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TAIL WAGGING THE DOG

I have watched the parade of atrocities, missteps, and unbelievable decisions that have engulfed the Trump administration these last several months. Indeed, the daily barrage of ignorance, miscalculation, and just plain stupidity have been born out across the media and social networks in such numbers to have numbed the observer to any new egregious outbursts. Basically, we are just plain tired of the circus and want to go home.

But the ticket has been bought and the seat taken. Unless some miracle happens, such as the clowns refusing to participate anymore in these sad acts, or even the fire marshal shutting it down, we are doomed to watch it unfold for another 31 months. Fortunately, an intermission appears in 5 months and we may be able to save ourselves from this interminably bad production. Until then, what do we make of this buffoon and his presidency? Why does his right-wing support grow and strengthen?

After nearly 16 months of observing this man/child’s presidency and speaking, chatting and reading about him from his supporters, some conclusions have been drawn. His supporters, his hard-core supporters think he and his actions are ‘saving’ this great nation. They aren’t deluded, maybe delusional, but not deluded. His supporters had come to believe the globalism inherent in our earlier administrations were destroying our national identity and ideology. The embrace of international concerns was not, in fact, ensuring our countries security and future. But were deceptions taking our funds, our tax dollars away to support ideologies, people, and nations elsewhere in defiance of the our common good.

Many truly believed that Washington D.C. bureaucratic and political establishment had become so entrenched that it was immune to the protestations and ideologies of the American people. A belief shared by many across all spectrums of the electorate. But instead of recognizing their complicity in this paralysis due to their hard-core inability to accept any compromise; a position birthed from their insistence that compromise is what got us here. They doubled down by electing a true outsider. A person known to disrupt, if for no other reason than the theater of the disruption itself.

They knew they were electing a fraud and they were glad of it. He is doing everything they wanted him to do, walking away from international accords, closing our borders, standing firm against foreigners, and putting the most egregious people in positions of power. Positions that enable them to rail against and hopefully destroy the entrenched bureaucracy, the ‘deep state’ (i.e. civil servants), that refuse to listen and bend to the will of the people.

But herein is the problem, these so-called patriots don’t know what they are talking about. They aren’t the rebels bringing down the empire. They aren’t the minute men standing against the tyranny of the King. They and their ignorance are the collective disease that could destroy our country. Really destroy it. Not only its ideology, but its very existence. But they will never see it because they live in a world of sound bites, click bait headlines, and propaganda.

Not once! Not once when confronted on those issues in which they cheered the news of some political or policy demise did these Trumpites offer any understanding of why that agreement or this policy was enacted in the first place. They refused to understand that we are a country of immigrants and they themselves are the children or great grandchildren of immigrants. Closing our borders is denying ourselves. They do not understand the depths of the Iran agreement and the many subtleties involved in moving a theocratic government into the civilization of men and women. They do not see where they are the beneficiaries of the very social programs they are voting to destroy. The Trumpites and Trump himself only see the black and white of any issue. The irony is not lost since they receive their limited information on color television.

They do not see, nor want to see, the merits of any position they oppose. Then again, that is their downfall. To them we are all winning now. We are finally getting the government and bureaucracy that we deserve. We even have bureaucracies, major governmental departments, that are running without leaders. Proof mind you, proof that they and their bureaucracies were never needed in the first place.

Merit is never what they sought. The virtue of a solid argument well supported with evidence and a consensus of the majority is not their goal. They have always come to a problem sideways. Resistance to their beliefs have always made them seek success through deception, interpretation of rules, subversion of policies, or outright lies. Guilt or shame was never their burden. They were always fighting ‘the man’ and you used what you had to win. The will of the majority was always wrong, simply because the majority was always manipulated by those in power.

So now what we have in the United States is the tail wagging the dog. Trump and the Trumpites, supporting Republicans and likeminded independents have through every survey and poll always registered as the minority view. They have gained no more than 40% of the nation in support of their positions and usually quite a bit less. Even in Trumps heralded victory 57% of the voters wanted someone, anyone else but him to be President.

The minority, through its manipulations of elections and preying on the levers of law, is telling the majority what to do. It isn’t the first time it has happened and I doubt it will be the last. Still it is time for it to stop. It is time for the big dog to hold still. It is time to return to majority rule. The policies and procedures the minority wants is not good for the country. Those institutions they are ignoring or letting decay are destroying our foundations. Our future as a global leader, as an economic power house, as a country with the highest personal living standards is at stake.

This time the majority must be heard. The minority cannot continue to jeopardize our country with ignorance, superstition, and false ideology. This time the majority must vote and be counted. Make sure you do.

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What the DACA is going on?

With a plethora of possible rants to choose from — hurricanes, North Korea and tax reform among them — today I have chosen immigration, primarily because of President Trump’s announcement that he would phase out the DACA program initiated by President Obama. Now many of you may not even know to what this latest government and media acronym refers. Let me enlighten you.

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It mandates a Department of Homeland Security administrative function. Implemented during the Obama presidency, it allows children that were brought to the United States by undocumented immigrants to be given a two-year renewable deferment and the possibility of a work permit. It was an effort to right a terrible wrong against children.

The understanding was that children had no choice in their immigration to the U.S. Their parents brought them whether they wanted to come or not. Now, after living decades in the United States, only their nation of birth keeps them from declaring themselves full and complete United States citizens. It’s sort of like living with a stepdad your entire life. Mr. What’sHisName planted the seed, but your Daddy is what grew ya’. As far as the immigrant children are concerned, Daddy is family. Mr. What’sHisName is some unknown stranger. Hell, you probably don’t even speak What’sHisName’s language.

But our antiquated immigration laws declared that those years with Daddy held no bearing on your loyalties. Mr. What’sHisName, whom you have never seen, lived with nor spoken with, was the sole decider of your Familia. You know, Daddy ain’t your Daddy. He’s just a placeholder. So, DACA was initiated as an administrative function of the Department of Homeland Security. It wasn’t an Executive Order. It wasn’t a law enacted by Congress. It wasn’t even funded by American taxpayers. Financing was provided through the fees paid by those who applied for the deferment.

Nice solution. No harm, no foul, no cost. Applicants had to have been brought by their families. You had to be under the age of 16 in 2007 to apply and a plethora of regulations ensured no crooks, criminals or social deviants were admitted. Plus, you had to reapply every two years to ensure you continue to be a good, contributing member of society. We keep the best of the crop and send the rest packing.

Why is this a “bad” thing?

Well, 26 governors, all Republicans, 20 of whom have no immigration problem, said it was. Didn’t matter that this program followed an outline of immigration reform designed by the Gang of Eight and passed by the Republican Senate in 2013. Didn’t matter that John Boehner didn’t bring it up in the House the same year even though whip counts indicated it would pass. Didn’t matter that it only affected children and teens who were, through no fault of their own, already here and full-fledged members of our society. No. It’s “bad” because the Obama administration violated the Constitution, because Obama by-passed Congress. You know, that same do-nothing, obstructionist Congress that passed Obamacare repeal 57 times and shut down the United States government.

So, off to court we go again. An injunction was sought and granted, but that only prevented expansion of the program. And by a divided court at that. You know, the Supreme Court with only eight members because Republicans wouldn’t act on the nomination of a new Justice to fill a vacancy. The resulting 4-4 tie left the original program in doubt.

Now, with their newly minted conservative Justice and Republican President, the court and Congress is set to answer this liberal assault against the U.S. Constitution. Forget that this will impact over 800,000 children and young adults. Forget that Republicans in Congress allowed President Obama to implement this program because they couldn’t pass wind. Forget that Republicans could have avoided all of this and saved the youngest among us all the stress and worry if they would do their damn job! No. To the barricades! We must protect our Constitution, or at least our interpretation of the Constitution, from those liberal-leaning socialists!

So here we sit, using children and young adults in a game of political football. The result is an embarrassing shame. What makes this so frustrating is that there are 321 million people in the United States. Only 5.2 million of them are actually Native Americans. The rest of us, all of us, are immigrants or the children of immigrants. If it weren’t for immigrants, there would be no United States, no Constitution, no freedom. To deny immigrants entry into our country is to deny ourselves.

What’s worse to my mind is that illegal immigration has been flat since 2009. An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants are currently in the U.S. That’s the same as in 2009. What this means is that, besides being a red herring issue fed to the masses to stoke unfounded fears, new illegal immigrants aren’t coming. Those who are here have been here, most of them for decades. We have become a nation that few wish to risk sacrificing everything to achieve. We are losing our status as a place of dreams and opportunities. We are choking off our own life blood.

As for those who still insist that illegal immigration is taking jobs away from hard-working Americans, I refer you to the recent jobs reports in Businessweek that showed crops rotting in the fields, farms failing and small businesses closing, all for the lack of immigrant labor. The vaunted white workforce refuses to apply. Jobs are plentiful, even with undocumented immigrants. Eight million “illegals” work in the United States, most of them in farming and construction. Yet, unemployment remains at less than 4.4%, typically defined as full employment.

Illegal immigration is an old song with a really bad score. The only ones who continue to sing it are those who want to pull up the drawbridge after they themselves have safely crossed. Instead of holding children hostage to legislative inadequacies, let’s insist Congress do its job and fix the problem. Placing blame is easy, but it is also an excuse. Let’s relight the flame of freedom and opportunity and welcome all to our shores. Let’s know what is important and what isn’t. And remember, as we walk through this shame, the party you choose and your vote for that party matters. It matters a great deal.

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Rubio. Where for art thou, Rubio?

I’m angry. We live in a republic. Now, I know a lot of you are going to interject and say we live in a democracy, but you would be wrong. Go find the definition on your own if you don’t understand the difference. I don’t have time here to teach you because, frankly, I’m more than a bit upset with our Senator, Marco Rubio, and his inability to live up to the most basic part of a republic. The basic premise is that HE is supposed to do the research and gather the information before he takes a vote representing us. He seems incapable of doing so even in the simplest of tasks. He just hangs onto and parrots party dogma and propaganda as truth. Then he uses the line of false rhetoric to justify his votes on OUR behalf.

Case in point: I’ve just watched his video wherein he states he has decided to back the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) without a replacement. Well, considering Obamacare saved my life quite literally, you might understand why I have an interest. His ignorance on this issue is appalling. His basic premise is that Obamacare is a failure, that it was unsustainable and is not working. (All evidence aside, I might add.) The reason for the failure is that younger workers were paying extremely high premiums for what amounts to nothing more than catastrophic insurance. These premiums were so high as to seriously affect their ability to support themselves. He also states that these premiums were having detrimental effects on employer-sponsored insurance plans, raising their costs and lowering coverage.

Both items are bullshit in its most pungent form, and it doesn’t take an insurance actuary or a mathematician to figure it out. All you need to do to get the figures for coverage on the Obamacare plan is go to https://www.healthcare.gov/see-plans/ and put in as many figures, scenarios, and variables as you want to determine the cost of your coverage. Best of all, in the final analysis you get to “CHOOSE” the coverage you want. What? Oh. My. God! You have choice? In healthcare? In the current health care plan? Who could’ve thunk it? And, yes, you can even stipulate that you qualify for employer coverage, Medicaid, or whatever. You can choose the state, the zip code, the number of people you are covering. It’s all there, Right in front of you. You don’t have to speculate, Mr. Rubio.

And what does this burdensome effort find if you go through the ten-minute process of checking from your laptop or cell phone? Well, if you’re a single male of 32 years making $30,000 a year, you can get health care insurance for less than $185 a month with guaranteed coverage of 10, count ’em, 10 conditions including ambulance service, prescription medications, and pre-existing conditions. Is the deducible high? Well, yes, in this scenario, because I chose to list my probability of using health care as low. I could have chosen higher or lower premiums, but I didn’t. The choice was mine. Something the Senator would have known had he done his job.

Now, you might be puffing up and arguing, “Yeah, but the annual premium is still $2,220. Really? You’re going to go there? I mean, insurance is so much more than the simple coverage and the premium. Insurance, in case you didn’t know, and it appears Sen. Rubio doesn’t, provides negotiated pricing for services and drugs, much lower than the cash prices. Yes! Oh gosh, oh golly — YES! Insurance companies negotiate the prices they will pay hospitals, pharmacies, and doctors on your behalf. That is the reason for their existence. Not only do you have access to care when you need it because you have an insurance card, but they charge you less, much less, than the retail price for the same services. Can you freakin’ believe it!

Now, let’s go to your “company policy” argument. You know the one about Obamacare being detrimental to employee sponsored insurance plans. First, I’m both a current and former owner of small businesses. What in your right mind makes you think I’d want to be responsible for my employees’ and their families’ health insurance? Why would I want to have to make the monthly premium checks, monitor members’ eligibility, negotiate coverage and do all the other things that create a human resources nightmare? Are you kidding me?

Many small companies provide insurance that doesn’t meet the basics required by the Affordable Care Act. You know things such as ambulance service, prescription drugs and pre-existing condition coverage. That’s why their premiums are so low. Talk about catastrophic-only insurance. Look, a lot of companies don’t offer the basics for the simple reason they are trying to get their employees off their plans so they don’t have the headache anymore. And believe me, employee health insurance is a big headache. It takes thousands of dollars, if not hundreds of thousands, of time and energy each year for employers to monitor and negotiate health insurance. It’s much easier to get out of the game and concentrate on, you know, your business.

So, Senator Rubio, when you get on your high horse and put out a video explaining your vote to take insurance away from more than 32 million Americans, at least do the least you can do. Do your homework. Quit parroting the company line and for your constituent’s sake question the messenger. After all, the Republican Party didn’t elect you. We did. The people of the State of Florida. Do what’s best for us, not the propaganda that has been spewing from the depths of partisan disinformation and rhetoric.


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Only 100, Seems an Eternity

It’s been 100 days of unrelenting ignorance, stupidity, drama and comedy. And, no, I am not talking about the new Netflix season. This is about the tenure of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Probably the only thing that distresses me more than the possibility that we may have to put up with this failure of a human being for four years – perhaps eight! – is his strong, continued support of the voters who elected him.

The man said he wanted to disrupt Washington if he got elected, and by any measure he has succeeded in that. But there is a large difference between constructive demolition and ignorant destruction. His actions thus far confirm we can safely assume he is capable only of the latter. This random, oblivious obliteration of traditions, constructs, policies and procedures was expected by most Americans who went to the polls. What else could we have expected from a man so ignorant in the powers of the office he sought or the politics of the position? We would have had to look hard for someone more incompetent than the one who entered the White House on January 20. Yet, just barely enough voters blessed us with this incompetency. But, why?

In an April 27, 2017, ABC/Washington Post poll, after all the lunacy that has happened in the past 100 days, fully 96 percent of those who voted for Trump said it was the right thing to do and they would do it again. Only 2 percent felt they had made a mistake. It makes one wonder at what point would the other 98 percent also admit to a mistake. Does it take the world dissolving at their feet and hot fire at their toes before they recognize the failure? Or would they even then? Is pride just too important in their lives?

Here’s an incredibly negative poll for Trump. Sixty-four percent of Republicans said Trump was doing better in the presidency than they expected! This isn’t a good thing. Apparently, the bar was set so low for his capabilities that only 26% said he was doing about what they expected. Fifty-six percent of Democrats and 34 percent of Independents can believe how badly he is doing compared to their lowered expectations.

So why the continued support? In the face of this debacle, why do his voters continue to support him? Don’t they see the danger we are in? Are they oblivious to the destruction? The short answer is yes and no. They see the danger and destruction, but don’t necessarily believe it’s a bad thing. Some even think he is “correcting” a corrupt system. They see government as this big evil that must be destroyed. Trump, they believe, is demolishing the house so he can rebuild. Sorta like a “FixerUpper” TV reality show.

Let’s examine both ends of the spectrum. When President Obama was in office, Republicans could not understand how we could support him when he was so obviously wrong and destructive. Now the left is returning the favor. I can safely say that at no time did Obama deserve either the whole-hearted support or the whole-hearted hatred he received while in office. That’s a product of choosing sides. So, I can understand Republicans’ support of Trump, to a point. But, at no time did I see in any fashion the utter ignorance, stupidity and drama in Obama’s eight years in office that I’ve seen in 100 days of the Trump presidency.

I am completely exhausted and wish this nightmare would end. So, why doesn’t it? Why does Trump still have such strong support?

On April 29, 2017, President Trump told Reuters that he thought the job “would be easier.” Many jumped on this comment as further evidence of his incompetence. What I saw, however, was continuing evidence of a lack of understanding of the duties of political office by not only Trump, but also his supporters.

I frequently run into absolutists, people who are absolutely certain that political office is a service and political service should be provided free. Anything else is corruption. When it comes to school board or city council members, I have heard the comment time and again that “those people only work two days a month and 2 hours at a time. Why are we paying ’em for part-time work?” The same can be applied to state senators, representatives, congressmen and even governors. Not once do these absolutists research the voluminous number of hours our elected officials must spend going to workshops, lobbying for their communities and schools, reading countless reports, and attending multiple meetings to keep the public informed. Four hours a month? They should be ashamed.

It is ignorance like this that drives voters to believe a highly inexperienced man with dubious intelligence and a penchant for lying could possibly run a government with 800,000 employees, a $1.8 trillion (yes, I said trillion) operating budget and a GDP of 18 trillion dollars. Forget adding in all the other requirements – global leadership, guiding legislative action and national security. Hell, until the population understands that we can’t resolve our problems in a 44-minute reality show we will face constant challenges to “Make America Great Again.” I’ve got news for you: America is already great. And it’s because of this greatness we will get through this debacle.

What we need is less absolutists and more adult education. More understanding of what it takes to run a government. It’s too late for civics classes for adults, but maybe ads, commercial, infomercials, or even an adult “School House Rock”. Anything to wean them off the idea that government is easy, simple and straight forward. Anything to teach them that government in the US means to govern all the people and all the cultures not just the few in your neighborhood or your community. We need to invest more in high school civics classes not less. So future generations don’t have to face the same ignorance that forced us to accept the least among us to govern us. Our country nor the world can suffer this continued ignorance.

What we need, what we really need, is to teach our fellow Americans, everyone from the oldest adult to the youngest new potential voter, our place in this world and our country. We need to move them beyond rhetoric, 140 tweet characters and instant media gratification. We need to make them understand that governing is hard. It is hard at every level from the local school board to the Oval Office. We need them to know we need men and women in those offices who are capable of doing the job, who really understand what that job entails.

We need to grow up and throw out that old Cincinnatus myth. We can no longer simply plow our fields, go fight a war and then return to our plowshares. Our government, whether national or local, needs dedicated citizens, not fly-by-night pretenders. So,let’s get in there and educate. Write, teach and drag the uninformed into the conversation. Engage and don’t back down. Turn off the TV and have a talk. After all, it is our country. And the fight is worth it.

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March of the Resistance!

I’ve never believed in protest marches. Too often, a march seems only a physical manifestation of an idea of which we are already aware. More often than participants want to admit, it’s simply a ragtag group of fringe activists shouting at the moon, holding up traffic, or occupying street corners that would be better used for public conveyance. The marches themselves seem disorganized, rambling, and end with rhetoric that does nothing but allow participants to vent built-up frustrations and schedule another protest. They are great for getting mom, uncle Bob, and your freaky aunt Matilda out of the house so we can catch up on some “honey-do list” projects. That they return home refreshed with a lot of positive energy is a bonus, I suppose, but I have seen little more beneficial effect than that.

Not that I am against marches or protests. Believe me, I like a good walk, when I can. Nice fresh air, good friends, and the occasion to look at scenery you just whiz past every day in your car. Unfortunately, until the docs and I resolve my physical issues, a forty-yard mosey to pet the neighbor’s dog is all I can muster in the way of a march for now.

Still, marches in protest seem useless and often counter-productive. The protestors are often labeled as freaks, activists and malcontents. The message is often lost in the visuals of the march itself as television stations focus on the video and individuals post constant selfies of themselves and their friends on social media, forgetting to mention the substance of the event. As for the objects of their discontent – usually an individual, frequently a politician – they are unmoved by these actions. Typically, more than 50 years of protest marches on one issue or another has hardened and polished their responses. Even local and state law enforcement agencies have procedure manuals on how to handle protests and protestors, from permitted to unpermitted. Basically, it’s all been done before.

Protest marches are particularly ineffective against politicians. Computer-generated gerrymandering has made all but a few congressional, state, and county seats immune to change, whether of party or politician. So, ensconced in their safe seats, politicians are free to stick to ideological instead of pragmatic positions. Plus, any politician worth his or her salt has already had more protest marches dropped at his doorstep, for and against an issue, often the same issue, than they care to track. They have developed a patter so innocuous and generic for these events, they can inject them into whatever is being protested at the moment without offending any protestor or issue.

But there is something familiar with the recent protest marches, something remembered, something good. On a black-and-white television set many moons ago, I watched as black men and women marched and spoke and resisted their treatment by our country. Citizens they were, but apart, second-class. I again watched closely as young men and women, white, black and all other skin tones, protested in the streets against a war that killed 50,000 of their friends, brothers and sisters. Being part of the “silent majority” at the time, my family firmly attached to conservative values, I abhorred these malcontents who refused to live by our rules. Our guys won the elections. We were right; they were wrong. Why didn’t they understand? Why didn’t they accept what was? They weren’t going to change anything. They were just dirty, filthy hippies, communists, long-hairs that should be run out of the country. Send them back to the continent whence they came! Does any of this rhetoric sound familiar?

In spite of our opposition, these groups continued to protest. Against overwhelming odds, against injury and even death they protested. I saw the news reports of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, not on YouTube, but in real time. Then I saw the actual news videos of the protest at Kent State. I saw our own National Guard kill my fellow citizens. And then, I saw what could never happen, happen. The Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were passed by a solidly entrenched and ideologically divided Congress. I saw and lived through a President cancelling the military draft and ending a disastrous and questionable foreign war. I saw him do it against the wishes of those entrenched industries and wealthy businessmen and women who were profiting greatly from its continuation.

I watched this all play out on that little black-and-white TV screen, through Look magazine, and the local evening newspaper. I watched as each group marched and protested, first by themselves, then gradually with others, until it seemed the whole country was marching. They never backed down. Some gave their lives to the cause. Their principles and ideas were that important to them. They protested and marched against what many believed were the wishes of the majority. But they protested and marched so much their voices were eventually heard, above all the opposition, against all the entrenched powers. Politics as usual stopped until their issues were addressed, and addressed with the significance of law.

What I learned and finally saw was that protests work. Protest marches do work. But for that to happen, those who march and protest must have the determination and belief for the long haul, the long run. You have to be willing to sacrifice and bring others to your calling. This cannot be a whim or a fad. The powers that be, your fellow citizens, and above all your politicians, need to know that this, this right now, is important. This we need to fix. You need to march the march of the resistance!

So, for those of you out there walking and protesting, good for you. This is where it begins. Now I have to go find that doc’s phone number. Maybe I can get in 45 yards today! Just need to find the right sign to hoist.

 

Link to Relevant Topic

What I’ll Do Next“The Washington Post”