Follow the money

money

Welcome to our new banana republic where the government runs roughshod over the people, and many of the citizens are thankful they can be abused.  It seems so wrong, people gleefully surrendering their liberty, yet here we are.  There are so many moving pieces, so much that is wrong, that it becomes easy to feel numb, easy to start thinking this is the way it has to be.  Life does not have to be like this.  It is incumbent on all of us to understand what is really going on and daily remind those in government that this is not ok, we are not going to sit by silently while our country and liberty is destroyed.

There is one basic principle that that we need to understand; one core motivation that brings almost everything into focus.  It is not power or religion, though those are key enablers.  It is money.  This is all about money.  Everyone in this horrible power grab is doing so for the money. Well some are doing it for bigoted reasons, but that a topic for another day.

Let’s start with the horrible healthcare bill in the senate that is about to be jammed down the country’s throat.  There is nothing about this bill that improves healthcare.  Yes, it will probably lower premiums, but this is accomplished by lowering coverages and raising deductibles.  So for less, and in many cases basically no coverage, premiums decrease.  That is not for the public good.  Isn’t that what our government is supposed to do, support and increase the public good, even when difficult.

What this bill really does is move the funds used to defray healthcare costs for the less fortunate of society and move it to the top 1-5%.    The people that can least afford to lose their healthcare are funding a tax reduction for the people that need it the least.  And this is retroactive – the tax reduction for capital gains (the taxes on buying and selling stocks) is retroactive.  This rewards the wealthy for past transactions.  How is this related to healthcare again?

But wait, there is more.  Insurance executive pay (including bonuses) over $500,000 will be receiving a large tax cut as part of this.  Again, how is this related to healthcare or the common good? It is not.  It is about making the rich richer and the poor poorer.  This is key.

But our elected leaders don’t benefit in this, the money doesn’t go to them you say.  Whoops, our elected leaders are either funded by the people who want these laws or actually benefit themselves.  If you don’t know who the Koch Brothers or the Mercers are, it is time to learn.  The Koch brothers spend nearly $1 Billion (!) on national elections to make sure the government is filled with people who will follow their agenda.  Like lowering taxes for the wealthy and eliminating regulations.  Let’s be honest, Koch Industries makes A LOT of money ($100 billion in sales according to Forbes) and these brothers make plenty.  They just want more.

The Mercers on the other hand seem just plain wacko.  You can get a good idea of who they are here and here.  Here’s a few key take aways.  They are the reason Breitbart, Bannon and Conway are behind Trump.  They had thrown their weight behind Cruz, but he is so vile he failed.  They have a few key agenda items.  One religion.  The other is a pending $7 Billion (!) dispute with the IRS.  What’s a few billion if you can save 7?  Their money and their goals permeate many of the actions you see taking place.  Like a tax cut for the rich being called healthcare improvement.  He’ll save 100s of millions with if this legislation passes.

 

So stop and think.  Why do these GOP politicians want so many laws that hurt so many citizens?  They have been paid handsomely to enact this legislation.  Or in other cases, they are just greedy.  Take Tom Price, the HHS secretary.  He was submitting legislation that benefitted companies he owned stock in.  In some cases he was buying the stock at a reduced priced prior to submitting the legislation.  This is text book corruption.  Or if you choose, he was stealing from you, because the stock market is a zero sum game.

Let’s not forget the DeVos/Prince families.  They donate so much money, its not secret they set the agenda for many politicians.  Betsy DeVos, the incompetent Secretary of Education, made no bones about deserving her cabinet post based on her contributions.  So her money is everywhere.  Her agenda is to get the money that goes to public schools funneled to private and religious schools (who cares about the separation of church and state?).  Oh and she also has large stakes in student loan COLLECTION organizations.  She’s rolling back regulations on these types of firms so she can profit.  Money to the church, taken from the public schools.  Money from highly indebted students going to her and her cronies.  She makes money while the haves get richer and the have nots are oppressed.

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And then there is the would be Royal Trump Family.  Every action they take is designed to make money for them.  Every trip to one of Dishonest Donald’s property is a tax payer paid infomercial.  Oh and he’s getting paid for going.  That’s stealing from you and me.  And we as tax payers pay for renting space in his gaudy, golden tower so his family can be protected.

His daughter, how is as evil as her father, attends meetings with national leaders.  Then, amazingly, she gets business favors, copyrights, licenses and donations.  Her husband is just as bad.  He has a debt load that is off the charts.  It is hard to tell, because he keeps leaving his debts off the governmental forms he is forced to fill out.  These loans come from banks under scrutiny from the US government.  Well, mostly the previous administration.  If this scrutiny can be dropped, the money saved will far exceed the hundreds of millions in loans outstanding.

Which brings us back around to Dishonest Donald.  He wants to be the wealthiest of the wealthiest.  When he was on the Comedy Central Roast, the only topic off the table was his wealth.  He once sued a writer who said (and later proved) that the orange one was not a billionaire.  Being wealthy is all he cares about.  Every action he has taken is motivated by the need to enrich himself at our expense.

And if you haven’t read this article on what looks like Trump Organization money laundering, you should.  I didn’t elect a man who seems to enjoy funneling money to Iranian causes.  Why yes that is illegal.  You know he was fined for “continued money laundering” too, right?

Let’s look at his evil travel ban.  It is a Muslim ban, because he believes, wrongly, that all Muslims are evil terrorists.  But if that was the case, why aren’t Saudi Arabia and Egypt part of the ban?  It is because there are Trump properties there.  When Iran and Somalia suddenly need a Trump golf course, remember this.

Follow the money.  It is enabling greed, corruption and oppression.  It is the motivation for everything you are seeing.  I thought we were better than this, but a vocal minority in this country loves it.  I weep for our future.

 

 

 

Implicit Value

Today I woke up to hear that GOP congressman in leadership was shot on a baseball field.  This is not normal, but yet it is.  We will not hear a call for gun control, because the NRA wants to make sure the gun manufacturers can sell as many guns as possible.  We will only be marginally outraged because it was done by a white man.  That is normal.  It would be far worse if a black man shot the southern white congressman.

A vote in house today was cancelled due to the shooting, which again is normal due to the tragedy.  It is also ironic because the vote was on deregulating gun silencers, presumably because Donald Trump Jr. told us his ears hurt after going hunting.  Really?  Silencers, the accessory of choice for hitmen and spies, needs to be a topic for our lawmakers?  We are finally in an upside down world.

A friend trolled me recently.  In a debate over issues he declared himself a secessionist. Appalled, I didn’t understand.  And then he made his point.  I think he’s right.  What do I, a liberal, open minded Californian, have in common with the typical adult from Mississippi, Alabama or most of the old south?  I believe all people are equal and deserve their civil rights.  In the south, they work hard to suppress the votes from minorities and the poor.  They see people as classes and objects and many are not afraid to say hateful things in public and glorify the days of slavery.  What do liberal Americans have in common with those who glorify and embrace hate?  Are we really one country?  Will we ever agree?

The last election wasn’t about emails or making America great again.  America was great, and we are doing our best to tarnish that shine.  The last election was about the soul of this country, it was about values, the values of our country.  Let’s put aside Russian interference and propaganda for today.  It was there. It had an effect; it is naïve to think otherwise.  One candidate made sure you knew it was ok to hate.  He had a history of unethical behavior – from racism to fraud to sexual harassment.  These are facts.  And they are facts that did not bother 43% or so of voters.

He held Nazi Germany style rallies where he incited hate.  He called for his opponent to be jailed over her use of a private email server.  He asked the people at the rallies to pledge their loyalty to him.  Not to the country but to him.  He suggested that people in attendance beat protestors and people of color and they did.  He demonized Muslims because of ISIS.  He made the press stay in a pen like cattle, belittling them.  He campaigned using slogans and images taken directly from white supremacy hate groups.  Anti-Semitic images and tropes were sent out regularly.

He embraced misogyny and encouraged his supporters to do so.  He made sure we knew he thought he should be king.  Many cheered for it and the loss of freedom.  Perhaps they did because people of color would be hurt more than the average white American. (Note:  I’m Jewish.  I’m not considered white by these hate groups.) And amidst this bonfire of hate he won.

So when the unethical self-styled dictator wins, the old normal is out the window.  Since the election we have seen several things that may seem normal now, but are not.  Actions that should make everyone take notice and scream “this is wrong!”  Yet, many people do not.  Here is a short list:

Immediately Congress tried to nullify its Ethical oversight department.

The justice department took every white hate group off their terror watch list.  But only the white ones.

The president/dictator decries every possible crime by Muslims and people of color and ignores hate crimes by whites.

The president/dictator made a holocaust memorial statement that never mentioned Jews.  It was straight from the Nazi speech guide.  They cheered.

The president/dictator has declared the free press an enemy of the state and the people.

The president/dictator ignored nepotism rules and placed his family on the white house staff.

The president/dictator refused to divest any of his assets and continues to profit as he takes money via his ventures from foreign governments.

The president/dictator includes his daughter in key international meetings.  Amazingly enough, she gets funding, licenses and copyrights from these governments after the meetings as if by coincidence.

The president/dictator installed a known foreign agent as his National Security Advisor.

The president/dictator fired the acting attorney general that made sure he knew NSA was comprised.

The president/dictator installed several cabinet members with the stated objective of destroying the areas they oversee.  The Environment, Health, Urban Development and Education to start.

The president/dictator installed other cabinet members that look corrupt such as Treasury, Commerce and Health.

The congress believes it is important to deny health care to the less fortunate so that the rich can get a tax break (Note: while I’m not in the top 2%, I will receive a significant tax break) and the middle class and poor can pay more for health insurance AND taxes.

Congress has decided that transparency is no longer needed.  They work behind closed doors and hold votes before the public and the Democrats in congress can see, read and understand the bills.

The president/dictator glorifies outlets that promote propaganda and hate.

The president/dictator plays golf at a property he owns every weekend, having the government (that’s you and I) pay him for the privilege.

Customs and Immigration officials now routinely hold, question and hassle people of color coming into the US.  This includes green card holders how are legal residents.

The president/dictator’s son in law left off meetings with Russian officials from his security forms.  Since we all know what these meetings were about, this was not an oversight.  It was purposeful and a felony.  Nothing has come of it.

The attorney general lied about meeting with Russian officials in his confirmation hearings.  Later he claimed he forgot.  He forgot a great many things in testimony recently.  If you forgot that many things you’d be fired from any job.  But today it is ok.

The Secretary of Education made sure we knew she paid for her appointment.  She wanted to get her money’s worth.

A man running for congress assaulted a reporter.  Many people now believe the press deserve to be beaten. And he won.

The president/dictator has his spokespeople lie to the press daily.

The president/dictator lies to the American people daily.

The president/dictator used a showy missile strike (it really didn’t accomplish anything) as dinner theater.

The president/dictator had alienated traditional US allies such as Germany and France, while glorifying dictators in Russia, Turkey, North Korea and the Philippines.

The president/dictator openly supported the racist, fascist candidate in the French election.

The president/dictator took the US out the world wide climate accord because, he wanted a better deal.

The president/dictator lied about the previous president spying on him.

With all of this, and I’m sure I have forgotten a few key items, it is no wonder our country is divided, with what seems like few common values.  To many, hating people of color is natural.  Hate crimes are on the rise.  Ethics have gone by the wayside.  Corruption by politicians is now open and accepted.

Recently a man started yelling at two Muslim girls on a Portland train.  When 3 men stood up for the girls, they were stabbed and 2 died.  There was no outrage from the president/dictator.  Race traitors like that deserve death, the white supremacists would claim.  He only made a statement days later when the outcry was loud.  No worry, the racists know he didn’t mean it.

I’m not a huge LeBron James fan, but the man has talent.  He’s also rich.  Yet his Los Angeles mansion was spray painted with hate recently.  It is becoming normal to see this and the outrage is less than it would have been a few years ago.  How can we not be upset?

When white men shoot others, it is an aberration.  When people of color do it, it is terrorism.  This is not new, but now it is more prevalent. Regularly we see videos of people screaming at minorities to “go home” and that they aren’t welcome here.  These are people who were born here, Americans.  America has always been a melting pot. What we didn’t know is that so many people resented that fact.  We now see that many just hid their racism and hate; they are thrilled to be invited into the light.  Racism is part of the new normal.  We have gone back to the 50’s.  How long before someone proposes segregation again?

We can see that the ethics in our leaders have fallen off.  Senators’ wives are given plum administration jobs and their criticisms stop.  We are a partisan country, where one party is about winning at all costs, ethics are for losers. And losers have no say.  We are seeing one party trying to rule, not govern.  This is wrong.

There have been more than 15 ethics waivers for White House staff members, including the one that allows Steve Bannon to continue to have input (let’s be honest, direct) Breitbart, a noted hate site.  When our leaders no longer care to at least pretend to be ethical, what happens to the populace’s idea of right and wrong?  Our societal norms are being destroyed.

Our shared values are no longer shared and we can’t ignore it any more.  One third of the country approves of the job the president/dictator is doing.  This includes inciting hate and removing our freedoms.  Ask the peaceful protestors facing long jail sentences for protesting the inauguration.  This includes the reporters in the area covering the protest.

This was a country founded on religious freedom.  You can believe and practice whatever you choose.  Currently, there are many initiatives underway to change that.  Allowing hate and discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom” is the first step.  This is a major religion forcing everyone to abide by their ancient texts.  Well, at least the portions they choose to read and accept.  This is troubling.

Ask the green card holders tricked into signing away their rights by ICE agents as they returned home.

Ask women in congress who are shut down by their male counterparts.  Women, especially black women, should know their place is the message being sent.

The power in Washington is enacting policies and procedures to redistribute wealth to the wealthiest, harm the poorest and keep minorities held down.  While our nation has never been perfect, and it has a very dark history in regards to race, this bodes poorly.  Our national values are disintegrating before our eyes.

Sadly, I saw this coming.  So did many others.  The majority of the country did not vote for it, yet many are excited by it.  We are about to become a banana republic, ruled by the extremely wealthy.  We now have to acknowledge that as a country we do not have shared values. Freedom was traded for hate.  Blind eyes cast for enrichment.  Many people’s values are formed and honed by the propaganda they chose like Fox, InfoWars and Breitbart.  Don’t be fooled each is based on and steeped in hate and oppression.  Each is an official propaganda outlet of the president/dictator.

It’s hard to ignore the fact that people I know both voted for this and still think it’s the right thing for the country.  I won’t embrace hate and I won’t embrace those that empower hate.  Its ugly now and it won’t end well.  History is written by the victors.  We may have to hope our history is written by another country.