A Cancer We Must Defeat!

Excrement!

Feces and urine smeared in the Halls of Congress!

Does this not anger you?  Then this should anger you even more, for the Republican members of this and the last Congress supported the actions of Jan 6, 2021.

Used to be the Party that was out of power was known as the Loyal Opposition.  Legislators willing to negotiate for the good of the Nation.  Like. –” Well Bill I guess we could easily get your bridge passed if we work together.”

No longer is this true.

The Republican Party, since Nixon has dropped all pretensions of being a legitimate party that can efficiently and to the good of the citizens run the Federal Government.  One has only to look at the disastrous ending of every Republican Administration since Nixon! 

Now seeing a future as an perennial minority Party they are willing to go so far as to incite an insurrection to overturn a legitimate election to maintain power.

Those Republican Legislators who incited and supported this rebellion have all broken their oath to protect and defend the Constitution and should be dealt with accordingly!

Somehow, just as I am trying to rid my body of cancer we must also rid our country of this malady! A disease so evil it has many on the right rooting for the cancer!

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So Now What?

So Now What?It appears that Joe Biden has won the Presidency.  A 5 million vote lead in the popular and a win in the Electoral College is a pretty strong victory.  When one compares his election to other presidential wins it is right up there with Truman in 1948, Kennedy in 1960 and even Reagan in 1980.  Biden may not call a mandate but for sure, and compared to others, he has emerged from the election with enough support to call one.

So what will be the result a Biden Democratic victory?  Biden has been busy preparing for this moment by creating plans for handling the problems we face.  Number one on the list is the pandemic.  Next the economy although they kind of go hand in hand.  He also has proposals for infrastructure spending, raising the minimum wage and reforming healthcare.  He will need to repair our relationships with our allies and repair much of the damage to our institutions exposed by the lawless attitude of the previous Administration.  We also will need immigration and law enforcement reform.

Those on the other side can rest assured that a Biden Administration is not going to turn the country communist or make it any more socialist than it already is.  Yes that’s right.  Our system is actually a combination of capitalist and socialist policies and programs designed to allow for the growth of the economy while keeping a check on the harms unfettered capitalism can produce such as pollution, labor abuses, market manipulation and such.

Biden has also proposed a raise in Social Security benefits of 1300 a month to help our seniors.  He proposes moving us towards renewable energy and away from fossil fuels.  This is a slow but necessary transition which will create jobs and revitalize our industries and economy.

I hope we can get to a Universal Basic Income.  That, in conjunction with health insurance for all our citizens would end abject poverty in America and give our citizens a kind of financial freedom and have us better prepared financially for the next crisis that might impact our economy.  I hope it is not, but I fear this idea is a bridge too far, but I can only hope.

Of course all of this depends on Democrats winning control of the Senate by winning the two Georgia seats on the line in the January run off.  If not Republicans will control the Senate.  Mitch McConnell as majority leader will not allow a Democratic President to accomplish anything.  Come the next Presidential election Republicans will tell the voters to vote for them because the Democrats didn’t get anything done!  This is exactly what they did with the last 6 years of Obama’s Presidency. That’s how we got Trump!

Certainly a Biden Presidency is exactly the thing we need to revitalize the country. These last four years with the worst side of our nature exposed have shown we can be better than that.  Biden’s win shows that we can come together and when we do the sky is the limit. We should extend to President Elect Biden all the support and assistance we can muster to make his presidency a success.  His success will be the America’s success!     

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Spending Your Way To Prosperity

A conservative leaning friend of mine, while railing about Government spending gave voice to the saying, ‘You can’t spend your way to prosperity!’ That got me to thinking and it brought up this question, How is that true if our prosperity and growth from the end of the WWII to 1980’s was driven by Government spending and personal economic growth thru supply and demand? There were a few recessions during this time but they were managed in the standard way with increased Government spending. The goal being to get the economy moving again till jobs come back and the spending of the people becomes the driving engine of the economy. Get money into the hands of those who must spend it, the middle class and poor, and that spending will create growth.

In the 1980s Republicans altered this equation. Oh, they still want the Government to put out money, just not to those who must spend it, the middle class and poor, but to those who will invest it, the already wealthy and Corporations. Those investments will create jobs and the wealth from those investments will trickle down to the rest of us at the bottom of the financial pyramid. Kinda makes you feel like a fire hydrant outside a Veterinarian’s office except they get more trickle.

How has that worked out? Trickle down somehow became trickle up. 1980 to 2020 saw Republicans pass several of these ‘tax cuts’. Each a 1.2 trillion dollar shift of money from the middle class and poor to the coffers of the wealthy and the profit margins of huge corporations and businesses. What happened to the middle class and poor? They ended up paying for the Government and experienced a flat line of wages that when adjusted for inflation have not risen during the entire period. This change in economic policy brought us several recessions and the Great Recession of 2007.

After the recession the Republicans did everything in their power to inhibit the recovery. They continue to push the notion that to recover we must still give money to the wealthy to invest and those investments will create jobs. The problem with that is investors are not going to invest until our economic situation improves and one of the first things they did after regaining power in 2016 was to pass another trillion plus tax cut for the wealthy but that money also will not be invested. There is not enough demand for Joe Smith’s widgets because people do not have enough extra money to buy Joe’s widgets. Not enough demand for Joe to build another factory and hire more people to make more widgets! All that money is sitting in some corporation’s bank account waiting for things to get better and people can buy what the corporations make.

It’s time to stop this foolishness, time to return to solid economic policy. We should end the austerity imposed by Republicans in a futile attempt to make the failed economic policy derisively known as ‘trickle down’ work, and return to what we know works! Increase the spending of the Federal Government. We should pass a Universal Basic Income and raise spending levels for unemployment, welfare, food stamps and other programs designed to get people productive. Increase the minimum wage. A man who works 40 hours a week should not need food stamps to make ends meet. As the spending power of the middle class improves the increased tax revenue pays off the increased Government spending. The increased spending of the poor also creates demand. That demand is then satisfied by investors, some taking advantage of Government programs, which create businesses, build factories and hire people to meet the new demand. Once the economy is humming along the extra tax revenue is used to pay off the debt created in getting the economy running. 

We all get rich, not just a few! Our lives improve and the spending of the people and Government in improving lives and paying our bills keeps the economy rolling right along! That’s how you spend your way to prosperity!

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Oh, Pardon me!

President Trump, as President, has the power to pardon people who have been convicted of breaking Federal Law. He has misused this power to help people who got in trouble while working on his election.  He has signaled to his cronies in trouble that if they protect him a pardon could be in the offing!  As bad as this misuse of power is the President is not the only leader with pardoning power.

State Governors also have executive pardoning power with the ability to pardon those who have broken State laws.  Many are using this power not only to pardon but also to apologize.  With the end of cannabis prohibition in more than half of the states, many Governors and State Legislatures have begun to pardon and expunge the records of those convicted under the unjust laws supporting cannabis prohibition.  We know now that the original law prohibiting the use of cannabis was an unjust and racist law that was declared unconstitutional in 1969, with much thanks to Dr. Timothy Leary.  The number of people who have had their lives damaged between 1937 and 1969 by this unjust law is hard to estimate. 

The law replacing it, the 1970 Controlled Substances Act which scheduled drugs by harm, placed cannabis in Schedule 1, dangerous and having no medical value along with heroin. This alone seemed strange as heroin is essentially the same as morphine which is classified as Schedule 2.  Cannabis’s scheduling was supposed to be temporary, awaiting the results of the Nixon appointed Shafer Commission’s report, ‘Drugs in America’. They reported that cannabis should be decriminalized and that drugs were a medical problem and not a criminal one.  President Nixon, we now know, decided to ignore the recommendation of the commission and declared the War on Drugs so he could use the War to harass his political enemies. John Erlichmann, Nixon aide in an interview in 1993 admitted that the prohibition of cannabis and heroin was nothing more than a political ploy.  He said,” The Nixon Campaign and the Nixon Whitehouse had 2 enemies, Blacks and Anti-war Protesters.  We couldn’t make it against the law to be Black or against the war but if we could associate the Blacks with heroin and the Anti-war Protesters with marijuana and criminalized them heavily we could break up their meetings, arrest their leaders and vilify them night after night on the evening news.  Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we were!”  One wonders how many of our citizens had their lives ruined behind this political scam.  The records show from 1969 to 1995 an average of 400,000 arrests per year for an estimated total of 10,400,000 arrests for this period.  From 1996 to the present we see an uptick to 750,000 arrests per year for an estimated total of 18,000,000 arrests.  Millions of lives upended by this scam!

Governors in the states that have legalized have begun to undo some of this damage.  The Colorado Governor as has the Michigan governor recently have pardoned and expunged the records of their citizens damaged by this law.  These pardons and expungements are a drop in the bucket of repairing the actual damage done.  Sadly, on the Federal level and in some States it is still being used to unjustly destroy the lives of our citizens. 

When the Federal prohibition of cannabis finally ends the President should not only pardon those currently in prison or on record as having been arrested but, He or She should, as should all State Governors, also issue a blanket pardon to reverse every cannabis conviction from 1937 to the present. It may only be a token gesture but it should be done. Additionally it might be a good idea to attach an apology to the blanket pardon.  Eighty years of lies and false propaganda destroying millions of American lives certainly deserves an apology and it’s long overdue!  

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“We Need to Get Rid of the Ballots.”

President Trump has been reported saying he would not promise a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election.  He added that, “We need to get rid of the ballots, then there won’t need to be a transfer of power.”

Think about that.  He wants to declare your vote invalid to enable him to stay in power.  Sounds like he is planning to steal the election.  Well, guess what folks. He is!  He is working it two ways.  Declare the whole election fraudulent and sue to push it to the court hoping his newly appointed justice will rule in his favor and hand him the election.  The other is a bit sneakier.  State Legislatures can declare the ballots in their state invalid for some reason and then instruct the Electors of the Electoral College whom to vote for. The idea is that enough states will do this and throw the election to Trump.

Republican operatives are right now in discussion with legislators of States with Republican controlled Legislatures planning ways to declare the votes of their citizens invalid so the legislators can instruct their Electors to presumably vote for Trump.  This will invalidate all votes no matter who they are for and steal the election.

If they pull this off it will be the end of our Great experiment in democracy. We then will really have a dictator and not just a wannabe! You can bet these guys will do whatever it takes to remain in power.  He has said as much on many occasions and if it takes the destruction and demise of democracy and freedom in America then so be it.

The best defense we have against this assault on our freedom is to bury Trump in a tsunami of votes for Biden that will make any attempted coup so obvious that even half assed patriots will get out of their ‘lazyboys’ and actually do what is necessary to resist this attack on our country and way of life.

The tipping point is coming.  We must be prepared to do what it will take to save the greatest light of Democracy and Freedom the world has ever known!

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Society’s Grease

I do not understand the rancor and hostility between even decades old friends over differing political views.  Suffice it to say, I will never understand supporting people whose policies would negatively affect me and mine but people do.

I imagine they cannot understand why I think we should equitably, not equally, share in the wealth of the wealthiest nation on earth.  Healthcare for everybody and a monetary policy that gives every citizen a dividend check as their share of the nation’s wealth.

Alaskans get a yearly dividend check from the State as payment for their share of the gas and oil being taken out of the state.  I think we should do this nationally.   Oops! Sorry, there I go!

Anyway, knowing we disagree, we do not discuss it.

There is a way to handle politics if it comes up.  Acknowledge but make no opinion statements about it. Should there be an election where you and your friend are supporting different candidates, and your friend’s man wins, here’s what you do. Look your friend in the eye and say, “Good for you your guy won!”  Then drop the subject.  We need in this time of political conflict to keep the conflict in the public sphere and out of the private.  I wouldn’t like it if your guy won but I can celebrate your happiness over it.

They say manners are the grease society uses to keep the machinery of society running smoothly.  Without it we descend into division and violence.

The science fiction writer Robert Heinlein in his novel, ‘Time Enough For Love’ has the character Lazarus Long comment on manners. “Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear.  Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together.  Often the very young, the untraveled, the naïve, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as, ‘empty’, ‘meaningless’, or ‘dishonest’, and scorn to use them.  No matter how ‘pure’ their motives are they throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best.”

I would add that in these divisive times we all need to use extra grease more often than not!

So bite your tongue, listen without judgement and let it go!  Repeat in your mind, I love you man even though you are wrong, and let it go!  With any luck your friendship will be stronger and will last long after the politicians and policies are gone.  We can choose to be together even though we disagree.  As I like to say, Choose Wisely!

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Fresh Ideas and New Faces

The current President’s Administration appears to be staffed with people only concerned with immediate economic reward.  Like small time grifters, it seems they do not care about what happens to their families or their fellow citizens in general after they are gone.  What else can account for their choice to put profit over the crisis of climate change?  What else can account for their choice to put political advantage during a pandemic that has, at this reading, killed 150,000 of their fellow citizens, over the good of the country?  What else can account for their blindly following a two bit con man and narcissist whose incompetence need for revenge and need for self-aggrandizement, has allowed tens of thousands of our citizens to die unnecessarily simply for some personal or political gain.

The President says he only hires the best people.  Who, the past winner of the Grifter of the Year Award?  People with a history of looking the other way?  People who are willing to sell their integrity?  I think we have had enough of the President’s ‘best people’.

The Republicans are just as culpable as the President is for our current condition.  They have sold their souls and integrity to enable this disaster of an administration to continue and yes, the preventable deaths from the pandemic fall at their feet.

All our legislators in both parties have been too focused on their reelection and not on what morality and integrity calls them to do.  The question for the citizens is, what rules should be put in place to give legislators the political freedom to vote with the best interests of the country in mind instead of the next election.  Term limits seem to be a significant part of the answer. We want experienced leaders but not in the same position for 40 years.  Perhaps as Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar, “The fault, Dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves.”  It is we who lazily elect the same faces over and over.  We can change this by picking someone in the Primary that maybe has the same politics but is simply not the same guy!

Term limits would do some of this but it also requires us citizens to do our homework before marking our ballots.  Whatever we do, we have to find an acceptable compromise between having experienced legislators verses fresh ideas and new faces.  It is the only way to keep us from getting stuck in a rut.  Fresh faces and ideas are the traction for our wheels!    

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Make the World Over

We have at this moment, as we did as a result of the Revolution, a chance to make the world over.  Let us not waste this costly chance to remake our world in the image of our dreams and aspirations.  We have again the opportunity to live up to our claim that all people are created equal but that equality must extend to all.

We must build a new society with a government that has in its charge the welfare of all our citizens.  A government that is willing to curb the harms of unfettered capitalism and direct itself to making it possible for all our citizens to benefit from the wealth that capitalism can produce.  We say God created all people equal.  We now have a chance to move one giant step closer to making that vision a reality.  We moved closer with the end of the Civil War and emancipation but we have not finished the job.  This time we can finish the job by making it possible for all our citizens to enjoy equally the blessings of American Freedom.

What kind of country do we want?  It seems most of us want a country that includes everybody equally, especially when it comes to the vote, in all our doings. A country that provides the benefits we see in other countries.   Healthcare for all, Universal Basic income that eliminates abject poverty and gives all our citizens freedom and a financial platform to help our children get started and succeed in life.  This would drive the largest economic expansion in our history.  It would enable tens of thousands of our citizens to attend college who otherwise would not be able to.  The scientific and societal advances of all those educated Americans cannot begin to be imagined.

Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense that, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”  He also wrote in the appendix to Common Sense that, ‘We have the chance to begin the world over again.”  In the same vein we too today have a chance to begin the world over again as they did then.  Let us go forward bravely so that when we pass on our children will say we left the world a better place.  The chance for change comes once in a lifetime.  Let’s not blow it!

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Crimes of Desperation

When one looks at the deaths of our citizens at the hands of the police one thing, other than a disproportionate number being Afro American, sticks out.  The crimes committed that instigated the confrontation with police are all minor crimes.

Selling single cigarettes on the street, a bad $20 check, minor drug dealing and drug use, heck, even a bad turn signal can end up in you being dead or incarcerated. These are crimes of desperation.  We live in a cruel capitalistic system.  Work or starve.  No work where you live?  We don’t care, starve.  Transportation to work not available?  We don’t care, starve.  Can’t afford to move to seek work?  We don’t care, starve.  This is a cruel system that exploits those at the bottom to maintain the lifestyle of the wealthy.  The current minimum wage is only one quarter of what it should be to comprise a living wage.

It is not surprising that people end up committing petty crimes to get by.  The guy who trades some food stamps to fix his car so he can get to work is a criminal but it’s either that or starve!  The system is what drives this kind of desperate criminality.  Many of these things should not even be crimes.  Drug use is one.  The 1972 Shafer Committee in its report, ‘Drugs in America’ long ago said drugs were a medical problem and not a criminal one yet we still treat drug use as criminal.  Bad turn signal is another one.  Today’s cars tell you when your turn signal is out.  You do not need a policeman to stop you to tell you something the car is already telling you.  What you need is an income that makes it possible to afford to fix it!

There is no doubt that reform is needed.  Not just police and police standards but the law that supports this system must be reformed also.  Add to that healthcare for all and a Universal Basic Income and now we are getting somewhere.

The way forward calls for us to do whatever is in our power to right the wrongs our system creates.  We must move to a more equitable economic and cultural society where not just the wealthy do well but all our citizens have the economic and cultural support needed to live prosperous and meaningful lives.

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Reconciliations and Reparations

We need to do some kind of reconciliation program like was done in other countries to put slavery and racism behind us. Reconciliation and reparations are needed and until we do, these things will haunt us and we can never ever put them behind us.

Rwanda saw the Hutu tribe members killing Tutsi tribe members in a massive slaughter of biblical proportions. After the killings and civil war were stopped, reconciliation hearings were held to try to repair the damage and bring the country back together. The same thing happened in Bosnia after the Balkan wars. These hearings went a long way to healing these countries.

We have the horrible things done to Native Americans and African Americans in our past and regrettably in our present and we have done nothing to atone and reconcile what had happened. We have never done anything to put these things behind us. Oh we say, well that was in the past, but it is not. We are dealing with them right now! The treatment of African Americans by our police is directly connected to slavery and the civil war.  Some blogger even posted that the only good democrat is a dead one. What’s next, knocking on doors and killing anyone who does not agree? This ‘past’ of ours will never be behind us until we own up and do the hard work of reconciliation.

What form that would take is up for discussion.  We could use what happened in Rwanda and the Balkans as a template.  Hearings to get the facts out and some form of reparations to put it officially to an end.  It won’t be perfect but it must be done if we are ever to move on.

The rioting over the killing of another African American is just the outward appearance of the anger and resentment left over by the horrible treatment of our own citizens by our Government, and to think it will just stop one day without an honest treatment of what happened is living in a nonexistent dream world.  Without some kind of reconciliation and reparations we will never be free of our past.

Until we face our past and reconcile what was done in our name it will continue to haunt us from century to century and the only way to put it behind us is reconciliation and reparations.

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