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Another reason to pay attention to your representatives, this article points out the real government controllers.MA

Steve Peoples, Associated Press 18 hours ago

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — At least one influential donor has informed congressional Republicans that the “Dallas piggy bank” is closed until he sees major action on health care and taxes.
Texas-based donor Doug Deason has already refused to host a fundraiser for two members of Congress and informed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., his checkbook is closed as well.
“Get Obamacare repealed and replaced, get tax reform passed,” Deason said in a pointed message to GOP leaders. “You control the Senate. You control the House. You have the presidency. There’s no reason you can’t get this done. Get it done and we’ll open it back up.”
Indeed, there was a sense of frustration and urgency inside the private receptions and closed-door briefings at the Koch brothers’ donor retreat this weekend in Colorado Springs, where the billionaire conservatives and their chief lieutenants warned of a rapidly shrinking window to push their agenda through Congress and get legislation to President Donald Trump to sign into law.
No agenda items mattered more to the conservative Koch network than the GOP’s promise to overhaul the nation’s tax code and repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care law. At the moment, however, both are bogged down by GOP infighting that jeopardizes their fate.
At least one Koch official warned that the Republican Party’s House majority could be in jeopardy if the GOP-led Congress doesn’t follow through.
“If they don’t make good on these promises … there are going to be consequences, and quite frankly there should be,” said Sean Lansing, chief operating officer for the Koch network’s political arm, Americans For Prosperity.
Deason, who is keeping the “Dallas piggy bank” closed for now, said he was recently approached by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, about hosting a fundraiser.
“I said, ‘No I’m not going to because we’re closing the checkbook until you get some things done,'” Deason said, noting he’s encouraged nearly two dozen major Texas donors to follow his lead.
“There is urgency,” said AFP president Tim Phillips. “We believe we have a window of about 12 months to get as much of it accomplished as possible before the 2018 elections grind policy to a halt.”
The window for action may be even smaller, some Koch allies warned at the three-day donor retreat that drew roughly 400 participants to the base of the Rocky Mountains. The price for admission for most was a pledge to give at least $100,000 this year to the  broad policy and political network. There were also at least 18 elected officials on hand.
Some hosted private policy discussions with donors while others simply mingled.
In between meetings, Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., predicted dire consequences in next year’s midterm elections should his party fail to deliver on its repeated promises.
“If we don’t get health care, none of us are coming back,” he said in a brief interview. “We said for seven years you’re gonna repeal Obamacare. It’s nowhere near repealed.”
It’s the same for an overhaul of the tax code, Brat said: “We don’t get taxes through, we’re all going home. Pack the bags.”
While some donors threatened to withhold campaign cash, Koch’s team outlined a broader strategy to help shape the debate.
Already, Americans For Prosperity claims a paid staff of more than 400 full-time activists in 36 states. Koch officials said that the network’s midterm budget for policy and politics is between $300 million and $400 million.
The group is actively lobbying Senate Republicans to change their current health care proposal, which it views as insufficiently conservative.
“We are not committed to the Senate bill in its current form, but there is still time to make changes and we’re actively working to improve it,” Phillips said.
At the same time, Koch’s allies are aggressively pushing forward on taxes.
The network is running what it describes as “a first wave” of digital ads calling on more than 50 House and Senate Republicans in both parties to overhaul the tax code. Later in the summer, Philips said, his organization will begin hosting rallies and other events to generate momentum for a tax overhaul in all 36 states where they have full-time operations.
Another Koch donor, Chris Wright, of Colorado, predicted Republicans have a 10-month window before any chance of major policy action is suffocated by next year’s midterms.
“If we don’t get anything done by then, the elections probably don’t go very well,” Wright said. “They may not go well anyway.”


Politics

John Pavlovitz,

Popsugar US 11 hours ago

I remember the day after the Election, a friend of mine who happens to be white, remarked on social media that he “finally wasn’t embarrassed of America and our President.”
I sprained my eyes rolling them and they have never fully recovered.
Since then I’ve heard this sentiment echoed by more white folks than I can count, especially in recent months; supposed relief at once again having a leader who instills pride.
Since I don’t have the time to ask each of the individually, I’ll ask here:
So, you were embarrassed for the past 8 years, huh?
Really?
What exactly were you embarrassed by?
Were you embarrassed by his lone and enduring twenty-five year marriage to a strong woman he’s never ceased to publicly praise, respect, or cherish?
Were you embarrassed by the way he lovingly and sweetly parented and protected his daughters?
Were you embarrassed by his Columbia University degree in Political Science or his graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law School?
Maybe you were embarrassed by his white American and Black Kenyan parents, or the diversity he was raised in as normal?
Were you embarrassed by his eloquence, his quick wit, his easy humor, his seeming comfort meeting with both world leaders and street cleaners; by his bright smile or his sense of empathy or his steadiness – perhaps by his lack of personal scandals or verbal gaffes or impulsive tirades?
No. Of course you weren’t.
Honestly, I don’t believe you were ever embarrassed. That word implies an association that brings ridicule, one that makes you ashamed by association, and if that’s something you claim to have experienced over the past eight years by having Barack Obama representing you in the world – I’m going to suggest you rethink your word choice.
You weren’t “embarrassed” by Barack Obama.
You were threatened by him.
You were offended by him. You were challenged by him. You were enraged by him.
But I don’t believe it had anything to do with his resume or his experience or his character or his conduct in office – because you seem fully proud right now to be associated with a three-time married, serial adulterer and confessed predator; a man whose election and business dealings and relationships are riddled with controversy and malfeasance. You’re perfectly fine being represented by a bullying, obnoxious, genitalia-grabbing, Tweet-ranting, Prime Minister-shoving charlatan who’s managed to offend all our allies in a few short months. And you’re okay with him putting on religious faith like a rented, dusty, ill-fitting tuxedo and immediately tossing it in the garbage when he’s finished with it.
None of that you’re embarrassed of? I wonder how that works.
Actually, I’m afraid I have an idea. I hope I’m wrong.
Listen, you’re perfectly within your rights to have disagreed with Barack Obama’s policies or to have taken issue with his tactics. No one’s claiming he was a flawless politician or a perfect human being. But somehow I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about here. I think the thing President Obama did that really upset you, white friend – was having a complexion that was far darker than you were ever comfortable with. I think the President we have now feels much better.
Because objectively speaking, if what’s happening in our country right now doesn’t cause you great shame and doesn’t induce the continual meeting of your palm to your face – I don’t believe embarrassment is ever something you struggle with.
No, if you claimed to be “embarrassed” by Barack Obama but you’re not embarrassed by Donald Trump – I’m going to strongly suggest it was largely a pigmentation issue.
And as an American and a Christian committed to diversity and equality and to the liberty at the heart of this nation – that, embarrasses me.

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I would like to write about someone or something else besides the current administration and the majority party however the TOTUS continues to be a child who has not the wherewithal to govern and cannot or will not learn what his job actually entails. The majority party is busily trying to use the President’s ego to pass legislation that benefits them while telling the public that what they are doing is good for us. Looking at historical facts: A man named Adolph used the tactic of telling the same big lies on a regular basis to sell the public on the idea that someone else (the Jews and non Aryans) was responsible for their problems. People were so desperate for some relief that they accepted the lies as fact even though many of them saw no improvement especially once the war really started. Once the war got into full swing in Poland and then the attack on Russia at a cost of millions of German soldiers lives (and money). This Russian front drained the treasury which in turn reduced funds available for the pubic services. Thereafter the attacks on the rest of the world began in earnest with the cooperation of Italy and Japan according to history. What we now have is the assumption of power by a known personality with megalomania as a trait whose sole purpose is to be lauded for his sake not for what he has accomplished. I would like to write about something like former coal miners retrained into other energy jobs, Puerto Rico considered for Statehood, US-Cuban relations being normalized or common sense budgets including infrastructure repairs (job creator), proper immigration rules or perhaps a condemnation of other country’s interference in US affairs. A first giant step towards actually Governing would be truthful reporting of personal interest divestiture.

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Just remember that this past election is not about race, wealth or lack of as much as change as hoped for under President Obama. While Obama attempted to make those changes , many Americans were not behind him. In not supporting him we allowed the neer do well Congress to continue their evil ways which created many of the ills that the non supportive voters were suffering under. Now we have Donald trump who “will drain the swamp”! The changes that will come will ultimately help or harm voters. Keep in mind that the Congress is powered by many of the same people who denied President Obama’s attempts at bettering the American voters lives. Remember the distracting rhetoric about birth certificates, religious affiliation and other things that had nothing to with Governing. The next several years will reveal the true nature of the long serving Congress and Mr. Trump meanwhile the American people who are so often cited will have to remember and pay close attention to what Government is doing in their names without their explicit permission.

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Informative article on the beginnings of the internet and its subsequent misuse/ abuse. It is a slightly dry read but worth going through and if you think you know it all then you definitely need to read this. MA

Published on December 14, 2016

Walter Isaacson
CEO at Aspen Institute
My big idea is that we have to fix the internet. After forty years, it has begun to corrode, both itself and us. It is still a marvelous and miraculous invention, but now there are bugs in the foundation, bats in the belfry, and trolls in the basement.
I do not mean this to be one of those technophobic rants dissing the Internet for rewiring our brains to give us the twitchy attention span of Donald Trump on Twitter or pontificating about how we have to log off and smell the flowers. Those qualms about new technologies have existed ever since Plato fretted that the technology of writing would threaten memorization and oratory. I love the internet and all of its digital offshoots. What I bemoan is its decline.
There is a bug in its original design that at first seemed like a feature but has gradually, and now rapidly, been exploited by hackers and trolls and malevolent actors: its packets are encoded with the address of their destination but not of their authentic origin. With a circuit-switched network, you can track or trace back the origins of the information, but that’s not true with the packet-switched design of the internet.
Compounding this was the architecture that Tim Berners-Lee and the inventors of the early browsers created for the World Wide Web. It brilliantly allowed the whole of the earth’s computers to be webbed together and navigated through hyperlinks. But the links were one-way. You knew where the links took you. But if you had a webpage or piece of content, you didn’t exactly know who was linking to you or coming to use your content.
All of that enshrined the potential for anonymity. You could make comments anonymously. Go to a webpage anonymously. Consume content anonymously. With a little effort, send email anonymously. And if you figured out a way to get into someone’s servers or databases, you could do it anonymously.
For years, the benefits of anonymity on the Net outweighed its drawbacks. People felt more free to express themselves, which was especially valuable if they were dissidents or hiding a personal secret. This was celebrated in the famous 1993 New Yorker cartoon, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”
Now the problem is nobody can tell if you’re a troll. Or a hacker. Or a bot. Or a Macedonian teenager publishing a story that the Pope has endorsed Trump.
This has poisoned civil discourse, enabled hacking, permitted cyberbullying, and made email a risk. Its inherent lack of security has allowed Russian actors to screw with our democratic process.
The lack of secure identification and authentication inherent in the internet’s genetic code has also prevented easy transactions, thwarted financial inclusion, destroyed the business models of content creators, unleashed deluges of spam, and forced us to use passwords and two-factor authentication schemes that would have baffled Houdini.
The trillions being spent and the IQ points of computer science talent being allocated to tackle security issues makes it a drag, rather than a spur, to productivity in some sectors.
In Plato’s Republic, we learn the tale of the Ring of Gyges. Put it on, and you’re invisible and anonymous. The question that Plato asks is whether those who put on the ring will be civil and moral. He thinks not. The Internet has proven him correct.
The Web is no longer a place of community, no longer an agora. Every day more sites are eliminating comments sections.
If we could start from scratch, here’s what I think we would do:
Create a system that enables content producers to negotiate with aggregators and search engines to get a royalty whenever their content is used, like ASCAP has negotiated for public performances and radio airings of its members’ works.
Embed a simple digital wallet and currency for quick and easy small payments for songs, blogs, articles, and whatever other digital content is for sale.
Encode emails with an authenticated return or originating address.
Enforce critical properties and security at the lowest levels of the system possible, such as in the hardware or in the programming language, instead of leaving it to programmers to incorporate security into every line of code they write.
Build chips and machines that update the notion of an internet packet. For those who want, their packets could be encoded or tagged with metadata that describe what they contain and give the rules for how it can be used.
Most internet engineers think that these reforms are possible, from Vint Cerf, the original TCP/IP coauthor, to Milo Medin of Google, to Howard Shrobe, the director of cybersecurity at MIT. “We don’t need to live in cyber hell,” Shrobe has argued.
Implementing them is less a matter of technology than of cost and social will. Some people, understandably, will resist any diminution of anonymity, which they sometimes label privacy.
So the best approach, I think, would be to try to create a voluntary system, for those who want to use it, to have verified identification and authentication.
People would not be forced to use such a system. If they wanted to communicate and surf anonymously, they could. But those of us who choose, at times, not to be anonymous and not to deal with people who are anonymous should have that right as well. That’s the way it works in the real world.
The benefits would be many: Easy and secure ways to deal with your finances and medical records. Small payment systems that could reward valued content rather than the current incentive to concentrate on clickbait for advertising. Less hacking, spamming, cyberbullying, trolling, and the spewing of anonymous hate. And the possibility of a more civil discourse.
Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, is the author of The Innovators and biographies of Henry Kissinger, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and Steve Jobs. This essay is partly drawn from a talk delivered to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.


Politically speaking many people assume  labels of Conservative, progressive or liberal with several iterations in between. Too often the selection of a label to describe your views cannot be defined with a single description. Too many of us allow the talking heads to define us. If your view is more complicated than a single issue or view then you basic view is not definable with a single label. Would it not make more sense to use no label and vote using the issues that closely parallel your own? It is unfortunate that too many of us pick the most polarizing idea to follow while abdicating their conscience as a person. Being unlabeled is a freer way to look at the issues of voting. Each candidate has a theme but each theme has often underlying influences. If you are undecided as to your label, then you are possibly a better educated voter whether you realize it or not. This indecision pushes you to investigate perhaps or consider a different or altered view. The reality of politics and voting is akin to advertising: every one is working to get you to buy something! With that in mind “Caveat Emptor” applies. Move beyond your single issue and look at the down the road effects of your vote since you will not be able change your Congressional Representative or C.I.C for 2 to four years.

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I have stated before that the Congress and Politicians spend millions to deceive us and get their way. Attached article explains how. MA
© Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Recently, Johns Hopkins University political scientists Jennifer Bachner and Benjamin Ginsberg conducted a study of the unglamorous D.C. bureaucrat. These are the people who keep the federal government humming — the Hill staffers, the project managers and all those desk workers who vaguely describe themselves as “analysts.”

As Bachner and Ginsberg argue, civil servants exercise real power over how the government operates. They write and enforce rules and regulations. They might not decide what becomes law, but they have a hand in how laws are drawn up and how laws are implemented.

For all their influence, though, nearly all of these technocrats are unelected, and they spend most of their time with people who are just like them — other highly educated folk who jog conspicuously in college tees and own a collection of NPR totes.

In their the new book, which is part ethnography and part polemic, Bachner and Ginsberg argue that Washington’s bureaucrats have grown too dismissive of the people they are supposed to serve. Bachner and Ginsberg recently sent around an informal survey to selected members of this technocratic class, and the results, they say, were shocking.

“Many civil servants expressed utter contempt for the citizens they served,” they write in their book, “ What Washington Gets Wrong .” “Further, we found a wide gulf between the life experiences of ordinary Americans and the denizens of official Washington. We were left deeply worried about the health and future of popular government in the United States.”

All of this should be taken with a few caveats. First, Ginsberg is a self-described libertarian who writes with an ingrained suspicion of bureaucratic power. If you believe that federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration are red-tape machines, it’s easy to reason backward and conclude that shortsighted bureaucrats are part of the problem.

Second, the survey that Bachner and Ginsberg conducted was not scientific. They made their own list of 2,376 “government officials and members of the policy community,” whom they contacted through email. About 36 percent filled out at least some of the survey questions.

Most of these people were involved in policymaking in some way, either in the government — at the White House, on the Hill, as part of a federal agency — or adjacent to the government, at one of the city’s many think tanks. It’s an expansive definition of bureaucrat, but as the authors argue, all of these members of the “governing elite” play a role in how the sausage is made.

Since this wasn’t a random sample, and the authors don’t tell us precisely what kinds of workers in what proportion were asked to participate, we have to take their word that this is a representative group of D.C. insiders.

Nevertheless, the results they present are eye-popping. On a wide range of issues, bureaucrats believe that Americans are ignorant. For instance, over half of them say that the public knows little to nothing about government crime programs, child care programs or environmental programs.

© Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post

Predictably, the bureaucrats also think that the government should not take what the public says too seriously. Mostly, they believe that officials like them should use their best judgment instead of following public opinion.

© Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post

A lot of this elitism is probably justifiable. When only 36 percent of adults can name the three branches of government, you wouldn’t want to hand over control of FDA to, say, your next-door neighbor. In the sample of bureaucrats that Bachner and Ginsberg looked at, the majority had master’s degrees or more. It should be a comfort knowing that there exists a specialized class of people who have dedicated their lives to understanding the intricacies of, say, tax credits for the poor or the diplomatic intrigues of the Caucasus.

Bachner and Ginsberg don’t dispute that many voters are ignorant. In their view, however, D.C. insiders are needlessly disdainful of the regular Americans they are supposed to be helping and that this breeds distrust on both sides. Perhaps that’s one reason, they say, that American faith in government is at a 50-year low.

“Ordinary folk might not know a lot, but that’s not an excuse to ignore them,” Ginsberg said in a recent phone interview.

He continued, “My doctor knows more than I do about medicine. My accountant knows more that me about tax law. But all these folks feel a fiduciary responsibility to accept my opinions so they can provide me with the best service. They don’t say, ‘You’re an idiot, just shut up.’ ”

For their part, the bureaucrats are aware that they’re not average Americans. In fact, respondents to the survey tended to overestimate the distance between their own opinions and those of the general public. More often than not, they misjudged how the public felt about federal spending on various programs, such as education or social security or defense.

Bachner and Ginsberg call this phenomenon the fallacy of “false uniqueness.” They interpret it as a sign that many public servants have internalized a sense of superiority. Perhaps, as they write, “officials and policy community members simply cannot imagine that average citizens would have the information or intellectual capacity needed to see the world as it is seen from the exalted heights of official Washington.”

To remedy the situation, the authors suggest term limits for civil servants and training to teach them to be more sensitive to public opinion. They also want bureaucrats to get out more. Why should government agencies be based in D.C., when the Internet and telecommuting make it easy to locate an office anywhere?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently opened a satellite office in Silicon Valley to be closer to all of the tech companies. Bachner and Ginsberg urge other agencies to set up shop outside of the Beltway, where bureaucrats “might actually rub shoulders with their fellow Americans”:

Today, [Department of Education] employees all send their children to Northern Virginia or suburban Maryland schools (among the nation’s premier school districts), where they encounter a somewhat distorted picture of life in America’s beleaguered public schools. Imagine if the [Department of Education] dispersed many of its offices to, say, Oklahoma or Montana or Mississippi. The challenges facing school districts in these states are vastly different from those encountered in the affluent D.C. suburbs.

“Washington always claims to be looking for new ideas,” they write, acidly. “Perhaps these would be inspired by new scenery.”

We might take some of the same advice now, and exercise our empathetic skills. Anyone who has spent time D.C., who has encountered the city’s beleaguered civil servants, recognizes that “disdainful” might be too strong a word to describe them. If these technocrats are suspicious of public opinion, it is only that they believe that average Americans might change their minds if they had enough time to study the policy issue in depth.

When I spoke to Bachner and Ginsberg over the phone, I asked them if they might be over-interpreting their survey results. Did the data really show that bureaucrats harbored “utter contempt for the citizens they served”? Could it simply be that bureaucrats hold an accurately low opinion of the public’s expertise on policy matters?

Perhaps, they responded, but that still doesn’t give bureaucrats license to ignore the public’s sentiments.

Fair enough. But respect, as the saying goes, is a two-way street, and Americans have long and ignoble tradition of denigrating expertise. Today, nearly 40 percent of adults think there isn’t evidence for global warming. Skeptical parents won’t vaccinate their children, endangering their communities with breakouts of preventable diseases like measles. So  maybe we can make a deal. If we want experts to listen to our opinions, we might also do them the courtesy of sometimes listening to their opinions, too.


Again the untold or total truth goes unsaid or heard. Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the national anthem is big news (why?). Apparently any protest against what is considered an institution in America is news, even Donald Trump has leapt full force and uninformed on this issue. Reading all of several articles and looking at a 20 minute news conference  on this I fully get the reason for his protest. It is unfortunate that too many of us do not. The history of anthem is as interesting as the unspoken history of our country. To address some modern ideas: Donald trumps constituency is comprised of conservatives and many “fringe” followers, the fringe followers are the people who believe people of color are ruining the country even though the country was ruined (so to speak) by their ancestors. The native Americans were exploited, murdered and displaced  for the purpose and needs of  non native Americans whose sole purpose was to advance their own needs. When these needs were met then the Native Americans and the “imported” Americans  were placed in subservient positions. That lower tier status was maintained for years until the 60’s when the Civil rights movement evolved. Even then the movement was slow and the resentment about the aspirations of the minorities was looked upon as “uppity”. Human dignity was considered a privilege reserved for the upper class , translated as White (even though many  enjoying the privilege were in the same circumstances as the minority). Many history books do not detail all of the events of this country so too many of us have no idea of the ill-treatment conferred upon the lesser of ALL of us. The issue we all need to address is the half heard, half reported and uncovered history and information that runs so rampantly in our society. Think about how you would feel if the roles of white and people of color were reversed, if you believe  your situation would remain the same then you should be on the front lines of any movement for progress for us all. If you believe you situation would change then you definitely need to be in the fight. It is generally felt that we have 2 candidates that are less than ideal but what is ideal? We are at a time in world history that Jesus or Mohamed would have a hard time getting elected so we need to find out all we can about candidates on our own and  not from the news media. This requires reading and investigating other avenues of information. What we need to do is try another view or look at things through the eyes of others. Keep in mind that racism and bigotry are the children of ignorance.

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I’m that friend who calls you just to say hi.

I’m that friend who you thought about calling and didn’t think about it until I called you.

I’m that friend who you don’t think about calling until you needed something.

I’m that friend who will accept a call from you in spite of the above.

I’m that friend who has little time for BS but will understand that you give it out

I’m that friend who will do whatever I can to assist you when you need it

Yes I am that friend

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If you can understand this: “the sound of one hand clapping”, then you can understand that our 2 party system is only as good as the people in it.

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