America’s Independence Day – and our Star-Spangled Mediocrity

On the day when we celebrate our independence, we celebrate our history. But what about our present and future?

It’s the 4th of July here.  The day we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Except that it wasn’t that simple.  It was authorized on July 2nd, adopted by a 12-0 vote (with NY abstaining) on the 4th, made unanimous on the 9th when NY changed their vote, finally written on parchment on the 23rd, and then signed by most of the delegates on August 2nd – with several delegates signing later and, in fact, three not signing at all.  Next time you complain about politicians taking too long to do something, remember that it’s nothing new.  Heck, the debate on the Declaration took forever.

Our history is littered with the good (defeating fascism, winning the Cold War, the Apollo Program, the greatest economy the world has ever seen), the bad (slavery, the Trail of Tears) and the ugly (Civil Rights crackdownscontinuing racism).

Today everyone celebrates.  But with the current political climate, I haven’t been able to compartmentalize things enough to simply celebrate.  There are going to be a lot of “USA #1” sentiments out there..  And that’s what gets me thinking.  So many people think that we’re the greatest nation on earth.  Well, we’re certainly the wealthiest nation in the world (Almost 50 trillion dollars worth of wealth as of a few of years ago).  But when you start looking at per-capita wealth – suddenly, we’re #3, behind Switzerland and Australia.  And if you start looking at per-capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product), it’s even worse.  We’re 13th.  Sure, some of those countries are Gulf nations with oil (Qatar) and micro-nations the size of a large mall with tax laws to attract the rich (Luxembourg) but we’re beaten by Switzerland, Norway and IRELAND – remember Ireland?  A few years ago they were one of the PIIGS countries (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain) who’s sovereign debt was threatening to destabilize the Euro).  Now the Irish are back to being the Celtic Tiger.

So how DO we rank against the rest of the world?  …at least in ways that we can measure.

Are we the best educated?

The answer is a resounding “Nope”.

Are we the healthiest?

Sorry, another “no” here.

What about the workforce?

Let’s let the numbers speak for themselves.

  • We’re 6th in median income.
  • We’re 53rd in employment.  While that’s a bit skewed by tiny nations, note that there are industrialized nations like Germany, Denmark, South Korea, Mexico, Iceland and Japan ahead of us on that list.
  • Our minimum wage of $7.25 is pretty paltry compared to Australia’s $13.16, or France’s $11.03 or the $10 you’ll find in Germany and the UK.  Not every country has a minimum wage law but those places like Denmark have collective bargaining agreements that cover entire sectors – and the lowest of those is $16/hour.
  • We’re 5th in worker productivity behind Luxembourg, Ireland, Norway and Belgium.
  • Though we ARE 2nd in exports, behind China, that rank plummets to 57th when you look at it per-capita.

Is there ANYTHING where we’re #1?

Of course there is.

So what the hell is left to celebrate?

There’s still something to being the “land of opportunity”.  My fear is that rampaging corporatism is taking it away.  Take that last bullet item above – student loan debt.  We’re told that our economic recovery could be better but young people aren’t buying houses.  Well, could YOU afford to buy a house if you left college with tens of thousands in college loan debt?  And failure isn’t even an option since 2005 when banks helped rewrite the bankruptcy laws.

But there’s still ideals here.  We still have the vote – though one particular party is trying REALLY HARD to reduce voting with everything from closing polling places in minority areas to writing Voter ID laws that specifically target minorities to gerrymandering districts.

I still have hope.  If Finland could fight hot wars against the Soviet Union on it’s own border and still end up with guaranteeing health care, pensions and unemployment while simultaneously providing the best education system in the world and still having a healthy economy, there’s no reason we couldn’t do it.

If Switzerland could switch their healthcare system to implement the public option in 1994, we could do it here.  It’s about time we started getting what we were paying for.  since we’re already paying enough to cover everyone and only covering a small percentage.

We have a long and glorious history of Doing The Right Thing, even when were late to the party (England banned slavery long before we did and we were slow to help our allies in both World Wars).  We’re still making progress on issues that matter, like marriage equality.  Would would have thought that a complete turnaround in public opinion would happen in just a few years?

We have ballot boxes and examples of how new ideas can work all over the world.  Our history is RIFE with people who came here from abroad with new ideas and changed the world with them!  We can still do that!  We do not have to tolerate being the only country where the term “medical bankruptcy” exists!  We don’t have to be the only industrialized nation that views a high school graduate as food for our banks instead of the future in which to invest.  We can still keep our freedoms, just like so many other countries have, and start treating OUR citizens as well as other countries treat THEIRS.

There is nothing wrong with The United States that cannot be fixed by what is RIGHT with The United States.

Health Care – Complaining is easy, solutions are hard. Or are they?

When it comes to health care, it’s easy to complain.  All you have to do is find something you don’t like and complain about it.  Bitch about it.  Moan.  Tell the world “There ought to be a better way”.  Now, what that better way should be requires more thought and analysis.

The health care system we have today is a hodge-podge of band-aids grafted on to a model centered around the concept of health insurance.  But it wasn’t always this way.  In fact, over 70 years ago President Harry Truman had a proposal for Universal Health Care.  In the aftermath of World War II, Truman saw under-served populations counting in the millions and wanted to do something about it.  At roughly the same time, the United Kingdom started it’s National Health Service with it’s single-payer system.  So let’s take a look at where we are, 70 years later..

First, a comparison for a sense of proportion:

  • U.K. population: 65 million.
  • U.S. population: 321 million (just under 5x as many)

So let’s use a factor of 5 when we have to compare numbers between our two countries.

What is the UK spending on their National Health Service?  For Fiscal Year (FY) 2015/16 the budget was £116.4 Billion.  At today’s exchange rate (£1 = $1.27), that’s $147B.  Now, multiply that by 5 and you get a little under $740B for a theoretical cost for an “NHS-like” plan scaled up to the size of the United States.  Let’s keep that number in mind.

What are WE spending on health care?  Let’s look at our government expenditures first.

That’s a total of $1,436,200,000,000 or $1.4 TRILLION.  …and that’s just to cover the elderly, the extremely poor and our veterans.  Somehow, the UK manages to cover EVERYONE for just over HALF the cost, adjusted for population.

But that’s not the end of our spending…  In 2016, total US health expenditures were going to top $10,000 for every man woman and child in the country.  …to a total of $3.35 TRILLION.  This would be after you add in what insurers are paying out in benefits and what people are paying out in co-pays, deductibles, fee-for-service, etc.

But what about all the horror stories that we hear from Republicans about Obamacare?  That’s their wallet talking.  Specifically, the wallets filled with insurance company cash.  Insurance companies are trying to have it both ways.  In public, they’re claiming that the ACA causing them losses, but when they have to report to the SEC, by law, they have to admit that they are figuratively swimming in cash.  When you press them they even admit to making money on Obamacare.

But let’s go back to that extrapolated UK number..  $740B.  That covers EVERYONE.  What does our $1,436.2B cover?  The elderly, poorest of the poor and veterans.  What about everyone else?  We’re paying 94% MORE to cover a FRACTION of our people!  Maybe there’s some quality of care issues – like our health care is better than theirs and that is why it’s so expensive!  Let’s look at some numbers:

So..  We pay more, get less, wait longer, die sooner, go broke more often and have to find our passports to get better-priced care..  Why do we put up with this?  (My personal theory is that we’ve been a very parochial country since at least the end of World War Two – anything not invented here isn’t ‘Murican enough for people)

But take a look at those numbers above.  For just over HALF of what our taxes are now paying – we could have an NHS-like system in this country.  FOR OVER $700 BILLION LESS THAN WE PAY NOW TO COVER A MINORITY OF OUR PEOPLE – THAT’S MORE THAN THE ENTIRE FEDERAL BUDGET DEFICIT.  Though, I have to confess, the Medicaid spending numbers DO include spending at the STATE level.

Oh – and after that – we’d have a couple TRILLION dollars in private spending left over – to help make up for the predictable crash in the stock values of the private insurers.  But that’s not so bad.  We could adopt a plan like France or Germany and allow for private, supplemental insurance for people who can’t wait until later in the day or tomorrow to see their GP.  Believe me, the insurance companies will find a market and try to sell to it.

I’m not even including the savings we could get by being able to negotiate drug prices.  How about the savings if we banned drug advertising over the air like we used to?  No more “purple pill” ads telling you to “call your doctor”.  Guess what – your doctor already knows about the drug – and you calling their office only makes them stop what they’re doing for patients they’re seeing.

We can learn from other countries and improve upon their experiences.

Trumpcare. A Post-Mortem.

What a week it’s been!  How do you pick a topic?  We had the hearings on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, a new office in the White House and security clearance for Ivanka Trump (even though Trump denied he was seeking security clearances for his kids), more bombshells about Paul Manafort’s undisclosed ties to Russia (he was being paid $10 million dollars by Putin), Trump’s unbelievable interview with Time magazine on “the truth” where highlights include:

  • He still insists he was wiretapped.
  • He still thinks 3-5 million illegal votes were counted
  • He still think job statistics are phony (until he re-tweeted that they weren’t)
  • He said several times that he got 306 electoral college votes (he got 304)
  • He boasted of his ability to predict terrorist attacks (apparently including the one in Sweden that never happened)
  • And, the strangest of all: “I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not.”

But I’m going to pick on a topic that hits everyone.  Health care.  Specifically, the now-failed “Trumpcare” bill.

What it was supposed to be:

In 2000, Donald Trump released a book “The America We Deserve“.  In it, he said the following:

We must not allow citizens with medical problems to go untreated because of financial problems or red tape.  It is an unacceptable but accurate fact that the number of uninsured Americans has risen to forty-two million.

Working out detailed plans will take time.  But the goal should be clear: Our people are our greatest asset.  We must take care of our own.  We must have universal healthcare.

Just imagine the improved quality of life for our society as a whole if the issue of access to healthcare were dealt with imaginatively.  With more than forty million Americans living day to day in the fear that an illness or injury will wipe out their savings or drag them into bankruptcy, how can we truly engage in the “pursuit of happiness” as our Founders intended?

Ok, that was a long time ago.  What about more recently?

In 2015, Trump said he would not cut Social Security and Medicare.  However, right after the election , Tom Price (R-GA) said Medicare cuts would come in 2017 – and now he’s the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

On 60 Minutes, in September 2015, he said “I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.” – but the CBO report on the bill shows a drastic difference – millions of people to be left behind.

What about after the inauguration?  In February, he said it was going to immediately fix Obamacare.

What it became:

On March 7, we got our look at “Trumpcare”.  What was in it?  The list of broken promises is extensive.

  • 7 of the 66 pages were devoted to keeping lottery winners from getting Medicare
  • $300 BILLION tax cut for the wealthy.
  • $800 BILLION stripped from Medicaid.
  • Medicaid / Medicare expansion rolled back so as to deny over 10 million people coverage.
  • Tax break for corporate executive making over $500,000/year.  (Totalling $2.8 BILLION for the 400 wealthiest families)
  • Tax credit eliminated for million of working families.

Sounds bad, right?  Well, Trump didn’t have the votes to pass it.  There is this group in the House call the “Freedom Caucus” and they didn’t like the things that were still in the bill.  Among the things they wanted to get rid of:

  • The prohibition on annual and lifetime coverage limits.
  • Prohibition on out-of-pocket expenses for preventative care and mammograms.
  • Requirements to standardize documentation (which makes it easier to compare plans)
  • Ratios that require insurance companies to pay out at least 85% of premiums in benefits.

And apparently 80% of the caucus wanted to lift the ban on refusing coverage of pre-existing conditions.  More wanted to eliminate things like maternity procedures, emergency rooms, and the list goes on and on.

What happened:

The response was predictable.  At town halls, they almost came with torches and pitchforks to support Obamacare provisions.  Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) had to sneak out a back door to avoid angry voters.

So the Republicans caught flak from their constituents, the old “Tea Party” became the “Freedom Caucus” and took enough votes away from the Republicans so as to lose their majority in the House.  The vote on the bill was withdrawn.

So.  Once it was dead.  Who got the blame?  Well, first Trump blamed the Democrats.  Then he blamed House Republicans for not getting the votes and said that he was waiting for Obamacare to ‘explode’.  This is a lot of blaming other people for someone who said that HE *alone* could fix it.  Then, to top it all off, he told his fans on Twitter to watch Jeanine Pirro that night on Fox News where she called for Paul Ryan’s resignation. And when it came to his efforts, well, the White House said Trump did ‘all he could’ to pass the bill.  Apparently, in the Trump White House, a complete effort is 17 days, versus the 13 months of negotiations that went on to pass the ACA (Obamacare).

And now what?  Trump says that, next up on his list is tax reform.  Well, his budget proposal cuts everyone except the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security .  In fact, there are 62 agencies and programs he wants to eliminate entirely.  But his tax plan tries to give money to everyone but especially the rich (I’m guessing he’s trying to give a bone to the poor and middle class so they won’t realize that whole herds of cattle are being given to the rich).  This should add about 5.3 *trillion* dollars to the debt.

This’ll be the next exciting chapter…

Why is “Socialism” a dirty word?

In the United States, are we even taught what “socialism” means? Here are some examples.

It’s been a little hectic around the house lately and I haven’t been writing.  My kids were up for a while, ran a couple of races and I’ve been dealing with a blizzard.  So I thought I’d take a step back from specific stuff about current events and Trump.  Specifically, I’d go back to a bit of a debate on a word that has become supercharged with emotion-inducing meaning: socialism.

Now, I’ll be the first one to admit that I was raised with the idea that “socialism = communism” and, well, we were fighting against communism all over the word, weren’t we?  But, the older I got, it seemed that definition wasn’t quite as true as it was cracked up to be.  After all, we were supporting our NATO allies in Europe and they were freely electing Socialists and Social Democrats all over the place!  Yet, they still had the free enterprise system complete with private corporations and the governments there didn’t own everything, like they did in the Soviet Union.

This got me to looking a bit closer at examples of socialism.  And we have a lot of examples here at home (in the United States).  Former Presidential candidate and Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, came up with a line that I heard at one of his rallies that struck me…  Bernie is a self-described Democratic Socialist.  He said that socialism can be summed up in three words:

“We, The People”

It’s right there as the first three words of our Constitution.  “We, the people…”

So today we have a President who’s closest advisor (Steve Bannon) advocates the elimination of government.  Seriously, that’s what the “deconstructing of the administrative state” means.  It means getting rid of the administration or oversight of the country.  That got me to wondering what it would mean in practice.  I wanted to look at exactly where socialism has manifested itself in our government and what the consequences of eliminating that “administrative state” would be.  What follows is not a complete list, but it’s longer than what many people might immediately think of.  Much of this was inspired by a post I recently saw that claimed it’s original source as a 1917 “American government” textbook, 1948 edition

Protection: Direct

Law, police and courts.  All funded by ‘socialist’ taxes.  Without it, we have no adequate protection of life or property.

Military.  Funded the same way.  Without it, we pretty much have no country.  We wouldn’t have survived our first skirmish with the British in 1812 without a military.


There are a lot of items in this category.

  • Water and sewer systems: We don’t have cholera outbreaks or other diseases spreading through our cities because of socialist water and sewer systems.
  • Food inspection.  You’ve heard of beef recalls and we just had cheese from raw milk in New York kill 2 and sicken more.  Libertarians believe that “market forces” would control this.  They’ve yet to explain how having less oversight means more safety.
  • Public health systems.  Everything from public hospitals to the Centers for Disease Control.  Remember that it was protocols developed by the CDC that kept Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever from spreading in the US and even led to a vaccine for it.  Without it?  Disease spreads unchecked.
  • The FDA can be, at times, controversial because of some of the things they’ve let on the market.  But, on the whole, the fact that we no longer have “snake oil salesmen” touring the country and preying on the public is a credit to their work.  Sure, we still have unregulated “supplements” with the “This product has not been evaluated by the FDA…” disclaimer (where they claim it’s not meant to treat any disease at the end of the commercial where they’re telling you the diseases it’s supposed to treat or cure), and it can use some reform, but let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.


Public education is one of the things that has made this country great.  The idea that everyone is entitled to an education means that everyone has an opportunity to succeed.  Without it, only the wealthy can afford to send their kids to school.  Without it, we end up with child labor.  Without it, there’s a corollary with public libraries which would mean that libraries would be private and demand membership fees.

A hundred years ago, graduating high school was an accomplishment.  Today the discussion has shifted to college degrees.  50 years ago, you could get a decent paying unskilled labor job.  Automation is pretty much making that extinct.  Nowadays you need a college degree.  A free public university education is not a new idea, not even here in the United States.  It used to be a reality – but not anymore.  Bernie Sanders has a plan to place a 0.5% tax on stock proceeds to pay for public university education.  But, in order to work, that would have to be in concert with some method of controlling tuition which has far outpaced inflation for several decades.

Without it, we’ll be a second-rate nation.


  • Private mud roads vs. the interstate system.   It was way back in 1811 when the idea came for federal funding of roads.  That was when “The National Road” was authorized.  Nowadays, we call most of what it was by it’s later name “US-40”.   The original road was built from 1811 to 1834 – so this isn’t exactly a ‘new idea’.  We passed the law authorizing the federal road system in the 1920s (giving us all those “US” roads, including the famous “US-66”) and the gas tax came soon after.  Eisenhower (a Republican) saw the need for more and better roads and created the Interstate Highway System and paid for it with a $0.04 gas tax.  Every time you hit the road, you can thank the “socialist roads” for making it possible.
  • Anarchistic air travel vs the FAA.  Imagine what the skies would be like without the FAA.  Air travel would never have ‘taken off’ like it did.  Without the “traffic cops” guiding planes through the skies, even landing a plane would be a game of ‘chicken’ as multiple planes would try to beat each other to the runway – if they didn’t collide in the air first.
  • The same holds true in other transportation areas..  Regulated railroads vs. the dangerous free-for-all we had in the 1800s.  Engineering standards for dams, bridges and tunnels.  All from people getting together and setting down some rules.


I’m old enough to remember the environment back in the 1960s.  Thanks to the EPA, the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, we don’t have rivers burning anymore.  We don’t have cities shrouded in toxic smog.  Are you too young to remember that?  Take a look at China and what a day in Beijing looks like.

I’m old enough to remember clear-cutting forests vs. forestry management.

You don’t have to be as old as I am to know about overfishing.  I’ve watched, over the years, as fisherman have complained about catch quotas AND reduced fishing stocks.  Someone has to protect the oceans because private industry certainly won’t.

Business and Labor laws

  • Monopolies – Does anyone remember when the Republicans broke up monopolies?  That would be way back in Teddy Roosevelt’s day.  He knew what unchecked monopolistic power did.  Today, we’re actually restoring those monopolies.  The last big monopoly that was broken up was AT&T.  The explosion of new services and reduction in prices was legendary.  Now the “Baby Bells” have been buying each other (and their cellular companies) and getting dangerously close to monopolies again.  We’re down to 4 real cellular companies (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile).
  • Securities markets – How about insider trading?  Our socialistic laws now prevent people from trading stocks based on “inside information” that the public does not have access to.  Take a look at all the rules companies have to follow now in order to “go public” – so that they’re not just scamming investors.
  • Banks?  Remember them?  Remember 2008 and the banking crisis when we got rid of the laws preventing the mixing of commercial and investment banking?  What happened?  The commercial banks gambled in the investment markets and we all know what happened.  Who could have predicted that?  Anyone who was alive in the 1980s when the S&L (Savings & Loan) crisis hit.  From 1986 to 1995 fully 1/3 of all the savings and loan institution in the US failed.  Money lost by depositors: $0.  Cost to the government to bail them out: $132 billion.  Surely they’d learned their lesson so as not to invest in bad properties anymore, right?  Cost of 2008 bank bailout: $700 billion for TARP.  Total cost?  Try nearly 17 TRILLION dollarsOr maybe it was *29* TRILLIONOr was it $13 trillion?  Truly staggering numbers.
  • Minimum wage.  “Socialism” brought us that.  Before that we had child labor and slave wages.  And if you think it was never supposed to be a living wage, well, history and FDR say otherwise.
  • Dangerous working conditions vs. OSHA.  People today are too young to remember how it used to be.  Look at documentaries on old railroads.  Crawling around on top of a boxcar on a moving train in a storm isn’t exactly safe.  Look at the labor movement in the auto industry in the 1930s and how many people died on the line.  Early surveys suggest that only half of all workplace deaths resulted in any compensation for the families.  Corporations just figured fatalities into the cost of their business.  (Is it any different today – look at GM and the decision on their ignition switches.  Ten years, 124 deaths, countless injuries before they were forced to recall a part that would have cost pennies to fix before the fact.


Back in 2007, now President Trump said he LIKED the housing crash because it gave him opporunities to buy properties on the cheap – capitalizing on someone else’s misery. Imagine the “opportunities” the wealthy could have if we cut back or eliminated:

  • Unemployment – lose your job, lose your house!
  • Social security – Get old, lose your life savings and your house when you can no longer work!
  • Medicare / Medicaid – Get sick, lose your house!

And don’t think I’ve failed to notice how pensions can now be balanced by nuking pensioner benefits instead of fixing the funding – and Congress now allows it.  Of course, the fact that Wall Street lavishes bonuses on their bosses while cutting pensions is almost considered “normal” these days.


Trump’s call to beat up protestors, his opinions on women are well chronicled, to say nothing of Muslims (because of terrorism while being silent if the terrorist is white).

Trump may end up being the worst thing to happen to civil rights as his ludicrous, unsupported claims about 3-5 million illegal votes may result in laws to further disenfranchise legal voters.


The very definition of civilization is rooted in socialism.  Humans are social creatures and we are far better together than separated.  There’s nothing wrong with having a debate on just how much socialism to incorporate into a government.  But Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief aide made a very famous quote saying Trump’s appointments were to deconstruct the administrative state.  Think about that for a minute.

Trump is actively working to destroy the government.

…and what about the Leader’s minions?

Sure, President Trump gets the headlines. But what have other Republicans been doing in the meantime?

We’ve seen, and I’ve blogged about, many of the things that Trump has be doing that have dominated the headlines.  But Trump is the President – he’s not “King Donald”.  There are other branches of government and, until recently, coverage of the “other” Republicans has almost been like an afterthought.

So what have the Republicans been up to lately?  Sure, now we’re seeing them getting roasted at Town Hall meetings.  An angry mob always makes a new producer’s face light up because it usually means ratings..  But what else has been happening?  This will be, by no means, an exhaustive list.  Just some of the things that I’ve noticed recently.

It’s not just Trump – though he’s at the forefront of all this.

77 Minutes of The Leader

President Donald Trump shows us what an hour with him unscripted is like.

Remember, during the campaign, when people would comment on Donald Trump’s presence when he wasn’t on a TelePrompTer?  Remember the difference when he WAS on one?  This past Thursday, we got quite a lot of him shooting, unscripted, from the hip.  Originally I started writing a post summarizing Trump’s cabinet – and I’ll eventually get to finishing that – but for now, this press conference takes precedence.

I honestly don’t know where to begin but I’ll start with the lies and gaslighting…

Trump said: “I turn on the TV, open the newspapers and I see stories of chaos. Chaos,” then “Yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine, despite the fact that I can’t get my Cabinet approved.”

Reality says it’s more gaslighting.  Staffers ARE scared and Trump’s own words feed that chaos.

Trump said the leaks were illegal and the news was false.  Well..  Which was it?  If the news was false, then no confidential information was released – it’s not a “leak”.  But if it IS confidential information, then it’s not fake.  But, then, this is the guy who is photographed showing everyone documents about North Korea.

Trump said “We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban”.  Reality says otherwise.  People detained, hundreds of thousands of visas put into question, Iraqis and Afghans who put their lives on the line as translators for us suddenly having no place to go.  Of course, the travel ban ignores countries that actually sent terrorists here.

Trump said “Russia is fake news. Russia – this is fake news put out by the media.”.  I’m assuming he meant the story about Flynn and his contacting Russia.  Trump then went on to try and blame Obama staffers.  Maybe Trump forgot that he fired Flynn, not “the press”.  Remember, Trump used to LIKE all the leaks – but now he’s completely flip-flopped on the subject.

Trump said he had the biggest Electoral College win since Reagan.  Finally a reporter called him out on that.  At this point, the conversation went into the Twilight Zone.  The reporter pointed out that Obama and Clinton had more votes in the Electoral College. Then Trump responded that he “meant Republicans”.  The reporter pointed out that George H. W. Bush (who succeeded Reagan) had more votes.  Trump then replied “I was given that information”.  Who’s giving him false information?  Or are they giving him accurate information that he mis-reads?

Trump said “We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country”.  Again false..  You can read the details of the the deal herehere and here.  The gist is that it was 20% of our production capacity that was already owned by a Canadian company and Russia was more interested in the holdings the company had in Mongolia.  Oh, and the company did not have an export license to export uranium anyway.  The company in question, Uranium One, was originally South African.  In 2007 it merged with Canada-based UrAsia Energy.  In 2010, Russia’s Rosatom (their nuclear agency) bought 51% of the company.

Trump continued his gaslighting of the press – probably for the benefit of his sycophantic fans when he said “I’m not ranting and raving. I’m just telling you you’re dishonest people.”  – because we all know it was the press who were talking about sanctions with Russia.

When it came to his relationship with Russia, he said: “I have nothing to do with Russia,” and “Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years. Don’t speak to people from Russia. Not that I wouldn’t. I just have nobody to speak to. I spoke to Putin twice. He called me on the election. I told you this. And he called me on the inauguration, a few days ago.”.  HOWEVER – this appears to be completely different from his earlier statements where he said completely the opposite.

He also said, of the media, “You have a lower approval rate than Congress, I think that’s right, I don’t know”.  So which is it Mr. President?  Do they have a lower approval rate?  If you don’t know, like you said, maybe you should check your “facts” before you go repeating them on national – indeed worldwide – television.

For some reason he brought up his defeated opponent – “Nobody mentions that Hillary received the questions to the debates.”.  Umm..  Wrong again – a LOT of people reported on it, including the N. Y. Times.

As far as those negative polls the media is reporting on?  They’re all fake.  Sounds more and more like a tin-pot dictator…

When it came to his Muslim ban which ran afoul of the 9th Circuit Court, he said the 9th Circuit is the most overturned in the nation.  Well, that’s wrong, too.  He was close to the truth when he said that 80% of the cases from the 9th were overturned BUT…  That only counts cases that were appealed to the Supreme Court AND accepted by the Court.  And the Court only hears cases that have an increased likelihood of being overturned.  The record?  That’s actually 87% from the 6th Circuit Court.

The gaslighting continues when he was asked about the uptick in threats against Jewish organizations: “OK, sit down. … So here’s the story, folks. Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism – the least racist person.”  Sorry, Mr. President, but the “least racist person”, at least in my book, wouldn’t be found guilty of discriminating against African Americans with regards to housing matters in apartments he owned.  Ok, you didn’t admit guilt and had to pay a huge fine.  Weren’t you the person who said you never settle cases – even though that’s exactly what you did with your fraudulent “university” case.  He wants you to think he’s not racist – though the evidence says otherwise.

Think I’m kidding?  Try this exchange:

April Ryan: “When you say the inner cities, are you going to include the CBC, Mr. President, in your conversations with your urban agenda, your inner-city agenda?”
Trump: “Am I going to include who?
Ryan: “Are you going to include the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus?”
Trump: “Well, I would. I tell you what: Do you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting?”
Ryan: “No, no, no. I’m just a reporter.”
Trump: “Are they friends of yours? Set up the meeting.”

…because all black people know each other?  Right….

This was all just form the press conference and, by no means, does it include all the “WTF” moment.  I just concentrated on the gaslighting because that’s what I think the real danger is here.  He seems to be trying to get his followers to believe in a reality that isn’t anything close to real.

A day later he tweeted that the press is the enemy of the American people.  Again, he needs to read the Constitution.  The press is the only industry mentioned in it – and it is PROTECTED by said Constitution.

This is how you get a core constituency to believe whatever you say.  Cult leaders are notorious for using these tactics.  Mentally ill sociopaths used these tactics.  I’ve seen them firsthand and I will not stop writing about them.


The Gaslighting of America

We, as a country, are the girlfriend that Trump is trying to convince that black is white, up is down, and he is the only source of truth.

In the past week there’s been so much going on in several different topics, it’s hard to concentrate on just one.  So today I’m going to go a bit “meta” and go with a common theme that seems to pervade the Trump administration.  Specifically – how so many different political subjects seem to be handled by the administration by a technique called “gaslighting”

If you’re not familiar with the term you can look it up here.  It comes from the plot of a 1938 play and 1944 film “Gas Light”.  The short version is when someone tries to convince someone else that reality is something other than what it is.  In the movie, the husband tries to mentally destabilize his wife by turning down the gas lights and insisting that only she is the one seeing less light.  An example I once heard from a comedian is a husband caught cheating by his wife because she saw him coming out of another woman’s apartment and his defense is “It wasn’t me”.   It doesn’t matter that she saw him, recognized him and in every way caught him red-handed.  He’ll try to “gaslight” his wife into believing it wasn’t him.

I’ve noticed this gaslighting of the country by Trump and his supporters on a scale I’ve never seen before.  This list will be, by no means, complete.  It would take an incredible amount of time to catalog the stuff he said on the campaign trail, so I’ll skip that for now.  But what about after the election?


Think about that last one there.  That’s how shooting wars are started.  That’s how we upped our involvement in Vietnam – the Gulf of Tonkin incident.  And for those of you who think that Trump is particularly fascist, World War Two started with Operation Himmler – where the Nazis staged false raids and made fake claims over the radio to make it look like Poland was mistreating or attacking ethnic Germans.  This is how they justified their blitzkrieg.

This is just a short list.  This is by NO means comprehensive.  There’s a lot more out there, but it gets depressing to document lie after lie after lie.

So why is this all happening?  One can only speculate.  But why would someone put out such easily provable lies?  Well, the source of “The Big Lie” is none other than Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister.  If you get enough people believing it – because it’s too outlandish to NOT be true, you can convince people to do horrible things.

So today they tell us our cities are hellholes, despite all evidence to the contrary.  They tell us we’re being inundate with dangerous immigrants, despite all evidence to the contrary.  They even want us to be scared of refugees from bombed out countries.  But we’ve heard this before – we turned away Jewish refugees during WWII for fear they were spies.  This is one of our nation’s great shames.

I just can’t let this stuff go without stating my opposition to it….