Act when they won the case of Shelby County vs. Holden (2013)

In related practical efforts, Citizens United and Americans for Prosperity were taken to court for accusations of voter suppression efforts in states such as Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Michigan. Using their characteristically aggressive tactics, the alt-right network was able to suppress enough votes in the 2010 and 2014 elections that they were able to take control of Congress.

By 2016, all that was left for the alt-right to gain control of the Presidency.

With full funding, a strategic team that had perfected manipulation of the government since the times of Watergate, a fully functioning alt-right media network, the social and tactical support of the Tea Party and the reluctant backing of the GOP, the alt-right engaged in a full-scale attack for control of the White House. This attack included timely interference from the FBI director James Comey and Wikileaks, potential interference from Russian intelligence organizations, and widespread efforts to suppress the votes of target minorities in key locations.

Without the suppression efforts that were reported in pivotal swing states, it is unlikely that Trump would have been able to secure the votes needed to win Wisconsin, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona. In fact, it would have arguably been impossible.

Without massive voter suppression, Trump could not have won the 2016 presidential election.

Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes would not have been secured by the Republican Party without the suppression of hundreds of thousands of minority voters. According to the Center for American Progress, “300,000 registered voters in the state lacked the strict forms of voter ID required. Wisconsin’s voter turnout was at its lowest level in two decades.” Approximately 27,000 votes separated Trump and Clinton.

While the race is still too close to call, Michigan’s 20 electoral votes would not have been even put into question without the voter suppression tactics applied by the alt-right, its leaders and the organizations they operate under. While less than 20,000 votes still separate the two candidates, over half a million voters were prevented from voting through failures to comply with Americans With Disabilities Act requirements, record purging, a lack of  early voting, and voter ID requirements.

Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes would also not have been secured by the Alt-right without the suppression and intimidation tactics applied by white supremacists. Trump himself called more than once for his supporters to monitor the voting behavior of Democrats. Politico reports that in an August rally in Altoona, PA Trump said, “I hope you people can … not just vote on the 8th, [but] go around and look and watch other polling places and make sure that it’s 100-percent fine. We’re going to watch Pennsylvania—go down to certain areas and watch and study….”

Donald Trump was also quoted as saying, “You’ve got to get everybody to go out and watch, and go out and vote. And when [I] say ‘watch,’ you know what I’m talking about, right?” at a speech in Ohio 10 days later. These efforts were successful and Pennsylvania reported more incidences of voter intimidation than any other state. In addition to these applied voter intimidation tactics, the majority of polling places were inaccessible to voters with disabilities, no early voting or absentee ballots were allowed and there was misinformation being dispelled about voter ID requirements. The difference between candidates in Pennsylvania is approximately 62,000 votes.

The states being audited in the recount are not the only states that deserve another look. In light of the overwhelming success of voter suppression tactics, additional states prove themselves worthy of review and federal relief. Florida, North Carolina and Arizona serve as strong examples.

The difference in Florida was just under 120,000 votes. This may seem like an insurmountable number – until the fact that long lines and failures to meet ADA standards required to ensure voters with disabilities can vote alone accounts for over 200,000  suppressed votes is accounted for. Cuts to early voting, funding for early registration drives, additional requirements for voter with prior felony convictions, eliminating polling places, and failing to make voting accessible to voters with disabilities all contributed to the deprivation of voting rights of hundreds of thousands of minority and disabled voters in Florida alone. Trump could not have secured the state’s 29 electoral college votes if the minority and disable votes had not been so successfully suppressed.

In North Carolina a collaboration of GOP lawmakers and organizations were successful in eliminating same-day registration and pre-registration for teen voters, shortening the early voting period, and passed voter id requirements. The Court of Appeals struck down the ID requirement in 2016, citing that the rule was passed with the intent to discriminate on the basis of race; however, North Carolina has also been accused of purging thousands of black voters from the system and failing to comply with ADA standards. While the difference between Clinton and Trump is around 180,000 votes, the Democratic candidate was potentially illegally stripped of hundreds of thousands of votes from black and disabled constituents alone.

And in Arizona, the alt-right\white nationalist Republican candidate would not have been able to secure the state’s 11 electoral votes without the suppression of hundreds of thousands of Latino and disabled voters. In efforts to suppress minority votes, and by refusing to comply with ADA requirements, a Republican coalition successfully passed legislation that limits mail in ballot collection and continues to require proof of citizenship to vote. The United States Supreme Court has already ruled against this practice, but Arizona continues to defy both the will of the court and the will of the people. Adding to the success of these suppression tactics, over 270,000 voters were allegedly purged from Arizona’s voting system. The difference between candidates in this state is approximately 85,000.

Just as there is no question that the alt-right is a white nationalist network – there is also no question as to whether or not this network has engaged in strategic efforts to disenfranchise minority voters in efforts to take control of the White House.

Voter suppression is how the election was stolen. Voter suppression is how white power Trumped minority voters in the election. And contesting voter suppression is going to be the only way to prove Trump right – because the election was rigged. If we don’t fight to prove him right, he and his white supremacist network just may take the White House.

The Strategic Institute of Intersectional Policy (SIIP) is calling for a Suppression Extension to ensure that voters with disabilities and voters of color that were unable to vote because of suppression to cast their votes. For more information, visit:  http://strategycampsite.org/strategy-to-stop-trump.html

Note: This article contains text that was paraphrased from two prior articles, New Report Prompts Call for Democrats to Halt Transfer of Power to Trump Before Dec. 13 Deadline and Failure to Defend Minority Voters from Voter Suppression Threatens to Cost Democrats More than the Election. You can find links to these articles in the text above or by going to the following links:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/new-report-prompts-call-for-democrats-to-halt-transfer_us_5833faa1e4b0d28e552154be

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/democratic-party-in-crisis-failure-to-defend-minority_us_583bc541e4b0a79f7433b842

The Republi-cons May Soon Be in Charge

December 10, 2016, John Hanno  www.tarbabys.com

My Comment on Joy Ann Reid’s, “Hey White Working Class, Donald Trump is Already Screwing You Over”

Joy, no one could have said it better! But I would like to add…

“The Republi-cons May Soon be in Charge.”

Maybe it’s actually a good thing that these Republi-cons may soon take over the White House and both houses of Congress. They’ve demonized President Obama ever since the congressional leaders met on the eve of his inauguration, where they hatched the conspiracy to obstruct his administration at every turn, just so that he would be a one term president. They couldn’t care less if America’s middle class and working poor perished along the way. Even though the President and the Democrat controlled congress reeled our economy back from the abyss, after the previous Republican administration, as usual, plunged the  economy into a deep recession, there was never a single word of praise. If President Obama would have cured cancer, these Republi-cons would have blamed him for reducing employment in the medical field and for grand standing.

But now, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves, if they finally succeed in their decades long campaign to dismantle programs created during FDR’s New Deal and the Johnson Administration’s Great Society. That includes turning the Social Security trust fund over to the banksters and Wall Street, privatizing Medicare, block granting Medicaid and ending any scrap of common sense governmental regulation.

They’ve been bashing Obamacare for 6 years, spending $10’s of millions attempting to repeal the ACA more than 60 times. They say they’ll repeal and replace it on day one, but still, after all this time, they have no credible alternative. Their idea of a health care plan, is as always, dictated by and aligned with the insurance industry and big pharma. If they succeed in repealing Obamacare, hospitals throughout the nation are already predicting total chaos and financial collapse.

What people who voted for Trump can’t understand is that the Republi-cons couldn’t care less about their rising insurance premiums. If they were, they would have jumped at the chance to expand federally paid Medicaid in the red states controlled by Republi-con governors and legislatures. And they wouldn’t have voted against the ACA public option. They could have partnered with the President and Democrats to find ways to improve the ACA instead of trying to cripple it, but obstructing any success for the Obama Administration was more important than fashioning a modern health care system or addressing the number one cause of America’s deficits. They know that if Obamacare hadn’t been implemented, premiums would be even higher than they are now. Under Obamacare, insurance companies can only take 15% of premiums for administration and profits, unlike the 30% average they enjoyed before the ACA was passed. Any excess premiums have to be returned. And Medicare has lower administrative costs than pre-ACA plans. So if  Obamacare is repealed and the Trump supporters policies are canceled or premiums skyrocket for crappier plans, they can’t blame the Democrats.

But the real reason these Republi-cons and their corporate benefactors hate the ACA, is that folks who signed up, especially those with pre-existing conditions, now have the freedom to quit the crappy jobs they were hanging onto just for the insurance. Because of the much better quality Obamacare plans, with lower deductibles and the generous subsidies for lower income folks, 10’s of millions of older workers not yet eligible for Medicare, jumped at the windfall and have either left the workforce, found better, higher paying jobs or even started a business. That’s now why virtually 100% of small and medium size businesses are desperately looking for workers and why the employment participation rate is so low. These employers may soon have to start paying workers a living wage unless they can get the Republi-cons to repeal Obamacare. That’s also why they will try to privatize Medicare.

Anything Trump and the Republi-cons replace the ACA with, will be either much worse, or a clone of Obamacare with a different name attached. But anyone with half a brain knows that the only sensible alternative or improvement, is Obamacare with a public option or a true single payer health care system. These Republi-cons will do the bidding of employers that want total control of their employees; that want workers who have no choices, who are so desperate for health insurance that they will be forced to hold onto those crappy low paying jobs.

Maybe when these incompetents finally muck up our governing institutions, our health care system, our departments of housing, education, labor, agriculture, environment, Veterans Administration, and then drive the economy into a ditch again, we can only hope that bamboozled voters may actually start paying attention to the facts and ignore the fake news stories propagated by the diabolical far right and their Russian handlers. Unfortunately, folks who disseminate these conspiracy theories and fake news seem extremely proud and unapologetic. And if you point out that these are insane stories not supported by any facts, it just seems to have no effect on the gullible.

If you took a poll about the merits of the 2016 Democrats platform, I would guess that the lower 90% of American wage earners would overwhelmingly approve of each issue. And the top 10% of wage earners would overwhelmingly approve of most of the issues in the Republican platform.

Trump is heading into office with the lowest (41%) approval rating of any president in many decades. Vice President elect Pence has only a 39% approval rating. Less than 40% approve of Trumps cabinet choices. Only 45% believe he can handle an international crisis, only 44% think he will use the military wisely and only 44% think he will avoid a major scandal. George Bush entered office with a 70% approval rating on all these issues. Trump is personally viewed favorably by only 37% of Americans, only 41% view him as honest, only 37% see him as well qualified, only 31% see him as a moral person and only 26% view Trump as a role model. A majority of Americans believe Trump’s business interests will surly present conflicts and 65% of those polled believe his business ties will adversely conflict with America’s best interests.

Even though Hillary received more than 2.7 million more popular votes than Trump, and even if we’re to believe the questionable vote counts in the swing states, you still have to wonder how more than 60 million American’s could vote for Trump. I guess there’s an awful lot of suffering Americans desperate for change. But still, we’ve witnessed a con job extraordinaire.

It’s hard for me to believe a majority of white women and so many union workers and working poor voted for Trump. You’re much more apt to prosper and find a living wage job if you support the Democrats, who have always supported unions in particular and labor in general, than you would if you go out of your way to support a billionaire who is hiring other billionaires and multi millionaires who will cut taxes for the top 1% on day one. And who will systematically attack all the underpinnings of the quickly fading American middle class.

If you think a Trump Administration run by billionaires will propose an increase in the minimum wage, you’re dreaming. Trump nominated fast food Carls’ Jr. and Hardee’s Andy Puzder for Labor Secretary. Puzder believes the only thing better than an employee earning $7.25 and hour is a robot, which he praises by saying “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case,” Who does Puzder think will be able to afford his burgers; robot don’t eat. The Trump Administration is teeming with plutocrats who can’t wait to enter what’s left of America’s middle class in the global race to the bottom. I honestly believe these guys hate anyone who isn’t rich. I guess these folks never heard of Henry Ford, who believed that no matter how many or how well he made his automobiles, if his own employees couldn’t afford them, the company would fail.

And if Trump supporters think this cabinet of billionaires will reverse the exodus of living wage jobs to China, Mexico and other low wage countries, they’re fooling themselves. These corporate titans have discovered that when their companies decide to lay off American workers and ship the jobs off shore, their stock price always increases substantially. Executives make enormous profits. And they don’t even invest the purported savings in plants and equipment or R&D, they usually just implement stock buy back programs which then increases the value of their own generous stock holdings. There’s enormous incentive for CEO’s and boards of directors to continue exporting jobs.

Trump and his billionaire ideologues will try to drag America back to the gilded age, but the folks who were so desperate for change may turn on these evildoers like a rabid dog, although I probably won’t hold my breath. I think it was Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce who said Trump is hiring four kinds of people for his cabinet, ideologues, billionaires, people who have no governing experience and billionaire ideologues who have no governing experience. For extremely complicated jobs that demand expertise, nuance and being able to hit the ground running, Trump has employed ideological novices with training wheels. Can you imagine this group taking over in January 2009, when our economy was imploding and we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. That’s why Trump will eventually jump on the TPP bandwagon.

These phony conservatives have proposed no credible solutions for what ails America and only pledge to shrink government down to the size where they can drown it in a bathtub. But there’s a big problem with that philosophy; the special interests that they pander too, Wall Street, multinational corporations, the fossil fuel industry and crony capitalists around the world, depend on rational, functioning American governance and regulations more than anyone. They just don’t want to pay for it.

I guess one thing we can depend on is that these ult right governing pretenders can’t help but overreach. We may only have to endure a two year assault on our Democratic American Ethos. John Hanno

Hey, White Working Class, Donald Trump Is Already Screwing You Over

The Daily Beast-Wake Up

Hey, White Working Class, Donald Trump Is Already Screwing You Over

The Carrier deal was a sham. Ivanka’s moving her shoe production out of China—and into Ethiopia. Wake up, people. You’ve been played.

Joy Ann Reid

12.09.16 12:05 AM ET

Dear Working-Class White Trump Voter,

You’re probably going to read this as sour grapes, and I certainly am sour about a family of kleptocrats moving into the White House because 80,000 of your votes in states that get more federal tax dollars than they put in, trump 2.7 million of ours, even though we carry you financially, and California and New York could function just fine as our own countries, without you.

But the reality is, I do live in a blue state. My governor and mayor are Democrats. Undocumented immigrants are safe where I live. Two of my kids attend a private college, so they wouldn’t have gotten free tuition anyway, and the third goes to a really good public school, where they teach science. I have a job (actually, multiple jobs) that can’t be outsourced to Mexico. And I’ll probably get a tax cut. So I’ll be fine over the next four years, as long as I don’t encounter an angry cop who’s had a bad day. But allow me to be blunt, since I don’t have any desire to pander to you, and it wouldn’t work to pander to you anyway.

You voted for Donald Trump, thinking that he was on your side; that he will save your jobs and your way of life, whatever you imagine that is. Well, you got played.

Over the course of his decades in business, Donald Trump has never given a damn about people like you. When he tore down the old Bonwit Teller building—where my Jamaican godmother was one of the few black women allowed to work as a cashier in the 1960s (her big claim to fame was meeting Troy Donahue)—to build Trump Tower, Trump used undocumented white laborers, mostly polish to do it. When his company forced them to work in deplorable, dangerous conditions and even failed to pay them the meager wages they were promised and they complained, Trump threatened to have them deported.

Trump built Trump Tower using mob concrete, not Bethlehem steel. In fact, he has rarely used American steel in the few buildings he’s actually built; opting for Chinese steel instead. That includes two of his last three projects: the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas and the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. Then again, Nevada and Illinois voted with us in the anti-Trump majority, so the joke wasn’t exactly on them.

I wish to God the Clinton campaign had spent every waking month telling you guys about this stuff, instead of allowing the moving and cinematic “Man of Steel” TV ad by a pro-Trump super PAC probably funded by the same billionaires to whom he’s about to give massive top-rate and corporate tax cuts, to stand. But they didn’t. And here we are.

Now, your supposed hero of the working class, the “blue collar billionaire” who you insisted both during the campaign and afterward heard you, understood you, spoke to you, and cared about you, is attacking one of you. Trump used his Twitter account this week to savage United Steelworkers 1999 of Indiana and it’s president, Chuck Jones, an ordinary working man who dared to tell the truth about the phony Carrier deal that the media shamefully allowed Trump to ride to glowing headlines and boosted poll numbers.

To review, Trump used his Twitter feed to credit himself for saving 1,100 jobs at Indiana furnace and air conditioning manufacturer Carrier. In fact, it was still-governor Mike Pence, Trump’s soon-to-be vice president, who cut the deal to hand over $7 million in state tax abatements to Carrier in exchange for delaying the movement of 770 jobs to the company’s new plant in Monterrey, Mexico. That move, over the next three years, and the shutdown of the Indianapolis plant, is still planned. Another 300 white collar jobs Trump claimed credit for, meaning researchers and administrators, not steel workers, were not being moved to Mexico in the first place. And an additional 600 jobs at the plant, plus 700 at a plant in nearby Huntington, Indiana, plus 350 more at a ball bearing factory owned by Rexnord Corp., are still being shipped south of the border.

Meanwhile, despite the willingness of the incoming Trump-Pence administration to bribe a company with your tax dollars, there’s no guarantee that the small number of jobs saved are more than temporary. For all you know, Carrier only agreed to delay moving those 770 jobs until Christmas, to get the good press. And unlike President Obama’s deal to save literally millions of auto industry jobs in 2009, there’s no agreement for Carrier to pay taxpayers back with interest.

When Jones pointed out that Trump used Carrier employees as props and ” lied his as off” about the jobs he was supposedly saving, Trump got mad. He tweeted at Jones, blaming him, and US1999, for driving jobs out of Indiana and out of the United States. Think about that for a moment—your next president doesn’t think corporate greed and the pursuit of low wages are driving jobs out; he thinks unions are. That means he thinks your health care benefits and retirement package are the problem, not your CEO and the singular goal of “enhancing shareholder value” at your expense. Sounds like a proper plutocrat to me. Well, Trump went after Mr. Jones, and now Mr. Jones is getting death threats.

You see, Trump is “for” you, as long as you’re quiet and obedient. The moment you step out of line and stop praising him, it’s on. He’ll treat you no differently from how he treated the Gold Star family, the Khans, or former Miss Universe Alicia Machado for criticizing him during the campaign. You didn’t care much about them, since they belonged to groups you were voting to sideline—the Muslims and the Hispanics you think are taking over “your” country. But you might want to give a damn about Mr. Jones. Because what Trump is doing to him is a sign of things to come for you.

Meanwhile, Trump torched the stock of another American manufacturing company, Boeing, in retaliation for its CEO criticizing him; first inflating the size of their new contract to upgrade the Air Force One fleet, and then threatening to cancel the deal altogether, which would cost American jobs and help Boeing’s only competitor: Airbus, of France.

Trump is a big businessman. He’s your boss or CEO, not one of your brothers on the line.

He is on record saying that in his view, wages in the U.S. are too high. Trump’s pick for labor secretary, fast-food CEO Andy Puzder, is against raising the federal minimum wage too.

Trump the CEO manufacturers his tacky suits and ties in Mexico and his daughter manufactures her clothes and shoes in China. But neither of them plan to set the example for their fellow tycoons by moving those jobs to the U.S.A. Ivanka is moving some of her production to Ethiopia. And she just struck a new production deal in Japan, while on the phone with her dad and the Japanese prime minister. The Trumps have spent exactly zero percent of their lives caring about anyone other than themselves. Don’t expect that to change now, especially since they can now enrich themselves on international bribes, courtesy of daddy’s new job.

Trump’s threat (again via Twitter) of a 35 percent tax on companies who ship jobs overseas is complete bull. It’s never going to happen, and he knows it. It’s Congress, not the president, that moves legislation. And this Congress, which you voted for, is controlled by Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan, who don’t want to take the country back to the 1950s, where you want to go, but rather to the 1920s. You might want to Google “Calvin Coolidge” or order the collected works of Aldous Huxley for Christmas if you need a primer.

Many of you voted based on the fiction that Hillary Clinton was going to take your guns—the way Barack Obama sent fleets of black helicopters to take them, right? Just pause for a moment to think about how ridiculous that sounds; sending who, the military, door to door to collect your silly firearms? Wake up, people. That idea is as foolish as the notion that before Nov. 9 you weren’t allowed to say “Merry Christmas.”

So Merry Christmas, Trump voters. Your guns are safe. They always were. Instead, while Trump is entertaining you by hiring white generals named “Mad Dog” to make you feel powerful again, the Republicans in Congress fully intend to take away every program that saved your parents and grandparents from the Great Depression.

Sure, they’re coming for “Obamacare” first. And you’re happy about that because you think that’s just free insurance for black “Obama phone” users and so-called illegals. But it’s not. It’s the access to insurance covering 20 million people, including millions of people like you; including 400,000 of you in very-not-black Kentucky. It’s covering disabled kids and people with pre-existing conditions, many who are too sick to get insurance without it. And Ryan and his friends want to cancel it, and then take three years to replace it, probably with Ryan’s favorite thing: vouchers.

But that’s not all. Ryan is also coming for Medicare. He wants to privatize that, too, and not for your mom and dad—they vote in midterms. He’s going to privatize it for you. So when you retire, working stiff in your forties or fifties, you’re going to get a handful of vouchers, instead of Medicare. And he’s also coming for Medicaid, to turn it into a block grant. That’s not a problem for me, since my blue state will keep caring for our poor. Your state—with its Republican governor and legislature? Not so much. Your emergency rooms are going to fill up with the sick, and your bankruptcy courts will fill up with their cases when they can’t pay the bills. And your rural hospitals are going to close.

You’ve turned your country over the top tenth of 1 percent. Talk about “establishment.” Their interest is not in helping you. It’s in further enriching themselves, by privatizing every public program—Social Security can’t be far behind—dropping the corporate and top income tax brackets as close to zero as possible, and making you pay, for everything from privatized roads owned by multinational corporations to elementary school. They’re into taking land, including our public lands and parks, or using another Trump favorite—public domain—to drill and frack, endangering your water just as surely as they poisoned Flint’s. And when they can’t steal any more from the Native Americans—who have shown they still have some fight left—they’ll come for your farms.

In Michigan, Republicans have already gotten started. They voted to further gut unions’ ability to bargain for decent health care and retirement through the use of strikes. And congressional Republicans have already voted to strip the “buy American” clause out of a bill to repair the nation’s water infrastructure.

As for black Trump supporters, don’t be fooled. Remember when Trump said he didn’t want black people counting his money, only Jewish people? Well look at his appointments. He didn’t even respect neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson enough to insist that he take over Health and Human Services. Instead, he’s tossing the black guy in the “urban” chair.

So good luck, Trump voters. I hope at some point you realize what’s happening and fight back. Your choices, unfortunately, do affect us all, and they will until we wake up and junk the Electoral College, which puts rural states’ zeal for Christian rule ahead of blue states’ desire for good government.

Until then, all I can do is try to warn you, and then wish you good luck.

Thanksgiving 2016

November 24, 2016, John Hanno

Thanksgiving 2016

On Thanksgiving 2008, exactly eight years ago, I had an article published in a Chicago newspaper, where I described all the things I was thankful for. Although the war in Iraq was finally winding down, ours and most of the worlds economies were imploding, thanks to the risky and criminal financial schemes of the world’s banking giants. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month and markets were in free fall. America had just chosen Democrat Senator Barack Obama to be it’s next president and savior; and I truly believed he and Michelle understood why I was thankful for the 35 things listed in my article.

I was thankful the eight years of the Bush Administration were almost over and we didn’t elect John McCain because the world could not have survived another Republican term like that. I was thankful the world was welcoming President Obama with open arms and a deep sigh of relief because it showed they believed America could still lead us from despair. I was thankful Barack Obama realized we all had to work together to solve the enormous problems because being divided was what got us into the mess in the first place. I appreciated the important things; family, friends and community because we had to depend on each other. I was thankful and hopeful that 60 years from then, people would be glad they were born in 2009, because it was the beginning of another period of great hope and change, and not because they were sorry to have been born into another great depression.

Some of that hope was quickly dashed when the Republican leaders in Congress, led by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, met on the eve of President Obama’s inauguration, to hatch a plan to obstruct the President on everything he tried to do, just to make him a one term president. They didn’t care about the consequences to Americans reeling from an economy driven off a cliff by, too big to fail banks and neocon ideologue’s in the Bush Administration.

Every time the President held out a hand, the Republicans slapped it away. They refused to allow him to succeed at anything. Compromise to them meant total capitulation. But what they really accomplished was to make America even more polarized, and it showed during this election. Donald Trump took advantage of and widened that divide to Grand Canyon proportions.

As the votes continue to be counted, Hillary has received more than 2 million more votes than Donald Trump. The 64.5 million folks who voted for Hillary, the media and pollsters, most Republicans and even the Trump campaign, still can’t believe she lost. Computer experts have found evidence that the results in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin may have been manipulated or hacked; possibly by the Russians, who favored Trump. And if these shenanigans with electronic ballots are proved valid, Hillary’s supporters might yet be vindicated. The Jill Stein campaign has collected millions of dollars from concerned Americans, who like me, can’t believe America is still not able to guarantee a free and fair national election.

The OpenSecrets.org Center for Responsive Politics reports that the cost of this 2 year long election is approaching 7 billion dollars, thanks to Citizens United and dark money. Couple that with Republican legislatures throughout the country passing bills aimed at voter suppression, gerrymandering, a reality candidate who believes lying and deception are invaluable traits, debates where discussing critical issues are put on the back burners, a media more concerned with profits than truth in journalism, campaign hacking by the Russians, and the latest peril of Russian propaganda spreading fake news stories, is it a wonder that 53% of America’s eligible voters didn’t bother to vote.

Some of the 62.5 million folks who voted for Mr. Trump believe he will govern much different than he campaigned; that all the nativist, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, anti immigrant and violent dialog and conduct was just chalked up as campaign talk. But half of those who voted for Trump, who Hillary named the “Deplorables,” are in sympathy with the alt right tea party and obstructionist McConnell. They want to burn down the government. They want to “Make America Great Again,” which really means they want to take America back to the dark ages, when America was primarily male controlled,  white and Christian, before workers rights and women’s rights and civil rights for our black and brown brothers and sisters. Before regulations on banks and corporations and protections for workers and the environment.

But so far, based on the people he’s chosen for his cabinet, it’s clear he will govern exactly like he campaigned. He told his supporters that he knows, and would choose, the best and the brightest people for his cabinet. Then he turns around and picks rich, alt right ideologues; Rudolf Giuliani, who most people think has gone off the deep end, Steve Bannon, alt right white supremacist sympathizer, Mike Flynn for National Security Advisor, who has endorsed the use of torture and other war crimes that violate the Geneva Convention and Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, who worked hard to gut the Voting Rights act and suppress minority voting. Fellow Republicans denied Sessions a federal judgeship because of his racist track record. Trump also nominated Koch Brothers aligned Billionaire charter school and voucher advocate and $9.5 million Trump campaign contributor Betsy DeVos, as his Secretary of Education, someone who American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten describes as “the most ideological, anti-public education nominee put forward since President Carter created a Cabinet-level Department of Education.” Weingarten said, “In nominating DeVos, Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America.” This coming on top of the 31 mostly red states that have already cut funding to public schools.

During the election, Mr. Trump told his supporters he would not touch Social Security or Medicare, two of the most successful government programs in our history. But the Republican House of Representatives, led by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, has the privatizing of those programs at the top of their to do list.

Trump repeatedly told supporters that he would repeal Obama-care (Affordable Care Act) on his first day in office but he’s already backpedaling on that promise. He might have discovered that the popular parts of the ACA, which he also favors, the preexisting conditions part and the ability to keep children on their parents policy thru age 26, must be paid for, by mandating that everyone sign up or pay a penalty. It’s mind-boggling to me that many of the folks who signed up for Obama-care, some who never before had medical insurance, voted for Trump. Thanks to Democratic Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, more than 60% of Kentuckians, most of them poor, had signed up for subsidized Obama-care. But they not only elected a new Republican governor who favors ending the ACA, but more than 70% of them voted for Mr. Trump in this election. And with Kentucky’s 2 Republican Senators and full cadre or Republican Congress persons, I’m sure the Republican Congress, who already tried to repeal the ACA more than 60 times, will finally succeed without President Obama to veto them. I believe some of the poorest of the poor, those left behind by the new economy, jumped on the Trump train because they were desperate for any type of change.

Mr. Trump said many times during the election, that if elected, he would build a wall on the border with Mexico and make them pay for it, ban all Muslims from entering the U.S., send 11 million illegal immigrants back to Mexico, cancel the nuclear peace treaty with Iran, cancel all of President Obama’s executive orders, bring all the jobs back from China, keep others from off shoring, bring back the coal industry, drop out of the Paris agreement, exit the TPP, renegotiate NAFTA and the China PNTR agreement, end the carried interest exemption, drain the Washington swamp of lobbyists, throw crooked Hillary in jail, destroy ISIS because he knows more than the generals, cut taxes for individuals and corporations, rebuild the depleted military and a whole list of other things. And that’s just in the first 100 days. I hope those who voted for him don’t hold their breaths waiting for most things on this list. It should soon be obvious that Donald Trump was feeding his supporters a monumental line of bull dung. And how these poor souls will react, when they wake up from their Kool-aid induced stupor, is anyone’s guess.

I suspect Mr. Trump will quickly reveal himself as a traditional billionaire zealot who champions, and will again try to implement, the neocons discredited trickle down economics. He despises paying any taxes even though the rich and corporations benefit from them more than anyone, so he will again place cutting taxes above all else, even though it will surely blow up the deficit. He will fall in line with fossil fuel interests and join with his Republican Congress to gut environmental regulations, and to support drill baby drill and heavy investment in pipeline infrastructure; and of course at the same time, they will dial back investments and subsidies for alternative energies. He will fully support charter schools and school vouchers because he simply hates free public education. He will go along with the Republican Congress to attack middle class entitlement and social safety net programs, while at the same time passing out favors to crony capitalists, fossil fuel companies and the prison and military industrial complexes. He will hire a long list of other billionaires, who like himself, have little regard for 99% of the rest of America.

There are some things the Democrats would be willing to work with Mr. Trump on, like an infrastructure bill, modifying trade agreements to make them fairer for America and the American worker and real tax reform that includes ending the carried interest tax dodge. But if the Republican juggernaut resumes efforts to steamroll America’s middle class, the poor and the environment, the Democrats will have to use every tool, including the Republican’s favorite filibuster, to minimize the damages.

America is starkly divided; there’s a pitched battle for America’s Democratic ethos:

Between those who believe a rising tide lifts all boats and that all of us should share in the profits and benefits of a free society and economy….. and those who believe in a plutocratic, corporatist, limited government with lax regulations, low or limited taxes to support our commons and consequently, diminished worker and middle class rights.

Between those who believe our diversity makes for a stronger America and a better future …..and those who long for a lily white, male dominated, Christian past.

Between those who embrace science, innovation and a green future based on sustainable alternative energy….. and those steeped and mired in fossil fuel’s dirty and unsustainable past.

In spite of the Republican’s unrelenting obstruction, the Obama Administration still accomplished a lot, primarily during the first 2 years, when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. I think history will regard him as one of our best presidents.

With the help of the admittedly weak stimulus after the economic crash, they were able to apply a tourniquet to the bleeding economy. In spite of staunch opposition from the Republicans in Congress, they bailed out the auto industry, which has increase production each year since 2009 and reached a new record of 17.5 million last year. I wrote the president a letter in early 2009 advocating for the auto bailout and also saying I thought the three most important issues were Jobs, Jobs and living wage Jobs. But he concentrated on and expended a lot of capital and good will on the Affordable Care Act. I guessed that when he sat down with the corporate executives after the crash, he asked them about creating more jobs at home. I’m sure they told him the number one reason for exporting jobs was the escalating, enormous and unpredictable cost of health care. For auto manufacturing, that means between $2,300 and $2,700 per vehicle.

So the administration did what 5 presidents couldn’t do; they committed to finally providing healthcare for 40 million Americans, which caused more than 20,000 deaths a year simply because folks didn’t have insurance. They also slowed the double digit escalating health care costs. They not only had to tackle the number one cause of America’s long term fiscal problems but needed to level the playing field for companies that must compete with countries with much lower wages and much lower health care costs. It wasn’t pretty but it’s a start. America is finally on the path to universal health care. And on the path to healing and rebuilding the finances of the families where medical costs contributed to 65% of all personal bankruptcies.

As part of the ACA, the Obama Administration also took the banks out of the Federal Student Loan Program and expanded Pell Grants. Since 2010, students now get their loans directly from the federal government instead of from subsidized banks. This will save the Treasury almost $70 billion dollars over 10 years. And $36 billion of that will go into expanding Pell Grants for low income families. They also cracked down on predatory for profit colleges.

With the help of Michele Obama, they passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, giving $4.5 billion for higher nutritional and health standards for school lunches. It doubled the amounts of fruits and vegetables and whole grains in foods served to school children.

They passed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.

They repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

They helped make same sex marriage, the law of the land.

I believe the Obama Administration has done more for Veterans than any since Truman’s and Eisenhower’s. They increased the budget for the Veterans Administration by 16 percent in 2010 and 10 percent in 2011, passed a new G.I. Bill that provided $78 billion dollars in tuition assistance and gave tax credits to businesses who hire Vets.

And they still created more than 15 million jobs, including the biggest (800,000) growth in manufacturing jobs since the 1990’s. Unfortunately many of those are not living wage jobs. They’ve created an average of almost 200,000 jobs for 29 straight months between 2010 and 2016 and the unemployment rate dropped from more than 10% to 4.9%.

Medium household income has gone up $1,140 or 2 %.

The buying power of the average workers weekly paycheck is up 4.2%

Median sales prices of existing single family homes are up 23%

The murder rate is down 5%, despite an increase in 2015.

The number of unauthorized immigrants is also down.

Our national deficit has been cut by three-quarters, from the 2009 bail-out deficit of $1.4 trillion to the $439 billion 2015 deficit.

The stock markets have soared. The S&P 500 was up 220% over 2009. Nasdaq is up more than 320% and the Dow is up almost 200%, rising from about 8,000 after the crash to a new record of more than 19,000 now.

The Federal Reserve also played a big role in digging us out of the financial crisis and deep recession, by keeping interests low, which also helped the housing sector recover.

They passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 to regulate the practices that bank engaged in that crashed the economy and caused the Great Recession. Dodd-Frank improved the regulation of eight areas that led to the financial crisis. The “Volcker Rule” banned banks from being involved in hedge funds. The Financial Stability and Oversight Council regulated hedge funds and banks that became too big to fail. Dodd-Frank also directed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to regulate the riskiest derivatives, like the credit default swaps and commodities future that were the primary causes of the collapse.

They also created the Consumer Financial protection Bureau, which has returned billions of dollars back to victimized consumers and improved regulation of credit cards and mortgages.

They also passed the Credit Card Accountability Act in 2009.

And the first bill they passed in 2009 was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Play Act, which gave women who are paid less that men for the same work the ability to sue their employers after they finally discover the discrimination.

They passed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011, which increased the Food and Drug Administration’s budget by $1.4 billion dollars, so they can expand food inspections, issue direct food recalls and increase safety practices of countries importing products into America.

They Passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009. Which mandated that tobacco manufacturers disclose all ingredients and obtain FDA approval for any new tobacco product.

They passed the 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Program (Chip) to cover health care for an additional 4 million children, paid for by a tax on tobacco products.

In 2009, they got the EPA to declare carbon dioxide a pollutant and allowing them to regulate its production.

In 2009, they eliminated the Bush-era restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

They engineered Federal Communications approval to transfer $8 billion in subsidies away from landlines and toward broadband Internet for lower-income rural families.

In 2009, they passed the Claims Resolution Act, which provided $4.6 billion funding for the legal settlement for black and Native American farmers who the government denied loans and natural resource royalties to in the past.

They passed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act in 2009, which designated more than 2 million acres of wilderness, created historic trails and protected more than 1,000 miles of rivers.

They invested $90 billion dollars in research for smart electric grids, energy efficiency, electric autos, renewable electric generation, clean coal and bio-fuels.

They issued an executive order in 2009 requiring all federal agencies to reduce their environmental impact. This includes 30% reduction in fleet gasoline use, 26% increase in water efficiency and sustainability requirements for all federal contracts.

They passed in 2011, over staunch objections from fossil fuel pandering Republicans, new fuel efficiency standards that will double fuel economy for cars, and for the first time trucks by 2025. Some auto manufacturers have already surpassed those standards.

Wind and solar power have quadrupled; coal production has dropped 36% and carbon emissions have gone down 12%.

Clean energy production (300 million megawatt hours) from solar, wind and biomass has doubled since (150 million megawatt hours) in 2009.

The Administration engineered an agreement with British Petroleum to set up a $20 billion dollar fund to quickly compensate victims of the Deep-water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico after pointing out that it took almost 2 decades for the victims of the Exxon Valdez Alaska oil spill to receive $1.3 billion.

President Obama led global efforts for the International Climate Agreement in Paris in December 2015. Countries agreed to reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon trading and to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures.

He also enacted the Clean Power Plan in 2015. It reduces carbon emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. This is accomplished by reduction goals for the nations power plants. Power plants will create 30% more renewable energy generation by 2030.

They reduced military spending in 2011 by $450 billion dollars.

They stopped the $1 billion per launch Space Shuttle program boondoggle and the even more bloated Bush era Constellation program in 2011.

In 2009 they ended the Lockheed Martin single-seat, twin engine, fighter aircraft program, which cost $358 million dollars for each plane. The plane never flew a single combat mission, even though they already had 187 planes built. Eliminating the program saved $4 billion.

They also created Recovery.gov, an independent board of inspectors general directed to look for fraud and abuse in the stimulus program. It provided transparent information on every contract funded by the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

They ended the war in Iraq and wound down the war in Afghanistan.

They captured and killed Osama bin laden.

They joined with European and Arab governments to topple Moammar Gaddafi and helped unseat Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

After rescinding Bush Administration torture policies, President Obama began rebuilding the world’s opinion toward the U.S, which was severely damaged during the previous Republican administration.

President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in March 2010. The committee cited “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” He withdrew troops from Iraq in 2011 and reduced the U.S. nuclear warhead stockpile by 10%.

The Iran sanctions they helped get passed in 2010, with other countries, led to the Iran Nuclear weapons program agreement.

They helped the South Sudan declare Independence. They appointed envoys to the Sudan, and had U.S. United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice negotiate a peaceful split

And I think one of the most important issues, especially in light of the potential conflict of interest issues for the incoming Trump Administration, is that President Obama has served longer than any other president in decades without a scandal. When he came into office, he told the American public that he was demanding that everyone who worked in his administration would be held to a higher standard of ethics and he has faithfully delivered on that promise.

When the President came into office, he said he would be a president for all the American people, even those who didn’t vote for him. He said he made mistakes but got up every day determined to help improve the lives of all Americans. I think he was successful in spite of Republican refusal to compromise on anything. But looking at the list of achievements, we see that he has helped 100’s of millions of folks in countless ways.

President Obama’s administration has helped:

The banks and financial institutions who benefited from the bail-out,

The investors and pension funds harmed by the financial crash and then made whole,

The homeowners who lost equity in their homes and then recovered with TARP funds,

The entire auto industry and the millions of new workers in that industry,

The 40 million folks now eligible for Obamacare,

The 10’s of millions of who can’t be denied insurance because of preexisting conditions,

The millions of young folks who can stay on their parents policy through age 26,

The 10’s of millions of folks who won’t have to file bankruptcy because of medical costs,

The 10’s of millions who can now get preventative care at no cost,

The millions of students and their families who now pay reduced student loan interest,

The millions of students and their families who have benefited from more Pell Grants,

The 10’s of millions of children who now have healthier and more nutritious lunches,

Those less likely to be the victims of hate crimes,

The LGBTQ members of the military who can now openly serve their country,

The same sex partners who can now legally get married,

100’s of thousands of men and women of the military and vets who depend on the V.A.,

The 15,000,000 Americans who now have a job,

The 10’s of millions of taxpayers who will have to pay less interest on the deficit,

The millions who profited from the doubling and tripling of the stock markets,

The millions of homeowner families who have benefited from low home mortgage rates,

The 10’s of millions who are protected by Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Protection Act,

The 10’s of millions of women who are now protected by the Lilly Ledbetter Act,

The 10’s of millions of young people who will not start smoking, or will decide to quit,

The 4 million additional children in the expanded CHIPS health program,

The 10’s of millions who will benefit from reduced carbon dioxide emissions,

The millions who will benefit from embryonic stem cell research,

The millions of rural folks who can now use the Internet,

The black and Native American farmers who can now get farm loans and royalties,

The millions who use the 2 million acres of new wilderness and 1,000 miles of rivers,

The millions who benefit from a smart electric grid, energy efficiency and electric autos,

The millions of taxpayers who benefit from a more efficient environmental impact,

The 10’s of millions who will benefit from doubling the fuel economy standards,

The folks in the Gulf who will receive payouts from the Deep Water victims fund,

The billions of people around the world who will benefit from the Paris accord,

The 10’s of millions of American taxpayers who benefit from reduced military spending,

The 100 million folks in Iraq and Afghanistan who can now see the end of the tunnel,

The 100’s of millions around the world who are glad Osama bin laden is in hell,

The 100 million people of Libya and Egypt who have new leadership,

The 10’s of millions of Iranians who are no longer suffering sanctions and,

The 100’s of millions who no longer have to worry about Iran’s nuclear program,

The 100’s of millions who are just a little safer after we reduced our nuclear arsenal,

The many millions in the South Sudan who now have an independent country,

Add to this list the millions of folks helped by the presidents signing of executive orders, including undocumented children and young Latinos, and we can see why President Obama’s approval rating is 57%, the highest it’s been since 2009; and why folks in the U.S. and around the world are sad to see Barack and Michele leave the White House.

What amazes me, when honestly considering this list of accomplishments, is the 43% of American’s who don’t approve of the job the President has done. The alt right, the tea party and virtually every member of the far right media refuse to give the President any credit at all. Anyone who claims this isn’t racism is fooling themselves. And Trump, with his “birther” rants, was the main culprit in this racist campaign to diminish the first black America President.

I think if the Obama Administration would have tried to prosecute some of the evildoers who crashed the economy, had concentrated more on a legitimate jobs program and not just retraining for nonexistent jobs, and had done more about unfair trade agreements and practices or explained their efforts better, they could have dulled Trumps populist message to those who have been left behind in this new economy; and Hillary would have won the electoral college. I realize the administration tried to get a jobs bill, and countless other legislation they thought would help the middle class and the American worker, thru the filibuster happy Republicans in the Senate and past a Republican House unwilling to propose or compromise on any meaningful legislation that would have allowed the President to succeed; but I think the administration could have done a much better job of explaining their goals and the Republicans obstruction, to the voters. The Republicans were adept at framing their obstruction, as handcuffing an out of control socialist spendthrift and as being beneficial to the economy, where in reality, it just exacerbated America’s widening income inequality.

There are any number of mine fields ahead for Trump and the Republicans, including the 25 million dollar Trump University settlement. Neither the plaintiffs nor the courts have signed off on that agreement. Then there’s Trumps upcoming rape trial. Many experts also believe this Trump Administration will explore uncharted new frontiers of governing conflicts of interest. He honestly believes he can run his family business from the White House. And of course, the Republicans always tend to overreach, especially now that they have the White House, the Senate and the House. So strap on your seat belt because it looks like a rough 4 year ride for progressives, the middle class, the working poor, the environment and the economy. Between the cast of characters Trump has assembled for his administration and the temperament and apparent unfitness of the President elect himself, there’s a 50/50 chance this administration may not make it past the 2018 midterm elections intact.

A November 21st article in USA Today by Matt Krantz, highlighted the economic records under Republican and Democratic Presidents. “Recessions are much more common under Republican presidents.” In the last 63 years, since President Eisenhower at the beginning of 1953 until President Obama through 2016, there have been 111 months of recession. 105 of those months of recession have been under Republican presidents, with only 6 months under President Carter. And I think that was because of the oil embargo.

“Every Republican president since Teddy Roosevelt in 1901 has endured a recession in the first term, according to an analysis from Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at stock research firm CFRA.” Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton and Obama had no months of recession. Eisenhower had 28 months, Nixon/Ford had 27 months, Regan had 16, Bush senior had 8 and George W. Bush had 26 months. The average GDP in the last 65 years since President Truman was 3.33%, according to Princeton Professors Alan Blinder and Mark Watson. “With a Republican in the White House, the GDP slowed to 2.54% and with a Democrat jumped to 4.35%.

“A variety of other economic indicators, such as per capita GDP, stock market returns, real wages, and the change in the unemployment rate are also more robust under Democrats. Unemployment fell by .8% under the Democrats and rose 1.1%  with the Republicans.” “The U.S. Economy has performed better when the President of the United States is a Democrat rather than a Republican, regardless of how one measures the performance.” “The current economic expansion has been running for 89 months (under President Obama), 4th longest since 1902.”

Some experts believe this disparate performance may just be a matter of timing or bad luck. I think it’s simply about the economic philosophy of the Republican president and his cabinet and not due to random acts. Republican’s number one goal is cutting taxes, especially for folks who don’t need it (millionaires, billionaires and corporations, who like Mr. Trump,  already enjoy a very low or N/A effective tax rate). Number two is cutting programs started during the FDR New Deal era, especially for those who simply can’t afford it (attacking Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid). And of course continuing the assault against organized labor (attacking teachers, mail-carriers, government workers, collective bargaining and promoting right to work legislation). But these zealots will never understand that these actions severely depress the economy. It’s been proven time and again that when lower and middle class folks have more discretionary income, they freely spend it and the economy flourishes. When rich folks get huge tax cuts and have more money than they know what to do with, they don’t invest it in the economy but engage in risky business practices (the 2008 financial crisis). These folks heading to the White House again are not true conservatives. They can’t wait to get their hands on Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Protection Agency (Overreaching). The richest of the rich always benefit from chaos and financial distress. Like Mr. Trump stated during the campaign, when the economy goes to crap, it’s a great opportunity for him and other billionaires to make a killing. You wonder, by looking at their record, if they actually try to crash the economy on purpose.

But all is not lost. This is after all Thanksgiving and while I don’t have 35 things like I did in 2008, I still have a few things I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful for all the courageous and patriotic American’s in the streets, especially the young folks, who are protesting the election of Divider in Chief Donald Trump, as America’s leader, especially after eight years of President Obama, Michele, and Joe and Jill Biden attempting to unite us.

I’m thankful for all the Native American water protectors, our first environmentalists, standing up for the earth at Standing Rock, especially all the young people. And thankful for all the Native American tribes (more than 300) from all over the country and Canada who have gone to stand with them. I’m thankful for all the environmental activists like myself who have donated and spoken up and stood with them. I’m thankful for all the landowners and farmers like myself, from North and South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois who have stood in the way of the Dakota Access and other risky pipelines. I’m thankful for all the earth protectors who stood up in Canada against the Alberta Tar Sands. I’m thankful for the protectors who stood up in Minnesota and stopped the Sandpiper pipeline project. I’m thankful for all the Native Americans, activists, landowners, farmers and members of Bold Nebraska who stood up and stopped Keystone XL. And I’m thankful for all the Americans and Canadians and people around the world who have donated and wrote letters and signed letters and petitions and said prayers and commented on social media. I am thankful for all the celebrities and concerned media who refuse to ignore the plight of our Native American brothers and sisters. I’m thankful for all the environmental organizations around the country and the world who stand with Standing Rock and stand for the earth. I’m thankful for all the activist leaders who organized demonstrations supporting Standing Rock on November 15th across the country, in almost every state and around the world. I’m thankful for all the 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders, with their hand made signs, who were at the Standing Rock protest in downtown Chicago; and for their parents and teachers for showing them the right way to live sustainably. They will be the earth protectors taking over for their elders. And I will be thankful for all of my fellow Veterans who are going to standing Rock the first week in December to stand with Standing Rock, to show that they represent the true patriotic Americans defending their country and our earth.

I’m thankful for all of humanity who shuns greed in order to protect our blessings of clean air, fertile soil, clean precious water and wholesome food.

I’m thankful for those on the front lines, protesting exploitation of our wilderness, our public lands and our National Parks and Monuments.

I’m thankful for all the organic and sustainable farmers like myself, who feed their neighbors without spoiling the earth. And I’m thankful for the organizations like MOSES who promote and teach the next generation of protectors.

And in spite of how hard Mr. Trump, his exploitative cabinet, the fossil fuel pandering Republican controlled Congress and the evil doers in the fossil fuel industry work, to overturn progress made by the Obama Administration, to reverse climate change and global warming, they can’t stop the march to a cleaner more sustainable world. Alternative energy is cheaper than coal, oil and gas, it’s sustainable and 10’s of millions of people around the world are already enjoying it’s benefits. The world is using less coal, more wind, solar and alt energy, emitting less carbon dioxide and growing and farming more sustainably. More than 100 large corporations have pledged to become 100% renewable. Corporations, utilities, countries, states, cities and communities have promoted and invested in renewable energy. Even oil companies and insurance companies have woken up to the new sustainable world order. We are plodding forward. Trump, his fellow billionaires and the big banks who are heavily invested in fossil fuel assets will attempt to extract every ounce before America says, enough is enough. But they’re on the wrong side of preserving humanity.

Like probably 80% of Americans who did not vote for Mr. Trump, I’m worried for America’s children and grandchildren, the poor, our middle class, labor, the environment, our Democracy and half of the rest of the world. And I worry that Trump will try to undo  60 to 75% of what President Obama accomplished. President Obama set the bar high with his performance in repairing the economy after the Republicans drove it into a ditch, by repairing our reputation around the world and by his integrity and concern for all human beings. If the Trump Administration can do half as well, I will be surprised. I sincerely hope I’m proved wrong.

John Hanno

 

Chang.org Petition Asking Pres. Obama to Return Standing Rock Land

Ask President cede to Standing Rock Sioux, A.C. land at Lake Oahe; or make it a Natl Park.

John Hanno Oak Forest, IL

 

The Dakota Access pipeline poses a catastrophic threat to Native American sacred lands and to the critical water source for more than 17 million Americans down stream of the Missouri River crossing.  We know that President Elect Trump has a serious conflict of interest by owning large investments in DAPL and other fossil fuel assets; and his energy team includes Harold Hamm, billionaire founder of Continental Resources oil company, and someone Mr. Trump might name as his Secretary of Energy. Mr. Trump and the Koch brothers said they support extractive exploitation of public lands and National Parks. President Obama must not only order the Army Corps of Engineers to revoke the pipeline permits and stop the Dakota Access pipeline but we petition President Obama to cede to the Sovereign Standing Rock Sioux Nation water protectors, ownership rights to Army Corp land surrounding and including Lake Oahe and land at the pipeline crossing of the Missouri river, before he leaves office; and / or in the alternative, permanently protect this land by declaring it a National Park. After suffering centuries of persecution and exploitation, Native Americans deserve justice. This land belonged to the Standing Rock Sioux Nation Rez before it was taken back. President Elect Trump has stated he will quickly approve the Dakota Access pipeline and also reverse President Obama’s decision to deny approval of Keystone XL pipeline. We have an enormous glut of oil reserves at Cushing, Oklahoma. The clear purpose of Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines is not to make America energy independent but to reap enormous profits for greedy oil interests exporting oil to China. We must protect our environment and our oil resources. This outdated fossil fuel infrastructure is not needed and railroads serving the Bakkan North Dakota oil fields have invested heavily in improved railroad oil tank car safety and have stated that they have more than enough railroad capacity to transport the Bakkan oil. They will also be able to permanently rehire thousands of laid off North Dakota railroad workers. America must finally honor the first Americans and our first environmentalists by stopping Dakota Access. John Hanno

This petition will be delivered to:     President Obama

Exactly as said in your petition. A shitstorm is coming in Jan. unfortunately.

Gene Day, Wichita, KS     1 week ago

You have been a great champion for the environment. I trust you to do what is right in this case also. Please DO NOT LET DAPL win. Cede the land to Standing Rock Sioux or make it a National Park. This will be the crowning jewel to your environmental legacy.

Cindy Dutka, Philadelphia, PA      1 week ago

President Obama, I’m embarrassed to keep asking you to do things after all the great things you have done, but you know this would be fair. Trump still needs to learn to put the needs of our citizens ahead of his own financial interests. Help him see that!

Rita Sack, Newtown Square, PA     1 week ago

#HonorTheTreaties #HonorOurTreaties ceding the USAE land back to Standing Rock Sioux via 1851 Treaty of Ft. Laramie

NorthWind Stilson, Nelsonville, OH     1 week ago

It poses a threat to farmers as well as children. We all need relief from this pipeline.

morgan kanae, hanford, CA      1 week ago

This process has literally been bulldozed through the rights of people and at the eventual expense of the planet.

Allen Frechette,  Shakopee, MN      3 weeks ago

 

Enbridge Oil Spill in Michigan

John Bolenbaugh WhistleBlower

October 23, 2016

SICK ENBRIDGE RESIDENTS PART 1

A few small clips of the hundred sick residents I’ve interviewed. Almost a dozen kids now have lukemia, in our small area. A must see. I am part cherokee and Blackfoot and I have always felt a deep love for the environment, animals and a need to protect our water. When the Enbridge spill happened in my back yard. I knew what Gods purpose for me was, it was to protect mother Earth against companies like Enbridge. Enbridgelies.com

SICK ENBRIDGE RESIDENTS PART 1A few small clips of the hundred sick residents I've interviewed. Almost a dozen kids now have lukemia, in our small area. A must see. I am part cherokee and Blackfoot and I have always felt a deep love for the environment, animals and a need to protect our water. When the Enbridge spill happened in my back yard. I knew what Gods purpose for me was, it was to protect mother Earth against companies like Enbridge. Enbridgelies.comWatch part 2

Posted by John Bolenbaugh WhistleBlower on Sunday, October 23, 2016

Proof ENBRIDGE lied. Please share all of these short clips. Many more on my facebook. They can help save future lives. I am part cherokee and Blackfoot and I have always felt a deep love for the environment, animals and a need to protect our water. When the Enbridge spill happened in my back yard. I knew what Gods purpose for me was, it was to protect mother Earth against companies like Enbridge. Enbridgelies.com

Posted by John Bolenbaugh WhistleBlower on Monday, June 20, 2016

Watch part 2

Un “Till’….The Trayvon Martin Case

July 17, 2013   John Hanno

                                                        Un ‘Till’

Following the decision in the George Zimmerman trial, John Lewis, Congressman from Georgia since 1987, said: “I am deeply disappointed by the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. It seems to justify the stalking and killing of innocent black boys and deny them any avenue of self-defense. … I hope this verdict will serve to open some kind of meaningful dialogue on the issues of race and justice in America.”

Of course Congressman Lewis is correct, but under Florida’s dangerous stand your ground laws, its not just unarmed young black males that are in jeopardy of being blown to kingdom come; its everyone who might end up in the gun sites of these wacko vigilantes. All teenagers, white, black or Latino, 90% of who wear hoodies, should not venture out at night. And, based on the outcome of the Zimmerman trial, anyone is now free to arm themselves, approach and pick a fight with someone or provoke someone they have a beef with or don’t approve of; and as soon as that prey offers some resistance, you’re able to put a bullet through their heart. I see similar stories like this on WE-TV, in reruns of “Gunsmoke” and “The Rifleman”. Who said the Wild West is dead?

As we know, Congressman Lewis was one of the leaders in the civil rights movement and helped lead the March 7, 1965 Bloody Sunday march for voting rights, from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery. He was one of the marchers who were confronted and then clubbed, whipped and tear-gassed by more than 150 State Troopers, Sheriff’s police and posse men (vigilantes) on the Edmund Pettis Bridge and then had his skull fractured. I think Mr. Lewis can recognize a vigilante when he sees one.

Mr. Lewis also stated he believes the shooting of Trayvon Martin resembled the Emmett Till case of August 1955, where a 14 year old South Side Chicago boy visiting his cousins for the summer, was dragged from his great uncles home at gun point in the middle of the night for talking to a white women 3 days earlier in Money, Mississippi. Emmett was found 4 days later in the Tallahatchie River, beaten, shot in the head and lashed to a large metal fan with barbed wire. He was so unrecognizable, the only way he was identified was by his fathers initials L.T. on the signet ring given to Emmett by his mother before he left Chicago. Till’s alleged killers, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, were arrested and charged with his murder. Despite the overwhelming evidence and even though Till’s great uncle Moses courageously put his life in jeopardy by testifying and identifying the two as Till’s kidnappers and killers. both were acquitted of all charges by an all white, all male jury.

The deliberations lasted only 67 minutes. A few months later, the defendants then sold the story of how they kidnapped and murdered Till to Look Magazine for $4,000.  Emmett’s body was shipped back to Chicago. His mother, Mamie Till, decided to display his body at Roberts Temple Church of God in an open casket. Although she said it was very painful seeing her dead son’s body on display, she said: “let the world see what has happened, because there is no way I could describe this. And I needed somebody to help me tell what it was like.”  I remember seeing pictures of thousands of mourners parading by his casket and the graphic pictures of Till in his casket in Jet magazine. It didn’t look like a human body. He’s buried in a nearby South Chicago suburb. He was only about 6 years older than me so we grew up on the South Side of Chicago at the same time. We were both born in July, 2 days apart.

Emmett Till’s death and his mothers efforts to publicize his tragedy, for all the world to see, served as an impetus for the Civil Rights movement. Three months after his death, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and go to the back of the bus. Her actions sparked the yearlong Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott. Mamie Till believed her son’s death, and stories, pictures and films of other beatings and lynchings in the south, including those of nonviolent protestors being attacked by police and State troopers with dogs and fire hoses, helped America come to grips with racial inequality and injustice. She said that before her sons murder: “people really didn’t know that things this horrible could take place. And the fact that it happened to a child, that makes all the difference in the world.”

The case that the Zimmerman prosecution team presented leaves a lot of room for criticism. Legal media experts across the country have picked apart their ineffective case. I too, was shouting at my TV during much of the trial, imploring the prosecutors to either ask this question or why in the world would they have asked that question or why not follow up with that question. The biggest mistakes allowed the inclusion of Zimmerman’s many self-serving statements and video’s, without somehow assuring he would have to testify under oath and be subject to cross examination in order to counter the prosecution’s presumed fact based theory of events.

I believe the prosecutors gave the jury too much credit for being able to analyze the evidence and fill in the blanks. Instead of laying out a clear scenario they wholeheartedly believed flowed from the known facts and from Zimmerman’s proven lies and false statements, they somehow believed the jury would base their decision simply on the fact that Zimmerman lied about what really occurred and then refused to testify and face rebuttal.

I would be willing to bet these jurors were not analytical people. They are probably intuitive people of faith and not reason, and consequently swayed more by their biases than by facts and reasoned argument. Defense attorney Don West unfortunately had it right with his knock, knock joke about picking a jury reliably void of knowledge about the case. Unfortunately those usually chosen as jurors are often void of any knowledge or analytical talent concerning anything. The prosecution proffered a timeline without filling in the blanks. The prosecution then helped Zimmerman prove his own case by fully accepting Zimmerman and his defense’s claims that assumed, and consequently established for the jury that Trayvon was clearly the aggressor. I screamed at my TV, all my teachers taught me that: when you assume something, “you make an ass out of u and me.” They allowed the defense to put Trayvon on trial. And he was reliably found guilty.

We don’t know exactly what happened in the dark that night because (1) Trayvon is dead, (2) Zimmerman refused to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, (3) it was too dark for neighbors to see what really transpired, or video what happened (4) no one had the courage to venture out to help someone crying out for help. (5) The police department failed to initially charge or take serious the allegations against Zimmerman.

If young black Trayvon had been the one pulling the trigger, he would have been in a maximum security prison before they served him his first baloney sandwich, and (6) lets face it, Sanford P.D. did not have “The Closer’s” Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson to interrogate Mr. Zimmerman. If they had, she would have wrapped up the case within the hour; and  Zimmerman would have confessed to killing Trayvon, been placed in cuffs and headed to prison for 30 to life.

But I would be willing to bet my check on a few plausible certainties. Trayvon was simply on his way back home to his 12 year old step brother with skittles and a bottle of ice tea, to play video games and to watch the NBA All-star game on TV. He was unarmed. He was not on drugs or acting suspicious as Zimmerman claimed. We saw him on video inside the Convenience Store and he looked like any other merely confused teenager trying to make a decision about what he wanted to buy and how much he had to spend. The store clerk, as he testified to at trial, was obviously not suspicious or threatened.

I’m pretty sure Trayvon was not sticking his hands in his waistband as Zimmerman claimed. He was talking to a friend on his phone with one hand and holding his bag of goodies with the other. Trayvon really believed he was being followed by some crazy ass cracker. And was probably scared shitless. Zimmerman was clearly profiling Trayvon as a suspicious f—ing asshole, a punk that was probably on drugs and some thug about to get away with something.

Zimmerman refused to stay in his vehicle, as he was told to do, until the police arrived a few minutes later. And I firmly believe Zimmerman, who his MMA type trainer testified at trial as soft and a wuss, was not afraid to take off after a suspicious hooded young black man because he probably drew his gun from the holster as soon as he left his vehicle. And finally, Trayvon was intercepted from going home by a vigilante aiming a gun at him.

This is where its gets complicated. Did uncoordinated Zimmerman trip and fall while he was running after Trayvon; did Zimmerman slip and fall in the damp grass or onto the hard sidewalk and hurt himself; did Zimmerman trip or slip and fall, and did the gun then accidentally fire a bullet through Trayvon’s heart; did Zimmerman just get excited and stick a gun into Trayvon’s chest and accidentally or on purpose shoot Trayvon through the heart?

After possibly accidentally shooting Trayvon, did Zimmerman then injure himself on purpose and concoct an unbelievable story so that it would appear that he had to defend himself against an unarmed skinny boy armed with a cell phone and a bag of skittles? We don’t know if there even was a struggle or fight and if there was, who started it. Was Trayvon desperately trying to defend himself against someone (not a police officer) aiming a gun at him? The prosecution proposed none of these possibilities to the jury.

Because I spent my entire life building and repairing things, I necessarily had to be analytical and logical and could not assume anything. So after shaving with a razor for more than 60 years, I realize that all blood vessels in the head and face are numerous and very close to the surface. I know that any little mishap while shaving makes you bleed like a stuck pig, extracts about a half pint of blood from ones facial capillaries and causes you to stick a half roll of toilet paper on the cuts.

I once blew my nose during a cold while I was in the Army, ruptured a blood vessel, lost about a quart of blood, which I spit into a butt can and had to have an Army specialist cauterize the vessel while I passed out. The supposed injuries to Zimmerman were at best, extremely minimal. He could have scratched his own head with a fingernail, a car key or with one of his flashlights; and it would have extracted more blood than was displayed in the photos of his injuries.

If Trayvon had violently slammed Zimmerman’s head onto the sidewalk as Zimmerman’s attorney did to the dummy during trial over and over, Zimmerman would have been knocked out and then rushed to the hospital with a severe concussion and a severe brain injury that would have swelled his brain and forced a neurosurgeon to cut open his scull so that his brain could swell without causing irreparable brain damage.

But most important, if Zimmerman had just waited as directed for 2 or 3 minutes, the police would have shown up, walked up to Trayvon, as uniformed police officers, (something I’m sure Trayvon or any other young black man has experienced multiple times), and simply asked Trayvon what he was doing. Trayvon would have shown the cops his bag of goodies and his receipt from the store. The officers would have patted Trayvon on top of his hoodied head and either sent him or driven him home to his waiting brother. As they dropped him off, they would have told him to be careful because there are some dangerous armed people driving through his neighborhood.

And if heaven forbid, in the extremely unlikely case a cop would have shot an unarmed boy, that officer would have his badge and firearm taken away immediately and would have been subjected to not only an automatic internal investigation, but probably a state or federal use of force investigation. I just can’t believe there is any conceivable way, Trayvon would not be alive today, if only the police had confronted him instead of Zimmerman.

Interesting and informative was Sean Hannity’s interview of Zimmerman. Hannity asked him why he thought Trayvon was on drugs. Zimmerman said because it was raining, Trayvon was walking between houses, cutting through houses and walking very leisurely. That sounded like nonsense, as did much of Zimmerman’s answers during the whole interview. When I was a teen walking through my South Side Chicago neighborhood, we often flipped fences and cut through backyards and alleys. It simply appeared Zimmerman was attempting to keep from tripping himself up on previous lies.

But I think most interesting part of the interview, besides the fact that he claimed he didn’t know anything about or ever heard about Stand Your Ground Laws (Obviously pure bullcrap), was when Hannity asked Zimmerman if he regretted anything that night, regretted getting out of the car to follow Trayvon that night. Zimmerman said no sir. Hannity then said do you regret that you had a gun that night. Zimmerman said no sir. Hannity then asked Zimmerman if he felt that he would not be there tonight if he didn’t have the gun. Zimmerman said no sir. Hannity asked him if he would do anything differently in retrospect, time having passed a bit. Zimmerman said he felt it was all Gods plan and for him to second guess it or judge it…umm and then shakes his head no. Hannity then asks, is there anything you would do differently in retrospect, now that a little bit of time has passed. Zimmerman again said no sir. I think even Hannity was clearly incredulous, but Zimmerman failed to relent.

If I was the prosecutor in the case, I would have played that part of the Hannity interview and then while looking directly at Trayvon’s parents and then at the 6 women jurors, I would say, I believe Trayvon’s parents and family surely believe in God but I know they also don’t believe it was “Gods Will” that some reckless individual should shoot and kill their unarmed boy.

The prosecutors in this case could have presented all these arguments in a more coherent way. If they did, I believe Zimmerman may have had to testify in order to not be convicted of 2nd degree murder and at worse, may have been convicted of manslaughter. Yet if the prosecutors had put on a much more competent case and done everything right, would it have made a difference to this 6 person non representative jury; maybe not?

I’ve seen enough jury trials to believe the idea of a jury of ones peers may have outlived its benefits. Most civilized countries, if not all, don’t rely on that system. I think its time we have jurors trained and paid as professionals. They can still be chosen as representative to a particular case. But Trayvon was in actuality tried, convicted and found guilty, yet he did not have a jury of his peers. How about a 12 person jury, six of which were people of color and who may have been profiled at one time or another. It would also be interesting to hear what Judge Debra Nelson felt about the jury’s decision. We will probably never know. What I do know for sure is that:

If I had felt it necessary to inject myself into community policing, like Zimmerman did and which I definitely wouldn’t, and;

If I had felt it necessary to stick my nose into someone else’s (Trayvon’s) business, like Zimmerman did and which I would never do, and;

If I had owned a gun designed primarily for killing fellow human beings, like Zimmerman did and which I have refused to do for more than 6 decades while living on the South Side of Chicago and South Suburbs, and;

If I had routinely carried a concealed weapon, like Zimmerman does (he told Hannity that he carries his gun everywhere except work) and which I don’t and which I believe is antithetical to a civilized society and unbelievably reckless, and;

If I had routinely targeted young black males in my community, like Zimmerman did time and time again when calling police (he always reported only black males) and which I have never done in more than 60 years, and;

If I routinely profiled young black men by referring to them as “those F—ing assholes”        and “punks that always get away”, like Zimmerman did and which I think is obscene, and proves Zimmerman harbored ill will and malice of forethought, and;

If I decided to get out of my vehicle and follow Trayvon, even thought the police dispatcher told him not to and to stay in his vehicle, like Zimmerman did and which I would never even consider doing, and;

If I decided to un-holster my loaded gun and chase after a young boy who did nothing to me or anyone else, as Zimmerman probably did, and which I would never, ever even consider doing, and;

If for some inconceivable reason, I engaged in such outrageous conduct, like Zimmerman did in this case, I guess I wouldn’t have the guts to testify before a jury of my peers either.

But I just can’t believe a jury would not find a person guilty of manslaughter after refusing to explain or justify the reasons he found it necessary to shoot and kill an unarmed boy. How can juror B37 “reasonably” believe “Zimmerman’s heart was in the right place.”

And how can Juror B29 “reasonably” vote to acquit Zimmerman. She initially voted to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder. After the trial, she told Robin Roberts, during an interview on “Good Morning America” that she believed Zimmerman “got away with murder.” She said “George Zimmerman got away with murder, but you can’t get away from God. And at the end of the day, he’s going to have a lot of questions and answers he has to deal with,” “[But] the law couldn’t prove it.” “You can’t put the man in jail even though in our hearts we felt he was guilty,” “But we had to grab our hearts and put it aside and look at the evidence.” “I was the juror that was going to give them the hung jury. I fought to the end.” She also stated she thought the case was a “publicity stunt” and should not have been brought to trial. “The truth is that there was nothing that we could do about it.” “I feel the verdict was already told.”

She blamed the lack of evidence and Florida’s laws to somehow justify acquitting Zimmerman. She now second guesses her decision to acquit; but of course its too late. She said she owes Trayvon’s parents an apology and believes “like I let them down.” I think she let Trayvon Martin and our jury system down.

I guess it’s too much to ask one 6 person jury to put a dent in America’s race relations problems but I was hoping for just a little common sense. I guess I was waiting for Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) or “Elementary’s” Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu (Sherlock Holmes and Watson) to step in and figure out ‘who done it.’

Conservative media and Bloggers view Zimmerman as a hero. He is not a hero. He’s a “wantabe” cop who was repeatedly determined unfit for police work. He profiled a young person innocently walking through his neighborhood. He refused to stay in his vehicle when told to by the police dispatcher. He refused to wait for just a couple of minutes more for the dispatched trained police officers to arrive. He shot Trayvon, as he told Hannity, 15 or 30 seconds before the police arrived.

He is at best a reckless buffoon who was probably chasing after Trayvon with his finger on the trigger of a loaded high powered weapon that didn’t have a safety (“never run while carrying a scissors”). He either stumbled or otherwise accidentally, or on purpose, shot Trayvon through his heart. He then concocted a story only a mother could believe. I believe Zimmerman then told us a lot about his intensions and state of mind by not trying to save Trayvon’s life by initiating any efforts to help him or perform CPR.

George Zimmerman got away with murder because of (1) a tardy and mediocre investigation of his conduct and the facts of the case by the Sanford P.D.; (2) because of ineffective prosecution; (3) because of Florida’s nonsensical and dangerous Stand Your Ground Laws, and the consequential confusing jury instructions; and (4) because of a 6 person jury that was not representative of both the defendant and the victim, and a jury that was probably not capable of using their common sense to render a just decision.

Un “Till” young black men, especially those wearing hoodies, are not automatically viewed by half of American’s as troublemakers and thugs;

Un “Till” America stops incarcerating young black men at ever increasing rates;

Un “Till” more young black men refuse to join gangs when looking for some semblance of family;

Un “Till” America is able to offer young men of all colors, including and especially Veterans, living wage jobs, instead of a life of fending for themselves on the streets;

Un “Till” more young black men end up graduating from college, than from being released from prison;

Un “Till” we reach a point where the innocent young black victim of a hate crime can’t be proven guilty of his own murder;

Un “Till” all those, including jurors, who say they are not prejudiced, but harbor many subtle and toxic biases, can see themselves for what they are;

Un “Till” Police departments throughout America, view all young men the same regardless of how they walk or talk or what they wear or the hue of their skin;

Un “Till” Legislatures everywhere, including the United States Congress, find some balls, and stand up to the NRA, ALEC and these extreme wacko 2nd Amendment zealots;

Un “Till” America “Stand’s It’s Ground”, and refuses to turn its back on responsible gun laws;

Un “Till” this all happens, we will continue to see, especially on the streets of our South Chicago neighborhoods, innocent children placed in caskets and carried to the cemeteries.

If there are any positives in this case and reason for hope, its that:

A recent Poll said that 62% of American’s believe George Zimmerman unnecessarily killed Trayvon Martin.

At least 450,000 people, and probably much more now, and including myself, signed a petition asking the Department of Justice to go forward with their suspended civil rights investigation of Zimmerman’s conduct.

Peaceful demonstrators across the country were not just African Americans but from every group. Black, white, Latino and Asian; men, women and children, old and young. I would say the demonstrators I saw were an overwhelming white majority.

And, a large majority of Florida’s prosecutors are now asking the legislators to change and correct the flaws in Florida’s current Stand Your Ground Laws.

And, most experts believe a Civil Trial against George Zimmerman probably will be undertaken; a trial where Zimmerman will be forced to testify. At least he may not be able to profit from Trayvon’s murder.

Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, said he would like Trayvon’s hoodie for its permanent collection. “It became the symbolic way to talk about the Trayvon Martin case.” “It’s rare that you get one artifact that really becomes the symbol.”

Maybe the pictures of Trayvon Martin lying on a slab in the morgue will, like the pictures of Emmett Till lying in his coffin did in 1955 for civil rights, spark change; and in this case, some sensible modification of these egregious and dangerous Stand Your Ground Laws, in at least some of those 24 states. Our own Illinois concealed weapons ban was recently struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Illinois was the last of the States to have a reasonable ban on concealed weapons. Our legislature is still wrestling with a revision of those laws that would conform with the Constitutions 2nd Amendment. Gentlemen and women, please pay attention.

And as Congressman Lewis implored: “I hope this verdict will serve to open some kind of meaningful dialogue on the issues of race and justice in America.”    John Hanno

Happy Independence Day America “Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”

July 4, 2012     John Hanno

Happy Independence Day America  “Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act (or Obama Care to the tea-party and free market zealots) are apoplectic that someone, especially “the Government,” should force them to do anything. They believe it violates their constitutional rights if the “Government” should require them to purchase health insurance, ignoring the fact that for generations, we’ve required individuals, businesses and institutions to purchase automobile liability, workers compensation and other forms of insurances.

Our founding fathers and the framers of our constitution could not possibly have foreseen the complexity of our society today, the 50 million Americans without health care or the hundreds of hospitals on the verge of bankruptcy because they must treat for free, millions of sick folks who flood their emergency rooms 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Nor could they have contemplated the burden on the taxpayers who must ultimately pay the interest on those unpaid costs.

The Republican’s demonized the President for wasting too much time and effort on getting the Affordable Care Act signed into law, instead of dealing early on with unemployment and the national debt; again conveniently ignoring the fact that a large portion of that debt is caused by our dysfunctional health care system and also that a cornerstone of the Act is it’s provisions designed to help control runaway health care costs and enhance preventative medical care. The Republican’s have had no plan of their own, other than their business as usual doctrine of tacking closely with the insurance industry; but that approach was thoroughly indefensible.

And of course for the last 30 plus years, corporate leaders joined at the hip by Republican apologists throughout the country, have disowned our working class and preached from the mountain tops that the reason they were closing almost 50,000 factories and exporting those good paying manufacturing jobs was because of the generous and untenable benefits paid to our middle class working men and women. We’ve heard for decades that the American auto industry can’t compete when the average legacy costs for each American made auto was more than $1,500 (now between $2,300 and $2,700), compared to a small fraction of what it is in Mexico, Korea or China. But is that what America has become; a society that will build things but only as long as the workers are willing to forsake the benefits the American worker has fought and died for over the last century?

So in order to level the playing field a bit, President Obama and critical thinking Democratic Congressmen and women realized early on that if we’re going to create living wage jobs for hardworking Americans, they would have to first tackle our health care crisis. They believed that if American manufacturers were not burdened with unpredictable and ballooning health care costs, they could more easily compete with the rest of the industrialized world and consequently bring back those good paying manufacturing jobs.

But the Republican’s pledged, soon after President Obama was sworn in, to do everything they could to keep him from being reelected. They obstructed each and every one of his and the Democrats efforts to pull us out of the depression era financial collapse and debt crisis, which the Republicans created, by disregarding and dismantling financial industry regulations, giving unnecessary and unneeded tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and by waging two unnecessary and unfunded wars.

Their single minded campaign to overturn the Affordable Care Act and obstruct the President at every opportunity during the last three and a half years, has stymied America’s fiscal recovery and brought us to the edge of the cliff, wondering whether a majority of our Supreme Court Justices would cling to their ultra conservative ideology or side with the 50 million Americans without health care and the 36 to 112 million Americans with pre-existing conditions who couldn’t afford or even find any form of health care if insurance companies had their way.

Would the Supreme Court side with the special interests that have funded these attacks on the Act and the President and his party’s attempts to begin removing the albatross around the neck of America’s recovery and prosperity or with the 13.7 million young American’s between 18 and 25 who are now able to remain on their parent’s insurance policies until they’re 26 years of age.

Would the Court side with the tea party crowd that has commandeered the Grand Old Party or with a large number of the 65% of America’s prison population who have some mental health issue and who might not have even been institutionalized (at $50,000 per year) had they had medical insurance and the specialized care they desperately needed. Our prisons are not equipped and their employees are not trained to care properly for these mentally ill inmates. And taxpayers should not have to pay for their expensive incarceration because even the best of the mental health care provisions of health insurance policies cover only 65% or less of the costs of mental health care, if at all. The Affordable Care Act strengthens mental health coverage for all.

Would the Court side with the libertarians who firmly believe they are not their brothers or sisters keeper or with the tens of millions of working poor who can’t afford health care insurance even if it were available.

Would they side with the insurance companies who skim more than 30% off the top of America’s astronomical health care expenditures (which is 50% more per person than virtually all industrialized nations) or with the 86 million people who have already received free preventive care, the 105 million people who no longer face a lifetime cap on benefits and the 17 million children who already cannot be denied coverage due to preexisting conditions.

The new tea-party controlled Republican members of Congress were adamant that no part of President Obama’s health care act should survive the Supreme Court’s decision. Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa outlined their ideology when he stated the previous month that “I don’t want any vestige of Obamacare left in law,” “Not one particle of DNA.” Could the Affordable Care Act survive if the individual mandate were to be struck down or would it be in jeopardy of collapsing, as the Republican’s prayed, because the mandate is what makes the law affordable? In fact we already have a mandate, one that requires taxpayers to pay the unreimbursed medical costs for those who can’t afford, can’t find or refuse to purchase health insurance. The irony is that this mandate was proposed by Republicans who, at one time believed in personal responsibility; that is before they flip flopped on the issue just so they could oppose President Obama and the Democrats. Would the Supreme Court side with these uncompromising neo-con’s or with the tens of millions of hard working American’s who have fallen out of the middle class.

Should our Supreme Court have even choose, or be allowed to rule on, such a consequential law; a law written by an elected legislature, which had struggled for decades to reach a hard fought, acceptable compromise that finally passed through both houses of Congress and then signed into law. Would these privileged deciders, none of which ever held elected office, have an inkling of what it took for President Obama and the Democrats to accomplish this feat over the monumental obstruction from special interests and their congressional minions?

Do you think any of the Justices ever had to worry about paying for health care for themselves or a sick family member? Thanks to the American taxpayer and our socially democratic form of government, they have one of, if not the best, health care insurance in the world and will have that insurance until the day they die.

Do you think any of the justices have had to sit with a gravely ill or injured family member or child at the emergency room hoping and praying that they will be taken care of instead of just being patched up and shunted off to fend for themselves, by a hospital struggling to keep its doors open?

Do you think any of the Justices or their loved ones have ever been denied hospital care and admission for mental health issues because they had no health insurance and the hospital claimed they had no available room at the inn and just shipped them off to a state run mental institution?

Would all of the justices be able to sympathize with the parents of chronically sick children that kneeled on the steps of the Supreme Court during oral arguments praying for divine intervention?

European and many other countries believe it’s obscene that we allow Americans to be forced into bankruptcy and lose their homes and wealth because of catastrophic health care expenses. Here in Illinois, our governor had recently signed a bill booting 25,000 poor working Americans off of Medicaid. And many other states had or were contemplating similar belt tightening legislation. The Affordable Care Act was not perfect but it’s a start on the road to the universal health care system America needs in order to remain a world leader. A healthy America is a vibrant and prosperous America.

I don’t have an ax to grind when it comes to health care or medical insurance. Fortunately I’m (knock wood) very healthy. I don’t take any medications and I’m old enough to qualify for Medicare. I worked hard in the trades for more than forty years and earned supplemental insurance from my past employer, for which I pay affordable subsidized premiums. And because I spent three years in the Army serving my country, I can go to our local V.A. clinic and hospital if I need routine exams or prescriptions. But not all Americans are so blessed.

I believe health care for all human beings is a right, not a luxury only the rich can afford. I believe health care for all is essential to the “Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” principal embodied in our Declaration of Independence. That Declaration was drafted by Thomas Jefferson and passed by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, exactly 236 years ago. After the Court announced that the Affordable Care Act decision would be issued before Independence Day on June 28th , I wished that our Supreme Court would ask themselves, what Thomas Jefferson would do if he were here today and then decide do what’s best for America for our nation’s upcoming anniversary by upholding the law.

I believe we should have long ago implemented a universal, single payer health care system like much of the civilized world. But there were more than a hundred million Americans who desperately needed that mediocre token of what America really needs and deserves. Considering the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, I didn’t hold much hope for a “just” decision that would be in the best interests of all Americans; but hope springs eternal. A week before the ruling, Sen. John McCain, one of the architects, together with Sen. Russ Feingold, of the 2002 campaign finance law limiting donations to candidates, commented on that Citizens United decision. “I wish one of them had run for County Sheriff” he said of the Justices. Well I think many American’s wished the 4 or 5 most conservative Justices had, at one time or another, lost their health care insurance, been at the mercy of an uncaring and unbending insurance company or had been on the verge of loosing everything they owned because of a catastrophic illness. They wished those Justices had found it necessary to go to a banker, hat in hand, asking for financing to get back on their feet after their credit was destroyed by overwhelming medical expenses. They wished the Justices would try to put themselves in their shoes, as the highest court in the land routinely used to do.      John Hanno

 

Post Script: After the oral arguments were completed, a poll of constitutional lawyers and experts believed, almost unanimously, that the Act would be upheld. But after months of intense ranting by the right wing noise machine, the odds had changed and were almost 75%, that the law would be overturned.

But miracle of miracles happened, the four more progressive Justices joined with Chief Justice Roberts to uphold most of the act

The ink was barely dry on the court ruling when the cacophony of  Republican congressmen and women, past and present presidential candidates, vice presidential wantabes and most conservative pundits were tripping over themselves to demonize the act and Justice Roberts.

It’s now the job of the President and his surrogates to convince a substantial majority of Americans, that his administration’s courage and determination against the rights scorched earth opposition, and even his own party’s indifference, was worth splitting the union into a medically induced civil war.  Portraying the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as (1) vital to creating living wage jobs, (2) helping to reduce the deficit and (3) bringing America’s health care system into the 21st century, will eventually convince most of America, that this is an important step on the path to universal, single payer health care.        John  Hanno