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Updated: 12 hours 53 min ago

Would Jesus do this? Mega Churches doors not open? Joel Olsteen?

Mon, 2017-08-28 12:36

The great mega churches that are in and surround Houston Texas are big bold and beautiful. They preach redemption, humility, prosperity, and helping thy neighbor.

Will the Houston mega churches open their beautiful interiors to the city that made their pastors multimillionaires? Will they care more about the people of Houston who are enduring a catastrophe never seen before or will they be more concerned about maintaining the "gold plated" interiors of their physical buildings? Will they put human beings over property?

These mega churches love to preach against the government. They love to preach about low taxes, in effect, a mouth piece for their most affluent benefactors. They do not pay taxes even as they receive all the service every other business gets from the government they rail against regularly.

Anyone who is watching the national and local coverage will notice one thing; the governments in Houston and sorrounding areas are overwhelmed by the flooding catastrophe, but they are functioning and saving lives. Only two people have died as of this posting, and given the breadth of the weather massacre, that speaks well for not only our local governments but for Southeast Texans helping each other.

According to Raw Story,

Celebrity pastor Joel Osteen is drawing intense criticism online for keeping his megachurch closed during Hurricane Harvey and instead offering social media promises of prayers.

The “prosperity gospel” minister preaches at a 16,800-seat arena at Lakewood Church near downtown Houston, which has suffered severe flooding after the hurricane made landfall and then parked over the city.

Osteen offered prayers in a Saturday afternoon tweet, but his critics asked for more.

Joel Olsteen may be the poster boy for the failure of the Mega Churches. Now is the time for them practice what they preach, Now is the time that they emulate the man that they claim to serve. Would Jesus not have started opening the doors to his structures? Would he not be visibly helping people and not making proclamations on social media from the comforts that the people's money paid for with their hard work unlike those of these wealthy pastors?

It is time for these churches to step up and make their presence known. They have used the tithes of Texans to enrich themselves. It is time for them to give back. It is time for them to at least give the semblance of believing what they preach by executing what those words mean to most.

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United Airlines solved my Hurricane Harvey Dilemma after a stressful day

Sun, 2017-08-27 18:29

United Airlines has been getting a lot of flak in recent months justifiably; who can forget how they treated the doctor who they bumped and pulled off of one of their planes a few months ago? After working with one of their Portland Oregon airport agents, they are back in good graces with me.

When a company like United Airlines does a good thing above and beyond its duty to the customer, I think they should be commended.

No one ever imagined that Hurricane Harver was going to be the catastrophe it currently is in Houston. Had I known that, I would not have attended my Coffee Party USA Board Meeting in Portland Oregon. The hurricane was supposed to approach the Texas coast as a tropical storm. Instead, it grew into a Category 4 hurricane. Suffice it to say it scared the heck out of me especially since my wife was in the house in Kingwood which was bound to take a heavy hit. It was calming that her niece is spending the time with her.

I awoke this morning to the ominous message; FLIGHT CANCELLED.  I immediately grabbed the United Airlines app and made a new reservation for that was supposed to get me into Houston twelve hours or so later. Then came the text message -- FLIGHT CANCELLED -- while en route with my Coffee Party USA colleagues to the airport.

All morning my daughter kept calling me from Washington, DC. "Dad, you cannot get to Houston," she said. "The airports will be closed. Go to San Diego and stay with tía until you can get back to Houston." I resisted because I wanted to get back home because I knew how bad things were back home. Well, finally, I was informed that they closed both Houston airports, Hobby and Bush Intercontinental Airport.

When I got to the Portland airport, the woman who attended me was very cordial. I explained that they cancelled all of my flights. She told me she could get me to Dallas. The reality is that there was no way for me to get from Dallas to Houston by car or since the bayou on Interstate 45 was under water.

I decided to try my daughter's advice. I asked the United Airlines attendant to route me through San Diego. The caveat was that I need to layover until they opened up Bush Intercontinental airport in Houston. She told me she did not think that she could do it. She asked a supervisor, and he said he did not believe it they could do it. She then looked up some waivers and could find none. She first said we could rebook for Wednesday. Of course, that meant staying in Portland for three days. One of my Coffee Party colleagues offered me a place in Portland, but I knew she had some meeting throughout the week she needed to take care of and I did not want to impose.

The United Airlines attendant then paused and asked me to wait a minute. She went into the back office and then returned. She said she thought she could get me to San Diego today, and back to Houston from San Diego on Wednesday on my same old reservations. She kept on trying different things in her reservation system and finally said, "I got it, Mr Willies."  Suffice it to say I was smiling ear to ear. I called up my sister to let her know I was coming to San Diego and need a bed for a few days. I should be there real late tonight.

The thing is that Hurricane Harvey is a natural disaster and United Airlines could use that as cover to be less than generous. In this instant, they did not, and for that I commend them. They saved me quite a few dollars, and they did the right thing, something they were not compelled to do. Thank you, and I guess I will continue my membership with your credit card. The attendant did remember to tell me that this something they normally do not do and that she had never done it before.


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How Conservatives Manipulated the Mainstream Media to Give Us President Trump

Sun, 2017-08-27 11:49

August 22, 2017 by

This post first appeared on

Two rules journalists live by: Keep things simple and straightforward and be fair to “both sides.”

The first rule has always been with us, and it has many salutary aspects, but as journalism has evolved it has come to serve different purposes. Today, as truth itself is under attack and our most important institutions suffer harassment merely for trying to do a good job, the “keep it simple” decree is, as much as anything, understood to be a shield: Its purpose now is to ensure that everyone who reads or hears a given news report can understand it and is not put off by the snooty or, worse, “elitist” attitude of the highly educated, big-city, cabernet-sipping journalist who looks down his nose at God-fearing, hardworking, patriotic Americans. The second rule serves a similar, albeit parallel, purpose: If “both sides” are quoted equally, then the journalist cannot easily be accused of favoring one over the other. It does not matter if one of the sides happens to be crazy, or lying or racist or whatever. That’s up to the reader to decide.

A study that advertises its complexity, that requires a perspective involving more than just two “sides” and is inherently critical of journalists for displaying a bias despite all of the above prophylactic measures taken to avoid such a criticism, is doubly, triply, perhaps even quadruply difficult for journalists to deal with, much less report on. All of this is a long way of saying that it ought not to surprise anyone that a thoughtful, complicated, multi-sided and extremely critical report on the impact of journalism on the 2016 presidential election authored by six academics and co-published by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the MIT Center for Civic Media has received almost no attention in the mainstream media.

The report, titled Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 US Presidential Election, deploys the device of a “media cloud” to help us visualize the manner in which media is actually consumed. Because people tend to get their news in a haphazard way these days — picking up stories from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, local TV, talk radio, cable, network news, newsweeklies, daily newspapers, and the websites that may or may not be part of a daily diet — it doesn't make sense to simply treat media consumption as a matter of statistics. Sure, many sources — like this one, for instance — are far more trustworthy when it comes to facts and evidence than many others, but most news consumers do not make this distinction. (A side note: I have long argued against the “wall” between “editorials” and “news,” because, for most people, it is a distinction without a difference, and provides endless fuel for accusations of “liberal bias” when — owing in significant measure to these same accusations — most media institutions bend over backward to be more than fair to conservative sources and, oftentimes, pseudo-realities.)

Anyway, the media cloud project clarifies a number of points that ought to alarm anyone who cares about the future of American democracy and the ability of the mainstream media to cut through the massive layers of propaganda purposely created by far-right elements to confuse facts and undermine evidence. Indeed, what the cloud shows is that the mainstream media is much more likely to follow the lead of the liars than to challenge them.

Among the key findings of the report regarding the reporting of the 2016 election are:

    • On the conservative side, more attention was paid to pro-Trump, highly partisan media outlets. On the liberal side, by contrast, the center of gravity was made up largely of long-standing media organizations steeped in the traditions and practices of objective journalism.
    • Donald Trump succeeded in shaping the election agenda. Coverage of Trump overwhelmingly outperformed coverage of Clinton. Clinton’s coverage was focused on scandals, while Trump’s coverage focused on his core issues.

    • Attempts by the Clinton campaign to define her campaign on competence, experience and policy positions were drowned out by coverage of alleged improprieties associated with the Clinton Foundation and emails. Coverage of Trump associated with immigration, jobs and trade was greater than that of his personal scandals.

    • Immigration and Muslims/Islam were the two most widely covered substantive issues of the campaign.

What’s going on here is that conservatives are winning a war that liberals, centrists and, indeed, anyone who believes that politics should be tethered to recognizable reality don’t even know they are fighting. Racism and Islamophobia from outlets like Breitbart and the lunatic ravings of Infowars' Alex Jones — which somehow make even Breitbart appear relatively reasonable — drove the news coverage of the election even in our most prestigious outlets. Twitter and Facebook were dominated by phony stories designed to discredit Clinton, and cable news, in its ceaseless quest for ratings and the advertising dollars that follow them, reinforced these priorities, allowing Trump surrogates to lie with impunity and without correction.

(CNN even hired Corey Lewandowski to be an on-air analyst after he assaulted a female reporter as Trump’s campaign manager and while he was still under contract to the Trump campaign and legally compelled under a nondisclosure agreement not to tell the truth about the candidate. More scrupulous sources like The New York Times and The Washington Post did attempt to cover the issues more fairly, but felt compelled not only to give outsized focus to phony-baloney Clinton-related “scandals” but also to give “both sides” of an issue even when one side felt no compunction whatsoever about lying. (I wrote a lengthy study of this problem during the election that you can read here.)

The “cloud” mechanism helps us to visualize this problem and break it down into its component parts. But if you don’t look too carefully, it has the same general outlines as those visualizations of tropical storms or tornadoes and hurricanes that one sometimes sees on the news just before disaster strikes and homes, property and lives are destroyed. Today we are living that disaster in the form of a president who is a racist, sexist, Islamophobic psychopath, and it is long past time that the members of the mainstream media woke up to the threat not only to their livelihoods, but to their entire reason for being. It’s a cliché, to be sure, but when it comes to a lie-filled media cloud, if you’re not part of the solution, then you are truly part of the problem.

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Arpaio Pardon May Be Opening Act of a Constitutional Crisis

Sun, 2017-08-27 02:11

August 26, 2017 by

This post first appeared on

This morning, I received an email from an old friend — one of the country’s top trial lawyers: “I have underestimated Trump. He knows what is coming, including a variety of criminal charges and other impeachable offenses. He is not just arousing his base to anger but to arms, some of them. There is no other way to explain the transgender ban, the Arpaio pardon, his Charlottesville remarks…

“I would think he will pardon himself, family members, Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, among others, and if he is angry enough, Mrs. O’Leary, who, you must admit, got kind of a raw deal.” [Note: Myth has it that one Kate O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern in the barn and started the Great Chicago Fire of l871. She was widely blamed but never charged.]

And the following came from the journalist and author Charles Kaiser. His books include Gay Metropolis, 1968 in America, and The Cost of Courage, a riveting account of one family that joined the French resistance against the Nazi occupation.

— Bill Moyers

Donald Trump’s pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio marks the real beginning of the coming constitutional crisis in America.

Trump started tweeting trial balloons about this a month ago — “all agree the US president has the complete power to pardon” — and he has even asserted the unlitigated idea that he can pardon himself. But what he did yesterday puts his presidency on a whole new plane: a Category 5 political hurricane. By pardoning a man convicted of criminal contempt for direct violation of a federal order, Trump is now flaunting his eagerness to overturn the rule of law in America.

While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us.FAKE NEWS

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017

I have never seen anyone who has acted more obviously guilty than Donald Trump has almost every single day since he became president. From his tête-à-tête with James Comey, in which he asked the FBI director to end his investigation of Michael Flynn, to his firing of the same man when he failed to heed that warning, to his newly-reported phone call to Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) to complain about a bill that would protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s independence, the president has engaged in one blatant attempt to obstruct justice after another.

Here is the most logical way to view his pardon of Sheriff Arpaio: It is the latest and gravest step he has taken in his continuing efforts to undermine the rule of law. Obviously Trump delighted in fueling the racism of Arpaio’s supporters by pardoning this convicted criminal — he made that clear earlier this week during his repellent speech in Phoenix. But I am certain that is not the main reason for this heinous act.

For many weeks, Washington has been swirling with rumors that Mueller already has secured the cooperation of Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort in his investigation of the president. And Trump undoubtedly is more vulnerable to the testimony of these two men than he is to that of any other players in this fearful drama. Therefore, Trump must feel compelled to send this message through Arpaio’s pardon: The president is eager and willing to do the same thing for anyone who might be pressured into testifying against him.

I have a written a book about France under fascism, and what we are now experiencing is exactly what incipient fascism looks like. The combination of Trump’s relentless assaults on the free press, his open encouragement of Nazis — which is the only honest description of his initial refusal to condemn them — and now a pardon without even pretending to go through the normal channels of the Justice Department: These are all the acts of man who is blatantly defying his sacred pledge to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

Like the men and women of Vichy France who began their collaboration with the Nazis seventy-seven years ago, from now on, every senator and House member of either party who continues to remain silent about this president’s unconstitutional acts is directly complicit in the high crimes and misdemeanors of Donald Trump.

I know very serious students of American justice who already were convinced last night that the pardon of Arpaio has fatally undermined Robert Mueller’s investigation by killing the incentive for anyone to testify against this president. Personally, I am not yet that pessimistic. I still believe that any pardon of Flynn or Manafort or Jared Kushner will produce a large enough firestorm to end Donald Trump’s presidency, either through impeachment or the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which would allow his removal by a majority vote of his cabinet.

But if there is a majority of Republican senators and House members who wish to avoid a full-blown constitutional crisis worse than anything we have seen since the secession of the Confederate states, they must speak loudly and act clearly right now. They must immediately pass the bill introduced by Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware and Republican Senator Tillis of North Carolina that would shore up the independence of the special prosecutor, and they must pass it with veto-proof majorities.

Senator Lindsay Graham already has said that the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions would mean the beginning of the end of Trump’s presidency. It is long past time for all of Graham’s colleagues in both houses to declare that the same thing will be true if the president dares to repeat the horrific abuse of his pardon power that we witnessed last night. Otherwise, America is destined for an era of violence and darkness unlike any we have ever witnessed since the end of the Civil War, one hundred and fifty-two years ago.

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Will GOP Pay A Price For Trying To Take Health Care Benefits From Voters?

Sat, 2017-08-26 01:46

Tricia Petrucci hasn’t quite reached the point where she regrets her vote for President Donald Trump. It would be understandable if she did, because Trump — and her senator, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — are trying to curb the medical services that sustain her 11-year-old stepson, who battles severe cerebral palsy.

She is aware of the irony when she chats with her Louisville neighbor, Ann Pipes, a Democrat whose own son is 11 and struggles with a disability.

“Her and I have a lot of opposite views on things, and I tease her and we joke around, but I’m not sure if I am sorry about that yet,” Petrucci said of her vote.

Benefits for both children could have been slashed dramatically under the Better Care Reconciliation Act that McConnell crafted as the Senate’s first attempt at repeal, which would have wrung about $700 billion out of Medicaid. Pair that with an end to the Medicaid expansion, and Kentucky stood to lose more than $40 billion over 10 years, with a corresponding loss of coverage, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

With Congress poised to reconvene in September, it remains unclear whether McConnell will try again to repeal Obamacare or shrink Medicaid, after several failed attempts. But perhaps a more fundamental question is whether Republican politicians who tried — and may try again — to take away often vital health care benefits from their voters will pay a political price.

Amy McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot, wants to extract just such a price in McConnell’s backyard. The Democrat is trying to recapture a House seat that flipped in 2012. Her two-minute campaign launch video — one minute on war and determination, the other on health care and her mom’s legacy — went viral with more than 1.3 million views in two weeks.

Former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and other Democrats see Republicans potentially getting trapped between their anti-Obamacare rhetoric and the reality of improved health coverage.

“Trump came along, and his basic message was, ‘Do you want this horrible Obamacare, or do you want something better, less expensive, more coverage, more people covered?’ You know, offering them the moon,” said Beshear. “Of course everybody said, ‘Oh, I’ll take the moon.’”

In town hall meetings this summer, many congressional Republicans did hear loudly from constituents who would be hurt by repeal of the health law and who seem aware that “the moon” is no longer on offer as a replacement. All versions of the Republican bills would take coverage away from more than 20 million people and raise premium costs for most people.

For her part, Petrucci wasn’t thinking much about health care during the campaign. As a veteran, she liked Trump for his pledge to restore the military.

Since the election, though, two things changed for her. Her stepson, Braden, came to live with her and her husband in the spring — a transition that left the boy with a three-month gap in his Medicaid coverage due to a bureaucratic error. Secondly, McConnell came just one vote shy last month in his bid to start carrying out Trump’s repeal of Obamacare. It was frightening when she realized how much Braden depended on Medicaid.

“I guess my view on everything changed when it happened to me,” Petrucci said. Other reporting from the state finds Trump voters who benefited from the Affordable Care Act have similar concerns — but may not change their votes.

The Kentucky Paradox

Beshear led one of the nation’s most successful rollouts of Obamacare coverage in 2014 by uniting the new insurance marketplace and the state’s Medicaid expansion under the umbrella of a health care exchange called Kynect.

Yet current Republican Gov. Matt Bevin campaigned in 2015 on ending Obamacare. He abandoned Beshear’s unified approach, and shuttered Kynect, which exceled technologically as other states’ exchanges stumbled badly. He shifted the 81,000 Kentuckians who bought subsidized insurance there to the federal government’s marketplace.

But, as Bevin discovered, actual repeal is unappealing. Within days of taking office, he backed off his campaign pledge to roll back the Medicaid expansion that benefited 600,000 residents.

Part of the reason people in Kentucky were hostile to the ACA, even as they were benefiting from it, was branding. The ACA, like the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, gave states the option to put their own stamp on the law. Kentucky was the only Southern state that chose to do so — and Kynect ironically became one of the ACA’s most successful brands.

“A lot of people didn’t understand that the coverage they had gotten was Obamacare,” said Rep. John Yarmuth, the Democratic congressman who represents the Louisville area. “So when Bevin said, ‘I’m going to do away with Obamacare,’ they didn’t realize that it was taking their coverage away. Now they know all of that.”

Yet, Trump and congressional Republicans are still looking for a way to repeal Obamacare. They still say it is what people want them to do.

Insulated From Anger

For people like Pipes, Petrucci and Louisville resident Allison Swearingin, it’s obvious what is at stake. Swearingin has extremely painful psoriatic arthritis. Like the majority of people, Swearingin had insurance through her job, and the ACA initially had little impact on her life. She opposed the law. But when she left her last job, she needed to buy insurance through Kynect.

“There were a lot of things I didn’t think of before. It was all my own ignorance for why I was against it,” Swearingin said. “If I could look back at myself, I would smack myself and say, ‘You’re stupid.’”

The simple fact that most Kentuckians — and most Americans — get insurance through work insulates Republican lawmakers from possible anger. In Kentucky, about 45 percent of the state’s 4.4 million residents get their insurance through work. Another 1.4 million rely on Medicaid.

“Until [voters] start feeling the pinch, all these debates about what a proposal might do tend to be temporary,” said Stephen Voss, a political scientist at the University of Kentucky. “When it doesn’t actually happen, usually voters will move on.”

For McConnell, backlash against the repeal push is perhaps more a national concern than a local one. At home, observers and even Democrats doubt he, in the Senate since 1985, would pay a price. Dewey Clayton, a politics professor at the University of Louisville, said McConnell, 75, is probably safe until he decides to retire.

“McConnell has a way of outmaneuvering [opponents] even when it looks like there’s no way,” Clayton said. “There are so many other issues out here, and he’s such a shrewd politician.”

Democrats think the repeal push could damage the GOP. But Yarmuth, who has known McConnell since the late ‘60s, said the current result — where McConnell tried and fell one vote short — is actually just about perfect for him.

“The worst thing you can do is hang a bill with 20 percent maximum support around your members’ necks,” Yarmuth said, referring to polling data that finds all the proposed repeal bills deeply unpopular. “So I don’t really think he wants a bill.”

McConnell’s office did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Facing Reality — And Presidential Tweets

The attempts at repeal appear to have harmed the re-election prospects of two Senate Republicans in swing states, Jeff Flake in Arizona and Dean Heller in Nevada. McConnell can afford to lose only two members of his 52-member caucus and still keep the majority, but in the next election, there are 10 Democrats facing races in states that Trump won.

“I think [McConnell] feels that the odds of the Republicans keeping control of the Senate in 2018 are pretty good, so he was willing to roll the dice and gamble on even losing a couple,” said Beshear. “His top priority is to be Senate majority leader, period. I mean, period. Forget about his constituency, forget about Americans, forget about anything.”

In some ways, the failed repeal vote could actually help McConnell.

“He had to try, he had to show the right-wing Republicans who were blaming McConnell for not getting what they were demanding, ‘Face reality, folks; we can’t pass this,” Voss said. “Instead of them having to believe McConnell, they’ve got it all on paper. They’ve got the actual vote count that shows, no, you cannot have what you want.”

Yet, there is a large complicating factor for McConnell: President Trump.

“Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!” is just one of Trump’s messages to McConnell delivered via Twitter.

Such an attitude from Trump helps keep the repeal fervor high in the Republican base that backs Trump even as it further erodes popularity of Republicans in Congress.

Indeed, 67 percent of Trump voters would side with the president if it came down to a fight between Trump and congressional Republicans, according to a recent web-based interview survey of 1,000 Americans by YouGov and HuffPost. Just 7 percent would stick with the legislators.

It is a situation that has Democrats excited about Republicans facing primary challengers — as many are — who would be weaker candidates in general elections. And it leaves McConnell and his incumbents facing anger both from people in their base who despise Obamacare and those who have come to embrace it. Petrucci is the perfect example.

She still gives Trump the benefit of the doubt. But ask her about McConnell and other local GOP officials who have failed to come up with any alternative.

“As of right now, today, they would not get my vote,” Petrucci said.

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It’s Not Too Soon to Talk About the Post-Trump Era

Fri, 2017-08-25 15:54

Now seems like a good time to talk about life after Trump.

Trump’s éminence grise Steve Bannon was given the boot on Friday—or resigned, if you believe him—and it’s tempting to celebrate this excision of a particularly nasty wart from the body politic.

Well, yes, let’s celebrate a little. We may soon see more departures—Bannon allies, perhaps—and if the top job continues to be unrewarding and hard, we may soon see 45 himself rage-quit the Oval Office so he can go back to his previously idyllic existence of golf, tweeting at the TV, and putting his name on large buildings.

Here’s the thing: Former President Trump will have been just a very ugly symptom of a condition that’s been ravaging the United States for decades, including the growing stratification of the U.S. economy, hollowing-out of the middle class, and an intensifying white-centered culture that few leaders seem to want to get serious about rectifying.

When Trump goes—and he will, whether it’s next month or next year, or in 2020, or whenever his steaks and extra scoops of ice cream get the better of his blood-brain barrier—most of the nation will heave a collective sigh of relief, and there will be a very strong urge (especially in the national media) to declare, “Now we can go back to normal and forget this ever happened.”

That can’t happen. Not least because, if Trump’s exit is facilitated by impeachment, we’ll likely be stuck with President Mike Pence, another small-minded ideologue who, odds are, is more competent than Trump.

But even if sensible adults take the wheel, back to normal is not what we want. We still live with the original afflictions that allowed a snake-oil salesman to ride into town, hijack a major political party, and turn it and the country into a vehicle for self-promotion and profit.

During his campaign, Trump exploited anxieties over some very real endemic problems facing America: Our national infrastructure is crumbling around us, and has been for years. Millions of formerly well-paying careers in manufacturing are being lost, and replaced—when they are replaced at all—with minimum wage service-sector jobs. Increasing global trade has enriched those same CEOs and other corporate bigwigs that are raking in insane amounts of money at a time when the other 99 percent of us are dealing with stagnant wages and skyrocketing medical care costs. Illegal immigration is indeed a problem, especially for those who are victims of trafficking or abusive working conditions, and have no path to becoming legal residents.

The problems are there—Sen. Bernie Sanders pointed them out, too—though Trump’s faux-populism hid the fact that his “solutions” are garbage. He had no real intention of trying to solve those problems anyway.

The very people charged with reversing those trends are sitting in Congress, firmly under the thumb of big money and so politically polarized that they can’t even agree what government should be spending money on, much less how much and who should benefit most.

The swamp really does need to be drained. It’s just unfortunate that Trump’s supporters believed he’d be the one to do it.

Real solutions aren’t easy, of course. A serious effort to rebuild the national infrastructure will require a significant number of Republicans to admit that some government spending is a good thing. It will be a long-term, complicated process to restore decent jobs, especially for those those who have been displaced by automation, deindustrialization, and policies that favor cheap overseas labor.

Our unfettered capitalism has redistributed the national wealth into the hands of a very few and forced the rest of us to fight over the dwindling leftovers. The Koch brothers and their ilk would love for us to turn on each other along racial lines, because as long as we’re fighting each other, we’re distracted from their pillaging and won’t go after them. They only call it class war when we start to fight back, as the saying goes.

Resisting the divisiveness and cynical opportunism coming out of the White House is the easy part. The hard part is building a foundation that will be there to support a new kind of economy once Trump’s era is an ugly memory.

Yet in many ways, we’re doing just that. California Gov. Jerry Brown became de facto U.S. environmental leader once Trump clearly abdicated that role. In December, Will Stelle, the former Northwest Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries, spoke frankly to a group of climate scientists, advising them to keep doing their own good work and not wait for the federal government to take the lead. We’re seeing growing support for establishing a basic income program and renewed calls for universal health care. Communities are fighting to protect their immigrant populations. They’re figuring out how to keep providing services without the help of the federal government, or if they make good on threats to cut off funding.

Across the U.S., people seem to recognize that their fates largely rest with one another. So while the Trump administration continues its now seven-month implosion as it attempts to undermine civil society, it’s worth remembering the problems we had when he arrived will still be there for us once he’s gone. The Post-Trump Era is coming, and there’s work to be done.

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An Easier Way to Get to Universal Health Care

Fri, 2017-08-25 12:07

Groups such as Indivisible and People’s Action deserve a lot of credit for the Republican failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The loud pushback from citizens at lawmakers’ town halls and elsewhere demonstrated that taking away millions of people’s health care insurance could be political suicide.

The upside to all the political drama was months of discussion over what kind of health care Americans really need. Our appetites have been whetted. We now face a historic opportunity to move forward on the goal of universal health care coverage.

The drums are beating loudly in progressive circles for a single-payer system, such as “Medicare for All.” Others, such as Paul Krugman and Michael Tomasky in their columns in the New York Times, caution that “Medicare for All” is a bet we’re unlikely to win at this time. Under a “Medicare for All” plan, the government, rather than insurance companies, pays medical bills with our tax money. Krugman and Tomasky explain that Americans do not like their taxes raised, that many are happy with their employer-provided insurance, and that when you get the entire health care industry lined up against you (the insurance industry, Big Pharma, the American Medical Association, and others) you’re likely to get clobbered.

So what are the opportunities, given the political polarization of our time?

A first step is damage control. The Democrats, together with the more open-minded Republicans, must shore up federal subsidies to prevent the insurance markets from collapsing or premiums rising to levels unaffordable by millions.

After that, three possibilities are becoming politically ripe for action.

Drug price control

Americans in both parties are angry about high drug prices. Kaiser Foundation polls show across-the-board support for lowering the cost of prescription drugs. Martin Shkreli was dubbed by media “the most hated man in America” when, as head of Turing pharmaceuticals, he jacked up the price of the anti-parasitic drug Daraprim, from $13.50 to $750. Mylan evoked outrage by increasing the price of the EpiPen by 400 percent. The pharmaceutical companies, of course, will try to crush any effort to control prices and undermine their profits. They succeeded in defeating California’s 2016 drug price control ballot initiative. Next, Ohio will try in November. But insurance companies have reason to like such controls. Some doctors and hospitals may like it. And millions of consumers will like it a lot.

The public option

We now have insurance exchange markets where insurance companies are reluctant to do business. That provides the context to offer the option of the government offering the insurance—essentially allowing people to buy into Medicare. Insurance companies might fight it—rightly seeing it as a slippery slope to a system with a single payer. But lawmakers facing constituencies (often in predominantly rural, red states) with no good choices to offer them may find this a move they could back.

Lower the age for Medicare

Politically, such a move would have built-in fans—those who become newly eligible or close to it. But how about all those industry players that would crush a “Medicare for All” platform? While “Medicare for All” eliminates the main function of insurance companies, lowering the age by just a bit, to 55 or 60, may not create such a big backlash. The reason is that older people are more expensive to insure than younger people. So getting the 55-64 age group out of the insurance pool has advantages to insurance companies, especially with ACA rules that say they can’t charge older people more than three times the amount charged to younger people.

These are three modest reforms. Why settle for these when what many want is “Medicare for All”? Physician and author Atul Gawande provides a useful historical analysis.

Just before the development of the Affordable Care Act, The New Yorker published Gawande’s insightful article “Getting There from Here.” In it he points out that other countries got to universal health care coverage not by some bold overhaul of their existing system, but by building on what they had.

For Great Britain, that meant a fully socialized system. Because of the massive expansion of government health care during World War II, by 1948, when they instituted national health care, a government run system was already in place. The shift was hardly even noticed. France, in contrast, had no public health infrastructure in place after World War II. They had  a network of mostly labor- and employer-backed non-profit insurance companies with premiums paid through payroll fees. Gawande notes: “Today, [the French] Sécurité Sociale provides payroll-tax-financed insurance to all French residents, primarily through a hundred and forty-four independent, not-for-profit, local insurance funds.” Switzerland, which Gawande notes had a robust private insurance industry, got to universal coverage in 1994 when it required “every resident to purchase private health insurance and provided subsidies to limit the cost to no more than about ten per cent of an individual’s income.”

Each country arrived at universal health care by improving on its unique system.

Despite our unruly political context, large numbers of Americans can agree on things. The mobilizations to prevent the repeal of the Affordable Care Act showed the power of concentrated citizen action even in a money-soaked political system. Now is the moment to push hard on advances likely to have broad public support.

Producing in-depth, thoughtful journalism for a better world is expensive – but supporting us isn’t. If you value ad-free independent journalism, consider subscribing to YES! today.

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Listening to your Republican friend can be shocking but revealing

Fri, 2017-08-25 03:20

I am at a meeting with a group that consists of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Progressives, Conservatives, Libertarians, etc. I found it telling what my Republican friend had to say about Progressives.

I had to take a step back and look from within objectively to determine if the Republicans had a point in claiming the Left is just as mean as the Right. My answer is yes but with an asterisk.

My Republican friend said that she feels that Progressives are mean in expressing their values to others in a condescending manner. They tend not to listen but pre-judge. They tend to paint Republicans all with one brush. Ironically, she is not a Trump supporter and gets nailed as well by Conservatives who call her a RINO, Republican In Name Only.

Her statement is worth exploring. To be clear, I have been attempting to make my Progressive narrative more inviting by meeting people where they are instead of demanding that they are where I am.

Our chosen media informs most of us on a daily basis. Most of the time that media is biased to a particular ideology. Lest we consume them all in the aggregate and discern the information objectively based on science or composite knowledge, we are left unable to come to rational conclusions.

I won't try to create a false equivalency. But some ideological differences are neither right nor wrong. They are based on one's belief system but may have no complete scientific resolution. Big government versus small government is an example. From an entirely mathematical model, efficiency of scale in many areas trump efficiencies gained by a competitive for-profit motive. But society must decide if they are willing to pay more to have less government. It's neither wrong nor right. It is a choice. Animosity created because of choices of this type is unjustified. A civil dialogue may come to compromises or an entire shift in opinion.

Some ideological choices are evil. Texas and many red states' refusal to accept the Medicaid Expansion to the Affordable Care Act was merely wrong. Worse, it killed people. Progressives have two choices when trying to change the opinions of Conservative (and vice versa). They can be accusatory, or they can choose to bring them along civilly on moral grounds both believe in, survival of their fellow person. My friend insinuates that Progressives do not make an effort to engage in a manner other than one that vilifies them. Of course, Progressives feel that Conservatives close the door to informative dialogue.

Most people are good. They have different trigger points. It is the ability to navigate those on both sides that will move us forward as a country. As a Progressive, I feel many Conservatives tend to be set in their ways and resist change even when opposing data from reliable sources exist. Interestingly, my Republican friend feels the same way about many Progressives.

In other words right or wrong matters less than perception. Why? Until we can break the wrongness of what one perceives, one cannot get to what is wrong or right.

My goal then is to continue speaking the qualified and verified truth to the audience at large. I will try to meet everyone, Conservatives, and Progressives where they are, not by compromising my values, but by expressing them as best I can in terms that relate to their realities. I intend to continue deliberately listening first to earn their trust. Most importantly I will remember that being right is not sufficient or always absolute. And that is why we compromise.


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CNN’s Jake Tapper rips Trump with Republican w/ strong admonishment (VIDEO)

Thu, 2017-08-24 01:39

Jake Tapper did not need to do the heavy lifting as he laid into Donald Trump concerning his Phoenix speech specifically and his entire presidency generally. He used snippets of others to make his case.

CNN's Jake Tapper smartly used Republican stalwarts to rip Donald Trump and then provided his own admonishment imploring the president to change. The following is striking.

"The president's remarks last night were so over the top," Tapper said." they prompted this from a generally sober analyst, General James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence for President Obama."

"I found this downright scary and disturbing," Clapper said. "I really questioned his fitness to be in this office."

Of course, it's not the first time that we've heard serious people questioning the president's fitness," Jake Tapper continued. "Here's Republican Senator Bob Corker."

"The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability," Corker said. " nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful."

"Here's former New Hampshire Republican Senator Gordon Humphrey," said Tapper."

"He believes in his own lies," Humphrey said. "He cannot be persuaded otherwise and he has no shame or guilt or regret or remorse. I mean the man is delusional."

"This is a subject that I hear more and more on Capitol Hill from Republicans as well as Democrats in off-the-record whispers," Tapper said. "They ask, does President Trump have the wherewithal to be President? Not just is he able to channel the aspirations of uniting us, but as Republican Senator Corker asked, does he have the stability to be president. Does he have the competence to be President? And it's a question the public is asking as well according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released this afternoon. Voters overwhelmingly saying, President Trump, is not level-headed 68% to %29. Voters saying President Trump does not provide to us with moral leadership 62% to 325%, that he's not honest 61% to 36%. Voters believe by a two-to-one margin that President Trump is doing more to divide the country than to unite it, 62% to 31%. Nearly six in ten voters say President Trump's decisions and behavior have encouraged white supremacist groups. Now President Trump is a man who looks to numbers and to ratings. These numbers sir, these numbers are disastrous. You are no doubt pleasing your base. But your behavior is causing great concern among the majority of the American people."

Jake Tapper lets the president have it

CNN's Jake Tapper uses Republicans' comments to rip Trump and then admonishes him

— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) August 24, 2017


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CNN’s Zerlina Maxwell rips Trump spokesman for identity politics cop-out (VIDEO)

Wed, 2017-08-23 16:39

It is imperative that these cable news panels include people who have no fear in pushing back on Trump apologist's misinformation, lies, and false narratives.

Zerlina Maxwell did not allow this Trump spokesman to create a false narrative about the president's past statements with regards to Charlottesville. The following exchange is what must be done exactly in real time to prevent these lies to metastasize.

Jeff Ballabon is a former member of the Trump for President Advisory Board. Rick Benjamin is a writer and the author of "Searching for Whitopia."

Jeff Ballabon: You said that it was taken it was taken out of context because he was talking about all sides. But what else did he say? He said it's been going on, on all sides for many many years. He's not talking about this event. And he's right. There's been a growing hatred in this society, balkanization, identity politics, that is threatening and dangerous for many many years. Jeff Ballabon was the former member of Trump for President Advisory Board.

Zerlina Maxwell: I've heard this talking point from Right-Wing talkers all week. Identity politics? Just insert civil rights because that's what we're talking about. We're talking about equality for women and people of color. Those issues are important, and I don't want them to get sidetracked and say that identity politics or something is bad.

Jeff Ballabon: This is not a talking point. This is my reaction as someone who also grew up as a minority, and someone who also has dealt with hate throughout my life and someone who realizes that hate is bad no matter where it comes from. It doesn't matter what color it comes from. It doesn't matter what ethnicity it comes from. Hate and violence and balkanization have to be rooted out. That's the root of it. And the truth is every time I hear the president address that, I agree with that and I believe in that.

Rick Benjamin: Another tactic is to say this is a media talking point. So that doesn't excuse the more than 13 Republican senators who have come out against it, the business people, I suppose we're all in this media conspiracy. The difference between the speeches I heard, one, it was for a defined audience, i.e., the veterans and then the other speech I watched it and I was scratching my head and wondering; What's the purpose of this rally? What does it serve? Why are taxpayers paying for this man to go to Phoenix with an ill-defined message with an ill-defined purpose, and then spew this stuff?

CNN's Zerlina Maxwell rips Trump spokesman for identity politics cop-out (VIDEO)

— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) August 23, 2017

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CNN’s Don Lemon rips Trump’s lying infantile speech at Phoenix rally (VIDEO)

Wed, 2017-08-23 12:06

Don Lemon was not kind to Donald Trump. He excoriated Trump's speech as "a total eclipse of the facts." Most importantly he ripped Donald Trump in a manner rarely seen by journalists, but in these times, justified.

After these harsh words from Don Lemon about Donald Trump and his speech, Don Lemon may incur the wrath of the president's supporters.

#CNN's Don Lemon rips #Trump's lying infantile speech at Phoenix rally

— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) August 23, 2017

"Well, what do you say to that," Don Lemon said. "I'm just gonna speak from the heart here. What we have witnessed was a total eclipse of the facts, someone who came out on stage and lied directly to the American people and left things out that he said in an attempt to rewrite history especially when it comes to Charlottesville. He's unhinged. It's embarrassing. And I don't mean for us, the media because he went after us, but for the country. This is who we elected President of the United States, a man who was so petty that he has to go after people who he deems to be his enemy, like an imaginary friend of a six-year-old. His speech was without thought. It was without reason. It was devoid of facts. It was devoid of wisdom. There was no gravitas. There was no sanity there. He was like a child blaming a sibling on something else. He did it. I didn't do it. He certainly opened up the race wound from Charlottesville, a man clearly wounded by the rational people who are abandoning him in droves meaning those business people and the people in Washington now who are questioning his fitness for office and whether he is stable, a man backed into a corner it seems by circumstances beyond his control and beyond his understanding. That's the truth."

While many will give Don Lemon a hard time for speaking out as he did, claiming opinion over the news, facts stoked his statements based on what he'd just witnessed in Trump's speech. It is the time that all journalists do this.


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Top Republican believes Trump’s presidency unsalvageable

Tue, 2017-08-22 22:43

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doubts that Donald Trump can save his presidency. If the top Republican is making this revelation means he may know a lot more than he is willing to talk about now.

Donald Trump's presidency may be going in the same direction of another Republican president, Richard Nixon. New York Times reporters Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin dropped an article that should make every Trump supporter cringe and the president fearful.

The article titled "McConnell, in Private, Doubts if Trump Can Save Presidency" starts with the bombshell.

The relationship between President Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not spoken to each other in weeks, and Mr. McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises.

It turns out that McConnell and Trump were recently in a shouting match.

During the call, which Mr. Trump initiated on Aug. 9 from his New Jersey golf club, the president accused Mr. McConnell of bungling the health care issue. He was even more animated about what he intimated was the Senate leader’s refusal to protect him from investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to Republicans briefed on the conversation. ...

In offhand remarks, Mr. McConnell has expressed a sense of bewilderment about where Mr. Trump’s presidency may be headed, and has mused about whether Mr. Trump will be in a position to lead the Republican Party into next year’s elections and beyond, according to people who have spoken to him directly.

Mr. Trump has been actively targeting individual Republican senators. It is clear that McConnell must know the president has committed impeachable offenses based on the statement from his former chief of staff.

“The quickest way for him to get impeached is for Trump to knock off Jeff Flake and Dean Heller and be faced with a Democrat-led Senate,” said Billy Piper, a lobbyist and former McConnell chief of staff.

The New York Times article is worth a read. It clearly illustrates the level of dysfunction between this Republican President, Congress, and the governance of this great country.

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The Myth of White Safety in White Numbers

Tue, 2017-08-22 15:56


The latest manifestation of White Americans’ open racial animosity, from the election of President Donald Trump to the recent violence in Charlottesville and the emboldened rhetoric of White nationalists since then, suggests continued anxiety that research indicates is grounded in an overriding fear of non-Whites.

But new data show that fear is irrational.

While White people tend to feel safer when they dominate the population, and feel threatened by the visible presence of other races, they actually are safer in racially diverse communities.

Trump’s voters—nearly 90 percent of whom are White and average$72,000 in median family income—were often motivated by anxiety over increasing diversity and “racial resentment,” especially toward “illegal” immigrants. Trump stoked his constituents’ fears associating immigrants with violence and drugs, claiming they kill “innocent American(s)” abetted by liberal, immigrant-friendly sanctuary cities that “breed crime.”

Trump’s demagoguery resonates because it comes amid one of the most dramatic public health declines on record: the fall in recent decades of middle-aged Whites’ from America’s safest demographic to its most endangered today. From 1990 to 2015, deaths of Whites 40-64 from drug overdoses rose from 3,000 to 22,000, suicides rose from 9,000 to 19,000, and total violent deaths rose from 24,000 to 58,000.

According to Princeton University economist Angus Deaton, there is correlative evidence that Donald Trump is doing very well in the same areas that are hardest hit by this decline. “…I think it is pretty clear that Mr. Trump has locked into this group of people who are feeling a lot of distress one way or another,” Deaton said in an interview with Politico.

They are stressing, overdosing, and dying violently at rates surpassing less-advantaged non-White, younger, and poorer cohorts. And their worst death trends and levels are in predominantly White communities.

Centers for Disease Control mortality data show that Whites are actually safer in racially diverse areas—not only from violent deaths in general but specifically from guns, drugs, and suicides.

There’s irony in many Americans’ long association of danger with mean downtown streets, and their association of safety with leafy suburban cul-de-sacs and rural lanes.

Consider the city Trump and others often identify with rampant violence: Chicago. It is true that African Americans and Latinos have high homicide rates in the city and surrounding Cook County. However, Whites there are much safer, with homicide rates less than half the national average.

The same is especially true of Whites in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Seattle, Columbus, and other large “sanctuary cities,” where local policies seek to shield immigrants from federal persecution. Whites living in and around diverse sanctuary cities are substantially less likely to die from violent death than anywhere else.

Fear-based White flight from “dangerous” cities to the “safety” of suburbs and small towns—as their urban cores and schools became more racially diverse—actually increased the odds that Whites who fled would die violently.

Conservative politics of White-dominated areas seems to play a role.

2016 study found Whites “living in racially isolated communities with worse health outcomes” is “one of the strongest predictors of Trump support.” Isolation reinforces the sense of white grievance and siege mentality connected to high levels of racial anxiety many Trump voters seem to feel.

Deaton refers to this wave of grievance and anxiety as “White rage.” It manifests in various reactions, he says, from support for far-right political candidates to “deaths of despair.”

As middle-aged Whites, stressed by socio-economic challenges, were most in need of health care such as mental health counseling, domestic violence and addiction services, budget cuts fueled by conservatives’ anti-tax, anti-government politics were slashing these programs. These cuts not only eliminated vital services in predominantly White rural conservative places, they muted local alarms of just how serious White distress was becoming.

Conversely, the more progressive voting patterns of racially diverse, mostly urban residents sustained many vital services that may have helped mitigate the opiate and suicide epidemics in places like New York City and coastal California. Those Whites more comfortable among diverse populations also may be less vulnerable to stresses over changing racial demographics. In New York City and urban California, for example, Whites have had more time to adjust to their growing minority status.

And there’s this. The White-safety-in-White-numbers myth can be seen as emanating from a narrative of racial superiority: Whites are safer around other Whites than around people of color because Whites are better people.

Facts to the contrary may not change self-flattering prejudices. But, over time, mundane pocketbook issues might. A New York Federal Reserve Bank analysis shows the most robust economic futures lie in “areas that are less residentially segregated by race or income,” favoring higher-quality schools and community cohesion.

Of course, continued analysis of the new violent deaths data is required. But, during this time of confronting Whites’ fears, it helps to understand that moving toward communities of diversity, integration, and multicultural environments—and the progressive social policies that often accompany them—may benefit Whites in terms of both actual physical safety and economic well-being.


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CNN Jake Tapper checks bloviating Trump supporting Speaker Paul Ryan (VIDEO)

Tue, 2017-08-22 12:12

Too many times Republicans simply run out the clock when they do not want to fess up to doing something completely wrong. Jake Tapper did not allow Speaker Paul Ryan to get away with that game.

CNN's Jake Tapper called out Trump directly which forced Paul Ryan to concede the point he was making about Trump's response to Charlottesville.

Speaker Paul Ryan timidly and shamefully attempted to give the Trump response to Charlottesville some cover by using terms that distracted from the seaminess of his statement.

"I do believe that he messed up in his comments on Tuesday," Speaker Paul Ryan said. "It sounded like a moral equivocation or at the very least a moral unambiguity."

Jake Tapper was not going to let him get away with that. Soon after he had a message for Ryan that got quite a bit of applause.

#CNN Jake Tapper checks bloviating Trump supporting Speaker Paul Ryan

— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) August 22, 2017

"I think the issue that Eric was expressing is the reluctance to criticize President Trump for specifically saying things like -- Very fine people were marching in that rally -- that had swastikas and antisemitic chants. And there were not any very fine people in that rally. It wasn't morally ambiguous it was morally wrong."

Paul Ryan had to come back and basically concede what the president did was wrong.

"Let me just add to what you just said," Ryan replied. "I have a hard time believing if you're standing in a crowd to protest something and you see you know all these anti-semitic slogans and the high Hitler's and the swastikas that you're good with that, that you're not a good person. You're not a good person if you're there. That's just so very clear. So I totally agree with that. And that's why I think yeah, it was not only morally ambiguous; it was equivocating. And that was wrong."

That is journalism. Do not allow the subject to bloviate one's way out of a definite answer.

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Will Cleveland Lead The way for honoring the free speech rights of their players?

Tue, 2017-08-22 01:43

by Danny Cardwell

During a Monday, August 21, preseason game against the New York Giants, 11 Cleveland Browns players kneeled in a prayer circle during the National Anthem. They were flanked by another five players who placed their hands on their teammates’ shoulders in a show of solidarity.

The players who participated in this act of civil disobedience have effectively snatched power from the owners and the league and given it to the handful of players who have been protesting on an island by themselves. This move could open the door for Colin Kaepernick's return to an NFL roster.

Starting a mass protest and starting a union share one very big problem: getting people to sacrifice their comfort for a cause greater than themselves. The first few members of any movement assume the greatest amount of risk, but once there is safety and strength in numbers others feel empowered to support the cause. It was easy for NFL owners to collude against Colin Kaepernick and blackball him from the league, but the Browns can't cut 11 players- most of whom figure prominently in their plans for this season- for taking a knee.

As I type, there are people conflating their protest against police brutality and systemic racism with disrespect for the military. This argument is as woefully inaccurate and intellectually dishonest in 2017, as it was in 2016. These protests aren't about the armed services. At halftime, the Browns organization issued the following statement:

As an organization, we have a profound respect for our country’s National Anthem, flag and the servicemen and servicewomen in the United States and abroad. We feel it’s important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country including the freedom of personal expression.

The Browns’ protest happened almost a week after head coach Hue Jackson walked back statements he made in an interview that led some to believe he didn't support his players right to protest. After receiving more questions about his earlier remarks than football during media availabilities Jackson read the following statement:

 The intent of my comments was not to discourage individual expression from our players in light of a cause that moves them to personal expression… I’m disheartened that I gave anyone that impression because I did not speak with enough clarity...There are many effective ways athletes can utilize their platform if they so desire, but I would respect any individual decision, as ultimately, it would be the player’s choice after much thoughtful dialogue.

Hue Jackson's words seemed to be uttered out of concern for his players. NFL rosters will be cut down to 53 the first week of September. The timing of this protest matters; the closer the players get to opening day, the less time teams have to shuffle out the “bad apples”. 53 players on an NFL roster doesn't provide much depth. Players have been in camp learning the intricacies of their teams playbooks. At this stage of the preseason most of those slots have already been claimed.

Over the last few weeks there have been reports circulating about teams keeping players in the locker room during the National Anthem. This could very well happen, but it can't and won't stop players committed to to expressing themselves from doing so. The NFL wouldn't be in this situation if the owners hadn't conspired to punish Colin Kaepernick.

People on the underside of American society are expected to pledge allegiance to a nation that continues to value us less. These aren't spoiled athletes. The players who kneeled in solidarity didn't do this for themselves. They used their nonviolent expression to stand with their brothers and sisters affected by discriminatory practices in America. They are forcing us to talk about issues that many would rather ignore. Police brutality is real. Racism in America is real. The attempts to overshadow these realities guarantee that we will have more protests that can't be ignored.

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A message to the Alt-Right: America Was Never White

Tue, 2017-08-22 00:15

by Joe Krulder

Joe Krulder, Ph.D., teaches history at Butte College.

Events in Charlottesville recently cascaded into domestic terrorism. Three dead and dozens wounded as neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other “alt-right” members descended upon the university that Thomas Jefferson built; their purpose, it is alleged, to defend a statue – a monument – to the Confederate Civil War soldier, General Robert E. Lee. These radical rightists arrived from all across the United States upon the college town of Charlottesville to protect, in their words, their “white” heritage. Among the many problems I have with so-called “white supremacists” is their purposeful mixing of “heritage” with “history,” rhetorically pining for a once proud “white” America.

But history proves that America was never white.

That I need to make this statement, and worse, that some may take offense from it, shows the blurring rhetoric between what is Heritage and what is History. I’ll return to this later. For now, some History.

The first successful colonial holding in these current United States was Spanish, at St. Augustine, Florida, established 1565, four decades plus prior to Virginia’s Jamestown.

America was never white.

Speaking of Jamestown, the first Africans were brought into Virginia on a Dutch trading ship in 1619, a year before Pilgrims landed in Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts.

America was never white.

And nearly half of those Pilgrims could not speak English. Of the near half that couldn’t, most spoke Dutch, with a scattering of German and French. America from the get go was not an English-speaking nation. When the Puritan, William Bradford, arranged the first Indian Treaty signing in 1621, it was with Massasoit, a Pokanoket of the Wampanoag Confederacy. At this time, depending on which archeologist you ask, the native population of North America was anywhere between 8 to 20 million. English speakers? Less than a thousand.

America was never white.

And it was the Dutch who seemed ascendant, as they settled New Amsterdam and the Hudson River Valley beginning in 1625. English-speaking America was in the minority of the European languages spoken by 1670. The French were firmly in place along the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes region, and it may come as some surprise to many Americans, but Green Bay, Wisconsin was once “La Baye des Puants” which is what the French called it when they founded “The Bay of Stinks” in 1634. Spain still reigned in Florida and along the Gulf Coast. Even the Swedes set up shop along the Delaware River taking up large swaths of what is today Delaware and Pennsylvania.

And if you were around in the mid-eighteenth century, don’t ask Benjamin Franklin about the indentured Palatines. In 1751 Franklin penned, “Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, etc.” where he openly called German-speakers “swarthy” and “stupid,” that they would likely “Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them” unless there was a change to immigration policies.

Of course, one of the more famous eighteenth-century colonial wars, the French and Indian War, lasted nine years, and only after victory was secured in 1763, did English speakers become dominant among the many European powers that settled North America.

Back to Africans, according to, the activities of the Atlantic slave trade brought 9,507 Africans to mainland America by 1699. Over the next 75-years, or a year before the United States declared its Independence, another 220,000 were brought to slave upon the American mainland. The 1790 census (the first undertaken by the United States) proved 740,054 Africans in America, or 26.5% of the population just a year after the Constitution was ratified.

America was never white.

And the Revolutionary War was not white on white violence, or English speakers against Mother England. There was the famed Ethiopian Brigade, which General George Washington did his best to avoid. Yes, blacks fought on both sides of the war. And Crispus Attucks was black and he was the first to die at the Boston Massacre of 1770. Indians, too, fought in this war, forced to take sides by both British and colonial forces.

America was never white.

Even when the nation was young, and found a bargain from Napoleon to purchase all of Louisiana – yes, we gained the entire Mississippi River watershed, but since France had only just won Louisiana, a trophy for defeating Spain in Europe, and unable to hold on to Haiti in the Caribbean where slaves successfully rebelled, America received the Midwest which was filled with the indigenous mostly, and some Spaniards too.

America was never white.

Equally, the war of 1812, which once again pitted the United States against Britain, was not wholly a white on white conflict. Again, Native Americans took sides, the Shawnee chief Tecumseh had formed a large multi-tribal confederacy and played an enormous role in ensuring that the young United States failed at taking Canada. The great United States Navy admiral, Oliver Hazard Perry, along with Daniel Dobbins, a shipmaster, built a fleet from greenwood on Lake Erie using African Americans to build and then man the fleet. At War’s end, at the Battle of New Orleans, General Andrew Jackson’s fighting force included Choctaw Indians, and freed blacks.

America was never white.

Texas, and the Mexican-American War which followed its annexation, obviously entailed the gaining of territory inhabited by Native Americans and Hispanics. When gold was all the rage in California, the world landed upon its shores. People from Europe, South America, and yes, Asia (China, in particular) descended and many remained.

America was never white.

In military history the 54th All Black Regiment of the Civil War, the 369th Infantry known as the “The Harlem Hellfighters” in World War One, and the all-Japanese 442th Infantry during the Second World War, still – to this day – remain some of the most wartime decorated units of our country’s fighting forces.

America was never white.

Which brings us to the topic of heritage and history. For this I’ll quote famed historian David Lowenthal. Author of The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History, Lowenthal remarks that heritage is not history at all: “it is not an inquiry into the past, but a celebration of it ... a profession of faith in a past tailored to present-day purposes.”

Monuments, under this definition, are not history. Monuments are memory-makers, celebratory edifices erected to hide History’s complexity, drown curiosity, and feed the simple in the present and in the future.

If we dig past the monuments of the Robert E. Lee’s and the Stonewall Jackson’s erected in the 1920s (Jim Crow era) or the 1950s (Civil Rights era), some in far away Arizona (Arizona achieved statehood in 1912, the Civil War ended in 1865), what we get to is a place called the past where easily traceable demographics prove a country filled with ethnicities from all over the world. What the alt-right desires is an America where whites maintain some semblance of power over anyone of color if not outright ethnic cleansing. Their rhetoric of Heritage is pure myth, a fabrication of a false past, creating memory where none existed.

America was never white, and it never will be.

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Donald Trump’s Speech on Afghanistan – Full Video & Transcript (VIDEO)

Mon, 2017-08-21 22:40

Thank you very much. Thank you. Please be seated.

Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Tillerson, members of the cabinet, General Dunford, Deputy Secretary Shanahan, and Colonel Duggan, most especially, thank you to the men and women of Fort Myer and every member of the United States military, at home and abroad.

We send our thoughts and prayers to the families of our brave sailors who were injured and lost after a tragic collision at sea, as well as to those conducting the search-and-recovery efforts.

I am here tonight to lay out our path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia.

But before I provide the details of our new strategy, I want to say a few words to the service members here with us tonight, to those watching from their posts and to all Americans listening at home.

Since the founding of our republic, our country has produced a special class of heroes whose selflessness, courage and resolve is unmatched in human history. American patriots from every generation have given their last breath on the battlefield for our nation and for our freedom.

Donald Trump's Afghanistan Speech

Through their lives, and though their lives were cut short, in their deeds they achieved total immortality. By following the heroic example of those who fought to preserve our republic, we can find the inspiration our country needs to unify, to heal, and to remain one nation, under God.

The men and women of our military operate as one team, with one shared mission and one shared sense of purpose. They transcend every line of race, ethnicity, creed and color to serve together and sacrifice together in absolutely perfect cohesion. That is because all service members are brothers and sisters. They’re all part of the same family. It’s called the American family. They take the same oath, fight for the same flag and live according to the same law. They’re bound together by common purpose, mutual trust and selfless devotion to our nation and to each other.

The soldier understands what we as a nation too often forget, that a wound inflicted upon a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all. When one part of America hurts, we all hurt. And when one citizen suffers an injustice, we all suffer together. Loyalty to our nation demands loyalty to one another. Love for America requires love for all of its people.

When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate. The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home. We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other.

As we send our bravest to defeat our enemies overseas — and we will always win — let us find the courage to heal our divisions within. Let us make a simple promise to the men and women we ask to fight in our name, that when they return home from battle, they will find a country that has renewed the sacred bonds of love and loyalty that unite us together as one.

Thanks to the vigilance and skill of the American military, and of our many allies throughout the world, horrors on the scale of Sept. 11 — and nobody can ever forget that — have not been repeated on our shores.

And we must acknowledge the reality I’m here to talk about tonight, that nearly 16 years after the Sept. 11 attacks, after the extraordinary sacrifice of blood and treasure, the American people are weary of war without victory. Nowhere is this more evident than with the war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history, 17 years.

I share the American people’s frustration. I also share their frustration over a foreign policy that has spent too much time, energy, money — and most importantly, lives — trying to rebuild countries in our own image instead of pursuing our security interests above all other considerations.

That is why shortly after my inauguration, I directed Secretary of Defense Mattis and my national security team to undertake a comprehensive review of all strategic options in Afghanistan and South Asia. My original instinct was to pull out. And historically, I like following my instincts.

But all my life I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office, in other words, when you’re president of the United States. So I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every conceivable angle. After many meetings, over many months, we held our final meeting last Friday at Camp David with my cabinet and generals to complete our strategy.

I arrived at three fundamental conclusion about America’s core interests in Afghanistan. First, our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made, especially the sacrifices of lives. The men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory. They deserve the tools they need and the trust they have earned to fight and to win.
Second, the consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable. 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our history, was planned and directed from Afghanistan because that country was ruled by a government that gave comfort and shelter to terrorists.

A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum for terrorists, including ISIS and Al Qaeda, would instantly fill just as happened before Sept. 11. And as we know, in 2011, America hastily and mistakenly withdrew from Iraq. As a result, our hard-won gains slipped back into the hands of terrorist enemies. Our soldiers watched as cities they had fought for and bled to liberate, and won, were occupied by a terrorist group called ISIS. The vacuum we created by leaving too soon gave safe haven for ISIS to spread, to grow, recruit and launch attacks. We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq.

Third, and finally, I concluded that the security threats we face in Afghanistan and the broader region are immense. Today, 20 U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the highest concentration in any region anywhere in the world.

For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror. The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict. And that could happen.

No one denies that we have inherited a challenging and troubling situation in Afghanistan and South Asia. But we do not have the luxury of going back in time and making different or better decisions. When I became president, I was given a bad and very complex hand. But I fully knew what I was getting into, big and intricate problems.

But one way or another, these problems will be solved. I’m a problem solver. And in the end, we will win.

We must address the reality of the world as it exists right now, and the threats we face and the confronting of all of the problems of today, and extremely predictable consequences of a hasty withdrawal. We need look no further than last week’s vile, vicious attack in Barcelona to understand that terror groups will stop at nothing to commit the mass murder of innocent men, women and children. You saw it for yourself. Horrible.

As I outlined in my speech in Saudi Arabia three months ago, America and our partners are committed to stripping terrorists of their territory, cutting off their funding and exposing the false allure of their evil ideology. Terrorists who slaughter innocent people will find no glory in this life or the next. They are nothing but thugs and criminals and predators and — that’s right — losers.

Working alongside our allies, we will break their will, dry up their recruitment, keep them from crossing our borders and, yes, we will defeat them, and we will defeat them handily.

In Afghanistan and Pakistan, America’s interests are clear. We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America. And we must prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists and being used against us, or anywhere in the world, for that matter.

But to prosecute this war, we will learn from history. As a result of our comprehensive review, American strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia will change dramatically in the following ways.

A core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions. I’ve said it many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce in advance the dates we intend to begin or end military options.

We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities. Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on. America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out.

I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.

Another fundamental pillar of our new strategy is the integration of all instruments of American power — diplomatic, economic, and military — toward a successful outcome. Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan. But nobody knows if or when that will ever happen.

America will continue its support for the Afghan government and the Afghan military as they confront the Taliban in the field. Ultimately, it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take ownership of their future, to govern their society and to achieve an everlasting peace. We are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live or how to govern their own complex society. We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.

The next pillar of our new strategy is to change the approach in how to deal with Pakistan. We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.

Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists. In the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner. Our militaries have worked together against common enemies. The Pakistani people have suffered greatly from terrorism and extremism. We recognize those contributions and those sacrifices.

But Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people. We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting.

But that will have to change. And that will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order and to peace.

Another critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India, the world’s largest democracy and a key security and economic partner of the United States. We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development. We are committed to pursuing our shared objectives for peace and security in South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region.

Finally, my administration will ensure that you, the brave defenders of the American people, will have the necessary tools and rules of engagement to make this strategy work, and work effectively, and work quickly.

I have already lifted restrictions the previous administration placed on our war fighters that prevented the secretary of defense and our commanders in the field from fully and swiftly waging battle against the enemy.

Micromanagement from Washington, D.C., does not win battles. They’re won in the field, drawing upon the judgment and expertise of wartime commanders, and front-line soldiers, acting in real time with real authority, and with a clear mission to defeat the enemy.

That’s why we will also expand authority for American armed forces to target the terrorists and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan. These killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms. Retribution will be fast and powerful, as we lift restrictions and expand authorities in the field. We’re already seeing dramatic results in the campaign to defeat ISIS, including the liberation of Mosul in Iraq.

Since my inauguration, we have achieved record-breaking success in that regard. We will also maximize sanctions and other financial and law enforcement actions against these networks to eliminate their ability to export terror. When America commits its warriors to battle, we must ensure they have every weapon to apply swift, decisive and overwhelming force.

Our troops will fight to win. We will fight to win. From now on, victory will have a clear definition. Attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing Al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.

We will ask our NATO allies and global partners to support our new strategy, with additional troop and funding increases in line with our own. We are confident they will.

Since taking office, I have made clear that our allies and partners must contribute much more money to our collective defense. And they have done so.

In this struggle, the heaviest burden will continue to be borne by the good people of Afghanistan and their courageous armed forces. As the prime minister of Afghanistan has promised, we are going to participate in economic development to help defray the cost of this war to us.

Afghanistan is fighting to defend and secure their country against the same enemies who threaten us. The stronger the Afghan security forces become, the less we will have to do. Afghans will secure and build their own nation and define their own future. We want them to succeed.

But we will no longer use American military might to construct democracies in faraway lands or try to rebuild other countries in our own image. Those days are now over. Instead, we will work with allies and partners to protect our shared interests.

We are not asking others to change their way of life, but to pursue common goals that allow our children to live better and safer lives. This principled realism will guide our decisions moving forward. Military power alone will not bring peace to Afghanistan or stop the terrorist threat arising in that country. But strategically applied force aims to create the conditions for a political process to achieve a lasting peace.

America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress. However, our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check. The government of Afghanistan must carry their share of the military, political, and economic burden.

The American people expect to see real reforms, real progress and real results. Our patience is not unlimited. We will keep our eyes open. In abiding by the oath I took on Jan. 20, I will remain steadfast in protecting American lives and American interests.

In this effort, we will make common cause with any nation that chooses to stand and fight alongside us against this global threat. Terrorists take heed: America will never let up until you are dealt a lasting defeat.

Under my administration, many billions of dollars more is being spent on our military, and this includes vast amounts being spent on our nuclear arsenal and missile defense. In every generation, we have faced down evil, and we have always prevailed. We prevailed because we know who we are and what we are fighting for.

Not far from where we are gathered tonight, hundreds of thousands of America’s greatest patriots lay in eternal rest at Arlington National Cemetery. There’s more courage, sacrifice and love in those hallowed grounds than at any other spot on the face of the Earth.

Many of those who have fought and died in Afghanistan enlisted in the months after Sept. 11, 2001. They volunteered for a simple reason: They loved America, and they were determined to protect her.

Now we must secure the cause for which they gave their lives. We must unite to defend America from its enemies abroad. We must restore the bonds of loyalty among our citizens at home. And we must achieve an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the enormous price that so many have paid.

Our actions, and in months to come, all of them will honor the sacrifice of every fallen hero, every family who lost a loved one, and every wounded warrior who shed their blood in defense of our great nation.

With our resolve, we will ensure that your service and that your families will bring about the defeat of our enemies and the arrival of peace. We will push onward to victory with power in our hearts, courage in our souls, and everlasting pride in each and every one of you.

Thank you. May God bless our military, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you.


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Former Bush official, Republican, exposes Trump’s tax cut plan as a fraud (VIDEO)

Mon, 2017-08-21 16:40

Trump is trying to sell Americans on an unpaid tax cut plan with a set of lies. Former Bush's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy was not kind as he excoriated Trump's policies as verifiable lies.

Bruce Bartlett was not taking any prisoners as he dispelled the untruths about Trump's tax plan. Ali Velshi pointed out that Trump was relying on the mythical growth in revenue that tax cuts would generate.

"President Trump has really relied on the idea that economic growth is going to shoot up to three and by the way, in speeches, he said four or five and six percent," said Ali Velshi. "But but he's relying on economic growth to deal with those increased revenues. And the projections are that if we don't get those our debts will just increase."

Bruce Bartlett could not wait to set the record straight.

Former Bush official, Bruce Bartlett was taking no prisoners as he dispelled the untruths about Trump's tax cut plan.

— Egberto Willies (@EgbertoWillies) August 21, 2017

"Well the idea that we're going to get some burst of growth from any conceivable tax reform let alone the one that they're talking about is just rank nonsense," Bruce Bartlett said. There's not one serious economist who believes this. Look we lowered the top rate to 28 percent in the 1986 tax reform Act. That's as close to a flat taxes we're ever going to get. Does anybody remember a burst of growth in 1987 or 1988 or 1989? No! And we had massively cut taxes during the George HW Bush administration. And we had no increase in growth whatsoever. So the people making this argument are simply lying."

It is clear that Bruce Bartlett is on a mission based on his past statements to clean up the mess he and his proteges made when they pushed the country on the supply side economics, voodoo economics path that has been destroying the country's middle-class for decades. He and many others have a lot to atone for sooner than later.

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Which Side Is Trump On? Three responses that failed.

Mon, 2017-08-21 15:42


Trump's pathetic responses to Charlottesville .embed-vidweb { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%;height: 0; overflow: hidden;max-width: 100%; }.embed-vidweb iframe, .embed-vidweb object, .embed-vidweb embed { position: absolute; top: 0;left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }

After the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, Donald Trump is still unclear on who is to blame for the events that caused the death of a young woman.

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Trump Spox: Civil War & slavery part of America’s “good history” (VIDEO)

Mon, 2017-08-21 11:11

If I did not hear it, I would not believe it. We have reached a point in this country that we are willing to say anything to support an ideology including defending the history of slavery. We have a lot of work to do.

We are in dire straits when an administration can send out a black spokesperson to defend white supremacy and slavery as "good history." The following snippet from Fox News illustrates how far some have fallen.

Slavery part of America's "good history"

Ainsley Earhardt (CO-HOST): Do you think that [House] Speaker [Paul] Ryan [(R-WI)] should join in with [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi [(D-CA)] and take down those Confederate monuments that are in the halls of Congress?

Katrina Pierson: Absolutely not, Ainsley. Look, how long has Nancy Pelosi been in Washington, D.C.? Those monuments have been there for a very long time and suddenly Nancy Pelosi wants to actually help these anarchists and these violent protesters tear down pieces of America, American culture, and American history. The only place that's being done right now is by ISIS and I really don't think that you should have leaders actually encouraging people to do these types of things, because Americans actually love their history, their culture, good and bad, because it helps them learn and it helps keep people educated about why America is so great, to begin with.

Ainsley Earhardt (CO-HOST): All right, Wendy, according to a recent poll, most Americans agree with Katrina. The NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll, they said 62 percent said that they want to keep the monuments the way they are, 27 percent said to remove them. What are your thoughts?

Wendy Osefo: We have to be mindful that polls are not necessarily predictive but rather reflective of a current trend. But what's being lost in this entire conversation is the history from which Confederate monuments sprung from. Confederate monuments came after the South lost the war. Six hundred and fifty thousand people died and the southerners were considered treasonous. On top of that, this sprung up after December 1865 when the Ku Klux Klan actually was trying to revolt against "black" local power that came about during the Reconstructionist era. So this is not a symbol of patriotism. This is a symbol of hatred and division. And while it is a piece of American history, it's not necessarily the good part of American history. It's actually nefarious. So it doesn't deserve a place on state grounds. It deserves a place in museums. And that's where they need to be.

Katrina Pierson: It absolutely deserves a place, because bad history is still good history for this country --

Wendy Osefo: Slavery is good history?

Katrina Pierson: -- considering where we are today, where we are today. Absolutely.

Wendy Osefo: Slavery is good history? Absolutely. Oh, wow.

Katrina Pierson: During those times, during those times -- think about this for a second. Where would we be today if not for that Civil War? How would our children even know --

Wendy Osefo: Where would we be without slavery? Are you serious? Do you hear what you're saying?

Katrina Pierson: How would our children even know how special and how wonderful this country is that we can even be having this discussion today?

Wendy Osefo: How special slavery is? You know how many people died?

(h/t MediaMatters)

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