Steve Shackley's BlogRant
"I hope the Republicans love their children too" (paraphrasing Sting)
"Be happy in your work" Mao Tse Tung
2 October 2017
Republicans will attempt to sell their tax plan in the vaguest possible terms: “tax cuts,” “relief for small business,” “tax reform.” They know most people don’t know the ins and outs of the tax code and they think using vague terms like “tax cuts” will make people support their plan. Or—just as bad—that people won’t fight back against it. We can’t let that happen. This plan isn’t “tax reform.” It’s tax cuts for the wealthy. This document explains each of the planned tax cuts for individuals, what it is, and who it helps. (You can find our explainer on corporate tax cuts here.)
The ACA imposed two taxes on high-income earners to help fund subsidies that make insurance affordable for low and middle income Americans buying coverage through the exchanges. One is a 0.9% tax on wage income above $200,000 (or $250,000 for couples). The other is a 3.8% tax on net investment income above $200,000 (or $250,000 for couples). Income from wages is subject to the Medicare tax, but income from investments is not, until it exceeds that $200/250K threshold. The 3.8% tax corrects that differing treatment at income levels above the threshold.
Republicans want one thing: tax breaks for rich people. It’s that simple. Republicans tried to do this through their failed TrumpCare bills, paid for by dismantling Medicaid. Now, they’re trying the exact same thing—full repeal of these taxes—through their tax plan.
$254 billion over 10 years.
Since these taxes only apply to income above $200,000, only Americans with incomes above $200,000 will benefit from this “tax cut.” Repealing these taxes will undermine the stability of health insurance markets by jeopardizing the funding to help low-income Americans afford coverage.
Many owner-operated businesses are organized such that their income is taxed through the owners’ individual income taxes, and not through the corporate tax code. These businesses—which Republicans consistently characterize as “small businesses”—can range from local shops to private law firms and hedge funds. In fact, nearly 70% of all pass-through income is accrued by the top 1%, counter to the Republican charade that pass-throughs are all struggling small businesses.
Currently, pass-through income is taxed at rates on the individual side of the tax code—meaning the wealthiest tax filers with pass-through income pay as much as 39.6%. Republicans want to lower the tax rate on pass-through income to as little as 15%.
$2 trillion over 10 years.
Lowering rates on pass-through income would not benefit “small businesses.” The Tax Policy Center sums it up well:
“First, nearly two-thirds of those with pass-through income are already in the 15 percent bracket or below. Thus, they wouldn’t benefit at all from cutting the pass-through rate to 15 percent. They are already there.”
Beyond that, 90% of the benefits of lowering the rate on pass-through income goes to the top 20% of households—and half the benefits go to the top 1%. In addition, the lower rate would create a huge loophole in the tax code that wealthy people like hedge fund managers could exploit by converting their salary income into business income and thus be subject to the lower rate. One of the biggest beneficiaries of this change? Donald Trump himself. Nearly the entire Trump Organization is structured as a series of pass-through entities—meaning that if Trump and his pals in Congress lower the pass-through tax rate from the top rate of 39.6% to 15%, Donald Trump would see his tax bill cut in half. This underscores the need for Trump to release his tax returns, so the American people can know the serious extent to which he stands to benefit from his own tax policies.
The AMT is a parallel part of the tax code that was put in place to ensure that even the wealthiest individuals cannot exploit tax loopholes to get out of paying taxes altogether. Wealthy individuals must first calculate their tax obligation under the regular tax code, and then calculate it again under the AMT. If the AMT is greater, they must pay the difference.
Republicans want to eliminate the AMT, so the wealthy can once again exploit the tax code to get away with paying little or no taxes at all. This is one of the changes where Trump himself stands to gain the most, and his example illustrates why the AMT is so important. According to his 2005 tax return, Trump paid $38 million in taxes on $153 million in income; $31 million—or four-fifths—of his tax payment was due to the alternative minimum tax. Had it not been in place, his effective tax rate for that year would have been just 3.5 percent. That’s far below what most middle-class families pay.
$462 billion over 10 years.
Rich people. In 2012, Congress passed a permanent fix that limited the AMT’s effect on the middle class. According to the latest IRS data, 93% percent of the AMT is now paid for by individuals making over $200,000.
This is a tax that only affects individuals with estates worth more than $5.5 million. Repeat: the estate tax only affects individuals with estates worth more than $5.5 million. That means only 0.2% of all deaths involve the estate tax. The estate tax is one of the only features of our tax code that forestalls even greater wealth inequality. A recent study shows the richest 400 billionaires have more wealth than the bottom 62% of Americans combined. That kind of wealth inequality is fueled by the persistent concentration of wealth, which the estate tax is intended to correct.
After years of undermining the estate tax by lowering the tax rate and raising the threshold, now Republicans want to repeal it all together.
$300 billion over 10 years.
99.8% of estates would be entirely unaffected since the estate tax already applies exclusively to the wealthiest estates. Of those wealthy estates that it does apply, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the vast majority of benefits from repealing the estate tax would go to families with estates worth $20 million or more.
This is a twofor for Republicans. They get to give the 1% a huge tax cut, and next year they can say: "Sorry, we have no money for Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid". The level of anti-American cruelty among Republicans is at a level not seen since the 1930s Nazis. Thanks again angry white voters. Enjoy your poverty and many early deaths.
5 May 2017 (Cinco de Mayo)
THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND: THE SECOND DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION AND THE END OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN AMERICA
Two social psychologists/demographers, Ron Lestheaghe in Belgium and Lisa Niedert have just published a long-term study of the demographic schism we are currently seeing in the United States between the Trump Nation, those that voted overwhelmingly for Trump, and the rest of us who did not. What are the social and demographic differences, that seem so stark between the two factions - red state and blue state? This was brought to my attention by Thomas Edsall's column in the New York Times : https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/04/opinion/president-trump-is-the-enemy-of-their-enemies.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region®ion=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region.
Edsall is a long-time political columnist in the paper, with a social science bent. He distills the Lestheaghe and Niedert paper, and I'll paraphrase their original research here. The pdf of their paper entitled Spatial Aspects of the American "Culture War": The Two Dimensions of US Family Demography and the Presidential Elections, 1968-2016 here. For those of us trying to figure out why the "other side" is so hell bent on destroying themselves and the American way of life, this is a portal into understanding.
Many of us think that Trump's vitriolic rhetoric will soon wear off, and Trump Nation will finally wake up to the fact that they have been conned. Not so fast. While America is not quite to the point of a Civil War, the separation of ideology or perhaps lifeway has become so distinct that we can no longer hope to communicate with "the other". This all began, not with Reagan, but with Nixon, when the "southern strategy" began to move southern Democrats over into the Republican Party. Using Christianity as a core talking point, and conversely telling those in what has become the red states, that those "liberals" were destroying American values by their anti-Christian ways: cohabitation without marriage, birth control allowing women to control their lives, a "love" for minorities (read brown people). same-sex households, higher incidence of abortion, and sub-replacement fertility. This is what the author's call the second demographic transition. In the 1970s, these ideas were not articulated, but those who newly joined the Republican Party were beginning to realize that they were different from those on the coasts - "liberals". Identifying these differences worked for Reagan through both Bushes, and with Trump was concretized in Republican voter's thinking.
Now, Trump Nation, and those of us "liberals" actually hate each other. or at least have no way of communicating. Last Saturday at a stadium in Harrisburg PA, Trump turned the screws on this hate, and strategically completely ignored his tax plan that would create trillions of federal debt only to enrich those who are already rich, and the Trump Care putative health care plan of Paul Ryan and the Republicans in Congress that would throw tens of millions off health care, mostly Trump supporters and passed by the House on 5/4/2017. No one at that rally cared. As Trump spewed his hate at "liberals" they saw the enemy of their enemy as their friend.
Now Trump Nation sees the educated in the blue states (only 1/3 of the states now) as anti-American elites that look down on them, but Trump is their champion. Lestheaghe and Niedert do not use their research as a predictor and Edsall does not as well. However, if this Civil War continues, and red states continue their gerrymandering of the electoral process and eliminate what's left of voting rights, and we continue to be burdened with an 18th century Electoral College based on slavery, then in our lifetime we may never see another Democratic president or a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party. It is all up to those that voted for Trump in states identified in the study like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, and Michigan (some voted for Obama, and some voted nearly for Clinton), that can wake up and see that the President that putatively speaks for them, really has no interest in them (see image here). Then there is the Democrats that do not vote (see my discussion above in this blog). If Democrats continue to not vote, then we will have a minority determined country with the bible supplanting the Constitution and all that implies, and the wealthy 1% in complete control.
9 March 2017
LIES AND THE LYING LIARS ABOUT THE REPUBLICANS WE DON'T CARE "HEALTH" PLAN
“We’re going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us. People covered under the law can expect to have great health care. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.” Trump interview in Washington Post. (On 4 May 2017 in a close vote, the House or Representatives passed a bill that would eliminate health care for 10s of millions of Americans just to give a tax cut to the already rich)
Here are some facts, that have come to the fore over the last couple of days regarding to the Republican Plan:
Estimates are that for every 800 people
denied health insurance, one person per year will die for lack of health care.
From a 2009 Harvard study, uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher death risk than privately insured counterparts.
A 2014 study estimated the number of deaths attributable to the lack of Medicaid expansion in opt-out states at between 7,115 and 17,104. Medicaid expansion in opt-out states would have resulted in 712,037 fewer persons screening positive for depression (the ones that can now get a gun anytime they want) and 240,700 fewer individuals suffering catastrophic medical expenditures. Medicaid expansion in these states would have resulted in 422,553 more diabetics receiving medication for their illness, 195,492 more mammograms among women age 50-64 years and 443,677 more pap smears among women age 21-64. Expansion would have resulted in an additional 658,888 women in need of mammograms gaining insurance, as well as 3.1 million women who should receive regular pap smears.
People are already dying for lack of Medicaid expansion and more will die unnecessarily if the current Republican plan passes. These congressional hearings are the real death panels determined to inflict pain, suffering, and death on many of their fellow citizens.
Wait until they try and kill Social Security and Medicare...
HOW MUCH CHEAPER WOULD MEDICARE FOR ALL BE?
I've been interested in how much cheaper it would be for Americans to adopt Medicare for all - single payer. Seems there is data for this from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development of which the U.S. is a member. The Republicans, especially the putative "policy wonk" Paul Ryan seems to have missed these data.
All other industrialized countries have some
form of universal government run health care, mostly single payer. They get at
least as good care as measured by all 16 of the bottom line public health
statistics (see below), and they do it at 40% to 50% cheaper than the U.S. If
our system were as efficient, we would save over $1.5 TRILLION each year.
I'll write it again: $1.5 trillion per year saved from health care costs.
www.pnhp.org & www.oecd.org, especially
Here are the per capita figures for health care costs and health data (which take cost of living into consideration) from the OECD in U.S. dollars:
OECD average - 3463
US - 8713
UK - 3235
France - 4124
Australia (similar level of obesity) - 3966
Germany - 4919
Denmark - 4553
The Netherlands - 5131
Canada - 4361
Israel - 2128
Switzerland (Highly regulated private insurance) - 6325
Singapore (2014) - 4037 (WHO)
Let's compare some bottom line statistics between the US and the UK which has real socialized medicine, a system that Republicans hate and constantly lie that it is worse than the mess we have:
Life expectancy at birth:
UK - 81.1
US - 78.8
Infant Mortality (Deaths per 1,000):
UK - 3.8
US - 6.0
Maternal Mortality (WHO):
UK - 9
US - 14
The WHO using a formula developed by The Harvard School of Public Health ranks our system as 38th in the world. (France & Italy are 1 & 2). This formula doesn't include costs. Bloomberg ranked these country's systems on efficiency which does include costs. We came in as 50th out of 55.
19 February 2017
THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (ACA) AND THE LYING LIARS
For nearly seven years, Congressional Republicans have done everything they can to sabotage, discredit, defund, and dismantle the ACA. They have investigated the “failures” of the ACA since taking control of Congress in 2011, and have vowed to replace it with something better. And yet they have nothing, that's nothing, to show for their efforts.
We know that the law in fact is not a failure—the ACA is working. And repealing the ACA would be devastating—not just for the millions who have gained access to affordable coverage through the exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid, but also for anyone—especially women, children, and seniors—who have benefited from the law’s consumer protections. Additionally, those of us in Medicare now no longer have the Bush Administration caused "donut hole" that left millions out of coverage for prescription drugs, making it hard for middle America to continue their opioid addictions. But I digress.
Congress has already begun holding hearings to give the public the false impression that they’re listening to public “concerns.” This is a lie meant to distract from the terrifying truth: Republicans have no replacement plan and are still moving ahead with ACA repeal which would cause more than 30 million people to lose their health care coverage. It means going back to a time when insurance companies could deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions, or when an illness could bankrupt your family.
The fact is that American public supports the ACA and none of the Republican proposals come close to matching what the ACA has accomplished over the last several years.
Coverage v. Access
Republicans are trying to convince Americans that their replacement plan, which they say will guarantee “universal access” to health care, is as good as the ACA. This is a lie! Promising universal access provides no guarantee that families will be able to purchase insurance, even if it is technically available in some form. Your MoC should promise to preserve both access and coverage.
One of the champion lying liars, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan does have a "plan": health savings accounts go here. Health savings accounts, loved by the wealthy, allow you to save, tax free (the two words most loved by the Trump Administration) to be used for a variety of health care issues. So, if you're one of the 1%, you can put your ill gotten gains in these health savings accounts, tax free and use it to pay for your health insurance premiums on the market (the real Republican replacement for ACA), and hide income. That is not a lie. However, if your part of a family of four with the median American salary of about $55,000 annually, how much will you be able to put into a health savings account, and as a Middle Class family, you are not eligible for federal subsidies for health care even if the ACA survives. Holy moly!
Here is the data from New Mexico with a population of just under 2 million (nearly 24% of New Mexicans are on some form of ACA, including Medicaid expansion):
ACA participants in New Mexico, by Congressional district (we only have three representatives)
Michelle Lujan Grisham
Ben Ray Lujĺn
TOTAL, NEW MEXICO = 47,500 ≈ 23.8% OF NEW MEXICANS
Kaiser Family Foundation estimates of Department of Health and Human Services Data. Data available here: http://kff.org/interactive/interactive-maps-estimates-of-enrollment-in-aca-marketplaces-and-medicaid-expansion/
Note that in District 2, 151,000 New Mexicans on the ACA are in the one Republican district of Steve Pearce, who says his constituents want to eliminate the ACA - lies and the lying liars.
So, what do the Republicans get out of this? They finally get to see millions of Americans begging on the streets and dying in the gutters. And of course the cost of health care will skyrocket for the rest of us, assuming there is anything left that the 90% can afford. Will the Koch Brothers and Republicans finally, finally be happy then? Enquiring minds want to know. Ask your Congressional representative that question.
WHY DEMOCRATS WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR A REPUBLICAN WRITTEN NEW CONSTITUTION
During the 2018 mid-terms when most Democratic voters will not vote, Democrats will lose up to 10 Senate seats, and most likely at least another four or five seats by 2020 after the census. If this happens, the Republicans can call a Constitutional Convention with no Democratic votes (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/16/democratic-party-chairs-struggle-harness-activism-burst/97978582/). It won't matter what Trump or the Republicans do in the next four years. No one is talking about this. A Republican written Constitution will eliminate all domestic programs and supplant much of bible gobbledygook as principles. This includes free public education, federal services (National Park System, National Forest System, Bureau of Land Management), voting rights for minorities, women's health... The majority of the annual trillion dollar budget will go to "defense" or more properly "offense".
How is this constitutionally possible? All it takes is 2/3 of the votes in both Houses of Congress, the support of the President, and 2/3 of the states. Thirty-one of 50 states are now controlled by Republicans, many extreme conservatives and extremely religious zealots. While Democrats are not wholly responsible for this, they are a major factor since 50% often don't vote particularly in mid-terms.
This is a possible reality. And all because Democrats don't vote, or at least 50% of them don't. Well, maybe Trump will all end it with WWIII and nuclear annihilation anyway. Instead of the DNC supporting the Presidency, it is time to focus on local elections - city, county, state, even dog catcher. That's how the Koch Brothers got control of the states. They plan on spending another 300 to 400 million dollars on local elections during the coming cycle.
10 February 2017
WHAT DID WE FIGHT FOR?
Yesterday, the Ninth Federal Circuit of Appeals ruled that President Trump could not cherry pick which people could come to America, just because they weren't Christian. I imagine this will make its way to the Supreme Court, although Gorsuch his ultra-conservative pick for that body will have to recues himself from any decision I believe.
As mentioned before, I was a Marine officer in the late 60s and early 70s, an enlisted tracked-vehicle repairman in Vietnam in 1969-70 as it became apparent that we were losing, and the Secretary of the Navy was pulling Marines out. I was lucky enough to be one of them, and didn't have to spend the entire 13 month tour in-country. A younger fellow Marine, Phil Kay, today wrote an important essay in the New York Times (here). Entitled "What we're fighting for", it, like many of us veteran's re-states the principles of the Constitution that service men and women swear upon entering the sometimes dangerous corps to defend the Constitution. What are these principles? Is it the dangerous rant of a new President upon his inauguration that talks about torturing captives, or his tweets that suggest he has no respect for the judicial branch of our government because they rightly told him that keeping people out of our country because they weren't Christian was not Constitutional? Mr. Kay puts that into perspective as a veteran, and one who knew another that did torture in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and the psychological consequences of that action, and that it only prevented something one time.
Phil goes on to ask, what is America: "But if we choose to believe that America is not just a set of borders, but a set of principles, we need to act accordingly." I responded:
Like you, I'm a Marine vet, but from another time. Many of us agree that America is a "set of principles" an idea that has been emulated around the world for more than 200 years. And, like you, I suspect, I was horrified to hear our commander and chief not only talk about torture, but codify it into our history. What will the world think after the next four years? Have we Americans turned our backs on that "set of principles" that once I was proud to embody as a Marine and American?
The Ninth Circuit judges, two Democrats and one Republican, made it clear that we are a nation built on principles and not defined by borders.
9 February 2017
Jeff Sessions and the final nail in the voting rights coffin
Yesterday, Republicans and one Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, confirmed one of the most racist Senators in recent history as U.S. Attorney General - here's the vote. Democrats have probably the most work ever to do now in all areas of American freedom, but with the confirmation of Sessions as Attorney General, voting rights is in the Republicans cross-hairs. Gone will be accountability to police departments, state and local governments, and employers, rights of women and minorities, gun safety, and simply no examination of corporate greed and misbehavior so common in 21st century America.
So, what do we do? We support Senator Elizabeth Warren here too, and others in government that will hold Sessions accountable and make his likely illegal and immoral judgments' visible in our "alternative truth" world. On the local level we as Democrats must make voting rights one of the pivotal positions in 2018 and beyond. Democrats must learn to vote! Help those that need it to register and get to the polls. Make as much noise as possible. While 70% of America gets its news from Fox News and Brietbart's "alternative facts" getting out on the streets does get attention. If ever there was a time to organize in American history, today is the day.
Why don't Democrats vote? I worked in Berkeley, California for 23 years. When I first got there, one of the number one things I wanted to do, coming from rather staid San Diego, was go to the famous Berkeley city council meetings. This was in 1990. Whew! This was Democracy in action - yelling, screaming, farting, dribbling, kicking each other... Man, this was great. I was standing next to a guy that looked like me in the early 70's - hair down past his shoulders, beard that had never been trimmed. Did I see a roach in it? I digress. I asked him if it was always this way, and his eyes glazed over and he said yes, it's great! I asked him what he did for a living, and he looked at me like I had lobsters crawling out my nose, and said "I never work". At age 18, his parents said if you leave here and never come back, we'll give you a trust fund for the rest of your life. Wow, what a story. I met many like him over my years in Berkeley. After a while, and after the Supreme Court elected George W. Bush President, mainly due to many DINOs (Democrats in Name Only) who voted for Ralph Nader (just like Michigan DINOS voting for Jill Stein this time), I began asking Berkleyans, when the occasion arose whether they voted. NONE OF THEM DID!! Why, I asked each time. The answer invariably was: "All the candidates are the same. It doesn't really matter". Holy shit, we've created the take over of America by these anti-American Republicans ourselves.
In the last mid-term election in New Mexico (2014), the fewest Democrats voted in 60 years, and we got (wait for it) the first Republican controlled state House in 60 years. Well you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see the linear relationship here. We reversed it in 2016, but whew, did they come up with some whoppers, only stopped by the Democrats in the state Senate - abortion illegal in New Mexico even given it's a federal law, jail for doctors or women who are involved in an abortion, elimination of corporate taxes, transferring federal land to the state (read developers), stating that President Obama wasn't an American citizen, etc., etc. Of course, they were aided and abetted by our "I wanna be President" completely insane Republican Governor Martinez, but I digress again.
And Democrats caused that. Only 6% of Democrats under the age of 35 voted in 2014. We are the unpatriotic Americans here. Would 31 of 50 states be controlled by Republicans now if we all had voted? NO. We must work as hard as we can to get each and every Democrat to the polls, not just during Presidential elections, but for city council, especially school boards because the Tea Party is hoping to supplant the Constitution with the Bible in public schools - hell, even dog catcher elections (there was a former dog catcher Tea Party Republican elected to the house during the Bush Administration). Either we all vote and fight for it on the local level, or the evil Jeff Sessions and the Nazis win. Period.
8 February 2017
American Universities Must Take a Stand
In today's New York Times, Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College challenged academics and American universities to take a stand against the tyranny and anti-intellectualism of the Trump Administration - here. I won't repeat all he said, but a number of points I will make. As a Jewish refugee coming to America, his family was stateless, and his patriotism is rooted in that experience. I made a comment, part of which is included here:
Thank you Mr. Botstein. I have a very different past, but one that is repeated again and again throughout our country. I am from a poor background, growing up in a trailer park in rural San Diego County, the first in my family to go to college, used the GI Bill, and taught anthropology/archaeology at UC, Berkeley for 23 years. Now, I am a science and combat veteran adviser for Gabby Gifford's and Mark Kelly's Americans for Responsible Solutions. As an emeritus faculty, I no longer have to compete for NSF dollars to keep my lab and students working. My concern, and I wholly support the notion that as scientists we finally need to speak up, is that as Republicans in Congress have threatened that specific specialties will be targeted for zero funding in NSF, NIH, NEH, and NEA, my field of anthropology/archaeology as one of them, we need to respond. So, what do we do? As someone who had to work their way to the top, I say we fight. I will not be silent, from non-violent protest on the streets, to supporting my veteran and academic colleagues, to being in my representatives' face. If we do not, it may not matter whether we have funded jobs left. With the confirmation of DeVos as Secretary of Education, and the anti-intellectualism of the Republican Party, academics may all be out of a job unless you work at a religious "university". We may actually be fighting not only for our country, but for our very academic lives, and we will at least feel better about ourselves if we fight.
2 February 2017
OVERPOPULATION AND THE "TRUMP NATION"
The adoring white, white faces at Trump's Inauguration (left) and
The Trump Rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in late April 2017 (right)
Look at all those brown people in the Trump adoring crowd! In that view one can see why these people will not notice as much when their health care, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid disappears - the brown people will be worse off. Note that the Koch Brothers are one of the right-wing organizations that are creating a media blitz supporting Gorshuch's nomination, one of the most conservative candidates ever. See Linda Greenhouse's essay today in the NY Times here, and a pediatric professor and health care economist on Republican's ideas on Medicare). The Koch Brothers with their henchmen and women in the street in this photo here will insure an extremely conservative nation with millions in the street begging and dying in the gutters which will include them, but most brown Americans. Will David Koch be happy then, finally?
One aspect of this that anthropologists and others have been saying for decades is the role of overpopulation. Would all this be happening if the U.S. had a population of say 150 million instead of 380 million? The role of a limited good is one of the major unsaid drivers here. And there is a "right" where both liberals and conservatives agree - no one has the right to limit the number children I want to have. Add the effects of global warming, and we ain't seen nothin' yet.
23 January 2017
The Women's Rally in Albuquerque
Along with other Vietnam Veteran's, I supplied security for the 20,000 strong Women's Rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, January 21. At times it almost made me weep for the real heightened feelings from the women and men of my state. There were also rallies in Las Cruces, Silver City, Deming, Portales, Santa Fe, and Taos. Our two Senators Heinrich and Udall, and Congresswoman Lujan-Grisham, and Congressman Ben Lujan marched in DC. Millions of women, men and children marched and rallied for women's rights as human rights all over the world: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/21/us/women-march-protest-president-trump.html. However, we've done this before, and to no avail. Here are the images from around the world: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/21/world/womens-march-pictures.html
I've said it before, Democrats are unpatriotic for one reason - they don't vote. During the last mid-term election in New Mexico, the fewest Democrats voted in 60 years, and we had the first Republican lead House in 60 years. This is a linear relationship people. We reversed it this time because many more Democrats voted - pure and simple. At the rally Saturday I had the opportunity to ask the 20-somethings in the crowd if they voted. While this is not a statistically supportable sample, over 50% said they did not vote, and one even said she thought it didn't matter, all the while screaming for women's rights! If we get more Democrats out to vote we can recover this, otherwise a near totalitarian reality will be our reality (see my comments on Social Security below). This is especially true in the red and rust states. Help people to get IDs, car pool to the polls when they decrease the number of polls. It will be hard work, but we will get our country back.
If we do not do this, the following could become a reality for America promulgated by the Republican trolls:
- strip you of access to healthcare;
- ensure you drink poisoned water, or water that lights on fire;
- turn federal land over to red states to allow gas companies to frak and drill at will, and eliminate all access;
- make sure the planet heats up to the point that human civilization collapses;
- ensure your daughters and sisters have unwanted pregnancies and children, putting more pressure on already strained family finances, and ensuring a huge prison population;
- take away your union founded rights to overtime, vacations, weekends, fairness in the workplace, decent wages...;
- guarantee that you are obscenely underpaid, no matter now many jobs you work;
- guarantee that billionaires pay less than half the tax rate you do, and walk away with it;
- send you and your children to die and get maimed in pointless wars abroad to line the pockets of the military-industrial complex;
- deny you dignity in retirement by strip-mining or eliminating Social Security and Medicare, with millions begging in the streets and dying in the gutters;
- keep you and your children ignorant and uneducated by gutting education;
- keep up a constant chorus that denigrates you and your class as lazy leeches and takers and moochers;
- replace the Constitution with the bible.
While some of these horrible outcomes will become reality in the next four years, much of it could be rolled back if we re-take the White House and Senate. This can ONLY happen if we vote.
Here's a copy of INDIVISIBLE: A PRACTICAL GUIDE for RESISTING THE TRUMP AGENDA here
WHY 85% OF EVANGELICALS VOTED FOR AN ANTI-CHRISTIAN NARCISSIST
I am fortunate to live next door to an evangelical couple, who in my estimation are good people (most of the rest of my neighbors are Democrats including an Iraqi-American family). They truly live by Christian tenets, and I actually like them, and they are good neighbors. They were Trump supporters. Why? New Mexico is a much more religious state than California, my home state. While there are many Catholics, most of whom are Democrats, evangelical churches are common, including in my own neighborhood.
Anthropologists, including a few at Stanford, such as Tanya Luhrmann (https://anthropology.stanford.edu/people/tanya-marie-luhrmann), have actually performed ethnographic research at evangelical churches and interviewed many evangelicals. One striking observation, and one I've made as well, is that an important belief is that one must suffer to get to heaven. Some evangelical preachers have stated to the congregation that Medicare and Social Security are evil and if we lose them, and you are a believer, you will suffer and be the first in line to get to heaven. The bible is full of utterances about suffering. Lucky us.
So, many evangelicals feel that even if Trump and the Republicans bring nationwide suffering, those that believe will take the "stairway to heaven", although I think of Led Zeppelin when I hear that.
Now, you might say that they voted for Trump because they were racist. Well, they might be, but that's not the path to heaven, so you won't hear racist comments from my neighbors.
THE GREED OF TRUMP VOTERS
I read this headline from another NY Times article today: "California Farmers Backed Trump, but Now Fear Losing Field Workers" here. This comes from the "what the hell did you think" quarter. California's Central Valley supplies 70% of America's food, and if Trump is successful at stopping food coming from Mexico, it will be closer to 90%. So, why did the farmers vote for Trump? Greed. They wanted the corporate tax cuts, but selectively didn't believe his rants about immigrants. Nearly all, that's nearly all of the workers in the Central Valley fields are undocumented immigrants, mostly from Mexico. If Trump does what he said he'll do, and he's been pretty much right on about his stupidity, the entire Central Valley economy worth tens of billions of dollars per year, will collapse along with the food America depends on. Think about it.
Alabama tried this and lost. It was lost on the Central Valley farmers as well, since they don't talk about it on Fox News or Breitbart lies. At the beginning of the Great Recession, Alabama passed a law that it was illegal to use illegals on state farms. All those white men and women who were now out of a job in Alabama would rush to pick peaches and cotton on the state's farms. NO! They wouldn't do that work, preferring to live on food stamps and other federal assistance that they, by the way, hated. The farms went belly up. One farmer stated, and I'm paraphrasing here: "I lost my farm, my wife, my house, but it's still a good law". Well, these Central Valley farmers, as America starves, except for the 1% of course who can get food from Europe or Russia, can just say: "It's a good law".
Well, since the Republicans in Congress and the Administration are hell bent on eliminating all social support for Americans, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamp program, education for our children, all health care, then we can just get those pesky old people and children out into the fields to pick our food for $2 a day. That would be better than watching the 71 million old folks on Social Security and Medicare begging in the streets and dying in the gutters. Since, I'm one of them, maybe I can get a six figure job with the Trump Administration for thinking this idea up. Oh, they're already thinking of that, sorry.
As I've said before, there is a silver lining in this very dark cloud of the Trump Presidency. Those angry white voters in the rust belt and south will be some of the first to be affected. Maybe they can say: "It's still my Presidency" as they die early, bankrupt and in debtors prison.
25 January 2017
Mick Mulvaney, Trump's Budget Director, lied through his hearing about Social Security and Medicare
On Tuesday, Mick Mulvaney was grilled by Republicans and Democrats (Sanders and Warren) on his "qualifications" to "direct" the budget for POTUS (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/24/us/politics/trump-cabinet-hearing-confirmation.html). Sanders opened the question about Social Security, and Mulvaney followed the Republican lie that Social Security would be "empty" of funds in about 6 years as well as Medicare. Both are the lie they will use on Fox News to make their idiot public believe that you might as well get rid of Social Security because it costs money and it will be gone soon anyway. Trumps pick for Health and Human Services, Tom Price M.D. is going down that same road. However, it's all a lie - surprise, surprise. Here are some facts from the Social Security Administration that actually runs Social Security and Medicare for us all (www.ssa.gov):
1) there are 171 million workers covered under Social Security, including those who voted for Trump. 51% of the workforce has no pension savings, and 31%, including Trump supporters, have reported that they have no savings for retirement.
2) There are 61 million Americans, including yours truly, receiving Social Security benefits that they have paid into over their working life. About 55 million of those, including yours truly, are receiving Medicare benefits that, since 1965, have been paying into over their working lives.
3) Nine out of ten over 65 are receiving Social Security.
4) By 2026, and likely later given that the Obama economy is booming again and more people are paying into it, Social Security without any changes will still be able to pay 75% of current benefits, not "empty" as Mulvaney lied, and Fox News will continue the lie online and TV.
5) It is not an "entitlement" in legal terms, it's an insurance program as a defined pension plan where currently employed pay a tax (6.2% of salary) calculated over one's working years. Same with Medicare. Republicans, and yes Democrats in Congress have been raiding the Social Security pot (trillions of dollars) regularly, most recently to pay for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
6) Some GOP trolls say that it will only apply to those not currently on Social Security and Medicare. There are at least two reasons why this remains cruel and unAmerican:
a) These are insurance plans not entitlements (see above) and without the younger population paying into the pool, it will be broke in no time, so Mulvaney was right, but only because they would de-fund it. So, it could be a twofer for these Nazis in Congress, after a period of time, those of us on SS and Medicare will be screwed because they will invoke their "sorry" mantra: "Oops, sorry there's no money left for your Social Security and Medicare. Have a nice life, what's left of it." Don't forget that Republican Congressman from some southern State who said of the poor "Why don't they just die".
b) and see below, this will mean that our children and grandchildren, essentially all our progeny will have nothing in the future.
So, I've said it before, elimination of Social Security and Medicare WILL result in millions begging on the street and dying in the gutters either very soon or during the next generation. Whether Republicans will be happy then, it is not clear. Probably happy because the 1% will then have all the money, and be creating all those great jobs for the majority of Americans.