The Mystery of the Missing Health Care Bill

The Mystery of the Missing Health Care Bill

It’s a new low.  The Republican majority in the Senate is secretly crafting revisions into their pitiful first attempt putting forth their ACHA – American Health Care Act (a.k.a. the Anti Health Care Act).

The Repugnican Leadership has chosen to take their work underground.  The secret approach is their way of assuring that no one knows what they’ve done until it is too late.  Who knows what they might bury in some dark corner of the tome.  Having a majority, Republicans can control floor debates at will. There will be very little time for those oppose them to carefully read and analyze the effects of the revised AHCA proposal on our citizenry before debates.  I anticipate the Repugnicans will propagandize their plan in tilted summaries for the public when the actual bill is released.  Is this how to run a democracy?

When the Republican House of Reps.’ hastily released its first attempt at an ACHA, listening to and learning from vehemently angry constituents in Town Hall Meetings thereafter was a sobering experience for them.  After the Repugnican Senators’ work finally sees the light of day I doubt if any will hold any Town Hall Meetings .

The lowest of Repugnicans, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, is responsible for this underhanded strategy to jam this despicable legislation through.  I am 99% certain that their program, if legislated, will deeply cut expenditures designed to benefit the poor.  The Repugnicans will need those funds to give to the rich (including the President) in a Trumped up Repugnican tax cut strategy specifically designed for them.  LUDICROUS!!  Wealthy corporations and individuals hardly need any more than the 90% of this country they already own.  How many yachts do they deserve?

Oh, and to deflect attention from enriching the rich, the rest of us will get a token tax break.  How nice, we all get an opportunity to exploit the powerless in our great nation.

I am greatly surprised that McConnell has been able to keep the lid on the ACHA.  Surely there must be at least a few Republican Senators who are patriotic enough to know that the end does not justify the means in a democracy.  This surreptitious strategy is unworthy of any Senator who supports it.  This so blatantly violates the mutual respect that is required for equanimity – a cornerstone of American Democracy – as to grievously injure the soul of America.

The Republicans may truly believe that they have the right point of view, but their secretive, underhanded method of achieving their goals negates any vestige of allegiance to the American Way.  The flag pins on Repugnicans’ lapels are an insulting lie.  Their actions are a major desecration of all that the American Flag stands for.

Last March, four Republican Senators, Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia), Cory Gardner (Colorado), and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), signed a letter to Mitch McConnell voicing their concerns over the contents of a leaked copy of the AHCA.  It’s nice to know that some on that side of the aisle are concerned about the impact of this proposed legislation on everyday folks.  But no Republican Senator, to my knowledge, has publically objected to the secretive process that made only a leaked version of the bill available to them.

Is there no Republican Senator with the courage to stand up and call this what it is?  Susan Collins, where are you?  John McCain, please take a stand on this.  Jeff Flake, Marco Rubio, Lamar Alexander, Susan Murkowski, Michael Lee, are you there?

Are none of our Republican Senators appalled by how and where McConnell & Co. are leading them? Are they all willing to be a party to this process, the antithesis of democratic governance?

Is this disease that deeply bedded in our system now?

 

My country, right or wrong?

No sir.  My country rights its wrongs.

 

I sincerely hope this will be a case in point.

“To the Mattresses”

“To the Mattresses”

 

“President Trump and his advisers, seeking to contain the escalating Russia crisis that threatens to consume his presidency, are considering a retooling of his senior staff and the creation of a “war room” within the White House, according to several aides and outside Trump allies.”

“ ‘Go to the mattresses,’ a line from the film “The Godfather” about turning to tough mercenaries during troubled times, has circulated among Trump’s friends, said two people close to the war room discussions.”

Washington Post, May 28, 2017

The troops are gathering, officers are plotting their strategies, the reserves have been called up, allies are joining the cause, munitions and propaganda factories are gearing up.  No, this isn’t Germany in the late 1930s. This is Donald Trump going to war against his greatest enemy: the Truth.

This strategic threat posed by the Trump Legion has the aura of a true test of whether America will allow itself to be overtaken by  bombastic false promises, personal greed, and flat out dishonesty.

Already the Trump Legion has begun to:

  • Renege on promises in rhetoric aimed directly at the “common man.”  The swamp is not draining, Cabinet Meetings are filled with Goldman-Sachs executives and other financial super heroes. NAFTA is still here and China won’t be tagged as a currency manipulator.  April Fools; he had his fingers crossed when he promised.  As anyone with a seven-year old’s mentality knows, promises don’t count then.
  • Undermine America’s relations with Democracies in Europe and with NATO in order to align America behind (not beside or in front of) Russia. Apparently Trump’s personal hero is Vladimir Putin.  And why not, it could well be that Putin put Trump into the White House.  If so, unless Trump’s America falls in line Putin can threaten to expose how Trump really was elected.  That is why it is so important to us that the Kremlin/Trump relationship needs to be so thoroughly investigated.  It’s also why it is so important to Trump that it’s  not investigated.  If Trump has nothing to hide, why is he going to war to try to stop the investigation?
  • Attack the credibility of the FBI and CIA and all others investigating the secret and perhaps treasonous activities of the Trump campaign and administration. Again, if there’s nothing to hide there’s no reason to go to the mattresses.
  • Give yet another round of huge tax breaks to businesses (including The Donald’s) and to mega-wealthy people (including himself and many of his Legionnaires). Economists warn that these gifts to wealth will inflate America’s deficit quicker and more severely than ever before. We saw the trickledown theory of Reaganomics completely fail to materialize, but let’s try again.  This time we’ll put even more money into the hands of the rich and then see how that magically benefits the average American.   Alternatively, we might do better to remember that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
  • Leave the common citizenry to carry both a hugely disproportionate portion of the US tax burden and an even more overinflated national debt.  Ultimately, it will not be the wealthy who solve the problems in our economy, simply because most of the wealthy are themselves among the biggest problems in our economy. The divide between poverty and wealth is getting larger every day.  When the economy is skewed to benefit the very, very few, it exacerbates the already deplorable conditions suffered by the growing numbers of the poor.  Trump, along with his fellow Republicans, are among the worst enemies of the poor. Trump’s proposed budget has already heavily attacked the poor by gutting programs that are the last lifeline for millions of Americans impoverished by the shameful distribution of wealth in our nation.  He wants to give the money to the impoverished Pentagon instead. Despite his promises, he has never been an honest advocate of the poor or the shrinking Middle Class.  What he promises and what he actually does are as far apart as the rich are from the poor.
  • Work hand in glove with his Republican Congress to turn the Affordable Care Act into the unaffordable American Care Act, leaving somewhere between 20 million to 25 million Americans with no viable health insurance options at all. And those will be the folks who especially who need affordable insurance the most – those in poverty and those with pre-existing conditions.  Since when have Americans become so selfishly ugly as to turn their backs on their unfortunate countrymen and callously condemn them to suffer and die?
  • Incredibly seek to not only to leave the poor and people with pre-existing health conditions in the dust, but try to demonize them by claiming their poverty and their sicknesses are their own fault for not doing “the right things.” (Self-anointed arrogance at its worst.)
  • Seek also to demonize the press by calling their disciplined reporting and genuine search for the Truth (another of Trump’s worst enemies) “fake news.”
  • Send thousands upon thousands more troops back into Afghanistan. (What was that definition of insanity again?)
  • Bamboozle Americans into thinking that he can single handedly bully Mexico to pay for his preposterous campaign promise – The Wall.  Trump hopes we will never think this through, but if Trump has his way the American people will ultimately pay for The Wall up front and again after it’s built.  Trump proposes to build the thing with billions from the US Treasury and then recover the cost of The Wall by putting tariffs on Mexican goods crossing our borders.  He’d like us to think it’s that simple, but the process doesn’t actually end there.  If/when he imposes those tariffs, what do you think Mexican exporters will do?  Obviously, they will charge more for their goods to offset the tariffs.  And who will pay those increased prices? The American Consumer. So ultimately the American Consumer will re-pay the American Taxpayer for The Wall by way of Mexico. Mexico will simply pay the tariff with one hand and collect it back with the other. The Trump Legion knows that full well, but their propaganda is designed to make us believe that ultimately Mexico will pay.

The Fourth Great Lie  + Trust me, I’m Donald Trump +

So now the Trump Legion is preparing for War.  Their enemy?  Anyone who realizes the threat the Trump Legion poses.  The Trump Legion is declaring war on the fundamental rights and well being of anyone who sees that Emperor Trump wears no clothes and says so. Given enough power, anything and anyone will be fair game for the Donald and his cabal of wealthy business friends: the Constitution and Bill of Rights, over 240 years of history (Did you know that Andrew Jackson hated the Civil War even though he died 15 years before it started?), and the scores of millions of Americans who actually recognize that freedom and the rest of America’s ideals are in serious jeopardy.

Trump is about to campaign again, this time on a war footing.  The Trump Legion always fights dirty. Nothing is sacred, especially the Truth.  There is nothing so low as to be beneath them.

The rest of us need to defend those who the Legion attacks and defend ourselves in the battle for the attention of the American people.  We need a presence everywhere Trump goes to point out the Bullshit that comes with him. Let that be our chant, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit.  Let’s fill the streets with crowds whose chant can overwhelm their lies.

The Trump Legion has provided us now with ammunition we never had before.  We can see their end game in their blunders, lies, appointees, policies and positions.  They are all aimed at punishing the poor and paving the way for big business and the rest of the already financially powerful to openly rule this land.

This may well be this generation’s most important war.  The principles and existence of our nation are at stake.

God Bless America and Help Us Protect Our Beloved County!

“the love of money is the root of all evil.”  R.W. Emerson

 

 

Is Stupidity a Pre-existing Condition?

Is Stupidity a Pre-existing Condition?

Mo Brooks.

He’s a comedian, right?

No, that’s Mel Brooks.  Funny man.

Mo has to be related.

I mean, who could seriously say:

My understanding is that (the new health care proposal) will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool,” Brooks said, “thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy. And right now, those are the people–who’ve done things the right way–that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.”

No, unfortunately, he’s not a comedian.

He’s not related to Mel Brooks (sorry Mel, to have nearly impugned your reputation).

Yes, he was serious when he said that.

He’s the Republican Congressman representing Alabama’s 5th Congressional District. Seriously.

 

Oh. Well… ah… Maybe he just had a bad day. Or maybe the nasty news media planted this story, you know, like the Republicans always say, it’s fake news.  I mean, he surely didn’t mean that anyone with a pre-existing condition or any other cause to have high health care costs can’t have “led good lives”…”done things to keep their bodies healthy”…”done things the right way.”

I mean, is there anybody that arrogantly stupid?!  Having been sick is a sure sign that someone hasn’t lived “the right way?”  How lame is that?

I wonder how many people who live in Good Ol’ Mo’s Congressional District would be among the losers in Rep. Brooks’s stance.  It’s hard to say.  You see the Republican replacement plan allows each insurer to conveniently define for itself what ailments qualify as pre-existing conditions. Congress apparently wants insurers to have free reign to do what’s best. And we all know how much we can trust the insurance industry to watch out for our best interests.  Who needs goverment protection when we have the insurance companies to cover us?

The Kaiser Foundation estimates that “about a quarter of American adults under 65 have pre-existing conditions that made them ‘declinable.’”  If Mr. Brooks’s constituents are a typical cross section of America (a reasonable assumption), he apparently doesn’t hold 25% of the people he represents in high regard.  Lots of slackers in the doing the right thing department.

Let me see a show of hands here.  If you have had any of the following ailments, please raise your hand:

  • AIDS/HIV
  • Alcohol abuse/ Drug abuse with recent treatment
  • Alzheimer’s/dementia
  • Arthritis (rheumatoid), fibromyalgia, other inflammatory joint disease
  • Cancer within some period of time (e.g. 10 years, often other than basal skin cancer)
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Coronary artery/heart disease, bypass surgery
  • Crohn’s disease/ ulcerative colitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)/emphysema
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Epilepsy
  • Hemophilia
  • Hepatitis (Hep C)
  • Kidney disease, renal failure
  • Lupus
  • Mental disorders (severe, e.g. bipolar, eating disorder)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Obesity, severe
  • Organ transplant
  • Paraplegia
  • Paralysis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Pending surgery or hospitalization
  • Pneumocystic pneumonia
  • Pregnancy or expectant parent
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stroke

OK. Everyone with a raised hand, you’re out!  If you get sick, take out a loan or take your chances with divine intervention.

Now, these are just the most common items among most insurers’ pre-existing conditions.  As mentioned, the insurers make up their own lists.  So the rest of you are not completely out of the woods yet.  Technically, insurers could blow up your rates if you’d had a hangnail, or acne, or sinus headaches, or whatever.

“To put it another way,” writes Beth Skwarecki in Gawker Media’s Lifehacker, “the health care bill doesn’t name any conditions that are fair game; but they also don’t explicitly protect any of them, either.”

This just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?

Please, remember this:  Republicans now control:

  • The House of Representatives,
  • The Senate,
  • The White House and all of its Cabinet Agencies, and
  • The Justices on The Supreme Court (Republican Presidents selected the majority of them).

This is the Republican Party’s dream arrangement, they are in control of every facet of the Federal Government. It’s their big chance to get what they really want for America.  What happens to you is now primarily their responsibility.   If they’re not on your side, the government isn’t on your side.

So the pre-existing conditions portion of the newly proposed Republican Health Care law is an example of their national government doing its level best to protect:

(pick one)

  1. American citizens
  2. The Profitability of the Insurance Industry

 

I have a cold…again

I have a cold…again

I have a cold…again.

I hate having a cold.  This one started just two weeks after my last cold finally left my system.   I’ve been cycling through colds separated by brief hiatuses (hiatusi?) for several months now.

It’s not hard to figure out why.  It’s an occupational hazard. Two and a half years ago, I was shanghaied into a new job.  Grand-parenting.  My official title is “Grandfather,” but never one to stand on ceremony, I prefer the  informal, “Pop.”

For the first 63 years of my life, I was not qualified for this job.  My resume was strong but it lacked one absolutely-mandatory-no excuses-accepted qualification – a grandchild. I was an honorary Grandfather, a title I still proudly hold, but in order to qualify for the bona-fide Grand Certificate and the 401K opportunity* that come with the real thing, I needed one more credit.

*[Update: I just learned there’s no 401K opportunity, but I’m expected to establish a College Fund for each grandchild. Shanghaied again.]

Finally, in late 2014 my wife Doris and I were invested with full rights, privileges and responsibilities of Grandparenthood. Our names were added to the on-line version of the Official Grandparents Directory/ US Division/ New-bees Chapter: www.diaper-changers (the national equivalent of the British Division’s famous www.nappy-changers).

There are now three acorns after my name and Doris’s.  So far all of our acorns reside under one roof.  For  good reasons, Doris and I were enlisted for temporary duty to assist in acorn management under that roof.   At least for the time being, we are a household of seven family members, two of  whom typically labor weekdays nine-to-five in “Day Care.” (Their artwork and paper hats can be stunning.)

I’ve learned that it is wise to inquire as to how many other acorns are in a Day Care. The chance that one of our acorns will catch another one’s cold and bring it home for us all to share is inextricably related to the number of acorns there. We are vulnerable to colds incubated in Day Care for export as well as the home-grown kind. Only a miracle combined with a total ban on kissing might break the cycle of colds passed around in our present environment.

Tired of grabbing tissues to clear mucus from my stiff upper lip, I recently decided to buy an over-the-counter cold remedy.  I was amazed at the number and variety of cold remedies on Walgreen’s shelves.  Each item’s label listed the specific combination of symptoms that the remedy was supposedly designed to manage: congestion, headache, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, general aching, fever, sleep deprivation, halitosis.

(Okay, one of these wasn’t among any product’s targeted symptoms – can you find it?)

Amazingly, each product touted its prowess with typically only three or four among the universe of cold symptoms.  I found not one product claiming to relieve all cold symptoms; the most I saw was five.

I guess if you have six or more symptoms you should go to the hospital, not the drug store.

Before going out to buy a cold remedy, I suggest you should list and prioritize your symptoms.  Not including the mystery entry, my list of ailments two paragraphs ago names nine different cold symptoms.  Among products with labels advertising special effectiveness for three symptoms, there are exactly 84 possible combinations of three symptoms that could be offered. (So says a permutation calculator on the Internet.  Impressed?)

This inventory of 84 possibilities is considerably more than the 50 or so cold relief products on Walgreen’s shelves.  I suspect some odd combinations of symptoms, like headache, general aching, and halitosis, didn’t make the cut.  Nonetheless, if you are hunting for a remedy to cure your three most acute symptoms, your hay stack is 84 differing three-symptom combinations and the needle you seek, may not even be in a store that stocks only 50 or so combinations.

Make sure to bring your glasses when you go to buy; symptoms listed on the front of the package are alphabetized on some labels, but not all. No uniform code of for symptom labels addresses this issue.  Finding a package claiming to have been made for your three priority symptoms could take some time. Plan accordingly.

Alternatively, however, you can look at the lists of ingredients in the various products, like I did. There you may be surprised to find, despite the symptoms listed on the front labels, most of the mainstream cold products list the exact same active ingredients in the exact same proportions!

So why do manufacturers put the same ingredients in so many different bottles?  Well, if you see a product that appears to specialize in Runny Nose, Sneezing, and Congestion, and those are your symptoms of greatest concern at the moment, wouldn’t you choose it over other products touting their effectiveness against symptoms you don’t have?  If you don’t know the pills are essentially all the same, wouldn’t you be willing to pay more for a product that appears to have been customized specifically for YOUR symptoms? Wouldn’t that increase the product’s profit margins?

In the end, it appears that the only thing associated with a cold remedy that has been customized is its label. 

This slick trick is a shining example of American Marketing Ingenuity at the Top of its Game.

This is what Makes Money for investors, which is what Makes America Great.  

Let’s see China, Russia or North Korea top that!

 

 

 

Tell me again, why…

Tell me again, why…

Why:

  • … do the rich need more big tax breaks? Don’t they have enough already?  Isn’t the definition of “rich” already having significantly more than average wealth?  Haven’t we trickled down this road before?
  • … is Trump/Ryancare really an improvement to Obamacare if 24 million of our fellow Americans will lose their insurance because their premiums will increase beyond affordability?  Is the purpose of the Trump/Ryan “American” Health Care Act (notice  no longer “Affordable”) to provide or to remove affordable health care insurance for Americans?   Is this how one fixes a problem? If Ryan was a car mechanic, when fixing your flat tire he’d also disconnect your brakes.
  • … is Lecherous & Lying Donald removing nearly all programs that support the impoverished and jobless Americans who elected him, while at the same time increasing their numbers?
  • … does the president’s budget proposal give the Pentagon an extra $54 billion that even the Generals and Admirals (who are, by the way, the worst shoppers in the world) didn’t even ask for?  How can we trust the Pentagon to spend any taxpayer dollars wisely?
  • … were many hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars spent by these protectors of our freedom on overinflated supply contracts with a world class briber? [Likely Fat Leonard is not the only briber living large on taxpayer millions.]
  •  … did these Navy and Marine Corps officers not realize, or choose not to care, why Fat Leonard regularly provided them with lavish gifts and $50,000 parties, complete with expensive hookers? (Hey Captain. New in town?)  They knew full well what they and he were doing. Who wouldn’t spend a million dollars on entertainment in order to pocket an extra unearned hundred million out of the Pentagon’s coffers? [Might this be a much better place than Planned Parenthood to cut back funds and begin to reduce the deficit?]
  • … are widespread betrayals of our country like this not considered a financial form of treason?  Does not the siphoning off of defense funds impair our national security?
  • … in a civilized and mature nation, would greedy L&L Donald and his cabal of advisors try to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts, Public Television, and many other scientific, educational, cultural and social support programs?  Are we a nation of Neanderthals?
  • … in a natural environment recklessly abused by greed, does L&L Donald want to disassemble nearly all efforts of the Environment Protection Agency?   Are so many of the industrial rich so self-centered that they don’t care whether life on earth survives after they themselves are dead and gone?
  • … does a lunatic fringe of our citizenry, unfortunately including key members of our lunatic administration, deny the plentiful and dramatic evidence of Global Warming and the nearly unanimous concerns expressed in the scientific community.  The hubris of the fools on the hill in denying proven facts could very well doom our species to early extinction.
  • … does L&L Donald continually make completely unsubstantiated (e.g., blatantly false) accusations in speeches and on Twitter, whenever the mood hits him? And why does he get away with it? Is this paranoia or is it just that L&L Donald doesn’t fully grasp that he is no longer a candidate, but is expected to live to a higher standard of truth and reliability as president?
  • … does Kellyanne Conway never give straight-forward answers to interviewers’ straight-forward questions?
  • … don’t interviewers either ignore her altogether or doggedly continue to reiterate their questions until she answers them?
  • … did it take so long for L&L Donald’s accountants to find the only two pages of his past 20 or more tax returns that indicate he may have actually paid some taxes more than ten years ago?
  • … are the Russian connections of L&L Donald, his campaign staff and his current Administration not being aggressively pursued and updated in the public domain?
  • … does it turn my stomach to see the President of the United States acting like a petulant and spoiled 7-year old, blatantly ignoring and insulting Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, when she was America’s guest at the White House.  What, does he really think he can treat every woman the way he treats his wife?
  • … does it not surprise me that L&L Donald was not only inexcusably rude to the leader of one of our greatest allies, he was at the same time woefully ignorant about how NATO is funded and operates.  His continual bouts of Ready, Fire, Aim are much more than just embarrassing, they are dangerous to all citizens he swore to protect.
  • … are most, if not all, of these issues in L&L Donald’s campaign and first hundred days as president, unprecedented?  Could it be that the previous 44 Presidents were intelligent?

Is he draining the swamp or filling it with champagne?

What is Wrong with the Greatness of America?

What is Wrong with the Greatness of America?

There’s little question that the United States of America, a comparatively young nation in the civilized world, has been the “greatest” and most influential country on the planet for over 100 years.  Nonetheless, recently the sound bite “Make American Great Again” resonated with a goodly number of righteously disgruntled voters.

They may well be right.  American Greatness should never be taken for granted. But many of the problems they’ve been led to believe plague America are the subjects of propaganda designed to divert people’s attention from the real threats to our nation. We need always to remember America now has an untrustworthy, conniving, malignantly narcissistic President who seems to change his rhetoric about as often as he changes his neck ties.

A President who tweets echoes of baseless blather he heard on late night Fox News is probably not going to keep America great.   If Sweden has supposedly had a dramatic spike in rapes and robberies due to the recent influx of Muslim refugees as Trump alleged in one of his recent rallies, no one in Sweden is aware of it. These must be secret rapes and robberies, known only to him.

No President in history has made such an idiotic, misinformed and embarrassingly false proclamation in such a public forum.  But hey, he’s Donald Trump – give the guy a break.

This is what happens when a President of the United States relies on “intelligence” gathered by Fox News and eschews briefings from the nation’s experienced intelligence agencies.  How can any public office holder rely on anthing Fox News reports without getting a confirmation from some trustworthy source, like maybe the CIA?

Unfortunately, Trump has learned that he can get away with anything he says, so long as at least part of his audience is willing to believe it. It is shocking how easily his trumped up allegations against Muslims turned all disciples of Allah into scapegoats for a fictitious outbreak of atrocities that simply have not happened.  How does Trump’s demonizing of Muslims in America differ from the demonizing of Jews in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s?  How does this Make America Great Again?  Was Hitler not elected as Chancellor on the promise to Make Germany Great Again?  His playbook must be around here somewhere.

What Makes America Great?

Let’s consider what has made America great:  Is it our dedication to freedom?  Is it the strongest and best equipped military in the world?  Is it our Constitution?, our justice system?, our free press?, our states’ rights?, our civil rights?, our religious freedom?, our history?, is it the freedom of expression that’s in our DNA?, our aversion to oppression?, or perhaps our leading edge technologies?, our ability to invent?, our entrepreneurial vision?, our robust national economy?, our leadership of the free world?, our diversity?, our common ancestral and/or contemporary immigration to America in search of freedom? (Ironically, true native Americans whose ancestors were here long before most of the rest of our ancestors, have virtually lost most of their freedom to make room for ours.)

It’s all of this and more.  All of these American traits come from America’s values that have always been the grassroots tools of our Greatness. Today these include:

  • Truth;
  • Fair Play/Equal Opportunity for all;
  • Honesty;
  • Individual Respect;
  • Tolerance of Differences in Ancestry, Opinion, Ethnicity, Race, Intelligence, Customs, Gender;
  • A Government Accountable to the People and Not Vice-Versa;
  • Personal Privacy;
  • The Right to be Heard;
  • Rule of Law and Civil Disobedience of Law that Violates Our Rights and Values;
  • Mobility, and
  • The Sanctity of Human Life.

America – An Experiment in Progress

The radical socio-economic experiment that is America has been amazingly successful, so far.  We have found ways to blend the survival of the fittest foundation of economic Capitalism with the generosity and respect of a Social Conscience that tries to assure that the basic needs of all citizens are met.  The balance between Capitalism’s competition and the “no one left behind” tenet of Socialism is never static, but they do coexist. Because the pendulum swings back and forth, the search for equilibrium in the experiment is definitely not finished.

In fact, the American experiment will never be finished until and unless it fails.

Like all human endeavors, America constantly operates in social, political, scientific, economic, ethical, and international environments that are always in a state of change.  Figuratively, all of these arenas carry weight and collide with one another in various and unpredictable ways, creating massive tension just below the surface of our lives.  So far, when the socio-economic pressures have erupted and surfaced, America dealt with the damage and siphoned off similar pressures to avert repetition of the eruption.

A Parade of Challenges

The American Civil War was probably the country’s most costly and bloody eruption of pent up pressure ever.  America was literally blown apart into two distinct governments for a few years. The intense divide – slavery and a regional, nearly regal, agrarian economy versus a more heavily populated abolitionist region and its industrialized juggernaut – was driven by two irreconcilable sets of American values.  While the Union was preserved 150 years ago, regional tensions from the war still exist.  A century after the end of the Civil War, insidious, unresolved racial stress fractures in the nation’s experiment erupted again leading us to define, re-confirm and protect the value of Civil Rights for all Americans, regardless of race, creed, gender, or religious belief.  Anti-war movements, women’s suffrage and later women’s rights in the workplace, abortion rights, gay rights, a World War against Fascist oppression, the Great Depression, similar periodic economic crises, and a host of other eruptions are among the litany of challenges that have threatened the viability of the experiment.

Today, some issues have been resolved but others still require a good deal more work. Our American values have matured and reshaped our nation to meet our challenges and to keep the experiment that is America alive and well.

But is there a potentially insurmountable challenge in our midst that could destroy the American Experiment?

A Fundamental and Difficult Conundrum

Ugly new challenges to America’s greatness are quickly growing before our eyes today.  The electorate’s discontent with, and righteous distrust of, our elected representatives is a cancer that threatens the whole organism of our nation.  The sources and symptoms of the disease are fairly plain to see.  The cure, however, is not.

The love of money and the political power it buys has infused a pernicious, potentially fatal disease in our national and state legislatures and executive offices.  The one common element necessary to prevail in any election in this country today is no longer a candidate’s intelligence, leadership ability, moral integrity, dedication to the truth, sincerity, fairness, heroism, or reverence for motherhood and apple pie.  It is money, money, and more money.

Absent considerable amounts of money, a candidate has a snowball’s chance in Hell of being elected to what is supposed to be a position of service to the “public trust.”  The Number 1 priority of nearly every national and state elected official is re-election.  The day after they’re elected most of our vaunted representatives begin “dialing for re-election dollars,” a 365-day, annual, unwritten requirement of survival in their jobs.

The conundrum of this reality is clear.  Any effort to curtail or remove the sale of influence by legislators, regulators, jurists, and others will have to be initiated and supported by the very people who owe their financial and political success to the purchasers of their influence.  In order to truly represent the interests of a majority of one’s constituents, somewhere along the line a representative would have to betray his/her financiers and seriously jeopardize his/her chances of re-election.   Except in rare instances, like Bernie Sanders’s crowd funding of his 2016 presidential campaign, legislators and members of the executive branches personally have little or nothing to gain by biting the hands that feed them.  The office-holder is the supplicant and the money-holder is in control.

Is it any wonder that the political influence of the wealthiest 10% of the nation’s electorate is greater than collective political influence of the remaining 90% of voters in this nation? What majority of politicians will coalesce to successfully legislate the boundaries necessary to break this stranglehold on our elected representatives?  There’s that snowball in Hell again.

Absent the will to break the financial bonds that tie elected officials in the Congressional Branch and Executive Branch, what hope is there?

A Pivotal Failure

The judicial system of the US, intended as a check and balance when things go constitutionally awry in our country’s legislative or executive branches, has failed miserably in its crucial role of preserving the integrity of elected officials.  Citizen’s United is an insulting misnomer for both a Political Action Committee and a Supreme Court case that far more accurately should be called Corporations United, or better yet, Corporate Bribery United.

The sanctity of the Supreme Court should never come into question, but somehow I cannot rule out what should be the impossibility that one or more of our “conservative” justices may have been corrupted.  It is difficult to find any good reason for their swinging wide the gates of secret corporate money to further solidify the hold of the moneyed interests on our government.  If this was what the “Founding Fathers” intended, we need to re-write all American History books.

And the Beat Goes On

In the name of “Making America Great Again,” today’s spin doctors pervert the truth while Foxy “news” outlets openly identify themselves as commentators disguised as reporters.  Talk radio crackles the air waves with hatred as “commentators” instigate listeners with unfounded vitriolic charges designed to create and capitalize on divisions among the ethnic, racial, religious, and even gender allegiances of Americans.  The bigger the lie, the more it is believed.

Simply stated, the virtually unbridled influence of money in politics may be the force that ultimately kills the American experiment for all time.

The concentration of political power in the hands of a few, elite, self-anointed masters of the universe is already pretty far advanced on the road to dictatorial power behind the scenes. When Russia’s “elected” dictator, Putin, is held out as a role model by the President of the United States, something evil must be afoot. And when Russia brazenly and sucessfully manipulates the outcome of an American Presidential election, something unquestionably needs to be done to Make America Great Again. 

Putin recognizes the importance of the opportunity of having the perfect stooge in the White House. Accordingly, the complicity of the Trump political organization in Putin’s scheme needs to be vigorously and impartially investigated. There are strong indications that Putin may have wasted little time in purchasing the egomaniac’s influence along with that of his small cadre of “advisors.”

Business Insider, January 17, 2017  –  Memos: CEO of Russia’s state oil company offered Trump adviser, allies a cut of huge deal if sanctions were lifted

“A dossier with unverified claims about President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia contained allegations that Igor Sechin, the CEO of Russia’s state oil company, offered Trump ally Carter Page and his associates the brokerage of a 19% stake in the [$350 -$450 Billion] company in exchange for the lifting of US sanctions on Russia. … In return Page confirmed that were Trump elected US president, sanctions on Russia would be lifted.”

Perhaps the reason the Trump Administration has has yet to fill more than 600 job vacancies in the Executive Branch is so he and his cabal won’t have to share the wealth. With no one on the phones or texting from them there is little  danger of a whistle blower exposing the plot if all the desks are empty. When (not if) Trump removes the sanctions and this deal is consumated, worldwide consumers of energy  will provide Russia ample funds to de-rail the American experiment. There is nothing Putin wants more, and let’s face it, Trump & Co.’s complicity could easily be part of “the art of the deal” for the right price.

The “alternative truths” and baseless rallying cries of division and hate that have found homes in the minds of many Americans are proof positive that skillful propaganda still works.

In a relatively short span of time, the money-and-power hungry are well advanced in their own greedy interests in America.  They are not overt, but they are unquestionably greedy. They work diligently to cultivate the outright support of Americans agitated by their propaganda while they pick Americans’ pockets, protections and rights at the same time.

Indeed it is a Crucial Time to Make America Great Again.

Donald Trump can only lead America into oblivion. The question is, do we take our American values seriously enough to fight to preserve America’s greatness?  One thing is certain, it will take a massive grass roots effort to regain our nation from the wealthy manipulators of the truth, if it is not too late already.