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UK Labour Leader has a plan Democrats & Progressives in U.S. should follow to win.

Tue, 2018-01-09 12:21

Republicans control of most states and the Federal government did not happen by accident. Most don't see the GOP as a grassroots operation. But indeed they fund their grassroots. Democrats just go for the bang of population centers. In a gerrymandered country and one where 50%+1 isn't enough to get lasting, meaningful middle-class centric legislation, one must explore other options.

President Obama won in two popular and electoral landslides because he used the concept of microtargeting. President Trump proved that while a failing party cannot win by popular vote, microtargeting in a gerrymandered country is very possible. Some may balk at Trump's methods or the role of the Russians in his win, but the fact is it still boils down to targeting in all the right place.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party in U.K, is creating a strategy that many are discounting but that could bring their party back into power.  The Independent reports the following.

Not many people will have noticed the news, reported on Monday morning just as Theresa May’s ill-fated reshuffle began, that Jeremy Corbyn has set up a “community campaign unit”, a small but growing department in his office that will focus on organising with communities and groups of employees, helping them to campaign on local and workplace issues.

This sounds pretty innocuous, but it might turn out to be one of the most transformative political decisions of the Labour leader’s career, because it could change how we think about political parties. If Corbyn gets his way, when you think of Labour, you won’t imagine rows of MPs on green leather benches, or a smartly suited minister chatting to a reporter. Instead, you’ll think of activists reinvigorating their estate’s tenants association, while others organise their co-workers and stand with them on picket lines. ...

Of course, many in the establishment of the Labour Party are hesitant to change. Like our Democratic Party Establishment; they want the activist, the ones bringing in the new, to bend towards them.

Some Labour stalwarts would like the party’s newbies to come to more constituency and branch meetings, but among the incomers are highly experienced campaigners whose talents may lie elsewhere. Like the members of Greece’s Syriza, the Corbynistas are drawn both from the trade unions and from the social movements: environmentalists, students, feminists, anti-racists, disability campaigners and LGBT activists. Many of these people have been organising in communities and in work places for decades, and if the new unit does its job, they’re going to start doing so under the Labour party banner. ...

The establishment complains that activists by their nature will create chaos because they won't stick to some fixed script.

Some parliamentarians fear this could breed chaos in their party. They imagine, not unreasonably, activists wearing Labour T-shirts going off-message on the local evening news. Community organising is, however, a hymn sheet from which all Labour members can sing.

All of this sounds very familiar. It is the treatment that many in the Democratic Party establishment apply to those who are seeking more for the poor and the middle-class, those who do not allow the restrictions the plutocracy dictates to stop the fight for real progress for all.

Progressive in America through organizations like Indivisible and Our Revolution are answering the call. They are mobilizing communities. Many are running as Democrats. What they hope is that the party will embrace them instead of trying the same old tired techniques that do not work.

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The tale of three Cubans. Don’t buy into the hypocritical political crap

Mon, 2018-01-08 11:33

I spent two days in Havana Cuba. I learned a lot speaking to three Cubans from a political perspective with points of views that were different but that intersected. It illustrates that the political discourse about Cuba by politicians and wealthy ex-patriots is hypocritical, shallow, and at best lacking. These Cubans should make you think.

A group of my family and friends decided to visit Cuba for Christmas. We usually have a crowd of anywhere from 30 to 60 for Christmas dinner. While we missed the friends and families, we did not miss the work. This year we got pampered on an inexpensive cruise.

I did not know what to expect in Havana. The Royal Caribbean Cruise Line left the impression that the Obama executive orders overturned by Trump, made entering Cuba without purchasing one of their "educational tours" or .event could potentially land us in trouble. When we got onboard and probed employees directly in-the-know, it turned out we could have toured on our own. So beware of what the salespeople tell you. If you are in a state where recording a call is allowed when at least one party agrees, then tape the call and get a refund if you bought something you did not want.

We purchased two packages. One was entertainment only where we hoped we would have come a bit closer to the average Cuban in party mode. We did not. W were mostly among tourists. The second event indeed was a learning experience that I used to get different political points of views about Cuba from Cubans who are the ones living through the Cuban experience and all that it entails.

I spoke to a young Cuban who owned an excursion-by-vintage-car business, one who works for the government via the company promoting some excursions, and to a naturalize Cuban-American citizen who came to America at 14. These Cubans all love their motherland and just want it to work for all.

I know that people living in communist countries are very hesitant to talk to foreigners overtly about politics. As a Panamanian naturalized American citizen, I created an aura of comfort, first with language, I speak Spanish fluently and then with a pure nonjudgmental form of conversing where I acknowledged flaws in the American system. The idea was to have a more intellectual discussion than an ideological debate.

My daughter selected a millennial to drive us around Havana. He is an entrepreneur. He inherited his 1950 car from his grandfather. The driver has a degree in IT engineering. If he worked for the government, he would be making about $24.00 per month. He told me that doctors make about $60.00 a month. It should be noted that food is heavily subsidized and everybody has a right to healthcare. The allotment of food each person gets per month only lasts 10 days or so. As such Cubans know how to hustle.

Our driver said he has between $1200 to $1500 in revenues per month. He has to give the government $600 in licensing fees every month and a couple of other taxes. He has to pay a few more in other taxes. But he clears $300 to $500 every month. He purchased a home and is doing well but he decidedly wants to keep more of his money. He wants a change.

Our tour guide works for the government. He was a Spanish professor who decided to work in the hospitality business for better wages, likely the tips that people give him under the radar. He believes in the Cuban communist revolution but does want some changes that make life easier. He said there are two economies in Cuba. Everyone pretty much has a side job to make ends meet. There is a vibrant free enterprise economy not sanctioned by the government as they look the other way. But he is adamant in his support for free healthcare, food for all, and the fact that homelessness does not exist in Cuba.

These people understand their economy and the U.S. economy. What I found is they both wanted the best of the U.S. economy with the social security of theirs. The professor gave an interesting example. One cannot own land in Cuba. The only private land he said was for a cemetery in Havana. I am not sure if he meant all cemeteries or just the particular one. He pointed out that all land belongs to all Cubans. But people can own property on the land. Unlike in America where in many states property taxes are high and are paid every year, in Cuba one pays a 3% property tax one time until one sells the house. He then asked, "If you pay taxes every year on your property, do you really own it?" The reality is you don't as it can be taken away if the taxes aren't paid.

The professor agreed that instead of having ideological fights, it is time for molding an economic system that adopts the policies from them all that works best for all instead of for a few.

On my way back to Houston, I met a black Cuban at the Miami airport who helped me with my bags. He is a staunch Democrat, Obama and Clinton supporter, and supports normalization of relations with Cuba. He presented himself as somewhat anti-Castro using some of the standard American rhetoric.

When I was in Cuba I had the two Cubans confirm a reality that the Cuban revolution meant for many. As I stated in my article titled "Why I do not hate Cuba and no person of color should nor their white allies should,"

The Cold War had no concern for the socio-economic-racial angst in Cuba or elsewhere. But here are some results rarely discussed. Under Cuba post-Batista, people of color while previously relegated to menial jobs became doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other professionals that were exported throughout the world. When a democracy and economic system consign a particular segment of its population to a life of less than, one should not be surprised when they seek an alternative. That alternative was better for many Cubans. It gave them a dignity they never had. And in the process, it created a healthcare system that covers every Cuban who all now have better medical outcomes than those in America.

The Cuban-American in Miami ultimately agreed. He did say that a system cannot kill racism and that at times people of color even under the Castro regime do not have the upward mobility as their white counterparts. But he conceded it is nothing like in America or how it was in Cuba before. My Cuban driver and guide confirmed that reality as well.

I really enjoyed my short visit to Cuba as it confirmed what I thought it would. The people were very nice. Every tour guide sanctioned by the government or not wanted us to know specifically that unlike Donald Trump's utterances, they love their county and they want good relations with the people of the United States. They want to exchange ideas. They are not clamoring to adopt our system but they want their system improved with the good attributes of our system, the Canadian system, and the European systems. They are well aware of the international communities. One Cuban reminded me that while relations with the United States are strained, for decades they've had relationships with capitalist and social democracies.

I encourage everyone to travel to Cuba. Let our government know that restricting what we can do in Cuba is nothing more than the United States, the bastion of freedom, taking away the freedom of its own citizens.

 

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Chuck Todd exposes Sen. Lindsey Graham’s hypocrisy with his past attack on Trump (VIDEO)

Mon, 2018-01-08 03:07

Every so often Chuck Todd gives the impression that he will be a good journalist but then backslides into a level of political establishment acquiescence.

Chuck Todd played a snippet of the video where  Graham said the following.

 If after having been briefed by our intelligence leaders, Donald Trump is still unsure as to what the Russians did, that would be incredibly unnerving to me because the evidence is overwhelming. If after the briefing, he is still unsure, that will shake me to my core about his judgement

Chuck Todd embarrasses Linsey Graham

Chuck Todd exposes Sen. Lindsey Graham's hypocrisy with his past attack on Trump (VIDEO) - https://t.co/2HSA68xZ9O pic.twitter.com/Y2DpDahvob

— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) January 8, 2018

Todd pointed out that Trump still says the Russia collusion is false.

"The president does now finally believe that the Russians stole the emails from the DNC and hacked -- and Clinton --. Lindsey Graham said. --and the Russians. Yea. Yea. But he believes that collusion is a hoax. All I can say is that it's not a hoax. The Russians stole the emails. They did interfere in our elections. We now know that Trump Junior met with the Russians in Trump Tower and that Bob Mueller is doing a great job. He's the right guy at the right time. He needs to be allowed to do his job. And whether or not there's collusion -- Bob Mueller will tell us. I've seen no evidence of collusion but the idea of Jeff Sessions being able to investigate the campaign he was on is unacceptable. Jeff Sessions did the right thing. It would be impossible for him to look into the Trump campaign activities with the Russians. Wh--Mr. Mueller had to be appointed as special counsel. But we need a second special counsel to look at the way the Department of Justice conducted themselves."

Graham continued the segment trying to justify his new found love for the president. It is sad that grown men are made to suck up to the empty suit we call the president.

Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House made it clear the charlatans of the Trump administration are well aware he is not fit to serve, but for their ulterior motives they continue to lie to the American people.

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CNN’s Jake Tapper kicks Trump’s spokesman off of his show (VIDEO)

Mon, 2018-01-08 02:04

CNN's Jake Tapper has been holding Trump and his administration to the fire. He is one of the few journalists that does not allow any Trump' spox to bloviate using up all the time without answering questions. Tapper shows how one deals with Trump apologist. Kick them out if they refuse to answer.

RawStory reported the following the following.

CNN host Jake Tapper abruptly ended an interview with White House staffer Stephen Miller after the Trump aide began shouting about a new tell-all book that casts the White House in a bad light. During an interview that aired on Sunday, Tapper accused Miller of filibustering instead of answering questions that have been raised by Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

Tapper noted that President Trump had recently called himself a “stable genius” in response to Wolff’s book, which alleges that the president is not fit to serve. “It happens to be a true statement,” Miller shot back. “I’m sure he’s watching and he’s happy you said that,” a frustrated Tapper said.

Jake Tapper excellent response to Trump's spox

But it gets better. Business Insider reported the that after Jake Tapper cut off the Miller interview, he refused to leave. Security had to escort him out.

White House adviser Stephen Miller was escorted off the set of CNN’s "State of the Union" on Sunday after a contentious interview with host Jake Tapper.

Two sources close to the situation told Business Insider that after the taping was done, Miller was asked to leave several times. He ignored those requests and ultimately security was called and he was escorted out, the sources said. CNN declined to comment.

It seems like America will be living through this pathetic comedy for the foreseeable future. Voting in 2018 is more important than ever. Repairing the damage caused by Trump and his ilk will take much longer to repair than it took to destroy.

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Joy-Ann Reid shuts down apologist journalist attempting to appease Trump (VIDEO)

Sun, 2018-01-07 12:09

Joy-Ann Reid appeared on this Sunday's Meet The Press panel. America needed her there as the likes of Conservative journalist David Brooks, AEI's Danielle Pletka, and New York Times Magazine Mark Leibovich attempted to go soft on Donald Trump.

Joy-Ann Reid appeared on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd and did not allow purported journalists to rehabilitate a flailing Trump as they did in the past. It was clear that the journalists did not want to seem to pile on. Unfortunately, it is that type of false balance that got our incompetent president elected.

Chuck Todd read the following snippet from Stephen Hayes' article in the Weekly Standard.

So the president wants a book banned. He wants a political opponent in jail, and, for good measure, maybe the former FBI director, too. He thinks his former top adviser is insane. This isn’t normal. And it’s not just “Trump being Trump,” the preferred dodge of elected Republicans. It’s a reflection of the president’s troubled mind and of his erratic, irrational judgment.

Chuck then asked if Trump's reaction to Michael Wolff's book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," pretty much corroborates it.

Joy-Ann Reid sets the record straight

Joy-Ann Reid shuts down apologist journalist attempting to appease Trump (VIDEO) - https://t.co/Ornk6VXJIH pic.twitter.com/oCIR6TiVTC

— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) January 7, 2018

David Brooks attempted to pour cold water on Todd's statement. He said that while there is the Trump childlike behavior and chaos in the White House, many things are getting done. He said they did an offshore drilling policy change, a Pakistan policy change, DACA, Iran, and a marijuana policy change. Of course, these are all detrimental to most Americans.

"There is like a policy level going," Brooks said. "Which Trump must have some involvement in. And so the insanity is there. But we shouldn't go to a fairy tale, the madness of King George. Because there is a policy process that's going on in this White House."

Joy-Ann Reid, the only adult in the room that was never gullible about Trump, had the perfect response.

"But must he have some involvement?" Joy-Ann Reid asked sarcastically. "Because I think if Donald Trump is also impaired because I think one of the most frightening revelations were about the potential that Donald Trump is not in possession of his cognitive faculties. Because if there is a policy agenda going on, it's not clear that it's Donald Trump's. It is very clear Mitch McConnell said he would sign anything we put in front of him. The idea that people who have agendas, people like Steve Bannon by the way, who just saw Trump as a pure vehicle, it doesn't matter what Donald Trump does. They can lock him in his room with a cheeseburger in his bed all day, And they can do whatever they want. And that means that agendas that were not voted for by the majority of the American people, these are not people that are accountable to the American people, can literally do what they want."

There was an audible gasp from the entire panel over Joy-Ann Reid's cheeseburger comment as if that revelation wasn't a known. TEA Party and Right Wingers come on these shows and spew nonsense and never get that disrespectful reaction. The establishment journalists gasp at a progressive stating inconvenient truths to the boring establishment narrative.

I posted the blog "Trump not smart enough to realize GOP establishment using him" that made a similar statement. It was refreshing watching Reid not allow a placating narrative. Progressives must do this at every opportunity.

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Robert Reich: Seriously, How Dumb is Trump?

Sun, 2018-01-07 03:12

by Robert Reich

For more than a year now, I’ve been hearing from people in the inner circles of official Washington – GOP lobbyists, Republican pundits, even a few Republican members of Congress – that Donald Trump is remarkably stupid.

I figured they couldn’t be right because really stupid people don’t become presidents of the United States. Even George W. Bush was smart enough to hire smart people to run his campaign and then his White House.

Several months back when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “f—king moron,” I discounted it. I know firsthand how frustrating it can be to serve in a president’s cabinet, and I’ve heard members of other president’s cabinets describe their bosses in similar terms.

Now comes Fire and Fury,” a book by journalist Michael Wolff, who interviewed more than 200 people who dealt with Trump as a candidate and president, including senior White House staff members.

In it, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster calls Trump a “dope.” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus both refer to him as an “idiot.” Rupert Murdoch says Trump is a “f—king idiot.”

Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn describes Trump as “dumb as sh-t,” explaining that “Trump won’t read anything — not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored.”

When one of Trump’s campaign aides tried to educate him about the Constitution, Trump couldn’t focus. “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,” the aide recalled, "before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.”

Trump doesn’t think he’s stupid, of course. As he recounted, “I went to an Ivy League college … I did very well. I’m a very intelligent person.”

Yet Trump wasn’t exactly an academic star. One of his professors at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and Finance purportedly said that he was “the dumbest goddamn student I ever had.”

Trump biographer Gwenda Blair wrote in 2001 that Trump was admitted to Wharton on a special favor from a “friendly” admissions officer who had known Trump’s older brother.

But hold on. It would be dangerous to underestimate this man.

Even if Trump doesn’t read, can’t follow a logical argument, and has the attention span of a fruit fly, it still doesn’t follow that he’s stupid.

There’s another form of intelligence, called “emotional intelligence.”

Emotional intelligence is a concept developed by two psychologists, John Mayer of the University of New Hampshire, and Yale’s Peter Salovey, and it was popularized by Dan Goleman in his 1996 book of the same name.

Mayer and Salovey define emotional intelligence as the ability to do two things – “understand and manage our own emotions,” and “recognize and influence the emotions of others.”

Granted, Trump hasn’t displayed much capacity for the first. He’s thin-skinned, narcissistic, and vindictive.

As dozens of Republican foreign policy experts put it, “he is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate criticism."

Okay, but what about Mayer and Salovey’s second aspect of emotional intelligence – influencing the emotions of others?

This is where Trump shines. He knows how to manipulate people. He has an uncanny ability to discover their emotional vulnerabilities – their fears, anxieties, prejudices, and darkest desires – and use them for his own purposes.

To put it another way, Trump is an extraordinarily talented conman.

He’s always been a conman. He conned hundreds of young people and their parents into paying to attend his near worthless Trump University. He conned banks into lending him more money even after he repeatedly failed to pay them. He conned contractors to work for them and then stiffed them.

Granted, during he hasn’t always been a great conman. Had he been, his cons would have paid off.

By his own account, in 1976, when Trump was starting his career, he was worth about $200 million, much of it from his father. Today he says he’s worth some $8 billion. If he’d just put the original $200 million into an index fund and reinvested the dividends, he’d be worth $12 billion today.

But he’s been a great political conman. He conned 62,979,879 Americans to vote for him in November 2016 by getting them to believe his lies about Mexicans, Muslims, African-Americans, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and all the “wonderful,” “beautiful” things he’d do for the people who’d support him.

And he’s still conning most of them.

Political conning is Trump’s genius. It’s this genius – when combined with his utter stupidity in every other dimension of his being – that poses the greatest danger to America and the world.

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If Trump falls the entire Republican Party goes with him. Trump must Fall!

Sat, 2018-01-06 11:29

Many Trump supporters sincerely believe he would be their saviors from the Democrats and the Republicans. They voted for him to clean up the swamp. Unfortunately for them, Trump was a magnifying glass for Republicans. Never would they have believed they could unleash their level of selfish evil on Americans with a president that had professed he would blow the Republican Party establishment as well.

Because Republicans are now complicit with Donald Trump in materially hurting Americans, when he falls, the Republican Party as we know it will fall too.

Paul Krugman captured that reality in his New York Times piece titled "Faust on the Potomac." Krugman points out that instead of running away from Trump, Republican are embracing him.

It seems to me that that the real news now is the way Republicans in Congress are dealing with this national nightmare: rather than distancing themselves from Trump, they’re doubling down on their support and, in particular, on their efforts to cover for his defects and crimes.

The technique Republicans used for decades which was to play to people's most inner evils, and carnal fears finally seemed to have backfired.

For more than a generation, the Republican establishment was able to keep this bait-and-switch under control: racism was deployed to win elections, then was muted afterwards, partly to preserve plausible deniability, partly to focus on the real priority of enriching the one percent. But with Trump they lost control: the base wanted someone who was blatantly racist and wouldn’t pretend to be anything else. And that’s what they got, with corruption, incompetence, and treason on the side.

Nonetheless, aside from a handful of Never Trumpers, just about everyone in the Republican establishment decided that they could work with that.

He concludes with, a reality, Republican will likely have to come to grips with sooner than later.

Trump’s very awfulness means that if he falls, the whole party will fall with him. Republicans could conceivably distance themselves from a president who turned out to be a bad manager, or even one who turned out to have engaged in small-time corruption. But when the corruption is big time, and it’s combined with obstruction of justice and collaboration with Putin, nobody will notice which Republicans were a bit less involved, a bit less obsequious, than others. If Trump sinks, he’ll create a vortex that sucks down everyone involved.

And so we now have the Republican party as a whole fully complicit in Trump’s crimes – because that’s what they are, whether or not he and those around him are ever brought to justice.

What this means, among other things, is that expecting the GOP to exercise any oversight or constrain Trump in any way is just foolish at this point. Massive electoral defeat – massive enough to overwhelm gerrymandering and other structural advantages of the right – is the only way out.

Michael Wolff's new book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," makes it very clear in one place that Republicans know all that is wrong about Donald Trump. But as a TV commentator said recently, "They are mercenaries there to use Trump." I pointed this out in my blog post titled "Trump not smart enough to realize GOP establishment using him" as well.

Now the real question is whether Democrats and Progressive capitalize on the removal of the scab from the Republican Party. They better get there act together and coalesce around poor and middle-class centric issues and stop the infighting.

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Fox News forced to admit Obama job growth stronger than Trump

Fri, 2018-01-05 16:15

I am not sure about this one. Can anyone believe that Fox News is giving useful and truthful data to their viewers and followers? Well, it seemed to have happened today.

President Obama will just shake his head after seeing this one and ask, 'Why didn't Fox News show these numbers more prominently when I was in office?'

RawStory published the following.

The official monthly jobs report for December 2017 was a disappointment, as the Labor Department estimated that the economy added just 148,000 jobs over the last month.

And despite the fact that President Donald Trump has bragged about his first year in office being an unqualified economic success, it turns out that average monthly job growth in 2017 was 171,000 jobs per month — which was down significantly from the 187,000 jobs per month that were added in 2016.

What’s more, the monthly average of 171,000 jobs created in 2017 was actually the lowest average monthly job growth since 2010, when just 88,000 jobs were added per month.

Fox News research tweeted the following.

Average Monthly #Job Gains
-by year

•2017: 171,000
•2016: 187,000
•2015: 226,000
•2014: 250,000
•2013: 192,000
•2012: 179,000
•2011: 174,000
•2010: 88,000#JobsReport

— Fox News Research (@FoxNewsResearch) January 5, 2018

President Obama was not perfect but he ran the country under dire conditions. Unfettered crony capitalism destroyed the economy. He allowed its reinflation without penalizing the titans of finance who caused the pilfering of millions as they profited. He provided health care for millions who never had it, and he passed several laws to protect women and others. He did that all in his first two years when he had a Democratic Congress.

Sadly, his last six years could have been much better. But his first two years were so productive that his marginal economic success over the next six years coasted on the back of the first two.

The inconvenient reality of the job numbers was so true that according to RawStory, Fox News went into radio silence on the matter. And what followed? The Fox News mocking by Liberals on Twitter.

So, what you're saying is we've had the worst job creation since 2011? Rad.

— Casey Hines (@caseyhines) January 5, 2018

Lol

Trump's numbers are so tiny compared to Obama's big numbers.

— Patriotic Pooch (@BackupBookerT) January 5, 2018

So basically, Obama did better in job creation than Trump in each of his last six years. You won't see that on @seanhannity or on @foxandfriends

— Galileo (@Galileo242) January 5, 2018

I thought you guys were on Team Trump. Thank you for showcasing President Obama. It’s about time you give him credit. #FactsFirst

— Elizabeth Prewitt (@ehprewitt) January 5, 2018

 

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The GOP’s latest scam was to convince the base the tax law is a middle-class tax cut

Mon, 2018-01-01 13:23

by Gleb Tsipursky

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is the author of The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide. He is an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University, President of the nonprofit Intentional Insights, and co-founder of the Pro-Truth Pledge.

President Donald Trump called the recently-passed tax bill “an incredible Christmas gift” for middle-class Americans. In reality, the tax bill takes money from the pockets of middle-class Americans and gives it to corporations. Anyone who claims the tax bill primarily benefits the middle class is spreading falsehoods.

With the new bill, the tax rate for corporations is reduced from 35 percent to 21 percent. That makes a total reduction of 40 percent from what they were paying earlier. Other benefits for corporations include doing away with the alternative minimum tax, along with many provisions that will reduce the taxes they do pay.

What about tax cuts for individuals? Consider a household making $50,000 to $75,000: the average tax cut for them is 1.6 percent, or $870. The wealthiest would get the biggest tax breaks, as a household earning over a million would see an average cut of $69,660, or 3.3 percent increase.

Unfortunately for individuals, the tax cuts they get are limited to 8 years and expire after 2025. So without any changes, the same household making $50,000 to $75,000 would actually be paying $30 more in taxes after 2025. The wealthy would be much better off, with the average household making over a million getting a cut of more than $23,000 after 2025, along with a host of other benefits. Overall, after that date, households making over a million  –  approximately .6 percent of all taxpayers  –  would get 81.8 percent of the total benefit of this bill. By contrast, the corporate tax rate cuts are permanent, and will not expire.

This extremely disproportionate tax cut comes with a hefty price tag. The nonpartisan and authoritative congressional scorekeeper Joint Committee on Taxation found that the tax bill would cost approximately $1.4 trillion, which would be added to the existing $20 trillion national debt.

Who will now be responsible for paying the taxes to address this debt? Due to the extreme tax cut for corporations, individual American taxpayers will have a much bigger proportional tax burden in paying for the debt. Since the most wealthy had especially large tax breaks, and they tend to be the large shareholders in corporations that benefit from this law, middle-class Americans will be increasingly stuck with the tab for the debt. This is especially the case after 2025, when the tax breaks for individuals expire.

The Republican politicians who support the tax bill say it will pay for itself by creating jobs and improving the business climate, and thus in the end benefit the middle class. However, they are not experts at economics. The Joint Committee on Taxation, which is acknowledged as nonpartisan and expert by Democrats and Republicans alike, found thatover 10 years the tax bill would produce $400 billion in revenue, leaving unpaid an additional $1 trillion. Likewise, a survey of top economists indicated that the vast majority believed the tax bill would not substantially improve the US economy, would substantially increase the debt burden, and would redistribute wealth from the middle class to corporations and the wealthy.

Deferring to expert analysis is a critical component of truthfulness. Any time we see someone  –  especially a politician  –  reject expert analysis, we should be very suspicious, and see whether they have hidden motivations to mislead us. After all, while politicians are not experts at economics, they are experts at getting elected. They have strong incentives to do what would get them elected and mislead the public if needed.

In the case of this tax bill, the hidden motives are quite obvious. For example, Representative Chris Collins, a New York Republican, told a reporter that “my donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again’” regarding the tax bill. According to Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, if the tax bill is not passed, the “financial contributions will stop."

In order to ensure they get elected, Republicans had to pass the tax bill in order to keep getting donations from the wealthy and corporations, who really pay attention to and know what is going on. Now, President Donald Trump is calling on his Republican colleagues to sell the tax bill to everyday voters, who pay much less attention to the details of tax policies.

Republicans have been misrepresenting the essence of the tax bill all along. They presented it as all about tax cuts to the middle class, even though the biggest cut has been for corporations. Repeating this falsehood invokes the illusory truth effect, a psychological phenomenon where a false statement repeated often enough becomes seen as true. Indeed, most of the Republican base bought these falsehoods, with around 60 percent thinking the bill primarily favors the middle class.

In reality, the tax bill falls into the classic category of trickle-down economics. This policy approach involves taking money from the middle class and giving it to corporations via such tax cuts. Republicans justify trickle-down economics by saying that corporations will use such money better than middle-class Americans, despite experts disagreeing with them about the growth resulting from the tax bill.

Historically, trickle-down economics has been most strongly associated with Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, Reagan’s economic policies had bad economic consequences. More recently, thorough analyses of trickle-down economics by such reputable organizations as the International Monetary Fund suggest that this approach does not stimulate economic growth. Instead giving money to the lowest income earners stimulates growth much more. However, that’s not what the tax bill does.

We may debate about the effectiveness of trickle-down economics. However, the more salient point is that the large majority of Republicans have not been courageous enough to say openly that this tax bill is an example of trickle-down economics. While we may disagree on whether trickle-down economics works, we should all agree that spreading falsehoods about the reality of the tax bill erodes our democracy.

Will the misrepresentations of the tax bill succeed or will the American people recognize the truth about this tax bill as taking money from the pockets of middle-class Americans and giving it to corporations? You can make a difference by calling out any politicians and journalists who misrepresent the tax bill and calling on them to commit publicly to truthful behavior, as well as committing to truthful behaviors yourself by taking the Pro-Truth Pledge at ProTruthPledge.org.

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Thinking About Your New Year’s Resolutions? Try Focusing on the Good Life

Mon, 2018-01-01 12:09

by Ted Fisher

The end of the year is always when we reflect on what we have done and what we have left undone. And, of course, it’s time to start thinking about those resolutions for the new year and what we will do differently.

Our New Year’s resolutions usually target minor vices—eat fewer snacks, drink less, stop smoking, exercise more—whatever your particular self-admonitions may be. But it is too easy to get lost in the particulars—and in the negatives.

In setting out our resolutions, we should first step back and take stock of what we really want, what we consider the good life to be, and then think about how best we might achieve it.

Well-being is more than just being well

Fellow anthropologist Arjun Appadurai encourages us to be driven by an “ethics of possibility”—hope, aspiration, optimism—and not just the “ethics of probability”—costs and benefits, risk management and systematized rationalities. We can be pragmatic, but let’s not allow that pragmatism to kill our dreams of how things could be better.

I’ve spent the last few years studying what contributes to the good life—the elements of well-being—for folks around the world. I’ve talked to rural Maya coffee farmers in Guatemala and urban supermarket shoppers in Germany, as well as Americans from all walks of life. I’ve looked at notions of well-being in Mozambique, Brazil and China. I found that income is important, but not as important as we might first think. Health and security are also necessary, but insufficient, for living a fulfilled life.

Well-being, it turns out, is about more than just being well. It also requires strong family and social relations, a sense of dignity in our lives and fairness in our opportunities, and commitments to larger purposes.

For example, Miguel, a 43-year-old Maya coffee farmer in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, I met during my research has benefited in recent years from the boom in high-end coffee in the U.S. He says that life is good right now—even if we might characterize his circumstances as extremely impoverished. He finds dignity in owning his own land, in growing quality coffee that commands a decent price. He is committed to providing his children with more opportunities in life, and that endows his hard labor with a larger purpose.

Such large purposes may take many different forms. German shoppers who buy organic and fair trade products see this as a way of linking consumption to moral projects of ecological stewardship and social solidarity. Mastering a craft, political activism, even religious extremism—all are ways we give larger meaning to life.

Based on this research, there are some lessons to take away for our New Year’s resolutions. First, we need to ask what is really important in our lives—and how we can align what we do with those values. Then we should commit, or recommit, ourselves to larger purposes that go beyond self-interest. These could be grand (changing jobs to something more meaningful) or modest (cooking more meals at home for the family)—the crucial thing is that they are about more than just getting ahead.

Lessons for a happy New Year

In fact, sometimes being less productive economically can make us better off in terms of well-being. Filipe Campante and David Yanagizawa-Drott found that in Muslim countries, the fasting and observances during Ramadan had a negative impact on GDP growth, but that individuals also reported being happier and more satisfied with their lives. Giving something up for a greater good—and just giving more broadly—is deeply rewarding.

The good life also rests on gratitude and purpose.

Second, we should be generous with the time we invest in family and social relations. Material goods usually bring only fleeting happiness, and yet we often pin our hopes and dreams on the accumulation of things we hope will make us happy. Focusing on relationships and experiences adds much more to our long-term life satisfaction. Across cultures, we find that strong social relations and the amount of time spent with family are good predictors of overall well-being.

For many in the U.S., this means adjusting our work/life balance. In Germany, there is a clear distinction between work and play. Germans are more productive than Americans when at work, but they also work less and guard their time off. At Volkswagen, managers have demanded that Blackberry servers be turned off after working hours so that they will not be expected (or tempted) to respond on their own time. Americans spend much more time at work than in many other industrialized countries—around 1,800 hours per year on average, compared to around 1,400 hours for Germans. In 1930, John Maynard Keynes famously predicted that by now productivity would be so high, the average work week would be only 15 hours. And yet our material wants have outpaced even our dramatic productivity gains.

Finally, we should take time to step back from our culture of busy-ness and getting ahead to appreciate what we already have. It may be human nature to want more, but the good life also rests on gratitude and purpose.

This article was originally published by The Conversation. It has been edited for YES! Magazine.

Ted Fischer wrote this article for The Conversation. Ted is is a cultural anthropologist who studies wellbeing, economic behavioral, and global markets. He is also an expert in coffee studies and in malnutrition. He is the founder of Mani+, an award winning social enterprise that develops and manufactures nutritional supplements for children in Central America.

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We Can Reimagine and Reinvent Our Society in 2018

Mon, 2018-01-01 04:51

by Sarah van Gelder

I’ve been writing a year-end column for YES! for years. Previously, my aim was to find the strands of hope from the past year that can be woven into new possibilities in the next year.

But as I sat down to write this column, on one of the darkest days of the year, I realized that this year will be different. This column will not be a list of hopeful trends. It’s too late to think we can make incremental tweaks to our current systems and be OK. Corporations and the ultra-wealthy will not share their wealth, and if we continue current practices of extraction and pollution, all life will be threatened.

The 2016 election showcased two destructive political directions: white supremacist nostalgia on the Trump side and coziness with corporate capitalism on the Clinton side. The Trump presidency combines both, and it’s a disaster that we can’t recover from—at least not with a few fixes around the edges.

Instead, it’s time to build something new.

Today, 41 million Americans live in poverty in the wealthiest country in the world. “The persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power,” United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston said in a report of his December tour through the United States. “With political will, it could readily be eliminated.” Instead, the Republicans push through a tax bill that will make it far worse.

“The persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power.”

Climate research published in the journal Nature shows that the worst case global-warming scenarios are likely the most accurate. And we’re already seeing the effect. Most recently, fires—whipped up by fierce Santa Ana winds—drove thousands from their homes in Southern California, and many found only ashes when they returned. Earlier in the season, it was Northern California, Washington, Oregon, Montana, and British Columbia feeling the impacts of fires. In Houston, historic flooding after Hurricane Harvey mixed with the toxic products of our petrochemical economy to turn neighborhoods into poisonous stews. In Puerto Rico, the one-two punch of dual hurricanes, coupled with years of federal neglect, left much of the island devastated—now, the vulture investors are circling, while people on the ground are trying to just get the lights back on.

There are so many more signs of moral and political bankruptcy—among the more recent, the FCC dismantled net neutrality, creating yet one more instance of a common good being degraded by profit-motivated manipulation.

Yes, this is a dark place I find myself in as the garish orange street light outside my window and the flashing Christmas lights shine through the icy fog of a Northwest morning.

There is an awakening, though. Elections held in 2017 showed a widespread repudiation of the ultra-right agenda. It showed that people can organize and win, as they did in AlabamaVirginia, and Philadelphia, Pennsyvania.

The rejection of Trump-style politics does not mean an embrace of Clinton-style corporate-friendly policies, though.

It’s in our local communities that we can challenge the culture and institutions of racism and exclusion.

Even under President Obama’s more rational, but still pro-corporate, leadership, inequality was rising; our world was spinning toward climate disaster; Black men and women were being killed by police; immigrants were rounded up and deported; civilians were sacrificed in drone strikes; and our education, health care system, prisons, and public services were subjected to brutal private profit extraction.

So even under an intelligent and benign president, we were rushing toward disaster.

Authentic hope comes when we reject this system built on white supremacy, extractive corporate capitalism, and big money control of government. Leaving behind the illusion that we can fix a broken system frees us to work for genuine change.

There is no guarantee that we can pull off the deep transformation that’s needed. But our chances improve when we are clear-eyed about what we’re up against and what can actually work.

I believe that means we begin where we live—building more equitable economies that are rooted locally, and new relationships of reciprocity with the Earth and of equity and respect with each other.

My travels around the United States that resulted in the book The Revolution Where You Live, and then the book tour that followed, convinced me of the power of place-based communities.

It’s in our local communities that we can challenge the culture and institutions of racism and exclusion, and make sure everyone—of all races, generations, political beliefs, and religions—has a place at the table.

Isolated and afraid, we’re easy to defeat.

It’s by getting to know our bioregion that we can learn to protect the water, food systems, forests, and grasslands that we all depend upon so that all of us can survive climate change and other ecological traumas.

Only together can we reimagine and reinvent our society. None of us alone has a blueprint. Top-down revolutions become corrupt and authoritarian. But together, from the grassroots, we can create diverse and democratic economies and widely distributed power. We can build new norms that can sustain our communities as the old ways fail.

When outside forces threaten our natural and human community, we can be prepared and organized for nonviolent resistance, whether the source of the threat is a new Trump administration policy or a private fracking venture.

Getting grounded in local community also supports emotional and spiritual resilience, which is especially important during times of transition and for those struggling with isolation, stress, and poverty. Where we live, we can offer each other support and, over time, build local solutions.

We need to be in touch. Isolated and afraid, we’re easy to defeat. In each other’s company, we rediscover the joy and strength that can energize us as we create new systems and ways of life.

The place where we live is where we can find our power. Archimedes once said, give me a place to stand and a long lever, and I can move the Earth. We create that place to stand when we begin with the communities where we live.

Sarah van Gelder wrote this article for YES! Magazine. Sarah is a co-founder and columnist at YES!, founder of PeoplesHub, and author of “The Revolution Where You Live: Stories from a 12,000-Mile Journey Through a New America.” Read more about her work here, and follow her on Twitter @sarahvangelder.

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Chappelle to poor whites: Trump is fighting for me, not you (VIDEO)

Sun, 2017-12-31 16:09

Comedy can be more effective in getting a message across. The manner in which Dave Chappelle addressed poor white Trump supporters in this clip just may do the job.

Dave Chappelle tells poor whites the unfortunate truth about Donald Trump. He will not be their financial savior. He is not fighting to make their lives better but takes more from them.

Dave Chappelle's Message to poor white people

Chappelle to poor whites: Trump is fighting for me, not you (VIDEO) - https://t.co/k0equPZPlh pic.twitter.com/KHlRh4oGhm

— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) December 31, 2017

Chappelle had the following message in his Netflix special, Equanimity, his third streaming special of the year.

"I must tell you," Dave Chappelle said. "I've never had a problem with white people ever in my life. ... The poor whites are my least favorites. We've got a lot of trouble out of them. And I've never seen so many of them up close. I looked them right in their cold smeared faces. And to my surprise, you know what I didn't see? I didn't see one deplorable face in that group. I saw some angry faces, some determined faces. But they felt like decent folk. No. They did. In fact, I am not even lying, I know it sounds f$cked up. But I felt sorry for them. I know the game now. I know that rich white people call poor white people trash. And the only reason I know that is because I made so much money last year, the rich whites told me they say it at the cocktail party. And I am not with that sh$t. And I stood with them in line like all us Americans are required to do in a democracy. Nobody skips the line to vote. And I listen to them. I listen to them say, naive poor white people, things. 'Man, Donald Trump is going to go to Washington and he is going to fight for us.' I am standing up there thinking in my mind, 'You dumb motherfuck$r.' You are poor. He is fighting for me."

The comedy is funny, but Dave Chapelle has a point. After signing the tax cut scam Trump went to Mar-a-lago to talk to his rich benefactors.

"You all just got a lot richer," Trump told them.

Chappelle is absolutely correct. Here is what The Patriotic Millionaires had to say about the tax cut scam that steals from the poor and the middle-class.

“This bill is a national embarrassment,” said former Blackrock executive Morris Pearl, Chair of the Patriotic Millionaires. “It is anathema to everything the country was founded on. When the government allows dynastic wealth and multinational corporations to dictate the terms of our economy, everyone else suffers. This bill will be a disaster for millions of hardworking American families, devastating both their bank accounts and their health, all in the name of tax cuts for the wealthy. It is no exaggeration to say this bill is one of the most miserable pieces of legislation to ever pass through the Senate, and its supporters should be ashamed of what they did today. This is nothing less than a stab in the heart to the American Dream.”

Watch the Dave Chappelle uncut Netflix clip here.

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Evangelical Christians will pay for trading faith for power, morality lost forever

Sun, 2017-12-31 12:39

White Evangelical Christians en masse and other Christians voting for the likes of Donald Trump and Roy Moore have done irreparable damage to their faith. They now have absolutely no moral authority outside the cult they have become. Associate editor of The Marginalia Review of Books uses scripture and logic to destroy their rationale for supporting deviancy.

Ed Simon's article "For Those Who Have Traded Faith for Power, There’s a Comeuppance Ahead" lays out in stark detail the level of willful ignorance and denial that was required for the Evangelical Christians and their leaders to leave the principles of their teachings. How else could they support the evil that is blanketing of the country because of their vote? He wrote the following.

This Advent season, while watching Donald Trump in front of a garishly green-and-red banner which proclaims “Make America Great Again,” take the opportunity to reflect on the Faustian bargain which allowed conservative evangelical Christians to “Keep Christ in Christmas” while seemingly divorcing Christianity from Christ. That Republican supply-side economics, exemplified by Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell’s cruel tax “reform,” contradicts Matthew 5:3 is clear. That Trump’s draconian immigration policy, which new reports indicate could now involve splitting families apart, violates the essence of Exodus 22:21 is obvious. And it shouldn’t have to be said that the new nationalism, this new fascism, with its “blood and soil” metaphysic, stands in opposition to the sublime universalism of Galatians 3:28.

For that 81 % of white evangelicals who voted for Trump, and more troublingly for the profoundly inhumane, greedy, wrathful ideology that he embodies, and who have seemingly forgotten their scripture, I have another passage to remind them of Matthew 4:10. Following the dark Adversary who took Christ up “an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt falls down and worship me.” And Christ, choosing to follow the small, humble, yet sacred path rejected the temptations of worldly power declaring, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” America’s conservative evangelicals, however, have taken up that diabolical offer.

Simon further points out that selling out Christianity is not a new thing. Referring to it as hypocritical capitulation, he wrote the following.

Christianity, by its own definition, is a countercultural faith, one which stands in opposition to the things of this world while still being in this world. But humans being humans the history of the religion is replete with moments where Augustine’s City of Man has overwhelmed the City of God in the heart of the believer. From Constantine’s usurpation of the Roman Church to Henry VIII’s appropriation of ecclesiastical power, Christians have been more than willing to sell their allegiance for thirty pieces of silver. Trumpian Christianity is but one chapter in a long lineage of hypocritical capitulation of principle to sovereigns in the name of worldly power.

He even equates Donald Trump to a leader more in line with the anti-Christ.

There is an irony in all of this. Since the resurgence of politicized evangelical Christianity with the ascendency of Ronald Reagan, many apocalyptic minded conservative Christians made a sort of prophetic parlor game out of conjecturing who the potential anti-Christ could be. Figures from Hal Lindsey, to Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts, and Jerry Falwell often fingered world leaders or liberal politicians as being in league with Satan. An irony since if the anti-Christ is supposed to be a manipulative, powerful, smooth-talking demagogue with the ability to sever people from their most deeply held beliefs who would be a better candidate than the seemingly indestructible Trump?

Simon has an ominous warning.

Trump is arguably the logical culmination of some strains of right-wing evangelical Christianity in America, from the political theology of dominionism to the hermeneutics of presuppositional apologetics, dogmas which see no inconsistency to rendering all to a Caesar whom they have declared to be a Christ. We may have yet to see the arrival in the United States of a type of powerful, theocratic, fascistic Protestant Falangism enabled by the opportunism of a Trump, and which makes the traditional Christian Right look positively liberal.

That is a scary thought and is why one must remind America that we must not forgive Evangelical Christians' who support a litany of degenerates, and evil policies. Most importantly, we must expose their leaders as self-serving hypocrites leading their pews down a wrong path. Going after the leaders of the Evangelical Christians and not the followers themselves open the doors for them to repent and reenter an honorable existence.

Read the entire article here.

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New York Times Trumpwashes 70 Years of US Crimes

Sun, 2017-12-31 01:22

by Adam Johnson

The New York Times reports that Donald Trump “holds a radically different view of the United States’ role in the world than most of his predecessors,” citing his lack of interest in “the rules-based postwar international order.”

Trumpwashing—defined as whitewashing, obscuring or rewriting the broader US record by presenting Donald Trump as an aberration (FAIR.org6/3/16)—was on full dis

play Thursday in a nominally straight news report from the New York Times’ Mark Landler (12/28/17) on how Trump has reshaped US foreign policy. Buried in the otherwise banal analysis was this gem of US imperial agitprop:

Above all, Mr. Trump has transformed the world’s view of the United States from a reliable anchor of the liberal, rules-based international order into something more inward-looking and unpredictable. That is a seminal change from the role the country has played for 70 years, under presidents from both parties, and it has lasting implications for how other countries chart their futures.

There’s lots of ideology to unpack here, but let’s start with the empirically false assertion that the “world” viewed the United States as a “reliable anchor of the liberal, rules-based international order.” Poll (Guardian6/15/06) after poll (Pew3/14/07) after poll (PRI1/3/14) throughout the years has shown that much of the world views the United States as threat to peace, often taking the top spot as the single greatest threat. What evidence Landler has for the world viewing the US as a sort of good-natured global babysitter is unclear, as he cites nothing to support this hugely important claim (since if Trump’s cynical disregard for “human rights” is nothing new, then there’s no real story here). It’s just thrown out with the assumption the Times readership is sufficiently nationalistic and/or amnesiac to either not notice or not care. It’s designed to flatter, not to elucidate.

There’s lots of ideology to unpack here, but let’s start with the empirically false assertion that the “world” viewed the United States as a “reliable anchor of the liberal, rules-based international order.” Poll (Guardian6/15/06) after poll (Pew3/14/07) after poll (PRI1/3/14) throughout the years has shown that much of the world views the United States as threat to peace, often taking the top spot as the single greatest threat. What evidence Landler has for the world viewing the US as a sort of good-natured global babysitter is unclear, as he cites nothing to support this hugely important claim (since if Trump’s cynical disregard for “human rights” is nothing new, then there’s no real story here). It’s just thrown out with the assumption the Times readership is sufficiently nationalistic and/or amnesiac to either not notice or not care. It’s designed to flatter, not to elucidate.

he US invasion of Iraq in defiance of international rules.

The second dubious assertion is the idea that the US is “viewed” as being (or, by implication, objectively is) concerned with “liberal, rules-based international order.” Perhaps Landler missed the part where the US runs offshore penal colonies for untried political prisoners, and a decade-long drone war that’s killed thousands—both entirely outside the scope of international law. Or the time the US invaded and destroyed Iraq without any international authorization, killing hundreds of thousands. Or perhaps he missed the part where the United States refuses to sign “liberal, rules-based international order” treaties such as the International Criminal Court or the ban on bombs and or a prohibition on nuclear weapons. Or the part where the US not only doesn’t recognize the International Criminal Court, but has a law on its books (dubbed “the Hague Invasion Act,” passed in 2002) that if an American is ever held by the ICC for committing war crimes, the US is obligated to literally invade the Hague and free them.

And this is just in the past 15 years. Landler, even more laughably, starts the clock in 1947, which would include dozens of non-“liberal,” non-“rules-based” coups, invasions, bombing campaigns, assassinations, extrajudicial murders and so forth. The number of actions carried out by the US not sanctioned by even the thinnest pretext of “international order” is too long to list.

What exactly is this “liberal, rules-based international order,” and when did “the world” view the United States as its most reliable anchor? Landler doesn’t say, he simply asserts this highly contestable and ideological claim, and moves on to pearl-clutch about Trump ruining the US’s hard-won moral authority. He has some 100 percent uncut pro-US ideology to push under the guise of criticizing Trump, and no amount of basic historical facts will get in his way.

h/t @ElwinWay

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.

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If Trump voters read Robert Reich’s list of cons on them will they believe?

Sat, 2017-12-30 16:16

Many think it is a fool's errand to try to reach the Trump voters. Invest the time into a base that is more in line with Progressives but who do not vote. Yes, we must. But we must also keep opening the eyes of all those fooled by Trump's con and the Republican failed ideology. Robert Reich did it spectacularly.

The reality is that investments in those, irrespective of ethnicity, who have a culture of voting, helping them see the light is a sticky investment. So if we appeal to them, if we cater the message, in a form they will absorb, we will get somewhere.

Robert Reich's recent article "New Year’s Update for Trump Voters" enumerates 20 of Donald Trump's many promises that went unfulfilled.

  1. He told you he’d cut your taxes, and that the super-rich like him would pay more.
  2. He promised to close “special interest loopholes that have been so good for Wall Street investors
  3. He told you he’d repeal Obamacare and replace it with something “beautiful.”
  4. He told you he’d invest $1 trillion in our nation’ crumbling infrastructure.
  5. He said he’d clean the Washington swamp.
  6. He said he’d use his business experience to whip the White House into shape.
  7. He told you he’d “bring down drug prices” by making... deals with drug companies.
  8. He promised “a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.”
  9. He told you “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.”
  10. He promised “six weeks of paid maternity leave to any mother with a newborn child whose employer does not provide the benefit.”
  11. He said that on Day One he’d label China a “currency manipulator.”
  12. He said he wouldn’t bomb Syria.
  13. He said he’d build a “wall” across the southern border.
  14. He promised that the many women who accused him of sexual misconduct “will be sued after the election is over.”
  15. He said he would not be a president who took vacations.
  16. He said he’d force companies to keep jobs in America, and that there would be “consequences” for companies that shipped jobs abroad.
  17. He promised to revive the struggling coal industry and “bring back thousands” of lost mining jobs.
  18. He promised to protect steel workers.
  19. He said he’d make America safer.
  20. He said he’d release his taxes.

Reich expands on each one of those promises in detail and shows how many of them hurt the Trump voters who he promised he would help. Read the article here and make sure to share it on throughout your social media and email sphere.

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Socialized medicine coming to America courtesy of the Republicans

Thu, 2017-12-28 15:45

Obama set the trap, and the Republicans fell into it nicely. I pointed out from its inception that Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act was designed to morph into single-payer Medicare for all, a form of socialized medicine. What I did not expect was that Republicans would make it a quicker reality with their evil attempts to destroy it.

I explained in the article "Obamacare Is The Path To Single-payer Universal Healthcare" that Progressives should not worry too much about the loss of the Public Option because they designed Obamacare to morph.

During the Affordable Care Act debate there was a public option that would have simulated the latter. Lobbying summarily got it removed because had it made it into the Act, over a short period of time, arithmetic would prevail as the public option would be less expensive for any given plan. It would then turn Obamacare into a single payer system by attrition.

There are several different pathways to reach the same goal. It is however important that the paths are built. Obamacare is the path built with pebbles and stones. It is better than the mud path of years past. As riders demand a smoother path they won’t yearn for the mud path again but for a paved road. Americans will not go back after tasting healthcare/health insurance as a right with all the benefits mentioned above. Exchanges will become single payer entities as health insurancecompanies are unable to demand the profits they want. Eventually exchanges will morph into Medicare for all.

The genius of Obamacare is not that it solved the problem in its entirety. The genius is that it made reverting to an immoral system untenable.

Republicans over the years have been trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act directly and indirectly. When Trump came into office, he turned up the evil. He cut the budget for advertising and navigators, the folks who help folks through the signing up process. The expectation was that much fewer people would sign up. It did not materialize for the Republicans.

An excellent article in the New York Times titled "Years of Attack Leave Obamacare a More Government-Focused Health Law" is probative.

President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement is becoming more like what conservatives despise — government-run health care — thanks in part to Republican efforts that are raising premiums for people without government assistance and allowing them to skirt coverage.

By ending the tax penalty for people who do not have coverage, beginning in 2019, Republicans may hasten the flight of customers who now pay the full cost of their insurance. Among those left behind under the umbrella of the Affordable Care Act would be people of modest means who qualify for Medicaid or receive sizable subsidies for private insurance.

“Republicans have inadvertently strengthened the hand of Democrats like me who prefer richer subsidies to a mandate and welcome the expanded federal role that will come with those subsidies,” said Joel S. Ario, a former insurance commissioner from Pennsylvania who worked in the Obama administration.

But here is a kicker that those who think healthcare belongs in the capitalist market. Remember, the private sector populates marketplaces. The public sector manages Medicaid, the socialized portion of our economic system.

While the marketplaces, or exchanges, have struggled with a series of problems since they opened in 2014, Medicaid, administered by an experienced corps of state officials, has gone from strength to strength. Public appreciation for the program has steadily increased as people come to understand its importance in the health care system, including its central role in combating the opioid epidemic.

And how is the morphing going to occur?

“It seems to me that the exchanges will evolve into an extended form of government coverage very much akin to Medicaid,” said J. B. Silvers, a professor of health care finance at Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland. Increasingly, he said, “those who are not subsidized will drop out because of the high prices, and those getting the subsidy will still see great bargains,” after taking account of the subsidies. ...

In some ways, Medicaid is more generous than commercial insurers. The benefits are more comprehensive, and coverage is nearly free, with beneficiaries required to pay only nominal amounts.

Americans left out precisely because of government policy will not remain an underclass for too long. After all, those affected the most are in the individual market, small business owners, contractors, etc. These are people who vote and could provide the tipping point for many Congresspeople.

So just maybe Americans will owe Republicans a sarcastic "Thank You" for bringing America closer to a single-payer Medicare for all socialized health care system. They may even remove the false fear many have towards the word "socialize" or "democratic socialism." After all, the best system is one that knows what to socialize and what to privatize, not a system that tries to fit every aspect of our lives into one corrupt system devoid of humanity.

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Colin Kaepernick vs. the great orange volcano

Wed, 2017-12-27 15:14

by John Young

It was the year of the "angry fire god."

In the '90s comedy "Joe Versus the Volcano," that was the islanders' name for the great Volcano Woo -- a role that our president sought to reprise in 2017.

From on high, Donald Trump flung smoke and rocks and steam. He slurred his words as his lava sloshed. His orange crown glowed.

Throughout, our president was Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and flame. Point of lineage: Vulcan inherited his status as the son of Zeus.

Vulcan was the god of forging things through flame. Donald Trump? He promised to bring back coal – then set out to incinerate everything Barack Obama ever did.

Not that he accomplished it. In fact, most of his contributions were smoke and fumes. As 2017 elapsed, polls showed that fewer and fewer Americans beheld him with the awe a fire god demands.

I thought of the diminished stature of the great furnace master (despite Mike Pence's feverish pumping of the bellows) while reading a fascinating profile about someone Trump attempted to sear with inflammatory tweets: NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The occasion was Sports Illustrated's having awarded Kaepernick the 2017 Muhammad Ali Legacy Award for courage in pressing for social justice.

Bravo, SI.

Trump probably became the Republican front-runner the moment he assailed "political correctness." That's supposedly the curse of a touchy-feely, too-sensitive society.

I must say, if anyone has ever been victimized by a too-sensitive society, it is Kaepernick.

He took a silent, solemn knee to protest racial inequality. When his actions were assailed and misrepresented as "disrespecting the troops," he didn't assail back.

Trump blasted him, then bragged that his tweets kept Kaepernick off NFL rosters. Maybe that was true. That's what happens in a hypersensitive society that can't stand dissent. Colin Kaepernick: victim of PC.

As Kareem Abdul Jabbar writes in the same issue about the incrimination faced by Kaepernick, "It's easier to blame the messenger and ignore the message." Blaming the messenger – news organizations or anyone who disagrees with him – has been Trump's chief preoccupation throughout his first year in office.

Reading about Kaepernick, one comes up with a mighty study in contrast between the man who took a knee and the president who sought to make him a pariah.

Those who blast Kaepernick would be interested to know that he has contributed $1 million to organizations that not only advance his concerns about social inequality but are doing something about it.

For one, he contributed $25,000 to Milwaukee-based I Will Not Die Young, which works to prevent youth violence, in part by staging mock funerals in schools to drive home its message.

That is just a parcel of the $209,000 he's donated to youth initiatives.

Kaepernick's charitable work "is fundamentally different from the typical celebrity philanthropy," reports SI, citing his "view of donations as investments, not just charity," and the target of his giving: grassroots organizations seeking to make a difference in young people's lives.

That's quite a contrast to Trump's own foundation, which abused its charitable status in purchasing items such as a portrait of Trump and autographed football helmets, and which made political contributions, violating federal elections law.

The greatest contrast is in Kaepernick's stoicism in the face of a torrent of insults and the clear blackballing in the NFL. Meanwhile, our president is proving the most thin-skinned and petulant chief executive this nation has ever known.

Oh, by the way, if one assumes that nothing has come of what Abdul Jabbar calls Kaepernick's "one-knee revolution," the NFL owners just donated $90 million to activism endeavors focused on African-American communities.

All of which began with a silent, dignified gesture by one whom many would feed to the volcano.

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‘Whataboutism’ Runs Amok as Jake Tapper Rattles Off Trump Talking Points

Wed, 2017-12-27 01:50

by Adam Johnson

For over a year, US media have insisted that the tactic of deflecting criticism by pointing to others’ flaws was the devious Soviet tool of “whataboutism,” and anyone using it was practicing “one of Russia’s favorite propaganda tactics.” If so, when it came time for CNN’s Jake Tapper (12/21/17) to spin for the Trump administration’s provocative and deeply unpopular move of the US embassy in Israel, the most trusted name in news was peak Pravda.

Borrowing straight from Trump administration talking points, Tapper reported on the UN voting 128 to 9 in an emergency session against the US moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—a gesture effectively solidifying 50 years of illegal military occupation—by heavily implying antisemitism was to blame. In the segment, Tapper employed a popular, superficially appealing pro-Israel talking point that the UN was “singling out” Israel at the expense of other Bad Countries. “Among the 128 countries that voted to condemn the US on this issue,” Tapper charged, “were some countries with some questionable records of their own.”

He then listed Official Bad Guy countries Venezuela and Syria, along with their alleged crimes, as well as Yemen—a bizarre choice, since Yemen’s UN votes are cast by a government-in-name-only that’s been displaced by a rebellion, and hence isn’t responsible for much of anything. It would have made more sense to list Saudi Arabia, whose war on Yemen has killed thousands of civilians there, but the Saudis were suspiciously absent from Tapper’s segment.

The segment ends with vague innuendo suggesting the only reason these countries are “singling out” Israel was antisemitism. “You have to ask, is Israel truly deserving of 86 percent of the world’s condemnation,” Tapper pontificated in his best Glenn Beck “just asking questions” mode, “or possibly is something else afoot at the United Nations?”

The average viewer sitting at home, unfamiliar with the facts, would understandably come away thinking 86 percent is a really high figure indeed. Omitted by Tapper is the reason Israel is “singled out” at the UN General Assembly (and the UN Human Rights Council as well): In the body that is designed to pass measures against international lawlessness—the UN Security Council—the US almost invariably uses its veto power to insulate Israel from any criticism. It logically follows that lesser bodies would pick up the slack.

Countries like Syria, Iran and North Korea are routinely discussed at the Security Council. Here’s a word map of countries mentioned in the press statements of the UN Security Council—a/k/a the international body that can actually enforce its resolutions—from 2016:

Indeed, before last year’s rare abstention by the US on a resolution about Israeli settlements (that was, itself, totally toothless), the last time the UN Security Council even mentioned Israel in a resolution that actually passed was a wrist-slapping, “condemn both sides” statement over the occupation of Palestine in 2002. The UN hates Israel so much that its most consequential legal body went over 14 years without passing any measure against it.

Another factor is that the unique nature of Israel’s creation puts it squarely into the UN’s domain. Unlike Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, Israel is, in part, a product of the UN, and the status of Jerusalem and the stateless nature of the Palestinian people are both entirely in its purview. Another unusual factor that would explain the “singling out” is the resemblance of Israel’s displacement of Palestinians to the old-style colonialism that the UN was born in large part to combat. One can argue whether or not such crimes are worse than those alleged by Tapper against Official Bad Guy countries, but colonialism is a clearcut violation of black-letter international law, namely “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

And it logically follows that Israel’s continued noncompliance with the resolutions in regard to this colonialism means the same measures will be reintroduced again and again, necessarily inflating the degree to which Israel is “singled out.” As it turns out, there’s a direct correlation between flagrantly breaking laws for 70 years and being sanctioned by the lawmaking body in question.

Even setting all this aside, Tapper’s argument is specious. Why arbitrarily audit a handful of the 164 countries that didn’t support the US, rather than characterize their broader makeup? Why not mention (presumably morally acceptable) countries like France, Britain, Germany, Sweden, etc.? Tapper’s game is a glib pot shot that goes beyond “whataboutism” into inane moral posturing about something that has no bearing on the actual substance of the subject.

The corollary implication is that Israel and the US’s human rights records don’t need to be examined in the same manner. Per usual with Tapper, the US’s place in the world as a moral arbiter is taken for granted, and the only cynical actors are those daring to question this moral status.

Messages to CNN can be sent here (or via Twitter @CNN). Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective.

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Robert Reich deconstructs the danger of Trump as a metastasizing cancer

Tue, 2017-12-26 19:50

Robert Reich laid out in a detailed fashion how Donald Trump has methodically destroyed American values both actual and aspirational. He scolded Republicans and specifically Orrin Hatch for his sycophancy for the president after the passage of the Republican tax cut scam.

Reich enumerates the Trump infection uniquely as he deconstructed how he is metastasizing cancer in America destroying our values, real and aspirational. Reich castigates Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) by pointing out that Trump has been the least ethical president even when contrasted with the worst of them.

Last week, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch stood on the White House lawn, opining that Donald Trump’s presidency could be “the greatest presidency that we’ve seen, not only in generations, but maybe ever.”

I beg to differ.

America has had its share of crooks (Warren G. Harding, Richard Nixon), bigots (Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan), and incompetents (Andrew Johnson, George W. Bush). But never before Donald Trump have we had a president who combined all these nefarious qualities.

Reich reminded us on a Trump who skirted the law with various examples and writes,

A president’s most fundamental legal and moral responsibility is to uphold and protect our system of government. Trump has degraded that system.

He continued by pointing out how he degraded the social justice and legal system and in the process laid the groundwork for racial strife. He ended with what one can only equate with metastasizing cancer.

America has had its share of good and bad presidents, but Donald Trump falls far below anything this nation has ever before experienced. In less than a year, he has degraded the core institutions and values of our democracy.

We have never before had a president whose character was so contrary to the ideals of the republic. That Senator Orrin Hatch and other Republicans don’t seem to recognize this is itself frightening.

While it would be great to impeach Trump -- there is much cause already, reconstructing our institutions and our faith in what we expect out of our country requires that we vote Trump enablers out of office at all levels of State and Federal governments.

Read the article here.

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Merry Christmas to Cuba, a people hurt by 50+ years of bad policy

Mon, 2017-12-25 13:06

I am sitting on the deck of a ship sailing alongside Cuba on Christmas, about to dock in Havana, the capital city. It will be my first time in Cuba, but I am sure it will not be the last.

As we sat in a class about the dos and don'ts that we must be aware of when going into town, it became evident that our government imposed these restrictions on Americans. It wasn't the Cuban government. It is clear that Cuba imposes many restrictions on its population. We expect that from a communist regime. How then does our democracy differ if it is crippling the freedom of its own citizen's behavior and actions overseas?

I do not know what to expect but have been told and have seen on TV a Cuba that we froze helped freeze Cuba in time partially because of U.S. policies. Why? Because the American government decided that it was not going to allow the will of another people to be in conflict with America's will for them. In short, America can accept a perceived tyrant as long as it is their tyrant. That isn't to say I believe Fidel Castro is a tyrant. I think he is like most autocratic or want-to-be autocratic leaders who do what is necessary to stay in power. Every leader, whether from democratic or authoritarian regimes, has always found some justification however misguided to kill an inordinate number of human beings to maintain their rule.

I recently wrote a piece titled "Why I do not hate Cuba and no person of color should nor their white allies should" where I said the following.

I get tired of our government, most recently Donald Trump, acting as if the dictatorship in Cuba is any different than the dictatorships America supports throughout the world. In fact, Fulgencio Batista, the dictator overthrown by Castro's revolution, was no less vicious to those who opposed him and his policies that created massive wealth and income disparities. Of course, these variations followed the American color line modal as well. In other words, people of color in the aggregate were much less well off. They were either relegated to entertainment or menial jobs. Lest we forget, Fulgencio Batista was America's dictator and as such his criminality and his vicious attacks on his people got a pass. ...

The Cold War had no concern for the socio-economic-racial angst in Cuba or elsewhere. But here are some results rarely discussed. Under Cuba post-Batista, people of color while previously relegated to menial jobs became doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other professionals that were exported throughout the world. When a democracy and economic system consign a particular segment of its population to a life of less than, one should not be surprised when they seek an alternative. That alternative was better for many Cubans. It gave them a dignity they never had. And in the process, it created a healthcare system that covers every Cuban who all now have better medical outcomes than those in America.

Cuba has endured and continues to suffer over 50+ years of a spiteful vendetta. Even with incoming economic missiles, Cuba generated an impressive cadre of medical doctors and engineers that they have loaned and exported throughout the world. It speaks well of the resilience of humanity which itself is an American trait.

Merry Christmas Cuba.

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