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Harris County wasn’t ready for Hurricane Harvey. Has anything changed?

Fri, 2018-04-20 12:50

In the year after Hurricane Harvey, an important question looms on the horizon: What happens if a storm hits this year and we still aren’t prepared?

Gulf Coast hurricane season starts June 1, and signs that the county is up for the job don’t look so good.

On Feb. 12 — two months ago today — ProPublica and Texas Tribune co-published a damning, in-depth investigative report on the failure of Harris County government to adequately prepare for Hurricane Harvey. The report — based on more than 3,000 emails gathered via public information request — detailed step by step how Harris County had not implemented a 17-page “Mass Shelter Plan” it had developed seven months before the storm. While the plan accurately predicted key risks such as a slow response by the Red Cross, only one scenario-based training was ever held for county employees. Most Harris County employees were completely unaware that a plan existed, a fact that became evident amidst the storm. When asked by reporters about the plan, some officials — including Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack — demonstrated no memory it existed in spite of having voted for it.

The plan also called for developing a list of shelters prior to any disaster so the county could be prepared for relief needs as quickly as possible. When reporters asked for this list months after the storm hit, an email chain was accidentally forwarded to them by a county media specialist demonstrating a back and forth discussion about how to spin the story.

Twenty-four hours after the report was released, I addressed the Harris County Commissioners Court during the open comment period of their monthly meeting. I reminded the Commissioners Court of the heroic grace and generosity volunteers in our county had displayed during the storm, then questioned the court on the claims of the ProPublica/Texas Tribune report, hoping to gain some insight into what the county was doing to fix the issue. I had just finished emphasizing that Harris County deserved answers as a matter of public accountability when the timer indicating the end of my three minute testimony began to beep.

The only response I received after the testimony was, “thank you for your service, Mr. Cohen.”

Later that meeting, the court approved $105 million in funding to renovate the Astrodome. The Astrodome dominated every evening news broadcast, printed paper, and radio spot in the Houston area for the next news cycle. Any discussion of Harvey became a footnote.

I was disappointed.

In the days that followed, I thought about all the people I have come in contact with who were affected by Hurricane Harvey. I reflected on the jarring inequalities Harvey had exposed. The storm had demonstrated our common bond, yet shined a light on our socioeconomic divides. Life may have returned to normal for many inner loopers, but for others, the effects were still being felt. Many people in this county are still homeless, including students who struggle to keep up with their school work in spite of their hardships. Recently, I was asked if I knew anyone who could help a single mom with a 5-year-old find donations of food, gift cards, and cash to help get them back on their feet. Their home is still in bad shape. They haven’t come close to getting the help they need.

The people of Harris County are working hard to restore life to normalcy for those hit hardest. Federal money has yet to trickle in. Established organizations and grassroots activists alike are working to find resources for those in need. Last week, several area philanthropists organized a clothing drive to help Harvey survivors rebuild their wardrobes. Houston Strong families continue to swing hammers and rebuild their homes. Such is life in post-Harvey Houston.

Emergency preparedness is above politics. Harris County must take immediate action to prepare us for the next flood and show the receipts indicating said action to the public with clear, easy-to-read, biweekly updates, starting now. Harris County deserves accountability in governance, but more importantly, we deserve to know that the Harris County Commissioners Court is doing everything in its power to take proactive, preventative measures against disasters — before it’s too late.

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The “Grotesque Caricature” of the White Evangelical is real

Fri, 2018-04-20 12:23

Most are apoplectic about the White Evangelical durable and cultlike support for Donald Trump. Some see their current morality as a self-serving new thing to get the judges they want. The evil emanating from their movement is neither new nor should it be surprising.

Hollis Phelps', Professor of Interdisciplinary studies at Mercer University in Macon, GA wrote an article titled "Maybe It's Time to Admit that the 'Grotesque Caricature' of White Evangelicals is the Reality" where he examines the pathology. It is likely the best analysis of the reality of the evil that has always been a part of the sect. He wrote the following.

There’s no doubt that evangelicalism seems to have an image problem, especially since its overwhelming alliance with Trump. In the minds of many outside the fold, evangelicalism no longer represents a specific religious position centered on sin and the need for individual salvation but rather a self-serving, power-hungry political movement that will side with the devil himself for the sake of political pragmatism.

“When people say what does it mean to be an evangelical, people don’t say evangelism or the gospel,” Birdsall told the Washington Post. But this image problem isn’t new. Although polling shows that overall feelings toward evangelicals as a religious group have remained relatively stable since 2014, the perception of evangelicals as “agents of intolerance,” to quote John McCain back in 2008, well predates the Trump era. And besides, we shouldn’t chalk it all up to image. The fact remains that over 80% of self-identified white evangelical voters cast their lot with Trump. Moreover, despite a host of missteps and scandals, overall evangelical support for Trump as president hasn’t declined but grown.

Phelps posits the pretext that the White Evangelical uses to support Donald Trump and turns it on its head.

Given the consistency with which white evangelicals as a whole have lent their support to Trump—and right-wing candidates and policies more generally—it’s far past time to own up to the fact that the image is, in many respects, the reality.

Well-intentioned evangelical leaders may not like to hear that, but it remains the case that an overwhelming majority of evangelicals continue to support Trump and his policies. Sure, they may have issues with his moral center, or lack thereof, but they’re willing to overlook all this for the sake of political expediency, for promises of “religious freedom,” and the hope of a judiciary stacked with conservative judges. This is because, at the end of the day, evangelicalism isn’t really about personal values but, rather, social and political conversion and control.

Phelps reveals an inconvenient truth about the White Evangelical. Trump did not create the pathology. He is just their medium that is a reflection of them.

The Trump era, then, does not create a new problem for evangelicals and their image; it’s simply casting a very bright light on what has always been there, at least for the past forty years or so. ... it’s questionable the extent to which evangelicals ever held much moral authority in the first place. ... appealing to some “pure” form of the faith beyond its supposed political corruption—beyond the racism, xenophobia, nationalism, and the like that even critics of paper over—isn’t the way to go.

Not only do such appeals represent little more than nostalgia-laden theological desires that have little to do with what goes on on the ground, but they also ignore the fact that the line between religion and politics is flimsy at best, if not entirely non-existent. Evangelicalism, in its current manifestation, isn’t a religion that has been corrupted by its entry into politics but is, rather, a social movement that works through a specific type of politics. The substance of that politics has been clearly on display for some time now. Trump and his evangelical allies didn’t invent it; they only exacerbated it.

It is important that your Evangelical relatives and friends read this. It just may give them pause as they examine their morality. Maybe they will begin to see what the rest of the world see. Maybe they will realize the irreparable damage they are doing to Christianity.

Check out our other stories on Evangelicals in the Trump Era.

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New York Times: Don’t Be Progressive, Be a ‘Liberal’

Fri, 2018-04-20 00:54

New York Times op-ed by political scientist (and former Bob Kerrey aide) Greg Weiner (7/13/18) may well be the New York Times–iest op-ed ever.

Its ostensible subject is why Democrats should call themselves “liberals” and not “progressives.” But in making that case, it hits most of the main points of the New York Times‘ ideology—one that has guided the paper since the late 19th century.

First and foremost, it’s a defense of the status quo. “The basic premise of liberal politics,” Weiner writes, “is the capacity of government to do good, especially in ameliorating economic ills.” But not too much good, mind you:  “A liberal can believe that government can do more good or less,” he stresses. Weiner draws a contrast with progressives: “Where liberalism seeks to ameliorate economic ills, progressivism’s goal is to eradicate them.”

So Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society is cited negatively as an example of “a progressive effort to remake society by eradicating poverty’s causes”—in the process supporting  “community action” and financing the “political activism”—presented without explanation as a self-evident evil.  The explanation, presumably, is that the poor should remain passive as they remain poor, gratefully accepting the handouts that “alleviate” their plight, as “cutting checks,” as Weiner puts it, is “something government does competently.”

Coupled with this anxiety about “eradicating poverty’s causes” is the confident assurance that the truth is always somewhere in the middle. “Unlike liberalism, progressivism is intrinsically opposed to conservation,” Weiner warns:

Nothing structurally impedes compromise between conservatives, who hold that the accumulated wisdom of tradition is a better guide than the hypercharged rationality of the present, and liberals, because both philosophies exist on a spectrum.

Conservatives make better partners for liberals than progressives, because “one can debate how much to conserve.” But you can’t debate how much to progress, apparently: “Progressivism is inherently hostile to moderation because progress is an unmitigated good.”

In other words: Equality and justice, sure, but let’s not rush into things, is the “liberal’s” advice. He endorses “policies [that] develop gradually and command wide consensus—at least under normal circumstances.” (Progressives have an unnerving desire to “depress the accelerator.”)

Something that doesn’t change is the right wing of the left’s attraction to redbaiting. Weiner praises “the Cold War liberal who stood for social amelioration and against Soviet Communism,” a figure who “was often maligned by progressives.” Without coming out and accusing progressives of Stalinism, he describes progressives’ response to critics as “a passive-aggressive form of re-education,” one that “supersedes the rights of its opponents.” The example he gives of this is the “progressive indifference to the rights of those who oppose progressive policies in areas like sexual liberation”—an odd arena to cite, since the main “rights” that opponents of “sexual liberation” have demanded in recent years are the “right” of small businesses to discriminate against gay customers and the “right” to check the chromosome status of people who use public restrooms.

You can send a message to the New York Times at letters@nytimes.com  (Twitter:@NYTimes). Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective. Original article poster here.

Jim Naureckas is the editor of FAIR.org, the website of Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. Since 1990, he has edited Extra!, FAIR’s print publication, now a monthly newsletter. He is the co-author of Way Things Aren’t: Rush Limbaugh’s Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the ’90s. Naureckas was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran/Contra scandal and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR’s program director. You can follow him on Twitter at @JNaureckas.

 

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And the Democrats say, ‘Thank you’

Thu, 2018-04-19 12:12

Until the other day, the most significant thing to know about Paul Nehlen was that he had been banned by Twitter.

This happened when he tweeted out a photo of Prince Harry and fiancée Meghan Markle in which he mocked her mixed race. He replaced her face with a re-creation of Cheddar Man, an ancient hominid with charcoal skin, as described paleontologists. Twitter suspended Nehlen's privileges.

Well, who knew this bit of fame was just the beginning?

When House Speaker Paul Ryan announced he was not running for office, Nehlen, an avowed white supremacist, became the GOP front-runner for Ryan's seat in Congress.

And the Democratic Party says, "Thank you."

At this point, the Democrats' pen hand is cramping from thanking the Republicans for how they have set up a blue wave in November.

When Ryan announced he wasn't seeking re-election, he became the 45th House Republican doing so. Two hours after that announcement, Florida Congressman Dennis Ross became the 46th. More are surely to come. Then there are all the Republicans who will leave at voters' hands.

This is an uneasy prospect for a president who knows that what's at stake is control of the chamber where the impeachment process begins.

To the GOP's discomfort we can attribute one thing only. It has become the party of the most dishonest, corrupt and unpopular president in history. And the most racist since. . . owning others was a mark of nobility.

To this we can attribute one thing only. The GOP has become the party of the most dishonest, corrupt and unpopular president in history. And the most racist since – since slavery was a sign of nobility.

The scary truth for the party is that the more Republicans who depart, the more the GOP is going to assume Trump's likeness.

Consider that the front-runner to replace Ryan as speaker, House Whip Kevin McCarthy, is a true Trump favorite, wholly inclined to embrace the hard-right culture-war issues that have made Trump, in presidential approval polls, Mr. 40 Percent.

And the Democrats say, "Thank you."

True, Trump speaks to the soul of his party base in 2018. The problem for the GOP is that poll after poll shows a solid majority of Americans finds what he has to say repugnant.

Nonetheless, people like Nehlen who "speak Trump" are stepping forth to grab nominations left abandoned by so many GOP incumbents. It's going to help them in the primaries. And, in many cases, these Trump clones will help the GOP get creamed in the general election.

Speaking of Kevin McCarthy: There's a good reason why he and Trump should be compatible. Both have a history of philandering. In 2015 McCarthy withdrew his name from contention for House speaker amid allegations of an affair with another member of Congress.

Why would he be speaker material now? Maybe it's because in 2016 Trump showed that it might not matter that one's morals are subterranean.

Well, maybe not now. The march of the Trump Clones should frighten the GOP just as it encourages the Democrats. It certainly did when Trump gave his blessing to the morally shriveled Roy Moore of Alabama.

The retirements of Republican centrists like Sen. Jeff Flake in Arizona and Sen. Bob Corker in Tennessee now lift Democrats' hopes against fringe-worthy Trump-speak Republicans.

Back to our racist friend Paul Nehlen: Regarding the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., at which a counter protester was run down by a racist assailant, Nehlen tweeted that it was an "incredible moment for white people who've had it up to here and aren't going to take it anymore."

Nehlen is exactly the type of candidate a major political party should not want or need, but he's also the type of candidate Trump would endorse. Indeed, Trump tweeted encouragement to Nehlen last year when the latter announced he would oppose the sitting Republican speaker of the House.

So smart of that man.

The Democrats say, "Thank you."

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Interview w/ Quinnipiac University Poll Director on Beto O’Rourke turning Texas Blue (VIDEO)

Wed, 2018-04-18 23:53

Peter A. Brown, Quinnipiac University poll's Assistant Director, appeared on Politics Done Right to discuss the Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) surge to a virtual tie with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Peter A. Brown

Quinnipiac released The Quinnipiac University Poll of Texas candidates. The results were much better than expected for Beto O'Rourke. It was a virtual tie, 43/47% Beto O'Rourke / Ted Cruz. The margin of error of the poll is plus or minus 3.6%. In effect, the race is a virtual tie between O'Rourke and Cruz.

For the first time, Quinnipiac University polled Texas candidates. Brown pointed out that in the past they mostly surveyed east of the Mississippi. While they don't reveal their polling schedule to the public, given today's races, 'why not" poll Texas.

Brown said they polled the Senate race, the Governor's race, and Donald Trump's favorability. Brown said Donald Trump is a little more popular in Texas, by about a point or two than in the country as a whole. But still, he is overall unpopular by approximately ten points.

I asked Brown if Trump's unpopularity was correlating with the current state of the races he surveyed. He said that was hard to tell and not immediately apparent.

Brown said that he could not discern if it is time to move Texas from the Conservative column even with the significant demographic changes. Peter Brown said that until an actual vote proves otherwise, one must consider Texas reliably Conservative.

I asked Brown about the enthusiasm of the electorate. He was not impressed by the word. He thinks it is good for raising money, but actual voting is what matters.

Brown said that Independents would determine the Texas Senate. If O'Rourke can keep his current lead with independents, he will do fine in November.

Brown said their queries found that the state is 24% Democratic, 31% Republican, and 36% Independent. I don't quite buy that Republicans have a 7% point advantage over Democrats given the demographics of the state. My hunch is that a lot of Independents are Democrats who are in hiding.

You can listen to the entire Politics Done Right episode here. Read the full Quinnipiac poll here.

 

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Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) in virtual tie with Ted Cruz (R-TX) for Texas Senator

Wed, 2018-04-18 14:46

I just received the Quinnipiac University Poll, and it is a shocker. What Beto O'Rourke is doing throughout Texas is working. He has seven more months to close the deal. It is clear he likely will.

According to Quinnipiac,

The closely watched U.S. Senate race in Texas is too close to call, with 47 percent for Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz and 44 percent for U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, his Democratic challenger, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released today.

There are wide party, gender, age and racial gaps, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds:

  • O’Rourke gets 87 – 9 percent support from Democrats and 51 – 37 percent backing from independent voters, as Republicans go to Cruz 88 – 6 percent;
  • Men back Cruz 51 – 40 percent, while women go 47 percent for O’Rourke and 43 percent for Cruz;
  • Voters 18 to 34 years old go Democratic 50 – 34 percent, while voters over 65 years old go Republican 50 – 43 percent;
  • White voters back Cruz 59 – 34 percent, as O’Rourke leads 78 – 18 percent among black
    voters and 51 – 33 percent among Hispanic voters.

I find it disconcerting that someone with such a poor record with people of color continues to do as well as he is in the polls with them. That gives Beto O'Rourke's team, not Beto O'Rourke himself the opportunity to better his numbers by educating people on Cruz's real values.

The Quinnipiac poll continued.

Sen. Cruz gets lackluster grades, including a 47 – 45 percent job approval rating and a 46 – 44 percent favorability rating. O’Rourke gets a 30 – 16 percent favorability rating, but 53 percent of Texas voters don’t know enough about him to form an opinion of him.

Texas voters “like Ted Cruz as a person” 47 – 38 percent. Voters “like Beto O’Rourke as a person” 40 – 13 percent with 47 percent undecided.

“Democrats have had a target on Sen. Ted Cruz’s back, and they may be hitting the mark. Once expected to ‘cruise’ to reelection, the incumbent is in a tight race with Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll.

“The key may well be independent voters. O’Rourke’s 51 – 37 percent lead among that group is key to his standing today. But Texas remains a strong GOP state so O’Rourke will need the independent strength to pull the upset.”

At 25 percent each, immigration and health care are the most important issues in their U.S. Senate vote, with 22 percent for the economy and 16 percent for gun policy.

 

 

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Earnings way up. Wall Street pocketing billions from Trump tax cut scam.

Wed, 2018-04-18 12:19

I hate to say we told you so but we did. Watching Wall Street in euphoric jubilee makes it that more hurtful that we were unsuccessful in stopping Trump and the Republican's tax cut scam. After all, they are pocketing the hard work and wealth transfer of the average American citizen. Here is what's happening now.

The American worker sees crumbs from the tax cut scam while the bankers Trump railed against are pocketing billions from its effects.

CommonDreams staff writer Jake Johnson wrote the following in his article "As Workers See Crumbs, Biggest Wall Street Banks Have Already Pocketed $2.5 Billion From Trump Tax Scam."

"Without the tax savings resulting from the new lower corporate tax rate, Wells Fargo's earnings would have declined from a year ago instead of increasing, and much of the year-over-year growth at Citigroup and Bank of America would be gone," the Journal noted. "Losing the tax bump would have cut the earnings growth of JPMorgan to 28 percent from 35 percent; for Goldman, growth would have shrunk by at least a quarter."

Joining the profit bonanza on Wednesday was Morgan Stanley, which posted record quarterly earnings and a 40 percent profit jump thanks in large part to lower taxes.

The Wall Street earnings reports rolled in just as President Donald Trump was using the occasion of Tax Day to proclaim that ordinary Americans are "winning" thanks to the plan he signed into law last December.

But the numbers show that any benefits American workers may be seeing from the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts are far outweighed by the soaring paychecks of investors and corporate fat cats.

"Tax cut riches have gone to execs and investors over workers by [a] nearly 3-to-1 margin," CNBC found in an analysis published on Tuesday.

Chad Bolt, associate policy director at Indivisible, noted that Wall Street's soaring profits alongside meager worker gains should hardly be surprising, given that the Trump-GOP tax plan "was always a scam on the American people."

Yesterday, I wrote the following about Goldman Sachs' windfall.

The titans of finance brainwashed Americans into believing they deserve the profits and wealth we impart to them for dubious claims of being the necessary part of our economy. Let's do some quick and easy numbers that illustrate a system that does not reward real work and intellect but instead making money from moving paper and money around. Remember that is the business Goldman Sachs is in most of the time. They produce no product of real value or service that a public bank could do at a fraction of the cost.

This quarter Goldman Sachs pulled in $10.04 billion in revenues. They have 36,600 employees. So that is just over $274,000 per employee in income. Of that, they had $2.21 billion in earnings. That is over $60,000 per employee. Remember, this is after they pay the salaries, investment banker bonuses and expenses of the employees. So after the investment bankers and brokers get their million dollar bonus, who partakes the $2.21 billion spoils? You guessed it. The folks who could afford to buy their stocks. You can bet that most of the 36,600 employees are not high-level employees. That they are there means the company needs them. You would think more of the $60,000 per employee could go to them, the ones working. That is not how they designed our economic system.

The pilfer made possible by evil elected officials and sanctioned by the American Plutocracy is in full vogue. Only the election of real Progressives in November can stop the bleeding.

Covered on Politics Done Right on April 17th, 2018.

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This is how and why we must boycott Sean Hannity now

Wed, 2018-04-18 00:56

Fox News said they were unaware that Michael Cohen was also Sean Hannity's lawyer. But they said he still has their full support. Fox News codifies its false reporting with their support. That is why and this is how we must boycott Fox News.

Sean Hannity may believe that he has gotten away with the latest discovery that he is but a tool of the Donald Trump administration. But we won't let him. Informed Comment's Juan Cole wrote it best.

Fox Cable News is a project of far rightwing Australian-origin billionaire Rupert Murdoch to push television news in the United States in the direction of white nationalism, white grievance, romanticism about the business class, defense of neocolonialism, and punitive attitudes toward workers and the dissident middle class. It has a firm editorial line, which is set in explicit memos to on screen presenters. Its stars have been serial sex abusers like Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly. Hannity has emerged as the last Great White Hope among the bullies of cable news, and that he is corrupt and dishonest should come as no surprise.

What to do about all this? Most of the people reading this don’t watch Fox anyway (and by the way there are some excellent reporters employed by this corporation and the local stations are often quite good).

The only thing that has been shown to work is a consumer boycott of advertisers. That is what got rid of the odious O’Reilly.

Note that I am not calling for a boycott of Hannity advertisers because I dislike him personally or because I disagree with his politics.

He has revealed himself to be corrupt and dishonest with his viewers on a basic level that should be unacceptable even in a generally corrupt company like Fox Cable News.

So how do we boycott Fox News and Sean Hannity's show? Here is the list. Voice your concern and urge them to pull their ads;

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Explosive profits at Goldman Sachs while Trump robbed you blind

Tue, 2018-04-17 12:17

I hope Americans, the ones who support those who pass policies that allow those who perform the least to profit off your labor and intellect are watching. Goldman Sachs' profits exploded by 27% and way over expectations. In the process, they have built nothing nor made anything better for the average American. So why is that profit deserved again?

The titans of finance brainwashed Americans into believing they deserve the profits and wealth we impart to them for dubious claims of being the necessary part of our economy. Let's do some quick and easy numbers that illustrate a system that does not reward real work and intellect but instead making money from moving paper and money around. Remember that is the business Goldman Sachs is in most of the time. They produce no product of real value or service that a public bank could do at a fraction of the cost.

This quarter Goldman Sachs pulled in $10.04 billion in revenues. They have 36,600 employees. So that is just over $274,000 per employee in income. Of that, they had $2.21 billion in earnings. That is over $60,000 per employee. Remember, this is after they pay the salaries, investment banker bonuses and expenses of the employees. So after the investment bankers and brokers get their million dollar bonus, who partakes the $2.21 billion spoils? You guessed it. The folks who could afford to buy their stocks. You can bet that most of the 36,600 employees are not high-level employees. That they are there means the company needs them. You would think more of the $60,000 per employee could go to them, the ones working. That is not how they designed our economic system.

Many in the plutocracy talk about makers and takers. It is all about how we define these terms. Read clearly, my friends. Investment bankers produce nothing of value to you. Many of those takers, the ones who make so little that they pay little to no income taxes are the ones responsible for Goldman Sachs and the other titans of finance to thrive. They do not pay those 'takers' enough for them to pay income taxes. They are effectively stealing their labors and capitalizing it as their profits.

When a company underpays an employe, the profit margins increase. That increased profit makes the shares of the company more valuable. That underpaid employee takes more from the public sector (e.g., food stamps, healthcare, etc.). Working middle-class America pays the lion share of that social burden with their taxes.

It did not help that Donald Trump and the Republicans' tax cut scam puts even more of the burden on working middle-class Americans. Those who get their income from work pay up to 37% of that in taxes. The wealthy investors pay between 15% to 23.8% for just profiting from the labor and intellect of those who will pay up to 37%.

Tax cut scam failed - Repoatriating offshore profits only helped the rich

And if you believe the Trump/Republican tax cut scam was of any help to the middle-class, here is the reality.

Recent tax legislation, which lowered the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, also helped results. Goldman said its effective tax rate for the first quarter was 17.2 percent.

Paul Krugman proved economists were right all along. Trump's tax cut scam allowing companies to bring their offshore loot to the U.S. did not work as advertised. The reduced rates did not go to employ people or increase salaries. These lowly taxed profits went into stock buybacks expanding the wealth of the already wealthy.

America's indoctrination must end. Our infrastructure is dilapidated. Healthcare continues to sap our wealth as corporations find more ingenious ways to charge us more to keep their growth rate up for their shareholders. It is time for us to redefine who the real takers are.

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This Bernie Democrat will do his part to help repair the Democratic Party

Tue, 2018-04-17 01:01

I was a Bernie Sanders Delegate in Philadelphia. During the primaries, I fought like hell for him because I was and am tired of the incremental changes that continue to leave enough behind that many have lost hope and removed themselves from the body politic.

Interestingly, most of my support came from Hillary Clinton supporters who ensured I became the Bernie Delegate from my Senate District in Texas and they also helped me raise funds from both Bernie and Hillary supporters. They knew that many of us supporting Bernie had real policy issues with Hillary and were much more in tune with Bernie's policies. It was not some rabid anti-Hillary or anti-woman edict for the most part.

The idea was, fight like hell in the primaries and then support the nominee whether it was Hillary or Bernie. When Hillary became the nominee, many of us fought like hell to get the Democratic Nominee elected both physically on the ground, and in blogs and diaries.

It is concerning that a year and a half after the election many on both sides are fighting yesterday's battle instead of the Progressive struggle we need to unite on. Recently Bernie said the following as reported by The Independent.

The senator for Vermont appeared to criticise the first black US President as he branded the Democratic Party a "failure".

Speaking in Jackson, Mississippi, he said Democrats had lost a record number of legislative seats.

"The business model, if you like, of the Democratic Party for the last 15 years or so has been a failure,' said the Vermont Senator.

"People sometimes don't see that because there was a charismatic individual named Barack Obama. He was obviously an extraordinary candidate, brilliant guy. But beyond that reality..." Mr Sanders' comments were quickly branded "patronising" and "deplorable".

A good friend of mine wrote the following regarding Bernie Sanders' comment on Facebook. It shows how twisting one comment can metastasize into potential hatred unless one is interested in standing one's ground and at the same time keeping the dialogue going by not taking attacks too personal.

Friend: Clear racism from Bernie on the anniversary of MLK's murder: "The business model, if you like, of the Democratic Party for the last 15 years or so has been a failure.. People sometimes don't see that because there was a charismatic individual named Barack Obama." - Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders)

Me: I am sorry, that is definitely not a racist statement by Bernie. Look, people, America is filled with racists. It does no good doing microanalysis or the parsing of words to find racism. The Democratic Party Establishment as a whole has many racist elements within. Bernie is not one of them without. Bernie can be insensitive to race, gender, and much more. But his heart and economics are in the right place. You want to make a change, hit our real racists within our party, the part not giv\ing black women their dues. I have stories from Texas to Georgia. Please, folks, stop trying to find racism in the wrong places.

Friend: Take your ass off my post, you're complicit in the docile negro league... stop chasing snow storms and calling them your friends. One day this will not age well for you.

Me: I love you but you are simply wrong on this one. And I have not ever disrespected a difference in opinion with you so I would appreciate your respect, sir.

Friend: And your feelings matter because; what? I said what I said

Me: Because we are humans trying to get to the same place. And we all will not take the same path. Remember that.

Friend: Humans with BLACK skin... but you love them white folks more. I'm done with you, skin folk.

The discussion then continued in another thread under the post.

Friend: I am the ONLY one on this post who actively took part and planned the disruption at Netroots. The way he acted in response and going forward from that, made me have mad distrust from him. You can worship the old white man if you like. Bernhovahs Witnesses scurry up off my post.

Me: And I supported you at Netroots 100% and as an editor at Daily Kos wrote in support of what WE all did.

Friend:  ... there are SEVERAL reasons why I feel no need to honor your feelings.

Me: We will talk offline. I am not the enemy here nor will I allow you to go there, brother. WE WILL TALK!

Friend:  If you wanna talk you know how to find me.

Me: Yes I do. And I will.

Many chose not to see the validity of what Bernie said and instead assigned their preconceived notions of what they thought he meant. Many like my friend described Bernie as a racist. They said he disrespected President Obama. He insulted Obama's legacy. To the contrary, that statement shows the power of President Obama's message, intellect, and yes, charisma.

Everything Bernie said I have said and much more. If one judges the success of a party by the number of candidates elected over a period, then the Democratic Party has been a failure in that regards. It is also true that the charisma, intellect, and organizational skills of President Obama put a facade over some dysfunction. That is not a put down it is an accolade.

Deeming Bernie or his comments racist cheapens the reality that there are in fact racial issues in different sects within the Democratic Party. To be clear, in no regard should one equate the Party's dysfunction with that of the Republican Party. However, to win elections, we must supersede it to ensure everyone feels included.

The constant rehashing of the Bernie versus Hillary debate is not productive. Giving people a reason to vote is. If you support Bernie's policies like I do, systems where the social safety net is large enough to obliterate poverty, provide pay-it-forward-college, and Single-Payer Medicare for All, then fight for it in the primaries and help the candidate sell those ideas to the rank and file. If you are a moderate Democrat that believe more in a free market, do the same.

When the primaries are over, fight like heck to get the Democrat elected. And after the election, if ultimately your progressive or moderated candidate did not win, don't bash the other one ad nauseam. Continue educating and promoting the values you stand for with passion.

I will continue to be a part of the movement to move the country left as it is the only solution to mitigate an extracting economy that has no regards for humanity. In the process, I refuse to make either Hillary supporters my enemy. And I will urge those in my faction of the Democratic Party to do the same. Most times leading by example and not responding in kind is much more effective. If one thinks movement over your person,  not responding in kind is easier.

I called up my friend to hammer things out. I am waiting for his call back. I am sure to see him at either the radio station, KPFT 90.1 FM or Netroots in New Orleans.

 

The post This Bernie Democrat will do his part to help repair the Democratic Party appeared first on EgbertoWillies.com.

John Oliver exposes the American tax system & Trump’s Tax Cut Scam

Mon, 2018-04-16 11:30

John Oliver used his "Last Week Tonight" show to eviscerate the American tax system. While extremely funny it is a sad commentary on our tax system that transfers the wealth and income of the poor and middle-class to corporations using the tax law. Trump's tax cut scam did nothing to stop the legal theft. But it gets worse.

John Oliver exposes American tax system as a fraud that rewards corporations over middle-class

Both Robert Reich and Paul Krugman exposed the Trump tax cut scam which made a bad system worse.

On Reich's article.

Trump continues to tout his tax cut scam as a success. He claims he provided relief for the middle-class. Robert Reich's most recent article blows up that lie with the numbers and the real beneficiaries. And you know what. It ain't you.

Donald Trump fooled a lot of people, and while the tax cut scam was unpopular, many seem to not object to it as forcefully as they should have. One must not forget that soon after he got his bill passed he bragged to the wealthy folks at Mar-a-Lago that he made them a lot of money.

Robert Reich's article "Trump's Shareholder Bonanza," says it all.

The evidence is in: The biggest beneficiaries of the Trump-Republican tax plan are shareholders. Yesterday, Bank of America Brian Moynihan said that “most of the benefits” from the tax cuts “will flow to the bottom-line through dividends and share buybacks over time.” Exactly. Dividends and share buybacks boost share prices. And that’s all corporate America wants to do.

Moynihan noted that in 2017, Bank of America had $16.6 billion of net income available to shareholders and returned $16.8 billion through dividends and buyback. “So, yes, we will expect to return more capital to shareholders given the tax [cut].” Even the expectation of a big corporate tax cut have caused shares to soar. Because the richest 1 percent of Americans owns 40 percent of all shares of stock, and the richest fifth owns 80 percent, this is great news for the wealthy. It’s not great news for anyone else.

On Krugman's article.

Krugman then tells the story that the media should have been covering ad nauseam.

The numbers we have so far show that the much-hyped bonuses are trivial – less than $6 billion, or 0.03% of GDP – while stock buybacks have been more than $170 billion. And many of those bonuses would probably have happened anyway, whereas stock buybacks are running far above historical levels. Furthermore, the surge in stock buybacks suggests that the long run effect of the tax cut on wages will be small. Remember that the chain that should lead to trickle-down begins with lower taxes -> higher investment. If companies use the cuts to buy back stocks, not add to plant and equipment, the wage-growth story doesn’t even get started. So the real news about the tax cut is that it is – I know you’ll be shocked – mainly a giveaway to corporations. Who could have predicted?

And there you have it. Most Americans do not see the benefits. We transferred $1.5 trillion to a few who did not need it or deserve it. And now we will all suffer from the real issues that afflict the country, student debt, deteriorating infrastructure, substandard healthcare, inadequate child care for working parents, and on and on.

John Oliver gets the message across much more effectively than our two economists and this blogger. I guess it will take us all in the attempt to enlight the entire country in all forms in which they absorb information.

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Robert Reich: While China Picks Winners, Trump Picks Losers

Mon, 2018-04-16 00:52

“It’s nonsense that there’s a beautiful free market in the power industry,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said last week as he pushed for a government bailout of coal-fired power plants.

Republicans who for years have voted against subsidies for solar and wind power – arguing that the “free market” should decide our energy future – are now eager to have government subsidize coal.

Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency is also scrapping rules for disposing coal ash, giving coal producers another big helping hand. As if this weren’t enough, a former coal lobbyist has just become Number Two at the EPA. If Scott Pruitt leaves (a growing possibility), the coal lobbyist will be in charge.

Meanwhile, Trump is imposing a 30 percent tariff on solar panels from China, thereby boosting their cost to American homeowners and utilities. The Trumpsters say this is because China is subsidizing solar.

To Trump and his merry band of climate-change deniers, boosting coal is fine. Helping solar is an unwarranted interference in the free market.

As with so much else, Trump is determined to Take America Backwards Again.

Until about a decade ago, the United States was the world leader in solar energy. Federal tax credits along with state renewable electricity standards helped fuel the boom.

Then China decided to boost its own solar industry. State-controlled banks lent Chinese solar companies tens of billions of dollars at low interest rates.

Chinese firms now produce three-quarters of the world’s solar panels.

China’s success in solar has inspired China’s new high-tech industrial policy – a $300 billion plan to boost China’s position in other cutting-edge industries, called “Made in China 2025.”

Besides subsidizing these industries, China is also telling foreign (usually American) companies seeking to sell in China that they must make their gadgets in China. As a practical matter this often means American firms must disclose and share their technology with Chinese firms.

“We have a tremendous intellectual property theft situation going on,” said Trump, just before upping the ante and threatening China with $100 billion of tariffs.

China’s theft of intellectual property is troublesome, but the larger issue of China’s industrial policy is not. The United States has an industrial policy, too. We just don’t do it well – and Trump is intent on doing it far worse.

The United States government used to incubate new technologies through the Defense Department, allocating billions of dollars to R&D that spilled over into commercial uses.

Out of this came the Internet, new materials technologies, and solar cells that helped propel the United States into space – and, not incidentally, seeded the commercial solar industry.

America’s high-tech companies have continued to depend on government indirectly – feeding off breakthroughs from America’s research universities, along with the engineers and scientists those universities train (think of Stanford and Silicon Valley). Much of this research and training is financed by the U.S. government.

Trump’s original budget would have slashed funding of the National Science Foundation and related research by nearly 30 percent. Fortunately, Congress didn’t go along.

Meanwhile, federal, state, and local governments in the United States spend over $2 trillion a year on goods and services, making them together the biggest purchasers in the world. Due to “buy American” laws, about 60 percent of the content they purchase must be made in America.

As Steven Greenhouse points out in April’s American Prospect, a few state and local governments are taking a page out of China’s book – luring foreign firms to the United States to make high-tech products that are good for the environment and good for American workers.

As one example, Los Angeles has contracted with BYD, a Chinese company that’s the world’s leading producer of zero-emissions electric buses, to make its buses in California.

BYD’s huge factory north of Los Angeles has already created six hundred well-paid unionized jobs and two hundred white collar jobs.

America has always had an industrial policy. The real question is whether it’s forward-looking (the Internet, solar, zero-emissions buses) or backwards (coal).

Trump wants a backwards industrial policy. That’s not surprising, given that everything else he and his administration are doing is designed to take us backwards.

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Is MSNBC going conservative? Loves #NeverTrumpers more than Progressive folks

Sun, 2018-04-15 14:55

This Salon article makes the ultimate case for having and supporting independent media that is devoid of the need for corporate financing. One should not falsely believe that MSNBC and other supposedly Progressive media outlets funded by corporate dollars have any latitude to report and have advocates, for real Progressive values. In fact, they always veer Right at the first opportunity. Please read.

How comes a purportedly Progressive station tends to cater to right-of-center Republicans and Centrist Democrats when they have a decidedly Liberal audience? The Salon article by Paul Rosenberg points out the following reality. MSNBC was derelict and continues to be derelict in the biggest Progressive story of the day that is impactful. Teachers are striking throughout Red country. If this spreads to other states and professions, a new labor movement could be underway, an action way overdue.

A striking example of what’s missing at MSNBC can be seen in how the network virtually ignored the wave of red-state teacher strikes. On March 2, FAIR published an article noting that except for "one two-minute throwaway report" on a daytime show, MSNBC had not dedicated a single segment to the West Virginia teachers' strike, including on the programs of supposed progressive stalwarts Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell. Hayes did a short segment later, after the FAIR story posted, but MSNBC returned to generally ignoring the issue since then.

To say that's underselling the importance of these strikes is to put it mildly. A month later, as teachers’ strikes had spread to Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona, political scientist Corey Robin’ called them “the real midterms” and described them as epochal. Looking back to the watershed year of 1978, Robin noted that national voters re-elected "a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate by wide margins," despite "two years of a historically unpopular Democratic president" (i.e., Jimmy Carter) with tanking approval ratings.

The article points out how MSNBC continues to push current failed economic tenets when there are Progressives out there with alternate views and answers.

“West Virginians have witnessed a remarkable indifference among their elected leaders to the common good, and have instead seen their futures traded away for incentives aimed at fickle corporations and their investors,” Catte continued. “Democrats who have seen their fortunes fall in so-called Trump country should prioritize righting this imbalance or face squandering any political momentum these recent collective actions might offer.”

A better range of political options necessarily calls for different perspectives on economics — another way in which MSNBC falls short. Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhle, hosts of the daytime business show that bears their names, are well-intentioned but highly conventional economic reporters. To their credit, they enthusiastically debunk a lot of right-wing garbage. But there are plenty of dubious dogmas they simply accept, such as the supposed virtues of balanced budgets, or blaming the federal budget deficit on Social Security and Medicare. MSNBC hardly ever offers time to economists who dispute such claims, such as Dean Baker (defender of Social Security and Medicare and early predictor of the housing bubble crash) or Stephanie Kelton (proponent of Modern Monetary Theory and the universal job guarantee), for example.

In addition, when President Trump recently announced his steel and aluminum tariffs, Velshi and Ruhle pointed out some typical and obvious Trump lies and misdirections, but offered no hint that are legitimate arguments for protectionism that have a long history. In contrast, Democracy Now! featured a debate between two progressives — Lori Wallach, author of "The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority," and Michael Hudson, author of "America’s Protectionist Takeoff 1815-1914" -- which cast both sides of the argument in a very different light.

Rosenberg referenced his past article pointing out the popular ideas most Americans want.

  • Allowing the government to negotiate drug prices (supported by 79 percent)
  • Offering students the same interest rates as big banks (78 percent)
  • Universal pre-kindergarten (77 percent)
  • Fair trade that protects workers, the environment and jobs (75 percent)
  • Ending tax loopholes for corporations that ship jobs overseas (74 percent)
  • Ending gerrymandering (73 percent)
  • Letting homeowners pay down mortgages with 401k funds (72 percent)
  • Debt-free college at public universities (71 percent)
  • A $400 billion infrastructure jobs program (71 percent)
  • Requiring the NSA to get warrants before collecting our data (71 percent)
  • Disclosing corporate spending on politics and lobbying (71 percent)
  • Medicare buy-in, available to all (71 percent)
  • Closing offshore corporate tax loopholes (70 percent)
  • A "Green New Deal," creating millions of clean energy jobs (70 percent)
  • A Full Employment Act (70 percent)
  • Expanding Social Security benefits (70 percent)

If supposedly Progressive stations like MSNBC adopted their position more than just nominally, they would not just garner a much larger TV share, they would help give these people hope that they can fight the extracting Plutocracy that is destroying their economic futures. But how can they really do that if they are beholden to them? They can't. An independent media supported by individual Americans are our only saving grace. One hopes sooner than later more of us realize that the Right and their minions invest in their sources of misinformation, even some who claim to be Progressive. That requires that Progressives invest in, and make sure Progressive Media remains viable.

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We are coming to the end of the Trump presidency one way or other

Sun, 2018-04-15 12:23

I have always thought that Donald Trump would be able to wing it. After all, he had the complicity of many Republicans who hate him, know he is corrupt, but were willing to sell out the country for power. But some Republicans, those with some modicum of integrity will be responsible for his demise, and it seems to be in progress now.

It is vital that most of the investigation that will expose the fraud that is Donald Trump is, in fact, being led by Republicans to ensure he or his minions cannot cloak his ouster as partisan.

New Yorker's Adam Davidson's article "Michael Cohen and the End Stage of the Trump Presidency" is a must-read. But the following quote is prescient. Davidson points out that while many did not believe how bad the 2008 crash or the catastrophe of Iraq would be there were those who called both. And with that, he points out,

I thought of those earlier experiences this week as I began to feel a familiar clarity about what will unfold next in the Trump Presidency. There are lots of details and surprises to come, but the endgame of this Presidency seems as clear now as those of Iraq and the financial crisis did months before they unfolded.

Later he continues.

I am unaware of anybody who has taken a serious look at Trump’s business who doesn’t believe that there is a high likelihood of rampant criminality.

And that is likely Trump's Achilles heel. After failing at business for so long doing it in a somewhat capitalist modal, wouldn't his only other recourse be criminality to maintain his semblance of success? Davidson accurately describes that reality as follows.

The narrative that will become widely understood is that Donald Trump did not sit atop a global empire. He was not an intuitive genius and tough guy who created billions of dollars of wealth through fearlessness. He had a small, sad operation, mostly run by his two oldest children and Michael Cohen, a lousy lawyer who barely keeps up the pretenses of lawyering and who now faces an avalanche of charges, from taxicab-backed bank fraud to money laundering and campaign-finance violations.

And then he describes the end most of us who have been following the investigations must agree with.

Prosecutors are now looking at his core. Cohen was the key intermediary between the Trump family and its partners around the world; he was chief consigliere and dealmaker throughout its period of expansion into global partnerships with sketchy oligarchs. He wasn’t a slick politico who showed up for a few months. He knows everything, he recorded much of it, and now prosecutors will know it, too. It seems inevitable that much will be made public. We don’t know when. We don’t know the precise path the next few months will take. There will be resistance and denial and counterattacks. But it seems likely that, when we look back on this week, we will see it as a turning point. We are now in the end stages of the Trump Presidency.

Fasten your seat belts. We are in for a wild ride.

(h/t ursulafaw @ Daily Kos)

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Black men arrested @ Starbucks for trespassing? Am I next? (VIDEO)

Sat, 2018-04-14 16:14

While sitting in my second office, Starbucks, I got the following tweet from a dear friend. " Here's one to look into involving your favorite workplace." Two black guys peacefully sitting down in a Philadelphia Starbucks were arrested after an employee apparently called the police because they hadn't ordered anything.

A Philadelphia Starbucks joins the ranks of public entities 'torturing' black men?

The story is simple. Like other human beings, a couple of black guys sit down in a Starbucks waiting for a friend. At the time they did not order anything. Of course, anyone frequenting the store knows many people come in and sit to cool off, warm up, or merely to use the free wifi.

Starbucks has the right to ask anyone to leave their premises. But for obvious reasons they don't. Most people are eventual patrons anyway. Apparently this time, an employee singled out two black men as nonpurchasing trespassers and called the cops. A simple incident escalated to an arrest.

What I think is most disconcerting is most of Starbucks patrons just watched. One white guy stood up to call out injustice as Starbucks, and most of their patrons observed two black men demeaned and abused for just being.

Starbucks has since released an apology on Twitter.

We apologize to the two individuals and our customers and are disappointed this led to an arrest. We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores. We are reviewing our policies and will continue to engage with the community and the police department to try to ensure these types of situations never happen in any of our stores.

The two black men arrested were released without any charges of trespassing or any other. But they had to endure a disruption in their lives for just being who they are.

I am a very frequent patron of Starbucks. In fact, I am there virtually seven days a week, several times a day for several hours a day. I do most of my blogging there. Many stories I write are from interactions with folks there. At my stores here in Kingwood, the baristas are kind and friendly with me all of the times.

No one has disrespected me at any Starbucks throughout Texas, DC, California, Washington, and other states to date. In fact, the opposite is true. But I can't remember ever going to the store without purchasing. It does make one wonder what it would be like if my first presence were that of a non-patron.

The question was rhetorical. Employees of any corporation reflect society as a whole. I attempted to make that point in an article titled "Our police is but the reflection of our alter ego" for those who think there is something special about police officers that should give them more dignity than the population at large. The reality is that it is all about policy. It is incumbent on companies to have strict policies that affirmatively protect all against discriminatory practices. One cannot control peoples' hearts, but a company can and must control their behavior from negatively affecting others.

I will give Starbucks, the corporation, the benefit of the doubt until I see how they resolve this. The employee who called the police must get his due, discipline at least, fired at best to make the point that discrimination is intolerable at Starbucks. Likewise, they must use this incident to expose the behavior of the cops. They must use their platform to highlight this dual injustice that is systemic. A Progressive company like Starbucks can afford to do no less.

(h/t Melissa DePino, HuffPost)

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A Message to Evangelicals, Internal Values Versus-External Values

Sat, 2018-04-14 12:40

There is an “eternal-spiritual-question” that confronts every human being: “Who do you love more the CREATOR or the Creation? God is the Creator of all things and He loves human beings above all things. But, God never told us that it would be easy. We messed “things-up” in the Garden of Eden. Yes, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4: 8-9). Therefore, every Christian believer should tell the “Good News Gospel” everywhere: In church houses, whore-houses, dope houses, ungodly houses and (especially) in the Donald J. Trump House, that is, the “sacred-peoples-house” called “The White House”. We must always remember this: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3: 16). Moreover, every individual’s answer to the question at hand will determine his/her quality of spiritual life. Even the quality of family life interaction is determined by an individual’s answer to this question. For, after all, society begins and ends with family structure. Hence, the quality of life of any society is influenced by “family-values-orientations”. The Christian Faith spiritually emphasizes the importance of “internal-family-values” rather than “external-materialistic-values” as recorded in this scriptural verse: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1: 15). The visible presence of the Word of God (Bible) should always be a part of every family’s daily routine because salvation comes through the generation: “This day is salvation come to this house.” (Luke 19: 9) Furthermore, this is why the life of Jesus begins with the genealogy of Jesus: Generational Connections. Maybe this is why in American society we have two lost generations in the twenty-first century: “Babies having Babies”. Seeking to maximize the “pleasure-principle” is a dangerous “spiritual-moral” proposition! Because: “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.”(1 Timothy 5:6): And, this scriptural verse includes males too! Clearly, “babies birthing babies” in American society has produced a class of dysfunctional parents as well as dysfunctional family structures.

Therefore: “Thou art worthy O’Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4: 11). Hence, internal spiritual values foster living from the inside to the outside. Thus, an external value system encourages materialism (Outside-Living). When individuals value the materialistic things, they can create more so than themselves and each other, that is, they reverse the spiritual order of God based upon the “Two Great Commandments”. Moreover, when we were growing up as children, responsible parents would not allow children to play outside too long. After playing outside for a while, they would make them come into the house to teach them an important life principle or (LESSON), “Don’t Stay Outside Too Long”, for it’s dangerous and not good for you. In twenty-first century America, we have too many Americans, (two generations in fact) who were not taught this important spiritual life lesson. They have been playing outside too long! Unfortunately, they think that the acquisition of things can make an individual happy. God desires that individuals work for spiritual-self-fulfillment, not to purchase material things. Well, Christian Right Evangelicals: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12: 15). Without a doubt, if things made individuals happy, America would be the happiest place on planet earth. Of course, every American knows this is not the case because materialism encourages the “get-more-syndrome”, the “need-more-syndrome”, and the “got-to-have-more-syndrome”. God gave human beings dominion over the earth; and, therefore, individuals must be “taught/learn” how to be good stewards by spiritually being: “fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.”: (Man and Woman). (Genesis 1: 28). This can only be achieved by reading and studying God’s word. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” (Revelation 1: 3). Internal spiritual values help individuals overcome the moral-confusion in the world, even though the devil is the prince of the world. Christian Right Evangelicals, this is why a Christian must be in the world, but not of the world. Moreover, when a “male” tells you who he is, and what he is, believe him. Hence, you cannot get a clean thing from an unclean thing. Therefore, know this Christian Right Evangelicals: Donald J. Trump has proven himself to be unclean in all things. And, if you do not know this by now, pray, because you have a God problem. Those of you who rationalized voting for President Trump because he told you he would drain the “SWAMP” and make Washington work for you, now know that Washington is working for the Trump family and Trump-Cronies. America, know this a “SWAMP-MINDED” individual cannot and will drain the swamp because, first and foremost, he must first drain the pollution from his mind by spiritually seeking God. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17). Moreover, individuals should: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightfully dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2: 15).

Democracy and democratic institutions can only be sustained by a society of individuals whose value orientation is “INTERNAL” rather than external. Thus, a society of individuals whose primary value orientation is external can easily be lulled or mentally and physically forced into accepting communism, fascism, or a dictatorial leadership mentality. Hence, by precept and example, we should teach our children, who are our future, what God requires of us because: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” (Micah 6: 8). And, the children of Parkland, Florida should not have to remind us of our sacred duty, obligation, and responsibility to our future. “Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” (Psalm 127: 3). Question: Who do you love: Guns or Children? Obviously, President Trump does not understand nor is he willing to be taught any spiritual wisdom. Therefore, Christian Right Evangelicals, in case you have forgotten, we have an Eternal Savior in Heaven, who is preparing an eternal place for your soul; and his name is Jesus Christ, the Righteous One! You should never forget it! Because neither President Trump nor any other “mortal-man” can save the world, only God has the power to do so; and He has already done so through Jesus Christ: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2: 24). Selah!

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Paul Ryan Mission accomplished: Trillions transferred from People to Super-Rich

Fri, 2018-04-13 21:20

by Jake Johnson

Having successfully rammed through tax legislation that massively rewards America's billionaires—including his long-time patrons Charles and David Koch—and sets the stage for his ultimate goal of obliterating the safety net, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is reportedly set to tell his staff on Wednesday that he will not run for reelection in 2018.

First reported by Jonathan Swan of Axios and confirmed by numerous other outlets, the news comes after rumors had been swirling for months about Ryan's possible retirement from Congress. It also comes as a popular progressive candidate—Randy Bryce, aka "The Iron Stache"—is quickly gaining steam, outraising the corporate-funded Ryan by nearly $2 million in the first three months of 2018.

We outraised @SpeakerRyan in the first 3 months of 2018 by $1.75 million! Incredible!

And unlike Ryan, we aren't taking corporate PAC money or cashing $500,000 checks from the Kochs.

Help beat Paul Ryan where it matters most - at the ballot box: https://t.co/tHrhXZkapN

— Randy Bryce (@IronStache) April 11, 2018

"House Republicans were already in very tough spot for midterms, with many endangered members and the good chance that Democrats will win the majority," Swan noted in his report on Wednesday. "Friends say that after Ryan passed tax reform, his longtime dream, he was ready to step out of a job that has become endlessly frustrating, in part because of President Trump."

In his last tweet before reports emerged that he is retiring from Congress, Ryan celebrated President Donald Trump's executive order on Wednesday that calls for more punitive work requirements for recipients of Medicaid, food stamps, and public housing assistance—an plan Republicans have celebrated as "Welfare Reform 2.0."

Reacting to the new reports on Wednesday, The Nation's John Nichols argued that Ryan's retirement "would be a devastating blow for congressional Republicans."

"Ryan would not merely be giving up on his own profound ambitions, he would be giving up on the notion that the party he’s devoted his career to remains functional," Nichols concluded.

Via Commondreams.org

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Mulvaney to Senate: I don’t have to talk to you. Elizabeth Warren destroys him (VIDEO)

Fri, 2018-04-13 11:54

OMB Director and chair of the important Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Mick Mulvaney all but told the Senate that he does not have to talk to them. Elizabeth Warren destroyed him as she made him seem like the intransigent and insensitive public servant who cares nothing about average Americans. She did it factually and beautifully.

Mulvaney does not like the idea of having the CFPB likely because it puts the interest of consumers ahead of businesses who scam them. It is hard to believe anyone could be against the agency.

"While I have to be here by statute, I don't think I have to answer your questions," Mulvaney told the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. "If you take a look at the actual statute that requires me to be here, it says that I 'shall appear' before the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs of the Senate. And I'm here and I'm happy to do it."

Watch Elizabeth Warren neuter Mick Mulvaney

.@MickMulvaneyOMB has been bringing up my name a lot lately when talking about the @CFPB. But what he doesn’t get is that this isn’t about me. It’s about the millions of Americans who want someone to go after the companies that cheated them. pic.twitter.com/FFNuxFU0rD

— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 12, 2018

Elizabeth Warren was having none of it. The fact is, she did not need him to testify, she had the data. His caustic behavior and lack of interest in consumers, the average American citizen, enhanced her words and she used her platform effectively.

"Here's what you don't get, Mr. Mulvaney—this isn't about me," she said. "You're hurting real people to score cheap political points."

Warren pointed to a scammed soldier's father sitting in the audience at the hearing. If Mulvaney had "gotten what [he] wanted" and eliminated the bureau — as he voted repeatedly to do while a member of the House — the man's son would still be getting exploited, she said.

She then ticked through successful CFPB cases one by one, asking Mulvaney each time where the money the bureau had recouped would be today if the agency didn't exist. She swatted away his attempts to say other regulators with jurisdiction might have brought the same action.

"Oh I see, they could have brought the actions — that's the same agencies that didn't bring those actions before the crash of 2008 and that didn't bring this particular case," Warren said of a CFPB case against Citigroup.

"Let's not kid ourselves — let's not pretend like you hope that some other agency would do that work, Mr. Mulvaney," Warren added. "I have a list of 11 bills that you supported during your time in Congress that would have made it harder for states and other federal agencies to protect consumers and to hold cheaters accountable."

Eradicating the damage that the Trump administration caused in 16 months and counting will take years to eradicate. One hopes the bleeding will stop after the 2018 election.

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President Obama’s words excoriating Trump continue to resonate (VIDEO)

Fri, 2018-04-13 00:26

As snippets from James Comey's book "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership" are released throughout cable news, the degeneracy of Donald Trump is that more evidently realized. Most Americans including many who voted for him knew this. Sadly, many voted for him without foresight because they wanted to stick it to the system. They wanted to stick to President Obama.

During the campaign in a speech supporting Hillary Clinton, Obama had some prescient words for Trump supporters who saw the light earlier than those that are still nominally with him.

Obama scorches Trump and his former supporters

"My question is," President Obama said then. "Why would it take this long for Republican senators, and Republican congressmen, and Republican governors, and state reps, and state senators; why would it take you this long to figure out that Donald Trump shouldn't be president? If you've made if you've made a career of idolizing Ronald Reagan then where were you when your party's nominee for president was kissing up to Vladimir Putin the former KGB officer. You used to criticize me for even talking to the Russians. Now suddenly you're okay with your nominee having a bromance with Putin."

President Obama was not finished though.

"If you come from a family of immigrants like almost everybody here does unless you're Native American," Obama continued. "Where were you when your party's nominee for president called immigrants criminals and rapists? If you're a Republican official or leader out there, and you've run for office on family values, family values, why wouldn't you walk away from him months ago when you heard your nominee for president call women pigs and dogs and slobs and graded them not for their character or their intellect but on a scale of one to ten?"

Obama then laid down the gauntlet.

"You don't have to be a husband or father to stand up for women," the President said. "You don't have to have a disability to say it's wrong to mock somebody with a disability. You don't have to be a Muslim to stand up for our fellow citizens who are just as patriotic as we are. You just have to be a decent person."

America is at a flex point. Donald Trump's evil acts are starting to catch up with him. Unfortunately, it is the American people, including most who voted for him who will pay the price. Republicans used his right hand to pilfer the country with a tax cut scam and to inflict damage on the Affordable Care Act.

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Old Journalism gives lying politicians a platform to lie and misinform (VIDEO)

Thu, 2018-04-12 12:13

Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) appeared on Morning Joe. His interview illustrates why old-style journalism is responsible for an American population that is misinformed.

This type of journalism is a danger to America

This type of polite journalism where the politician lies through his teeth and the journalist simply reiterates a question without giving the audience the truth hurts America.

"Congressman, it's Heidi," said panelist Heidi Przybyla. "You spoke about the debt in the Omni bill. Let's talk about the debt in the tax cut bill because in that CBO report it says that the tax bill itself will add one point nine trillion to the debt over the next decade We were made a lot of specific promises on this tax cut bill that it would pay for itself and it would generate more revenue, that it would generate a four thousand dollar pay raise per worker, and now we're seeing that a lot of the money is just going to corporate buybacks."

"A lot of it is going to employees too," the congressman lied. We have all kinds of employers in our district giving raises to their employees. And letting families keep more of their money is a darn good thing. So I don't buy into this idea that letting the American people keep their money somehow is a cost to the government. I think it is just good policy letting you keep what you've earned, letting the economy grow, which in fact it is growing, much faster than in the previous ten years."

"But four thousand dollars per person congressman," Heidi interjected. "And that the bill would pay for itself. Those were specific promises."

"The problem with the deficit and the debt is spending," the lying congressman continued. "It's not letting people keep their money; it's not tax cuts, it's spending. Those tax cuts are good. They are gonna produce better economic growth. We know that. And people are getting to keep more of their money. Corporations are talking about what they've given to their employees. All those are positive things. The problem is spending. And the bill that we passed three weeks ago was a big problem because we increased discretionary spending higher than any bill in the last ten years with the exception of the Obama stimulus package."

"All right congressman Jim Jordan," replied Mika Brzezinski. "Thanks for being on this morning."

The last word on the topic Americans heard was an unrefuted diatribe by a lying politician. Paul Krugman proved what Heidi was saying definitively, and that is the last word Americans should have heard. Unfortunately, the mainstream media seem content in leaving these liars unchallenged. And that is why alternative media like "Politics Done Right," I am self-serving here, is a must. We tell it like it is.

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