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Monthly Archives: October 2017


 

Our expectations from the current administration should be quite low. The constant stream of  lies with ever flinching is disturbing to say the least. Add the Right and far right pundits and you have the reason America is America, in some other countries, these pundits would be arrested or censored. Only in America can leaders lie with impunity and the worst of it is that so many Americans would  rather believe the lies than the truth since it apparently supports their biases or ignorance of the facts. It well to listen to whoever you want for information and not for entertainment. Facts are not entertainment, the truth is often dry as toast and buttering it will not make it less true. We all need to pay attention to what’s out there and collect real information.MA

Ester Bloom, CNBC 21 hours ago

Last Sunday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrote on Twitter, “The average American family would get a $4,000 raise under the President’s tax cut plan. Her claim seems to be based on
a paper released by the White House Council of Economic Advisors that says, “Reducing the statutory federal corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent would, the analysis below suggests, increase average household income in the United States by, very conservatively, $4,000 annually.”
Other Republican leaders in Washington and members of the Trump administration have promoted the proposed tax plan as being materially helpful to “middle-class” Americans. But one of the problems that those trying to sell the plan keep running into is that the definition of “average,” “typical” or “middle-class” remains unclear. In an interview for FOX Business, GOP Senator Rob Portman said
the tax plan “is focused on the middle class.” When pressed by the host to define what that meant for a family in Ohio, he said, “about 150 grand for a family.”
That’s twice the median household income of a three-person, middle-class family in Ohio, which is $73,458, according to the Pew Research Center. .
Nationwide, the average American family currently makes about $74,000 a year before taxes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and while the median American income is $59,000 a year. To some degree, “middle-class” seems to be a state of mind. 70 percent of Americans think of themselves that way, according to a new survey by Northwestern Mutual. But a 2015 report from Pew Research Center shows that, in practice, the middle class has been shrinking over the past four decades and now makes up only 50 percent of the U.S. “When Americans talk about the ‘middle class,’ they are usually thinking about a range, not just the specific income dead in the middle,” explains the Washington Post. It’s also situation specific. “The more people in a family, the more money they typically need to live a comfortable middle-class lifestyle,” writes the Post. Likewise, the more expensive your area, the more you need to make to qualify. Overall, “America’s middle-class ranges from $35,000 to $122,500 in annual income, according to The Post’s calculation” approved by the Pew Research Center. “The bottom line is: $100,000 is on the middle-class spectrum, but barely: 75 percent of U.S. households make less than that,” writes the Post. So would “average” or “middle-class” Americans actually be helped or hurt by tax reform? Politicians and economists continue to argue the point. Economic adviser Gary Cohn took some heat for acknowledging that he “can’t guarantee” taxes wouldn’t go up for some middle-class families. An NPR analysis concludes, “there are many reasons for American taxpayers not to expect $4,000 from this tax overhaul package.” It says, “Already, with the word ‘average,’ there’s reason for a taxpayer to doubt that she would receive $4,000 from this change in tax policy. After all, extremes make averages — the CEA report, for example, estimated the median household could get $3,000.” One now viral rejoinder to Sanders also makes the point that even thinking in terms of “average” can be misleading. If one person is given ten apples and nine others are given zero, each person will have an average of one — but only the first recipient has anything of value. Some experts have made a similar point about the Republican tax plan which, they argue, in practice will heavily favor the rich, including various members of President Trump’s cabinet and Trump himself. “The Republican plan offers almost no direct benefit to the middle class,” wrote Harvard Kennedy School professor and economist Jason Furman for the Wall Street Journal in an op-ed titled, ” No, the GOP Tax Plan Won’t Give You a $9,000 Raise.” And the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics Mark Zandi writes, “The big winners are the top 5 percent of taxpayers, with current incomes well over $300,000 per year.” Those “making less than $150,000 will take home a modestly higher sum after-tax,” he predicts, though he declines to name a figure, and overall, for individuals, he predicts, it will be “a wash.” Bridgewater Associates CEO Ray Dalio agrees that “looking at ‘average’ conditions could provide a misleading picture as the concentration of wealth at the top skews the numbers. Instead, he advises a closer look at the plight of the middle class,” CNBC reports. Of course, that strategy only works if everyone agrees what “middle class” means. Here’s how much money Americans think you need to be considered middle class. Last Sunday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrote on Twitter, “The average American family would get a $4,000 raise under the President’s tax cut plan.” Her claim seems to be based on a paper released by the White House Council of Economic Advisors that says, “Reducing the statutory federal corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent would, the analysis below suggests, increase average household income in the United States by, very conservatively, $4,000 annually.” Other Republican leaders in Washington and members of the Trump administration have promoted the proposed tax plan as being materially helpful to “middle-class” Americans. But one of the problems that those trying to sell the plan keep running into is that the definition of “average,” “typical” or “middle-class” remains unclear. In an interview for FOX Business, GOP Senator Rob Portman said the tax plan “is focused on the middle class.” When pressed by the host to define what that meant for a family in Ohio, he said, “about 150 grand for a family.” That’s twice the median household income of a three-person, middle-class family in Ohio, which is $73,458, according to the Pew Research Center. Nationwide, the average American family currently makes about $74,000 a year before taxes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and while the median American income is $59,000 a year. To some degree, “middle-class” seems to be a state of mind. 70 percent of Americans think of themselves that way, according to a new survey by Northwestern Mutual. But a 2015 report from Pew Research Center shows that, in practice, the middle class has been shrinking over the past four decades and now makes up only 50 percent of the U.S. “When Americans talk about the ‘middle class,’ they are usually thinking about a range, not just the specific income dead in the middle,” explains The Washington Post. It’s also situation specific. “The more people in a family, the more money they typically need to live a comfortable middle-class lifestyle,” writes the Post. Likewise, the more expensive your area, the more you need to make to qualify. Overall, “America’s middle-class ranges from $35,000 to $122,500 in annual income, according to The Post’s calculation” approved by the Pew Research Center. “The bottom line is: $100,000 is on the middle-class spectrum, but barely: 75 percent of U.S. households make less than that,” writes the Post. So, would “average” or “middle-class” Americans actually be helped or hurt by tax reform? Politicians and economists continue to argue the point. Economic adviser Gary Cohn took some heat for acknowledging that he “can’t guarantee” taxes wouldn’t go up for some middle-class families. An NPR analysis concludes, “there are many reasons for American taxpayers not to expect $4,000 from this tax overhaul package.” It says, “Already, with the word ‘average,’ there’s reason for a taxpayer to doubt that she would receive $4,000 from this change in tax policy. After all, extremes make averages — the CEA report, for example, estimated the median household could get $3,000.” One now viral rejoinder to Sanders also makes the point that even thinking in terms of “average” can be misleading. If one person is given ten apples and nine others are given zero, each person will have an average of one — but only the first recipient has anything of value. Some experts have made a similar point about the Republican tax plan which, they argue, in practice will heavily favor the rich, including various members of President Trump’s cabinet and Trump himself. “The Republican plan offers almost no direct benefit to the middle class,” wrote Harvard Kennedy School professor and economist Jason Furman for the Wall Street Journal in an op-ed titled, ” No, the GOP Tax Plan Won’t Give You a $9,000 Raise. ” And the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics Mark Zandi writes, “The big winners are the top 5 percent of taxpayers, with current incomes well over $300,000 per year.” Those “making less than $150,000 will take home a modestly higher sum after-tax,” he predicts, though he declines to name a figure, and overall, for individuals, he predicts, it will be “a wash.” Bridgewater Associates CEO Ray Dalio agrees that “looking at ‘average’ conditions could provide a misleading picture as the concentration of wealth at the top skews the numbers. Instead, he advises a closer look at the plight of the middle class,” CNBC reports. Of course, that strategy only works if everyone agrees what “middle class” means.


The Trump administration  has shortened the enrolment period on healthcare and cut advertising dollars for it. What this means is that if you already have healthcare under the ACA (Obamacare), you can still continue your coverage or renew the coverage. The administration is pushing misinformation to reduce the number of people who are currently using the system so they can show that participation is down because the coverage is so bad and expensive. If successful they will ten present a plan that will be less affordable and cover fewer people while gathering the money saved form subsidies to finance the “tax reform” plan which not benefit the “middle class” which no one has defined. It is important that all of us pay attention to this as this administration has nothing good for us on the horizon. Everything  proposed by the administration is geared to campaign promises which promise no good for anyone who is not already wealthy ( notice the wealth of the Cabinet appointees) MA

By Walecia Konrad MoneyWatch October 30, 2017, 5:45 AM

Open enrollment for people shopping for 2018 health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges begins on Thursday, Nov. 1. For most consumers, it promises to be an even more frustrating event than usual.
Fewer choices in the exchange marketplace and recent cutbacks from the Trump administration, including ending important reimbursements and slashing consumer support, make for an uncertain market and confused customers.
People are fending for themselves at a time when they seem more perplexed than ever. Almost 76 percent of Americans don’t know when open enrollment is, according to a new survey from Policygenius. And 18 percent didn’t realize the Affordable Care Act was still the law.
This year, it’s more important than ever to be in the know. Here are six steps you can take to navigate open enrollment.
1.Watch the mail
In a normal year you would have gotten a letter from your current insurer by now informing you of any changes in your existing plan and what premiums you can expect to pay for 2018. Patients often use these letters to determine if they’ll keep their current coverage and to help them compare it with any alternatives available.
But many insurers have held off on sending renewal notices because of the uncertainty over premium prices. In fact, many insurers are only just now sending out these notices.
Here’s why. Last summer when insurers first began filing their premium rate changes for 2018, the industry and state regulators were worried that President Donald Trump would make good on his threat to cut off government cost-sharing reimbursements. And, in fact, he did eliminate those payments earlier this month.
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers must provide subsidies to low-income patients to help pay for out-of-pocket health-care costs such as deductibles and co-pays. The federal government then reimburses insurers for those subsidies. Now that the federal government has announced it will no longer make these reimbursements, most insurers have raised premiums to offset the costs of unreimbursed cost-sharing payments. (More on premium hikes soon.)
Efforts to reinstate cost-sharing reimbursements aren’t too promising. The Alexander-Murray Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017 is languishing in Congress. And earlier this month a federal judge in California rejected efforts from 18 states and the District of Columbia to force the Trump administration to continue making the payments.
Legislative and legal challenges are expected to continue, but probably not in time to affect the 2018 enrollment period.
The good news: As it stands now, if you qualify for cost-sharing subsidies you’ll still receive them (even though your insurer won’t be reimbursed). But overall premium prices will rise as a result.
Get off to a fast start
No matter what news you receive from your current insurer, you want to start researching your options as soon as open enrollment begins. That’s because the Trump administration has significantly decreased  the number of days in the open-enrollment period, so you have less time to make your decision.
In the 39 states in which the federal government runs the exchange, open enrollment runs from Nov. 1 until Dec. 15 for coverage starting January 2018. Some states that run their own exchanges will have longer open-enrollment periods. And some people whose current plan won’t be offered next year may qualify for more time to get coverage if they miss the Dec. 15 deadline.
In the shorter time frame you’ll also likely have fewer places to turn for help. Government spending on outreach and advertising for the exchanges has been drastically cut, and funding for “navigators,” people who are trained to help consumers choose an exchange plan, has also been reduced dramatically. “The absence of navigators makes things harder,” said Tom Bulliet, a partner in the health care practice group at Ropes and Gray.  He suggested that people with tough questions see if the legal aid society in their area can help.
2. Don’t confuse cost-sharing subsidies with premium subsidies
We’ve discussed how cost-sharing subsidies work. Premium subsidies are different. These are the tax credits under the Affordable Care Act designed to help low- and mid-income consumers afford their monthly health insurance premium. The majority of exchange customers qualify for premium tax credits.
These tax credits aren’t going away, and because they’re calculated based on income and the cost of a silver level plan, in most cases premium relief increases as premium rates rise. So consumers who qualify for premium tax credits will likely see little change in how much they pay out-of-pocket for their monthly premium bill, even with the big increases insurers have put through.
However, exchange consumers who don’t qualify for premium tax credits will carry the heaviest burden for the current premium hikes.
Compare premiums for all metal levels
 3. Exchange insurance programs come in four levels: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. The higher the level, the more comprehensive the coverage, the less out-of-pocket costs and, normally, the higher the premiums.
But because cost-sharing subsidies are available only in silver plans, they’ve undergone the highest premium increases to make up for the lack of government funds. “Surcharges on silver plans attributed to the end of the cost-sharing payments range from 7.1 percent to 38 percent,” according to a recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“That means we’re in a situation where gold plans, with more comprehensive coverage, may actually be cheaper than silver,” explained Kathleen Hempstead, senior adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This year, it’s really worthwhile to compare all metal level plans,” she advised.
This works on a case-by-case basis. Some insurers have applied premium increases to all metal level plans to help pay for the lack of cost-sharing reimbursements. So depending on your exchange, you may see increases across the board. According to the Kaiser analysis, premium increases ranged from 0.1 percent to 27.2 percent across all metal level plans due to the end of cost-sharing reimbursements.
 4. Every exchange market will have at least one insurer for 2018 coverage, and many of those are expected to offer various metal level plans. Bottom line: Even if it looks as if you have only one insurer choice, be sure to look at all the plans that one insurer is offering. And keep in mind that premium tax credits can be applied to any level plan.
 5. Beware auto enrollment
This is when your current exchange insurer automatically renews your coverage. But you may not be getting the same coverage. Premium prices, provider networks and out-of-pocket costs may change. For all the reasons we’ve discussed above, you need to compare the plan you’ve been automatically renewed into with any alternatives you may have.
 6. Don’t go naked
Earlier in the year, there was speculation that the Trump administration would look the other way if the IRS didn’t enforce penalties for people who don’t get health insurance coverage. This individual mandate is one of the most debated aspects of the ACA. But the IRS announced earlier this month that it will require taxpayers to disclose whether they have purchased health insurance.
So be warned. If you go without, you will face the penalty.

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Eliza Newlin Carney

The debate over the Russian election interference and American election security is a case study in the utter dysfunctionality of Beltway politics. By contrast, a number of states have already embarked on practical, problem-solving innovations in securing the ballot in future elections.

On the national stage, President Trump’s “election integrity” commission has careened from one controversy to another, taking steps that actually threaten to undermine ballot security. Outside the spotlight, state election officials are quietly taking steps to respond to the Russian threat and upgrade American election systems with better machines, more accurate voter rolls, and firewalls against hacking.

The state-level picture is not all rosy, of course, and plenty of Republican statehouses have moved in the wrong direction with ill-advised voting restrictions that threaten to keep voters from the polls. But when it comes to the Russia threat, many state administrators have managed to tune out the political bickering and pursue public-private collaborations that involve federal officials, academics, cybersecurity experts, and even tech giants like Google and Facebook. Consider:

  • Colorado will soon become the first state to roll out a statewide election security measure known as a “risk limiting” audit, a type of post-election audit that cross checks a sampling of paper records against electronic vote tallies, and that is considered the gold standard among cybersecurity experts.
  • Rhode Island has increased its information technology staff by 40 percent, recently convened a cybersecurity summit for more than 100 municipal election officials, and has started implementing automatic voter registration to improve the accuracy of its voter rolls. The Rhode Island legislature has also approved a new requirement for risk-limiting election audits in that state.
  • West Virginia’s secretary of state has brought on board a cybersecurity expert from the state’s Air National Guard to help protect its election systems from outside intrusion.
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered a top-to-bottom review of election-related cybersecurity efforts in the state.
  • Virginia has decertified all its paper voting machines, and is replacing them with new systems that facilitate audits by creating a voter-verifiable paper trail. The state has also created a new position for a digital security expert and has upgraded its software system.

Helping facilitate such efforts is the Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency created by the 2002 Help America Vote Act. The EAC, which marks its 15th year in existence this month, and which Republicans have repeatedly tried to defund and shutter, is coming into its own after a bumpy history that included a stretch without a single commissioner on board.

EAC officials are working closely with the National Conference of State Legislatures, and with a “Defending Digital Democracy” project launched in July at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, to bring election officials together with tech experts, business leaders and other election stakeholders. Facebook and Google, under fire and possibly facing new regulations for their role facilitating Russian disinformation campaigns, are among those advising state election officials on how to guard against the types of threats they daily face.

“We can’t just ask local election officials to protect their systems on their own, or state officials to protect their systems on their own,” says EAC chairman Matthew Masterson. “It has to come from local, state, federal, the private sector as well as academia. It’s all part of a coordinated response.”

One outcome of the Belfer project will be a playbook for how to improve cybersecurity, using simulations not unlike those conducted by national security officials. The EAC has also been working with the Department of Homeland Security, which in January declared the nation’s election systems part of the nation’s critical infrastructure, to facilitate communication with the states. Many state election administrators were irate to learn only after the fact the details of Russian hacking efforts that had been known to intelligence officials for months.

The EAC and the National Institute of Standards and Technology also recently announced the first new technical standards in more than a decade to guide voting machine manufacturers. These voluntary standards have already been embraced by all but three states, and are expected to be finalized by early next year. States are in desperate need of new technologies as their voting machines, many purchased with HAVA money 15 years ago, near obsolescence.

The challenge for state and local election officials, as always, is how to pay for it all.

The challenge for state and local election officials, as always, is how to pay for it all. HAVA came with a $4 billion federal assist. The Trump administration not only has no plans to boost state funding, but is actively undermining the states. The Trump “voter integrity” commission continues to demand vast amounts of voter data from the states, despite lawsuits that contend the demand violates privacy laws in many states, and puts voter information at risk.

Under fire from its inception, the Trump commission has now been roiled by the arrest of a staff member on charges of possessing child pornography, and increasingly loud complaints from two of its Democratic members that the commission has failed to inform them of what it’s doing, when it will release its report, and even when it will next meet. There’s also new evidence that a voter database masterminded by the commission’s vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is riddled with errors and subject to security risks.

The states have no silver bullet to secure American elections. But at least state and local officials are making a good-faith effort to ensure the sanctity of the vote. The same can’t be said of their federal counterparts.

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The advent of the Trump administration’s cabinet choices are beginning to bear fruit, bitter, bitter fruit. From education to the EPA we are being sent down a path that will harm us for years. The current attempt on tax reform is yet one more slap to the faces of Americans in the name of improvement and more money in the pockets of “middle class Americans”. All of the buzz words and sound bites put out on a daily basis are not worthy of being called information. The so called tax reform touted as being better benefits only the so called 1%. There is no real middle class anymore, there are the 99% which covers everyone who does not make the imaginary middle class wage. It is well to remember that Congressional members will not be affected by any tax reforms just as they would not be affected by any changes in the ACA (Obamacare). I contend that our faith in the elected members of the Government from the Whitehouse to the Congress is misplaced as they talk a good game but have not delivered in years. What they have delivered is a divide that pits most Americans against one another so that they (administration and Congress) can maintain power. We have been fed so much erroneous information that the truth is only one more lie from drowning. All of the activity on ACA and Tax reform is about campaign promises and staying in office. We the voters have an obligation to speak out and complain about what the Congress and the Administration is doing. Do not be fooled or ignore what is coming out of Washington as much of it is untrue or “alternate facts”. If you have been paying attention at all you must realize that we are in trouble and only we  voters can correct it. We must write, call, email, and tweet our representatives and Congress until we get their attention, do not wait for someone else to do it. The way to look at this except for a few, our Congress and TOTUS do not care about you and will continue to do things in your name without your permission.  Disregard the “titles” like conservative, progressive, liberal, right and left, these word wars are just distractions and  the usual smoke and mirrors of politics. Get real and pay attention. Remember what happens to one affects us all even if you don’t think so.

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This current political climate is potentially the worst in our modern history. We have politicians who deem to speak for “the American People” and fomenting a divide along Racial lines to help themselves. These are the same people who while suggesting they are working for their constituents are really working for themselves (or their backers). The laundry list of political parties and the subsets is confusing to most people. For clarity: there are two (2) major political parties, Democrats and Republicans ( I call them Scamocrats and Dupublicans). There are subsets of these known as Conservative, progressive and probably some others that are  lesser known. All the voters want to know is what are you doing for us? During campaigns many things are said and often tailored to  the group that is being addressed although many of them are not viable as issues since they cannot be accomplished. What is viable is proper legislation that takes in the good of all of the people not what is good for certain groups. Many have not read the Constitution even though it is a relatively short document, reading this important paper should bring a realization of how it should work. It is a “living” document which means it was designed to change as the country grows and changes. The basic tenets and protections remain the same. It is unfortunate that our politicians have become (for the most part) slaves to their particular party rather than representatives of the people who elected them. It appears to be commonly assumed that the elected officials are smarter than we are , not true but they are adept at giving the impression that they are. What if  your representative came to your home and began looking in your cabinets and helping themselves to your stuff? This would probably give you pause at the very least, so take this thought to the nation’s capital. What exactly are they doing for you, the answers are not on any single news channel or publication. It is the duty of all citizens to expose themselves to as many information sources as  available since  the trustworthiness of our representatives is suspect. Looking at the recent executive orders which can seriously harm the existing healthcare system just to save money (how about saving lives?). Remember that most of if not all of the administration will not be affected by these changes in healthcare. Recently the administration has removed your ability for justice in the financial sector (really looking out for you). All of this to say that whatever you think you know about the current administration and Congress is probably wrong if you do not spend some time looking at several sources for information. Taking in all of the groups claiming “white” privilege aka: nativists, white nationalists, Neo Nazi’s et al, I am still wondering how they could be making “America Great” again when the real Native Americans were robbed of their lands and relegated to a few areas called “Reservations”. These reservations now for the most part have their own sovereignties and for the most part are untouchable but it took many years for the Native Americans to get to that stage at the cost of millions of lives and acres of land area. Who are the real Americans? If you want to know  merely ask a Native American. Essentially we are a in the midst of the same type of nativism that produced the German regime that produced WWII and cost millions of lives. We have an administration that is supporting this movement while looking for glorification and approbation for it.

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The seemingly unending sound bites and buzzwords are still overshadowing what is really happening in Government. The “tweet Storm” is hiding the ineptitude of the administration and the steady erosion of protections for all of us. The EPA is being gutted (our water and air quality protectors), the Education system is going down a dangerous path with an administrator whose sole objective appears to be privatization of education, now the tax system is under attack with the ruling party working to “make the tax system fairer”. All of this in the name of “making America great Again”. America has never been “ungreat”, what has occurred is the elected officials who have always been suspect by all of us to some degree have not been “great”.  The rise of TOTUS is clear evidence that our long serving Congress and State officials do not and have not had any interest in serving us (the often cited “American People”). They have been busily serving them selves in one way or another. These folks have assumed the mantle of our “thinkers” regardless of what we actually think and say to them through written or oral communications. This is why we have the current administration. Too many of us are rightfully upset and angry at our legislators from the local to the Federal levels however our method of dealing with them is to not vote (judgement error)because they did not like the candidates, they believed the hype of one candidate or another or just did not take time to read up on the people who are running. Voting is a privilege which should not be taken lightly so why would we accept the opinion of someone else when we vote? Currently the administration’s moves on healthcare and taxes sound great but when enacted will not bring the relief for voters as touted. If you truly believe the hype, at least READ all available data before maintaining any level of trust in our elected Ne’er do wells. We are being assailed by misinformation daily and it is the same tactic Hitler used in WWII Germany to move his agenda forward. The result was WWII and the extermination of 6 plus million Jews and other ethnic sects considered inferior. During that time few Germans were living the high life as shown in the propaganda films made during that time. We are at a period where forces are pushing a separatist agenda in an attempt to get a foothold in Government which will be a blow to our Democracy. What it takes to govern America is knowledgeable voters who will not be taken in by “true sounding” statements that have no basis in fact. Your fellow Americans span the spectrum of Race, Religion and ethnicity and it has been that way since the inception of the Constitution. There is no one solution to good government except knowledgeable voters and it starts with being “WOKE”.

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The most disappointed people in the United States are the people who supported Trump as someone who “tells it like it is”, unfortunately the telling is merely a bullying, petty little man whose ability to tread the waters of Washington politics is waning. On the outside of this administration is Steve Bannon who is deconstructing the Dupublican party bit by bit and everyone is fair game. This disconnect with the people and the main party has left a rift that has allowed the rise of the far right much like the 1930’s rise of the Nazi party and we all know the results of that insurgence (if you don’t then you should read the history of WWII). To be clear most long serving politicians are less than honest and on a scaled system from more believable to least believable. MA
Paul Waldman
October 23, 2017
Eventually everyone, including John Kelly, must sink to lying for the president. Of all President Trump’s multitudinous character flaws, it’s the relentless dishonesty that does the most damage to anyone who works for him in the effort they must make to retain some shred of dignity as they labor in his service. You might to be able to spin or rationalize some of what Trump does—Sure, the Twitter stuff is nuts, but he’s just speaking directly to the voters! Sure, he knows nothing about policy, but that’s OK because his instincts are so sound! But you can’t explain away all the lying, day after day after day—especially when you may eventually be called upon to step before the cameras and explain it, echo it, or even add lies of your own to the ever-growing pile.
There’s a cycle that repeats itself in some variation again and again: Trump lies about something, then when it gets pointed out he doubles down, insisting that he didn’t lie, then someone gets sent out to defend him and usually ends up telling more lies, then the White House insists that not only did no one tell any lies, but the media should just shut up about it. And before you know it, the cycle will begin all over again.
So let’s quickly review what happened in the latest iteration of this miserable pattern, last week. At a press conference, Trump was asked why he hadn’t said anything publicly about the killing of four American soldiers in Niger, nearly two weeks after it happened. He replied by lying about his predecessors, claiming that they (especially Barack Obama) never called the families of fallen service members, while he did. The next morning in a radio interview, he claimed, “I have called, I believe, everybody—but certainly I’ll use the word virtually everybody.” This too was false. Then Representative Frederica Wilson told reporters that when Trump called the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson, he said the slain soldier “must have known what he signed up for,” which came off sounding insensitive. Then Trump lied again, claiming that he never said that, despite the fact that the family confirmed it. He also said “I have proof” that Wilson wasn’t telling the truth, yet another lie.
Which brings us to the person whose turn it was to defend Trump, Chief of Staff John Kelly. If there were anyone who one would have thought could work for Donald Trump and emerge with their integrity and reputation intact, it might have been Kelly. Not a vicious partisan or a striving careerist, Kelly moved to the White House from the Department of Homeland Security to impose some discipline and order on a chaotic situation, and has apparently been trying (with little success) to rein in the president’s worst impulses by restricting his access to shady characters and the kind of information that will get him too riled up. Kelly’s willingness to take on the extraordinarily difficult task of managing the angry toddler in the Oval Office has been widely seen as an act of public service, a final tour of duty from a career military officer done in order to prevent great harm coming to the country.
But as Kelly proved on Thursday, there is no such thing as noble service to Donald Trump. To join him means to descend into his sewer of division and dishonesty. Once you work for Donald Trump, he infects you like a disease, one for which there is no cure.
When Kelly began his statement to the White House press corps by describing the process by which a fallen service member’s body is brought back home, people watching were moved, particularly since Kelly’s own son was killed fighting in Afghanistan. But then he revealed that when Trump told La David Johnson’s widow that Johnson knew what he signed up for, he was actually following Kelly’s advice about what to say. That confirmed what was obvious from the beginning: Trump was trying to say something that in the hands of someone with a shred of human empathy might have been comforting, but coming from him it sounded insensitive and even offensive. But perhaps more importantly, it confirmed that Trump was lying when he repeatedly denied that he had said it.
Then to make matters worse, Kelly tried to discredit Wilson in ways both absurd and dishonest. He said, “It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation,” as though Wilson were eavesdropping, when in fact she heard it because she’s a friend of the family—she was in a limousine with them when the call came in, and Mrs. Johnson put the president on speaker. Then Kelly lamented the lack of what used to be sacred in America, including that “women were sacred, looked upon with great honor.” This was said with no apparent irony by a man who works for Trump, who not only has a decades-long history of demeaning women but is on tape bragging about his ability to sexually assault them with impunity, something he has been credibly accused of by a dozen different women.
Kelly followed that up by telling a story about Wilson’s allegedly self-aggrandizing behavior at a dedication of an FBI building, in which he claimed that she said she got funding for the building with a phone call to President Obama. Even if the allegation were true, it would have been Trumpian in its pettiness, a way of saying, “Well, that person who’s criticizing the president is a jerk, so nyah nyah nyah.” Yet when video of the event emerged, Kelly’s story turned out to be utterly false; in fact, Wilson said nothing about funding (which happened before she entered Congress) but instead gave a speech lauding bipartisan cooperation in getting the building named for two slain FBI agents and speaking admiringly of the agents’ courage.
If you were tempted to feel sorry for John Kelly because his job babysitting Donald Trump is such an impossible one, that press conference would surely have cured you of the impulse.
It may have been inevitable that he’d be called upon to do it eventually; how many times have we watched as someone working for Trump comes (often grudgingly) before the cameras to either repeat things that aren’t true or attest to their boss’s magnificence? For some, like the surpassingly shameless Sarah Huckabee Sanders or her predecessor Sean Spicer, it’s almost the entirety of the job. For others, like Kelly or Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, it happens at a moment of political peril for Trump, when they’re sent out to do damage control.
But in every case, the aide winds up looking worse for it. Watching them defend Trump only reminds us of how they sold a piece of their soul when they took the job, because to work for Trump is to acquiesce to all that he is. John Kelly might once have argued that he’s there to restrain Trump from inflicting too much damage, but that’s a claim he can no longer make. Like everyone else in this administration, he’s been stained forever.

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It is amazing the ignorance that seems to run through the NFL. This is the outfit that (used to) exemplify America as a sport after Baseball. Colin Kaepernick has stated his views and was taken to task for them. These views are held by many with lesser visibility but have not the “star power” to have them heard. A few football execs have voiced opinions with no real information on what they are talking about (boomer Esiason). Perhaps no one wants to pay attention but anyone who protests against injustice is protesting for us all even if they happen to be of a different race or ethnicity. If we as people cannot tolerate a disturbance in our life because of protests on our behalf then perhaps we deserve what we get (Current administration). we are living in times where information is so readily available that we are often overwhelmed by it. It is perfectly ok to have your own opinion on anything however that opinion should be based on known facts not facts based on pejoratives. Placing blame on differences in religious preferences, skin color or place of birth is shortsighted and just wrong. No one will like everything or everyone but it is not a reason to condemn or condone actions that harm. This intolerance is an essential reason there have been wars for years. Wars bring nothing more than death and destruction aside from the economic cost for years after. So the issue is essentially man’s inhumanity to man! This modern age has progressed greatly and not so much at the same time. It is incumbent on each person to do what they feel is correct in respect to interacting with other people, bearing in mind that how you want to be treated determines how you treat everyone else. The NFL ongoing crap storm is just a smaller indication of  how politics has defined us. Forward motion should be shaped by the truth and not from “so called” news. The scope of truth is spread across several outlets rather than the loudest and most outrageous. News is not entertainment, it is the state of the nation and the world and needs to be taken seriously especially with administration we currently have being suspect in its activities. Remember two middle letters in politics is “LI”.

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We are now 10 months into an administration that is moving us into a pre civil war or at least pre WWII condition. The White House is in a state of barely controlled chaos led by a guy possibly sitting on a toilet and looking at a news station that says good things about him. Could this be a syndrome or a medical condition? We all marveled, sympathized or chuckled at stories about Howard Hughes’s last days but we may be living something similar right now. No matter what your politics are or what you believe to be true, the facts are that we are in a critical stage of being on the verge of war within and without our borders. Any of you who are enjoying better medical care are in the crosshairs of the administration’s cuts to programs that support you. Your tax burden will shift and you potentially will lose some tax breaks. If these things are important to you then you need to pay attention to everything the administration does in your name. It is important to note that in Congress whose leadership has been eerily silent on the administration’s actions only a few members on both sides have spoken against these actions. These out spoken members are in danger of challengers who will tout the administration’s actions as good for you, do not be fooled by tricks and  nonsense. Politics is a dirty business and built on lies much like pre WWII Germany , through historic events and writings we know how that ended up. The key to better government is to get involved and sometimes alliance to a specific politic identity is not the way. It is far better to be an independent with leanings toward a belief than a staunch believer in any one of them. Independence allows for exposure to several areas of thought which can and should create a reasoned approach to politics which shifts like the sands of the desert. Keep in mind that politics is a dirty business and not always in keeping with the Constitution’s framers idea of a United States.

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Hasan Piker, Contributor

Political Commentator / The Young Turks
Conservatives don’t own patriotism.
10/18/2017 05:11 pm ET Updated 12 hours ago

If You Think Protesting Racism Is Unpatriotic, But Disrespecting Military Widows Isn’t, You’re Probably NOT A Patriot

I’m getting real sick and tired of certain conservatives thinking they own patriotism and love for America when they have no idea what the hell they’re talking about.

It started with Colin Kaepernick, it has spread, it has infected the league – I would like to ask these players, what exactly are you kneeling for and why have you chosen the flag and the anthem to do it?
Leave it up to Tomi and the good folks over at Fox News to blatantly miss the point of a protest, then admit to not understanding the point and still go along with their propaganda.
Here’s the most concise summarization of why these players #takeaknee. Kaepernick said this around a year ago and was blackballed by the NFL for it:
“Specifically, it’s police brutality. Cops are getting paid leave, for killing people and not being held accountable ― that’s not right.”
It is incredibly revealing to me that Fox News and specifically Tomi Lahren have covered Colin Kaepernick and the NFL protests hundreds of times this past year to now come out and basically admit that they’ve just been criticizing these players without a single clue what they’re going on about. But I guess that’s the point, it’s not about hearing the other side out, but to get them to stop ― by whatever means necessary.
I also like how this is a hypothetical question, as if Tomi would like to know, but that’s “impossible,” so there’s no way of knowing for sure, which is ironically the whole point of this protest to begin with.
Also pretty much every player who’s knelt has been asked about why they’re protesting, so in fact, it would be really easy to check on.
And even if Tomi was incapable of asking the players for ― or reading literally just one article on the issue, she could have at least done her due diligence and asked maybe one veteran, Nate Boyer ― a green beret ― what HE thinks about Kaepernick taking a knee?
Nate served, after all, and everyone at Fox News loves to drape themselves with the flag and respect our troops when it suits them. Nate’s not trans either so they can respect his service.
I bring Nate up because he was also initially mad at Kaepernick and assumed he was disrespecting his service, so he wrote him a letter, and Kaepernick immediately agreed to meet with him.
First thing he said when we met was: ‘I want you to know, I appreciate your service more than anything.’ I expressed to him maybe there’s a different way to demonstrate, where you’re showing more respect for those that lay down their lives for what that flag and anthem stands for. I suggested kneeling.
Colin Kaepernick, at a time when it seemed nearly impossible to do so, sat down and listened. And Nate’s suggestion is why he changed his form of protest from sitting to knee
I urge everyone to watch the video above. It is incredibly powerful and proves that we can find common ground, as long as we have these uncomfortable conversations with those we do not agree with. This was the understanding Nate came to, following their conversation:
I respect those men and women in uniform, but the ones that aren’t doing it the right way, we have to correct it. We need to fix it, he’s right about that. // It is an issue, and we’ve come along way, but we still have a long way to go.
Nate was open to having a conversation and he listened to the other side and was able to change his mind, and it’s terrifying that Fox News promotes the antithesis of that understanding in most of their coverage. An understanding that extends to white supremacists wearing swastikas, but not to people protesting racism.
But here’s why I’ve had it with conservatives hijacking the conversation when it comes to patriotism, respecting the flag, the troops and America.
Are the thousands of veterans speaking out on social media about how these protestors have a right to take a knee not valid? Are the hundreds of NYPD officers who took a knee in solidarity unpatriotic? I can see no other reason as to why Fox News never features these stories in their round the clock anti-protest coverage?
Is there no police brutality problem? Police have killed at least 223 black Americans since Kaep took a knee, perhaps this not an issue for Fox News? Is it not an issue when an unarmed black kid is five times more likely to be killed than a white peer?
How is it that conservatives are able to hijack patriotism, when they use it simply as a talking point to disenfranchise others?
Why is Trump a pillar of American patriotism when he frequently says the most unpatriotic sh*t? So, I’m asking conservatives, is this really the brand of patriot you want to be?
Trump on Mccain: “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured okay?”
I’m sure you all heard how Trump dealt with the one of the widow of the four slain U.S. soldiers in Niger.
First he lied about how other presidents never called family members of those who died in combat. Then when he did call Myeisha Johnson, the pregnant wife of one of the slain soldier’s he chose an unusual form consolation: “Your husband knew what he signed up for.”
Not sure that’s the kind of patriotism you want to promote.
The kind that has also mocked the family of a slain Muslim veteran very publicly. Was that respecting the flag and the military?
Criticizing America in order to make it better for everyone is not unpatriotic, and it is absolutely more patriotic than hurling insults at John Mccain, or letting the insurance markets in certain states implode by not making CSR payments just because Trump wants to undermine Obama’s legacy.
It’s almost like Tomi and her ilk want to pretend they have no idea what the protests are about because their whole goal is to avoid at all costs talking about our racist criminal justice system, even if it makes them all look like a bunch of complete morons.
So this is my message to conservatives who watch Fox News, if you see the problem with trying to pass off bigotry or efforts to silence fellow citizens as patriotism, speak out, have an uncomfortable conversation with others who don’t agree with you – don’t let assholes hijack what it means to be American or patriotic and claim that the people pushing policies that will hurt their fellow citizens are the real patriots.
You can follow me on Instagram and on Twitter for more hot takes. You can find all of my videos on youtube.

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