Monday, June 19, 2017

WHEN ALMOST NO ONE WANTS IT

By Ruth A. Sheets

Since the election of Donald Trump, by Electoral College, the Trump administration thinks that somehow they have a mandate to do anything, and I mean anything.

When a candidate loses an election by 3 million votes, yet still "wins," it does not indicate any kind of mandate.  It is a time when the elected official should be trying to court the American people and learn what they, more than the 25% or so who put Mr. Trump over the top,  feel they need and want.  This has not happened. 

Net Neutrality?  There is no evidence that a majority of Americans want to end net neutrality and want a few corporations to have a say as to what and how much goes over the internet, and for how much.  Congress has passed a law giving permission to corporations to even sell your personal information to other companies if they choose.  I did not see/hear anywhere that Americans want that, yet, Congress and Mr. Trump did it anyway.

Tax Reform?  Has anyone officially weighed in on whether they are in favor of the huge tax cut for the richest Americans proposed by Mr. Trump's tax reform plan (the (ACHA as well)?  Do Americans want the largest corporations to have such a low tax rate that they will hardly be obligated for taxes to cover the public resources they use up?  Of course not.  Does anyone believe these corporations will in a positive way, invest the windfall in more jobs?  Not likely. 

Health Care?  When the ACA was being worked out, many individuals and medical organizations, as well as the insurance industry were asked for their input.  There were public hearings.  However, citizens were told by people with bigger mouths than the average that this law would be tragic and would bankrupt us all.  Of course there was no evidence, but so what.  The people, mostly Middle America bought the lies and no Republican lawmakers voted for ACA (Affordable Care Act).  They named it Obamacare and dismissed it at every turn, trying to repeal it 60 times and parts of it even more often.

Something strange happened when coverage began, though, people started to like what it offered them:  lower premiums, health care they had not had for a long time (if ever), the ability to have their children on their plans to age 26, pre-existing conditions covered, contraception covered, assistance with maintaining better health through regular monitoring, prescriptions covered, Medicaid expanded to help more of the "least of these.".  You get the picture.  People were actually being served.  Now, who wants it eliminated?  Who wants it changed to uninclude the aspects mentioned above?  Mr. Trump, of course, and the House of Representatives who have already voted to do just that. 

The Senate currently has 13 men meeting together in secret to make up a new health care law to please a small sector of their supporters to "Repeal and Replace."  They call their work in progress "the American Health Care Act."

Like nearly everything else the Republicans in Congress come up with, the bill's title means exactly the opposite of what the law will actually do.  It will not provide health care to any but those who already have it through their jobs.  It will lower or eliminate the number of people served by Medicaid.  The House bill allows insurance companies to determine who and what will be covered.  Pre-existing conditions will only be covered if the company says it will be.  Serious, potentially expensive health care will be handled by some kind of inadequately funded state pool for those horrible sick people, implying they are sick by their own actions. 

If you want maternity care, or reproductive health care of any kind and you are not covered on your job, too bad.  That's on you.  Nearly everything is a pre-existing condition, even having had a C-section in the past. 

Who came up with this appalling bill (which, of course, we have not seen yet), 13 white men who could not possibly care less about people's health care.  They care only that they help the corporations who support their campaigns and look like they are cutting money from the budget.  (Even the insurance companies are not pleased with the House bill.)

Mr. Trump and his few supporters have way too much power and influence.  They are trying to push through legislation to please a particular minority who will, alas, be hurt by it too.  

The one thing that is certain.  If the bill were going to be good for all Americans, it would not be drawn up in secret by a few Senators who really don't know much about health care.  Something that might help here would be a law stating that the Congress must participate in whatever bill they pass.  They would get no other financial support for health care, and have to use their "hard-earned" bucks to pay out of pocket the thousands of dollars many health conditions cost.

If they have a disabled child, they will have to pay the cost the way any other citizen without another plan would pay.  You or your wife pregnant, no problem, you pay for all of it.  You can't afford another child, pay for the contraception.  Shot while practicing for a baseball game, no problem, pay out of pocket the percentage you must pay for the deductible and whatever percentage you agree is the one insurance companies can charge.

If you put yourself in the place of the people being served by the health care programs in this country, you will ditch the plans you are working on, and start over with hearings, a variety of people in the room helping to develop the legislation.  Serious discussion and input from a wide range of Americans of all backgrounds would take place, and you would welcome it because that is how a democracy should work. 

I don't see this happening, but  I hope your actions and the people you injure by your indifference and need to bow to Mr. Trump, who knows nothing about health care and cares less, will, in time, come back to bite you and you will feel some of the pain they have been feeling.  Americans don't want your brand of health care. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

HE DID WHAT?!


by Ruth A. Sheets



On Tuesday, May 9, 2017 the director of the FBI, James Comey was fired by Donald Trump.  We are told by most Republicans and Conservatives that Mr. Trump, as president has the right to fire him, and anyone else in the government he chooses to fire.  Really?  He must think he is still playing his role in “The Apprentice,” a reality TV show.  If he didn’t like the “apprentice,” he could just dismiss them with a “you’re fired!”  No problem, and everyone would just move on to the next episode.



Alas, Mr. Trump, this is not reality TV, but like on TV, you prepared the perfect set-up for the firing, the perfect surprise, and the perfect “walk of shame.” 



I am not a fan of Mr. Comey.  His actions related to Hillary Clinton and her emails was appalling and put us in our current political situation, but he did not deserve the Trump treatment.



I heard that Mr. Trump didn’t know Mr. Comey was out of town talking with FBI potential recruits.  Wrong!  Mr. Trump and his White House and extra White House cronies knew exactly what was going on.  This was well-planned for the greatest possible effect.  He even sent a lower level aide to go to the FBI Building to “deliver the letter.”  You don’t do that if what you are doing is legitimate and above-board.  You do that when you want a distraction and you want to make it look like “I didn’t know (whine).



The media was co-opted, not unwillingly, into this farce.  Not only did they report that Mr. Comey learned of his firing on TV behind where he was addressing the “recruits.”  They followed him out of the building, all the way to the airport, speculating whether he would be able to ride back to DC on the private FBI plane (which he was). 



Shame on you media for allowing Mr. Trump to manipulate you this way.  You should know better!   Mr. Trump used you to get out his message, the message of a would-be dictator, “Mess with me and look what I can do to you.”  This is a well-tested, well-used technique and you, our media played right into it. 



Who now is going to stand up and say “We need to investigate Mr. Trump and his dealings with Russia and the other dictatorships around the world.” Who will disagree with him on issues he holds as important for his personal position and advancement?  Who will challenge his rallies where he gets his fix of public adulation?  Which Republican Congressman will say “this proposed health care plan is garbage and will hurt my constituents and the people of America,” even if he/she believes it?  I suspect, not many.  Courage is not in abundance in Congress these days, or in the Conservative electorate either.



Mr. Trump and the men (and a few women) who surround him may not be especially competent at governing for the benefit of the country, but they are exceedingly skilled with acquiring and using money and power.  That is why they were selected.  Notice, I did not say elected.  They believe they have some kind of mandate to destroy everything that went before them when Mr. Trump was only elected because of an archaic, probably racist, part of the Constitution which was not changed because it gave power to many states that don’t really deserve it because of their small numbers of people, mostly White.



Where do we go from here?  This question has been asked a lot the past few days, but no one has a good answer.  Who will carry on the investigations of Mr. Trump and his businesses?  Who will find out why Mr. Trump’s family is so involved in everything and Congress has not put a stop to it?  Who will kill TrumpCare?  Who will stand with Americans who really do need good jobs?  Who will tell Mr. Trump “No!”  It is hard to say who will have the courage to face the “walk of shame.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

THE DEAL GAME



by Ruth A. Sheets

Well, we are now into the 3rd month of the Reign of Donald Trump, the least qualified, least appropriate person in the past century or more to be president, but the Universe thought America needed a lesson in humility.  It sent us a game playing, deal-making  narcissist.  So, his games/deals are all about him and his celebrity.  The goal of the game, Trump must win, at all costs.  If other “players” gain anything, that’s just a side effect that will somehow cleave them to him for eternity.  For the rest of the poor suckers, “Sad, too bad you aren’t as good at this as I am.” 

How does this game work?  The rules are not too complicated, especially for Mr. Trump and his loyal followers.

1. Be rich and have rich friends. Believe you deserve everything you have and that even more is desirable no matter how you get it.

2. Throw out the most outrageous things that come to mind.  Watch and listen to see how people react.  Know your wealth gives whatever you say more weight.

3. If the folks respond with little notice or negatively, drop or slightly alter the statement and see what happens. This trial and error approach allows for creation of even more outrageous statements that this time WILL entice, enchant, and motivate listeners.  A sprinkle of hate and blaming works wonders.

4. Expand on positive responses received.  The wilder the claim, the more audiences will love it and the more opponents will hate it and try to stand against it. (which of course means standing against Trump and his “poor, innocent, ignored” listeners)

5. Talk a lot.  Repeat often.  Use very simple language, occasionally tossing in a 6th grade level word, repeating it a few times to let your team think you know what it means.  No one really cares about your comprehension, the tone is what matters – sell it!  And, the more fear you can incite, the better.  Remember, if you say it loud enough and long enough, people will believe it.

6. Submit to Congress and others outrageous proposals for cabinet members, healthcare, budget, etc.  Opponents, and even some “friends” will be so appalled they will speak against it.

7. Then, slightly alter the statements/demands/proposals making them a little less radical.  Opponents will be so grateful, they will accept the nearly equally outrageous “deal” because “at least it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.”

8. Lie as much as possible and condemn those who are looking for truth.  The lies can be of differing intensity so some will sound a bit like truth.  Never apologize for the lies and act as if those who discovered the lies are the real liars.

9. On rare occasions, use a teleprompter or some kind of notes to follow a more “normal” approach to say the same things you have been saying all along.  People will think you are presidential (or whatever job/title you are erroneously holding), and will talk about it for weeks.

The game nearly always works for Mr. Trump and people like him because those who oppose him consistently choose to play.  They know he is a complete fraud, but they are afraid of the crazies who play on Mr. Trump’s team.  Those guys might withhold the money necessary for re-election, or say mean things about them. 

Fear is a powerful element in this game.  Whoever wields it most effectively and can manipulate the most people with it will win.

Maybe, we who know about the Deal Game need to stop playing it.  We must call the players out at every turn, call a lie a lie.  Get the word out that manipulation is unattractive on anyone.  Promote courage  and truth and reward them. 

This won’t be easy, but ordinary citizens who care and the media who could come to care can get things moving.  Start a different kind of “deal” where everyone can vote, where the popular vote wins, where lies, insults, and false promises are not cute and easily dismissed, where corruption is given that name, where science counts, and facts are facts for everyone. 

Good luck to all of us.  We’re going to need it. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

IF A DEMOCRAT HAD DONE THAT... !


by Ruth A. Sheets


For years, I have cried out over and over, “If a Democrat had done that... ”  Republican politicians have been involved with, even done appalling, illegal, unconstitutional, or just plain immoral things.  Their acts are then dismissed as unimportant, sad, a moment of forgetfulness. 

The list is long.  It seems after Nixon’s Watergate “bad judgment,” Republicans just can’t be held accountable for anything happening either on their watch or directly as a result of individual members’ actions.

Some of the highlights include: 

- President Reagan’s Iran-Contra scheme, clearly illegal, but poor Mr. Reagan didn’t know anything about it and his minions were just following orders.”  (Whose orders, no one is quite sure.)

- Shutting down the whole government twice to prove a point. What point was clear neither time.

- 9/11 happened under George W. Bush, but he was seen as a president heroically bringing people together while Jimmy Carter was brought down because of the Iranian Revolution and Hillary Clinton was blamed and pilloried by Republicans for the raid in Benghazi.

-Candidate Donald Trump lied about every one of his opponents, made racist and sexist comments and maligned the family of a soldier killed in the Bush wars, accused a president of not being a legitimate citizen, yet was elected.

Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions lied to a Congressional Committee in his confirmation hearings and most Republican senators are okay with it because he was “probably talking with the Russian ambassador about issues related to the Senate Committee he was a member of, not on behalf of Mr. Trump on whose election committee he was serving.”

Replace a Democrat’s name for any Republican named above and he or she would have been hung out to dry.  Remember, Bill Clinton was vilified and impeached for the kind of sex act that Mr. Trump brags about. 

I think of the Republican Party as the Teflon party.  Nothing negative they do sticks to them.

Comedian Bill Maher, though, has a better name for this phenomenon.  He calls it “The Magic R.”  If one has the Magic “R” behind his/her name, one can do practically anything and have it dismissed as some minor occurrence or nothing at all.  Cheat on your wife, no problem if you have the Magic R.  Lie to Congress, my goodness, “You must have forgotten.”  Insult fellow citizens from your high office?  No big deal, “He actually didn’t mean what he said.”  Lie to the American people, that’s okay, “the real Americans know you were just a bit angry with those other guys.”  Freeze up when you hear the news about 9/11, “Don’t worry, we’ll write a speech for you that will let you seem tough and in charge.”

And so it goes.  I do not know how to un-magic the R.  Republicans are very good with the language of deceit, finding phrases/slogans that sound good but mean the exact opposite:  “Right to Work bills” that actually lower wages and working conditions, “Religious Freedom bills” that make acceptable discrimination against people whose religion or practices they don’t like, “Voting Rights bills” that deliberately intend to keep specific groups of people from voting.

Maybe the way to remove the magic is to point it out every time we see it.  The media needs to call the “Right to Work,” the “Union-busting, Worker Repressing Bill” and “The Voting Rights Bill” the “Keep People (mostly Democrats) from Voting Bill.”  They started that with the bills discriminating against transgender people “Bathroom Bills.”  Good journalists will call the R’s out on all their hypocrisy so people can see it. Then, if citizens continue to vote for the hypocrites, they will know they are doing it and can be held accountable. 

I know, I know.  wishful thinking! 


Monday, February 20, 2017

Whining White People



by Ruth A. Sheets

On “Weekend Edition” on NPR, the show seems to be following a trend for the past year and a half. Interview, whenever possible, a dissatisfied, seemingly disenfranchised, disgruntled White person or persons.  These people are brought in to “balance” coverage.  Donald Trump or one of his familiars does or says something outrageous or illegal which must be covered at every news break. Then, someone is asked to “explain” it.
It is best when a prominent person, often White, tells everyone it is not as bad or illegal as it appears.  It is best if the person is from Harvard, Yale, or some other “big” school. Alan Derschowicz was it today.  He told us that much of Trump’s executive pronouncement against refugees, and immigrants and travelers from 7 mostly Muslim countries was really mostly Constitutional.

OK, then, a woman who had been interviewed before the election was introduced to someone who had criticized her on Facebook for voting for Trump.  She claimed she had voted Democrat in the past, but saw some white guys shooting up in front of her building and decided there was too much crime (or something - she was not really clear about that).  The Hillary supporter she spoke with talked about helping others and caring what happens to people in difficult situations.  The Trump supporter talked only about herself and those horrible people who don’t use the Government help to get ahead the way she did.

Wow! That pretty much sums up the herds of scared White people who voted for Trump, self-absorbed, unaware of their advantages, besieged on all sides by (O God why can’t those people be like me!).

Then, as if that were not enough, we had to hear from an artist who wants to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts. He assured us that without Government interference, art would be better. Now it is the poor paying for the rich.

I honestly don’t know which planet this guy lives on. In many communities, the NEA’s help is what gives local, small-time artists, composers, photographers, playwrights, and performers a chance to put their art out there for people to appreciate.  It sounds like sour grapes to me. But, he is so sure the free market would give people like him a better chance, it must be right for everyone, so ditch the NEA.

Are the whining White people and the media tasked to protect them so scared of their position in society their presence must be out there every minute of every day?

It seems there must be “balance” for anything said or written by or about anyone who is not White and put upon.  We who are tired of hearing about this particular group of oblivious white people may find our support for your programming fading.

So, keep it up NPR!



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

HONESTY

by Ruth A. Sheets

During this past election cycle I have thought about honesty, probably more than at any other time in my life.  I suspect I am not alone in this.

Politicians are not generally credited with honesty, but in my lifetime, there has been an understanding that someone running for the highest office should demonstrate a certain level of integrity, perhaps a bit higher than other politicians.  If the candidate were to “lie,” he would make it a small one usually related to party-inspired promises he would naturally not be able to keep. This was expected. And, if a president put the country and its beliefs at risk, he could be impeached.

This time, a self-proclaimed “great businessman” Donald Trump felt no need to keep to any known standard for honesty. It is hard to say whether this lying was to cover up things he does not want people to know or if he just wanted to confuse everyone. Perhaps it is just habit. Who can tell? 

Hillary Clinton, and Trump’s primary opponents were called on nearly every possible falsehood, by Mr. Trump, his crew, and even the media. However, Trump’s lies were so numerous, the press could not figure out how to deal with them, and still can’t.

A disturbing factor in all this for me is the way Republicans and Evangelical Christians have rallied to this liar in droves. Aren’t these the folks who wanted The 10 Commandments posted in every courthouse in the land?  Isn’t one of these commandments “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor?” (pssst, it means don’t lie.)  And, doesn’t Jesus say that everyone is our neighbor?  Where are the Christian zealots who wanted to condemn any Democrat or other lesser mortal who valued religious freedom enough to nix the courthouse 10 Commandments tablets?  Why, they stood with the liar, of course. To people who are not Evangelicals, the choice of the religious right seems to be any man, no matter how unqualified over any woman, no matter how qualified. God must have told them that the “lying” commandment isn’t as important as keeping a woman out of office. “I’m not sexist. I just don’t trust Hillary.”

Religious paragons claim their choice was for an outsider who would fix things for them, but honesty isn’t part of their repertoire.  How often have we heard in the past few months “I am not a racist.  I voted for Obama, but he divided the country more than anyone else ever has.”  Lying to yourself is still a lie, you guys. 

So, let’s see,  Mr. Trump can lie in nearly every speech he gives and tweet he tweets, but the “I’m not racist, I’m not sexist” religious don’t really care and were just fine with saddling all of America with someone who has no clue what honesty is.  I say this about Trump because I don’t want to believe he is deliberately manipulating good little Christians with his lies because he is truly evil.  Oh wait, maybe THAT is the truth!

Chaos must be OK because it is God’s will?



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

An Open Letter To Millennials

I'm writing this not as a voter who supports any particular candidate, but as an election worker.

This morning I read an article about why millennial women won't vote for Hillary Clinton. I'm not going into the why of it. For this blog, it doesn't matter.

In 2008, the vast majority of millennials chose Barack Obama as their candidate, and with their help, he was able to win the White House. They did it because they wanted change. I assume they support Senator Sanders for the same reason.

The thing is, between 2009-2011, the vast majority of millennials didn't vote. Enough came back in 2012 to get Obama re-elected, but then they disappeared again.

This past November, less than twenty millennials showed up on Election Day to vote in my district. That's out of over nine hundred voter names in the book.

We know millennials didn't show up across the country in 2010. If they had, the House wouldn't have been completely taken over by the GOP, ensuring that no change, and not much of anything else, would take place for most of Obama's presidency.

So that's why it doesn't matter who you support for President, or your reasons for doing so. Even if your candidate makes it to the White House, there's no guarantee that your choice will be able to change anything. You need to also change Congress. And you need to change those judges who'll eventually be eligible for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Change doesn't happen in our democracy with the election of one person, no matter what the office. If you want change, you need to vote EVERY year.

muon