Populist Daily

Politics, Culture and American Life

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The Obama Presidency, Looking Back

May 28th, 2017 · Economics, General, Health Care, International affairs, Obstruction, Politics, Populism, Trump, Wars and Militarism

It’s been a quarter of a year now, a little more, since the end of the Obama Presidency. The contrast, and the events that occupy most of our time relating to politics that give us that enormous contrast, lead us to believe that our future may be quite bleak.

So let’s assign a couple of credits right out of the barrel to President Obama. In fact, let’s give him three.

1. He saved America from a giant depression.

First of all, he came to school prepared. When he was persuaded that his election was likely, in late 2008, it is pretty clear that he and his staff focused on what was going to be necessary to save the country from disaster. Later on we can talk about what he did internationally and domestically, but his first job was to save the country. And he did.

Over 700,000 people a month were losing their jobs when he walked through the doors of the White House in January of 2009. By October, job losses had been matched by job gains and the country was beginning to turn around. Unemployment had risen to over 10% and the budget was in deficit, not just for 2009, but as far ahead as the country could see, by over a trillion dollars a year.

It would be four years before he could bring those Bush-Cheney deficits down under a trillion dollars. And in the meantime, the national debt, once balanced under President Clinton, had gone from $5.6 trillion to over $12 trillion. And because of the Great Bush-Cheney Stock Market Collapse and Recession, trillion-dollar deficits would go on for the next four years and add another $4 trillion to the national debt.

It should be noted that President Obama asked for about a trillion dollars in fiscal support from Congress to jump-start the economy but only received about $800 billion of which $300 billion was another worthless Republican tax cut, as useless as the tiny stimuli that George W Bush had enacted during his tenure. Bush and Cheney had cut taxes twice, resulting in huge deficits between 2001 and 2008. [Read more →]

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Comey, Commies, Fascists and Rigged Elections

May 12th, 2017 · Capitalism, Politics, Populism, Trump

There are only two logical reasons why Trump would fire Jim Comey. One is easy and obvious. The other may be hidden and is politically very dangerous.

If Comey was moving forward with investigative lines supported by evidence that the President, or one of his closest advisors had been involved with the Russians in rigging the vote, then the President either had to resign or fire Comey.  And this is whether or not the President personally was involved, or approved what happened or knew about illegal activities and simply did nothing. Musing on your public image while ignoring an apparent felony is no defense.  [Read more →]

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The Trump Republican Tax Cut for the Super-Rich

May 4th, 2017 · General, Lobbying, Politics, Populism, Taxes

by Joseph O’Shaughnessy

Let’s establish one thing right away. The new tax bill proposed by President Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is a tax cut for the super-rich. For the rest of us, it will bring an average tax cut of about $600 a year. The thing that they don’t mention is that the national debt will increase and they will come back later to cut your Social Security, health care subsidies (not just for the poor) and Medicare. This is already in the works but if this tax bill goes through, it will be certain.

In this age of 1% versus 99% inequality, the plan is so outrageously callous that one hardly knows where to begin. Let’s start with the Inheritance Tax. It goes 100% by definition to the rich. The only people involved at all are those who would have paid taxes if their inheritances were over $5 million–$10 million for a married couple!  So if someone with orange hair says that this tax break does not favor the rich, well folks, he’s lying. The next tax break goes to the uber-wealthy who now pay a 39.6% top rate which starts at $415,000 (you know…the middle class.) Now they will start at 25% (minus deductions of course) but if they own the company, they start at 15% and work down.

Now let’s have a quick test about who…rich or middle class or poor…is getting the best tax breaks.  Which group most closely describes the person making over $415,000 per year, and owning the company? Multiple choice: A. Donald Trump’s buddies, B. Steve Mnuchin’s buddies, C. Dick Cheney, or D. a homeless family. The question answers itself.

Dick Cheney got it wrong. Deficits do matter. They kill programs for child care, pre-school, assistance to the disabled, veterans’ programs, and help for the chronically ill and mentally ill, plus huge numbers of programs that working families deserve. They destroy infrastructures. On the other hand, taxes raise up society.

But now, with the new tax cuts, the rich should be happy.

Some economists. such as Thomas Sowell, the first nationally visible Black economist of the television age, which doesn’t make him a great economist, just the first nationally visible Black economist of the television age, objects to the idea that tax cuts for the rich are damaging. On the contrary he says, “look at revenues they went up more every year under Reagan than they did under previous administrations.” Yes, Thomas, but so did populations, those who pay the taxes. So of course there were more revenues. There are always more revenues as population increases. Duh! But guess what? After the Reagan draconian tax cuts, the national debt tripled! [Read more →]

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Why You Need to Rage Against the Horrible Republican Health Care Bill

May 1st, 2017 · General

The Republicans have been working on an attempt to introduce new legislation on the health care act that will satisfy both the Republicans in the House and the Democrats in the House.

It’s not going to happen. The Democrats will try to protect the people, even though the people voted for the Republicans. Yes, people are basically stupid.

The problem is made more complicated by the fact that the so-called “Freedom Caucus” which is basically Tea Party members supported by Right Wing billionaires seem to be against anything that costs any money at all. And there is no free lunch in health care. We can’t have more tax cuts for billionaires and subsidized health care, which we desperately need as a society. We are the only advanced country where there is no universal health care, paid for in general taxes.

The fact is that the Freedom Caucus, ultra Right Wingers (Tea Party) doesn’t really want health care subsidies at all. It was a Tea Party Senator, Marco Rubio, who gutted the bill in 2015 by slipping in an amendment to an appropriations bill that virtually removed subsidies resulting in the problems with higher premium prices and lack of health insurance offers in some areas.

In this instance as the video shows, they want to pawn off the responsibility for handling subsidized care for those with a previous condition, or as the Republicans call them, “high risk” citizens on the states. If you’ve ever been sick, you are ‘high risk” and your premiums, under the Republican plans, will go shooting up…also if you are lucky enough to get older.

Of course, not everyone not everyone can afford private health care insurance these days. After all, not everyone has a House Member’s $174,000 salary plus expenses for office space, mail and personnel that runs another approximately $1.270,000 per year.So one of the sticking points is that the Republicans don’t want to be on their own health care program. They want to be on one that they have written specially for them.

Here are just some of the problems with the House bill:

  1. It does nothing at all to control the prices of health care insurance premiums. There are no controls because this is a bill written for the health care industry. It relies on trusting the health care industry once again to “do the right thing” for the American people. When will we learn our lesson? Large corporations these days have allegiance to only one thing: profits.
  2. It does not address guarantees or subsidies for those with previous conditions. It leaves the conditions to the states. Well, if you live in about half the states, they were not concerned whether the poorest citizens lived or died. They left them without any insurance at all, and very little health care outside of emergency rooms, at some of which they could be rejected, leaving them to die. We know what happened before. Even a pregnancy could be considered a prior condition.
  3. It eliminates all funding for Planned Parenthood. Abortion is not the issue. The issue is whether a fetus has become the tiniest aspect of a human child. When does it have sentient impulses and when does it feel pain. Doctors say between 24 and 28 weeks. The Churches who want abortion completely removed, easily won the day with the Republicans who are indebted to the backward-looking of science, religion, and finance for their support.
  4.  It will remove all cost-sharing subsidies completely by 2020. This means that the insurance companies (health insurance is mandated as the system to run health care) will be able to charge as much as they want in premiums again, including 5 times as much for older citizens as they charge younger ones. If you are 60, you will pay as much as $2500 for the same policy that a younger person pays $500. Without subsidies, many people will be priced out of the market.
  5. If you have lost your coverage and don’t renew it (by very expensive COBRA apparently) within 63 days, the insurance companies can charge you (and will) 30% more. This is the bill’s…again…insurance-industry-focused attempt to get around the fact that everyone now expects to have continuous coverage that they cannot lose. You can’t lose coverage, but the insurance companies want the money. That means that you pay them more for not paying them continuously.
  6. Medicaid will be sent to the states in block grants. If you think that some states, beholden to oil interests or financial interests have tried to screw you before, you ain’t seen nuthin yet.  They will have the right, for example, to create new insurance plans with insurance companies, to make them affordable but will have no usable coverage. They have already reduced the levels of eligibility and added the option to create work requirement before offering coverage. The whole thing stinks from the top. What they are trying to do is rid their huge corporations and rich owners of the costs of caring for the poor that their own greed has created by sending jobs abroad where they could have been done here. The goal is to phase out Medicaid completely by 2020.

This is the plan. Cut costs. Reduce the standards for health insurance policies. Turn financial assistance to individuals basically from an upfront discount coupon to a mail-in coupon. Citizens will pay their higher premiums…that’s better for insurance companies…but get their subsidy in a tax-credit at the end of the year. Premiums for individual health care buyers, still sold in exchanges, can go as high as the insurance company wants. The poor, the laid off, the unemployed and the elderly are dealt with harshly–30% to 500%!

Watch out Medicare. They’re coming for you next.

 

 

 

 

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Warning: Health Care Disaster Looming

April 22nd, 2017 · ALEC, General, Health Care, Politics, Populism, Taxes, Trump, Wall Street

by Joseph O’Shaughnessy

Here’s the problem and I’m going right at it because we don’t have much time.

Congress is about to change the rules on health care. You need to wake up and contact your Congressman/woman now. That’s how you can stop it. It is easier than cancelling Comcast. I’ll tell you how to do it later. Or you can scroll down and do it now. If your Congress person is a Republican, it is easy. They are all on board with this legislation and against you. Just call and say…truthfully…that if they do this to you, you will not vote for them.

Here is what is about to happen. The House of Representatives is controlled by two factions of Republicans…the bad guys and the very bad guys. You pay a ton of taxes. Less than Europeans, but enough to complain. They think they’re doing you a favor by even letting you have employer cost-shared health insurance. The rest should all be between you and the health insurance company.

They, meanwhile, are being paid by the insurance companies, through huge campaign contributions, to devastate your health insurance. Here’s what can happen. Let’s say that you lose your job. The old system, before the Affordable Care Act, (Obamacare) is back in place. So you go on what is called the COBRA plan. So now you can buy your old health insurance, the one you had with the company, but you pay your share AND the company’s share. (Who knows what they will say that is…my guess is…suddenly more than your share.) If you are sick, or have had any kind of a disease, maybe mild diabetes, high blood pressure…who knows under the new rules (health insurance industry written rules…look up ALEC on Google if  you don’ t know about it)…you have a pre-condition.  [Read more →]

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How Republicans Tried to Kill Obamacare and Give Us the Cheap Ryan Substitute.

April 11th, 2017 · ALEC, Budgets, Economics, General, Health Care, Jobs, Labor, Lobbying, Obstruction, Politics, Populism, Social Security

I just heard from the Republican House member from my district, Peter Roskam, on health care.

He thanked me for expressing my support for Obamacare, which was nice as he obviously has a different point of view, having voted for repeal 51 times and now having tried to pawn off on us this new, more health-insurance-industry oriented plan. His reasoning is that Obamacare is a “massive, new government operation aimed at making sweeping changes to the entire U.S. health system.”

Well, let’s take a look at that statement. Maybe he’s right. European systems, much better than ours and cost half what we pay for health care. European systems never have denied anyone health care…rich or poor…or in their cases…not even tourists. Obamcare is far less intrusive and far less comprehensive. It involves only those who do not have employer-based health care, which is about 85% of the population. People already had Medicaid and children had SCHIPS, vets have VA and seniors have Medicare. We are talking about a limited segment of the population, not a massive undertaking. Workers with insurance plans were covered.The poor, veterans and those over 65 were covered. So all this big hullabloo was over about 20 to 30 million Americans, out of 312 million. Certainly not “massive” by any standard of government programs that Republican Congressman Roskam is used to approving.

Look, the goals of Obamacare were pretty specific. One goal was to keep people with property and income from becoming bankrupt from medical bills. About half a million people a year were going bankrupt specifically because of huge medical bills. The other goal was to get medical care for  the “in-betweens” those who did not have employer-shared insurance policies, so that they would not show up at emergency rooms on their deathbeds. That is not unreasonable. [Read more →]

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Donald Trump Is No Populist.

April 1st, 2017 · ALEC, Capitalism, Corporations and Industry, Economics, Fascism, Health Care, Labor, Lobbying, Obstruction, Politics, Populism, Social Security, Taxes, Trump, Wars and Militarism

by Joseph D. O’Shaughnessy

I normally don’t sign what we all call posts. I don’t even refer to them as “posts.” Rather, I call them editorials or articles. But I don’t want any misunderstanding when it comes to who wrote this stuff about Trump. I don’t like him and I don’t like what he is doing to this country.

How do I know that Trump is no Populist? It has to do with a number of things…his background, his attitudes, the truth of his character and of his politics. Many of you will not be shocked to learn this but Donald Trump is not one of you. You might say…”how do you know?” I know because statistically it is very unlikely that any of you were born into substantial wealth or left an inheritance in the tens of millions of dollars in rapidly appreciating New York City real estate.

So, trust me, Trump is not your buddy. If he met you on the street, which he wouldn’t because he goes from his office to a limousine, he would not recognize you five minutes after he had shaken your hand unless you were worth more money than he is.  He is no Teddy Roosevelt nor Robert La Follette, nor George Norris nor William Jennings Bryan nor Harry Truman. He is no Jack, Robert or Teddy Kennedy. He is simply a wealthier version of George W. Bush with a Vice President equally as Neo-Fascist as Dick Cheney but with a more deceptive demeanor. Good men don’t cut 24 million people from health care with a smile.  [Read more →]

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Should We Be Taking Michael Moore Seriously?

March 12th, 2017 · Capitalism, Corporations and Industry, Democracy, Economics, Education, Health Care, Human Rights, International affairs, Labor, Politics, Populism

Have you seen “Where to Invade Next,” the title of the latest film by gadfly documentarian, Michael Moore? I guess his films are supposed to be funny. But if you like the humor of Ron White or Chris Rock, you might want to pass on Michael Moore. I don’t find his films funny. But wait a minute before you walk away. Moore, I discovered in this film, has a message to which we probably should pay a little attention.  And this movie got my attention because it was alternately funny and serious… but entertaining while delivering a message that every American should see.

His opening is not very funny nor is it entertaining. In fact, it is pretty uncomfortable. There is a scene in which a bunch of high school kids in Southern California all dressed in bathing suits or shorts are leaving a party. They had gone to a pool party to which they weren’t invited and they had been told to leave and they were all leaving. For some reason, out of the crowd a cop grabs a young black girl who was walking and talking with her both white and black friends and tosses her roughly to the ground and yells at her when she asks him why he has done it. There is another scene of the young man, Eric Garner, who was choked to death by the police while lying on the ground and repeating over and over and over again, “I can’t breathe.” We watch as the police slowly choke him to death, despite his pleas.

There was a scene of people waiting in line to vote…all African-Americans…at least 300 of them, waiting to vote. I don’t wait to vote. Why do African-Americans anywhere in this great country…why is it necessary for African-Americans to stand in line for hours to be honored with their birthright…the vote? (And why are they profiled and removed from voting rolls? This is where election fraud exists. And it may have been why a woman with 3 million more votes than her competitor lost an election in states with Republican Governors, and Republican legislatures.)

More than any other Americans except perhaps Native Americans, African-Americans should not have to wait to vote. The overwhelming preponderance of so-called Black Americans come from slave ancestors. They have paid their dues. They should go to the head of the line to vote. And they should never be made to wait. The same for Native Americans.

So none of this beginning is particularly funny, the way we think of Michael Moore. It is not funny watching another African-American woman marching with a group of white and black peaceful protesters being suddenly stopped and tossed on the ground violently and then kneed with great force in her back as she lay face down on the ground and then handcuffed, for no apparent reason other than that she was Black and walking along on a street with others. Moore is just pointing out features of our current society and making fun of the way we do things. And these things are part of our everyday lives. He’s giving us a mirror into just some aspects, but the less attractive aspects of American Democracy. He’s making the point that we are not always living in a way that exhibits “American Exceptionalism.”

He shows bridges falling down in Minnesota, with cars on them. That is dangerous, not funny. He shows parents being asked to provide school supplies, even…and this may be funny…toilet paper because in those school districts some things must be sacrificed because of lack of funds. He shows a Marine Captain whose house was foreclosed on while he was in Iraq. Not funny to the Marine, that’s for sure. Over 5,000 military personnel were foreclosed on…some by the man who is now Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury. And this is not funny to those Marines, trust me.  There was no reason for that cop to toss a young black teenage girl on the ground. No reason for cops not to check and see if something was wrong with Eric Garner that might have caused him to be unable to breathe. Not funny. Just a message about who we are as Americans…in some places at some times.

It shows the gentle face of a surgeon who was killed as the result of hatred and religious fanaticism. He was only one of several who were shot to death for providing perfectly legal pregnancy terminations for women. It doesn’t show the ruin of the country by people who vote against their own best interests by voting for predominantly Republican House and Senate legislators who go to Washington to sell out Obamacare, Social Security and Medicare for the thirty pieces of silver given them by lobbyists for big oil or health insurance companies or one of the hundreds of lobbying organizations organized, funded and directed by the billionaire Koch Brothers.  It doesn’t show the damage caused by the hatred promoted by Right Wing Conservative radio talk show hosts. It doesn’t show the division in our people created by billionaires and aspiring billionaire corporate CEOs who, rather than honest, decent, compassionate physicians, should all be killed by the people, perhaps in public hangings to cleanse ourselves of those who would take away our democratic institutions and deliver us all..Black, white, Hispanic, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant…to slavery or destitution.

But then Moore turns from the United States and on his premise of invading other countries to see what he can take home to the U.S. as booty from his conquests, he starts with Italy. In Italy he meets a couple, a cop and his wife who also works. The spoils from Italy turns out to be their vacations. They get 8 weeks of vacation. Do their employers mind, he asks. No, they say that their employers feel that it reduces stress. They may be right. Italians live on average 4 years longer than U.S. citizens.

But Moore is not satisfied. So he goes to Dukati, the famous motorcycle manufacturer. He arrives at lunch time. Dukati employees have a 2-hour lunch. Many go home for lunch. So Moore talks to the head of the union. The union leader says that they still work for some things, and it was not always easy getting these benefits but for now it seems to work. The owner of Dukati says he is very happy with his situation. He has very motivated, dedicated employees most of which have been with him a long time. What difference, he says to Moore, is it—as long as I have no labor problems, whether I make a million or five million?

And Moore sees a woman with a baby and asks her about maternity leave, which she says is 5 months paid leave to have the baby and spend time with it in its first months of life. No one seems to even question this and most seem to wonder why he is even asking about it.

So Moore tells them that he likes their vacation and 2-hour lunches  and maternity leave and he is going to steal them and take them back to America. Then he goes to France.

He seeks out and goes to one of the poorest villages in France. He goes to an elementary school. Even in this small, poor rural village, the children eat lunch on real plates, with knives and forks and glasses—for water. All they drink is water with their meals. And the meals come from a menu prescribed by a chef who designs meals for the schools. This day the children ate tomato salad with mozzarella cheese, ham with mustard, pasta and either vanilla pudding or fruit and cheese for dessert. During the one-hour lunch hour, the children learn the proper diet, learn proper ways to dine and serve others and learn to use their lunch time to relax and exercise.

The children’s meals always include certain things, like fish, or a pasta dish or a stew and fresh produce. But the truly impressive thing about this is that the French actually spend less per child than Americans do, with our bad diets and rushed eating. And it goes without saying these days, that the French children test far, far better than ours. (But remember this…our rich are much richer than their rich.)

How do they pay for it all, even though it costs a little less than our imperfect meals and shorter time spans and less effective education? Taxes. They pay more taxes than we do…but the surprise is that while they pay more, they pay not much more. So what is an accurate comparison?

Well, for our taxes we get fire and police protection, water (although not always drinkable any longer) roads (usually), bank bailouts and wars in other countries. The French get fire and police, clean water, good roads (they can drive at 150 mph on highways), no bank bailouts and fewer wars but free health care for everyone, free college, almost free daycare, paid sick leave, paid maternity leave, 4 weeks paid vacation, free prescription drugs, free nursing care, better schools and a huge amount spent on supporting the arts. And they know where their money goes. The French require that their paychecks itemize what percentage and what amount goes to what department.

The French are much more realistic about sex. They teach sex education earlier and more frankly and matter of factly than do we. Yet their rates of sexually transmitted diseases are far lower than ours and our rates of teen pregnancy are double that of France….6 times greater than Germany and 7 times greater than the Swiss.

Next Moore traveled to Finland which has the highest rated students in the world to see just how long and hard the Fins must push their students to achieve these goals. In the 1960s Finland and the U.S. were relatively comparable in educational achievement among kids up through high school. But no longer. How do the Fins do it? Well, first of all, they have no homework. If it should happen, it would be rare, and one girl says it is….about ten minutes, no more. Furthermore, the children only attend class about 20 hours a week, with the shortest school week and shortest school year in the Western world. In addition to Finnish, they all speak English and usually at least one other language.  How do they do it? Well, first of all, the tests are all essay tests, with no such thing as multiple choice questions. Either you know the answer or you don’t. If you do, you write it down. If you can’t, you get it wrong. They don’t use standardized tests and don’t like them but every school in Finland has the same look and roughly the same size and same equipment and teaching quality. Public schools are meant to give every child the same opportunity in any part of the country. Private schools are illegal in Finland.

So, the Western part of Western Europe is doing pretty well, Moore decides, but how about the old Eastern bloc countries? They can’t be doing as well as we are, he muses. So he goes to Slovenia. He goes to the University of Ljubljana and talks with a student. The student says that she pays nothing for tuition or books to and including medical school. Then Moore meets an American. She’s a student and she pays nothing. As it turns out, not only does she get free tuition, but there are about 20 classes at Ljubljana taught in English! Actually, Moore says, there are about 22 countries in Western Europe and South America where college is free. So even in Slovenia, no one carries the burden of huge student loan debt into their working years.

Next he visits Germany and goes to a factory. The workers are on their afternoon break. German workers we discover have a 36-hour work week, paid vacations, maternity leave, government health care and other benefits and a very good income. None of the workers had a second job and they laughed at it? Why would we, they said, when they had struggled to eventually get such good working hours? Years ago, we find out, unions had negotiated, with great difficulty, to get workers on the boards of directors. Today, 50%, half of the boards of directors of large corporations are made up of workers. For that reason, CEOs of German corporations do not make the 300 to 400 times annual salaries of average workers that American CEOs earn. But, in Europe, as we begin to see in this film, people are different. Money is not everything or the only thing.

But what about drugs? Well, Europeans have a different view, but none more different than the citizens of Portugal. For over a decade, Portugal has allowed the legal possession and use of drugs. All drugs. Moore asks several policemen to answer some questions on drugs. How many people were arrested in the last year for drug possession…any drug…Moore asks.  Zero. None, they reply. No one is arrested for possession of drugs. There are no drug dealers. The government controls the sale of drugs. Even drug usage has gone way down. There are fewer addicts by half and addiction is not a crime but is actually treated as an illness and treated by state institutions. The secret is that rather than addiction and crime going up with legalization, it actually goes down. There are fewer users, fewer addicts, less crime and more emphasis on prevention and cure. Costs have dropped precipitously.

In the U.S. there may be more to it than just fear of criminality. After all, some of the people locked up for drugs are more dangerous to themselves than others. But there may be an actual incentive for government to keep people locked up. Part of Boeing’s workforce is prison labor. Pretty good incentive,, considering they make only 22 cents an hour in prison. And they can’t even vote. In Florida and Virginia, one in three black men have lost the right to vote because of their conviction for drug possession.

But is prison labor a big deal? Let’s see, we mentioned Boeing but there is also Eddie Bauer, JC Penny and, oh yes, MacDonald’s. And a few more, like Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Lockheed, ToysRUs, Janisport, Victoria’s Secret, Brooks Brothers, Whole Foods, Haystack Mountain, Walmart, Signature Packaging, Sprint, Verizon, Fidelity, American Airlines, Avis and many others. Portugal uses outpatient systems, treatment centers. We use prisons. We have 80% recidivism, one of the highest rates. Norway, for example, with a much more lenient penal system has only 20%.

What about other things? Women’s rights for example. Well, Moore visits Tunisia to find out. Tunisia is actually more liberal than the U.S.. in some areas. Women, for example, constitute 31% of lawyers, 27% of judges, 24% of the medical profession and 72% of pharmacists. They represent 34% of all journalists. They are pilots, soldiers, cops and 50% of parliament.

The strange thing is that many of these ideas, in education and health and women’s rights started here, in the United States. Things like the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment began right here in the United States. As he walks along the old Berlin Wall that divided Germans into East Germans and West Germans, he reflects on the walls that we have put up in this country between one citizen and another.

These walls are artificial and often foolish enmities, created by powerful forces to keep the average American from voting for change, for everyone, not merely a few billionaires and their followers. This film is much more entertaining than I have described it and every U.S. citizen with a household income under $500,000 a year should watch it and take the children.

 

 

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How Paul Ryan Plans to Take Away Your Health Care

January 25th, 2017 · Abortion rights, Budgets, Democracy, Economics, Fascism, Health Care, Human Rights, Lobbying, Obstruction, Politics, Populism, Trump

Paul Ryan and the Republican/Fascist leaders in Congress want to repeal Obamacare and leave you with the same kind of health care you had before the Affordable Care Act was initiated. (Republican/Fascists are the new Republicans. There are no more moderate or rational Republicans in the Republican Party.)

Here is the Republican/Fascist plan.

  1. Offer health insurance from health insurers to healthy individuals who can afford policies.
  2. Offer health care in exchanges limited to those who are high risk. Those policies will cost no more than 200% of an existing policy for healthy citizens. In other words, if you are sick before you get a policy and go into a high risk pool, you will still have a $20,500 tax deduction for you health insurance, but your bill could be no more than $41,000 per year.
  3. If you get sick and have a policy, you cannot be denied a policy as long as you pay the bill. If you let the policy lapse, even for one month, you will be put into the risk pool if you have a pre-existing condition,, i.e., if you are sick.
  4. In addition to the $20,500 tax deduction, you may have a health savings plan. In this plan, you put money into a savings account and it is tax free so long as it is just used for health insurance or health care.
  5. You pay for premiums and co-pays out of pocket, and the deduction in your taxes will offset the cost of insurance. Remember, a deduction is not a credit. It is less than a credit.

Ryan says that Obamacare is a disaster and that it is collapsing. Neither of those things is true.  Obamacare has put an additional 20 million people on health insurance who did not have it before, either because they couldn’t afford it or were excluded for health reasons. Before Obamacare, 500,000 people a year were declaring bankruptcy, citing a health care catastrophe as the reason. Children were born damaged because the mothers lacked pre-natal care. Women were dying of diseases that could have been prevented with annual checkups. Costs of prescription drugs were reduced. Medical equipment and devices became easier to get. And 100 percent of all poor people could have been provided Medicaid except for the political partisanship of Koch Brothers-sponsored Republican/Fascist governors in over half the states. Those millions made up that small percentage of Americans still without health care. [Read more →]

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There You Go Again, Donald…

December 18th, 2016 · General, Jobs, Labor, Lobbying, Obstruction, Politics, Populism, Trump

The hits to the American people just keep coming. Trump’s cabinet is a who’s who of the richest, Rightist, wrongist group of characters ever seen in a Presidential Cabinet. We don’t know how well they will fare against the questioning of both Republicans and Democrats in Congressional approval hearings. Perhaps these will not be the final names. But we know one thing. This will be the wealthiest Cabinet of all time, worth, according to the New York Times,  with the 17 already selected having as much collectively as about 43 million U.S. households.

But the situation for the average American family is much worse than mere numbers. Among them, they have stated plans to do away with your health care, reduce Social Security, privatize Medicare, end clean energy and revert to old-time fossil fuel extraction, end abortion rights, change public schools to Right Wing Christian Fundamentalist schools, remove financial regulations, transportation safety and workplace rules, maintain lower minimum wages and in general make your life miserable so that they, who now take 80% of all new income, can make more billions. Their greed is almost unimaginable.

So here is the next group on the list. And it is astonishing.

First, an oilman, head of one of the most Right Wing, non-tax-paying, arbitrary, reckless, climate denying corporations in the world, Rex Tillerson, will be the new Secretary of State. He has no government experience at all. He negotiates deals for EXXON/Mobil to exploit other countries’ natural resources for the sake of Texas billionaires. Make no mistake about it, Rex Tillerson is not your standard, global international diplomatic scholar. He is from that great anti-science, reality-denying academic institution, EXXON/Mobil, where  they’ve never seen a wild swing in climate, a polar icecap melting, a hurricane covering the entire East Coast of the United States or a new higher annual temperature that they would not bow down before. [Read more →]

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The Trump Hits Keep Coming.

December 11th, 2016 · Politics, Populism, Social Security, Trump

President-Elect Trump, who apparently thinks that he has already taken office, despite challenges in several very close, very suspicious states, continues to pick a cabinet. Depending upon your point of view, it is either a big hit, as in a popular move, or a big hit, as in a blow to the solar plexus.

But before we discuss the cabinet picks, one little item, just to set the tone. This week, the head of the House committee on Social Security & other matters, Sam Johnson from (where else) Texas, sent in a bill to cut Social Security. There are a lot of details, but the words you want to remember are “CUT SOCIAL SECURITY.” That is the net effect of what will happen. This is from a Republican Congress bought-and-sold by billionaires. And are the billionaires, who have so much money they don’t know how much they have, going to pay the same in taxes? No. They are going to pay less as are giant corporations, whose greater profits go…just trust me on this…not to the average pension-fund shareholder, but to the CEOs, the Board of Directors and the largest shareholders, 90% of which, statistically…more, but 90% will cover it for now…to the top 1% of wealthiest individuals in the country.

So, this cabinet of billionaires and generals, are being put in place to reduce taxes on the rich while cutting back on insurance payments that you paid into for 45 years. They will then cut Social Security for this highly-publicized but untrue reason. The country is going broke. Well, when you repeat what Bush, Jr. did, cut taxes twice but continue spending—which is exactly what Trump and the Republican Congress is proposing—then you get massive new deficits and unmanageable debt. That is what is coming. And so Sam Johnson (no relation to LBJ) can shill for his oilfield billionaire pals, who could care less about you, and say that we MUST cut Social Security  because it costs too much, hoping that no one like Populist Daily will come along and tell you that you paid for this and they are literally stealing it to give tax cuts to the rich! [Read more →]

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The Bad News and the Good News

December 3rd, 2016 · Capitalism, Democracy, Health Care, Human Rights, Lobbying, Politics, Populism

The bad news is here. And it will keep coming. Trump is elected and we see already what he has in store for us. It isn’t pretty.

He nominated or selected Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation. This is only bad news if you work for someone in a field that has anything to do with transportation. And that is because Elaine Chao never met a worker whose wages she did not want to reduce.  So, if her job is to support transportation companies against workers…say, making them drive longer hours, requiring fewer safety checks by companies, cutting spending on interstate road maintenance…well, those are just lives we’ll have to risk, folks. After all when hubby Mitch McConnell is doing his part by trying to deny affordable health care to 30 million Americans, then wifey Elaine must do her part to strengthen industry at the cost of as many human lives as possible.

And she has. When she was Secretary of Labor, she did her part by simply ignoring the complaints of workers against their employers for unpaid wages or unfair labor practices. One worker said that he waited 17 months for an answer on unfair labor practices. She was eventually investigated in an almost unprecedented undercover investigation by the impartial Government Accountability Office, GAO, which stated in its report that she virtually left abused and underpaid workers, “with no place to go” for any assistance with illegal actions by employers. In the undercover investigation of worker complaints that the Labor Department was totally unresponsive, approximately three-quarters of calls made by GAO investigators posing as workers with serious problems went unanswered. Of those that were answered, it often took longer than two weeks to get a reply. Calls about child labor went unanswered. In the last few months of Chao’s tenure, in a test of ten calls from GAO undercover investigators about serious issues, only one…one…was addressed at all.

Chao’s approach was simple. Run a totally dysfunctional an unresponsive department. That is what she will do, only with much greater danger to public safety, under Trump. And if Elaine Chao were the only bad pick, that would be bad enough. But look at the others. There are real problems for the People and big, big benefits for Trump’s fellow billionaires.

He chose Representative Tom Price for Secretary of HHD, whose job it will be, presumably, to supervise the removal of affordable health care services for the poor, the aging but not on Medicare (Medicare’s turn will be coming) those with chronic medical conditions that cost health care companies a lot, and others, about 30 million Americans, about 1 out of 10 who do not now get health care…a growing number…from their employers. Remember that one excellent way to tie workers to you is to offer them health care. They may have health care problems, which now, under Price, may not be transferable to other health insurance providers. We don’t know yet.

First, understand this…even though it is too late now for you to do anything about it…Obamacare has provided health care for 30 million Americans who did not have it before. We still have 33 million people living in this country who do not have health insurance. About 7 million are non-citizens living here (some non-citizen immigrants do have health insurance.) Of the remaining 26 million uninsured, 3.8 million fell into the Medicaid gap. In other words, they are the ones that the Supreme Court ruled out by stating that the states had the right to decide which ones would be on Medicaid. Not surprisingly, the Republican state governors decided not to participate in Obamacare and that meant that the very poorest of the–working–poor would not get Medicaid. And because of the Supreme Court decision and the way the law was written, but never intended, they could not get insurance subsidies. So…before you think that everyone is covered, remember that 33 million still need coverage. Some of those are young people who are not on their parent’s policies, and even though they do not have insurance, they are paying in to the overall health care costs with a tax surcharge…not much…but then they don’t cost much to the system either.

So now, here comes Price as HHD Secretary. Who is he? Well, sit down because, if you don’t, it may knock you down. He is against abortion and the funding of anything that will allow abortions. He is for guns and against any restrictions on gun ownership. He was for terminating aid to Americans who were being foreclosed on by big banks after the Bush Stock Market Crash and Depression. He was and is for terminating Public Radio. He is for the severest provisions of the American Patriot Act, that is, to snoop in to your library records, your video records and your bank accounts and phone records without your knowledge and kept secret from you. He is for the repeal of Obamacare. He wants to offer a $3000 tax credit to you to help you buy a $20,000 insurance policy (that’s what a family policy costs these days) and allow you another $1,000 into your newly created “health savings account.” Now this insurance will undoubtedly have a deductible, so let’s say it’s $1,000. You have to pay for the insurance. You have to pay for any costs that are not covered by the insurance….which could be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars….and you have to pay the deductible. And he would put no restrictions on health insurance premiums. The industry will sort it out in the “free market.” There is no free market, folks. As Trump would say: the system is rigged. Do you not remember double digit increases on your health care premiums for ten years before Obamacare started. (In which…nationwide…premiums have come down to near zero.) So…this is the guy you voted in as Health and Human Services Director! But that’s not all.

Price wants to privatize Medicare. He wants to offer seniors vouchers to get private health insurance and end Medicare completely. He wants to raise, not lower the age for registration…to 67 or higher. He has also said that by 2017 he would like to have “balance billing” in which doctors can charge Medicare patients for services that they feel go above and beyond Medicare basic services. He is against Medicare, against Medicaid and against Obamacare. He believes that the government has no place in health care. In this, he contradicts the best advice, not of some orthopedist from Georgia, but of every major health institution, not only here in the U.S, but anywhere in the world. Were it not for health care industry lobbyists and their alliance with some of the richest Neo-Fascists in the world, plus sell-outs like Price, this country, like Canada and like 30 other advanced countries with health care ranked far above our “highly touted” health care system, we would have basic Medicare, not just for seniors but for all Americans.

Now let’s go to an easy one. Betsy DeVos. DeVos is the wife of the inheritor of the Amway business. Amway is a $20 billion, world-wide marketing company for a huge variety of products sold by Amway independent distributors. Disregarding for now the questions about Amway itself, we know that the DeVos family is one of the largest and at times the largest contributor to the Republican Party, having contributed one year, for example, over $4 million. So it is natural that Ms. DeVos should be marked for some kind of cabinet post. Her concerns, however, are about education and religion–combined. Together. She would like to create a system in which there are charter schools that are religious based. And by religious she means her particular variety of Christianity in which Jesus excludes gays from the Last Supper or any public property. Not only is she anti-gay, but Ms. DeVos is anti-public education. This is understandable if one understands that she has been riding this same horse for twenty years, promoting what would become the destruction of one of the best educational systems in the world. She would take public education, create some charter schools (not all schools could be charter by the virtual definition of “charter”) and leave other public schools with less money, lesser students, poorer teachers, larger classes, weaker facilities and–you guessed it–according to those actually knowledgeable about public education, leave those abandoned schools in the very ghettoized districts that Betsy DeVos says she would enervate with charter schools.

But let’s move on to more interesting stuff, like Rep. Mike Pompeo as head of the CIA. This is a good choice if you like your CIA torturing prisoners. Not guilty prisoners, just suspects…to see if they have any information or if they are just screaming at the top of their lungs from pain. Pompeo is smart, as was Napoleon and other tyrants, and finished West Point at the top of his class and Harvard Law School similarly highly ranked. He doesn’t believe in global warming. He doesn’t believe in abortion even when a girl has been raped or even when she has been raped by her father. He is opposed to universal health care but is a long time supporter of the NRA. In a nutshell, he is a very smart guy, on the side of the rich and the energy producers, who, if he felt you were his definition of a terrorists (maybe one promoting wind power….which he is against)…he might be inclined to torture you a little bit..an arm or a leg…until you give it up for the Corps. Pompeo has received considerable support from both Americans for Prosperity and the Koch Brothers directly. His attitude can be summed up in one sentence: “Legal and bureaucratic impediments to surveillance should be removed.” In other words to save his version of Democracy from people not as intelligent, not as capable as he is, in his own mind, we should let him run wild over your civil rights.

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the heart of the good-old-boy-so-long-as-you’re-white South will be Attorney General. So if you are arrested, shot, beaten up, maced, knocked down, kicked or generally abused by a cop….and you’re black….you just lost an advocate for you at the top of the prosecutorial ladder. Jeff Sessions is the typical white southern former segregationist. He is also a card-carrying Conservative. He wants to cut your taxes, cut your Social Security, cut your Medicare, cut out unions, cut out any kind of government welfare (Social Security and Medicare are not welfare. They are in fact insurance programs. But if, like Senator Sessions and his Republican pals, you steal from the insurance company’s funds to buy M-16s, it could become insolvent.) Law enforcement will be tougher and if you see military shooting at American citizens demonstrating about cuts to government programs, those will be cops dressed up as military by the new Neo-Fascist government under the leadership of the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

Former Governor Nikki R. Haley of one of the Carolinas will be UN Ambassador. To be honest, I know very little about Nikki Haley and what I know makes me even less interested in knowing about Nikki R. Haley. Sorry, but I’m moving on.

Reince Priebus will be Trump’s chief of staff, a reward, similar to that of Session’s for loyalty during the campaign. Priebus was the chairman of the Republican Party and continually supported Trump after his comments degrading women and  Hispanics and after numerous rape allegations. Reince Priebus deserves this reward as he is a hard worker, a diligent advocate for Right Wing positions and because of he were not, he would disappear into the woodwork and would not–perhaps even by his wife–be recognized if passing him on the street. He is without any question the dullest man in politics.

There are more appointments sure to come. But for now, this is all we can absorb in one session.

 

 

 

 

 

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Down Trump’s Golden Brick Road

November 28th, 2016 · Democracy, Economics, Fascism, General, Human Rights, Jobs, Labor, Obstruction, Politics, Populism, The Budget, Wall Street

We must examine the Trump infrastructure plan.

At first, it sounds, well, pretty good. And then you get the details.

First, why do you think Trump is proposing an infrastructure plan? Is it because he really wants to put people to work? That is dubious. If he did, he would have brought into his circle the leaders of ASCE. That’s the American Society of Civil Engineers. They would have had some say in Trump’s plan. We know that they have been screaming at the top of their lungs that we need to get on with saving the 60 important bridges that desperately need repair or the other roads and streets and water and sewer work that is so backed up that it will cost $3.7 trillions to restore. According to ASCE, that also gives us their “F” rating. We are 9th or 10th in the world in infrastructure.

While Europe is advancing, we have counties in Texas that would rather, and now will, go back to dirt roads rather than tax the oil companies who take oil for private profit and then leave the roads damaged and in need of repair. People in Europe can routinely travel at a pace that would get them from St. Louis to Chicago in less than two hours or from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a little over 2 hours…almost commuting time. European highways are so well engineered and maintained that average drivers routinely drive at speeds of 140 miles an hour in the fast lanes.

The first thing we need to do with the Trump plan is correct the errors. The writers of the Trump plan say that President Obama did virtually nothing to address the problem. That is wrong. He proposed spending about $500 billion to improve the infrastructure. Congress finally did, in late 2015, send him a bill to sign…for $300 billion, not $500 billion. That is the problem. An obstructive Republican Congress. Their endless debate over the Import-Export Bank stalled and reduced the amount of the plan…as they did with all proposals that President Obama sent to them.

The Trump plan is basically a campaign document, indicting the federal government for things like the toxic water in Flint, Michigan, which was pretty clearly defined as a problem (still is) of the Governor and his assigned (not voted in) manager of Flint’s resources. It was his decision that poisoned the water…to save money that would help protect Governor Snyder’s heavy tax cuts for millionaires.

This document may not be serious at all. As they list statistic after statistic that we already know about the infrastructure, they toss in some propaganda. Like this: “Over the last eight years, the Obama-Clinton administration has doubled our national debt from $10 trillion to almost $20 trillion. Yet despite this massive deficit spending, less and less of it has been going into our infrastructure.” The Clinton is Hillary and it was hardly the Obama-Clinton administration. She was traveling to something like 180 countries around the world.

Let’s briefly point out that, first, the debt was already $12 trillion, not $10 trillion when President Obama took over and it is now somewhere over $18 trillion, not $20 trillion. (Little Trump mistakes…a trillion here, a trillion there.) Second, in the first three years, the Bush Depression, started in 2008, left President Obama with a deficit of $1.4 trillion in 2009, $1.1 trillion in 2010 and $1.0 trillion in 2011. In 2012, the economy that was still foreclosing on a million homes a year, began to pick up and yet there was a smaller deficit, and it continued to decrease until it was down to $486 billion and dropping in 2015. So the idea, the lie, that President Obama willfully increased the debt is not only not true, it is venal and ridiculous and totally inaccurate. He inherited an economy in which jobs were being lost at a rate of 180,000–a week!

After all the campaign rhetoric, we finally get to the meat of the proposal. And yet, it is less meat than gravy.  “For infrastructure construction to be financeable privately, it needs a revenue stream from which to pay operating costs, the interest and principal on the debt, and the dividends on the equity.” Where’s the beef? We know the gravy comes in the form of profits for the financiers. We can imagine the rates they will charge to the municipalities and states. So the question becomes this: What rates will the People really be charged by the Wall Street financiers who cheated them so badly only 8 years ago? After the interest rates, what kind of annual revenue will the money men want in return. Given what happened to Americans in 2008 (I’ll remind you. You lost $7.5 trillion in personal wealth…savings, 401Ks, equity in homes) do you want to trust Wall Street with owning your roads and tunnels and bridges? And water systems? The Nestle Corporation has made it clear that it feels it has the right to buy up municipal water systems and charge you any damned rate they please. They say it is their right under the constitution.

It continues….” financing a trillion dollars of infrastructure would necessitate an equity investment of $167 billion, obviously a daunting sum. — We also assume that the interest rate in today’s markets will be 4.5% to 5.0% with constant total monthly payments of principal and interest over a 20- to 30-year period. The equity will require a payment stream equivalent to as much as a 9% to 10% rate of return over the same time periods. To encourage investors to commit such large amounts, and to reduce the cost of the financing, government would provide a tax credit equal to 82% of the equity amount.”

Right after they criticize President Obama, they get right into the money, honey. Show us the money. It is, after all, not about the people. And certainly not about the jobs…that doesn’t show up anywhere yet. Only how they are going to make money. Because, believe me, that is what this is all about. Do you think that they are going to go along with union workers in a Republican controlled House and Senate appropriation, with a President who doesn’t like workers at all, let alone union workers, and a Vice President who hates unions? And minimum wages? Please. Have you seen the kinds of workers doing construction work these days? They are right off the boat from Mexico, not in a union, with little leverage and no skills. Somehow, these vulnerable people, the ones who don’t make it to Trump’s giant airplanes flying them back to wherever, the ones the Republicans will now need to keep here….these will be the ones hired to do the jobs. That’s OK. They need jobs and steady jobs. But if you think that the coal workers are going to end up building roads in Kentucky and West Virginia, your pipe dream needs a new pipe.

And of course, sitting back and watching les miserables in all the poor states or in all the miserable poor neighborhoods of rich states will be the Koch Brothers. They and their billionaire friends pull all the strings, by funding ALEC, the State Policy Network, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Hudson Institute, the Hoover Institute, the Manhattan Institute, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, Americans for Tax Reform, American Energy Alliance, the Club for Growth, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Reason magazine, and hundreds of Right Wing radio programs like Rush Limbaugh, ($40 million a year for his propaganda), Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Oliver North, Michael Medved, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, and many, many other, lesser wannabees who simply listen to what the big boys say, get the talking points and then rattle on day after day after day. They have been attacking Hillary Clinton for the last 20 years, constantly, every day, because those billionaires, and the CEOs taking home, annually, 500 times what you make, and the Texas oilmen, proven racists, chauvinists and American Neo-Fascists all knew that one day they would face her in an election. They lied about her for 20 years and were able to simultaneously rig the elections state by state, until, even with 2 million more votes than the disgusting Trump, she could not win.

They already own 33 state governors, 24 state legislatures…lock, stock and barrel. The money from Comcast and AT&T and EXXON/Mobil and BP and Kraft and Coke and Boeing and the national association of bail bondsmen and the private prison lobby and the NRA….and now, Trump, his cabinet, the Republican Congress whose campaigns are funded by these organizations (whom do you think they think about….you or these organizations who bring them millions?) and soon a Right Wing, Conservative, and I think, Neo-Fascist Supreme Court will sign off on any bills they bring. It is corruption from bottom to top.

It may, indeed, have been more than just an election we lost. We may have set ourselves on a path to lose Democracy. If so, we are all lost….and we, this generation of Americans, did it. We may have lost the entire reason that our Founding Fathers came here. We may have turned the country over to plutocrats, an aristocracy of money.

Only time will tell if we did. If so, shame on us.

 

 

 

 

 

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Trump: A Fantasy of Being President

August 10th, 2016 · Democracy, Economics, General, Lobbying, Politics, Populism, Taxes, The Budget, Wall Street, Wars and Militarism

Donald Trump recently laid out his economic policies in a speech in Detroit, Michigan. It is no surprise he did it there. Detroit is a disaster, created by a variety of mistakes, both from politically active but administratively unqualified Democrats and then from greedy, uncaring, arrogant Republicans who want basically to buy up Detroit and make a profit on it at the expense of the citizens, who are primarily black and poor.

Trump uses the term, “America First.” It is not a new term and that is why he uses it. It was first used by a large isolationist, somewhat anti-Semitic group  prior to World War II, up to 1941 that included such members as Charles Lindburgh, but also Justice Potter Stewart, General Robert Wood, President of Sears, Roebuck, and student members like Gerald Ford, Sarge Shriver and Jack Kennedy. It was a popular movement, with memberships in over 450 locations around the country. It virtually died with the 2500 men at Pearl Harbor. But it eventually became more and more problematic as news of Nazi and Japanese atrocities became more evident and as it took on more of an anti-Semitic image. Probably not a good image for Trump to emulate, given his own image of racism, warranted or not.

Let’s start with his comment that we have abandoned the policy of putting America first. He says that we no longer do, and that it has cost us trillions but we still have the money to resettle millions of refugees here. Well, we have resettled many refugees, although it may be “millions” over a long period of time unless you consider busloads of children from Central America sent here to avoid being murdered by gangs, who are then largely returned. Immigrants cost us money the first year they are here. After that, they make money for us. Those are facts from people like FAIR, the organization that tries to get rid of immigrants. And they are talking about illegal immigrants, not refugees who are often the intellectuals in a state that dictators want to bump off first.

And as far as China destroying our economy. It is not China. China has a right to build its own economy, where people make less than fifty cents a day by comparison with our standard of living. We, our corporations, are the ones sending jobs to China. Not Hillary Clinton. U.S. Corporations. And who supports them? George W. Bush and Dick Cheney introduced legislation, and with a Republican Congress passed legislation to give incentives to corporations sending jobs abroad. Is that virtually criminal, along with their other crimes? Hillary Clinton thinks so, as does the Democratic Party and Bernie Sanders. But Donald Trump not only does not thinks so, Donald Trump owns companies that manufacture products in China, just like Walmart and thousands of other firms in the U.S. [Read more →]

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The Koch Brothers, Trump and the Theft of the American Dream

July 4th, 2016 · ALEC, Capitalism, Democracy, Fascism, Lobbying, Media, Politics, Populism, Taxes

Please take a look at the Koch Brothers’ latest piece of propaganda–quite probably the worst and perhaps most consequential lie ever told in a television commercial, (in the right-hand column, under “From the Right.”) Watch it, and then read on.

“Look around…” it says. “…America is divided.” The title of the commercial is “It’s Time to End the Divide.” The divide? Who created “the Divide?” Who created the government that has virtually eliminated taxes for the rich and given us the largest income inequality in the world and in the history of this country? Did you? Did any of the roughly 300 million Americans who comprise one half of the divide? The Kochs and the other billionaires who gather at their meetings semi-annually to decide which politicians to support. They created the divide and they did it deliberately.

“With government and corporations picking winners and losers….” Who is the government? With 33,000 lobbyists for people like the Kochs, it is the corporations who not only decide winners and losers in business and income, they also, through one of the hundreds of Koch Brothers funded organizations, pick the politicians they support or actively try to defeat. The Kochs have elected a majority of Right Wing Congressmen and Senators and a majority of Right Wing governors, about 30 out of 50. All Republicans. Only one Democrat, as of last reading of the list was a member of the Koch Brothers-founded-and-supported ALEC organization, which basically buys state legislators.

ALEC puts corporate sponsors together with state legislators, takes them on trips to places like Palm Springs, then sets them down and tells them what legislation (which their lawyers actually write) they want to be enacted. That is why your cable bill is so high and why, in so many states, even the local community cannot even start its own Internet, even though they could easily do it and do it cheaper and make it faster. They write laws to prohibit anti-pollution regulations, for example. Which is why in the ALEC-owned, Republican state of Michigan a governor can substitute his own person instead of the elected representative of the people in any community, change direction, and, as happened, poison them with lead and toxic-tainted water.

But it goes on…”…(showing obvious poverty and unemployment scenes)…rigging the system against the People, creating a two-tiered society, with policies that fail our most vulnerable,dooming our poor to an unjust cycle of incarceration, stacking the deck against businesses that don’t get subsidies and tax breaks….(then an image of Abraham Lincoln)” These people are astonishing. THEY are the ones creating inequality, poverty and electing former Segregationists, White Supremacists, former KKK members to both state legislatures and Congress, using exactly these kinds of techniques. When the Fascists in Italy and the Nazis in Germany wanted to take over their governments, they were not the majorities. They did it by persuading the populations of those two countries that the inactivity, nothing being done, (which they had created by obstructing every piece of reasonable legislation) was the fault of the system, the current method of government, and more could be done in Trump-like fashion. This is the entire purpose of these commercials.

This brings us to Trump. Why don’t the Republican hierarchy like Trump? Is it his insulting manner? Well, have you seen any of the racist materials put out by the Right Wing Republicans or listened to any of the radio time from Rush Limbaugh or the banned-from-visiting-Britain, MichaeL Savage? Have you ever heard of Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter? So…no…it isn’t Trump’s language. It is just one thing. He is not beholden to other billionaires who have bought their candidates until now. He is a fellow billionaire, so many of his policies are my-way-or-the-highway, just as are theirs. But they have spent billions buying up Neo-Fascist politicians. They have a huge investment in controlling this country. And they are well on their way to doing so.

Now comes Trump. He starts talking about inequality even though he knows nothing–zero–about it. And when the hicks in Alabama who are finally waking up to the fact that the Koch Brothers have been buying politicians to play on their fears of blacks and their religious superstitions to elect people like those they have, like the Walmart-clerk mentality of most Republican congressmen, they see Trump as saying good things and…hey…he isn’t preaching to us to drop our beers and leave the NASCAR monotony early as those heathen Democrats want us to do. We can vote for our stuff and still not have to think or change our diets. This is Trump. He foils the Kochs because he has found a way to something one might call Trump-Populist-Stupid. And he is ruining all their well funded plans for the future.

And that does bring us to the future. All the bull shit in these commercials will work for the Kochs, even though they are peeing their pants about Trump. He is a billionaire. He’s not going to do anything for the people. Even the revered and populist sounding gentleman, and he is a gentle man, does very little for the People except find and support good companies here in the U.S., which, in itself, and to be fair, like the Koch Brothers, offers good wages and benefits families. This is perhaps, paradoxically, the best thing that billionaires can do, and the Kochs, Trump and Buffett all do it and do it pretty well. But there is a difference.

Buffett is not trying to do away with Social Security. The Kochs are. Buffett wants wage improvements for both society and for economic development. The Kochs have given hundreds of millions through Pacs and organizations like Americans for Prosperity to elect anti-union and right-to-work governors to keep workers at low wages by lying about how right-to-work will create more jobs. Sometimes it does because minimum-wage companies can flourish in states where wages are lower and people are therefore poorer. But those poor people cannot pay property taxes and therefore cannot fund good schools (which is why they are all the statistically worst educated in the country) or fund hospitals and roads. Society needs taxes to create decent public infrastructure to grow with each new era.

So are the Kochs evil? What we do know is that what they discuss in these commercials are the very things that their policies have created. So, what should we think of very rich people…unbelievably rich, by the way…who say they want to fix these things but clearly in their actions want to not only perpetuate them, but to hide the fact that they are. Once again, unfortunately, the best examples of people who have done this in the past were Fascists. Using propaganda to make the Jews the scapegoats as these people are using the poor as scapegoats. And then producing commercials like these to lie about it. Producing commercials saying that someone else….some isolated government and corporations (but not theirs)…are causing these problems and maintaining that they want to help.

They spend hundreds of millions a year…a drop in the bucket if you are worth 44,000-million (that’s what $44 billion actually is)…to buy up time in hundreds of universities around the country to have some shill make the same kinds of arguments for them that they make in these commercials. They founded the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Mercatus Center and literally hundreds of organizations that fall under the aegis known as the Tea Party.

So, what to do? Spread the word. Read about the Koch Brothers. Read about their organizations. Read about ALEC. Prepare to elect and work to elect every Democrat you can find. In a Neo-Fascist party like the Republican Party, there is only obedience or exile. They vote in a bloc. Only with majority Democratic rule in the House and Senate can we break the cycle of Koch-funded obstruction and show the People what good government can do …and has done prior to Reagan… for them.

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