Where Are The Patriots?

 

January 14, 2017, John Hanno                            

                    

                                       Where Are the Patriots?

Where are the Republi-con Patriots who should be stepping forward to protest Russian interference in our Democratic elections, the ones who proudly wear the flag on their suit lapels and who like to stand in front of the American public, with rows of American flags in the background, the more the better; as if the more flags displayed, the more credible and patriotic you become.

One who could step forward is Senator John McCain, who received sensitive information from an unknown source, containing unsubstantiated but potentially compromising research on Donald Trump and his alleged ties to Russia, Putin and their intelligence agencies, and who thought it important enough to give to the FBI. This dossier was allegedly compiled as anti-Trump opposition research for his Republican opponents during the 2016 primaries and then used for Democratic research during the general election.

Another might be Senator Lindsey Graham, who believes Trump should make Vladimir Putin “pay a price” for waging cyber attacks on the DNC during the presidential election campaign. Graham said Putin “tries to destroy democracy around the world, interferes in our elections, kills his opponents and steals his people blind,” and is “not gonna stop this until he pays a price, and no one’s made him pay a price yet.”

Congressional Democrats and both of these Senators, contrary to the incoming Trump transition team and the rest of the cowardly and conflicted Republicans in congress, have asked for an independent investigation of Russian interference in our election. The Republi-cons want America to disregard Trump’s and his proposed cabinet’s close ties to Russia and to just move on. Most of America says not so fast!

The AP’s Richard Lardner reported today that: “The Senate Intelligence Committee will investigate possible contacts between Russia and the people associated with U.S. political campaigns as part of a broader investigation into Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.”

“In a statement late Friday, Sens. Richard Burr. R-N.C., the committee’s chairman, who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to take action, and Mark Warner, D-Va., the panel’s top Democrat, said the panel “will follow the intelligence where it leads.”

“Burr and Warner said that as part of the investigation, they will interview senior officials from the Obama administration and the incoming Trump administration. They said subpoenas would be issued “if necessary to compel testimony.”

“We will conduct this inquiry expeditiously, and we will get it right,” the senators said.

“A declassified intelligence report released last week said Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a hidden campaign to influence the election to favor President-elect Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton, revelations that have roiled Washington.”

“According to the committee’s statement, the inquiry will include:”

— “A review of the intelligence that informed the declassified report about Russia’s interference in the election.”

— “Counterintelligence concerns” related to Russia and the election, “including any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns.”

— “Russian cyber activity and other “active measures” against the United States during the election and more broadly.” Richard Lardner

 

Georgia Representative John Lewis valiantly stepped forward last Friday, saying that he will not view Trump as a legitimate President. He will not attend this inauguration, the first he’s missed in three decades, because he said: “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” He said they corrupted “our open and democratic election process.” Trump falsely and belligerently insisted for years that President Obama was not a legitimate President because he was born in Kenya but now Congressman Lewis is legitimately giving Trump a taste of his own medicine.

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. 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, this must be considered the most corrupt and illegitimate election in our history.

And Democrats in congress have reached a point where they’ve lost confidence in FBI Director Comey’s ability to transparently explain his conduct leading up to the election, when he intervened, contrary to FBI protocol, days before the election to again question Hillary’s emails, but at the same time sat on for months, the dossier about the shocking and potentially much more serious allegations regarding Trump and the Russians. He clearly impacted Hillary’s campaign momentum and it showed in her poll numbers. He either negligently or purposely caused Hillary to lose the election.

I’m sure there are 10’s of millions of Americans like myself, who believe Donald Trump should not be sworn in until there’s a full independent investigation of (1) members of his campaign’s possible involvement in the Russian cyber hacking and election interference, (2) Putin’s involvement and influence in our election, (3)Trump and his proposed cabinet’s involvement with Russia and Putin, (4) Trumps potential conflicts of interest concerning Russia and Putin and (5) a full review of Trumps and his Secretary of State’s income tax returns. How can we place any credibility in this election? If Trump is sworn in before all these questions are sorted out and these investigations are completed, he will never be viewed by a majority of Americans, as a legitimate president.

After 2 years and 3 or 4 Billion dollars, you would think America could somehow conduct a free and fair national election. Is it a wonder that we have such a low participation rate. And after Hillary Clinton received 2.9 million more votes than Trump but still lost the election because of the archaic Electoral College, those numbers will certainly decline even further. Our whole election process is anything but free, fair or credible. Putin and the Russians are toasting their success in undermining America’s most visible Democratic process, and somehow in dividing it’s political parties even further.

International organizations and many NGOs regularly conduct election monitoring throughout the world. The Carter Center (Democratic President Jimmy Carter) has been involved in election monitoring for decades and has worked with the United Nations and the National Democratic Institute to develop international principles for election observation. They should probably come to America’s rescue, and help us establish truly Democratic elections.

All patriotic Americans should speak up and demand that our intelligence agencies find and interview the former British intelligence operative who investigated the shenanigans involving Trump and his embedded Russian operatives before Trump is sworn in and before Putin and his assassins find him. There’s already rumors that Putin is trying to find out who leaked the dirty laundry in the ex-MI6 spy’s memos.

And to the flag waving hypocritical Congressional Republi-con winuts, who won’t pass up any chance to wave the U.S. Constitution under the noses of Democrats, you’re showing your true allegiance. You turn a blind eye to the insane tweets of DJT and his fealty to a kleptocratic despot, who Republican Senator Marco Rubio describes as a war criminal and mass murderer but then turn around and threaten to investigate the Director of the Office of Government Ethics after Walter M. Shaub Jr. spoke at the Brookings Institute on Trumps plans to avoid conflicts of interest while serving as President.

Mr. Schaub stated: “We can’t risk creating the perception that government leaders would use their official positions for profit. That’s why I was glad in November when the President-elect tweeted that he wanted to, as he put it, “in no way have a conflict of interest” with his businesses. Unfortunately, his current plan can’t achieve that goal.” and also said: “It would, however, be cause for alarm if the Senate were to go forward with hearings on nominees whose reports OGE has not certified. For as long as I remain Director, OGE’s staff and agency ethics officials will not succumb to pressure to cut corners and ignore conflicts of interest.”

“According to an article in Politico, Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), head of the House Oversight Committee, has threatened to subpoena Shaub over his refusal to discuss objections to Trump’s proposed business handling with the committee.”

“According to The Hill, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the OGE was “doing the job that Jason Chaffetz himself is refusing to do,” and called Chaffetz’s threat “outrageous.” Earnest also said Chaffetz is “seeking to intimidate a senior executive branch official who is responsible for enforcing federal ethics rules.”

Americans must once and forever demand free and fair Democratic elections, overturning Citizens United, elections no longer than 2 months, public financing of all elections, limited free broadcast media, debate access for all third party candidates, one man one vote and the presidential election, like all state elections, which is won by popular vote. And unless the Republican controlled Congress decides to stand up for this standard of American Democracy, the Republi-con inaction and subterfuge will permanently disgrace the Grand Old Party.  John Hanno

 

From Mother Jones

The Spy Who Wrote the Trump-Russia Memos: It Was “Hair-Raising” Stuff

When I broke the story in October, I spoke with him. Here’s what he said.

David Corn, January 13, 2017

Last fall, a week before the election, I broke the story that a former Western counterintelligence official had sent memos to the FBI with troubling allegations related to Donald Trump. The memos noted that this spy’s sources had provided him with information indicating that Russian intelligence had mounted a years long operation to co-opt or cultivate Trump and had gathered secret compromising material on Trump. They also alleged that Trump and his inner circle had accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin. These memos caused a media and political firestorm this week when CNN reported that President Barack Obama and Trump had been told about their existence, as part of briefings on the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia hacked political targets during the 2016 campaign to help Trump become president. For my story in October, I spoke with the former spy who wrote these memos, under the condition that I not name him or reveal his nationality or the spy service where he had worked for nearly two decades, mostly on Russian matters.

“Someone like me stays in the shadows,” the former spy said.

The former spy told me that he had been retained in early June by a private research firm in the United States to look into Trump’s activity in Europe and Russia. “It started off as a fairly general inquiry,” he recalled. One question for him, he said, was, “Are there business ties in Russia?” The American firm was conducting a Trump opposition research project that was first financed by a Republican source until the funding switched to a Democratic one. The former spy said he was never told the identity of the client.

The former intelligence official went to work and contacted his network of sources in Russia and elsewhere. He soon received what he called “hair-raising” information. His sources told him, he said, that Trump had been “sexually compromised” by Russian intelligence in 2013 (when Trump was in Moscow for the Miss Universe contest) or earlier and that there was an “established exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin of mutual benefit.” He noted he was “shocked” by these allegations. By the end of June, he was sending reports of what he was finding to the American firm.

The former spy said he soon decided the information he was receiving was “sufficiently serious” for him to forward it to contacts he had at the FBI. He did this, he said, without permission from the American firm that had hired him. “This was an extraordinary situation,” he remarked.

The response to the information from the FBI, he recalled, was “shock and horror.” After a few weeks, the bureau asked him for information on his sources and their reliability and on how he had obtained his reports. He was also asked to continue to send copies of his subsequent reports to the bureau. These reports were not written, he noted, as finished work products; they were updates on what he was learning from his various sources. But he said, “My track record as a professional is second to no one.”

The former spy told me that he was reluctant to be talking with a reporter. He pointed out this was not his common practice. “Someone like me stays in the shadows,” he said. But he indicated that he believed this material was important, and he was unsure how the FBI was handling it. Certainly, there had been no public signs that the FBI was investigating these allegations. (The FBI at the time refused to tell me if it had received the memos or if it was examining the allegations.)

“This was something of huge significance, way above party politics,” the former spy told me. “I think [Trump’s] own party should be aware of this stuff as well.” He noted that he believed Russian intelligence’s efforts aimed at Trump were part of Vladimir Putin’s campaign to “disrupt and divide and discredit the system in Western democracies.”

After speaking with the former counterintelligence official, I was able to confirm his identity and expertise. A senior US administration official told me that he had worked with the onetime spook and that the former spy had an established and respected track record of providing US government agencies with accurate and valuable information about sensitive national security matters. “He is a credible source who has provided information to the US government for a long time, which senior officials have found to be highly credible,” this US official said.

I also was able to review the memos the former spy had written, and I quoted a few key portions in my article. I did not report the specific allegations—especially the lurid allegations about Trump’s personal behavior—because they could not be confirmed. The newsworthy story at this point was that a credible intelligence official had provided information to the FBI alleging Moscow had tried to cultivate and compromise a presidential candidate. And the issue at hand—at a time when the FBI was publicly disclosing information about its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of her email at the State Department—was whether the FBI had thoroughly investigated these allegations related to Russia and Trump. I also didn’t post the memos, as BuzzFeed did this week, because the documents contained information about the former spy’s sources that could place these people at risk.

When I spoke with the former spy, he appeared confident about his material—acknowledging these memos were works in progress—and genuinely concerned about the implications of the allegations. He came across as a serious and somber professional who was not eager to talk to a journalist or cause a public splash. He realized he was taking a risk, but he seemed duty bound to share information he deemed crucial. He noted that these allegations deserved a “substantial inquiry” within the FBI. Yet so far, the FBI has not yet said whether such an investigation has been conducted. As the former spy said to me, “The story has to come out.”

 

From Raw Story

Israeli spies: Trump ‘golden showers’ dossier only one of many troubling reports being investigated

 

Eric W. Dolan, January 14, 2017

Intelligence agencies from around the world are investigating multiple reports that allege some connection between President-elect Donald Trump and the Russian government, according to Israeli intelligence officers who spoke to BuzzFeed.

Last week, BuzzFeed published an unverified dossier that claimed the Russian government had material that could be used to blackmail Trump. The dossier claimed Russia had recordings of Trump’s “personal obsessions and sexual perversion.” It was later revealed that the dossier had been compiled by Christopher Steele, a former member of the British intelligence agency MI6.

Intelligence agencies have reportedly been circulating several other reports regarding Trump’s alleged ties to Russia.

“There have been various reports about Trump’s ties to Russia,” an intelligence officer told BuzzFeed. “The dossier is one of them, but there are others, they make other allegations. Some are more specific, and some are less. You can trust me that many intelligence agencies are trying to evaluate the extent to which Trump might have ties, or a weakness of some type, to Russia.”

Steele, who was hired by Trump’s political foes during last year’s campaign season, had become so worried by the allegations he uncovered that he sent his report to the FBI, according to The Independent. However, Steele “came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry” of Trump, the paper reported.

BuzzFeed said they were trying to verify the allegations contained in Steele’s dossier, but have so far been unsuccessful.

Trump and his transition team have forcefully denied the allegations contained in the report, castigating them as “fake news.”

Israeli intelligence officers were recently warned by U.S. spies not to share intelligence with the Trump administration until they could be sure the former reality TV star hadn’t been compromised by Russia, reported the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

“The Israelis who attended the meeting said that the Americans advised them not to expose any sensitive sources to members of the Trump administration, lest that information reach Iranian hands, until it becomes clear that Trump does not have a compromised relationship with Russia and is not vulnerable to extortion,” the report claimed.

 

From the Pew Research Center, Fact Tank

August 2, 2016

U.S. voter turnout trails most developed countries

By Drew DeSilver

With less than 100 days left till the U.S. presidential election, we thought it was time for a fresh look at how U.S. voter turnout – regularly decried as dismal – compares with other developed democracies. As is so often the case, the answer is a lot more complicated than the question.

Political scientists typically measure turnout by looking at votes cast as a percentage of eligible voters. Since many hard-to-measure factors can affect eligibility (citizenship, imprisonment, residency rules and other legal barriers), in practice turnout calculations usually are based on the estimated voting-age population. By that measure, the U.S. lags most of its peers, landing 31st among the 35 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, most of whose members are highly developed, democratic states.

U.S. turnout in the 2012 presidential election was 53.6%, based on 129.1 million votes cast and an estimated voting-age population of just under 241 million people. Looking at the most recent national elections in OECD countries, the highest turnout rates were in Belgium (87.2%), Turkey (84.3%) and Sweden (82.6%). (Turnout in last month’s Australian parliamentary election almost certainly was in that range too, but we don’t yet have a current estimate for Australia’s voting-age population.) Switzerland consistently has the lowest turnout in the OECD, with less than 39% of the voting-age population casting ballots in the 2015 federal legislative election……

 

From Policy.Mic

7 Other Nations That Prove Just How Absurd U.S. Elections Really Are

By Zeeshan Aleem
May 19, 2015

Is there a greater example of American excess than the presidential campaign process?

From the formation of exploratory committees until the inauguration of the next president, the American election frenzy lasts about two years, a vast majority of which is spent talking about little of substance. Along the way, the U.S. easily outspends every other country in the world, a trend that has only been accelerated by the gutting of restrictions on corporate contributions to campaigns in recent years. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign could cost up to $2 billion, according to early estimates.

What’s even worse is that the exceptional amount of time and money doesn’t produce an engaging democratic process. The U.S. ranks near the bottom in terms of voter participation when compared with other developed nations. Issues like obstacles to voter registration and the ability to simply get to the polls without missing work contribute to strikingly low turnout in the world’s most powerful democracy.

None of this is inevitable, and some of these problems could be easily fixed. Here’s a brief look at some practices in other democracies that the U.S. could learn from, if not replicate:

1. The longest campaign in Canadian history was 10 weeks.

 

Source: Getty

The election process in other countries is typically far shorter than in the U.S. Even though there isn’t an official limit on maximum campaign length in Canada, the longest election campaign in Canadian history was in 1926 for 74 days — about 10 and a half weeks between when the date of the election was announced and voting day.

They’re usually significantly shorter. Party positioning and discussion of election scenarios precede the official election campaign period, but it’s a matter of months rather than years.

2. In the U.K., political parties can only spend $30 million in the year before an election.

 

Source: Getty

Election spending is strictly limited in the U.K. Each party cannot spend more than $29.5 million in the year before the election. The New York Times reported that the combined spending of both major British political parties in 2010 came out to around the same amount as the American presidential candidates spent on money on expenses related to raising money in 2012.

3. In Germany, political parties release just one 90-second television ad.

 

Berlin, Germany- August 22: Cars drive past election campaign posters hanging from lampposts on August 22, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. Source: Getty

Many democracies around the world place strict regulations or outright bans on how political parties can advertise on television. In Germany, parties are given airtime on two public television networks based on their performance in the past election and the size of their party, according to Politico. Each party usually only makes one minute-and-a half-long ad to convey their message during those slots.

Politico reported that in the 2013 election, this amounted to eight ads on each channel for the major parties — for the entire campaign. Parties can purchase more ads to run on private television channels, but limits on spending budgets and the high cost of television spots place huge constraints on their use. Negative ads are rare.

4. In 2013, over two-thirds of income to Norway’s political parties came from the government.

Many countries successfully use public financing of campaigns as a way of regulating their cost and relieving the need for reliance on wealthy donors. In Norway’s 2013 elections, 67% of political party income was provided by the government.

The U.S. does have a public financing system for presidential campaigns, but in 2008 Barack Obama opted out — the first candidate to do so since its creation in 1976 — citing concerns that it was a “broken” system and that the spending limits it imposed put him at a disadvantage against his opponent’s ability to marshal corporate resources that circumvented its limits. In 2012, both presidential candidates opted out of the system.

5. Voter registration is automatic in Sweden.

Source: Brennan Center for Justice

Voter registration is one of the tedious details of the democratic process that has enormous consequences for election outcomes. In Sweden, the government automatically registers all eligible voters using data from the national population database.

The U.S., on the other hand, is one of few democratic countries in the world that places the onus of voter registration entirely on citizens themselves, leaving about a quarter of eligible Americans unregistered to vote. Most states do not allow same-day registration, which boosts turnout.

6. In Australia, voting is compulsory.

 

Broome, Australia- September 7: Members of the public vote at Cable Beach Primary School on September 7, 2013 in Broome, Australia. Source: Getty

In Australia, citizens are fined a small sum of money if they don’t vote, and if they don’t pay that fine, then the penalty grows more serious. Since making it mandatory in the early 20th century, Australian voter participation has never fallen below 90%.

Compulsory voting diminishes socio-economic bias in voter turnout (typically poorer voters are less likely to vote) and allows campaigns to focus on messaging without nearly as much time and money spent worrying about mobilizing voters. Requiring citizens to visit the polls is certainly not every country’s cup of tea, and is not without its major flaws — the question of forcing ignorant or apathetic citizens to choose candidates is a serious one. But it is effective in getting voters to the polls. Obama has even suggested that it would be an easier fix than reforming campaign finances in the near future.

7. In Brazil, Election Day is on the weekend.

Brazil votes on Sundays. The fact that people don’t have to find a way to skip work or school when voting is likely one of the reasons that Brazil has a significantly higher voter turnout rate than the U.S., which votes on Tuesdays and has limited early voting options.

In the U.S. there have been calls for weekend voting. The current calendar was designed in the 19th century to accommodate voters who relied on horse and buggy to get back from the polls before market day on Wednesday.

These are just a handful of examples of differences in the way elections are conducted around the world that could provide some valuable insights into how to make American democracy saner and more responsive. 

“PPACA, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Tarbaby”

January 9, 2017,  John Hanno

 “PPACA, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Tarbaby”

You would think, after more than a year of congressional hearings, deliberations, debating, speechifying and amendments leading up to the passage of the PPACA, (signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010) and after more than 60 attempts, over more than six years, by Congressional Republicans to overturn the PPACA, and after every single Republican politician grandstanded and ran on repealing and replacing the law during the last 4 national elections, that at least one member of this “ult” right group might have put forth a better, cheaper or creditable alternative. Having described the ACA as the biggest threat to American Democracy in our history, you would think any number of conservative patriots could have devised a plan to save the country from the ominous threat of providing almost 25 million poor folks with affordable, high quality, lifesaving health insurance.

But you would be wrong. Now that these saviors are in charge of the White House and both houses of congress, their plan is simply, to quickly and definitively repeal the Act, but then only think about replacing it two or four years down the road; preferably after the next midterm or presidential election. It’s clear that the entire Republican party has grabbed hold of a particularly sticky Tarbaby. They’ve demonized the PPACA by negatively  attaching the Presidents name, to an overwhelmingly Democratic attempt, to Protect Healthcare Patients from abuse by the insurance industry and to slow down the double-digit increases in premiums for policies that were steadily diminishing in quality and scope.

The Act reduced by half the 45 million uninsured Americans, from 16% in 2010 to 8.9 % in June of 2016. That number has been further reduced by the 5 million or more folks who signed up during the recent enrollment period and since the election of Trump, in anticipation of the Republican’s promise to repeal. Of the 23 to 25 million covered by the Act, 12 to 15 million are covered by the exchanges and more than 11 million are covered by the expansion in Medicaid. 75% of those on the exchanges purchased insurance for $75 a month after federal subsidies, a bargain by anyone’s standards. My Medicare premiums are $104 and my hard earned employer supplemental is $146 a month, for a total of $250 a month.

When the Democrats had control of the White House, the Senate and the House in 2009, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress made the tough decision to spend their 2008 presidential election capital and mandate on doing something that Presidents since Teddy Roosevelt have been trying to accomplish for the last 100 years, finally providing affordable health care to the 45 million uninsured Americans. Almost 25 million of those have taken advantage of that decision.

Now that the Republicans have control of the White House and both houses of Congress, they want to repeal that hard won health care and build a wall between neighbors. This is just more clear examples of the difference of the two parties philosophies. Democrats try to use government to solve problems for America’s middle class workers and the Republi-cons can’t wait to undo those efforts, undermine any government intervention unless it benefits them, and compound problems for the working poor.

To all those poor and middle-class folks in the red states, and for that matter those in the blue states that vote without fail, year after year, election after election for Republi-cons; what in God’s name have these politicians ever done for you instead of to you. We know what the Democrats have done to pull folks out of poverty and desperation and to help families stake their claim in America’s middle class neighborhoods. You can check their voting records over the last 75 years. FDR’s New Deal, LBJ’s Great society, etc, etc, etc.

Yes, our healthcare system has problems. Depending on whose figures you use, we spend about $3.5 trillion, almost 20% of our GDP, $10,345 per person, or two to two and one half times what other developed countries spend on health care. America’s healthcare costs have escalated in relationship to it’s waistlines. More than half of American’s are overfed and under active. Stroke, emphysema, diabetes and heart disease in that order, much of which is preventable, are the four most expensive diseases to treat. Diabetes now afflicts 10% of Americans. The price for insulin has skyrocketed; has at least doubled in the last few years. Drugs costs of all types have escalated far more than the cost of living because most Republi-con’s and pharma state Democrats in congress refused to force drug companies to negotiate fairly with Medicare, Medicaid and other health care providers, just like the Veterans Administration has already done.

The $10,345 average per person spending is wildly different throughout the population. I know 70 year-old folks who have never filed a health insurance claim and some in their 50’s who’ve reached their $250,000 to $500,000 lifetime limits long before Obamacare ended those caps. The reality is that just 5% of the population, the oldest and sickest, account for almost half of that spending. 10% of families account for almost 50% of the spending. American’s 55 years and older account for almost 50% of spending. Half the population has very meager health care expenses, accounting for only about 3% of the total. People 35 and under represent 47% of the population but account for only 25% of the health care spending.

America’s healthcare is complicated. We have a lot of questions to sort out. Are we going to take care of the folks who, through no fault of their own, sometimes contract very expensive childhood or premature diseases? Are we going to care for folks who don’t do everything they can to keep themselves healthy; who smoke, take drugs, eat unhealthy foods, refuse to stay fit or engage in risky and dangerous behavior? Are we going to take care of old folks who end up spending astronomical costs trying to eke out a few more  years at the end of life or are we going to send them off to the “Soylent Green” factory? Obamacare attempted to address many of these questions, including emphasizing common sense preventative care.

White folks 55 and over and especially 65 and over spend more money on health care than black folks and statistically, significantly more than Hispanic and especially Asian Americans. Do we give a break on premiums to Asian and Hispanic policyholders for spending less? Are we going to honor the long held idea that insurance spreads the liabilities over a wide group of consumers? A lot of folks, especially healthy young people, who work hard at staying that way, don’t want to pay for those who don’t. Of the $3.5 trillion dollars we spend on health care, 32% goes to hospitals, 20% goes to doctors and clinics and about 15% goes for prescription drugs.

Where do we make the cuts? Before Obamacare was passed, I read a story that claimed 85% of hospitals, especially those in the rural red states that voted for Trump and the Republi-con’s in Congress who can’t wait to stamp out the ACA once and for all, were under severe financial duress. Because of generous campaign contributions, we know that most Republi-cons and pharma state Democrats will again refuse to force drug companies to negotiate fairly and ethically. And it’s already hard to find primary physicians willing to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients because of low reimbursement rates.

Healthcare is complicated; that’s why it took decades and more than 2,100 pages for the ACT and I think 10,000 additional pages of rules and regulations to finally get the ACA passed by the skin of it’s chiny-chin-chin. Most of those 2,100 pages are based on erstwhile Conservative Republican ideas, just like those that compose Massachusetts successful Romney-care. Many of those ideas were first proposed during the Eisenhower, Nixon and Regan administrations. But because the Republi-cons attached President Obama’s name to them, they all of a sudden became toxic solutions. Republican members of congress and Governors wanted to make Obama a one term President and did everything they could think of to make that happen, including opposing the expansion of Medicaid at every turn, even if it hurt poor folks in their own states.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/10/us/politics/marco-rubio-obamacare-affordable-care-act.html?_r=0

In this Robert Pear December 9, 2015 New York Times Article, “Sen. Marco Rubio Quietly Undermines the Affordable Care Act,” he describes how Rubio, along with other Republican Senators “got a little-noticed health care provision slipped into a giant spending law last year (2015) that tangled up the Obama administration, sent tremors through health insurance markets and rattled confidence in the durability of President Obama’s signature health law.”

This legislation drastically cut the reimbursements for insurance companies in the first three years of the ACA.

The article revealed “Mr. Rubio’s efforts against the so-called risk corridor provision of the health law have hardly risen to the forefront of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, but his plan limiting how much the government can spend to protect insurance companies against financial losses has shown the effectiveness of quiet legislative sabotage.”

“The risk corridors were intended to help some insurance companies if they ended up with too many new sick people on their rolls and too little cash from premiums to cover their medical bills in the first three years under the health law. But because of Mr. Rubio’s efforts, the administration says it will pay only 13 percent of what insurance companies were expecting to receive this year. The payments were supposed to help insurers cope with the risks they assumed when they decided to participate in the law’s new insurance marketplaces.”

Republi-cons harangue about the escalating costs of Obamacare, but they are as much to blame because of their relentless obstruction and refusal to join with President Obama and the Democrats to improve the Act. Still, in spite of this opposition, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that: “costs of premiums for employer covered health plans continued to moderate after the ACA was passed. Those plans rose by almost 70% from 2000 to 2005 but only 27% from 2010 to 2015 and slowed to 3% increases from 2015 to 2016.”

And their recent Kaiser Foundation Obamacare poll also found that: “majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents alike say they favor:

  • Allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26 (85% of the public, including 82% of Republicans);
  • Eliminating out-of-pocket costs for many preventive services (83% of the public, including 77% of Republicans);
  • Providing financial help to low- and moderate-income Americans who don’t get insurance through their jobs to help them purchase coverage (80% of the public, including 67% of Republicans);
  • Giving states the option of expanding their existing Medicaid programs to cover more uninsured low-income adults (80% of the public, including 67% of Republicans); and
  • Prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person’s medical history (69% of the public, including 63% of Republicans).

“In contrast, a third (35%) of the public says they favor the law’s provision requiring that nearly all Americans have health coverage or pay a fine (63% have an unfavorable view).  A majority of Democrats (57%) favor this provision but far fewer independents (30%) and Republicans (21%) do.”

“Support for the law’s requirement that employers with at least 50 workers offer health insurance or pay a fine is more mixed, with a majority of the public (60%) supporting it, including majorities of Democrats and independents. In contrast, just 45 percent of Republicans favor this provision.

Overall attitudes towards the Affordable Care Act are largely unchanged following the election: 45 percent of the public has an unfavorable view and 43 percent has a favorable view. In addition, the poll finds health care played a limited role in voters’ 2016 election decisions, with 8 percent of voters saying health care was the biggest factor in their vote.

As many say repeal would worsen their family’s health care costs as say it would improve

Americans are divided on how repeal would affect health care costs for them and their family, with nearly equal shares saying repealing the law would make costs worse (30%) as saying it would make costs better (27%). Another four in 10 say their health care costs would be about the same. Most also say that, under repeal, they would expect their quality of care and access to health insurance to remain about the same.

Importantly, Trump voters are much more likely to say repeal would help them personally. Half (52%) of those who supported Trump say the cost of health care for them and their family will get better under repeal, and many say the quality of their health care (39%) and their ability to get and keep health insurance (35%) would get better.

The poll also probes the public’s views of whether President-elect Trump’s health care policies would be bad or good for different groups of Americans. The public is more likely to predict “bad” results for the uninsured (43%), lower-income Americans (43%) and women (36%), and more likely to predict “good” results for wealthy Americans (39%).

Designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation, the poll was conducted from November 15-21 among a nationally representative random digit dial telephone sample of 1,202 adults. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (422) and cell phone (780). The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample. For results based on subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.”

 

Mr. Trump and the Republic-cons in Congress have painted themselves into a tight, bright corner. After January 20th, all eyes are on them to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk. They promised over and over and over that the ACA will destroy America as we know it and cause the loss of millions of jobs. Well, we’re still here and 25 million or more Americans are making appointments with their health care providers instead of showing up at emergency rooms with desperate health calamities. And instead of losing 800,000 jobs a month when Barack Obama took over, America has created more than 16 million jobs, more than all the G7 countries combined.

I know this is a lot of facts and figures to comprehend, but the most important ones for me are these numbers: After 9-11, we turned the whole world up-side down because of that terrorist attack. We invaded 2 countries, lost more than 6,000 young Americans, will have spent about $5 trillion dollars when the final bill comes due and we finally take care of all the 35,000 military folks injured in those campaigns. A couple of hundred thousand Iraq and Afghanistan people perished in those wars and we destabilized the entire Middle East, attempting to get revenge and justice for those 3,000 Americans killed on 9-11.

But before the ACA was passed, we lost between 22,000 and 25,000 Americans every single year just because they didn’t have health insurance. Just in the few years since President Obama signed that law and since almost 25 million American took advantage of the life saving legislation, 55,000 American lives have been saved. The Republi-cons who are jumping up and down waiting to dismantle Obamacare can’t in good conscience, ignore these numbers.

Before Obamacare, 45 million American had too much in common with poor folks in 3rd world countries and 65% of those filing bankruptcy, did so because of unaffordable medical expenses.

Any elected official who analyzes our health care system based on whats best for all Americans and not just for the special interests who contribute to their campaigns, must come to the conclusion that America, like the rest of the developed world, must transition to a single payer system before we bankrupt the treasury. Our government already pays more than 50% of the $3.5 trillion we spend on health care.

Even Mr. Trump realizes it’s the only viable alternative to this basically conservative Republican compromise called Obamacare. He came to that conclusion more than 15 years ago, probably based on the fact that when he signed the checks for his employees healthcare, he asked himself why he was sending almost 30% of those costs to the insurance companies. I’m sure he tried to figure out some way to pay the providers directly.

President Obama and the Democrats believed a public option was the best chance for the ACA to succeed. But the Republicans and some insurance company state Democrats in congress (probable based on a study that found a public option would have to be fazed in over a period of time), would not support that option. Many members of congress believed that pulling the rug out from under those who invested in the insurance industry and the large number of insurance company employees, some in their own states, could not be done overnight. But five or ten years from now, we will no doubt, have a single payer health care system.

Billionaire Trump and all the millionaires and billionaires he’s chosen for his cabinet have enough money to afford the best health care in the world. And every Republican Senator and Republican member of the House have the best taxpayer paid health care insurance America offers. I just can’t understand how these people can look at themselves in the mirror if they repeal life saving health insurance for 25 million poor folks? When all is said and done, does anyone believe that these Republi-cons in congress will try to provide or emphasize “Patient Protection” as their main legislative objective? If they eventually come up with a plan, I think an appropriate name might be the (IDCPUCA) Insurance and Drug Company Protection and Unaffordable Care Act, or Drumpfcare for short. This sticky Tarbaby will be hard to shake off.

For folks who wish to learn more about the complexities of the PPACA, please check out a book written in 2008 by the architect of Obamacare, Ezekiel Emmanuel, “Reinventing American Health Care: How the Affordable Care Act will Improve our Terribly Complex, Blatantly Unjust, Outrageously Expensive, Grossly Inefficient, Error Prone System.”

John Hanno, www.tarbabys.com

 

 

 

LA Times

Repealing Obamacare could be a matter of life or death for many Americans. Here are their voices

 

Michael Hiltzik Column January 9, 2017

 

For Julie Ross, the looming repeal of the Affordable Care Act isn’t an abstract political issue. It’s a life-or-death matter for her 4 1/2-year-old daughter, who was born with Down syndrome and a congenital heart condition and spent her first month in the neonatal intensive care unit.

In the pre-Affordable Care Act era, when insurers could impose lifetime limits on benefits, hers was $500,000. “She would have reached that in her first two weeks,” Ross says.

For Colleen Mondor, whose 15-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 3 and controls it today with four visits a year to a pediatric endocrinologist, repeal would mean shutting down the aircraft leasing company that she and her husband started and finding a job with employer-paid insurance. “So instead of building our own company, we’ll be taking jobs away from people who need them.”

Senators say, without health insurance you can just go to the ER for care. For my daughter, that would be too late. She’ll die without these protections. — Julie Ross of Dallas

Pre-Obamacare, every insurer she applied to for coverage asked about her family’s medical histories. When she told them about her son’s diabetes, as she tweeted earlier this month: “That was the end of the conversation, every. single. time.”

Steve Waxman, 59, an independent filmmaker in Miami, had a heart attack before Obamacare was enacted, but he had insurance. If the Affordable Care Act is repealed and protections for those with preexisting conditions are eroded, he’d be red-tagged as a potentially costly repeat patient. “Life is a preexisting medical condition,” he observes. “Only in America can you go bankrupt because of it.”

On Obamacare repeal, GOP ideology is colliding with reality

David Zasloff, 55, of North Hollywood is still recovering from a stroke he suffered in 2015. Without the Affordable Care Act, treatment “would have cost everything I had, including my niece’s college fund,” he says. Now he has a Blue Shield silver plan via Covered California, the state’s Obamacare exchange, and pays $144 a month to cover most of his treatment and medication.

Ross, Mondor, Waxman and Zasloff, and countless more like them, live in abject fear that Republicans will follow through on their determination to repeal the Affordable Care Act, without passing a replacement that will maintain the crucial protections the law has given them. Obamacare’s critics have painted a picture of the law that is wholly negative: that it’s a “disaster,” that it’s in a “death spiral,” that it’s caused a “struggle” for families that use it. To people not directly affected by the Affordable Care Act — the 85% of Americans who get their coverage from their employers or public programs such as Medicare— these assertions seem plausible enough, especially since they’ve been repeated incessantly for more than six years. Repeat a big lie often and loudly enough, and you don’t need evidence.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) often repeats a mantra that “Obamacare has failed the American people.” But a Ways and Means Committee fact sheet he cites as evidence doesn’t include a single quote from an Obamacare enrollee. Not one.

The people who know the truth — those whose medical histories would make them uninsurable in a non-Obamacare marketplace, who would face bankruptcy if they faced a major medical need, whose condition would go unmanaged, or who would be forced to give up their dream of creating their own business and working for themselves — their voices are seldom heard. So we’re going to present a few.

Some are insurance customers who struggled with coverage — not from Obamacare, but in a pre-Affordable Care Act market in which carriers looked for any reason to reject applicants, limit their benefits or impose costly surcharges. They struggled with high deductibles, with high-risk pools such as those that Ryan says could easily accommodate Americans with chronic conditions. They know he’s wrong. Some took advantage of the freedom the Affordable Care Act brought them to start their own businesses, because now they could give up their employer-paid insurance without fear of going without coverage. And they know the frustration that comes from going unheard on Capitol Hill.

Julie Ross, 41, runs a home business in the Dallas area with her husband Mark, a commercial artist. She home-schools her daughters, 4 1/2-year-old Niko and her 7-year-old sister. Julie suffers from asthma, a condition that relegated her to a high-risk pool before the Affordable Care Act. Before Niko was born, she told me, she and her husband kept separate health plans, so that her own condition wouldn’t affect the cost of his coverage.

Niko’s conditions require constant pro-active management. “I hear senators say, without health insurance you can just go to the ER and get care,” she says. “For my daughter, that would be too late. She’ll die without these protections.”

Ross has reached out to Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, both Republicans, and her congressman, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas). The offices of Sessions and Cruz won’t return her calls. Cornyn’s staff met with her, but parroted his idea of giving families such as hers a tax credit to buy insurance, but it wouldn’t be enough.

“When I talk to Republicans, I tell them we’re everything you want us to be,” she says. “We’re self-employed, we’re pro-life.” But if she lost the access to coverage she gets from the Affordable Care Act, to replace it for her daughter, “I would have to get a divorce from my husband and move into Section 8 housing and go onto Medicaid and welfare. We are living in total fear.”

Colleen Mondor, a pilot and writer, is 48 and runs an aircraft leasing firm in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Ward Rosadiuk, 53. The family’s healthcare nightmare started 12 years ago when their toddler came down with a cold and didn’t get better. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

“That changed everything,” Mondor recalls. The family got shunted into a high-risk pool, where the deductible was $10,000 per person and the coverage was sharply constrained. “The high-risk pool is a party no one wants to attend,” she says. “It was absolute misery. We had no control over which doctors we could see, and the deductible was ridiculous.”

Frustrated about a debate about Obamacare that seemed utterly irrelevant to her situation, a few days after New Year’s, Mondor posted a tweet about the difficulties facing small business owners post-repeal. What followed was a torrent of retweets and replies. “I thought I was alone, but I discovered it was not just me,” she says.

Mondor’s teenage son has received first-rate care for his incurable disease thanks to the family’s Affordable Care Act-protected health plan. But pondering the GOP proposals to repeal the law has become a dominating distraction. “I’m not thinking about how to grow my business or get new clients,” she told me, “but about what [Vice President-elect] Mike Pence or Paul Ryan are up to.”

Affordable Care Act plans aren’t perfect. They’re often more expensive and less generous than the health plans offered by big employers. But for people without access to such plans, they’re a lifeline. People such as Donald Goudie of Irvine, 68, who was forced into retirement ahead of schedule when his department at IBM was downsized in 2014. IBM gave him six more months of company insurance, but after that, his wife, Sandra, needed coverage for her chronic rheumatoid arthritis.

The Goudies knew from having tested the pre-Obamacare individual market a few years ago that Sandra, now 63, would be uninsurable without the law’s protection for preexisting conditions. So would Donald, who has a cardiac condition. Because of the combination of a premium increase and a reduction of their eligibility for Affordable Care Act subsides, Sandra’s premium will rise to more than $500 a month this year from about $150 last year. “That’s a big jump, but still affordable,” he says. But that’s only if Congressional Republicans don’t tamper with Social Security and Medicare, on which the couple depends and which also are in the GOP’s crosshairs.

“We’ve gone from our retirement with enough money saved and supplemented with Social Security,” he says, “to wondering if we have enough money to pay for the basics.”

Do the Republicans who talk so blithely about how Obamacare has “failed the American people” and how they will provide “relief” — despite not having any “relief” plan in place despite six years of promising one — have any idea what their plans mean to millions of Americans facing the challenge of health coverage in their daily lives? The evidence is that they don’t, because they don’t talk to the targets of their plans.

Those whose lives hang in the balance of the debate over the Affordable Care Act are beginning to speak up. They’re independent business owners. Parents with desperately ill children. Adults with chronic diseases. Workers who have been laid off. Families for whom an uninsured injury or diagnosis would mean bankruptcy. The Affordable Care Act helps them, and could help even more if Republicans in Congress cared enough about them to make it better.

But to know that, they’d have to listen. Michael Hiltzik

 

 

Yahoo Health  January 7, 2016

75% of Americans don’t want Obamacare repealed without an alternative

Melody Hahm

 

President Barack Obama challenged Republicans on Friday to present a feasible alternative to Obamacare instead of blindly adopting the “repeal and delay” strategy.

And it turns out the vast majority of Americans may agree with Obama.

Only one in five Americans supports flat-out repealing Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act, according to a new survey conducted by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. Of the 1,204 US adults surveyed, 75% either oppose the repeal entirely or want to keep the law until  the details of a replacement plan emerge.

Americans, however unhappy they may be with Obamacare, would rather know their alternatives before tossing their coverage — however costly — completely out the window.

This isn’t the only poll to suggest Americans aren’t on board with killing Obamacare now. Republican Congresswoman — and a passionate Obamacare foe — Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) took to Twitter (TWTR) on Wednesday to conduct her own poll on Obamacare, asking whether people supported the repeal of Obamacare, likely anticipating that many would vote to repeal the legislation. Nearly 8,000 people voted and the overwhelming majority — 84% — voted no.

President Obama considers the ACA one of his administration’s hallmark achievements, and has been spending his last days in office urging fellow Democrats not to “rescue” Republicans by helping them pass replacement measures.

Though there have been vocal and vehement opponents to the ACA, including Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the law’s opponents have yet to come up with a replacement.

Apart from its impact on consumers, the act of repealing the ACA without a replacement would also have dire business consequences. The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Budget published a report this week warning the full repeal of the ACA would cost up to $350 billion over the next decade and leave 23 million people uninsured.

The report suggests “any changes to the ACA should reduce, not increase, the unsustainable growth in the federal debt. Savings from repealing parts of the ACA must be large enough to not only finance repeal of any of ACA’s offsets, but also to pay for whatever ‘replace’ legislation is put forward.”

Meanwhile, 50 states would suffer job losses and sharp reductions in business output without Obamacare, predicted a separate study conducted by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund and GWU’s Milken Institute School of Public Health. In total, scrapping Obamacare could cost 3 million people jobs and trigger economic disruption, according to that study.

The report’s lead author, Leighton Ku, explained to NPR why the ACA is so tied up with the larger economy: “The payments you make to health care then become income for workers and income for other businesses. And this spreads out. Health care is almost a fifth of the US economy, so as you begin to change health care, there are repercussions that go across all sectors.”

Even medical professionals, insurers and hospital groups have been coalescing to argue they need to see a replacement for ACA before it’s repealed. The American Medical Association (AMA) wrote a letter to congressional leaders pointing out that though the health care system has ample room for improvement, “policymakers should lay out for the American people, in reasonable detail, what will replace current policies” so that patients can make informed decisions.

We’ll find out soon enough whether senators are listening to their constituents when the vote hits the floor next week.

Melody Hahm is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Read more from Melody here & follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

 

 

Yahoo Health, January 7, 2017

Obamacare repeal costs: 3 million jobs gone, $1.5 trillion in lost gross state product

Dan Mangan

Spending less by getting rid of Obamacare could end up costing a whole lot more.

Up to 3 million jobs in the health sector and other areas would be lost if certain key provisions of the Affordable Care Act are repealed by Congress, a new report said Thursday.

At the same time, ending those provisions could lead to a whopping $1.5 trillion reduction in gross state product from 2019 through 2023, according to the study.

“Repealing key parts of the ACA could trigger massive job losses and a slump in consumer and business spending that would affect all sectors of state economies,” said Leighton Ku, director of the Center for Health Policy Research and professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.

Ku is the lead author of the report, which was issued by the Milken Institute and the Commonwealth Fund.

The report comes as President-elect Donald Trump and the new Congress are moving toward repealing parts of the ACA through the budget reconciliation process.

“The immediate and most visible effect of ACA repeal would be the loss of coverage and access to care for millions of people who have gained insurance because of the law,” said Sara Collins, vice president for health-care coverage and access at the Commonwealth Fund.

“This study points to even larger potential economic effects that would be detrimental to the health and well-being of millions more,” Collins said.

The estimate of job and state product losses are based on a scenario in which Congress defunds federal subsidies that most Obamacare customers receive to help lower their monthly insurance premium costs, and also gets rid of funding to cover adults who became newly eligible for Medicaid under the ACA.

Repealing both provisions would save the federal government $140 billion in health-care spending, the report found. And as that funding spigot dried up, it would lead to job losses and a drop in gross state product, the report said.

The study notes that most of the federal funding for Obamacare flows to hospitals, health clinics, pharmacies and other medical providers, who in turn hire and pay staff and purchase goods and services.

The biggest job losses would occur in California, with 334,000 lost jobs, Florida, with 181,000 lost jobs, Texas, with 175,000 lost positions, and Pennysylvania, New York and Ohio, each of which would lose more than 125,000 jobs, the report estimates.

One-third of the job losses would be in the health-care sector, according to the report. The remaining two-thirds of job losses are expected to come from construction, real estate, retail, finance and insurance.

As with other reports estimating the effects of Obamacare repeal, the economic downsides could be mitigated, or completely offset by a replacement plan for the ACA.

But so far, Trump and the Republican-led Congress have not committed to such a plan. So researchers have been unable to estimate the ultimate effects of a replacement plan. Dan Mangan

 

 

The Daily Kos

Dear Congressional GOP: Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned. (including your own experts)

By Brainwrap,  Tuesday January 3, 2017

 

definitely-NOT-comprehensive selection of opinions regarding the Republican Party’s imminent “Repeal & Delay” strategy for the Affordable Care Act:

What outside experts are saying about repeal and delay:

American Academy of Actuaries: “Repealing major provisions of the ACA would raise immediate concerns that individual market enrollment would decline, causing the risk pools to deteriorate and premiums to become less affordable. Even if the effective date of a repeal is delayed, the threat of a deterioration of the risk pool could lead additional insurers to reconsider their participation in the individual market.” (Letter to Congress 12/7/16)

Nick Gerhart (Iowa Republican Insurance Commissioner): “If you’re going to repeal this, I hope that there’s a replacement stapled to that bill.” (NPR, 11/21/16)

Governor Jay Inslee and Mike Kreidler (Washington Democratic Governor and Insurance Commissioner): “Decisions to cut funding before developing a replacement puts the health of Washingtonians at great risk through undermining and destabilizing their health care.” (Letter to Congress)

Sabrina Corlette (Georgetown University): “The idea that you can repeal the Affordable Care Act with a two- or three-year transition period and not create market chaos is a total fantasy.” (New York Times, 12/3/16)

Michael Cannon (Cato Institute): “What they are planning to do is absolutely insane.” (TPM, 12/18/16)

(Note: Michael Cannon, one of the architects of the infamous King v. Burwell case, by his own admission, hates the ACA more than anyone else on the planet)

Larry Levitt (Kaiser Family Foundation):

  • “The individual insurance market could collapse in between a repeal vote and a replacement vote” (TPM, 11/29/16).
  • “Any significant delay between repeal of the ACA and clarity over what will replace it would likely lead insurers to exit the marketplaces in droves” (Huffington Post, 12/1/16).
  • “Republicans are in a bit of box here, because the individual mandate is an anathema to them, but repealing the individual mandate immediately while keeping the protections for people with pre-existing conditions would likely lead to immediate chaos in the insurance market” (TPM, 11/29/16).

Stuart Butler (formerly Heritage Foundation), Alice Rivlin (former CBO and OMB Director), Loren Adler (Brookings Institution): “If replacing the ACA is truly the goal, though, repealing it first without a replacement in hand is almost certainly a disastrous way to start. First, a reconciliation bill would likely destabilize the individual market and very possibly cause it to collapse in some regions of the country during the interim period before any replacement is designed…If no replacement plan materializes, the hollowed-out individual market – for people without access to employer-provided or public coverage – could be left in shambles.” (Brookings, 12/13/16).

Topher Spiro (Center for American Progress): “Their strategy of repealing now and replacing later was designed to provide false assurance that everything would be okay. Now there’s a growing awareness that in fact this strategy would cause a lot of chaos and perhaps even collapse the market before a replacement plan can be put into place.” (TPM, 11/29/16).

Robert Laszewski (Health Care Consultant and ACA Critic): “Republicans are being awfully naive. They seem to be ignoring the risks in the transition period.” (Vox, 12/1/16).

Former Senator Tom Daschle: “It sends all the wrong messages to the private sector…You gotta have the replacement before you have the repeal.” Politico Pulsecheck Podcast, 12/1/16).

Joshua Blackman (Professor and former Cato Institute Scholar): “Passing it by itself is politically expedient, but would create a series of headaches very quickly for the Republicans.” (TPM, 12/18/16).

Linda Blumberg, Matthew Buettgens, John Holahan (Urban Institute): “If Congress partially repeals the ACA with a reconciliation bill like that vetoed in January 2016…Significant market disruption would occur…Many, if not most, insurers are unlikely to participate in Marketplaces in 2018.” (Urban, 12/7/16).

Judith Solomon (Center for Budget and Policy Priorities): “Many people likely would lose coverage before any Republican health plan was fully implemented.” (CPBB, 12/5/16).

 

America’s Military: One of The Largest Socialist Organizations in The World

Daily Kos 

Message to my Trump Supporting Facebook Friends

By Mommadoc       December 27, 2016

OK Facebook friends, time to block my news-feed. Or unfriend me.

If you’ve ever posted anything remotely racist or misogynistic or promoted gun violence or made fun of political correctness or promulgated lies about President Obama or former Secretary of State Clinton, then I blocked your news feed long ago.

I am one of those “elite liberals” that you got back at when you voted for Donald Trump.

Yes, I think that a person who is running for President should be able to clearly explain his or her policies.  And should actually have some policies.  And know how the government works.  And care how the government works.

And have a working knowledge of world geography and foreign policy.

I think that the person who runs the most powerful country on the planet should take that job very fucking seriously.

I think that “supporting our military” should mean that we do not send our brave young men and women to needless and endless wars.  Do you realize that we’ve been in Afghanistan for 16 years now?  And for what?

I think that our country has an imperialistic foreign policy and that often times we reap what we sow.  I think that the architects of the Iraq War (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice) committed war crimes and have the blood of all of our slain and maimed soldiers and innocent civilians on their hands.

I think that Guantanamo Bay is a bloody stain on our national character.

That “People kill people, guns don’t kill people” line is most back-ass-ward bullshit that I’ve ever heard.  People with guns kill people.   And not everyone should have a gun. And certainly not an arsenal.  And no I am not naïve enough to think that restrictions on gun access will prevent all violent gun deaths.   But for fuck’s sake, can we start somewhere?

I think that words matter.  Perhaps you were happier in a world where kids were called “retards” and some boys were called “faggots,” but I would rather live in a civilized and polite world.

Maybe you will blast “Merry Christmas” as loud as you can, but I will keep saying “Happy Holidays,” because that is more inclusive.  As in not purposefully leaving anyone out.  As in being kind.  As in just fucking acknowledging that your reality is not everyone’s reality.  And that by acknowledging someone else’s reality, that yours is not in jeopardy.  What are you all afraid of anyway?  Is a mass of Muslim immigrants going to take your Christmas away?

I’m more afraid of the mass of Christians that are trying to teach kids in Texas that creationism is real.

I think that those of you who put “Blue Lives Matter” signs on your lawn ought to be ashamed of yourselves for thinking for one minute that there is no racism in this country and that young black men being gunned down in the street by police is not a problem.

And for those of you who were worried that life as we knew it was coming to an end when Bernie Sanders suggested universal health care and free college education, look to yourselves first.  Guess what?  Those state universities that you send your kids to?  They are subsidized by taxpayers.  Why do you think they are so much cheaper that private colleges?  That is SOCIALISM!

Are your parents on Medicare?  SOCIALISM!

Do your parents collect Social Security?  SOCIALISM!

Do your police officers, firefighters, prison guards have benefits and a pension? SOCIALISM!

Why is it that when it benefits you, it’s not socialism?

I think that everyone, from birth to death, should have access to basic health care.That means I believe in a single payer system.  I think that the wealthiest country in the history of the world can afford this.

The Affordable Care Act, the compromise between leaving 20 million people with no care and a single payer plan, is flawed,  but it is morally bereft to overturn it.  Those members of the House who voted to repeal it so many times should have been spending that time coming up with a better system.

And do any of you understand corporate welfare?  Here’s an example: You shop at Wal-Mart because it’s cheap. Wal-Mart is the biggest employer in the country.  It does not pay its employees enough for them to live on.  So some of them go on welfare.  And many of them have to use the Affordable Care Act to get health insurance.   Who funds welfare?  Taxpayers.  Who funds the ACA?  Taxpayers.

So Wal-Mart makes a huge profit but doesn’t pay its employees a living wage so taxpayers pay to support them.  Still want to buy your goods at Wal-Mart?

And yes, there should be a minimum wage that is livable.   How could you be against that?

So yes, I’m an elite liberal.  I buy organic foods when I can because I know that pesticides are harmful to the earth and I care about preserving the planet for the next generation.  I think that clean water and clean air is worth preserving and that there have to be strong laws to protect them. I recycle.  I reuse plastic bags because the thought of all of the plastic trash I’ve personally created in my 55 years on earth makes me sick. I try to use polite and inclusive language because I care about others.  I don’t believe in war.  I believe we should do everything we can to prevent violence.  I believe that health care is a basic human right.  And that women’s rights are human rights.

I even listen to NPR.

I thought George Bush was a really horrible president.

But, you really got me this time.

You elected Trump.  Look up the DSM-IV criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder and you will find that he meets all the criteria. Look up the criteria for ADD as well and you have your man. He does not read about issues because he lacks the attention span.   He speaks at a third grade level.

He brags about his crimes against women.   He founded the fake Trump University. He has innumerable conflicts of interest.  He is so overwhelmed he has to have his kids help him.

His education secretary nominee doesn’t believe in public education.  The EPA nominee has sued the EPA before.  His VP believes that gays should have conversion therapy.  The Labor Secretary nominee is anti-labor. The nominee for Ambassador to Israel has views which are guaranteed to inflame the situation in the Middle East.  And who knows who he’ll nominate to the Supreme Court. He is the President Elect of the FUCKING UNITED STATES OF AMERICA but he is watching Saturday Night Live and tweeting about it.

HE DOESN’T KNOW ANYTHING.

In what way could the pussy-grabbing President elect with untreated ADD and a personality disorder who tells more lies than any politician in modern history possibly make this country better?  Yes, hatred and stupidity reign, thanks to you.

Good job.  You showed me this time.

America’s Military: One of The Largest Socialist Organizations in The World

December 27, 2016, John Hanno, www.tarbabys.com

Couldn’t have said it any better Mommadoc. The only small thing I would add, is that our military, yes that same military that Trump repeatedly trashed during the campaign and also refused to support by not paying federal taxes for decades, is one of the largest and most respected socialist organizations in the world. I spent 3 years in the Army serving my country. After we got up in the morning and attended reveille, we went to the mess hall to eat a free home cooked breakfast. You then assembled for work, unless you were sick or had a toothache, and instead went to a fully paid sick call clinic or dentist. You ate as much home cooked food as you wanted for lunch at the same mess hall. After work you ate another home cooked meal for dinner and took some back to the barracks for a snack. If you needed something at the PX, you paid subsidized prices for everything. If you needed your clothes laundered or cleaned, you put them in your laundry bag, and someone from the quartermaster service battery picked them up. A few days later you picked them up all cleaned, washed, starched and pressed. If you wanted entertainment, you went to the EM or NCO club and listened to free live musical groups and drank subsidized alcoholic beverages or went to the subsidized movie theater. You then went to sleep in a nice clean bed paid for by the generous American taxpayers. You then started all over the next day. If you were an NCO like myself and you had a automobile, you enjoyed subsidized auto insurance. You also had paid life insurance and 30 days of paid vacation a year. You could go to school during service, if you had time, or you could wait until you got out to enjoy fully paid college education at a state university. Some military personal also get a stipend while they’re attending school. You don’t make a lot of money compared to civilian life but that’s the contract you make to serve your country. And you’re on call 24/7 if necessary. But you also have paid medical care for life if your income is low enough. You serve your country and your country serves you in return. Our Federal government contracts with medical providers, drug companies and other companies for reduced costs for military personal, their families and the Veterans Administration. Socialism at it’s best. Something these Republi-cons just can’t understand; the American government and it’s citizens working together for a common goal.       John Hanno, www.tarbabys.com

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

Your Right to Work for Less!

As a right-to-work law appears inevitable, Missouri AFL-CIO turns to voters

By Celeste Bott St Louis Post-Dispatch

JEFFERSON CITY • As GOP lawmakers and an incoming governor vow to make Missouri the 27th right-to-work-state, Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis has filed several versions of an initiative petition that would amend the state constitution to protect union negotiating rights.

A right-to-work law, which would limit the ability of labor unions to collect dues from members, has been a longtime priority for Republican legislators who found a continual roadblock in Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

But while Nixon has used his veto pen to block the right-to-work legislation in the past, on the grounds that it’s anti-worker, Gov.-elect Eric Greitens has promised to sign it.

In the weeks leading up to their return to Jefferson City in January, leaders of the Legislature’s GOP super-majorities said it’s the top task in their pro-business 2017 agenda, and several lawmakers have already filed right-to-work proposals.

 

The push was largely financed by David Humphreys, a Joplin roofing company magnate who spent millions on candidates who support labor reform, including Greitens.

Louis’ petition for the 2018 ballot would essentially reverse any right-to-work law passed during the upcoming session by giving employers and employees the “unalienable” right to negotiate contracts that would require workers to pay fees covering the costs of union representation.

 “That employees shall have the right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing,” it reads. “No law or ordinance shall restrict or impair an agreement which requires employees to support their chosen collective bargaining representative.”

In a statement, Louis said such negotiations were essential to ensuring fair wages, good benefits and safe working conditions.

“We do not need the puppets of David Humphreys or any other corporate billionaire to pass laws to interfere with a process that has long made Missouri a great place to have a business and a great place to work,” Louis said.

The initiative petition process has become an increasingly popular way for Missouri activists, particularly Democrats, to push agenda items that wouldn’t be palatable to the GOP-led Legislature. Recently, that’s included efforts to raise the tax on cigarettes, limit campaign contributions and legalize medical marijuana.

But it’s a difficult and arduous process to get a referendum on the ballot, one that requires approval of the secretary of state and attorney general, analysis of fiscal impact by the state auditor, and a certain number of signatures from registered voters.

 

Response, December 14, 2016,   John Hanno, www.tarbabys.com

A big thank you to outgoing Democratic Governor Jay Nixon for consistently standing up for workers. With a Republican Governor and both houses of the Missouri legislature controlled by Republi-cons, the courageous minority Democrats will have their work cut out for them.

The simple fact is, right to work means right to work for less. Sure, you can depress wages for your fellow workers and neighbors and it might benefit your own cost of living a bit; but eventually it will come back to harm all workers. Sure, we can all work for peanuts and all that crap coming from 3rd world countries will be cheap. You can buy all the crap you want, crap that will end up in garage sales 6 months from now but what is that doing to your community? What the hell is that doing to our environment?

We now have a contracted manufacturing sector; lost 60,000 or so manufacturers. 71% of our economy is now dependent on retail. More and more folks are just barely getting by. 75% of American’s are one paycheck away from bankruptcy. Adult children are still living in their parents basements well into their 30’s because they’re hobbled with a 30 year mortgage of student debt. They can’t get a living wage job that will allow them to prosper and pay off debt. There’s now more student debt than consumer debt. These young people can’t get married or buy a home. They can’t even pay rent or support themselves without a living wage.

And the dimwit Republi-cons wonder why the economy is growing at such a slow rate. Dah! Old farts like myself don’t buy anything except gasoline and food. We already have everything we need. Is it any wonder why erstwhile great companies like Sears Roebuck are going bankrupt?

I worked for almost 50 years for a dozen different unions at successful fortune 50, 100 and 200 companies. All my jobs paid living wages. I made $20 an hour as an industrial electrician/electronic technician in 1989, almost 30 years ago. Now thanks to the Republi-cons decades long war on workers and the middle class, started by Regan, those same jobs now pay $13 or $14 per hour. And they wonder why no one will take those dangerous crap jobs. I can work under the table for $45 per hour. But how does that improve our economy. I don’t pay taxes.

Republi-cons just don’t understand the concept of community, of working together to benefit all Americans, not just themselves or the super rich oligarchs like the Koch brothers, who sponsor anti-worker right to work laws. How much money is enough for them? Like Ted Kennedy said, “Where is the limit to their greed?”

Missouri will soon follow Wisconsin, Indiana and other red states in the race to the bottom. No, matter how much workers offer to give up to the employers (like the steel union tried with Carrier in Indiana), it’s never enough. Carrier said they would have to work for $5 an hour, lower even than the federal minimum wage. Even with the $7 million payoff Indiana Gov. Pense gave Carrier, they’ll move the rest of the jobs to Mexico within a couple of years.

After all the unions and collective bargaining are gone, good luck sitting down with the company lawyers and asking for a raise by yourself. Keep fooling yourselves; let yourselves be bamboozled by the evil plutocrats. But if you have any sense, you’ll support progressive Democrats and Independents who place workers rights ahead of more money for the likes of Drumph. John Hanno

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.

Desperate North Dakota Governor Blames Social Media for Failure on DAPL

From Mean Read, North Dakota Media and Politics News.                   Posted By: The Editor December 9, 2016

It’s become apparent to everyone that North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s leadership was nonexistent during the Dakota Access pipeline fiasco.

Even the conservative commentator Chris Berg of Valley News Live couldn’t help but ridicule the governor’s inability to reach a negotiation with pipeline protesters.

The Fargo Forum revealed that Jack has sent and received a total of zero (0) emails regarding the pipeline protest, despite it being the most significant issue in the state over the past few months. How is that possible?

Under his watch, the state has become a symbol of bullying to audiences worldwide for the ham-handed law enforcement response to the pipeline protests. And at the end of it all, the federal government decided to deny a necessary easement where the pipeline hoped to cross Lake Oahe.

In short, Dalrymple failed on every imaginable front.

Yesterday the lame-duck governor, who resembles less a duck and more a naked mole rat, met with the Forum Editorial Board to make a big announcement: It’s social media’s fault.

“There’s a new paradigm,” he said, referring to social media. “I try to do what I can, but I’m not match for that organization.”

So the governor, with all the authority of the state behind him, says he’s powerless in the face of Facebook shares. Very weak.

Obviously grasping for straws, Dalrymple also blamed the Dakota Access pipeline company for “abdicating” its role to publicly defend the project.

“It’s as safe a pipe as you can build,” Dalrymple pointed out, oblivious that pipelines have been leaking all over the state, including one just this week.

Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, also in attendance at the editorial board meeting, came up with a unique scapegoat of his own: Native Americans!

“The Native Americans are being used, absolutely being used, by these outside agitators,” he said.

Speaking of “being used,” Dalrymple has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in  campaign contributions from the oil industry.

 

December 9, 2016, John Hanno, www.tarbabys.com

North Dakota is the poster child for the past; fossil fuel extraction at whatever cost to the environment. The future Trump Administration and the Republi-con controlled Congress should take notice. If they insist on rolling back progress made by the Obama Administration on climate change and the transition from dirty and toxic fossil fuel to sustainable energy, they will garner the same determined opposition. Native Americans, environmentalists, American Veterans and other protectors are the future, and they are becoming expert at exploiting social media. The evildoers like Gov. Dalrymple, as he stated himself, are no match for this new social media juggernaut because they are on the wrong side of the issue. The earth destroyers have on their side, fossil fuel interests, the uber banks, multi-millionaire and billionaire investors, and the red state political panderers, but the Earth Protectors have their God, their prayers and everyone else, with a modicum of common sense, standing with them.  It’s really no contest.

The Dakota Access bank funding map is shown at, http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/09/07/whos-banking-dakota-access-pipeline

Thanks to All the Veterans Who Stood With Standing Rock

As a Veteran, I’m proud of my thousands of brother and sister Vets who stood with the  Standing Rock Sioux. I believe it was the final nail The Obama Administration needed to temporarily close up the Dakota Access coffin. No one wants to mess with Veterans who are damn serious about their oath to defend America and it’s Democratic ethos. We all hope the environmental impact will delay the DAPL enough that the Uber Banks will decide to pull their credit lines. The pipeline claims it’s losing a million dollars a day. And if oil isn’t pumping on January 1st. Some of the pipeline contracts will have to be renegotiated. I know if Trump tries an end round President Obama’s and the Corp’s decision, the Vets will be there standing strong. I have a change.org petition asking the President to cede the land back to the Standing Rock Sioux or designate the land a National Park or National Monument. Please sign on if you can.

John Hanno, Oak Forest, Illinois change.org petition