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Fmr. GOP Chairman: They’re too deaf, dumb, & blind to get what’s going on out there (VIDEO)

Wed, 2017-05-31 16:18

Former GOP Chairman Michael Steele did not mince words as he described the current state of his party. One wonders if they will pay for their ineptitude and dishonesty. Steele talks as if he believes they will.

Former GOP Chairman Michael Steele get real

The Republican Party is currently on auto drive completely disregarding the will of the people, and the Former GOP Chairman is calling them out.

MSNBC Host played a clip of a Congressman getting a tongue lashing on Obamacare in Louisiana. She asked Michael Steele how deep is the concern of the party. Steele did not try to spin at all.

"The concern withing the party is real, and it is palpable," the former Chairman said. "My concern is that they are too deaf, dumb, and blind to see what is going on out there. You come to the American people with a lie that you are going to repeal and replace for seven years now. You get to that precipice, that critical moment and you've got bupkus, nothing. And so the American people look at you and going 'What are you telling me. What are you saying to me?' There are natural outrage and concern. And that is a deadly mix for a Congressman when their constituents, whether they are supportive or not supportive of the president. When their constituents look at them and go "You know, you are letting me down. that's a real concern for them and it should be."

The former Chairman is right to be concerned. Unfortunately, while I see a very activated Progressive grassroots, I don't currently see the urgency within the Democratic Party to take advantage of this opportunity. I hear too much talking about things that will take care of themselves with minimal input on issues like Russia, Trump tweets, and many frivolities.

At the same time, Trump is sabotaging the Affordable Care Act from within. He is putting women protections in doubt, playing around with subsidies, and Essential Health Benefits. Likewise, he may give the wealthy the estate tax repeal they've been seeking for a very long time.

We must keep our eyes on the ball. Distracting ourselves with the tweets of the 'covfefe' type from a child president barely able to articulate a coherent sentence does little to tell working class America how we will make their lives better.

Most recent childish tweet from our child president

Let's work on informing working class America that the pain they will feel with this year's Obamacare increases and malfunctions will be the direct results of the ineptitude and the sabotage by the Trump administration. Likewise, let's be prepared to let them know how we will make their everyday lives better.

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Traumatized by the brutality and dishonesty of the Trump movement?

Wed, 2017-05-31 12:16

Donald Trump has unleashed division and hate in this country not seen since the Civil Rights movement. It was his pathway to a stolen victory. But two thoughtful men in the South had prescient words we must digest.

Every so often, I get up in the morning having no clue what I am going to write about that morning. As I scan Feedly, a few excellent news sites, Facebook, and watch some cable news channels, I get a flavor of what I want to write. My Coffee Party USA colleague Charlotte Vaughan Coyle tagged me on a note that in itself had a message.

I hope you have heard/read the recent remarks by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Here is a bold, brilliant argument that cuts to the heart of the issue without denigrating any person or group.

Also here is a post from my friend Jim Rigby, a progressive pastor in Austin TX. He marches, protests, prays at the State Capitol every chance he gets, but he offers this wise warning to us all. We are not only doing the work of Resisting; we must also be about the work of convincing/encouraging/converting.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

Landrieu gave a compelling speech on race in  New Orleans that The Times-Picayune described as follows.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu last week (May 19) delivered one of the most honest speeches on race I've ever heard from a white Southern politician. I know, that's not saying much. It's a low bar Landrieu vaulted over. But just because so many white elected officials in the South won't speak frankly to their constituents about race doesn't mean what Landrieu said isn't worthy of praise.

With his courage in presiding over removal of three Confederate statues and a white supremacist memorial -- and his sensitive, spirited defense of those actions -- Landrieu has not only secured his place as one of New Orleans' more notable mayors; he also might have propelled himself into the conversation for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

While some courageous politicians like Mayor Mitch Landrieu are taking political risks, we have a president who uses the very forces they are fighting to traumatize, divide, and conquer. But we do not have to either acquiesce to the torture or stoop to the level of the president and his cohort.

And that is where Pastor Jim Rigby's words are so prescient at this time. His Facebook post had some inconvenient truths as well as advice we should all heed.

Austin Texas Pastor Jim Rigby

Jim Rigby first points out a truth many of us have been trying to cauterize in the psyche of people we encounter one on one or in crowds. It convinced enough people in the states in the Midwest that Trump won.

Remember the task of a demagogue is to convince majority populations that they are under assault from every quarter by minority populations. Only that false belief can justify continuing to oppress them.

But as Rigby says, demagoguing by others do not give us carte blanc to emulate them or use similar methods. In fact, we must be careful even in humor and satire.

While we must protect those being scapegoated, Muslims, LGBTQ, feminists, immigrants, et. al., we must also be very careful not to appear to justify the cultural paranoia being used as propaganda. Kathy Griffin’s use of a bleeding, decapitated head of Donald Trump was meant to be funny, but now right wing media is abuzz with the image "proving" that liberals really do mean to hurt conservatives.

Rigby then pointed out two recent white supremacists acts not just for the sake of pointing them out.

Jeremy Christian, the Portland man who harassed Muslim women and then stabbed their defenders saw himself as a defender of American values. In court, he shouted, “Free speech or die, Portland!” “You (America’s enemies) got no safe place. This is America. Get out if you don’t like free speech!” “Death to the enemies of America. Leave this country if you hate our freedom." “You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism. You hear me? Die.”

Yesterday, religious right activist “Coach” Dave Daubenmire declared on his “Pass The Salt Live” webcast that America needs “a more violent Christianity.” He showed pictures of Donald Trump pushing aside the prime minister of Montenegro. “Look at him! They’re all little puppies, ain’t nobody barking at him … He’s walking in authority. He walked to the front and center and they all know it, too, man. He just spanked them all!” Coach Dave also praise a Republican politician for body slamming a reporter who asked difficult questions, ‘Yes, a fighter! Go, dude, go!’ … Who won? The dude that took the other dude to the ground.”

Just because some of us are beginning to see the fascistic underpinnings of our culture does not mean the violence against targeted people has not always been a bipartisan agenda for our nation. We must learn and teach some very difficult lessons. Mindless patriotism is and has always been terrorism to those who live on the other side of our boundary.

Pastor Rigby articulated an inconvenient truth that more people should know not just in passing but as the driving force of much of our dysfunction.

The white power structure of this nation is and has always been terrorism to those of a different hue. Militant Christianity is and has always been terrorism to those of other mindsets. Heartless capitalism is and has always been terrorism to those without property.

And here is Rigby's most impactful advice which I agree with completely.

I am in no way suggesting that we be passive victims to this mindless violence. I am saying the way out demands principles, reason and compassion. And, we must each find the humility to admit that we are part of the problem, too.

The brutality and dishonesty of the Trump movement can be traumatizing, but we cannot heal from that trauma if we sink to the same level. In this time of madness, it is very important that we keep our hearts and heads clear. In a time of ignorance and cruelty what is most needed are fully functioning human beings.

It is the message all must heed. In many recent blog posts, I implored Progressives to drop what many times can come across as self-righteousness that can stifle a dialogue before it begins. It is not enough to be right. It is not sufficient to have morality and dignity on one's side, for if one is unable to convert that into changing others and even oneself, it is all for naught.

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Trump dismantling women health care protections implemented in Obamacare

Wed, 2017-05-31 01:24

Donald Trump's everyday statements and his caught-on-tape moment proved he was a sexist and a misogynist. It should be no surprise then that he would remove women's protections Obamacare afforded.

Obamacare ensured that most employers had to provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans. It was the right thing to do.

The New York Times reports the following.

WASHINGTON — Federal officials, following through on a pledge by President Trump, have drafted a rule to roll back a federal requirement that many religious employers provide birth control coverage in health insurance plans.

The mandate for free contraceptive coverage was one of the most hotly contested Obama administration policies adopted under the Affordable Care Act, and it generated scores of lawsuits by employers that had religious objections to it.

On its website, the White House Office of Management and Budget said it is reviewing an “interim final rule” to relax the requirement, a step that would all but ensure a court challenge by women’s rights groups.
Mr. Trump signaled a change in direction on May 4, when he issued an executive order instructing three cabinet departments to consider amended regulations to “address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate.” The order cites a section of the Affordable Care Act that refers specifically to preventive services for women.

Donald Trump may have forgotten that America is not a theocracy. Laws should be devoid of religion. But he does not see it that way.

The new rule will fulfill a campaign pledge by Mr. Trump. “I will make absolutely certain religious orders like the Little Sisters of Poor are not bullied by the federal government because of their religious beliefs,” he said in October in a letter to leaders of Roman Catholic organizations.

Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services, welcomed the opportunity to re-examine the preventive-services mandate. “We will be taking action in short order to follow the president’s instruction to safeguard the deeply held religious beliefs of Americans who provide health insurance to their employees,” he said this month.

Ironically, the party that wants to abolish abortion will cause more unwanted pregnancies.

Researchers say the Affordable Care Act has increased women’s access to contraceptives, including highly effective methods like intrauterine devices and implants. They suggest doing so may have contributed to a decline in unintended pregnancies.

We will have a lot of rebuilding just like we did after Reagan and Bush, two steps forward, one step back.

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Trump ‘Knows Republicans are stupid,’ Jared Kushner allegedly said to former editor.

Wed, 2017-05-31 00:12

One of the strategies Donald Trump employed as he began putting his name on the U.S. political map years ago was championing “birtherism,” the long-held conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was born outside of the U.S. and hence should never have been elected. He often chastised Obama and demanded the president produce his birth certificate, revving up an anti-Obama base that eventually helped put Trump in the White House. Evidently, Trump may have been using the so-called birthers only as a means to an end. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is also a senior adviser to the president, allegedly told a former editor of the newspaper he once owned that the billionaire real-estate mogul didn’t believe his own “birtherism” claims, and only made them to charge up Republicans because they are “stupid,” GQ reported. During a discussion on how to cover Trump, the former New York Observer editor, Elizabeth Spiers, claimed she told Kushner that she had serious problems with Trump’s repeated claims that Obama was not born in the U.S., to which Kushner allegedly told her: "He doesn't really believe it, Elizabeth. He just knows Republicans are stupid and they'll buy it." Spiers told her Kushner anecdote in response to a question from a conservative blogger on Facebook, and then screenshotted the response and put it up on Twitter.…

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RIPOFF: My wife’s $7500 ER bill for pneumonia diagnosis – Single-Payer a must

Tue, 2017-05-30 16:03

Once again my family's encounter with an Emergency Room zaps our pocket book, our personal economy. Americans must stop believing the crap politicians say. They must know that their inflated medical bills are ultimately legalized theft. This is our new ER event that is sure to await you as well if it has not already.

I am a self-employed businessman and political activist. I have always purchased health insurance on the individual market. Obamacare was a godsend as I explained in several blog posts (here, here). My deductibles were always high, around $5000 to $6000. My wife returned to work after 26 years and we decided to use her employer's insurance. It is amazing how much cheaper it is with only a $1200 deductible. Even with great insurance, healthcare turns out to be a ripoff, a racket. Were I still on Obamacare, this bill would be paid almost entirely out of pocket.

My wife's three our ER visit for pneumonia diagnosed by an Urgent Care doctor went from a $50.00 urgent care co-pay to a $7500.00 bill. Our portion of the bill is  $1830.73. This incident is worse than the medical event I had with my blood pressure scare where they charged me $5,000 for an hour and a half of ER use and 2 blood pressure pills.

My wife was coughing for a week and felt crappy. She told me that I gave her the cold that she had. On the Sunday after a week of a lot of coughing, she had some blood in her sputum. She figured she better go to the urgent care here in Kingwood. She had not sought any medical attention because it seemed like a bad cold and she did not have a fever or chills. She has Lupus and is keen about when something is serious, just a result of her chronic disease, or just a standard ailment.

I was off at an Indivisible Houston meeting when I got a call from her. She told me that the Xray showed that she had pneumonia and they wanted her to go to the ER immediately. My daughter picked her up and took her, while I raced from Downtown Houston back to the Memorial Hermann emergency room in Humble. I figured if they found pneumonia that needed an emergency room it must be bad.

My daughter who is starting med school this year but has some experience with her job in reading Xrays told my wife to send her a picture of the Xray, and to her, it looked bad.

We both got to the ER at the same time. She got settled into a room pretty quickly. We go there just before a big rush apparently. They hooked her up to the standard ER monitors and then did a chest Xray. It showed minimal pneumonia in one lung, unlike the blurry urgent care Xray that made the condition seem much more severe than a bad cold.

They still went ahead and gave her a saline IV. They took blood. They took urine. They checked her temperature which was normal, her oxygen level, which was normal, and her heart rate which was normal as well. They held us there for another hour to push an intravenous antibiotic and sent us off with a prescription for some antibiotics and cough medicine. We were there about three hours.

I am not a doctor, but I read and frequently speak on medical issues with my sister who is a doctor and my daughter who is a med student with a Masters in Biomedical Sciences. And they would all agree with the following.

When the Xray showed a tad of pneumonia, normal oxygen levels, good heart performance, and no fever, the prudent thing to do would be to give an antibiotic with instructions to see a primary care physician in a few days to measure improvement. Instead, they treated my wife like a commodity in a profit center.

ER Bill that constitutes legal theft (Cutout 1)

Note the ridiculous price of two influenza tests. Then there are more influenza charges in ER Bill Cutout 3. Remember she had no fever or any indications she had the flu. As the very nice nurses came in for all the tests, we were mostly unaware that they were performing this many.

ER Bill that constitutes legal theft (Cutout 2)

Just coming into the emergency room is a $3010.75 charge. Putting in an IV is $755.75, and the one-liter saline solution is $335.50. The chest Xray which was a computerized mobile unit costs $558.50. They gave her an electrocardiogram that costs $528.75. The other charges are just as obscene.

ER Bill that constitutes legal theft (Cutout 3)

ER Bill that constitutes legal theft (Cutout 4)

The total amount of this bill is unbelievable. It is theft. These are private companies who pay their staff as little as possible, encourage them to pile on charges irrespective of medical indications, and accumulate unimaginable profits that benefit a few investors and executives. It is the transfer of the disposable income of the masses to the few to the point that they cannot save or build wealth.

American taxpayers pay to help develop drugs. The pharmaceutical companies then finish the process and market the drugs at exorbitant prices. Hospitals run up charges because most people do not have a clue of the procedures the hospitals are charging for unbeknownst to the patient.

The only solution to the theft by our medical system is a single-payer Medicare for all system where no one purchases insurance but instead like current Medicare, pay a tax as a percentage of total income and capital gains. Later, reforms must ensure drugs developed with taxpayer dollars are kept low cost and profits shared with the U.S. Treasury. We must subsidize doctors' education with a promise to do primary care debt free at a good salary.

Our medical system problems are hard not because the issues are complicated. It is because our politicians are trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Health care does not follow a free market model. Patients are always at a competitive disadvantage and cannot shop around when they need care.

We must learn the lessons of every industrialized nation. After-all, they are all more healthy than we are at a fraction of the cost. We must provide universal healthcare.

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The Shameful Way Donald Trump Is Like Andrew Jackson

Tue, 2017-05-30 12:14

by Daniel Walker Howe

Daniel Walker Howe is Rhodes Professor of American History Emeritus at Oxford University and Professor of History Emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles. He won the Pulitzer Prize for What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848.

Donald Trump avows his admiration for Andrew Jackson and seeks to identify with him. He displays a portrait of Jackson in the Oval Office, visited his estate at Nashville (The Hermitage) to observe Jackson’s birthday, and criticized Obama’s decision to remove Jackson’s picture from the twenty-dollar bill. President Trump has never enumerated the aspects of Andrew Jackson that particularly appeal to him, but it is not difficult for a historically-minded observer to see what the seventh President has to offer our current one. Jackson was a strong nationalist, as Trump aspires to become, a commanding personality, such as Trump imagines himself, and did indeed rally a nineteenth-century version of the provincial American working class, which Trump has made his own constituency. In Jackson’s case this meant small farmers; in Trump’s, white blue collar workers. Jackson’s nationalism expressed itself in denunciations of foreign countries and could be directed against Mexico, making it particularly suitable for Trump.

But the congeniality of Jackson’s nationalism to Trump’s purposes goes deeper. Jackson’s was a racial form of American nationalism. To identify as an American in Jackson’s sense was to identify with the white race. Jackson rallied his followers against the American Indians by promising that the Indians’ land would be made available for white settlement once its present occupants were “Removed.” “Indian Removal,” with capital letters, proved the principal achievement of Jackson’s presidency in its first year, and defined who his supporters and opponents would be for the rest of his term. In practice, Indian Removal meant forcible expulsion of people from their historic lands, marching them under military supervision for hundreds of miles to locations that might be very different in climate and environment from what they were accustomed to. Groups might even be relocated onto lands that had already been assigned to someone else. Indian Removal betrayed earlier government assurances that Native peoples could remain in place provided they pursued the way of life of Western Civilization and assimilated. An analogy exists to Trump’s avowed policy to round up and displace millions of “illegal immigrants.” The betrayal of the promise of assimilation to the Indians seems parallel to the betrayal of the American Dream for many of today’s immigrants, especially if they are Mexican or Muslim.

The Indians were not the only racial group targeted by Andrew Jackson. Jackson not only practiced and profited from black slavery on a large scale, as President his policies consistently supported and strengthened the institution of slavery. He halted the efforts his predecessor, John Quincy Adams, had made on behalf of international cooperation in suppressing the illegal Atlantic slave trade, though all other maritime countries approved it. When Charleston, South Carolina, would jail any free black sailors who dared come ashore from Northern or foreign ships, the Monroe administration declared the practice unconstitutional. Jackson’s administration reversed the finding.

Jackson even sacrificed white people’s freedom and privacy to prevent the delivery of antislavery publications in the South. Federal law required the United States Post Office to deliver mail to the addressee, but when Northern antislavery publications began to mail copies to Southern addresses, Jackson immediately told his Postmaster General how to prevent it. In those days people had to go to their local Post Office to pick up their mail. Put up a notice at the Post Office, he directed, saying that mail had arrived for so-and-so which the postmaster is sure they don’t want to receive. However, if they publicly request it, the mail will be given them, to comply with the law. Jackson well realized that, in the South, anyone known to request antislavery messages would be targeted for persecutions, maybe violent, until they had to move away. The Postmaster General followed Jackson’s plan, and it worked as intended. No one ever requested their antislavery mail.

Of course, President Trump probably doesn’t know a lot about President Jackson’s particular policies. But he is certainly aware that Jackson has fallen out of favor with many historians and public commentators—members of the elite that Trump likes to defy. Like Trump, Jackson came to the political system as an outsider, whose candidacy for President was not taken seriously at first by the political establishment. As a fellow “outsider” to respectable opinion, Jackson appeals to Trump.

There are, nevertheless, significant differences between these two Presidents, as informed observers have pointed out. An obvious one is that Jackson was born poor and Trump rich. Another that has shown up already is Jackson’s greater experience as a political decision-maker. Even though considered an outsider to presidential politics, Jackson had pre-presidential experience as a military commander, territorial governor, member of Congress, and (even) justice of the Tennessee State Supreme Court. Trump’s more restricted experience as a business leader does not yet seem to translate effectively into running the White House and managing legislation.

A significant difference between the two Presidents has yet to receive public notice. Trump has been enjoying support from Evangelical Protestants. Jackson did not. Evangelicals mobilized against his Indian policy because they identified with tribal members who had converted to Christianity, and they recognized Removal as a betrayal. Denied political participation, the Native Americans depended on white sympathizers to help make their case. Christian missionaries to tribal communities proved courageous leaders in the unsuccessful fight against Indian Removal.

In sum, President Trump has correctly identified a precursor with whom he shares a lot in common. But what he and Andrew Jackson have in common is not always to the credit of either.

The article originally posted at http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/166020#sthash.3rxZY6Xj.dpuf

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