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Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Presser

I grew up when a presidential press conference was something to watch. It featured a quick-witted strong leader with a history of great bravery. In the face of a three hundred sixty-seven foot Japanese destroyer cutting his eight foot, long PT (Patrol Torpedo) boat in half he never whined. This week we were treated to something completely different. Thanks to that fake news source The New York Times along with YouTube and the internet, we get to compare JFK’s pressers with “PT” Trump’s presser.
It’s hard to call what we witnessed on Thursday Mr. Reality Star’s first presser. The fact of the matter is the man can’t keep his mouth shut in front of a live mic & camera. Feb. 16 was Tangerine Terror’s twenty-seventh day in office. I have included a link to The New York Times web posting of the complete video & transcript of Trump’s dumpster fire presser. On Saturday February 18, “PT” Trump literally launched his reelection campaign [The money is coming out of his campaign account] with a rally in Florida. Twenty-nine days of Republicans and Democrats questioning the behavior of his administration and Herr Trump feels the need to whip up his “masses”. Melbourne Police Dept. put the crowd at around 9,000 people.
John F. Kennedy gave his first formal press on January 25, 1961. Compare that to The Donald’s temper tantrum on February 16, both men beginning their presidencies on the same date by law. The contrast is well, see for yourself. (In the case of JFK, it’s only an audio file): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MqaRQCluWM&list=PL0O5WNzrZqIOOpmfrurZtkYeYEL-onugx&index=1 [Here’s the video file of the same presser but the sound quality on the first is far better https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFde6u-OPj8]
During JFK’s, there are a fair number of questions about a shot down RB47 airplane by Russia. Read that again before you listen to Donnie’s whine & denigrate session. Here’s a link to some background on that incident which occurred in the waning days of the Eisenhower’s administration. http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/MuseumExhibits/FactSheets/Display/tabid/509/Article/197621/rb-47h-shot-down.aspx
Here’s The Donald’s version of a first presser. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/16/us/politics/donald-trump-press-conference-transcript.html?_r=0 I was going to go through and pull out passages that represent the best contrast between the two men [Sorry, Jack]. I cannot do it. It’s like seeing a horrible automobile accident, you really only needed to see it once. You the reader need to make your own comparisons.
In 1961, one of the questions was about the wisdom of broadcasting news conferences live! Now we have a POTUS that can’t keep off Twitter at three in the morning. When Barack Obama came in Secret Service and the NSA were worried about his use of his Blackberry. Congress spent a significant amount of time & money investigating Sec. Clinton’s private email server. Tangerine Terror gets to start Twitter wars on an unsecured Android smartphone. I don’t know about you but I’m thinking this is a slippery slope no one saw coming in January of 1961.
JFK was questioned about his “world view” inaugural address. You know his historical, often quoted inaugural address. He didn’t attack the reporter for criticizing one of the better speeches in this nation’s history; he politely & eloquently defended it, and moved onto the next question. Here’s a link to Tangerine Terror’s Inaugural Address, (with annotations) https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/20/us/politics/donald-trump-inauguration-speech-transcript.html Here’s is their opinion of the speech: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/20/opinion/what-president-trump-doesnt-get-about-america.html I was at the inauguration but left after “so help me God” giving The Donald, The Finger as I left.
JFK was asked about a NASA Safety Task Force specifically when he would name its chairman. Alan Shepard hadn’t even been to “outer space”, a very science fiction concept at the time, and yet our leaders were thinking about how we keep an American safe going where only one other person had ventured. Trumpster was worried about how mean the media was to him.
How different Americans are now. On the very night of JFK’s Cuban Missile Crisis speech to the nation Vaughn Meader, an impersonator was recording what would become the largest and fastest selling record album to date, a good-natured mocking of the Kennedy clan. At the time of its release, it was widely reported that the Kennedy’s loved it. Donald has already proven he can’t take being “made fun of”.
President Kennedy talked about the need to push through aid to American farmers. Farmers, who with the sweat of their brow were producing enough food that we could easily provide famine aid in the Congo. However, these same farmers were getting shafted at the market. Who owned the shaft they were being thrown down, not their neighbor, no it was the MBA’s from Stanford working at Kraft, or General Mills, Nestle or any of the other agro-giants of the sixties that were shafting them.
Jack Kennedy talked policy with specificity five days in office. He knew the situation in Laos, about the ship with Americans onboard that had been hijacked, he knew exactly what he was and was not going to do about Gary Powers who had been shot down under Eisenhower’s administration. Thinking again about what the world was facing in January 1961 and compare that to a bunch ragtag bands of jihadists that are still pissed off that America, Great Britain and the UN gave part of Great Britain’s colony of Palestine to people of the Jewish faith to have a homeland. Let it sink in, they took someone else’s homeland and gave it to another group of people, just because they could. We have paid for this with the Marine barracks in Beirut, 9/11, the USS Cole, the list will get to be as long as Schindler’s if we do not change our ways.
Changing our ways in the Tangerine Terror’s mind means his vocalizing support for Israeli border creep with Jerusalem as its capital plan. An idea, that is at that heart of Islamic terrorists’ grievances with the Western Civilization. Once again, Republican policy that does more to embolden & inspire terrorists rather than combating them both on the battlefield and in the public square. The “faiths of The Book” by theological doctrine should favor democratic rule. Declaring war on any part of Islam is unproductive. Locating and prosecuting terrorists is.
This is the 1960 electoral map. http://www.270towin.com/1960_Election/interactive_map. First notice this is before the segregationists’ wing of the Democratic Party went over to the GOP. At the end of the Kennedy presser [34:24], he was asked about his own election and calls for changes to the Electoral College system. He said he doubted there were the votes in his Congress to pass it there and if it did, he doubted the states would ratify it. He did say that he supported Teddy Roosevelt’s idea of public financing of campaigns for federal offices. Terror boasted about the size of his Electoral College victory and once again presented the American people with alternative facts [LIES!] on that topic.
Yes, most of my source links are from The New York Times. Fox News and Breitbart aside The New York Times is America’s paper of record. When the world wants to know what is happening in America it turns to the New York Times. They also turn to CBS News, NBC News, and CNN primarily. Why is that, because they have a pedigree of high journalistic integrity. Fox News has a pedigree of being the GOP controlled media outlet because their management team has a decidedly conservative editorial point of view. Breitbart News is considered by the Southern Poverty Law Center the media outlet of the alt-right white nationalist movement.
It is fine to have a conservative or liberal editorial board. It would be best if every editorial board at every media outlet were balanced. It is imperative though that the opinions voiced by editorial boards be based on actual facts not alternative facts. It’s best to whenever possible we witness an event, such as Tangerine Terror’s dumpster fire presser, in its entirety personally. We can than form our own opinion on what is happening in Washington.
        Watching both press conferences also keep this in mind. If Jack Kennedy was standing up without crutches, he was heavily medicated. Like FDR, he went to great efforts to hide his physical challenges. His command of the facts and his own plans were flawless. Mr. Trump’s performance only deepened the widening concern over his actual mental health.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Truth v. Alternative Facts

As I face this blank page this morning the opening bars to the theme to “Love Story” are running through my head along with its opening lyric, “Where do I begin” only this is not a love story this is Wes Craven’s “Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue.” Where does one begin to comment on the behavior of this carnival sideshow masquerading as a presidential administration? With the truth, because this is a principal that conservatives have an even harder time grasping than some liberals do. Liberals are not above lying to get their way however, when they get caught they stop telling the lie. Conservatives seem to believe if you tell a lie often enough it will begin to be treated as fact even in the fact based media outlets.
What’s a fact based media outlet? Well once, it was most any daily newspaper you picked up. It was once the half hour evening news broadcast of the original big three broadcast networks, CBS, NBC, & ABC. These three are still largely fact based media outlets. On October 7, 1996, another player arrived on the scene, “Fox News”. “Fox News” was the third of the three current cable news channels. The first was CNN.
CNN began broadcasting on June 1, 1980. It quickly garnered a good reputation for covering breaking news. Original owner Ted Turner accomplished this by assembling affiliated stations that anchors in Atlanta (where CNN originates from) could “throw it to” until their crew could arrive. Turner spared no expense getting his teams to major stories, sometimes beating the big three broadcast networks to the scene.
Lady luck smiled on the network when one of their anchors and a whole team were in Bagdad when Pres. Geo. H. W. Bush launched Operation Desert Storm. This was after incredible live coverage of the Jessica McClure story, an eighteen month old that was stuck in a well. CNN was also the only network broadcasting live when the Challenger disintegrated before our very eyes. These three events solidified CNN’s reputation as a news organization.
On that fateful day in October of ’96, the truth took a major hit. “Fox News” opened with the slogan “Fair & Balanced”. Their add campaign basically promised a Jack Webb, “Joe Friday”, “Just the facts, mam” style journalism. What they broadcasted then and now is conservative aka GOP propaganda. When their journalistic peers began to question their objectiveness suddenly, the most reliable news sources the world has known are being labeled as ‘biased.”
That last statement is not hyperbole. America is known for the freest press in the world. We respect the freedom of the press so much it is at the very roots of our history as a people. Benjamin Franklin a respected founding father is known for being many things among them a newspaper publisher. After we chucked the “Articles of Confederation” and wrote our brilliant U.S. Constitution. We immediately found it necessary to go back and amend it to include protection of a free and independent press.
Suddenly “Fox News” is questioning the objectiveness of the most celebrated journalistic community in the world at the time. From the local “City Paper” to the “New York Times”, journalist fiercely defended their independence. Suddenly Rupert Murdoch comes along with a huge checkbook proving that even among those working in the fourth estate, all people are vulnerable to “wanting a better life.”
Printers ink is in my family blood. We were taught to tip our caps when we drove past the Baltimore Sun building because that’s where my grandfather worked. I knew one thing growing up about that the newspaper I was hauling around in that newsboy’s leather strap. The people that put it together, they took great pride in reporting one thing, the truth. In 1996, Rupert Murdoch began on a daily basis calling these men & women I grew up admiring, liars! It’s despicable as a journalistic philosophy and it is even more disgusting as a business model.
Cronkite, Jennings, Huntley, Brinkley, these were the most trusted men in our society until Nixon and conservatives began a full on frontal attack on the truth. In the early days of “60 Minutes”, it was entertaining. CBS would show someone doing something illegal, ask them “why did you do that?” The person would deny doing the thing, they would be shown the video, they would again deny that it is actually them and run away.
This is why “Fox News” was invented. Those guys that “60 Minutes” kept catching, they were one percenters in today’s speak. They were greedy conservatives in the vernacular of the day. They were the conservatives that needed a propaganda machine to combat all of the bad press they were getting. Seems there is such a thing as bad press and it can really drive down that bottom line.
When the news department budgets began being a part of the same budget as “Two’s Company”, America’s news department’s credibility did take a hit. Then along comes Mark Burnett with a show that should have had a working title of “Screw You” which we all now know as “Survivor”. A show designed to force the players to enter into and then break alliances with other players in the goal to “survive.” His success with that show led to other “reality” shows such as “Sarah Palin’s Alaska”, How’d You Get So Rich”, and of course “The Apprentice” franchise which as we all know gave us Forty-five. The thing about reality shows is, they are to reality, what WWE wrestling is to Olympic Wrestling. They are totally fake.
In simple English, so there is no room for doubt, Fox News is father of our current fake news problem. We have had newspaper wars in the past where facts were casualties. Famously, Hearst & Pulitzer himself engaged in one of those newspaper wars. However, as those newspaper wars were taking place the cream was rising to the top. Fox News wants us to believe that the cream has now soured. It has not.
Even before Melissa McCarthy returned to SNL and in the words of Mother Jones “Burned Sean Spicer To The Ground”, Spicer was in hot water with Tangerine and in hot water with the White House Press Corps. In the life of a White House Press Secretary, that’s the definition of a rock & a hard place or is a hardhead more accurate.
Veracity took its next hit from former campaign manager turned Senior White House Councilor, Kellyanne Conway who believe there exists in journalism something she refers to as an alternative fact. Let’s dissect this newly coined phrase. Well by its very definition a fact is exact which means there are no other possibilities, no alternatives. It is so bad in the White House that Kellyanne thought the alternative fact to “it’s against the law to hawk First Daughter merchandise on morning TV” was that law couldn’t apply to her. She has since been “counseled”. Don’t you just love it three weeks into his term and Forty-five sent his Senior White House Councilor to political correctness class?
Pick up the pencil on your desk, hand it to your boss and say, “Here’s the pen you asked for.” When he calls you an idiot, tell him that “pen” is an alternative name for a pencil. Now, aren’t you glad that liberals came up with that unemployment stuff now?
There is no such thing as an alternative fact. Alternative fact is just an absurd attempt at justifying statements that White House Maximus has made where there was absolutely basis in fact. They were therefore bald face lies. Unfortunately, people with conservative mindsets seem extremely willing to accept these lies as they reinforce other misconceptions they already hold.
UPDATE: Overnight Mike Flynn resigned over his illegal approaches to Russia about sanctions. Which the White House has been denying happened all weekend long.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Trump Inauguration

Where does one begin to describe what it was like to be a liberal activist sitting amongst those supporting the still Mr. Trump? Educational probably is the best adjective. Riding on MARC to the event, I spoke with a couple of younger people heading to the inauguration. I asked are you going as supporters or protesters. They answered, as witnesses.

Of course by its very nature an inauguration is an historic event. That is why I was glad to be the guest of Rep. John Sarbanes (D) MD 3rd Dist. I certainly do not support the new president. Then again, I don’t support the Republican Platform either. What I heard around me was disturbing.

When Melania Trump was introduced, she was wearing a stunning suit. She was in fact beautiful. What was uncalled for was the comment, “so glad we finally have a classy First Lady again”.  Alternatively, “she as beautiful Jackie Kennedy was, ah a beautiful First Lady again.”

Michelle Obama has, for the last eight years been, the epitome of class & beauty, full stop, period, end of paragraph.

The two biggest cheers prior to Mr. Trump’s introduction were for, in second place Dick Cheney, and in first place Pres. Carter. I was horrified that the architect of America’s torture program was anything but booed. I was encouraged that they at least respected Pres. Carter.

Pres. Obama was introduced and the comments were equally as rude. One group thinking it was an absolute scream to sing “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye". Okay, if I was at the first Obama inauguration I might have done that, but “get that horse outta the barn”, sorry that’s going too far. When will white people get it, you don’t get to compare black people with animals, you get to compare them to yourself. The salient difference being is this is the first administration without a major scandal since Ike. George W. Bush’s administration was on the other hand a, “let me count the ways” situation when it came to scandals.

President and Sec. Clinton again were greeted with the “lock her up” chants as they were introduced. I didn’t vote for Sec. Clinton in the primary, I even wore my Obama & Bernie buttons to the inauguration. However, my opposition to Sec. Clinton was always that she is too far to the center.

By the time circus that was this election reached Maryland, we had long known the choice was boiling down to three candidates, a reputed billionaire. We still haven’t seen his taxes. Sec. Clinton who together with former Pres. Clinton earned over $100 million dollars according to their taxes, which we did see. We also saw Bernie & Jane Sanders’ taxes; they earned less than three hundred thousand dollars. Here’s where I get confused, if this election was about the “little guy” how is it that the person closest to the “little guy” loses out. Russian hacking for one and a Democratic Party operating under a very undemocratic set of rules is how.

As for Mr. Trump, I feel I respected him. We watched with the rest of the world as Chief Justice Roberts swore Donald John Trump in as our current President. As he spoke the words, “So help me God,” we quietly got up and left.

On Saturday morning, the Democratic Party woke up to its worse position of power in my lifetime. This is worse than 1972 my very first election to vote in and that ended with the Democratic Party holding a telethon it was so broke. Then however, the party was financially broke; the Democratic Party has always had the better plan for the future. Now instead of worrying solely on the needs of the nation, they also have to worry about how to strengthen their party.


On Saturday morning, the Democratic National Committee got its answer as over one million American women (and men) took the streets of this nation to announce they are going to fight for the right to be treated as an equal to a man in every way. They were joined by hundreds of thousands around the world. The DNC needs to flush the Clinton faction out as too conservative, too willing to compromise to lead the Democratic Party. We must harness the energy inspired by left leaning leaders like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Unconditional success over equivocation should be the new motto of the DNC.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Why I Use #WhyNot

Why I Use #WhyNot
Some people I am sure wonder about or worse just shrug off the tag I use #WhyNot. Let me explain and maybe you will begin to use it too. It goes all the way back to June of the worse year of my life, 1968.

Robert “Bobby” Kennedy had been assassinated. His brother Senator Teddy Kennedy was eulogizing him. He told a story that he could barely get through about Bobby on the campaign trail quoting a favorite saying of his. Since then the quote is frequently mistakenly credited to Senator Bobby Kennedy. It actually originates with George Bernard Shaw.

The quote goes like this: You see things; and you say “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say “Why not?” It is paraphrased in minor ways by many in society. It is a fantastic way to look at life.

I fear some misread #WhyNot as some kind of anarchist ideal. Far from it, it is a call to reach for the stars together. The spirit of #WhyNot has powered us forward during our most productive times.
Conservatives see things as they are and say why. They say why can’t it be like it was. Okay let’s play “It’s A Wonderful Life” with that idea. We are going back to 1968. The top individual income tax rate was 91% on people earning $400K per year. The avg. household income was $7,700.00 per year and their tax rate was 22%. The $400K/year household before any deductions, which are greatly different now than they were back in 1968 kept $36,000.00 per year over 4.5 times the average household gross income. The average household kept a trip to McDonald’s over $6,000.00 or six times less than the top earners. That all sounds pretty reasonable to me.

Compare also corporate taxes back then with now and also compare the percentage of federal revenue that came from corporate taxes in 1968 with today. Than compare what we were accomplishing then with the governmental shut downs over laws that were duly passed and signed by the POTUS we recently endured.

1968 was the year that Astronaut William Anders took that iconic picture of the earth rising as man for the first time emerged from the backside of the moon. Politicians nowadays hear Democrats say we put a man on the moon and they say “so what”.

The Apollo 8 crew also broadcasted a message while that picture was being beamed backed to Earth. It was from Genesis chapter one, verses 1 through 10. The passage ends, “And God called the dry land “Earth”; and the gathering together of the waters he called “Seas”: and God saw that it was good." This was recited as the people of Earth saw their whole planet from outer space for the first time. It was a beautiful sentiment to bring to end a year that saw two assassinations and riots in many American cities. It was accepted by people on both sides of the political spectrum in the spirit with which those brave men offered it.

Compare that with the attitudes of the general public today. In a recent discussion with a conservative I know, the following exchange took place:
Me: In the end when it comes to “pulling the lever”, we are all doing it based on what we think we have learned, what is fact and our personal guts. Dukakis lost for many reasons but one was no one wanted to have a beer with him. In the end, I look at the total of what I believe I know about the candidates, and based on that I vote. Barack didn’t lose this election for Hillary; Hillary lost the election for America by concentrating on fundraising rather than meeting voters. With all that [name deleted], you do know that the last two Republican POTUS’s first term wins were via the Electoral College not popular vote. 2.8 million more people voted for Hillary. Trump’s victory earns him 7th place for smallest percentage of popular vote while getting an Electoral College victory.

Response: The Electoral College is without a doubt one of the most important gifts we got from our founding fathers.  It protects the minority from the masses.  My only hope is to one day see that the vote is restricted to those who are not receiving government benefits ─ such that they are in a clear and present conflict of interest. (Emphasis added by me).

This is the mindset that Americans of goodwill face. Our parents fought for protections that their stingy kids see as a drain on their ability to die with the most toys. We all must speak to power and with the internet; we get to do that very easily. There are the apps. I have one for Maryland government that puts contact with every lawmaker in Annapolis a few button clicks away on my cellphone. Even without an app, all smartphones have browsers, and browsers have bookmarks. There’s no reason why that browser can’t have both of your Senators, your member of the House of Representatives, plus those who represent you in your state legislature bookmarked.

If you have an idea for making America have a better functioning government, call them. If they say, we can’t do that, you ask “why not?” If it’s a Democratic lawmaker and you are lucky enough to be looking them in the eye say, Senator (or Representative) if Bobby Kennedy were standing here, he would tell you, you’re a damn Democrat, why not! Remember before he was President Obama, Barack taught us that together, “Yes we can!” However, he taught us that lesson because at some point he asked himself, “Can I do that?” His answer was obviously, “Why not.”

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Why We Protest

Over the last several days, I have had conversations with two people I thought for certain would be up to protesting. One I’ve known a while and worked with on a particular issue. The other, let’s just say I’ve known for quite some time longer. I was surprised that both expressed a lack of interest in protesting at the Inauguration of Donald J. Trump.
Both expressed in different ways, what use is protesting? After the Electoral College votes on Monday 12/19/16, if they have not bucked the system and exercised the Hamilton option, it’s a done deal. I get that. However, protesting works, it always has.
I told one that after LBJ won in a landslide in 1964, it didn’t stop the protesting over the Vietnam War. They replied that the protests had not stopped the war. Out of respect, I didn’t challenge that idea. However, our protest did stop the Vietnam War. Did LBJ or Nixon suddenly give an address to the nation saying that he has come to the realization that the war was not only unwinnable it was immoral? No. However, those protests did turn public opinion against the war in Vietnam. That forced Nixon to pull out.
A third person challenged the idea in my, “Permits, We Don’t Need No Stinking Permits” protest, telling me that the Park Service will stop any political action. This may be true. Do you think that would have stopped the civil rights protesters of the sixties? Permits? If Rep. John Lewis is your congressman, call his office today and ask if Birmingham or Montgomery granted permits to the bus boycott protestors. I doubt it, but even if they had a permit, they beat Rep. Lewis in Montgomery Bus Depot – because he was black.
Why protest, because it does promote change. Protesting rarely ends with the other side capitulating. It ends when the protests have changed enough minds for the people to vote for that change. The No Nukes movement for years made it nearly impossible to build a new reactor and it is getting increasingly hard to renew licenses for existing reactors. Here’s the U.S. NRC site where you can look up what’s happening in the nuclear energy industry: https://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/licensing/renewal/applications.html#underreview . Which by the way, the Tangerine Terror (TT) wants to turn over to former Gov. Rick Perry, the candidate who couldn’t even remember “Dept. of Energy” when listing agencies he would shut down.
The best recent example however, is apartheid in South Africa. If you call yourself politically, savvy then you know Nelson Mandela’s story. However, that struggle was much more. Thousands of dangerous protests took place in South Africa. So many, the nation was dubbed the protest capitol of the world. It took until 1991 for apartheid to be abolished, yet anti-apartheid protests still were occurring as late as 2012.
However, the American protests against apartheid may have been the most productive because they hit South Africa in the wallet. It was American college students protesting, demanding that the university trust funds of their schools divest from investing in companies doing business in South Africa.
It was entertainers who joined in with Artists United Against Apartheid. Stevie Van Zandt released the album “Sun City”. For the tract, “Sun City” Van Zandt gathered a group of some forty plus musicians to record the song. No biggie, that’s what musicians do. However, he also got them to commit not to perform in the South African resort, Sun City. This was hitting in the wallet.
“We Are The World” in 1985 raised 63 million dollars for humanitarian aid in Africa. It wasn’t a big demonstration like The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in ’63 but it was activism that provided aid to starving people in Africa.
To provide famine relief in Ethiopia, also in 1985 there was “Live Aid” an all-day, live concert event, broadcast from two continents. On that day, organizers Bob Geldof, KBE and Midge Ure raised $184,507,500.00 for famine relief in Ethiopia. That is protest. It is protesting people being allowed to starve to death due to the world’s willingness to let it happen.
If you do not know who the Rev. Dr. William Barber II of North Carolina is, Google him. He is the leader of the Moral Monday movement, which was instrumental in the election of a Democrat as the new North Carolina Governor. I’m quite sure if the NC legislature continues on its current course of action, Moral Monday Rallies will continue to occur.
On January 20, this nation will legally be more fractured than since the election of 1860. One of those people who questioned the validity of protesting was also the first person to suggest that was heading our way. They did so several years ago as they watched the disrespecting of the office of The President of The United States, because those crazy liberals had gone too far. They had elected a biracial man whose features were distinctly African-American to the highest office in OUR land.
The moment the networks called the 2008 election for Barack Hussein Obama the conservatives went --- bonkers, for lack of a better word. McConnell, Boehner and others set in motion their plan to obstruct their way into power. Well, they have succeeded. They bided their time, got through eight years of the finest president of my lifetime, and pulled off the impossible. They got the Tangerine Terror elected president.
A quick look over social media sites and others, more & more often the idea of protesting, boycotting, etc. is quickly becoming referred to as “The Resistance”. This means on January 20 this nation will be divided into Trump v. “The Resistance”.
The nation will likely see protests that will not just dwarf the recent unrest in Ferguson & Baltimore they will dwarf the Battle of Morningside Heights, Kent State, Jackson State, and every other university that saw their administration building taken over. It will dwarf The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, it will even dwarf the incoming administration’s favorite historical event, the huge KKK marches up Pennsylvania Avenue of the 1920’s.

Mr. Tangerine Terror used divisive rhetoric throughout his campaign, behaved as if not his every word was being recorded and rebroadcasted. At least that’s what he got the media, both the mainstream & alt media to believe. In fact, TT conned them as much, if not more, than he conned the electorate. Per a headline on “The Hill” on December 21, 2016, the “Trump Cabinet’s net worth greater than the world’s 70 smallest countries” this is the foundation of either an oligarch or a fascist governing philosophy. If you subscribe to the philosophy that the top earners deserve the most perks, I’m sorry you simply do not understand what Franklin, Jefferson, Paine, & Washington were attempting to bring the world in 1776.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Civil Disobedience

Civil Disobedience
An American Right
Ever since Thomas Paine put pen to paper Americans have struggled for a certain set of freedoms, a set of freedoms we felt we had even before revolting against King George. Recently a story circulated about how protest permits for inside Washington, DC would no longer be granted until March 1, 2017. The reality is this. Permits for protests at Inauguration Ceremonies are incredibly hard to come by for any inauguration. They are not issued until all plans for the ceremony are final. This in and of itself makes it difficult to get permits. There is a time constraint and a backlog of permit requests.
Stopping protesting will be as successful as stopping the flow of drugs into this country. Face it the government cannot stop ISIS from radicalizing misguided American born Muslim youth from attacking us at home. If they cannot stop the Alt-Right from radicalizing Dylan Roof to commit the Mother Emanuel Massacre how are they going to stop peaceful protesting?
We after all are Americans. If nothing else Americans hate being told they are not allowed to do something or something cannot be done. “Why not,” was a part of the American lexicon long before Robert F. Kennedy quoted George Bernard Shaw. Why not was exactly what we asked when someone told our founding fathers, “You can’t revolt against The King of England.”  It is what was asked when they said we couldn’t fly; it was what they said when people believed it impossible to walk on the moon. Yet Americans, we did all those things.
Therefore, if there is a will in Americans to protest the installation of a person they strongly believe is unqualified to hold the office, we will protest. I attended my first protest rally in 1970. To my knowledge, it was not planned ahead of time. There is absolutely nothing the authorities can do to stop protesting. Before dealing with the logistical possibility that some people will figure out a way to, in a very public manner, voice their displeasure with inauguration of Donald J. Trump, let’s examine the legality of it.
Source: The United States Constitution, specifically The First Amendment, thereof: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The pertinent part of that amendment is, “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That is how “we the people” get to beat the permitting issue. So long as we are many small groups, peaceably assembling, our right to redress grievances vocally is also covered in the First Amendment.
The large part of the Facebook membership is millennials. You folks invented flash mobs. There is no way they can stop small quick moving mobs. Protest quickly & in strategic, important locations [1100 Pennsylvania Ave. comes to mind] and move off quickly. Timing is important too. Don’t do your actions before the ceremony. Either risk doing it at the ceremony or throughout the city just after the ceremony. If we stage enough protests like this on January 20, 2017, we will win the news cycle on Inauguration Day.
Think about it. We’ve all seen men at football games in Wisconsin when the temperature is near zero, bare chested, spelling out the word “Packers”. Just imagine the image of such a group for lack of a better word, streaking through the Trump Inaugural Parade with an offensive message on their chests. It would be historic.
Look, I hear the 21st century patriots now, how could I be so disrespectful. For starters, conservatives gave up the right to complain about being disrespected when Rep. Joe Wilson shouted, “You lie” at the First African-American President of the United States of America during an address to a Joint Session of Congress, a first in my memory.
Patriotism is my father and the men he served with in World War II. On Christmas, when he’d had one too many he’d say, the Marines take the beach, the Seabees (my uncle was one of those) throw up some buildings, and they were the first to move in. My father and uncle may have reported to different unit commanders but in their minds’ they were with “Mac”. They and thousands more followed Gen. Douglas MacArthur from one Pacific island to another. It was brutally hot and incredibly dangerous. So dangerous that my mother never knew he survived a strafing run of his base until he had passed.
He was walking home from chow. Being a forward radar operator his ears were always listening for the sounds of planes. These men could tell the difference from our planes and the Japanese planes by the sound of the engines. He heard a zero coming hard and fast, shoved his buddy and himself into a protective bunker/ditch. This is what patriotism looks like. You do it. You don’t brag about it.
Driving down the street of some town with the Stars & Stripes on one side of your tailgate and the Stars & Bars on the other, while yelling “White Power” is not patriotism - it is bigotry. Neither is just driving around with the Stars & Stripes flying from the back of your pickup truck. That doesn’t make you a patriot either.
Do you want to spot a patriot driving down the road? He’s the old man collecting Social Security driving down the road with the simple little American flag clipped to his driver side window. Why, are they the patriot? Easy, with that person there’s at least a chance that they were ripped out of their comfortable lives to go fight for our freedoms’.
This is not to diminish the incredible service and patriotism of our volunteer force. They are even more patriotic because they chose to put on a uniform and join our military. Once again, in my lifetime I feel I owe the men & women who wear our uniform an apology because our leaders have misused your souls. So don’t tell me about respecting my nation.
Protest, especially peaceful protest is engrained in the very meaning of being American. This nation began with groups like The Sons of Liberty who were responsible for the repeal of The Stamp Act. We had The Boston Tea Party, Birmingham Bus Boycott, and The March on Washington for Jobs where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech. There was so many anti-war demonstrations growing up which had permits and which did not is impossible for me to recall. I know the demonstrations that took place in Chicago in 1968 occurred both with and without permits. The end results of those actions are described in the official record as a “police riot”.
Donald J. Trump, aka the Tangerine Terror, better expect his one and only term as POTUS to resemble the closing years of LBJ’s, and Nixon’s entire presidency. Especially after his comment that, flag burners should lose their citizenship. The majority of the Americans who got off their couches long enough to go vote - voted against the Terror. He exploited the same Nixon, GOP, Southern Strategy, which plays on deeply seeded, institutional racism that exists in our South and Mid-West. The GOP exploits their race. They tell them you are losing control of your country to – them. Each election cycle, the “them” changes a little, this is easy. (Four hundred years after a bunch of white people came here and stole this continent from those who were already here. [An idea that would never have crossed the minds of any Chief of any Native American nation to do had they ever become curious enough to go that far to sea.] However, the GOP is still using this strategy to tell people they are losing their country to – them.) It gets worse.
Just this weekend Tangerine Terror said he doesn’t need daily security briefings, because he doesn’t need to hear the same thing every day, he’s a smart guy. Since the election he has said both we don’t need new Airforce One’s [This fucker is thinking if Barack got to keep his goddamn Blackberry he’s going to keep his Trump plane with his name emblazoned on it], and we don’t need the F-35, driving down both Lockheed and Boeing stocks long enough for money to be made on the price drop. Carrier Air Conditioner is owned by a defense contractor, and there’s another shady deal. He insulted the entire intelligence community on the Sunday morning news shows. He, he, he, I can’t keep up with all the insane things that keep happening.
With the addition of the current CEO of General Motors as Secretary of State, there will be enough wealth in Trump’s cabinet by itself to be considered an oligarchy. Add to that all three branches of what is supposed to be a representative democracy (we sure must have a shit load of billionaires & millionaires if this are representative) and the possibility of great harm exists. It’s bad enough that the Supreme Court will stay at least as “Scalia conservative” as it was before. Terror gets a Congress where his party is in the catbird seat in both houses. God forbid we lose a liberal Associate Justice to the Supreme Court. This nightmare begs for daily protests.
Ten years ago, I became a very visible activist for cannabis reform. Throughout that time I along with many others have warned, what if conservatives consolidate their power. They created the DEA and they will not be afraid to use its now militarized capabilities. The unrest a move like that would be met with is terrifying to consider. Not to mention the hypocrisy of the “states’ rights” party going against the clear will of nearly half the states in the country. However, that consolidation is complete and in addition to it the POTUS-elect is a teetotaler.
“These are the times that try men’s souls,” Thomas Paine wrote. I don’t know about the times but Donald J. Trump should be trying our collective souls. Regrettably, for Mr. Tangerine Terror, we don’t need publishers to spread our words of resistance as Mr. Paine did. Our government put the means to petition our government, influence the press, and reach directly to one and other in our hands via the internet. Protest, petition, and strike.
I’m keeping my plan for Inauguration Day, shall we say semi-private. That is to say, I’m reaching out to a group to participate in a particular action at a particular time. What I am encouraging is for groups to come up with their own idea. One idea I will share is taking a couple of bars of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World”, mash up some lyrics and perform it around the city, again quickly and in strategic locations.

Flash mobs, if kept small enough, which are creative enough in their actions, will get around any & all are permitting requirements. It’s Christmas time on the internet. We all know how viral flash mob videos can go. Peaceably assembled people will protest on January 20, 2017. How many is up to us and remember... Permits, we don’t need no stinking permits.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Taxes

Last time I wrote about the need to end the discussion on the First & Second Amendments once & for all, or at least for some time to come. Liberal thinking recognizes we learn new information and adjust policies accordingly. Taxes have been at the center of the American body politic since our revolution. In fact, they were one of the key issues behind our revolt.
Seriously, we’re still fighting over this. The Sixteenth Amendment was adopted in 1913. Let’s not forget they were the idea of Republican President Taft, introduced by him in 1909 and adopted four years later. Here’s the text: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”
That’s pretty straight forward don’t you think. Under FDR, we had the discussion of whether or not the very wealthy should pay more than the poor should. We have had progressive income taxes since the civil war. However, it was under Hoover & FDR that due to deteriorating economic conditions, significantly increasing income taxes became necessary.
One argument has been that James Madison and other Federalists would be against the idea of taxing one segment of the population at a different rate. This might be true, the first one that was passed set the bar so high [a whopping $4,000 back then] that they believed no one would ever earn that much in a year therefore the tax would never kick in.
That sounds a bit like Alternative Minimum Tax to me. More to the point is we have had progressive taxes for over a century, they are not going away. Back under FDR, we adopted the principle that if you are making the most money than you are benefiting the most from all the government provides. When he appointed Joseph Kennedy to be the first head of the SEC [because he gamed the old system the most] Kennedy brought with him the motto, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Joe Kennedy had an adversary back than by the name of Prescott Bush.
The Bush family hasn’t changed much since then. They felt that taxes should benefit the wealthy so they could make even more money. Simply put trickle-down economics is nothing new. Only back then, they didn’t pretend it would trickle-down, to their thinking creating more wealth is what would make America strong. What’s good for General Motors is good for America was one slogan.
This is the fundamental idea that Robert “Bobby” Kennedy spoke against when he said there is more to a country’s greatness than its GDP. What made America great are the changes that took place between 1932 and 1968. Whether the GOP likes it or not it was during these years that we drastically raised taxes on those who were making the most. It is also during those years that America accomplished many of the things that Americans point to with tremendous pride: The Hoover Dam, The Golden Gate Bridge, The Minimum Wage, and regrettably also the Atomic bomb. We the won the Second World War, We did so by building a new navy, we moved on from propeller powered planes to jets. Then, we went from jets to the moon. We built our interstate highway system and attempted finally to right the wrong of slavery by passing the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. We did all these things with tax rates that would make the modern GOP Headquarters explode like a sci-fi movie effect.
Look I get it. Once when I was an immature man, I had worked all fifty-two weeks without a vacation. Thanks to a raise that year, it was going to be the most I had ever made. Naturally, when I had begun that job I marked off one dependent on my 1040 Withholding Form. After all, I was dependent upon the money I was earning.
I sat down with my one & only W-2, fill in all the numbers, did the arithmetic and voila I owed them money. Not a huge sum, in fact I owed my state less than $10.00. I’m sitting there staring at my tax filing and it says I owe them money. Wait a minute, I worked over 40 hours a week, I did not take a vacation, the government gets the first bite at my pay check and now they’re saying for the thrill of busting my ass for a year I owe them money! I tore up the form and didn’t file taxes that year, or the next. I got caught up when I got married. Nevertheless, I get it our tax system needs fixing.
What we don’t need is to scrap our progressive tax system. It worked wonderfully until we decided that if it was progressive it should be progressive in favor of the wealthy. Reagan convinced the population at large that the more money wealthy people have the more jobs they will create. WRONG! The more money wealthy people have the more money they keep. The kinds of wealthy people we’re talking about frequently don’t hire anyone. They make money by moving money around, phenomenal amounts of money just by moving it around, period.
Chris Rock once made a great joke about who were talking about taxing at higher rates. Chris said, people think Michael Jordan is so wealthy (Jordon had just signed a huge contract), Michael Jordan ain’t wealthy, Michael Jordan is rich. The guy who pays Michael Jordan he’s wealthy. Chris is dead on.
The problem is we have couples jointly earning $400,000.00/year. They’re not Joe Flacco; they’re not making $20 million a year. They’re not George Clooney making the same $20 mil per movie plus points of the gross, or Jon Lester who had a great year and earned $34.1 million dollars. This hypothetical couple making a mere $400,000.00 a year they don’t want to hear about taxes going up. They like being able to tell their poorer friends in the real middle-class, that they pay more in federal taxes than they make. What’s really rich is you can find people in both economic classes that vote Republican every time because of the GOP rhetoric on taxes. Both of whom are voting against their interests.
The couple making $400,000/year needs to give up the idea they are part of the middle-class. That’s a good thing but it’s also not who we want to see paying a more significant amount of money on federal income taxes. Yes, their bill is significant. We used to use the 25% rule. When all was said & done, we would keep 75% of what we earned. Well, when both of your earnings top out at just under $60K/year it means you’re keeping less than $45K. If on the other hand you’re making the $400K, you keep $300K. That’s a nearly seven-fold difference in the two households yet both consider themselves middle-class.
People looking for significant changes in our progressive tax code want to take it back to when it more favored the family making five figures, leave the families making six figures pretty much alone, and shift the burden to those who incomes are between seven and nine figures (& more) annually. They also are not suggesting reverting back to the extremes of the forties & fifties. During those years, they were paying for many of those great things I listed before.
Now we have a hard time raising taxes on any income bracket so we pass regressive excise taxes on commodities that harm the people at the bottom of the income scale. We now have two wars to pay for again. We have been paying for them with supplemental funding. Supplemental funding is government-speak for putting it on a charge card. You’re not budgeting for the extra money but you’re spending it anyway. When American families were struggling, they were demonized as irresponsible for over using charge cards, when Congress did it, it was for the good of the nation.
Rules governing the use of supplemental funding need changing. It may need supplemental funding the first year of a war but after that, the cost of military actions should be paid for in our budget. What’s a budget? How quickly we forget, it has only been four years since we last passed one. A budget is proposed by the president, debated first in the house and then sent to the Senate. If the House & Senate approve a budget it becomes the framework for actual spending bills coming out of Congress.
We need to settle this tax debate once & for all. We need to tell the wealthy to go have sex with themselves. You want the opportunity America offers you than you need to pay your bill. We can debate how taxes are spent but we need to end this incessant debating over who gets taxed and by how much. If you’re making a million dollars a year congrats for you, the American dream came true. Now stop forcing your fellow Americans, who are making a fraction of what you do, to pay YOUR tax bill.
We have lived with lawmakers believing in trickle-down economics since it was first called Reaganomics. It was supposed to be the savior of the economy. One problem, since then we have had FIVE recessions, with the last one being so severe it is being called the Great Recession. This is a play on words inspired by the Great Depression because we were so close to matching that economic disaster. Simply stated by many leading economists, trickle-down doesn’t work.
The other thing that economists and the economy agree on, when Democrats are in charge America’s economy goes into high gear. Look economies are always influx, up then down, and then back up again. It’s like the day to day of any individual business. A restaurant for instance used to be so slow on Monday’s they were closed. Yet that same restaurant on a Friday and Saturday night will make more than half of that week’s earnings over those two nights. Our economy will always fluctuate, however the need for taxes will never go away.
Staying with the small business owners for a moment, they complain loudly about taxes & regulations on small businesses. Here’s the problem with those complaints, just because you have the money to open a business, doesn’t mean you should.
Regulations are there to protect you the business owner and your employees. If you can’t afford to operate a safe workplace, you can’t afford to be a business owner. They are not there to stifle business opportunities; they are there to insure your business doesn’t fail because you didn’t put out a wet floor sign.
Taxes on small businesses are usually taxes on someone who is self-employed. What they object to and why they consider Social Security an “entitlement” is because when you are employed by a company they pay half of the employee’s contribution to Social Security, about 6.2%. However, when you are self-employed you are the employer therefor you pay the full 12.4% Social Security withholding. The same is true for Medicare, employee & employer split 2.9% Medicare withholding. This is a hardship on small businesses. It is also something that needs to be taken into consideration before hanging out the open for business sign.
Both my wife and I faced this decision when we were running our own businesses. Both of us decided that we didn’t want the headache of being a small business owner with employees. We made these decisions while running already very successful businesses. If more people looked at the reality of being a small business owner the more likely less will take the plunge.
It is not easy to run successful businesses, just look at how many times you hear a company went under and their CEO was a Stanford MBA grad. Most small business owners didn’t go to Stanford. Many that I have known personally, only had a couple of years of college, some only had a GED. Guess what depending on their common sense level the GED grad has just as much of chance of starting a successful company as the Stanford grad.
Tax & spend is the great GOP mantra concerning taxes and the Democrats. Isn’t that what government is supposed to do? Government needs to spend money. It has to come from somewhere and taxes are the where. Get over it and pay your taxes.