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How Trump Became a Buffoon

Well said, Hal. The second hundred days are not starting out any better than the first hundred ended. Trump and the GOP Congressional leadership are doing their best to change our society to benefit the few at the expense of the many to a degree their reactionary predecessors could only dream about. The health care fight is not yet over. Those who voted to pass this most recent bill in the House must pay for their lack of human compassion as quickly as possible. – rjc

haldonahue

Definition of buffoon from Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“1: a ludicrous figure: clown

2: a gross and usually ill-educated or stupid person acting like a ridiculous buffoon”

The ultimate dividing line of our generation was the Vietnam War. We grew up inspired by the greatest generation. John F. Kennedy’s famous statement, “Ask not what your country can do for you…ask what you can do for your country.”, rang loud in our ears. The war forced a decision upon our youth and their families. The choice was to serve, to oppose or to evade wartime service.

Many, originally myself included, saw our duty as answering the nation’s call to arms. Others, immediately seeing that war as an act of murky imperialism and stumbling politics, opposed the war. Many were afraid to take a stand. Interestingly, today those who are the loudest proponents of violence and war, conservative leaders like Ted Nugent, Rush…

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Women Aren’t People, They’re “Hosts”

Excellent essay reblogged from  BroadBlogs  concerning how women’s human rights are stripped in many societies even now. The religious and political right in this country bring this to the legislative arena on an increasing basis. Many of us refer to this as a War on Women, which right wing ideology claims is a myth, but what better name exists for it – especially when it is primarily men doing the legislating with little or no input from women? -rjc

BroadBlogs

Handmaids Tale. Women are just hosts, not people.

Fertile women of Gilead’s Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu, airing today) were not seen as people. They were mere vessels carrying the babies of men.

Too many theocratic Republican legislators see women the same way today.

Like Oklahoma Rep. Justin Henry who asserted:

I understand that they (women) feel like that is their body (but) what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.

Women don’t have bodies. They are incubators for other people’s bodies.

Do baby girls have bodies until they become fertile and then lose them?

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May Day General Strike by James E. Rabbit III

Some valuable history and a call to action by workers worldwide for May Day.

Source: May Day General Strike by James E. Rabbit III

Budget? What Budget?

President Trump has spent much of this Congressional Spring Break ( euphemistically referred to in the Congressese language as a recess) ignoring domestic matters in favor of flip-flopping on foreign affairs issues and displaying his version of militaristic decisiveness by blowing up stuff in Syria and Afghanistan while threatening to do likewise in North Korea. When Congress returns to duty once more, it will resume its seeming never-ending quest to bring the federal government to the brink of a shutdown without actually doing so. This year, they could achieve a rarity – shutting down the government despite having GOP majorities in both Houses of Congress while also having a GOP President in the White House (when he’s not hobnobbing with other rich folks and golfing at his Florida resort).

Don’t even try the old “The GOP doesn’t have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate” argument. Not after the stunt they pulled getting Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court. They follow the rules when it suits them and change them when that allows them to get their way. There should not have been an open seat available for Gorsuch yet. Period. At any rate, there have been ways around the 60-vote cloture in dealing with budget matters for years before this incident. The recent failure of the GOP House majority to pass a horrid repeal and replace bill for the Affordable Care Act may indicate that other legislation may also face rough sledding in that body.

The initial budget outline sent by the White House to Congress (prior to all the non-investigative investigations dealing with potential Russian tampering with the election last November) has been termed a non-starter by most of the Congressional leadership. Trump calls for a huge increase in military spending to coincide with massive spending cuts in virtually every other area of discretionary spending in the budget. Foregoing butter in favor of bullets has a long tradition in GOP Administrations at least as far back as the Ronald Reagan era. The President should not need Democratic support for this budget, and surely should not expect any. There is absolutely nothing in this budget for most Americans to be enthusiastic about. In fact, many of the GOP opponents who scuttled the health care bill will also oppose this blueprint on similar grounds – the numbers don’t add up to anything close to a balanced budget.

One major problem with the Trump/Ryan health care attempt was the blatant move to drastically reduce taxes for the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the people who were being helped the most by the Affordable Care Act – exposing millions of Americans who received affordable health insurance for the first time to the prospect of losing it once again. Unfortunately, that wasn’t what ultimately defeated the bill, as members of the House Freedom Caucus (Tea Party by another name) were set to vote it down because it wasn’t draconian enough to poor or sick people.

The overall budget is far more complex than the health care package (which our President thought was difficult enough, to his surprise, thank you very much). Taxing spending and setting priorities are intertwined in a morass so complex it has in recent years only jelled enough to limp through year after year a few months at a time without being revisited for a new infusion of spending and taxing authorizations. Usually, agreements can be passed without interruption in government services, but not always. As is often the case, a debt ceiling is also being reached which also needs to be dealt with. Budget hawks love to use situations like this to impose harsh austerity measures which inordinately negatively affect those groups they care least about – those who do not contribute to their campaigns and/or vote for them.

Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric and Paul Ryan’s consistent budget vision from the time he was chair of the House Budget Committee are utterly incompatible. Ryan has wanted for years to gut Medicare and Medicaid. Trump promised not to do so. Why Trump ever decided to back that piece of crap health care legislation is beyond me. Apparently Trump saw an easy way to get votes and took it, never really intending to implement policies which would help his core supporters in any tangible way. Even now, he is threatening make health care subsidies weaken to the point of making what he calls Obamacare collapse, along with most of the coverage gains and affordability that came with it, unless he can get Democratic support for “his” plan.

As for this coming budget season, the fact that Congress chose to return from another unnecessarily long recess in time to face a self-imposed four day deadline to avert yet another government shutdown is an act of utter legislative malpractice. Not only are most GOP legislators doing their utmost to avoid facing their own constituents in the wake of their health care fiasco, they are just letting the clock tick away on any chance of getting real work done on the budget – or anything else for that matter. They also seem content to let President Trump go his merry way with his potentially dangerous and extravagantly costly military adventurism abroad with absolutely no Congressional oversight. It almost seems as if our legislative bodies are content to let Trump rule by Executive Order as much as is Constitutionally possible.

Donald Trump came to power on pledges to make America Great Again. He promised to bring back good paying jobs that had been sent abroad due to faulty trade deals and poor tax and regulatory practices here at home. Every action that has occurred so far has been in the direction of reducing regulations in a manner detrimental to the health and welfare of the very workers whose support he sought and received. His budget proposals, such as they are, do nothing to improve the economy or living conditions for the vast majority of the American people – they will depress wages, worsen working conditions and lessen future prospects for all a few of those not already belonging to the most privileged among us. Continuing trickle-down economic policies and deflecting criticism of domestic failures by pouring huge amounts of money into endless foreign conflicts allows for the continuation of economic policies which have created reverse Robin Hood conditions in this country for decades.

The only serious budget proposals I have seen in recent years that attempt to serve the needs of the people in this country rather than the plutocrats and oligarchs who have come to dominate both our governmental institutions and the airwaves have been presented by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. These People’s Budgets usually fail to get support from more than even a minority of Democratic House members or Senators. President Obama came up with proposals which would have been far better than those presented by Trump and Ryan, but these were mostly ignored by Congress as well. Stop serving Wall Street and start serving Main Street. That’s the only way to serve democracy, turn your empty rhetoric into real progress and get your approval ratings out of the dumpster. Trump, Ryan and McConnell claim they are trying to do one thing – improve our lives and make the world safe from evil – while acting in the same manner as they always have, which continues to accomplish exactly the opposite.

We, The People,  currently have little real support in Washington, DC and most state capitals. We need to use our voices and demonstrate that our so-called leaders must recognize our dissatisfaction and act to alleviate the causes of our discontent – not just glad-hand us during election campaigns and ignore us all the rest of the time. Executive Orders banning people from coming here will not replace passage of comprehensive immigration laws. Lowering taxes on the wealthy and letting them underpay, mistreat or otherwise exploit their employees will not make this country great, nor will curtailing our rights and liberties in order to limit legitimate dissent and diversity of views and lifestyles. The current administration is not draining the swamp, it is wallowing in it. Urge them to stop and turn things around before they do even more damage than they have already.

 

Further Suggested Readings:

Federal Budget: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Calvin, Hobbes & Budgetary Bait-and-Switch

President Trump’s Budget Breaks His Promises to Workers—Again

Trump Budget Horrifies Majority of Voters, Poll Finds

Former Marine Corps captain says Trump defense budget is ‘less bang for more bucks’

SIGN AND SHARE: Reject Trump’s plan to eliminate the Meals on Wheels program

Let Trump Golf, Let the Public Draft the Budget by David Swanson

Trump Will Donate Salary to National Parks Service While Slashing Its Budget

‘No Walls, No War, No Warming’: Progressives Call for Priorities Shift

Trump’s Budget Director Declares Class War On The American People

A Wall To Keep Them Out? Or Hold Us In?

Despite the appearance that Bannon may be losing clout in the White House and the fact that Trump seems to be flip-flopping on a number of issues, this article does an excellent job of framing many of the issues of concern for many in dealing with this administration.

BroadBlogs

Trump and Bannon. Populists? Or dictator wannabes?

I voted for Clinton but when Trump won I thought, “At least he’s a populist” and hoped he would at least help working people.

But over time I’ve worried more and more since he is looking pretty UNpopulist:

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The Master Distractor Strikes

What was the point behind President Donald Trump’s recent Tomahawk missile attack on a Syrian airbase in the wake of an alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians purportedly carried out by President Assad’s military? Was he trying to demonstrate that his foreign policy decision-making skills eclipse those of President Obama’s when he was faced with a similar situation four years ago? Given his constant berating and slandering of his predecessor, that line of thinking may very well have played a part. A follow-up question on the minds of many concerns what he plans to do next in his apparently chaotic Syria policy.

Unlike President Obama’s request for Congressional input into what action should be taken regarding the Syrian civil war, President Trump decided to launch 60 missiles, each priced at over $1 million, to teach Assad a lesson and prevent any further such violations of international law by using chemical weapons against his own citizens. Almost all of us agree that using such weapons should not be an option for anyone (though Trump prides himself on not taking any options off the table – including the use of nuclear weapons). Certainly, innocent men, women and children should not be subjected to such attacks. Nor should they be made homeless amid an endless chaotic civil war – but what has Trump’s attack done to end any of that?

Ratcheting up the already tense Syrian situation by inserting American military might in the middle of a civil war with no articulated policy or stated goals for the eventual outcome of the conflict is folly, if not even worse, especially given the dangers of escalation inherent in launching such an attack in the presence of Russian and Iranian boots on the ground in far greater numbers than we current have there. What vital American security interest has been put at risk by Assad? Such an attack also appears to run counter to Trump’s stated goal of eliminating ISIS forces in the region. Assad may be a ruthless tyrant when it comes to ruling Syria. No doubt many Syrians would be better off with him out of the picture. Millions of Syrian refugees would probably cheer his demise. But such an outcome with no clear view of the country’s future may leave a situation similar to that in Libya for the years since the overthrow of that regime.

Perhaps Trump also saw this as an opportunity to distance himself from the Russian government and the problems he has been facing regarding his relationship with it and the accusations/investigations occurring in this country concerning alleged Russian interference with our elections last year.  Russia and Iran are among the few countries to voice strenuous objections to the American attack. The resulting press coverage of this attack, when added to the sudden lack of movement in Congressional investigations of the election tampering and possible collusion between Russia and Trump associates (conveniently timed to coincide with yet another lengthy Congressional recess), leads some to consider the episode to be another distraction from the recent setbacks the Trump Administration has faced in dealing with Congress and the media concerning lack of progress on his agenda as articulated during the campaign.

Our President seems intent on a course of increased militarization at the expense of programs designed to alleviate problems faced by the most unfortunate among us here at home. His budget proposals to date call for increasing defense spending and decreasing expenditures for peaceful pursuits or improving the lives of the most vulnerable among us. The only economic initiatives he has made thus far intentionally endanger the environment and the health and wellbeing of many American workers. His infrastructure plans, other than his intention to pay for his much ballyhooed border wall at the expense of the working poor while giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy and corporate deregulation that will set back consumer protections and worker rights by decades, have not even begun discussion in Congress.

Like Reagan over three decades ago and George W. Bush earlier in this century, the numbers don’t add up. Building up military spending while providing enormous tax cuts for the oligarchs will increase the deficit while simultaneously harming the people Trump promised to benefit the most. Then, once again, the GOP will say they need to reduce spending on the social safety net to balance the budget without raising taxes. Ask the people in Kansas and other states which have tried this strategy in recent years how that’s working out for them.

Military adventurism to distract from his inability to make gains in enacting the platform used to bring him the White House will not help Trump with his main supporters for long. Throwing his weight behind a health care proposal that would decimate health coverage for millions just to give higher profits to insurance companies and a bonanza of tax cuts to millionaires would not have fooled many for long, but he has shown no willingness to actually take action which will improve the economy, wages, wealth distribution or future prospects for the vast majority of the American people.

Spending close to $100 million in one spectacular but highly ineffective display of military might that could very easily have alleviated the budgetary pressures being placed on more beneficial programs. This is a blatant waste of both time and money – except from the perspective of  the arms manufacturers whose coffers will be filled in order to replace the expended missiles. Even using the same money to alleviate the suffering of the refugees we helped place in harm’s way would be more productive than making things go boom without really changing the situation on the ground. How could taxpayer money be better spent than it is now on extravagant expenses for his weekly vacations in Florida and elsewhere? For a man donating his salary, he, his family and companies seem to be making out pretty well feeding at the public trough. The small amounts being spent on Meals on Wheels and other programs on the chopping block seem far wiser in comparison.

Congress needs to step up and perform its Constitutional duties when it comes to authorizing or forbidding expenditures advancing a poorly articulated and perhaps even non-existent policy designed to supposedly meet our national security interests in Syria and elsewhere in the world. Saber rattling and bluster do not adequately replace diplomacy for a country that prides itself on defending individual freedom and human rights. Trump’s generals make more sense in this regard than he does. At least Obama recognized limits on his authority when it came to enacting his foreign policy initiatives. Trump has shown no inclination to even ask before acting. That is a recipe for disaster. How many new anti-American terrorists are being recruited on a daily basis due to his ordering of military strikes in countries in the region (most notably in Syria, Iraq and Yemen)? How many innocents are being killed by American drone strikes and arms provided to both sides of the conflicts?

Some Congressional Democrats are beginning to speak out about these issues – but not to the extent that they’ll cut short another unearned recess. For most, it seems to be business as usual, biding time, only acting at the last minute to avert fiscal catastrophe while blaming their opponents for getting little else done. They all need to stop pretending they are there to serve the President instead of those they were elected to represent. Trump, McConnell and Ryan are in business primarily to make things easier on the oligarchs at our expense. Trump, himself, is proving to be very adept at blatantly enriching himself and his cronies while claiming the opposite with little if any accountability. How long will they succeed in pulling the wool over the eyes of those they have thus far convinced to vote against their own interests?

Suggested Further Readings:

CREDO, MoveOn.org, Peace Action, and Win Without War Pledge to Resist Any Trump Administration Effort to Propel the United States into a War of Choice

Trump’s War on Terror Has Quickly Become as Barbaric and Savage as He Promised

Under Trump, the United States May Now Be Killing More Civilians Than Russia

Democratic Congressman Rips Trump For His Unconstitutional Strike On Syria

Syrian jets launch strike from base attacked by US missiles

War is the ultimate distraction

Here we go again: Another President Commits the Ultimate War Crime of Launching a War of Aggression

U.S. airstrikes have killed more and more civilians in Iraq and Syria since Trump took office

Media Spin Headlines to Downplay US Responsibility for Mosul Massacre

John Oliver Explains Why Trump’s Syria Strike Should Make Us All ‘Very, Very Worried’

Donald Trump personally profited from missile-maker Raytheon’s stock jump after his Syria attack

“The Grave Dangers in Meeting Fanaticism with Ignorance…”

An excellent missive from Steven Dundas ( aka – Padre Steve) discussing the dangers of using totalitarian methods to combat totalitarianism. – rjc

Padre Steve's World...Musings of a Progressive Realist in Wonderland

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Earlier in the week I discussed the moral implications of the President’s budget and talked about President Eisenhower’s Chance for Peace Speech of 1953. As I thought about it I began to ponder other things that President Eisenhower discussed that are still with us. One of those is the constant need for some people in government, in the media, and in the pulpit to find a scapegoat for the nation’s problems, both real, and imagined.

This is nothing new so as I watch the actions of some in the Trump Administration, and in the media today behaving in such a manner, it causes me pause and think. I am concerned with the way that American Muslims, and Americans of Arabic descent, even Christians, are being treated in response to real terrorist threats that are being perpetrated by some Islamic terrorist groups. Frankly, the heavy handed…

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Health Care: Seriously, GOP?

Recently, a battle raged in the US House Of Representatives on a bill designed to begin the process of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (known to its detractors as Obamacare). Republicans had been campaigning for this from the moment it was passed in the House and Senate and signed into law by President Obama. President Trump had likewise made this a priority in the campaign leading up to his victory in last November’s election.

While President Trump had backed the House bill, its provisions did not exactly meet the standards he had set forth in his campaign rhetoric. Trump was following GOP orthodoxy in saying that Obamacare was going to implode or explode soon, leaving the country bankrupt while failing to provide the health care the American people need and desire. He claimed it would be simple to eliminate the defective law and replace it with one which would save our health care system and provide everyone with adequate coverage without causing the economy to tank.

The problem with the bill offered in the House was that it did none of these things. Analysis by the Congressional Budget Office said the bill would result in over twenty million people losing coverage in the next decade. Tax cuts to the wealthy and elimination of the individual mandate (which requires each individual to either have insurance coverage or pay a substantial tax penalty) would mean that the system established by the Affordable Care Act would no longer work unless insurance companies were allowed to raise rates for high risk groups or increase deductible levels and out-of-pocket expenditures which would mean coverage would drop to levels which were once again unacceptably high, especially for high-risk groups such as elderly people not yet eligible for Medicare.

In all honesty, the bill seemed more the brainchild of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has been angling to reduce costs of Medicaid and Medicare ever since his days as House Budget Committee Chair prior to being the VP nominee on the 2012 GOP ticket under Mitt Romney. The way in which it attacked the Medicaid expansion piece of the Affordable Care Act and slashed the subsidies provided to make insurance more affordable for low-income individuals was in keeping with the principles espoused in his various policy proposals in previous budget cycles. In effect, the plan was becoming a huge tax windfall for the wealthy at the expense of insurance affordability for millions of others.

Other aspects of the new plan would serve to make it less likely for people to seek preventive care, resulting in higher levels of emergency room care, as people would be forced to wait until they were in serious difficulty before seeking care to avoid personal bankruptcy. The American Health Care Act would have benefitted very few relatively wealthy people, their families and corporations which would also see their taxes drop as a result. Health Insurance and Pharmaceutical companies (particularly their executives and shareholders) would also make out nicely under the plan.

Health care is a human right, not a privilege to be meted out in some arbitrary fashion based on economic prosperity, wealth or other discriminatory factor. This is obviously not a universally held opinion. If it were, there is no way in hell anyone would have come up with a system as tilted towards the satisfaction of a need for greed and lack of compassion on the part of a privileged minority as the one that would result from this particular law.

Many on the political left saw numerous shortcomings in the Affordable Care Act. The way in which it catered to both the private Health Insurance and Pharmaceutical industries meant expenses were bound to remain excessive when compared to other nations for comparable care. Making Medicaid expansion so pivotal while leaving it up to the political vagaries of each state ensured that people living in some states would receive better treatment than those living in others.

The GOP has a majority of seats in each house of Congress. Many of those who stand to lose the most by passage of a bill like the American Health Care Act are among those who put the politicians in office who are pushing for it the hardest. The sad truth is, millions of Trump voters also put in office some of the people pushing harder to make the bill even more draconian. The House Freedom Caucus was set to vote against the bill because it didn’t go far enough in reversing the Affordable Care Act. Luckily, it was these representatives who forced Trump and Ryan to scrap the bill – for now.

I am fairly certain that there are more people in this country who favor fixing the problems in the Affordable Care Act by moving in the other direction using a single-payer, Medicare For All approach providing affordable, universal coverage for all regardless of the extraneous arbitrary financial considerations espoused by the GOP and the for-profit privatized model which so many other advanced industrialized nations have abandoned. The health of the people as a whole would definitely be better off moving in that direction, rather than taking care away from millions as would happen under the Trump/Ryan or Freedom Caucus visions.

This battle is far from over. The GOP stands ready to continue its fight against human and civil rights for vast segments of our population in the days to come. Voting rights, reproductive rights and all other rights for people which have been fought and died for by many for ages will stand at risk as long as the right wingers maintain and strengthen their hold on political power at the state, local and federal levels in this country as well as abroad. Remember, as our rights become more restricted and our liberties whittled away in the name of some oddly-framed sense of morality or “national security”, who is doing these things and what they are actually achieving.

Freedom to die sick and miserable decades too soon because a health care system insists on healing only those who can afford to further enrich artificially created and sustained elites is not a freedom many would envy. It’s time for our health care system to move forward into an age where all are treated as equals when it comes to health, education and every other endeavor which our society holds to be important determinants of the future course of our society. We need to stop those currently striving to prevent us from achieving these goals for their own profit, whether it be monetary or other, at each and every opportunity.

Suggested Further Readings:

Chaffetz to low-income Americans: Buy health care, not iPhones

House GOP health bill adds up to big tax cut for the rich

Who wins, who loses with the GOP health care bill’s tax credits

The American Health Care Act Is a Wealth Grab, Not a Health Plan

Republicans Unveil Their Health Care Plan. It’s a Bloodbath.

Republican Congressman Falls Apart And Admits That Sick People Will Be Screwed On Trumpcare

RepubliCare Will Destroy the Individual Health Insurance Market Completely

A Running List of People Who Hate Trumpcare

Palin: Healthcare Repeal Is ‘RINO-Care’

Republican health plan to make millions more uninsured: U.S. congressional report

The Incredible Cruelty of Trumpcare | New Republic

Pressure mounts for changes to ObamaCare bill

Nashville Says “No!” to Trump’s Health Care Con

How Trumpcare Will Crush Millennials and Their Boomer Parents

The Trump-Ryan Healthcare Act: Some Economic Consequences

Trumpcare Saves Social Security By Killing People!

Republicans Want a Rushed Repeal Because They Don’t Have Any Other Plan

For many older Americans, costs rise under GOP health plan

Unfair For Men To Subsidize Maternity Costs?

Just when it seems we may have seen the extremes to which the political right will take its interminable War on Women, some duly elected “representative” chimes in with another attack. Often, as in this most recent case, the issue deals with women’s reproductive health care. These people need to be held accountable for this nonsense early and often – at the ballot box, town halls and any other opportunity that presents itself. – rjc

BroadBlogs

Men help make babies, shouldn’t they contribute to making sure that their babies are healthy?

Some Republicans say it’s unfair for men to subsidize women’s maternity insurance since only women use it.

Really?!

Is it fair that men’s contribution to making babies is a pleasurable orgasm, and that women’s contribution only begins with an orgasm — if she’s lucky (just 30% of US women always climax).

After maybe having an orgasm women end up with all the burden, varying from discomfort to possibly dying in childbirth.

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The Top Way In Which Military Spending Kills Is Not With Any Weapon by David Swanson + 2 Video Reports

Trump’s latest budget proposal, which increases military spending dramatically while cutting most everything else, will not be a wise use of scarce resources. This post explains many of the reasons this is true. The effects such policies have on the world as a whole threaten far more people than the terrorism he proposes to defeat through their use. How much more of these failed antics can we, and the planet, take before clearer heads prevail? – rjc

Source: The Top Way In Which Military Spending Kills Is Not With Any Weapon by David Swanson + 2 Video Reports

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