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.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Korean Peninsula


North Korea claimed that its test of a new medium long-range ballistic missile, on 2/12/17 was a success.  China voiced its opposition to the launch and joined other members of the UN Security Council in condemning Pyongyang's action.

Reportedly, China will halt all coal imports from North Korea for the rest of 2017, amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula following Pyongyang's most recent missile test last week.

China's Ministry of Commerce announced the decision was made to comply with a UN Security Council resolution that China helped draft and pass last November.  UN resolution 2321 imposed some of the toughest sanctions yet against the North Korean regime, after it disregarded an earlier UN ban to test what it said was a nuclear warhead in September 2016.
Coal is North Korea's main export and an important source of foreign currencies for its fragile economy.  Most of North Korea's coal is shipped to China.  

However, North Korean economist Ri Gi Song, a researcher at the Academy of Social Sciences suggests that exporting coal isn’t that important.  He insists the export of other raw materials, such as magnesite and graphite, used in smartphone production is much more important for major world economies.  He also claimed that North Korea has more than half of the world's deposit of those two raw materials.

Bilateral relations have become strained, since North Korea's current leader, Kim Jong Un, came to power after his father's death in 2011.  China remains North Korea's largest trade partner, providing an economic and political lifeline to the increasingly isolated regime.  China views North Korea as a strategic buffer between itself and South Korea, which has a sizable US military presence.  It also fears a potential refugee crisis on its doorstep if the Kim Jong Un regime suddenly collapses. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Can’t Imagine


The Oneonta Daily Star published the following letter to the editor, that was submitted by Bruce Dunn of Butternuts.
“Like Cornell West, I’m a radical democratic socialist and want to comment on Chuck Pinkey’s reference to John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine.’  He thinks it is a national anthem for those Americans whom he calls progressives.  It is more than that.  It has become an anthem for forward-looking, forward-thinking individuals around the world.  Every continent, every country, every person over the age of 10 is familiar with the song and its sentiment.”
“Pinkey simply cannot ‘imagine’ someone with a valid point of view other than his own.  Some of the people I most love and respect are believers, but I am not.  I live for today, in the present, with an eye toward the future and do not believe in heaven or hell.  Will I live tomorrow?  Well, I just can’t say, but I don’t live in the past.  There is nothing so constant as change, though it is too scary for some.”
“Chuck cannot ‘imagine’ a brotherhood of man, people living in peace, as one.  The world is armed to the teeth with a handful of countries having nuclear weapons.  The population of the Earth has tripled in the past 70 years.  We are seven billion strong with dwindling resources.  If we don’t learn to get along, we will end us.  He claims to be a follower of the prince of peace, yet can’t ‘imagine’ it.  He is so full of fear and violence he can’t see what you and I can see.  Such a mean, old man, can’t ‘imagine’ no possessions.  Didn’t Christ say leave your possessions and follow me?
“John Lennon was a hugely talented and successful artist.  He was a man of the people and gave more of himself through his art than anyone ever has.”
Chuck Pinkey is by far the most radical and divisive conservative columnist employed by The Oneonta Daily Star.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Old White Folks


When you break our country down into 435 House districts, you’ll find that Democratic voters are concentrated in metropolitan areas and that Republican votes are mostly spread out over suburban and rural areas.  

The most recent gerrymandering of House districts, by Republican politicians may have create an absent of a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives for the next decade.  The demographics in all of those gerrymandered Republican House districts across the country, don’t match the demographics nationally.  Those Republican districts are demographically much older and much whiter.  However, congressional Republicans and President Trump may have underestimated the intelligence of the older citizens living in rural districts.

My brother Michael lives a hundred miles from Delhi.  We share a congressional district of Republican strongholds in 11 counties.  He wrote the following letter to our representative in the House of Representatives.

“Dear Congressman Faso,

“Thank you for your form letter reply to my resent inquiry.  It was not offensive and general enough to sooth anyone who needs soothing.  As a freshman in Congress I realize that you may have minimal influence and might be inclined to not rock the boat.  

“Understood.  Given this reality as well as the polarized views in our district, may I suggest a new approach: Demonstrate what you really believe in regard to matters that perhaps are not presently arriving on your desk for action…loftier matters that could temporarily put you at odds with the silent herd of Congressman that live in fear of the next election or the next project that could otherwise not go to their districts.  Your constituents are looking for moral leadership, not deal-making. 

“Question: Do you consider President Trump a role model for our sons and daughters?  Do you feel safe with this man as President?

"By providing two unequivocal answers, you can potentially draw many, many more of your constituents to the middle, quite a challenge in the 19th, but don’t underestimate how much understanding and support can be earned by a display of courage.

"Michael G. O’Leary
"Columbia County Director of Human Services (Retired)"

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Michael G. O’Leary

I’m pleased to post the following letter that my brother Michael wrote to his local newspaper. 

“Letter to the Editor:

“While seemingly harmless enough Congressman Faso offered two distressing comments in an interview with Jim Poole, John Faso Weighs In On New President, Times Journal 2/15/17.  

“The article noted that Mr. Faso ‘supported candidate Trump in November, but he called President Trump's first month in office a mixed bag.’  The article goes on to note that Mr. Faso questioned President Trump's style:  ‘Frequent tweeting, responding angrily to even mild criticism, irritating allies and in general, failing to act presidential’.  The article quotes Mr. Faso: ‘This is not a sideshow… I'm not a great fan of tweeting.’  

“Really?  Mr. Trump’s tweeting is not new.  We all know that Mr. Trump posted angry attacks, irrational assaults and childlike narrations throughout the campaign. 

“Those who listened, heard the candidate’s rants and fundamental meanness as he leveled attacks on the disabled, immigrants and women among other groups.  The incompetent bully we saw before election day is the same one we see now.  Mr. Faso, how do you explain your support, then and now?

“Poole’s article goes on to state how you ‘side with President Trump on his cabinet nominees.  Because Mr. Trump won the election, he should get to choose who he wants to work with’.

“Really?  Then why bother with confirmation hearings?  In the same article you reference Mr. Trump as ‘P.T. Barnum’.  Should P.T. Barnum’s nominees be automatically approved?  Mr. Faso, your constituents expect ethically guided critical thinking on your part, NOT lock-step get-along representation that only affiliates you and your district more closely with this ‘sideshow’ President.

"Michael G. O’Leary, DSW
"Columbia County Director of Community Services (Retired) "

Monday, March 27, 2017

AHCA


House Republicans were unable to gain enough votes in their own caucus to pass the American Health Care Act.  House Speaker Paul Ryan didn’t bring their carefully disguised corporate welfare bill to the House floor for a vote.
The AHCA was just another scheme to reward the people who spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress and bankrolling their political ambitions.

People are struggling to meet the costs of rising premiums, deductibles and prescription drugs.  We have an opportunity to explain why a non-profit, single-payer, government-run system is the best way to fix our health care problems.
Obama and Pelosi wanted a single payer health care plan, but there wasn’t any evidence that Congress would pass such a bill.

Allegedly, the reason the cost of medical care has increased so dramatically compared to inflation is due to medical technology progressing by leaps and bounds.  However, other countries in the industrialized world have been able to provide national health care for all their citizens.  Our patchwork system of private insurance has resulted in more than 30 percent of every health care dollar being spent on administration costs.  By eliminating private insurance, a single-payer system would reduce administrative spending by over $400 billion annually.  Those savings would provide every American with comprehensive health insurance, without increasing total spending.

Trump was pushed to change his promise to force all health insurers to cover crucial services like maternity care, mental health and prescription drugs.  Nevertheless, the extremist Freedom Caucus stood firm, by insisting the Trump-Ryan plan was Obamacare lite, because it simply swapped the subsidies of the Affordable Care Act for tax credits.  The White House even offered to repeal the insurance mandate, but the Freedom Caucus insisted that the entire insurance regulation infrastructure of Obamacare to be repealed.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Jen Psaki


Jen Psaki served as the White House communications director and State Department spokeswoman during the Obama administration.

The following is an excerpt of what she wrote regarding Donald Trump's credibility: “He had fibbed about crowd numbers, and pushed crazy conspiracy stories about illegal voters.  But continuing to claim that former President Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower, even after the sitting FBI and NSA directors made clear it was false, was a new low.

“So why does it matter?  The right question isn't whether a President's credibility matters, but what matters more than credibility?

“When a President travels overseas, it is his credibility, as a global leader, as a fair arbiter that can make the difference in getting a deal done.  And it is the credibility of a President that can help pull a few more members of Congress over the finish line to get an important bill passed.

“There are times in every presidency -- whether it is a terrible shooting like the one in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 children, or an attack on our citizens like 9/11 -- when the country looks to the President, of either party, to ease concerns, to tell them it is going to be OK, to bring people together to mourn, to grieve and sometimes to be strong.  That requires credibility and trust.  That is something that is not mandated by an election, but is earned.

“This White House has not faced a crisis yet.  It has created its own, but it has not been challenged as every White House and every President is by events out of their control.  This administration has not been forced to move beyond partisanship and beyond Twitter to comfort grieving parents, to ease fear, to even solve crises in communities like we faced in Flint, Michigan, or with the Gulf Coast oil spill.”

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was an abolitionist, humanitarian, and an armed scout, who was a spy for the Union Army during the American Civil War.  As a slave in Maryland, she was beaten and whipped as a child.  She suffered a traumatic head wound when an irate slave owner threw a heavy metal weight intending to hit another slave and hit her instead.

In 1849, Tubman escaped to Philadelphia, but returned to Maryland in order to rescue her family and friends.  Traveling at night she secretly brought her family, friends and approximately seventy other slaves out of Maryland, and guided them to freedom.  One group at a time, she carried out thirteen missions, by using a secret network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.

After the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, she began guiding runaway slaves to the safety of British North America and helped them find work.

In 1861, Julia W. Howe wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic during the civil war, after she visited a Union Army camp and heard the soldiers singing “John Brown’s Body.”  Tubman helped white abolitionist John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry. 

After the Civil War began, Tubman worked for the Union Army, as a cook, nurse, and as an armed scout and spy.  She was the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the raid at Combahee Ferry, which liberated more than 700 slaves.  After the war, she purchased the family home in Auburn, New York, where she cared for her aging parents.  She died in 1913, and became an icon of American courage and freedom.

On April 20, 2016, the Treasury Department announced a plan for Tubman to replace Andrew Jackson as the portrait on the $20 bill.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Our $20 Dollar Bill


During the campaign, Trump called the decision made by President Obama's Treasury Department to have Harriet Tubman replace Andrew Jackson’s image on the $20 bill: "pure political correctness."  

On his fifth day in office, President Trump honored our seventh president's image by elevating Andrew Jackson’s portrait to a place in the Oval Office.  Then, he flew south to Nashville, Tennessee where he visited the Hermitage, Jackson's home, and placed a wreath at his tomb.  At that ceremony Trump announced: "It was during the revolution that Jackson first confronted and defied an arrogant elite -- does that sound familiar to you?  I wonder why they keep talking about Trump and Jackson, and Jackson and Trump."
President Jackson pushed Congress to pass the Indian Removal Act, and signed it into law in 1830.  He actually overruled the Supreme Court, and by 1840, Native communities had almost been almost entirely wiped out in the American Southeast. 

The forcible relocation of Native Americans, became known as the Trail of Tears.  It included members of the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, and Choctaw nations, from their homelands to Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma).  Many Native Americans suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation while enroute to their destinations, including 4,000 of the 15,000 relocated Cherokee nation.  The Trail of Tears is considered by many historians as one of the most shameful moments in American history.

Andrew Jackson personally killed many people in duels, and as a soldier, ordered his men to kill women and children when they raided Indian camps.  He supported slavery, and at the end of his life, he said that he had but two regrets.  He regretted, that he had been unable to shoot a former Secretary of State and Senator Henry Clay, or hang a former Vice President, and Senator John C. Calhoun. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Segregated Schools


In Cleveland, Mississippi it has taken five decades for African- Americans students to no longer be required to attend segregated schools.  A federal court has accepted a settlement with the Cleveland School District, under which the district's high schools and middle schools will be consolidated to accommodate all district children.

The Federal District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi last year ordered the school district to desegregate its school system.  The district appealed the ruling, thereby perpetuating a prolonged legal battle that began when black parents sued the schools on behalf of 131 "Negro children" in 1965.

The school district relented and the federal court approved the following settlement: "After careful consideration, the board unanimously voted to end the appeal as it felt moving forward with a solid plan would serve the district, its students, faculty, parents and the community best in the long run.  As the district moves forward, it will continue to utilize the ideas generated by a multiracial advisory panel made up of parents and community members."

Jamie Jacks, an attorney for the school district is proud of the strides Cleveland has made over the years.  One measure involved the establishment of neighborhood schools that allowed students to pick which school they wanted to attend.  Many black students opted to attend East Side, because of the school’s reputation for athletics, and their parents had gone to East Side.   In fact, Jacks pointed to testimony during the case that showed Cleveland's schools were more integrated than those in Kansas City, Missouri, Fulton County, Georgia, Dallas and Denver.

The Justice Department's civil rights division had reviewed or intervened in more than 100 school district cases since 2000, at least 30 of them involving race and at least seven of them, including Cleveland’s were classified as "longstanding segregation" cases.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Pay Your Own Way


For decades residents of blue states have shelled out far more in federal tax monies than they’ve received.  Taxpayers in blue states have funded massive infrastructure projects in the rural counties of red states, subsidized their schools, power plants, nursing homes, while simultaneously absorbing their most destitute, unskilled, and oppressed portions of their white and black populations.
In fact, red states haven’t been pulling their own weight for a very long time.  They are nearly twice as dependent on the federal government as blue states.  Of the twelve states that receive the least federal aid in return for each tax dollar they contribute to the U.S. Treasury, ten of them voted for Hillary Clinton, and the other two were Michigan and Wisconsin, who in 2016 decided to vote for Trump.  And, 20 of the 26 states that are most dependent on federal aid went for Trump.
For example more than 40 percent of Mississippi’s state revenue comes from federal funding; one-third of its GDP comes from federal spending; for every dollar it pays out in federal taxes, it takes in $4.70 in federal aid; one in five of it’s residents are on food stamp.
Conservative Republican’s liked to bash Obama for turning America into what they referred to as “Food Stamp Nation.”  Actually, it’s more like Food Stamp Red America.
Trump’s characterization of “American carnage” in our urban centers aside, cities now generate the vast majority of America’s wealth, and those cities are where blue voters live.  Hillary Clinton won just 487 counties in 2016.   However, those 487 counties generate almost two- thirds of our nation’s economic activity.
In self-supporting America some of us still believe that there must be a way to persuade voters in red states to restore responsible government in the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pork Barrel Spending


In 2009, Senator Lindsey Graham complained that South Carolina only got back $1.35 per dollar more than it’s citizens and corporations send to our federal government in taxes.  Back then, the states getting the most federal money per dollar taxed was New Mexico, which was getting $2.03 for each dollar they pay in federal taxes.  Other leading states, who were getting the most back were all traditionally Republican states: Mississippi, Alaska, Louisiana, West Virginia, North Dakota, Alabama, South Dakota, Kentucky, and Virginia. 

The list of the 10 states getting the least money back were New Jersey, Nevada, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Illinois, Delaware, California, New York, and Colorado.  New Jersey received only 61 cents back for every dollar their citizens and corporations paid in federal taxes.

Southern politicians complain about federal spending, but they’re the ones, who are getting the most government spending per dollar. 

Republicans have to be careful, because not only are 40 percent of the earmarks in the current budget for Republican, but if you look at history, pork barrel spending exploded, when Republicans took over the House and the Senate in the ‘90s.  Their argument is sort of hypocritical given that there was more money for earmarks in 2005, when Republicans controlled the House, than there is in the 2009 budget.

Some will define pork barrel spending as any federal spending that goes to any congressional district other than their our own.  When it comes to ones own district, it’s considered sound fiscal federal spending, and there’s a certain amount of pressure from constituents to bring home the bacon.

All politics are local and the basic approach of many of our representatives in Congress is to get money for their own district, while complaining spending in any other state or congressional district is pork.

Monday, March 20, 2017

VoteVets.org

I received the following message from Will Fischer, the Director Government Affairs & Iraq War Veteran of VoteVets.org :

“President Donald Trump released a budget with increases in Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense funding paid for by slashing services for the poor, medical research, education funding and more services that working families across this country rely on.
“As those who served in uniform, we cannot be more clear: we will not accept increases to Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense budgets on the backs of the poor, seniors, and the security and safety of the American people.
“We will not allow Donald Trump to pit veterans and military families against everyone else.
“We are going to fight against these dramatic cuts.  And because of the nature of Trump's budget, there are is no more important voice in this debate than America's veterans.  But we can't do it alone.
“We can pay for an increase in force structure, and more resources at the Veterans Affairs, while keeping important programs intact for seniors, working Americans and those Americans facing hard times.  We can also fund programs that build alliances overseas, and prevent the climate disaster that General Mattis has deemed a top national security threat.  But that's not what Donald Trump's budget does.
“We put our lives on the line to protect the people this budget hurts.  And we stand ready to fight for them.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden once said: "Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”

The budget that President Donald Trump has proposed is a cruel document that will inflict pain on millions of American families, and that includes the families of many veterans.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Trump’s Budget


President Trump's first budget proposal, which he named "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again," would increase defense spending by $54 billion.  To offset that spending, he’s asking members of Congress to strip money from more than 18 other agencies.

Republican President Eisenhower warned: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.  The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Eisenhower pointed out: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.  The world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hope of its children.”

The outlay of federal funds for 2009, was $2,650 billion.  Fifty- four percent went to our military and forty- six percent went to non-military programs.  Only 30 percent of our total budget was spent on Human Resources such as Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, Welfare, and Food Stamps.

Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt has listed the characteristics of fascism.   That list includes: 

“Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, the domestic agenda is neglected, and military service is glamorized.

“The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

“Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws.  The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism.” 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Heart Wrenching Decisions


I support the right of every woman to make the choice of terminating her own pregnancy, and I’ve never applauded abortions.  I simply believe that a woman should make that choice not a Supreme Court dominated by male justices, and so far only appointed by male presidents.
Many of us believe that women should be able to make that choice, and that young women and teenage girls should have access to the most reliable contraceptive method.
Many Republican are religious zealots, who focus on political issues instead of health issue.  They aren’t looking at what is in the best interest of our children and the community.  Republican politicians want to eliminate choice by forbidding abortions, and limiting women’s reproductive choices.
Colorado reduced the number of unintended pregnancy and the abortion rate of teenage girls, by making it convenient for them to get IUD’s, a reliable contraceptive method, irrespective of their ability to pay.  In five years, Colorado was able to drop their teen birth rate by 40 percent, and teen abortion rate by 35 percent.  For every dollar spent on the contraceptives, Colorado’s Family Planning Program saved $5.68 cents in Medicaid costs.  Colorado taxpayers saved $42.5 million in healthcare expenditures associated with teen births in 2010.
The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association gave Colorado an award for having the premier public health program in the country.  The day after Colorado got that award, the Republicans controlled Colorado senate voted to cancel the program.
Most Americans believe that the heart wrenching decision regarding abortion should not be decided by the Supreme Court.  If the law is change, wealthy woman will have the option of taking abortion pills or a trip to Mexico.  And, dangerous back room illegal abortions could again become the only option for many women.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Not A Death Spiral


The Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act is presently more popular than it’s ever been, because more than 20 million people have gained coverage, and the growth of health care costs has dramatically slowed. 
In January, the Congressional Budget Office projected that over the next decade revenues will grow by $1.7 trillion, while spending will grow by $2.6 trillion, due primarily to increases in spending on mandatory programs and interest costs.  Nevertheless, Republicans insist that we accept a plan, that provides less coverage, at higher cost and massive tax cuts for the very wealthy.
The Associate Press reported: “Experts agree that the law is not currently in a death spiral.”  Those experts include the American Academy of Actuaries and our Congressional Budget Office. Data shows that while insurance marketplaces are smaller than had expected, they’re not anywhere near collapsing.
The AARP estimated that if you’re 64 years of age and have an income of $25,000 a year, you’re likely to pay up to $7,000 a year more under the House Republican plan.
Their plan is actually a tax plan with $275 billion in tax breaks for citizens earning $250,000 a year or more.  It’s a massive transfer of wealth from working families, low income people, and our shrinking middle-class, to our wealthiest citizens.  The reason those tax cuts exist is because the Affordable Care Act put those taxes in place on people making over $250,000 a year in order to fund Obamacare.
Although, healthcare is the largest part of our economy and 28 million Americans still have no health insurance, hearings are not being planned in the Senate.  Congressional Republicans are moving forward as quickly as possible.  They have no interest in joining other countries in guaranteeing health care to every citizen.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Nothing to Love


President Trump and congressional Republicans are seeking to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act.  Trump claimed: “People hate it.  But now they see that the end is coming and they’re saying, oh, maybe we love it.  There’s nothing to love.  It’s a disaster, folks.  OK? ”
Breast cancer survivor, Xeni Jardins points out: “There’s nothing to love about cancer and the experience of going through cancer...  But the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, for me meant that I was able to get the life-saving treatment...  It’s really important for Planned Parenthood, and other kinds of clinics that offer low cost cancer screening.  If that gets wiped away, we’re going to see a lot of people who don’t get diagnosed until much later stage when the treatment options are brutal and limited.
“When I was receiving cancer treatment, there was one very important drug that kept me from vomiting.  And when you’re going through cancer, if you aren’t able to keep down food, it’s not a good thing.  That drug costs 800 bucks a pill before the Affordable Care Act, and now those kinds of prescriptions cost what I can afford.
“The bottom line is this is an imperfect system, the Affordable Care Act was a compromise, as everything in politics is.  But this is better than no protections at all.  I know men and women who died early, who died bankrupt and whose quality of life was destroyed by the fact that they did not have access to affordable care.
“When you have to choose between your rent, your food, your children’s food and your cancer treatment, you’re not living in a civilized nation.  I remember an America where we cared about the lives of our people.  It’s not OK to turn cancer into a political football.”

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hopefully


In 2007, Congressman Dennis Kucinich was the only candidate for president advocating a non-profit single payer system.  Hopefully, some day voters will demand that their candidates for Congress and President provide specific proposals that provide for a non- profit, single payer, government-run system.

Some people accused Obama of selling out to the Republicans because he didn’t call for a single payer health care plan, but there wasn’t any evidence that Congress would pass such a bill.

Allegedly, the reason the cost of medical care has increased so dramatically compared to inflation is due to medical technology progressed by leaps and bounds.  However, other countries in the industrialized world have been able to provide national health care for all their citizens.  Our patchwork system of private insurance has resulted in more than 30 percent of every health care dollar being spent on administration costs.  Those costs included underwriting, marketing, billing, denying claims, profit and paper-pushing that is foisted on hospitals and physician offices.  By eliminating private insurance, a non- profit single-payer system would reduce administrative spending by over $400 billion annually.  Those savings would provide every American with comprehensive health insurance, without increasing total spending.

Nobody in Canada, Britain, France and the other foremost industrialized countries, has ever gone bankrupt because of medical bills.  Nobody ever loses their home.  No one is ever denied care because of a preexisting condition.

The only solution to our healthcare dilemma is a single payer national health care program.  It’s the only way, that Congress can provide universal, comprehensive, cost-effective health care for all Americans.  That hasn’t happened, because drug and insurance company lobbyists have spent billions of dollars to make sure America remains the only country in the industrialized world without an economical and efficient national health care program.



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

American Health Care Act


The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that twenty-four million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026 under the House Republican health care bill than under the Patient Protection and Affordable Heath Care Act, including 14 million by next year.

The CBO, along with the Joint Committee on Taxation have reported that 5 million fewer people would be covered under Medicaid by 2018, and 14 million fewer people would enroll in the program by 2026.  Furthermore, 6 million fewer Americans would be covered in the individual market by 2018, but by 2026, only 2 million fewer people are expected to be covered.  That's in part because fewer employers would offer insurance to their workers, driving more people to the individual market.  An estimated 52 million people would be uninsured by 2026 under the House Republican plan, compared to 28 million who would lack insurance under the current law. 

The Republican House bill proposes scrapping the enhanced federal funding for Medicaid expansion in 2020 and overhauls the entire program so that states receive a fixed amount of money per enrollee.

Premiums are expected to jump up to 20 percent in the individual market in 2018 and 2019, but after that, they would decrease.  The increase in premiums would be much steeper for some Americans in the individual market, particularly older people with lower incomes.  A 64-year-old making $26,500 would pay $1,700 for coverage in 2026 under Obamacare, thanks to its subsidies.  But under the House Republican plan, that person would get hit with a annual premium bill of $14,600.

Those who earn too much to receive Obamacare subsidies would be better off under the Republican plan no matter their age.  For 2017, the thresholds to qualify for subsidies include those individuals earning $47,500 and for families of four earning $97,200.

According to the CBO, the House Republican bill, that is officially named the American Health Care Act would reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion over 10 years.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Dr. Kathryn Allen


Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz has won his last four congressional races by at least 46 points.  His congressional race record  will be tested by Dr. Kathryn Allen from Salt Lake City, who has never held public office. 
Many Democrats have decided to get involved in politics, because they have recognize that democracy isn’t a spectator sport.  Dr. Kathryn Allen understands that we the people must sustain our democracy.  She started by sending petitions to Rep. Chaffetz, and showing up at his town halls looking for answers.  After getting no satisfactory response from her congressman, she decided to get his attention, by daring to unseat him from Congress.
She started by asking people to send money if they thought that she’d be a good contender for that congressional race next year against Jason Chaffetz.  She explained, that she is a doctor with 30 years of medical experience, and considers health care a right.

Chaffetz was told: “But access for lower income Americans doesn’t equal coverage.”  He answered: “Well, we’re getting rid of the individual mandate.  We’re getting rid of those things that people said that they don’t want.  And you know what?  Americans have choices.  And they’ve got to make a choice.  And so, maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to spend hundreds of dollars on, that maybe they should invest in their own health care.  They’ve got to make those decisions themselves.”

Thirty-Six hours after Chaffetz made that reply, Dr. Allen announced that she had raised $80,000 and officially entered the race to unseat Congressman Chaffetz.

Regarding individual mandates, New York State passed a law in 1956 requiring compulsory auto insurance.  By 2010, 49 states and the District of Columbia required compulsory auto insurance.  Will states begin repealing those mandates?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Attacking the CBO


Obviously, the White House and House Republicans are attempting to delegitimize the Congressional Budget Office.

Democratic lawmakers are waiting for the nonpartisan and highly respected CBO to issue its report regarding the “Obamacare” replacement bill.  The CBO report will detail how much the new legislation will cost and how many millions of people stand to lose health coverage.  Trump’s White House and House Republican lawmakers anticipate the CBO report won’t be favorable to bill that they’ve already passed, so they’ve begun to actively delegitimize the agency's credibility.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters: "If you're looking to the CBO for accuracy, you're looking in the wrong place."

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise announced that he doesn't want to let unelected bureaucrats in Washington slow down the Republican promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.  He insisted: "We're not going to wait."

Democratic Congressman Sandy Levin noted during the Ways and Means Committee meeting: "You're fearful that the CBO will provide answers to questions that you don't like.  So essentially, you want essentially a sneak attack on this issue before the public hears and we hear from CBO.”

Republicans insist that the CBO hasn't always been on the mark, particularly when it comes to health care and Obamacare.  The CBO has been nonpartisan, and highly respected.

In 2015, Republicans appointed the current director, Keith Hall.  Back then-House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, who is a member of Trump's cabinet working on replacing Obamacare argued: "Keith Hall will bring an impressive level of economic expertise and experience to the Congressional Budget Office.  His vast understanding of economic and labor market policy will be invaluable to the work of CBO and the important roll it will continue to play as Congress seeks to enact policies that support a healthy and growing economy."

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lower Costs


In 2009, President Obama and House Speaker Pelosi favored a single payer healthcare system, but the votes weren’t there in the Senate. 

The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act was far from perfect, because it did little by way of controlling costs.  It maintained the connection between employment and health care, which is inefficient and an unfair burden on American business.

Businesses continued to pay tens of billions of dollars to provide health care for their employees and former employees while their German, Canadian, Japanese, and British counterparts pay nothing in health care costs.  All of those countries provide universal health care at much lower costs than we do, because they cut out the insurance companies.

The health insurance industry and pharmaceutical industry spend billions of dollars on public relations every year to deny Americans affordable health care.  The most significant reason, that we don’t have affordable health care is the fierce opposition fueled by lobbyists, who used fear tactics to misrepresent efforts to achieve reform.

Democratic Senator Max Baucus, was the Chairman of Senate Finance Committee.  The “Billings Gazette” reported: “In the past six years, nearly one-fourth of every dime raised by the Montana Democrat and his political action committee has come from individuals associated with drug companies, insurers, hospitals, medical supply firms, health service companies.  Those donations total about 3.4 million, or 1,500 dollars a day, every day, from January 2003 through 2008.” 

Senator Baucus refused to allow advocates for a single payer national health policy to testify at the Senate Finance Committee hearings.  The Senate Finance Committee was corrupted by corporate health industry lobbyist.

Members of Congress care more about imposing their religious views on all Americans, than doing what is best for our country.  Right to life extremism is what is wrong with America.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Alzheimer's Report


In 2016, the World Alzheimer's Report estimated that 47 million people around the globe had dementia. 
According to Alzheimer's Association annual report every 66 seconds an American will develop Alzheimer's disease.  By 2050, that number is expected to be one every 33 seconds.  By the middle of this century, over half of all Americans 65 and older will have Alzheimer's.
Director of family and information services for the Alzheimer's Association, Ruth Drew explained: "What is driving these numbers is that there is no disease modifying treatment, no prevention and no cure.  And while U.S. deaths from Alzheimer's have doubled in the last 15 years, an increase of 89 percent of deaths from other major diseases have been declining."
Drew points out that deaths from heart disease, the number 1 killer of Americans, has declined by 14 percent over the same period while HIV deaths have dropped by 54 percent, stroke deaths by 21 percent and prostate cancer deaths by 9 percent.
Furthermore, other diseases have declined because of significant investments in research that produce treatments and techniques to reduce risk, sometimes even a cure.
Experts point out that without additional funding and a breakthrough, Alzheimer's could be the disease that breaks the nation's health care bank.  In 2017, for the first time, total costs for caring for those living with Alzheimer's and other dementias hit $259 billion.
Alzheimer's already consumes one in every five Medicare/Medicaid dollars. With 71 million baby boomers headed toward risk age, this will go to one in three, perhaps in the next decade, at which point Alzheimer's will single-handedly collapse Medicare/Medicaid.
Reportedly in 2016, those who took care of loved ones with dementia provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of unpaid assistance, a contribution to the nation valued at $230.1 billion.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

I’m Concerned


House Speaker Paul Ryan has introduced a health care plan, that would eliminate two surcharges on the very wealthy, and has helped pay for Obamacare subsidies.

Since 2013, single taxpayers with incomes above $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000 had to pay an additional 0.9 percent Medicare payroll tax on earnings above those thresholds.  They also were required to pay a tax surcharge of 3.8 percent on investment income above those thresholds.

Last December, the non-partisan Tax Policy Center predicted that repealing Obamacare would result in those earning more than $774,000 a year receive tax cuts, averaging $33,000.  And those in the top one percent would receive an average tax cut of about $197,000.

Other benefits would allow the very wealthy to contribute more to Health Savings Accounts, which are used by those, who can afford to put money away for health care expenses.  The Republican plan would increase that limit to cover the deductible and out-of-pocket expenses allowed under high deductible plans.  For individual coverage, it would be $6,550 for individuals and $13,100 for families beginning in 2018.  The current limit is $3,400 for an individual and $6,750 for a family.

The Republican plan would enable the very wealthy to claim tax credits to help pay their premiums.  Under Obamacare, an enrollee who makes more than $47,500 is no longer eligible for those subsidies.  The Republican plan would also allow policyholders to make up to $75,000 and families earning $150,000 claim the full tax credit.  The benefit would phase out slowly until the enrollee reached $215,000 in income or a family made $290,000.

Unfortunately, our Congressional Budget Office may not be able to score the Republican plan until after the House Republican passes the legislation.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Confirm or Deny


The FBI asked the Justice Department to refute President Trump's assertion that President Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump's phones last year.

The FBI made the request because such wiretapping would be illegal, since a President cannot just order the eavesdropping of a citizen's phones.  A court would have to approve any request to wiretap.  The sources wouldn’t say who was involved in the conversations between the FBI and DOJ or what role FBI Director James Comey might have played.

The FBI felt saying something publicly about the allegations would be more appropriate for the Justice Department to make, since the bureau as a policy of not confirming or denying investigations.  It was felt to be more appropriate politically for the Justice Department to handle, because they’re freer to talk to the White House about such matters.

The Justice Department hasn’t said anything about Trump's tweets, in which he made the wiretapping allegations.  When asked about the FBI request, a Justice Department spokesperson said he had no comment.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said: "Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling.  President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.  Neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted.” 

The FBI hasn’t made another comment.  However, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, a career intelligence official who had oversight of the US intelligence community announced: "For the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no wiretap activity mounted against the President-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign."

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

FBI Rejects Request


The Federal Bureau of Investigation rejected a White House request to publicly discredit media reports about communications between Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Although, Donald Trump’s aides were in constant touch with senior Russian officials during the campaign, White House officials sought the help of the FBI and other agencies investigating the media reports.  They wanted the FBI to announce that the reports first published by The New York Times and CNN on 2/14/17 were wrong and that there had been no contacts.

Direct communications between the White House and the FBI are unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts.  The White House request was a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations.

Regarding the CNN's characterization of the request, White House press secretary Sean Spicer complained: "We didn't try to knock the story down.  We asked them to tell the truth."  The FBI has declined to comment.

According to a law enforcement official, the discussions between the White House and the bureau began with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus were on the sidelines of a separate White House meeting the day after the stories were published.

The White House initially disputed that account, saying that McCabe called Priebus early that morning and said The New York Times story vastly overstates what the FBI knows about the contacts.  However, a White House official later corrected their version of events to confirm what the law enforcement official described.

According to sources, FBI Director James Comey rejected the request for the FBI to comment on the stories, because the alleged communications between Trump associates and Russians known to US intelligence are the subject of an ongoing investigation.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Trickle Down


Republican ideologues have been claiming that profits and prosperity for the very wealthy will help everyone.  However, for decades trickle down economics hasn’t been helping the middle-class or poor.
Henry Ford understood that paying his autoworkers the unprecedented sum of $5 a day would enable them to buy the cars that they build.
In 2005, billionaire Warren Buffett warned: "The rich people are doing so well in this county, I mean we never had it so good...  It's class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn't be...  Right now corporate profits as a percentage of GDP in this country are right at the high.  Corporate taxes as a percentage of total taxes raised are very close to the historical low."
After World War II, our country’s economic future began to looked brighter.  A blue-collar job could enable a worker to buy a home, car, and have a reliable pension.  For some, it meant being the first in their family to go to college, and not graduate with a lot of debt.
Technology made it easier for companies to eliminate certain occupations.  As a trickle-down ideology became more prominent, taxes were slashed for the wealthy, and investments in schools and infrastructure began to shrink.
There is no evidence whatsoever that requiring the very rich to pay their fair share will slow down our economy or diminish job growth.  The Democratic Party’s plan has been to pay down our national debt by middle-out growth, because that's where most economic growth comes from.  It's an alternative to trickle-down economics and the fairest way to grow our economy.
Today, we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth.  It’s worse than at any time since 1928 before the Great Depression. 

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Dean Obeidallah


The following excerpt is from a column written by Dean Obeidallah on 2/6/17.

“President Donald Trump may have unleashed his most bone-chilling tweet -- at least to those who believe the United States should not become a Trump-led dictatorship.  And I don't make that comment simply to be provocative or without giving it a great deal of thought.  Our democracy is far more fragile than some might grasp and Trump is engaging in a concerned effort to undermine the workings of it.

“Here is Trump's truly jaw-dropping tweet from Saturday morning: ‘The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!’

“Why is this so concerning?  It's OK to argue about whether the judge should or shouldn't have issued this order.  But Trump is apparently attempting to delegitimize our federal judiciary by calling Judge James Robart, a George W. Bush-appointed judge, a ‘so-called’ judge while arguing that his decision is ‘ridiculous.’

“Let's be blunt, because the stakes demand it: An independent federal judiciary is our last, best hope at preventing Trump from violating the US Constitution and illegally grabbing power.  And Trump has to understand that, hence his attempt to undermine it.

“The President truly appears to be leading a master class in transforming the United States into a dictatorship.  Trump -- and it's fair to assume it is by design -- has sought to undermine anyone or anything that tries to counter him.

…“Trump has made the media -- which is a watchdog of our presidents -- a focus of his attacks, calling them ‘dishonest,’ claiming they peddle ‘fake news’ and even recently labeling them ‘the opposition party.’  The practical result is that when the media calls out Trump's lies and presents objective facts to counter him, his followers will likely dismiss the media reports and instead side with Trump.”

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Suppressing Free Press


President Donald Trump tweeted that CNN and other major media outlets were "the enemy of the American people."

Trump is such a liar that our democracy will depend more than ever on the independent press, that holds Trump accountable.  His strategy is to  convince the public that the press is engaged in a conspiracy against him, by use his tweets, rallies, and videos to make himself the only credible source of public information.

Sen. John McCain sarcastically told NBC News' Chuck Todd on Meet the Press:  "I hate the press.  I hate you especially.  But the fact is we need you.  We need a free press.  We must have it.  It's vital.  If you want to preserve -- I'm very serious now -- if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press.  And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time.  That's how dictators get started."

At a televised speech at the CIA, Trump declared himself to be in a “running war” with the news media, and described reporters as "the most dishonest human beings on earth."  He complained that the press had lied about how many people attended his swearing in and inaugural address. 

At his first press conference, Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer castigated the press for its “dishonest” and “shameful” reporting.  He took no questions, but warned: “The American people deserve better.  As long as [Trump] serves as the messenger for this incredible movement, he will take his message directly to the American people.”

Carl Bernstein won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the Watergate scandal tweeded: "The most dangerous enemy of the people is always presidential lying.   Attacks on press by @realDonaldTrump more treacherous than Nixon's."

Friday, March 03, 2017

Independent Investigation


Six weeks into the Trump presidency, he has attempted to discredit our judiciary, intelligence agencies, and news media.  The long list of people that Donald Trump has attacked in his few first weeks in office is an indication that anyone who raises a question about his conduct is in for a vindictive tweet.  
The motivation behind those attacks is to create doubt regarding the credibility of our judiciary, intelligence agencies, and news media, because they’ll most likely to be the ones that produce evidence of Russian involvement in the outcome of the 2016 election.  Trump is putting pressure on the media by excluding them from press conferences.  He  expects to intimidate our judiciary and intelligence agencies in the hope that they’ll lay off.  This is all part of a calculated strategy.
Democratic Senator Durbin has called for an independent commission to investigate revelations that former Senator Jeff Sessions failed to disclose pre-election meetings with the Kremlin's ambassador.
Republican Congressman, Darrell Issa stated: "Attorney General Sessions should recuse himself from any investigation into Russia.  We need a clear-eyed view of what the Russians actually did so that all Americans can have faith in our institutions."
Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan insists that Sessions has misled Congress. "It's pretty clear he lied.  He said he was a surrogate and he then went on to say he never had any meetings in any capacity with Russian officials, let alone the top Russian spy in the United States.  What the hell is going on here?  Why is everybody lying?"
Before Sessions recused himself, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi argued: “The top cop in our country lied under oath to the people is grounds for him to resign.  He has proved that he is unqualified and unfit to serve in that position of trust.”

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Justice and Compassion

Chuck Pinkey claimed: “Trump loves America, he is proud of her, and he intends on making decisions that favor her, not other nations.”

America isn’t a woman, who is worthy of being unconditionally loved.  Many Christian conservatives understand that patriotism requires we love and respect each other.  They remember that simply following a leader, who waves a national flag has been proven to be a formula for dictatorships not a democracy.  Some Christian conservatives, that voted for Republican candidates seem to lack compassion to the point of being cruel.

If we as a nation, have any claim to superiority, it comes from our ability to act according to moral principles, guided by justice and compassion.

Our Declaration of Independence ends: “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”  

That document pledges to provide opportunity for every American.  And, our most fortunate citizens are expected to pay higher taxes. Our sacred Honor demands, that certain inalienable rights be imparted to all citizens.  Both black citizens and police officers lives matter.  Religious, and racial minorities, as well as the LGBT community need to be protected.  The sick, elderly, disabled, mentally ill, and veterans must receive adequate healthcare.  Also, marriage equality, equal pay, abortion rights, a first class public education for every child, and free tuition at public colleges is understood.

Former slave Frederick Douglass insisted: “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.”






Wednesday, March 01, 2017

H.R. McMaster


At a meeting of the National Security Council, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster explained: “Jihadist terrorists aren't true to their professed religion and that the use of the phrase ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ doesn't help the US in working with allies to defeat terrorist groups.” 

The phrase is considered to be unhelpful because terrorist organizations like ISIS represent a perversion of Islam, and are therefore are un-Islamic.  McMaster comments were first reported by “The New York Times.”

A Trump administration official acknowledged there is a "genuine difference of opinion" between President Trump and his National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster on the use of "radical Islamic terrorism."

An anonymous source added that McMaster also signaled that Russia was an adversary, not a friend.  In contrast to White House strategist Steve Bannon, who has called the European Union a flawed institution and expressed a desire to forge stronger ties with individual European countries.  Nevertheless, McMaster defended the post-World War II world order, saying it was important for maintaining peace and security.  Furthermore, source insisted, that the meeting was "very good for morale" among the career NSC staff.

Retired Lieutenant General Mike was forced to resign as the head of the National Security Council after it became public that he did not tell Vice President Mike Pence that conversations he had with the Russian ambassador included a discussion about US sanctions. 

During Trump’s remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, he firmly asserted:"So let me state this as clearly as I can, we are going to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country.  We will not be deterred from this course, and in a matter of days we will be taking brand new action to protect our people and keep America safe.  You will see the action.”

In his State of the Union speech Trump used the term radicalized Islamic terrorists.