Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Destructive or Constructive


To help people understand the emotion of anger I’ve told the story of a young man, who over a hundred years ago lived alone on small farm, that was ten miles from the nearest town.  He looked forward to visiting the town every other weekend and staying overnight.  While in town, he’d purchase provisions, especially chewing tobacco.  And, he would indulge in a few drinks, play cards and dance with the ladies at the saloon.

On a Saturday morning as he went to the barn, to hitch up his only horse to a wagon, he discovered that the barnyard was especially muddy after a heavy rain overnight.  Nevertheless, he didn’t anticipate that he’d get stuck in the mud. 

As he urged the horse through the mud, it stopped and although he yelled and whipped the horse, it couldn’t pull the wagon forward.  The young man jumped down and attempted to push the wagon but it would not budge.  He became so enraged that he grabbed a hammer from under the seat of the wagon and stuck the horse in the head with it.  Upon realizing that he’d killed his only horse, he took his rage out on the wagon and busted it up before dragging parts of it into the barn.

For nearly a week, the sound of banging on metal and wood was heard coming from the barn.  The following Saturday morning the barn doors opened and man came out driving a contraption the eventually became known as a horseless carriage.

Obviously, the story is fiction, and I don’t expect people to believe that the intense degree of rage exhibited by my fictional character could ever have been harnessed to benefit mankind, but the story serves to demonstrate that anger has the potential to be either destructive or constructive.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sympathy Is Not Enough


The following is a quotation from remarks recently made by President Obama.

“The apparent motivations of the shooter remind us that racism remains a blight that we have to combat together.  We have made great progress, but we have to be vigilant.  Because it still lingers.  And when it is poisoning the minds of young people, it betrays our ideals and tears or democracy apart.  But as much as we grieve this particular tragedy, I think it is important, as I had mentioned at the White House, to step back and recognize these tragedies have become far too commonplace.

“Few people understand the terrible toll of gun violence like mayors do.  And whether it’s a mass shooting like in Charleston or individual attacks of violence that add up over time, it tears of the fabric of the community.  It costs you money.  And it costs resources.  It costs this country dearly.  

“More than 11,000 Americans were killed by gun violence in 2013 alone.  If Congress had passed some common sense gun safety reforms after Newtown, after a group of children had been gunned down in their own classroom.  Reforms that 90 percent of the American people supported.  We wouldn’t have prevented every act of violence or even most.  We don’t know it would have prevented what happened in Charleston.  No reform can guarantee the elimination of violence but we might still have some more Americans with us.

“We might have stopped one shooter.  Some families might still be whole.  You all might have to attend fewer funerals.  And we should be strong enough to acknowledge this.  At the very least we should be able to talk about this issue as citizens.  Without demonizing all gun owners who are overwhelmingly law-abiding but also without suggesting that any debate about this involves a wild eyed plot to take everybody’s guns away.

“I know today’s politics makes it less likely that we’ll see any sort of serious gun safety legislation.  I remarked that it was very unlikely that this Congress would act.  And some reporters I think took this as resignation.  I want to be clear, I am not resigned.  I have faith we will eventually do the right thing.  

“I was simply making the point that we have to move public opinion.  We have to feel a sense of urgency.  Ultimately Congress will follow the people.  And we have to stop being confused about this.  At some point as a country we have to reckon with what happens.  It is not good enough simply to show sympathy.  You don’t see murder on this kind of scale, with this kind of frequency in any other advanced nation on earth.  Every country has violent, hateful or mentally unstable people.  What’s different is not every country is awash with easily accessible guns.  And so, I refuse to act as if this is the new normal.  Or to pretend that it is simply sufficient to grieve and that any mention of us doing something to stop it is somehow politicizing the problem.”

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Equal Dignity


In a 5-4 ruling a divided Supreme Court decided that same-sex couples can marry nationwide, thereby establishing a new civil right.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion with the liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.  Each of the four conservative justices wrote their own dissent.
Justice Kennedy's opinion spoke of the most fundamental values of family, love and liberty.  He wrote: "No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family.  In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were.
"Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions.  They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law.  The Constitution grants them that right."
In May, the Catholic citizens of Ireland voted to legalize same-sex marriage in a national referendum, to became the first nation in the world to enact marriage equality through a popular vote.  Presently, about two-thirds of Americans support gay marriage.  By legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, we have joined over 20 countries throughout the world.  
Married same-sex couples will now enjoy the same legal rights and benefits as married heterosexual couples nationwide and will be recognized on official documents such as birth and death certificates.
Hundreds of same-sex marriage supporters flooded the plaza and sidewalk in front of the Supreme Court to celebrate the ruling, proudly waving rainbow flags and banners with the Human Rights Campaign's equal sign, which have come to represent the gay rights movement. 
After the ruling, President Obama called Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the case to say: "I just wanted to say congratulations.  Your leadership on this has changed the country.”

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Obamacare Survives


By a 6-3 Supreme Court decision the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act has again survived.
The ruling holds that the Affordable Care Act did indeed authorized federal tax credits for eligible Americans living not only in states with their own exchanges but also in the 34 states with federal marketplaces.  It served to avoid a major political showdown and a mad scramble in those 34 states that would have needed to act to prevent millions from losing health care coverage.
President Obama proclaimed:"Five years ago, after nearly a century of talk, decades of trying, a year of bipartisan debate, we finally declared that in America, health care is not a privilege for a few but a right for all.  The Affordable Care Act is here to stay"
In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.  If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter."
Chief Justice Roberts was joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is often the Court’s swing vote, as well as liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.  Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the minority dissenting opinion, which was supported by conservative justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
Although most Republican voters oppose the Affordable Healthcare Act, there was concern by some Republican leaders that their party would suffer a political backlash from people losing their health coverage just as their party was seeking to regain the White House in the 2016 election.  They feared that news stories of seriously ill or dying people going without health care because of the loss of their plans would hurt Republican candidates on Election Day.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The "N" Word


In an interview for a podcast on “WTF with Marc Maron,” President Obama said: “Racism, we are not cured of it.   And it is not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public.  That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not.  It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination.  Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”

Our racially mixed president’s choice of words surprised many people, because he has been very careful navigating his way through a series of racially sensitive incidents over the pass six years.  Those included the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin, and the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore Maryland.  Seemingly, Obama had talked about race only when he had to, and when circumstances force him to weigh in.  He had rarely spoken with the candor that marked his speech on race during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Obama’s conversation with Maron raised the question of whether he has made a conscious decision to be more forceful on race relations following the brutal murder of nine African Americans in a gun massacre in Charleston, South Carolina.  White House spokesperson Josh Earnest claimed that President Obama’s use of the "N"word wasn’t part of a premeditated strategy to talk about race in a more thought-provoking manner.  However, Earnest did point out: “But the argument that the President is making is one that is familiar to those who have been listening.”

Author, Jabari Asim wrote: “The N Word: Who Can Say it, Who Shouldn’t, and Why.”  He noted: “It’s disingenuous to have a discussion about racism and not point to the language of racism.”  According to Asim, Obama has also used the “N” word in his autobiography.

Political Analyst, Michael Eric Dyson explained: “He was, I think, quite ingenious, clever to be sure, about exploiting those boundaries by drawing attention to them.

“The very point that he was trying to make is that the elimination of that word does not eliminate the realities to which it refers.  When white racists, bigots, and terrorists were destroying black life, property, and other communities, they used that word.  They didn’t say the "N" word, they called black people that term.

“So, what Obama forced America to do is to come to grips with the ugliness of it, the gritty, utter, unresolved antipathy that the word conjures.”

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Damaging Misinterpretation


Healthcare expenses have gone down since the Bush years, when most Americans saw double digit increase.

Wendell Potter was the former head of the communications at the insurance company Cigna, and is now a senior analyst at the Center for Public Integrity.  He has predicted that if the Supreme Court reverses the present interpretation of subsidies in the Affordable Care Act exchanges millions of people would lose their ability to access the care that they need.  Furthermore, about two-thirds of the people who would lose their subsidies live in red Republican states.  

A Kaiser Family Foundation economist puts the 2015 figure at about $15 billion based on the proportion of insurance premiums that are earmarked solely for medical costs under the healthcare law.

One of the briefs that the proponents of “Obamacare” filed with the Supreme Court is how it would unravel the lives of so many Americans.  Hospitals and insurance companies will have a huge problem, if the present interpretation of the ACA is reversed.  They’ve been profiting a great deal because they’ve been getting a lot of new revenue from the law.  It would also create a problem not just for those who have been buying coverage through the exchanges.  It would create serious problems for everybody who has individual insurance in the states, who don’t have exchanges.

Wendell Potter has pointed out: “I’ve seen a lot of time in Washington during the time that this bill was being debated, there was never ever any understanding that this would apply only to the states that establish their own exchanges and I also talked to people in HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) and in the White House.  Never ever was this ever considered to be the way the law was to be written or interpreted.”

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Opportunities


In an interview, Mitt Romney of all people argued that Hillary Clinton is too elite and wealthy to connect with most American voters.

Romney argued: “Somehow, though, when you see her on the stage or when she comes to a roomful of people, she is smiling with her mouth but her eyes are saying, you know, where is my latte?  How can she get out there and she sell a populist message when she makes in one hour a multiple of what the average American will make in a year?

When asked about Romney’s comments, Hillary Clinton explained: “I want everybody to have the same opportunities that I had and that my husband had.  I don’t think Americans are against success.  I think Americans are against people who get on the top of the ladder and start pulling it up so nobody else has the same chance that they had.”

In New York City, the Democratic hopeful for president, Clinton had already embraced the theme of combating economic inequality.  She noted: “While many of you are working multiple jobs to make ends meet you see the top 25 hedge fund managers making more than all of America’s kindergarten teachers combined and often paying a lower tax rate.”

She added: “Well, I may not be the youngest candidate in this race, but I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States.”

Rebecca Traister editor of "The New Republic" concluded: “She is running a different kind of campaign.  She’s leading with populism.  She is comparing herself to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.”

Hillary Clinton’s investment in criminal justice reform has roots in her early career.  She was a public defender in Arkansas, and set up a legal aid clinic.  President Carter appointed her to run a legal services corporation. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Shooting Tragedies


President Obama has repeatedly used a shooting tragedy to make a renewed call for toughening gun ownership laws.  Bolstering restrictions on gun sales became a top White House priority immediately following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook in 2012, which killed 20 children and left a total of 28 people dead.
The Senate’s Manchin-Toomey bill would have required buyers at gun shows to undergo the same background check, that they do when they purchase a gun at a store.
After the Manchin-Toomey bill was defeated, Obama noted: “All that happened today was the preservation of the loophole that lets dangerous criminals buy guns without a background check.  That didn't make our kids safer.  Victory for not doing something that 90 percent of Americans, 80 percent of Republicans, the vast majority of your constituents wanted to get done?  It begs the question, who are we here to represent?”
Subsequently, Obama signed dozens of unilateral executive actions meant to quell gun violence.  But broad actions like creating a universal background check law or banning certain types of ammunition would still require lawmakers' approval.
Obama has conceded that the current political arrangement where Republicans control both chambers of Congress means that any movement on gun control laws remains unlikely during his presidency.  He noted:"At some point it's going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it, and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively."
After the the shooting deaths of nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, President Obama said: "I refuse to act as if this is the new normal or to pretend that it’s simply sufficient to grieve and that any mention of us doing something to stop it is somehow politicizing the problem."

Monday, June 22, 2015

Critical Decision


Opponents to the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act are asking the Supreme Court to undermine “Obamacare.”  They have insisted, that four words - “established by the State” make clear that tax subsidies are only available to those Americans living in those states that have set up their own exchanges.
A ruling against the Obama administration would not nullify the law, but without a fix by Congress or by the those states, who didn’t set up exchanges it would destabilize it.  If  6.4 millions of American in those states without exchanges were to lose tax subsidies and not buy insurance, it would cause premiums to skyrocket in the individual market because there would be less healthy people in the pool.
Depending on how the Supreme Court rules 6.4 million enrollees in the states that haven’t established their own exchanges could lose their subsidies by August 1.  A ruling against the Obama administration might send “Obamacare” into a death spiral.
Several members of Congress have proposed alternatives, but many want to eliminate the so-called individual mandate, which requires that nearly all Americans obtain coverage.  This is a key provision because it brings younger, healthier people into the exchanges, who help lower premiums because they don't need as much care.
Most of the states, that have federal marketplaces are run by Republican governors and have Republican-dominated legislatures who want nothing to do with “Obamacare.”
The other option is for Congress and the White House to work together and fix those four words - "established by the state."  The White House has been very protective of the Affordable Care Act, and indicated that it wouldn’t accept further changes to the law.   Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, have suggested they’d use the opportunity of fixing the four words to enact other changes.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Epidemic of Violence


Less than 24 hours after the tragic event in Charleston, South Carolina, President Obama addressed the epidemic of gun violence in our country.  The following is an excerpt of his remarks.

“Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times.  We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.  Now is the time for mourning and for healing.

“But let’s be clear.  At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.  It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.  And it is in our power to do something about it.  I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now.  But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it.  And at some point it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it, and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively.

“The fact that this took place in a black church obviously also raises questions about a dark part of our history.  This is not the first time that black churches have been attacked.  And we know that hatred across races and faiths poses a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals.

“The good news is I am confident that the outpouring of unity and strength and fellowship and love across Charleston today, from all races, from all faiths, from all places of worship indicates the degree to which those old vestiges of hatred can be overcome.  That, certainly, was Dr. King’s hope just over 50 years ago, after four little girls were killed in a bombing in a black church in Birmingham, Alabama.  He said they lived meaningful lives, and they died nobly.” 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Conservative Supreme Court


Our conservatives Supreme Court is poise to issue a ruling on the validity of a lawsuit which claims, that the Affordable Healthcare Act denies subsidies to states that don’t set up exchanges.  Democrats have attacked the courts decision to even take up the case. 

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid insists: “Language is very clear the Supreme Court shouldn’t take it up this case they did the language is clear.  I hope the Supreme Court can read English.  I’m sure they can.”

A foundation of the law is the establishment of exchanges set up by the government but through which individuals can purchase competitively priced private health insurance.  It also authorizes federal tax credits to low and middle-income Americans to help offset the cost of the private insurance policies.
Sixteen states plus the District of Columbia have set up their own exchanges, but the remaining 34 states have been depending on marketplaces run completely, or in part by the federal government.  Pennsylvania and Delaware have already received conditional federal approval to set up their own exchanges for 2016.
If the Supreme Court rules against “Obamacare” it would cut healthcare funding for up to 6.4 million people in 34 states.  Economist say billions of dollars will be lost that go to hospitals, drugstores and drug makers.

As the justices work toward a self-imposed June deadline, they’ll seek to answer that question, knowing that if they side with the challengers the ruling could severely destabilize the structure of the entire law. 
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said: “Invalidating the subsidies would cause massive damage to the health care system.  If this were to happen, it would be up to states and Congress to figure out a way to help those who could no longer afford coverage in mid-June.” 

Friday, June 19, 2015

TPP - TPA - TAA


Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a very controversial trade deal that many Democratic members of Congress strongly oppose, because it could result in many Americans lossing their jobs.  

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), also known as fast track authority gives a president the power to negotiate trade deals.

Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program is a federal program that provides a path for employment growth and opportunity through aid to US workers who have lost their jobs as a result of foreign trade.

The leadership in the House has successfully resurrect a conversation on trade legislation entitled Trans-Pacific Partnership for another six weeks.   

The Republican controlled House voted 236-189 on a procedure to extend the deadline for a second vote until July 30th.  Congressional Republican leaders have been saying that they’re willing to work with the President Obama.

Speaker of the House Boehner acknowledged: “Bipartisan majority in the House passed trade promotion authority.  A free trade is good for jobs, it’s good for the economy and we’re committed to getting TPP done as soon as possible.  The President and I had conversations yesterday.  Matter fact did several conversations yesterday.  I’m trying to find a way the move ahead.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was largely responsible for helping to defeat Trade Adjustment Assistance.   She and many congressional Democrats don’t believe that the adjustment assistance goes far enough for displace workers, and congressional Republicans have never like trade adjustment assistance.  Furthermore, Pelosi has made clear that Congress needs to also act on a highway bill.  Ironically, by defeating the TAA, Pelosi was able to at least delay the passage of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. (TPP)
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton apparently agrees with Pelosi.  But, some liberals claim, that she still hasn’t taken a firm position on trade promotion authority.

Recently, she clarified: “I have said from the beginning, the TPA is a process issue.  The issue for me is what’s in the deal?  And I think now there is an opportunity for the President and his team to reach out and meet with people who said on the floor, like Nancy Pelosi did, that we need a better deal, not I’m against it no matter what’s in it or as many did, I’m for it no matter what’s in it.  I will wait and see what the deal is, and then I will tell you what think about it.”

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Distorting the Truth


On April 1, 2014, President Obama announced: “Last night, the first open-enrollment period under this law came to an end... 7.1 million Americans have now signed up for private insurance plans through these marketplaces.” 

Recently, former Republican Senator Judd Gregg insisted, that the uninsured has only gone from 44 million to 40 million, according to Pew polling data.  Polling is the best metric that we have to provide an overall picture of what has been happening.

Actually, a recent Gallup poll found, that the uninsured rate over the past few years has gone down a third since 2013 just before Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act went into affect.

Reportedly, it fell to 11.9 percent in the first quarter of this year.  When confronted with accurate information, Gregg insisted that data reflects the expansion of Medicaid which is independent of the Affordable Healthcare Act.  Mr Gregg is ignoring the fact that the Medicaid expansion was passed as part of the Affordable Care Act and his Republican colleagues in Congress had vigorously fought to defeat Medicaid expansion. 

Approximately, 74 percent of those savings are coming from states that expanded Medicaid.  Unfortunately, in 23 states Republican governors haven’t expanded Medicaid.  If those Republican governors had gotten on board, the hospitals in those states would’ve saved billions of dollars.

Last November, a Rand Corporation study shows that nine and a half million people had gained health insurance from Obamacare.  That number includes Medicaid enrollment, which not every state has taken, but if you factor in the young people, under 26, who can stay on their parents policy, it’s estimated, that 13 million people have gained healthcare.  Thus, the Affordable Care Act has created the largest expansion of coverage in healthcare, since Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare legislation, over a half a century ago. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Racial Identity


Rachel Doleza, president of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington has resigned after allegations that she lied about her race.  She stepped down in an effort to suppress the storm brewing around her and her family.  Dolezal's parents, who are white, have publicly announced that she has been presenting herself as black when she is not.
Rachel Dolezal hasn’t denied that her biological parents are white or that she has changed how she looks.  In her announcement, she didn’t address those allegations and she didn’t apologize.  The statement that was posted on the NAACP Spokan Facebook page, simply stated:
"Please know I will never stop fighting for human rights and will do everything in my power to help and assist, whether it means stepping up or stepping down, because this is not about me.  It's about justice.  This is not me quitting; this is a continuum."
She also said that she's "waited in deference while others expressed their feelings, beliefs, confusions and even conclusions -- absent the full story."
The full story is that Rachel was outed by her biological parents who felt left behind, because she chose a life of being a black person.  Her parents had adopted four black children who became Dolezal's younger siblings and that is what gave her a sample of what it would be like to be in a black community.
Critics try to characterize Dolezal's behavior as a fraudulent choice, but sociologists and psychologists know decisions about racial and ethnic identity are typically apolitical, and driven by social conditions.
Growing up in a family with black siblings served to exposed Dolezal to the reality of discrimination and made her more sensitive to its effects.  It probably helped her understand the contrast between the reality of black lives and white privilege.  Other experiences, such as marrying an African-American and having 2 black children, made her even more sensitive to racism.
She likely became socially conscious about the issues of race because of her experiences in an interracial family.  Her parents haven’t spoken to her for years, but in my opinion should be proud of the child, that they’ve raised.
Michael Eric Dyson noted: “I think her parents have to be press a little bit, what is your over investment in insisting that she be white.  I mean this is a complicated issue here that needs to be talked about in much more sophisticated terms.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Myth


The following is an excerpt from an article written by Ari Berman for “The Nation.” 
“In fall 2010, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach held a press conference alleging that dead people were voting in the state.  He singled out Alfred K. Brewer as a possible zombie voter.  There was only one problem: Brewer was very much alive.  The Wichita Eagle found the 78-year-old working in his front yard.  “I don’t think this is heaven, not when I’m raking leaves,” Brewer said.
“Since his election in 2010, Kobach has been the leading crusader behind the myth of voter fraud, making headline-grabbing claims about the prevalence of such fraud with little evidence to back it up.  Now he’s about to become a lot more powerful.
“On Monday, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill giving Kobach’s office the power to prosecute voter- fraud cases if county prosecutors decline to do so and upgrading such charges from misdemeanors to felonies.  Voters could be charged with a felony for mistakenly showing up at the wrong polling place.
“‘No other secretary of state in the country has such sweeping prosecutorial power, says Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.  It means a person and an office with no experience or background in criminal prosecutions is now going to be making a determination of whether there’s probable cause to bring a criminal case against an individual who may have just made a paperwork mistake,’ Ho says.  ‘There is a reason why career prosecutors typically handle these cases.  They know what they’re doing.’
“Kobach claims there are 100 cases of ‘double voting’ from the 2014 election that he wants to prosecute, but there’s been scant evidence of such fraud in Kansas in past elections.  From 1997 to 2010, according to The Wichita Eagle, there were only 11 confirmed cases of voter fraud in the state.
‘“Such fraud has been just as rare nationally, even according to Kobach’s own data, noted The Washington Post: ‘Kansas’ secretary of state examined 84 million votes cast in 22 states to look for duplicate registrants. In the end 14 cases were referred for prosecution, representing 0.00000017 percent of the votes cast.
“Kobach says he needs this extraordinary prosecutorial power because county and federal attorneys are not bringing enough voter-fraud cases.  But Kansas US Attorney Barry Grissom said last year that Kobach’s office had not referred any cases of voter fraud to his office.  ‘We have received no voter fraud cases from your office in over four and a half years,’ Grissom wrote to Kobach.’”

Monday, June 15, 2015

Wendy Davis


Regarding, yesterday’s post entitled “The Scarlet Letter,“ Jeb Bush responded to critics: “My views have evolved over time.  But my views about the importance of dads being involved in the lives of children hasn’t changed at all.”

Former Texas state senator, Wendy Davis knows about single motherhood, because she is a single mother.  Her response to Bush’s defense of “Profiles in Character” was: “Well, I think it’s part and parcel of the women problem that we’re going to see with these GOP presidential candidates.

“Indeed. we have advanced to a place of greater understanding that what women really need, particularly young women, they need good sexual education.  Young men need that, as well.”

Senator Lindsey Graham is also one of the numerous conservatives hoping to become the Republican nominee for president in 2016.  Regarding a bill he recently introduced, which would create a 20-week abortion ban, Wendy Davis reasoned: “Well, again, this is Senator Graham demonstrating the problem that the GOP presidential candidates have with women.  This is clearly unconstitutional.  And in the states where it’s been challenged and gone up to circuit courts, it’s been held to be unconstitutional.  If it makes its way to the Supreme Court, I expect that the same response will occur.

“This is a deeply personal issue.  And it’s very, very rare that women have post 20-week abortions.  When they do, it is almost always the case that there was an undiscovered fetal abnormality or something in the mother’s health that will be threatened and we ought to be leaving it up to the private decision making of doctors and women, and not have politicians intruding upon this, and not only not intruding upon it, but using it literally as a way to try to gain political advantage in a Republican primary.”

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Scarlet Letter


Republican presidential candidate, and former Florida governor, Jeb Bush argued in his 1995 book “Profiles in Character,” that public shaming would be an effective way to regulate the “irresponsible behavior” of unwed mothers, misbehaving teenagers and welfare recipients.

Bush wrote: “One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame.  Many of these young women and young men look around and see their friends engaged in the same irresponsible conduct.  Their parents and neighbors have become ineffective at attaching some sense of ridicule to this behavior.  There was a time when neighbors and communities would frown on out of wedlock births and when public condemnation was enough of a stimulus for one to be careful.”

Bush added:"Infamous shotgun weddings and Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter are reminders that public condemnation of irresponsible sexual behavior has strong historical roots”

In 2001, Florida Governor Bush had the opportunity to test his assumption regarding public shaming.  He signed into law a very controversial bill that required single mothers who did not know the identity of the father to publish their sexual histories in a newspaper before they could legally put their babies up for adoption.  However, in 2003, he signed a repeal of the so-called “Scarlet Letter” law, but only after it was successfully challenged in court.

Former candidate for governor of Texas, Wendy Davis noted: “What’s interesting to me is that Jeb Bush is supposed to be one of the more reasonable of the bunch.  And clearly, he’s demonstrated a complete lack of understanding about the challenges and the support that we, as a society through our policies and otherwise ought to be providing to women who are doing the most difficult thing there is, and that is to raise a child on their own.

“It’s really interesting this perspective, because it puts women in a no-win situation.  They aren’t to be appropriately educated on sex.  They are held to a standard that says that they ought not to terminate an unplanned pregnancy.  And then they’re condemned if they carry a pregnancy to term as though somehow they ought to be shamed for having done something that, on the Republican side at least, they’ve certainly been pressured to do.”

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Nick Albaugh


Recently, the following letter to the editor was published in the Oneonta Star.  It was submitted to by Nick Albaugh, who can always be depended upon to provide information that needs to be considered by voters.

“Is the criminalization of the oil and gas industry achievable?

“The PR and lobbying campaigns of Big Oil and Gas are often compared to those of Big Tobacco, when that industry conspired to undermine growing evidence of tobacco’s health effects.

“But Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse went a step further in last month’s Washington Post when he reminded readers that the government finally prosecuted the tobacco industry under the RICO Act on the grounds it ‘engaged in ... a massive 50-year scheme to defraud the public …’

“Whitehouse notes that the fossil fuel industry has funded research that ‘directly contradicts the vast majority of peer-reviewed climate science’ and asks whether the fossil fuel industry ‘has crossed this same line’ that Tobacco did.

“Every day Americans are bombarded with ads assuring us of the safety and benefits of fossil fuels, while the industry spends millions more lobbying federal, state, and local officials.  But poisoned and polluted air, water and land pose a far greater danger than smoking did.

“This campaign not only supports the industry’s products; it serves to suppress conservation and alternative energy.  Whitehouse wonders if the ‘industry and its allies are engaged in the same kind of racketeering activity as the tobacco industry.’

“Thousands of citizens are involved at hundreds of localities across America, fighting the assaults of the fossil industry and its spreading infrastructure.  These are vital efforts to protect American communities.

“But we should also demand that our representatives rise above their submission to the lobby dollars and comprehensively apply the law of the land to the oil and gas industry.”

Friday, June 12, 2015

Discouraging Voters


Last week Hillary Clinton noted:“Here in Texas former Governor Rick Perry signed the law that a federal court said was actually written with a purpose of discriminating against minority voters.  In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker cut back early voting and signed legislation that would make it harder for college students to vote.  In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie vetoed legislation to extend early voting.”

In response to Clinton’s remarks Ohio Governor John Kasich said: “Don’t be coming in and say we are deliberately trying to keep people from voting when her own state has less opportunity for voting than my state.  And she’s going to sue my state?”

Actually, Hillary Clinton called for every state to extend opportunity for voters, that includes New York and Ohio.

In 2013, the Supreme Courts ruled in the case, Shelby County v. Holder.  A five justice majority ruled a key provision of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional.

Section 5 was the heart of the Voting Rights Act, because it required what’s known as pre-clearance of any changes to the way elections are run in certain parts of our country.

Congress had reauthorized the Voting Rights Act four times, most recently in 2006 by huge bipartisan margins.  Now a 5-4 majority decision, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, has decided that the formula Congress passed is unconstitutional.

Republicans decided that since they can’t beat Democrats on issues, they’ll pass laws that will suppress Democratic voter turnout in crucial swing states  The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that more than 5 million voters will be affected by these laws.  That number is higher than the margin of victory in the 2000 and 2004 presidential election.

According to the Brennan Center they’re about 22 states since 2010 that have exacted restrictive voting policies from stricter voter ID to cutting back on early voting which is happening in the state of Ohio, to registration restrictions.

The vision that people have for this country is articulated through their vote.  Whether or not people will have their opinions considered is through the power of their vote.  If you deny or discouraged access to the polls, the very underpinning of our democracy will be weakened.  No matter how the conservatives try to rig the game, Congress must ensure that voters across our country are able to elect law makers into office, who will respect their right to vote.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Real Danger


The Republican justices on the Supreme Court have been chipping away at the foundation of our democracy.  They don’t believe that everyone should be equal in the political arena.  If you’re a billionaire, you shouldn't be able to drown out the plight of the less fortunate.

Many voters believe that we should establish public funding for presidential elections. Congressional Republicans shouldn’t be giving huge tax breaks to billionaires, while children in our country go hungry.  Instead, they should pass legislation to discourage American corporations from continuing to send jobs abroad while millions of our own citizens are looking for work.  Billionaires and very profitable corporations shouldn’t be allowed to hide their profits in the Cayman Islands.  We need representatives in the House to pass tax legislation which is fair, and requires billionaire and corporations to start paying their fair share in taxes.

In 2014, every Republican Senator voted to blocked a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and other Supreme Court rulings dating back to 1976 that invalidated restrictions on money in politics.  A party line vote of 54 in favor, 42 against fell short of the 60 votes needed to defeat a Republican filibuster and proceed to a final vote.

What makes it so hard for Senate Democrats to pass a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United and restore their authority to regulate spending in elections is that although a majority of senators voted to support overturning Citizens United, 60 votes are needed to advance the measure, and 67 votes are needed to authorize a constitutional amendment.

During that debate, Senator Warren warn that "when 32 people can outspend 3.7 million citizens, our democracy is in real danger.”

Polls show, that 80 percent of Americans want to see less corporate money in elections.  Congressional Democrats are focused on campaign finance reform and the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

This campaign issue isn't going away, until Congress passes a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United.  Democrats will continue to fight for a constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to regulate the dark money in politics.  We need fair elections in order to give the middle class a fair shot.

Democratic candidates for president won’t nominate any justice to the Supreme Court who refuses to made it clear that he or she will attempt to overturn that disastrous decision which has undermined our democracy. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Not A Radical Idea


The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour isn’t a living wage and should be raised.  If the minimum wage had actually kept pace with worker productivity, it would be far higher than what any of the Democratic candidates for president are calling for.

Senator Elizabeth Warren pointed out: “If we just started in 1960, not the high water mark for minimum wage, but a good time on minimum wage, if we started in 1960 and we said that as productivity goes up, that is as workers are producing more, then the minimum wage is going to go up the same.  And if that were the case, the minimum wage today would be about $22 an hour.”  

She was just illustrating the unconscionable disparity between the current minimum wage and the ideal merit based minimum wage.  However, if the minimum wage had kept pace with incomes going to the top 1 percent, the minimum wage would have actually risen to $33 an hour before the great recession began in 2007.

President Obama supported the congressional Democrats' proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 and link it to inflation.  That was more than a dollar higher than the $9 proposal, that he made in his 2013 State of the Union address.  The attempt to raise the minimum wage to a mere $10.10 an hour was defeated by House Republicans, who were unanimous in their opposition.

Senator Bernie Sanders wants the federal minimum wage to be raised to $15 an hour over the next few years.  Hillary Clinton on occasion has endorsed a $15 an hour minimum wage, but not unlike President Obama, she seems to be concerned that a $15 an hour minimum wage might result in an increase in unemployment if it doesn’t take into consideration small businesses, who operate on a small profit margin.

Paid sick leave and vacation time should be guaranteed.  And, it’s unconscionable that women earn $0.78 on the dollar compared to men who perform the same work.  Overtime standards should be revised so that people making $25,000 or $30,000 a year who are working 50 or 60 hours a week get time and a half.

It’s not a radical idea, for presidential candidates to support the idea, that American worker, who works 40 hours a week shouldn’t be living in poverty.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Bernie Sanders’ Perspective


 “Instead of cutting Social Security, we’re going to expand Social Security benefits.  Instead of cutting Head Start and child care, we are going to move to a universal pre-K system for all the children of this country.  As Franklin Delano Roosevelt reminded us, a nation’s greatness is judged not by what it provides to the most well-off, but how it treats the people most in need.  And that’s the kind of nation we must become.
“And when we talk about education, let me be very clear.  In a highly competitive global economy, we need the best educated workforce we can create.  It is insane and counter-productive to the best interests of our country, that hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college, and that millions of others leave school with a mountain of debt that burdens them for decades.  That must end.  That is why, as president, I will fight to make tuition in public colleges and universities free, as well as substantially lower interest rates on student loans.
“As everybody knows, we live in a difficult and dangerous world, and there are people out there who want to do us harm.  As president, I will defend this nation, but I will do it responsibly.  As a member of Congress I voted against the war in Iraq, and that was the right vote.  I am vigorously opposed to an endless war in the Middle East – a war which is unwise and unnecessary.  We must be vigorous in combatting terrorism and defeating ISIS, but we should not have to bear that burden alone.  We must be part of an international coalition, led by Muslim nations, that can not only defeat ISIS but begin the process of creating conditions for a lasting peace.”

Monday, June 08, 2015

Voter Registration


Oregon’s Governor, and former Secretary of State, Kate Brown likes automatically registering everybody in the state to vote.  She signed legislation to make Oregon the first in the nation to register everybody to vote.  It’s anticipate the law will register 300,000 people.

California’s Secretary of State, Alex Padilla estimates that 6 million Californians would be added to their voter rolls, if they adapt Oregon’s legislation.

Padilla insists: “In fact, what we’re talking about is modernizing the motor voter law that’s been on the books for more than 20 years, when motor voter was first passed in Washington, D.C.  Let’s remember what the fundamental premise was, that government has a role to play in facilitating people being registered to vote because that’s good for our democracy.

“In this day and age, knowing that we have the information being gathered at the DMV when people are applying for a driver’s license or renewing a driver’s license, let’s share that information much like our online voting registration tools that exist in many states currently does, and let’s make voter registration an opt-out.  We have a fundamental right if you’re eligible to be registered to vote and cast a ballot, we don’t have to go through the hoops to opt into or right to free speech, and we don’t have to opt in to our right to be not be discriminated against, we shouldn’t have to opt into be on the voter rolls.

“So, by creating opt out versus in, we facilitate people’s participation and they don’t have to miss any deadlines to be able to vote in the next election.

“To implement the measure, it does require approval of the legislature and the governor. The good news is the bill working its way through the legislature has cleared the first house, state assembly and will now be considered by the state Senate in the next couple of months.

“And hopefully on the desk of the governor come August or September.  I feel confident not just because it’s good for the democracy, but frankly, from an administration’s standpoint, I want all the states in America to hear this -- it’s probably a more secure way of registering voters and more efficient way of registering voters.  And for government and others, imagine the time, energy, resources we invest in registering
people to vote, we can now shift that into voter education and improving voter turnout.”

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Wishful Thinking


Senator Bernie Sanders political agenda includes, but is not limited to the following:
“It is time to break up the largest financial institutions in the country.  Wall Street cannot continue to be an island unto itself, gambling trillions in risky financial instruments while expecting the public to bail it out. If a bank is too big to fail it is too big to exist.  We need a banking system which is part of the job creating productive economy, not a handful of huge banks on Wall Street which engage in reckless and illegal activities.
“If we are serious about creating jobs, about climate change and the needs of our children and the elderly, we must be deadly serious about campaign finance reform and the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.  I have said it before and I’ll say it again.  I will not nominate any justice to the Supreme Court who has not made it clear that he or she will move to overturn that disastrous decision which is undermining our democracy.  Long term, we need to go further and establish public funding of elections.
“The United States must lead the world in reversing climate change.  We can do that if we transform our energy system away from fossil fuels, toward energy efficiency and such sustainable energies such as wind, solar, geo-thermal and bio-mass.  Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized, our transportation system needs to be energy efficient, and we need a tax on carbon to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuel.
“The United States remains the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care for all as a right.  Despite the modest gains of the Affordable Care Act, 35 million Americans continue to lack health insurance and many more are under-insured. Yet, we continue paying far more per capita for health care than any other nation.  The United States must join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all as a right by moving toward a Medicare-for-All single-payer system.”
Those very worthy goals aren’t likely to be realized until the Democratic Party gains control of both the Senate and House.  In my opinion yesterday’s post that addresses the changes presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is suggesting should be the priority for the Democratic Party.  To do otherwise is wishful thinking.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Representative Democracy


At Texas Southern University, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton noted: “What’s really going on in our country.  Because what is happening is a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people and young people from one end of our country to the other.

“North Carolina passed a bill that went after pretty much anything that makes voting more convenient or more accessible -- early voting, same-day registration, the ability of county election officials to even extend voting hours to accommodate long lines.

“Here in Texas, former Governor Rick Perry signed a law that a federal court said was actually written with the purpose of discriminating against minority voters.  He applauded when the Voting Rights Act was gutted.

“In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker cut back early voting and signed legislation that would make it harder for college students to vote.

“In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie vetoed legislation to extend early voting.

“And in Florida, when Jeb Bush was governor, state authorities conducted a deeply flawed purge of voters before the presidential election in 2000.  Today Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting.

“What part of democracy are they afraid of?  I believe every citizen has the right to vote and I believe we should do everything we can to make it easier for every citizen to vote.”

Not only did Hillary criticized the Republicans, who she might be running against for the presidency, but she also proposed that every state in our country ought to have at least 20 days of early voting before Election Day. 

Clinton advocated: “And I believe we should go even further to strengthen voting rights in America.  So, today, I’m calling for universal automatic voter registration, every citizen in every state in the Union.  Everyone, every young man or young woman should be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18 years of age.  Unless they actively choose to opt out.  If you’re an eligible voter and want to be registered, you should be a registered voter, period.  Now, Oregon is already leading the way, modernizing its system, and the rest of the country should follow.”

Former Secretary of State Clinton is putting forward a model for the whole nation to follow.  It’ll be interesting to hear all the Republican candidates for president try to explain why it’s a terrible idea, to register Americans to vote.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Guaranteed Opportunity


In his 2014 State of the Union Address, President Obama announce: “Today marks exactly five years since the last time the minimum wage went up in this country.  That’s too long between raises for a lot of Americans.  I’ve done what I can by requiring federal contractors to pay their employees a fair wage of $10.10 an hour.”
Regarding the current federal minimum wage, Senator Bernie Sanders insists that $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage.  He want’s the minimum wage to become a living wage by raising it to $15 an hour over the next few years to ensure that no full-time worker lives in poverty.
Sanders believes our government should establish pay equity for women workers, who currently earn 78 cents on the dollar compared to men who perform the same work.  He wants to end the scandal in which millions of American employees earn less than $30,000 a year, working 50 or 60 hours a week, but earn no overtime.  He wants paid sick leave and guaranteed vacation time for all.  Congressional Republicans won’t allow it to happen.
Over 100 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt was called a socialist and communist, because he argued for an eight-hour work day, a minimum wage for women, insurance for the unemployed and for the elderly, and those with disabilities; political reform and a progressive income tax.  Today, Bernie Sanders is being called those same names.
President Obama noted, that Teddy Roosevelt was the son of a wealthy Republican family, who praised what the titans of industry had done to create jobs and grow our economy.  He believed, that the free market was the greatest force for economic progress in human history, because it led to a prosperity and a standard of living unmatched by the rest of the world.
Theodore Roosevelt understood that a free market only works when there are rules of the road that ensure fair, open and honest competition.  He busted up monopolies, forcing those companies to compete for consumers with better services and better prices.  He fought to make sure businesses couldn’t profit by exploiting children or selling food or medicine that wasn’t safe.  Roosevelt insisted: “Our country means nothing unless it means the triumph of a real democracy…of an economic system under which each man shall be guaranteed the opportunity to show the best that there is in him.”

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Responsibility

Regarding income inequality Bernie Sanders said: “This campaign is going to send a message to the billionaire class.  And that is: you can’t have it all.  You can’t get huge tax breaks while children in this country go hungry.  You can’t continue sending our jobs to China while millions are looking for work.  You can’t hide your profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens, while there are massive unmet needs on every corner of this nation.  Your greed has got to end.  You cannot take advantage of all the benefits of America, if you refuse to accept your responsibilities.  That is why we need a tax system which is fair and progressive, which makes wealthy individuals and profitable corporations begin to pay their fair share of taxes.”

In 2011, President Obama noted: “Now, just as there was in Teddy Roosevelt’s time, there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune.  ‘The market will take care of everything.  If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes -- especially for the wealthy -- our economy will grow stronger.’”

In 2011, the Fairness in Taxation Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.  It would provide new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires.  A new bracket of 45% would be created for those earning over a million dollars.  Taxes for those making over $10 million would go up 1% to 46%.  For incomes over $20 million, it would be 47%.  For incomes over $100 million dollars, the tax rate would be 48%.  The top tax bracket would be for incomes over $1 billion dollars at 49%.

The bill would tax capital gains and dividend income as ordinary income for those with incomes over $1 million.  If enacted the Fairness in Taxation Act would have raise more than $78 billion.  It didn’t happen.

It won’t happen until younger voters begin to accept responsibility for their own future.  Overall 63 percent of Americans didn’t vote in the last mid-term election, but 8o percent of  younger voters didn’t vote.  Young voters especially didn’t turn out for that very important election, because they don’t seem to realize that fairness in taxation isn’t going to happen as long as they don’t vote, or vote for a congressional Republicans. 
     

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Agenda for America


Bernie Sanders has outlined his Agenda for America in which he points out that climate change is real, and that voters have a responsibility both as human beings and parents, to leave our country and the entire planet in a way that is habitable for our children and grandchildren. 
Most of our scientific community agrees, that climate change is caused by human activity and is causing devastating problems around the world.  Scientist insists that if we don’t transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energies, Earth could be five to ten degrees Fahrenheit warmer by the end of this century.  And, that would result in more drought, famine, rising sea level, floods, ocean acidification, extreme weather disturbances, disease and human suffering. 
In the last mid-term election, 63 percent of Americans didn’t vote.  That means about 144 million Americans, which is more than the population of Russia didn’t vote.  
Senator Sanders is especially concerned that the 80 percent of young people, who didn’t vote may no longer have confidence in our political institutions.  Given the power of Big Money in the political process, the reason young people have serious doubts about how much their vote actually matters seems logical.
Combatting political alienation, cynicism and legitimate anger will not be easy, but a progressive agenda will not be implemented until progressive Democrats are able to win back a majority in the House and Senate.
Sanders recommends: “At a time when our roads, bridges, water systems, rail and airports are decaying, the most effective way to rapidly create meaningful jobs is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.” 
Actually, five years ago, Obama proposed a major federal jobs program to puts millions of Americans back to work at decent paying jobs, but congressional Republicans obstructed his plan.  

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

WeCopwatch


Kevin Moore was the person, who filmed Freddie Gray’s violent arrest.  He was detained in Baltimore, along with Chad Jackson and Tony White, two activists who previously filmed protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
On April 12, Moore released video of Freddie Gray's arrest to multiple media outlets immediately after filming it on his cell phone.  He told the Baltimore Sun, that Gray was "folded like origami" by police officers during the arrest.
Jackson and White are affiliated with, WeCopwatch, an organization that is focused on police accountability.  They had traveled to Baltimore to help train activists to film police officers.
The Huffington Post reported, that Moore has been released with no charges, and that Jackson and White remain in jail, and that White was allegedly injured by police officers during the encounter.
Chad Jackson's mother Catherine said: "I don't think they were after Chad, I think they were after the man who filmed Freddie Gray’s arrest.”
Moore claims that he has been the target of harassment and intimidation by officers since he released the video of police arresting Gray.  The Baltimore Police Department posted a picture the weekend after April 12, showing Moore recording the arrest, and asking him to come in for questioning.
In a video interview with the site Photography is Not a Crime, Moore said the police claimed that the stop was due to an illegal turn, he believes the police waited to detain him and the two others when they were vulnerable.
According to Moore, police took his name, date of birth and Social Security number, but did not name any charges.  Photography Is Not A Crime reported, that Moore was released after about two hours.  Moore singled out one police captain who gave him his phone number, saying that officer seemed more helpful than the others.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Modern Economies Require


Veterans, who have put their lives on the line to defend our country known that our democracy isn’t about billionaires being able to buy candidates and buy elections.  It’s not about the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson and other incredibly wealthy donors spending billions of dollars to elect candidates who will make them richer and everyone else poorer.  Media reports claim, that in this election cycle, the Koch brothers are prepared to spend more money than the Democratic and Republican parties.  That’s not a democracy.  That is an oligarchy.

Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote, that inequality massively distorts our foreign policy.  The top 1% rarely serve in the military, since the all-volunteer army doesn’t pay enough to attract their children.  Neither do our very wealthy feels a pinch of higher taxes when the nation goes to war, because borrowed money will pay for it.  With the top 1% in charge, and paying no price, the notion of restraint goes out the window, since corporate contractors stand to gain enormously from war.

The rules of economic globalization are designed to benefit the rich, who encourage competition among countries for business, thereby driving down taxes on corporations, weakening health and environmental protections, and weakening the right to collective bargaining.

A modern economy requires a government to invest in infrastructure, education, and technology.  America is suffering from an under-investment in infrastructure, especially highways, bridges, railroads and airports.  We should be investing in basic research, and education at all levels, but instead we’re making cutbacks.

There are some things we can only do as a nation, in order to keep pace with the times. In our democracy, we have the power to choose our leaders, change our laws, and shape our own destiny.  An investment of $1 trillion in infrastructure would create 13 million jobs, and put construction workers back to work, while improving the quality of life in our communities.

At current spending levels, it would take 80 years for our country to address all of the 70,000 bridges that are in need work.  Republicans have continued to refuse to work with President Obama to pass a $302 billion highway trust fund bill.

President Obama stressed: “There’s no reason for Republicans in Congress to stand in the way of more construction projects.”  Notably, Republican President Eisenhower launched the massive government undertaking known as the Interstate Highway System.