Thursday, May 5, 2016

Multiculturalism In America (Part 2)

By: D. DiFrancesco

I read a blog post recently that stated that the ideas of multiculturalism and diversity were insanities propagated by “leftist” elites to the detriment of America, I’m paraphrasing of course though my statement accurately represents what was written. I came away from the post a bit taken back for I thought that it was completely off the mark..

I propose that the statement that multiculturalism and diversity are "insanities" is elitist in and of itself.  
What we are doing as a nation is denigrating and minimizing others that look, think and worship differently than we do. We have done this before in our history and as with most things in history we are destined to repeat them. By putting all Muslims collectively, whether good or bad in one basket, we are doing those of the Muslim faith a tremendous disservice as well as ourselves. Unfortunately we seem to be so damned righteous in our own self-importance that as a nation we don't care how we treat or are viewed by others.

I have to wonder how this is helpful in nurturing peace, understanding and cooperation with others around the world?  Not surprisingly we don't live in a bubble as much as some wish that we did. Essentially what we are saying to them is that your way of life is meaningless to us and we as a people are better than you.  

Our presidential candidates, especially on the right, have been trying to convince the American people that it is Christian America against all of Islam, this sounds an awful lot like The Crusades to me without anyone coming out and saying it.  Christianity made Islam its mortal enemy in the dark ages and now much like the Europeans of that time, we are looking to destroy them by taking their countries, their natural resources and their pride and for what...profit just as it has always been.  There is almost nothing we do anymore where there is not some kind of profit motive.

I don't have my head in the sand and I'm not ignorant to the fact that there are some who follow a
twisted interpretation of the Muslim faith that want to kill us, but I think the greater danger is that we are being played by both our politicians and our enemies.  I ask: what is the definition of is "extreme fear" and what is the goal of the terrorist, but to use terror in the pursuit of political aims.  Both our politicians and the terrorists are giving those in power license to take away our freedoms; i.e. the Patriot Act and as a result we have willingly given away our right to privacy all for the promise of safety and security.

Guess what, in life no one can guarantee that, not you, not me and certainly not the U.S. government. And the terrorists, what did they win?  By getting us to change our way of life, they are slowly toppling this once "greatest" nation.  The more freedoms we give away by allowing ourselves to be terrorized, the less we become in the eyes of the world.  Diminishing our influence and minimizing us is likely the ultimate goal of ISIS and others of their ilk, giving them free reign to continue their quest for power.

Multiculturalism and diversity are not to blame for our problems nor do I believe that they are elitist principles, what I do believe however, is that we are to blame for our problems.  Lately we seem to be placing blame on everyone but ourselves.  If it isn't Islam, it is the Mexican people.  I wonder who will be next on our "hit list".  Who won't be blamed is easier to define and my bet, if I were a betting man, is that it won't be us.

This leaves me with only one conclusion, that the losers in this fight between the U.S. and Islam and the premises of multiculturalism and diversity is you and me...the American people.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Multiculturalism In America

By: D. DiFrancesco

“Definition Multiculturalism: is the coexistence of diverse cultures, where culture includes racial, religious, or cultural groups and is manifested in customary behaviors, cultural assumptions and values, patterns of thinking, and communicative styles.”

I think it is disingenuous of Americans to decry multiculturalism when this nation is and always has been the poster child for multiple cultures living within the same border.

This country is comprised of people from every nation and every religious faith on this planet and that to me is what makes this such a wonderful and rich place to live.  Take Little Italy, Chinatown and any other culturally segregated community within the U.S., they are rich with the cultures of the peoples from which they came and no one is attempting to change that.

Unfortunately, many Americans have given in to abject fear and have condemned an entire religion and all of its 1.6 billion people as contrary to what America stands for.  Some of our presidential candidates have done nothing to calm those fears and ground those individuals back in reality, instead
they have stoked the fires of prejudice, racism and hate to the point of barbarism.  How sad it is that a nation of immigrants is now turning their backs on the latest iteration of those looking for protection and a better life.  I am not advocating open borders, nor am I saying that we should allow an unlimited number of individuals to enter as we will need time to absorb them.  This also doesn’t mean that they should not be vetted as best as humanly possible before allowing them to enter the country, but even with this there are no guarantees.  I do however, take exception to denying all peoples of a particular faith from entering simply because of their faith and our irrational fears.  This is just as much religious persecution as Christians are claiming they suffer and it is not the American way no matter how one tries to spin it.

We have always accepted immigrants, as a matter-of-fact my great grandparents were immigrants to this great country and though they never learned english in their lifetimes well enough to make it their
spoken language, their children did. Initially they were not welcomed with open arms to this country, instead they were treated as something lesser, but over a generation they did learn the language and assimilated.  Today, we don’t give Italians a second thought and I’m certain there are dozens of other nationalities that could make the same claim.  To take this a step further, there were Italians that committed terrible acts of violence in this country yet we did not deny every immigrant from Italy entrance. Though I am comparing nationality with religious belief, they are similar and in the end people are people.

Whether we like it or not, we live in a much more connected world, our lives are much more intertwined and distances between peoples are not as great as they once were. This intertwining is only going to accelerate in the coming years.

I propose that foreign policies both diplomatic and covert that meddle in the affairs of sovereign countries with little to no repercussion have clearly come to an end.  Everything we say and everything we do is almost instantaneously broadcast to the world via television and the internet.  The days of America exploiting other countries for their natural resources, namely oil for corporate profit is rapidly coming to a close as well.  Could it be that this greed along with our dismal foreign policies over the past decades have finally caught up with us?  Could it be that these very things are what have created ISIS and other radical factions throughout the world?  To deny this possibility would show nothing more than ignorance and a blatant disregard of the facts.

We cannot go back to the white picket fences and “Leave It To Beaver” times of the 1950’s, technology has taken us too far forward.  Maybe it is time that we embrace multiculturalism instead of fighting it tooth-and-nail, changing the hearts and minds of our adversaries by example instead of bullet. This
does not mean we should not defend ourselves when the need arises, but it should not be our first response to every crisis.  I also do not advocate making every accommodation to a particular culture if it is contradictory or dangerous to our way of life. No, this change won’t happen overnight as much as we would like it to.  We do however, have to start someplace for the sake of our children and our children’s children lest we perpetuate this hatred and violence for generations to come.

I welcome your thoughts on this important issue, but please be courteous as we are all friends here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Thoughts On The December 15, 2015 Republican Debate

By D. DiFrancesco

Although I could only bare to listen to about an hour of the debates last night I came away with a very clear picture of what the republican candidates are offering the American people and that is continued war and ramped up hate and racism.

Wow, these sound like promises that just call me to vote for them...not!  Each one of the candidate is a meaner and nastier war monger than the next rival and I just don’t understand it.  As I see it the Republican Party, over the last bunch of election cycles, has run on platforms of fear and war, they have not offered any solutions nor have they justified why war will solve our problems.  Isn’t war how we got into this mess in the first place.  Clearly they have learned nothing as the perpetuation of war is their solution to everything.

Perhaps new strategies are in order instead of the same-old-same-old.  This morning while listening to the radio show “The Agenda with Ari Rabin-Hovt” on SiriusXM, Ari came up with a great point that I
ISIL in Iraq
wholeheartedly agree with.  He correctly stated that Congress has the authority, as granted by the United States Constitution article 1, section 8, clause 11, to declare war.  As the republicans have control of both houses of Congress, why don’t they just declare war against ISIS and all 1.6 billion Muslims, since they seem to have some general vendetta against them anyway and be done with it. This way they can stop bitching and moaning that President Obama is not doing enough to combat our perceived threats.  My guess is that this will never happen as it would put as least some responsibility on them for our actions.

Please don’t assume that this is my preferred stance on matters of national security or foreign policy, in my view war is not the answer.  I don’t believe that the American military is designed to be able to effectively wage war against unconventional, un-uniformed combatants.  How do you identify them
Senator Ted Cruz
without inflicting an untold numbers of civilian casualties, I don’t think that you can.  This however, is not what some of our Republican candidates believe.  Take Ted Cruz for example, he has been touting carpet bombing as a way of destroying ISIS.  I guess this is because he doesn’t know if “sand can glow”, his words not mine, but clearly he would like to find out.  That is all well and good if ISIS would be the only casualty of this kind of action, but unfortunately that would not be the case and would likely result in nothing more than the further recruitment of new and more dangerous terrorists.  

My firm belief is that a profound change in our foreign policy practices would do far more to stem the the long term attraction of terrorism than military solutions alone ever would.  

First, if we would stop assuming that every nation on earth is ready and willing to embrace democracy we would be so much better off.  Democracy is an alien concept to much of this world.  It is something that must be accepted gradually and called for by the people, not thrust upon them by some foreign power.  

Lastly, deposing rulers of foreign governments and / or installing American chosen puppets has got to stop. This has failed us time-and-again and circled around to bite us in the you know what.  Perhaps there are times where we just need to let things be for stability's sake.  Middle Eastern cultures are very old and very different from our own and therefore need to progress at their own pace and on their own path.

Maybe someday we will learn though I hope it is not the hard way.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

To Allow Refugees Or Not To Allow Refugees...That Is The Question

By D. DiFrancesco

Just like most of you, I too have been pondering the refugee crisis occurring in the Middle East, specifically Syria in light of the “terrorist” attack in San Bernadino as well as the statement by Republican front-runner Donald Trump, that he will stop all immigration of Muslims into the U.S….”temporarily”.

I have come to the conclusion that just as I believe with all of my heart that you have the right under
Syrian Refugees
the first amendment to say what you please, I don’t necessarily think that you always should.  This same logic can be applied to the discussion of Muslim refugees, in that although there is nothing constitutionally that binds us to accepting refugees or immigrants, it does not mean that we shouldn’t.  

Accepting refugees should be contingent on us vetting them the most thoroughly that we can.  This means that we should not make our borders so porous that just anyone can get through.  What it also means is that we need to take a sensible approach to immigration, tightening up policies where they need to be tightened, such as they relate to our visa programs, but not broadly saying that no Muslims will be permitted to enter the U.S.  Never in our nation’s history have we broadly used religion as a reason for denying refugees entrance.  With Trump’s statement we are excluding more than 1.6 billion people from a multitude of countries entrance all because we are afraid of the Muslim faith.

In the immediate aftermath of this shooting Anderson Cooper of CNN asked a federal official if we should have asked Tashfeen Malik, the Pakistani born wife of Syed Rizwan Farook and co-gunman in this terrorist act whether she had been radicalized (I’m paraphrasing).  Does anyone in their right mind think that that question would have been answered honestly by someone wishing to do harm to America, I don’t think so.

What it comes down to is that if Donald Trump or anyone else believes that the halting of all Muslim immigration will be only “temporary” they are fooling themselves.  If they believe that 100 percent accuracy is possible in the screening process or that there will never be another terrorist act committed on American soil then they are again fooling themselves.  Nothing in this life is guaranteed and immigration is certainly no exception to the rule.

The fact that Syed Rizwan Farook was an American born citizen is concrete proof of that.

Dangerous Times Call For Cooler Heads And The Top 3 Republicans Aren't It

By D. DiFrancesco

As we encroach on a new year which will bring us a short eleven months until the 2016 Presidential election, I have to admit I am dismayed by what I am seeing out of the candidates on the right and by what I am seeing in the behaviors and attitudes of my fellow Americans.

In full disclosure, I am a liberal, progressive, lefty or any of a dozen other names that you may wish to use, but I am not unrealistic nor uncompromising in any of my views if they will benefit the majority of Americans in a positive way without taking a step backwards in time.  This brings me to my concerns as they relate to the top three candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination.

Let us start with the GOP front runner, billionaire Donald Trump.  Mr. Trump is running a self-funded campaign which he claims makes him beholden to no one.  While this may be true as it relates to
Image Courtesy:
external entities, he is beholden to the only person that he truly cares about and that is himself.  This self-funding, although refreshing seems to have granted him license to say whatever crazy misguided thoughts that happen to come into his mind at any given time. There are numerous examples of this such as his statement that he will build a tremendous wall on our southern border and have Mexico pay for it, he will deport all 12,000,000 undocumented immigrants that reside in this country, Mexico is primarily sending us their rapists and murderers and his latest, he is going stop all immigration of Muslims into this country.  None of these things can or will be done, they are impractical, unaffordable, un-Constitutional and or just a lie, but he has, as he refers to them “fans” that believe in him 100 percent.  He includes in this group blacks, women, Muslims and the LGBT community claiming that they all love him all-the-while spewing hate speech toward them.

Beyond this, Donald Trump is above all else one of the 1 percent, the economic elite.  He is about as self absorbed as one can get. What makes these blue collar working class people fall in love with someone who is part of the cause of our nation’s dysfunction and their downfall? It can only be ignorance in my view. If they believe that Trump cares even a little bit about their condition they are blind, mark my words, he only cares about Donald Trump and to Hell with the rest of us.

Politifact took a look at all of Donald Trump’s statements thus far during his campaign and found that exactly 0 percent of his statements were completely true while only 7 percent of what he says were mostly true.  This is capped by the fact that 22 percent are “Pants on Fire” lies and 39 percent of his rhetoric is completely false.  I suppose that we could refer to him as the Teflon Don since nothing he says, no matter how outrageous, inflammatory or an outright lie seems to affect him.  This in my opinion make this man very, very dangerous.  What he says not only brings out the worst in our fellow citizens, but he is setting us up for a foreign policy disaster all before he has even become his party's nominee.

Next on the list is the fiery evangelical Christian from Texas, Senator Ted Cruz.  The combination of evangelical Christianity and national politics is a highly volatile combination.  Mr. Cruz’s religious beliefs along with his unwavering views on everything from women’s reproductive rights to gun rights makes him a dangerous exclusionary force.  His views do not come close to representing the desires of the majority of Americans, but as he has shown over the past number of months, he does not care.  He has gained ground on the formidable Donald Trump, and has recently passed the former number 2 Dr. Ben Carson in the national polls. The draw of Cruz is quite perplexing in my mind; his ideas are fringe and will take civil and women’s rights back to the 19th century, he along with Trump want to pack the Supreme Court with ultra-conservative right wing justices that will only represent a small minority of Americans while reversing many progressive decisions that have been hard fought for over the decades, he is an extreme gun rights advocate, just look at his machine gun bacon video and he would love to inject theocratic ideals into the White House.  This will be the downfall of America as we know it.

Lastly, Dr. Ben Carson, what can be said about him?  Dr. Carson is a different breed of candidate, he is a renowned neurosurgeon and 7th Day Adventist with strong religious views that he spouts at every opportunity.  He has no political or foreign policy experience which I can only assume makes him attractive to many Americans who are looking for a Washington outsider.  He certainly is not like anyone we have seen before in modern day politics.  

This uniqueness may also prove to lead to his ultimate demise.  His lack of experience and peculiar mannerisms and views are gradually causing his poll numbers to drop.  Concerns over his lack of foreign policy experience and his unassuming personality do not lend well to a persona of strength.  Over the next few months we are likely to see Ben Carson sink in the ranks making room for a more seasoned politician, such as Marco Rubio to rise into the top 3, but we will have to wait and see if Ben can make a bet is against him.

Whether you like our current president or not, I firmly believe that he has tried to do what is right for this nation.  No, he has not always succeeded, nor has he been perfect, but I believe history will show that he tried and had some great successes.  Let’s face it, he has been hammered by the media and the right wing since the very first day he took office.  I don’t know if it is because he is African-American, or that his name is Barack Hussein Obama, or that he had little prior political experience, but regardless, he has been far less destructive to this nation than any of the Republicans mentioned above will be.  

America has a very short memory, Bush and Cheney got us into the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they toppled leaders and destabilized the entire region, they are the reason that we have got ISIS to deal with today and for what...oil, oil and more oil.  There is no other reason that we would have an interest in that region of the world unless there was something economically beneficial to this nation.  These wars were started under false pretenses and yet when it came time for a change of administrations, Bush and Cheney were ushered out as heroes while Obama was inaugurated as the villain.  How does any of this make sense.

Now as we approach the end of President Obama’s second term there is little that can be done to right the wrongs that he has endured or to unchain the obstructionism that he has faced his entire presidency.  Instead we can only hope that cooler heads prevail in the upcoming election and that we elect another democrat, either Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Martin O’Malley in 2016.  None of the democratic three are perfect, Hillary comes with an incredible amount of baggage and history, though much of it I believe is fabricated for political gain by her opponents, Bernie proudly wears his democratic socialist badge as he always has which is a misunderstood by much of America and Martin is relative unknown, but a staunch progressive.  

No matter how you slice the political pie, any of the democratic candidates are immeasurably better than anyone being offered by the Republican Party in 2016 whether you choose to believe it or not.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Donald Trump Outlines Plan To Combat Illegal Immigration

By D. DiFrancesco

So here are just a few of its highlights:

He will build a wall along our southern border with Mexico and somehow he is going to make them pay for it.  How that will happen is unclear.  Strong-arming another country does not typically work when it comes to the exchange of cash so for all of his blustering I doubt he will be able to fulfill #1 on his list.

He is going to defend the laws and Constitution of the United States.  Well now isn’t that special...isn’t that exactly what the President of the United States is supposed to do.  Many on the right will argue that President Obama did follow this rule, but in fact he did.  They may not like it, but he in fact did act lawfully.  But I digress. Mr. Trump will triple the number of ICE officers paying for this by eliminating tax credit payments to illegal immigrants.  I’m not certain what we are talking about in real dollars and cents here, but to his credit he at least has offered some method of paying for the additional manpower.  

He will implement nationwide e-Verify.  This has been around for many years (since 1996) and never been made mandatory.  Mr. Trump is not offering anything new program here.  This in my opinion has always been one of the best ways to combat illegal immigration.  If you eliminate their means of employment then in most cases you eliminate their reason for coming here illegally in the first place.  There is such harsh rhetoric lodged at illegal immigrants, but we have not been holding employers responsible for their actions.  Now is certainly the time to make this a mandatory program as it always should have been..

He is committing to end birthright citizenship.  Mr. Trump references a Rasmussen Report piece from 2011 claiming that voters, by a 2:1 margin are in favor of ending birthright citizenship for children born here by illegal immigrants.  While this is compelling, it flies in the face of his promise to defend our laws and our Constitution.   As it stands, the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution precludes him from following through on this promise.

Ultimately the question is how does the U.S. deal with the illegal immigrants already here.  Trump has proposed nothing short of rounding them up, while keeping families together and deporting them.  This in my opinion is neither practical nor possible.  The resources in manpower, equipment and time make this not only a daunting task, but an impossible one as well regardless of what he says.  The most logical way to proceed is to provide a logical path to citizenship as many even on the right have expressed in the past.

In the end, although he has made an attempt to offer something to his supporters that they may find presidential he offers it with clear racist undertones.  He continues to accuse the Mexican government of sending us their criminals.  I am very confident saying that the vast majority of individuals that cross the border illegally are doing it to make a better life for themselves and their families not to commit crimes as Trump is implying.  Yes, there have been several instances where an illegal immigrant has been deported and come back across the border to commit heinous crimes, but this is not the norm. Really--what do you think the likelihood is that Mexico is putting their undesirables on a bus and dropping them off at our border?  I for one think it is highly unlikely.  And lastly his plan to defy the 14th amendment by ending birthright citizenship would create a huge legal battle that could last for many years as well as requiring a change to a longstanding amendment that was hard fought to achieve almost 150 years ago.  No matter how distasteful this may be to some people, until changed it is the law of the land.

Let’s see what other “terrific” plans Mr. Trump comes up with over the coming weeks.  I for one will be waiting with baited breath.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Republican Presidential Candidates Continue to Disparage Obamacare, But They Are Wrong

By D. DiFrancesco

Republicans have been relentless in their attempts over the past couple of years to repeal the Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare.

A countless number of votes in Congress along with numerous court challenges to have Obamacare repealed have essentially been fruitless resulting in the act becoming the law of the land.  Those most vocal about the law are those who are least affected by it.  If you have an employer sponsored health plan or Medicare you very unlikely to be affected at all, but if you listen to Fox News you would think that nearly every American is paying more or in many of their reported cases, an exorbitantly higher amount for insurance than they were before.  This in fact is blatantly false.  Yes, you may be paying more for insurance if you chose not to have insurance in the first place or if your plan was sub-par though those that fall into this category are in the minority.

I for one have been in favor of the Affordable Care Act from its inception.  I have a decent health insurance plan that is sponsored by my employer and that I still contribute toward on a monthly basis to the tune of approximately $700 per month yet I still benefit from portions of the act.  I am able to provide insurance for my under 26 year old children at a much lower rate than what they would pay on their own and I appreciate the fact that preexisting conditions can not be held against you should you change jobs or insurance plans.  I can’t imagine that anyone would not like these benefits of the ACA.

Those that preferred the pre-ACA healthcare environment don’t seem to realize that requiring insurance of every American can only help.  Individuals that didn’t have insurance or only had sub-par insurance were generally obligated to go to their local emergency rooms for care in the case of illness.  Typically these individuals left the hospitals stuck with a bill that they could not and would not pay.  These costs are then passed on to...guess and me through higher insurance premiums and higher costs for medical services.

Ultimately I would have preferred that we took this to the point of providing universal healthcare for all.  We already have it for seniors through the Medicare system.  We simply would need to eliminate the age restrictions on this plan and expand it to everyone.  

I recently was confronted with the typical argument that “we don’t want a plan like they have in Canada, you know the Canadians don’t like it”, but in fact that is nothing but a Republican talking point.  Of all developed countries there are only two that don’t have universal healthcare provided to their citizens and guess who those two are, they are the United States and tiny Belarus.  I also looked at life expectancy around the world and the United States comes in at a dismal #42 on the list while Canada, with the plan that Republicans tell us no one likes is #14.

I suppose that as usual the United States is right while every other developed nation in the world is wrong.

I don’t think so.

The Trump Phenomenon

By: D. DiFrancesco

I find the political climate today quite fascinating, just look at “The Donald Trump Phenomenon” that we are all living through. It is the first campaign of its type for the office of President and  provides, if nothing else, a unique look into the psyche of at least a portion of the Republican Party.

Mr. Trump, a self-proclaimed billionaire has been nothing short of arrogant, abrasive and in your face and yet he leads in the early polls and not by a small margin.  He has left the other candidates scrambling to grab a piece of the limelight or be buried under six feet of the Trump ego.  Take Ted Cruz and his “machine-gun bacon” stunt.  Although somewhat intriguing, it brought Cruz little in the way of percentage gains on Trump’s sizeable lead.  Ultimately the current state of the Republican race has turned into a “who can be more outrageous than Trump competition”, one which no one is more masterful at than Trump himself.

The Fox News Republican Debate, the most watched debate in history with 24 million viewers was nothing if not unconventional with Trump rubbing the face of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus in the mud and daring him to do anything about it.  

The first question of the debate was clearly aimed at pinning Mr. Trump into a corner.  The candidates were asked to raise their hands if they would support whomever was the Republican Party nominee and as expected Donald Trump did not raise his hand.  He stated that he would only support a nominee if he respected him otherwise he would not make that promise. This statement caused the audience to erupt in boos, but coming from Trump, what did they expect.  

Taking things a step further he doubled down on his inappropriate comments about Rosie O’Donnell, he took shots at Fox moderator Megan Kelly and called his fellow candidates stupid and losers amongst other things.  He also had no issue whatsoever attacking fellow candidate and libertarian Rand Paul questioning his tactics and self aggrandizing grandstanding which as you can imagine did not sit well with him. And again, even with all of Donald Trump’s bellicose antics he is leading in the polls and seems to be gaining in popularity.  I can only assume that he is also taking jabs at “The Apprentice” for saying “You’re fired!” and then creating one of the greatest pieces of reality TV ever...namely his own Presidential campaign.

So what we can learn from Donald Trump’s rising popularity?  We learn that there is an element of the Republican Party that is angry, angry that they haven’t been openly able to show their racism, namely their hatred of immigrants.  They need someone to blame for their stations in life so they seek diversion in attacks on women, finding humor in the hideous things Mrs Trump says and attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement dismissing them as little more than thugs though not said in so many words.  This one time pro-single payer proponent now Obamacare hater, promises to repeal the popular and at least partially successful plan drawing in those voters that refuse to accept the reality that the ACA is legal and the law of the land.  They revel in Trump’s statements of the obvious.  He points out that jobs are being shipped out of the country by the terrible trade deals that have been negotiated by our government over the years.  He wants to close the southern border with Mexico to keep the “illegals” out though I don’t believe that he has much experience with the state of our southern border.  He loves to state how he is the only one to come out against the war in Iraq, yet he has never been anything but a private citizen so his for or against vote really carries no weight.  Regardless, Trump receives cheers and standing ovations for his stance regardless of how outrageous it is.

I guess my fascination with Trump to this point is that he can gain such a following while having offered not one single solution.  When asked about his plans for any number of issues he simply answers that his plans will be huge, terrific or spectacular with not one single specific. Even his evasive answers are not enough to dissuade his followers.  This fact leads me to believe that the mainstream media is underestimating Trump’s candidacy.  They are calling him a flash in the pan, but if his wealth is anywhere near what he so vociferously claims that it is, he can stay in this thing to the very end regardless of what the RNC wants him to do and it appears that at least for now his followers, like the “Mexican people”, love him.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see, so get your popcorn, sit back and watch the greatest show on earth...The Trump Phenomenon.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dinner With Conservatives....Well Sort Of

By: D. DiFrancesco
In an odd twist, I am traveling for work in southeastern Arizona and while sitting down to dinner I had the pleasure, or should I say pain, of listening to the conversation of other diner. Unfortunately this almost always tends to make my blood boil.  What amazes me is that these individuals were throwbacks to the Reagan era even though two of the four individuals were not even alive at the time of Reagan’s administration.
They wholeheartedly bought into the idea that the majority of the country that needed government assistance was mooching off of the government.  As many know, but choose to ignore is code for black folks feeding off of the government roles. When confronted with their views they inevitably prove that they are script almost exclusively by Fox News.
They love to say that so-and-so is on public assistance and is making shy of $100 of what I am making working 45 hours per week.  In my opinion, if you are only making $100 more than someone on public assistance then you need to find a new job.  This my friends is your fault.  What makes anyone think that those on public assistance are making a fortune, my friends, it just is not true.  This is not the way to become rich and if you think that it is you are just fooling yourselves.
These same individuals who also love to claim that “Obamacare”, the Affordable Care Act is costing them a fortune.  If it is then their previous plan, or the plan that they never had was crap.  I for one am paying more for my family health insurance than what these individuals claimed to pay and I am still quite happy with it especially because of the added benefits that the ACA affords us. Honestly if I had my way I would love to have a single payer healthcare system in this country, but that is a virtual impossibility with the state of our nation’s Republican Party.
America loves to believe in the “impossible dream” that everyone can be as successful as they choose to be.  This is a fairytale, the average citizen will never be anything more than a laborer, regardless of their skill level.  This however, should not diminish their worth to society, nor should it prohibit them from make MORE than a living wage.  In this country we have allowed the wealth to dictate our worth to society.  They have repeated done everything in their power to minimize our value, yet we refuse to see that we are just pawns in their game.  We vote for the candidates of their choosing, believing that they care about our state in life…what fools we are.
Show me a Republican that cares about us.  Show me a Republican whose platform doesn’t revolve around tax cuts.  You think that these tax cuts are for your benefit, but look closely, look at what they offer and you will find that the only ones they benefit are corporations and the very wealthy.  This deeply saddens me.
Take a moment and look at what they are offering you and you will find that ultimately they offer you nothing.

Taking Pause to Ponder the State of our Nation

This post unfortunately is not a terribly upbeat, but I promise to write more positive posts in the months to come as we approach, what I deem as probably the most important election of my lifetime.

I am taking pause as I have been prone to do quite frequently these days.  I am pondering the direction our country is taking and it is quite troubling to me indeed.  

This world we are living in is uncertain, there is no disputing this fact.  We are being told to fear enemies that we do not understand based upon the word of our government and the mainstream media.  This mainstream media was entrusted to provide the American people with unbiased reporting of the events that stand to shape our lives, but they are failing.  We find them to be evermore sensationalistic.  They refuse to report on issues that are important to an informed citizenry in exchange for ever higher television ratings. Equal time has been pushed aside for partisan reporting which serves to give the viewers just what they want to hear when they want to hear it.

We have media on both ends of the political spectrum being used by political strategists to further their parties agendas.  We have well know examples on both sides of the political spectrum, Fox News on the right and MSNBC on the left.  These two entities primarily fill their prime time television slots with talking heads that carry a particular party line as though it is gospel, regardless of the truth. Unfortunately the American public has not taken it upon themselves to try to discern fact from fiction.  Instead Americans have bought into these one sided story lines, with each side looking at the other as an adversary that must be defeated at any cost.

What most don’t realize is that the wealthy and powerful are sitting in their ivory towers laughing at the average man, laughing because their money has bought these once cherished institutions and we as consumers are believing exactly what their money wants them to say.

We have been “told” to believe that endless tax cuts are going to revitalize the economy and create jobs in this country, but if one looks at history, the most prosperous times in America were times where corporate and personal taxes on the wealthiest of us were highest.  Have we not seen that when our politicians who are bought and paid for by the most privileged of us enact substantial tax cuts they typically only benefit the richest individuals and corporations in our country.  The difference is then made up by taxing, at ever greater rates, those that can least afford it, the working poor and middle class.  It happens over and over again and then these same politicians tell you who to blame for your station in life.  This is their gradually hand over the reigns of this country to those with means, providing them with ever more wealth all the while destroying those that are their means to said wealth, the working poor and the middle class.

Then we have been convinced by right wing politicians and the right wing media that America’s labor unions are evil, look at what has been done by Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin.  He has justified his assault on labor unions by making it illegal for unions to collect dues from non-union workers working in a union environment. He has turned his state into a “right-to-work” state in spite of lobbying done by Wisconsin’s workers.  Workers in these states now have little protection from being victimized by their employers.  

What most people today don’t realize is that union on not, the rights that you have as a worker in this country today are because of our labor unions. Just think of your 40 hour work week, workplace safety and child labor laws and say thank you to your local labor union, they are responsible for these and much more.. What is unfortunate is that our memory in this country is short.  If you think that the labor rights that unions have afforded us won’t be reversed over time by those that stand to benefit most, the wealthy, then you are living in a fantasy world. Workers rights are not in the corporation's best interest so why would they voluntarily choose to keep rules in place that would benefit you and costs them money.  And lets face it, profits are their only motive in this distorted capitalist system that we live in.  Sadly, workers are backing in droves these union busting politicians at the expense of the own livelihoods, this makes no sense, but it is none-the-less happening across this country.

Next we have the takeover our our election process.  The brothers Koch are set to spend close to a billion dollars both directly and indirectly during the 2016 election cycle.  Please, please do not think for a second that they don’t expect to receive something in return. They are counting on convincing, or better put perhaps, brainwashing enough Americans to vote for candidates that they have paid for through their campaign contributions.  These candidates you can bet, are willing to propose and or back legislation that is favorable to their interests and it is very likely that their interests will not align with yours. You are fooling yourselves if you think that they can relate to your life, they cannot. The Koch’s and other of their ilk are spending voraciously to influence the outcomes of our elections.  Many of the ads that you see and hear are paid for in full or in part by these members of the billionaire class all thanks to the Citizens United decision made by the Supreme Court.

On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government. Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions.

The primary group working to overturn this ruling via a Constitutional amendment is whose statement of purpose is:

“We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United and other related cases, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.  The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule.”

It is not fiction, nor a conspiracy theory put out into the media by liberals that the wealthy and corporations are buying our elections, it is a fact based on this and other rulings by our very own Supreme Court.  

Regardless of your political persuasion, you cannot possibly believe that our founding fathers ever intended for corporations to be considered on equal footing with you and I.  Corporations are simply legal entities that can be created and dissolved by the state, they are not living breathing beings.  That being said, common sense should dictate that corporations should have no access to our election system and certainly should have no part in influencing an election’s outcome.  They should not be able to make contributions to any campaign either directly or through political action committees (PACs) as large sums of money contributed by these entities tend to corrupt the election process.  As a result, even the most well intentioned politician becomes beholden to these behemoths.

Lastly, I would like to touch on the awful trade agreements that the United States has signed such as NAFTA, CAFTA and the currently “top secret” TPP agreement that President Obama is negotiating.  Every one of these trade agreements has contributed to American jobs being shipped overseas.  We have given unfair advantage to foreign nations by eliminating or reducing tariffs so substantially in America, that we can no longer compete with foreign manufacturers. These agreements are being urged once again by American corporations.  

Take a moment and think about it, who is it that would benefit the most from these agreements? It is not the American worker as they are the ones suffering from the fallout of these trade agreements, they are the ones losing their jobs, they are the ones who become the long term unemployed or underemployed.  It is corporations and the wealthy that benefit most.  These entities can have their goods produced overseas in countries where employees are paid pennies a day, work 12 hour workdays and have no protections.  Beholden only to their shareholders, they will do whatever it takes to increase profits regardless of who gets hurt in the process.

I could continue on with other examples of what I consider to be contributing to the downfall of America, but I think I have made my point.

We spend this past 4th of July celebrating by barbecuing, drinking and enjoying fireworks in honor of America’s independence, but this America is not what the founding fathers could have ever imagined.  We have given our freedom and independence away to corporations and the wealthy on a silver platter.  So many of us vote against our own best interests just as the elite hoped we would do.  We have become a nation of Zombies, contributing to our own destruction through our disinterest in the political process.  We no longer read in an attempt to try to understand the issues that plague this country, instead we watch and listen to partisan news never taking the time to hold them the least bit accountable.

Do not read this and assume that I don’t love my country, I do in fact love my country deeply, I’m just not proud of the direction that we have been heading over the last 30+ years

I am taking time to mourn all that we have already lost and all that we have yet to lose.  I will however, hope that Americans will wake up and realize that this coming Presidential election is about more than just electing a President, it is about the potential appointment of 3 to 4 Supreme Court justices and ultimately the survival of our Republic.  It is entirely possible that we will hand the billionaire class the keys to the kingdom if we don’t wake up and realize that they are fleecing America for their own benefit.  If we don’t stand up to these behemoths before it is too late, we will have no one to blame, but ourselves.

I look forward to your thoughts and comments in general regardless of whether you agree or not, just please be civil as I enjoy having intelligent conversations with my readers.