Historical Parallels

A number of people have compared Donald Trump to Hitler. This is a false comparison for the following basic premises:

  1.  Hitler was a really good orator. So good in fact that he was banned from public speaking engagements as a part of his release from prison. When he petitioned the leaders in Bavaria to permit him to speak publicly, he was again banned after his first such public engagement (for stating something to the effect of “either they will walk over our bodies or WE will walk over their bodies (of those in government)”.
  2. Economic times were desperate in the wake of the Great Depression.  This bears some semblance to how Trump attracted the ultra-right-wing base of desperate white America, but in 1929 and the following years, times were really bleak for entire nations.  Germany was broke, reparation payments from WWI were staggering and hyper-inflation changed the price of everyday items like bread to triple from the morning to the afternoon.  Those were desperate times and Hitler was putting forward his plan through boisterous oratory and targeted propaganda.
  3. Hitler was an organizer and had focus.  He grew the ranks of the National Socialists by three fold in 3 years from 1926 through 1929.  In addition, he established an effective hierarchy and strategy that through bribes, back-room deals and intimidation led to the increase of National Socialists in the seats of government and permitted consolidation of power into his seat as Fuhrer.

There are many other dissimilarities between Trump and Hitler, but these are the highlights for the point of this discussion.  I do not aggrandize Hitler, but I don’t underestimate him either. Likewise, we should not underestimate Trump or those unknown individuals pulling the strings behind the scenes.

I would like to think that Americans are not so gullible as to believe or follow without questions about motivation, long-term effects and strategies, who benefits, why now or why is this important to me?  I personally believe that Trump is for Trump and anything he can do to further his brand IS his motivation.  Were I to predict, this will also rule his downfall.

Trump may not be Hitler, but his tactics are not far off. For example:  
1) Use those less fortunate to better your position without sympathy to its effect on others

2) Gather names of those that opposed you http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/15/politics/dreamhost-department-of-justice-trump-opponents/index.html; and,
3) Dissuade people from believing media outlets to control the message http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/fake-news-trump-launches-real-news-series-n790241.

Be wary my friends…

Reasons for a Third Party in a Two-Party System.

It’s time to establish a third political party in the USA

When in times like ours we find that our two-party system has polarized to the various ends of the right and left with no focal voice to the median of each ideology it becomes apparent and judicious for those marginalized to consider a reconstructed organization centered more nearly to their beliefs.  For this reason, I have pondered much about the nature and shape of such an organization and for lack of a better description, I would call it the Middle Of THE Road Party (#MOTHER).  This theme also coincidentally pairs with the Rise Up campaign organized by so many mothers and women of America and nearly seems to be a perfect name for such a movement.

Now with a name settled, one must determine what an adopted platform of such a newborn entitiy would form.  I submit the following as founding principles:

  1. Fiscal Responsibility – We all must maintain our household budgets and live within our means. This entails determining what our wants and our needs are as a family.  The same holds true with government.  It is in the determination of what entails wants or needs where many of our divisions fall.  Much of the weeds of this discussion wil need to be rested at a later time, but for now, these are our WANTS AND NEEDS:
    1. NEEDS:
      1. Defense Spending – A common defense is a natural foundational responsibility for government. For this reason, the premier military strength of the United States must be maintained and fostered.  This does not mean better scrutiny is not warranted in defense contracts.  Quite the contrary, much of the issues related to government spending rests on the original contract negotiations and terms of engagement.  To this end, projects should be limited in scope-creep and cost overruns with penalties commensurate with non or under performance in either the product or the service.
      2. Social Security/Welfare – These programs are vital to the care of our elderly and less fortunate. A few items of change are in order to ensure the ongoing viability of Social Security, namely the cap on wages for contributions need to be ended.  Currently if you make more than $118,500 you are not taxed for Social Security for any amounts you make above this cap.  Ending this cap will ensure that Social Security is funded in the future and should be an immediate change made to the program.  Additionally, all distributions from companies that are not otherwise taxed should be afforded. This keeps the closely held business owner from paying a much reduced salary related to the profits and essentially subverting the Social Security Tax.  Like with so many things related to government, a house cleaning is in order and abusive practices related to SSI and Welfare should be closely monitored and doctors running welfare shops should be held to close scrutiny.
      3. Healthcare – Facilitating our overall stated reason for being a Country of our own; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, maintaining ones health and being permitted to undergo corrective operations toward the overall stated extension of life seems to square with our unalienable rights. For this reason, being able to afford healthcare is a common need of all Americans and not just the rich.  To do this, we must tackle the costs of healthcare or no legislation will make sense (just look at the ACA).  A further discussion of how these may be mitigated can be found in my article Healthcare Anyone?.  For our purposes, universal healthcare is a must for Americans and only works if we all can and do participate.
      4. Infrastructure – We all have to get from point A to point B. Roads, bridges, tunnels, rails, airports, waterways, etc., are all vital to our way of life and our common defense and should be maintained.  Additionally, smart infrastructure development is a must for our future and determining the smartest way to grow our infrastructure to better the quality of life for all Americans is fundamental requirement.
    2. WANTS:
      1. Security – Sound counterintuitive as a want? As a Nation we walk a fine line bridging freedom and security.  The British thought quartering soldiers and the extrajudicial searches of homes was necessary for security.  Today, we don’t have soldiers living with us, but the exceptions to the governments search of our personal life coupled with the ever increasing ease of data mining affords us little privacy.  Much of the information is gathered, stored, and available on command for our government without even having to lift a pen to get a warrant.  If relevant traces are found, they will post facto obtain a warrant to justify any potential infraction upon civil liberty.Now with this said, everyone wants to be safe and secure at all times and in all endeavors of everyday life.  But to what expense is this granted?  To a dictatorial executive officer that can wield the information gathered at will to destroy competitors in business or politics, this is a wonderful opportunity.  Recall that we are Americans!  We do not shrink at challenge and we realize adversities often make us stronger as a person, a family and a Nation.  Keeping a strong national defense as outlined above and ensuring that our local police forces have appropriate levels of Federal support will server to contain and maintain our safety and security.  Nevertheless, the balancing of freedom/security must be duly weighed and considered and the MOTHER party would serve to protect and preserve both.
      2. Tax Breaks – Everyone wants them, but the tax code is riddled with them. A significant rewriting of the tax code is in order.  This should start with removing tax credits for oil and gas exploration and replacing this with a tax credit for employers paying an employee’s student loan.  Permitting all out-of-pocket healthcare expenses to be deductible, including the payment of insurance premiums.  Equitable taxation of capital gains should be brought in line with the ordinary income tax brackets.  Having separate taxing structures for capital gains makes no sense except to afford a more favorable tax class to those with enormous disposable incomes.  These are but a few changes that the MOTHER party should encourage.
  2. Second Amendment – We have it and it is enshrined in our Constitution as a 2nd Amendment to our Bill of Rights. WE have the right to keep and bear arms.  That is a right that individuals have, but must still be guarded and can be, under certain circumstances, curtailed to protect the rights of others.  For instance, officially diagnosed disabilities that would interfere with one’s ability to safely own or operate a firearm should be an immediate disqualification for gun ownership.  There is a plethora of other commonsense regulations that might be considered, but such is too in-depth for this conversation.
  3. Energy Independence – Many of our conflicts today center around our political ties that are necessitated by our need to import energy stores. We have all the energy we need as a Nation at our disposal.  Investments into renewable energy must be made and should be supported by government funding.  Recall that cell phones are a direct result of the work that NASA began in the 1960’s.
  4. Global Warming – It’s a scientific fact. Debate all you want about whether humans caused it or not, we can certainly do something about it.  Let’s save our coastal cities and our temperate climates while we can.
  5. Religious Freedom – It’s so important to our Country that it sounds in our 1st Amendment (before the guns). All are free to worship how they choose and they are also free from a government established religion.  Government is here to protect our right to be free to worship how we want (or to not worship).
  6. Equal Protection Under the Law – Equal protection means just that. Those that denounce the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, blame the fact that separate laws and rules were formally established for a traditional marriage that were not afforded to same sex couples.  Think of Social Security benefits, married filing jointly on tax returns, the ability to apply for a marriage license, etc. Everyone has the right to be treated fairly and equally under the law so that no classes enjoy laws above or below the others.
  7. Excluding Corporate Money from Politics – Business speech is a right that is permitted under the Constitution, but we as a citizenry have the ability to curtail the flow of money into our political system. The Supreme Court in the Citizens United decision was wrong.  Short of having a new Court determination overrule itself, we’re stuck.  We need a Constitutional Amendment that affords congress the right to establish limits and rules related to business political contributions.  The last time I checked, Wells Fargo can’t walk into the polling station and cast a ballot. So why should my legislator be under their influence with the money they throw at her?

The above-list is not exclusive or extensive of the common sense approach that the majority of the citizens of the United States want and deserve.  It’s time we take our Country back from the fringes of society that have divided our politics and lives to the point of causing the gears of society to seize from the strain.  Let’s establish the Middle Of THE Road Party and bring this Country in line with its true values that the MAJORITY of Americans share.


One may not be holy by day and a misanthrope by night

Be wary of the politician in priest clothing

By way of telling my age, I vividly recall my childhood with Democrats identifying with the working class populous and Republicans being largely confined to the more well-to-do folks in my neighborhood.  My how a lot has changed in 50 years, but such is so.  How did it get this way?

The best way that this poor soul can explain that is through religion.  The GOP (actually the far right) has co-opted religion for it’s own ends.  I’m not saying those ends are benevolent or maniacal, but facts are facts.  It really appears to be a perfect storm of educated individuals leaving religion, single issue voters throwing the proverbial bathwater out for the baby and the right making hay about an assault on religion not being taught in the school.

I grew up in a rural place with a father that was not highly educated, but got hit with more than a few branches from the tree of common sense on his way through life.  I asked him once why prayer wasn’t allowed in school anymore.  He told me about the separation between church and state, but then said something I’ll never forget.  He told me, “Prayer and how you pray is a very personal thing.  I want to make sure you do it the way I see fit and I don’t want anyone else telling you how to pray or to whom you should pray.”  That made a whole world of sense and still does.  Religion comes in all forms, sects, dialects and denominations (anyone growing up in a baptist church who had a preacher leave under bad circumstances knows this).  You want religion for your children, teach them religion.  For the same reasons you don’t beat my kid’s ass, you don’t get to delve your beliefs on them.  It’s a personal thing and it should remain personal.

That personal memory lane visit aside, back to facts…Take a step back from the Sunday sermon and think about why it is we believe what we do.  Even the Bible tells us to be skeptical of those who come preaching the word of the Lord.  Matthew 24:5 – “and many shall come in my name”…”and many shall be deceived.”  The Bible asks us to question those who would be preaching the Lord’s word because we cannot simply take that persons word for it, but we should use the talents that God has given us to ascertain the facts and the truth of what is right and just within this world.

To that point, Luke 10:30-37 (the Good Samaratain) shows where a lawyer attempts to trick Jesus when he’s asked to Love his Neighbor.  The lawyer says, well how do you define your neighbor.  Jesus provides an example of a Jew walking and while walking is beaten and left bloody and destitute by the side of the road.  A priest approroaches and ventures to the other side to avoid the needy man.  Next, a Levite (traditionally a religious assistant to priests and usually serving a political capacity) also moved to the opposite side of the road.  Then a lowly Samaritan passing took pity and put the injured Jew on his animal and then took him to town and put him up at an Inn and paid the Innkeeper to take care of him and if needed more money, he’d pay him when he passed through.

The lesson is very simple and it’s 2,000 years old.  All mankind is our neighbor.  There were no walls, there were no so-called terrorists.  Safety is never a given…just ask Jesus, or a Jew in Germany circa 1934 or a Russian journalist just trying to tell the truth in this day and age.  These are the teachings of the Bible and if you are religious or claim to be, you must be to a degree auto-didactic to ensure that you are receiving the message that God intends.  It’s not going to be spoon-fed to you because if that’s one thing that has taught us is that our salvation shall come from the sweat on our brow.

Currently, the Trump administration seems to target Musims and Mexicans.  The commonality, of course, are these are not ‘Americans’.  But what is American?  Irish, German, English, Dutch, Australian, African, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Eskimo, Korean, Filipino, Japanese, etc.  You get my point…We’re a mix of cultures and peoples.  That’s what makes us great….not Nationalism where we beat our chest saying “we’re awesome and the rest of the world sucks” (using words that Trump might understand).  Seriously though, our founders meant for our Country to be a land free of religious constraints.  That’s why Christianity was not written into the founding documents.  It’s Freedom of Religion!  And I am truly sorry if some do not like witnessing or experiencing change, but that’s a part of life, a part of the world and a part of the Universe.  you think our planet is unchanged from a million years ago? The Grand Canyon is proof, as are the countless supernovae that have been witnessed over the millennia. Things change and we must adapt.  That’s why we were built with a fascinating reason engine on the top of our neck…to figure it out and not put it in a hole in the ground.  We must adapt and we must respect others and the laws of the land in which we abide.  “Pay unto Cesar that which is Cesar’s” is a call from God to obey the laws of your land and respect it.  Our founders built a land and law resilient for the times if we allow it and respect it.  We should do it, and them, honor and pride to afford those who would be citizens  of this Great Nation the right to partake of its bounty and opportunity.

The refugees that we are turning away now are, for our time, the Jew laying by the side of the road.  They are from war torn areas.  These are parents with children the are attempting to protect from others, whether that be religious zealots (be that christian or muslim), political enemies or just thieves.  These parents want what’s best for their children.  Put yourself in their position and what would you do?  The short answer is ANYTHING YOU COULD.  You would take a handout if provided, but more importantly you would welcome a hand-up from America and then work hard to repay the favor.  You would in turn co-opt that individual with your message of good hope and tidings from the land of plenty (our very own promise land) and you may, in turn, just touch a life positively that could have easily been swayed a different way had the hand-up been turned to a slap in the face or a sign of “stop do not cross.”   The Lord does love a cheerful giver.

Jesus was not political and neither should be your preacher or priest be.  For if they are, there’s an alternative motive against which you should be circumspect.  Always question the WHY.



What Would Lincoln Do?

How would President Lincoln have tackled immigration today?

We have, as a Great Nation, been blessed over the years with esteemed, well-educated and well-spoken leaders (some more than others). In pondering the present Administration, I thought it pertinent to peer into the past to see how other Presidents have dealt with immigration and border security.  I turned to President Lincoln first and read on his speech in Cincinnati on February 12, 1861, given to a group of Germanic citizens. In his words he says:

“…I hold that while man exists it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind; and therefore, without entering upon the details of the question, I will simply say that I am for those means which will give the greatest good to the greatest number…In regard to the Germans and foreigners, I esteem them no better than other people, nor any worse. It is not my nature, when I see a people borne down by the weight of their shackles–the oppression of tyranny–to make their life more bitter by heaping upon them greater burdens; but rather would I do all in my power to raise the yoke than to add anything that would tend to crush them. Inasmuch as our country is extensive and new, and the countries of Europe are densely populated if there are any abroad who desire to make this the land of their adoption, it is not in my heart to throw aught in their way to prevent them from coming to the United States.”

Our Country is still new to the world. We are the land of opportunity and plenty. We have more than enough for the small numbers of refugees that have prompted the present crisis pitting the Administration (and alt-right and Evangelical Christians) against those of varying skin colors and holy texts.  It’s not about terrorism as these factions would have you believe, but it’s about being insular, less competition for resources (whether those be of the mind for the Christians or jobs for some or less diversity for others).  Who are we to further permit oppression, suffering and tyranny of others. We struggled in the right to beat tyranny from our shores only to welcome it for others and to sanction it for lands that are far from our shores.

America is a leader of nations and cannot do so by cowering in a corner. If we do not lead this world, others will. Nations across our Globe are in disbelief in what has become of our politics and they will, in my estimation, chose a more centrist and even-handed nation that can be a stalwart defender of the common beliefs of man.  Who are we, indeed, to make life more bitter for those in strife and suffering. This is not what my Bible taught me.



Healthcare Anyone?

The problem with healthcare is healthcare and not insurance.  25% of the entire 2015 Federal budget was tagged for healthcare costs.  The Affordable Care Act was intended to provide health insurance for everyone and was inaptly coined the ‘Affordable Care Act’.  There were no real teeth in keeping healthcare costs under control because nothing in the Act really held the providers of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment or doctors to real measures or regulations intended to curtail these costs.

“What cost saving measures would Silence impose,” you rhetorically ask?  I will gladly layout some commonsense measures that would suggest to lower overall costs.

  1.  Disallow Pharmaceutical Television Advertisements – Why do these companies advertise to people that cannot buy their products retail?  This is the most asinine marketing campaign.  In 2015, the Healthcare industry spent more than $5 Billion on media advertisements.  These are the commercials that tell you “if you have these symptoms ask your doctor if [This Way Overpriced Medication is for you.]”  You cannot even buy their product retail.  This is an honest waste of money that can save Americans millions of dollars in prescription drug costs.
  2. Disallow Pharmaceutical Practice of “Dollars for Doctors” – Despite rules and laws governing gifts to doctors, the practice continues.  See Disclosure Rules Don’t Stem Flow Of Pharma Cash To State’s Doctors.  The money to pay for subsidies, in whatever form, must necessarily come from the people who buy the Rx company’s drugs, thereby artificially pushing up the costs of these drugs to the American people and government.  All patients deserve to know if their doctor has received some form of remuneration from the drug maker of whose drug they are about to prescribe.  The decisions to prescribe medication should be independent and necessarily free from any undue influence purchased in the way of these ‘dollars for doctors’.  Money is a great influence on ones decision making.  The currency cares not about my health, but my doctor should.  See also What is Your Doctor Getting Paid? (Concluding that $27 Billion dollars was spent in 2014 on the marketing to doctors).
  3. Require Medical Equipment Purchases Direct from Manufacturers – Many do not realize, but that unbelievably expensive MRI machine in the hospital was not purchased directly from the manufacturer.  Rather third-party sales associates (sort of like car dealers) from independent companies negotiate the sale of the equipment for a fee (5% not untypically).  Doing the math, 5% of a $10 million machine is $500,000.  All for the third-party company just to connect the medical provider to the equipment manufacturer.  Again, these costs are passed on to the ultimate consumer and to the insurance provider or government.
  4. Medical Tort Reform – Lastly, a large portion of the cost of healthcare covers the doctor or hospital’s medical malpractice insurance.  Those in the medical profession are like other professions; we have good days and bad days.  Only, when the healthcare provider has a bad day, it could mean she is sued for a less than perfect outcome on the medical procedure.  I do not intend to intimate that negligent doctors should be permitted to fail without penalty, but there should be a true finding of economic loss to compensate the victim.  Further, the victim should not be rewarded with a windfall of cash labelled as compensation.  I suggest rather, that any large monetary payment be set aside in a pool, available nationally, from which victims of medical malpractice can draw upon for future treatments (both physically and mentally) as needed to cope with the malpractice.It should be noted that med-mal liability has been curtailed in a number of states, but those states have yet to see a concomitant reduction in healthcare costs.  The Department of Health and Human Services should be called to study the disparity in such reductions in liability and why the diminished liability is not finding its way to the costs of the healthcare services.

The above are not an extensive or exclusive list of way to reduce medical costs, but merely represent the low-hanging fruit that would serve to lessen the burden.  If the intention of our Federal government is to reduce the cost of health insurance, they must inevitably begin by cutting the costs of healthcare in general.

Remember what Father Abraham says in that, “One may only control the temperate comfort of a house in the winter by ensuring the insulation is good and the windows are closed.”




No One Was Left To Speak

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.  Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

Don’t think for a minute that our fragile democracy cannot experience the type of political upheaval witnessed by Germany between World War I and World War II.  Democracies by nature are designed around openness of government and public input and discourse.  In order to have public discourse, however, you need to have a free and independent press.  It is in respect of the media that much hand-wringing and soul-searching need be done.

Our media has changed from that of an avenue of public notification to that of a business model reporting to shareholders and expecting profits at each quarter.  To this end, the high profile news tends to garner more attention and headlines rather than the menial aspects of government and therefore, in order to get your agenda put on the news, you must exhibit outrage and present dire, earth ending consequences for the media to latch onto it.  It is in supporting the feigning of outrage that has hijacked media and led to following clicks and tweets for our media outlets.  To this end, media has become a propagator of partisan beliefs rather than a forum for which proper discourse can be waged and real dialogue can be discussed about the problems facing America.

For now, Trump=clicks and cash, so they will report on what he says rather than what he should be saying.  They will blindly react rather than proact to properly guard the important social issues and governance inadequacies of the time.  Media should remember that they are the last line of defense for democracy.  This is the reason that they come first in our Bill of Rights.  I do hope media generally will shift its focus to what its proper role in this society and become democracy’s champion again.

Hearing Trump spout how the media is biased, corrupt, fails to be fair….this presents a clear attempt at ‘pre-couching’ for when he really screws up, which will happen often.  If the media is biased, then his dialogue would read something like ‘the media is blatantly biased against Trump and this report should be disregarded.’  Or as Trump suggested in his primary run that the media should be curtailed and subject to liable and slander laws.  Such an environment would serve no other purpose than to chill the import of our First Amendment and is thoroughly unAmerican.  I have a firm belief, that Mr. Trump is thin-skinned enough that he will curtail access to independent news outlets that report unbaised news and only allow access to those media outlets which prints ‘Trump acceptable’ news and thereby puppeting the news.  This is, in fact, occurring presently and likely is the reason we have had no press conference from Mr. Trump….he can’t control the media and should not be allowed to control.  In fact, his constant bellicose ramblings against the media should be trounced by the popular cry.

Why, as a free American, would you want someone to think for you…In the words of Earl Pitts, “WAKE UP AMERICA!”


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who Will Guard the Guards?)

Who will guard the guards, indeed.  Monday night, January 2, 2017, Republicans voted to gut the independent ethics panel.  According to news outlets, the proposal would bar the panel from reviewing any violation of criminal law by members of Congress, requiring that it turn over complaints to the House Ethics Committee or to refer the matter to an appropriate federal law enforcement agency.  Going further, however, this proposal would permit Congress to bury any investigation and not make the investigation open to public input.

Recall the creation of this independent, bi-partisan panel was ushered in after the wake of several lobbying scandals, which rocked the perception of Congress and caused multiple federal investigations, indictments and convictions.  There is great good the public eye can do. Not every person is honest when no one else is looking.  When the body of lawmakers has lobbyists lapping at its heals to throw money to influence decisions, governance by corporation/wealthy exists.

To the American people I say that only we have the right to vote under our Constitution.  Only we citizens are entitled to the countenance of our legislators and it is to us that they owe their allegiance.  It’s time they are reminded who put them there and who can remove them when their allegiance is misplaced.  Keep your eye on the ball.