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 plan...to 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 me...it 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 movetoamend.org 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.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Republican Delusion in the Workplace

By: D. DiFrancesco - April 24, 2015

Although this was not the post that I had initially intended, I felt that some venting was in order on my part to maintain my sanity.  

The divide in United States politics is as deep and as wide as I have ever seen it in my lifetime.  This has been primarily fueled by the partisan media in this country over the last number of years.  The saddest part about this is that previously reasonable, intelligent and logical people have bought into the inflammatory rhetoric being spewed by these news outlets without taking a moment to fact check what they are reporting as news.

Today, much to my chagrin, I was within earshot of a conversation initiated by one person to multiple people in my workplace.  And yes, the conversation was, as you can guess, about politics.

First of all, didn’t our mothers tell us that you never discuss religion or politics, and most importantly never at work?  I know that mine did, but obviously my workplace chose to be the exception to that rule.  Unfortunately political discussions occur on a regular basis in the office and even more unfortunate is that many times I am caught up in the middle of them as my co-workers and the owners of the business know that I am “progressive/liberal” leaning.  Being in the minority I take their good hearted ribbing lightly, but today was just too much.

A former company owner who has been retired for a number of years stopped by the office today to say hello.  I have seen this individual around from time to time, but never had the “pleasure” of working for him.  This person, we will call him Bob for the sake of anonymity, wandered back into the section of the office where I work and was speaking to my office mates as they both worked for him at one time.  Almost from the moment he came in he began spewing the most uninformed, unsubstantiated and frankly hateful gibberish about President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Democrats, liberals, progressives and virtually anyone who is not a card carrying Republican.

Now, although I label myself a progressive, I don’t believe that anyone regardless of party should get a free pass if, and only if they are legally proven to have done wrong, have blatantly lied or are thieves.  I realize that politics is about differing opinions, but the things he spoke of such as the President trying to circumvent the law to stay in office for a third term, Hillary Clinton saying that she is a communist and that there are liberal abortionist out in “there” that want to kill children as old as two years under abortion law (yes I realize that this is not abortion but murder), well, you just can’t (or maybe you can) make this stuff up.  There were other things said, but these were the highlights.

What makes a presumably intelligent man think this way?  I frankly don’t know, but what I do know is that he is not alone in his delusion.  There are many others out there, at both ends of the political spectrum that believe with all their hearts that these extremist views are fact.  I find the brainwashing to be quite fascinating and at the same time disturbing.

For the sake of this country and the world, I wish that people would take the time to research things instead of taking them at face value and preaching them like gospel.  I realize these are trying times for each of us and this nation, but an informed citizenry is the key to healing this divide through truth instead of rumor.

I would be interested in hearing if anybody else has experience this regardless of your political beliefs.

Thank you all for reading.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Relaunch of News, Views and Tools - April 22, 2015

Today April 22, 2015, News, Views and Tools will be relaunched posting news and opinions on the state of U.S. and world politics.

In addition, in an effort to be transparent, as my tagline mentions, I tend to view things with a progressive eye though this does not mean that anyone gets a free pass.  There are too many issues confronting the United States and its place in this ever more complex world to blindly follow any one point of view.  No one, regardless of their political affiliation is wrong or right on every issue and therefore their views will be held up for scrutiny.

It is my hope that you will find the writing here at newsviewsandtools.com compelling enough to offer your comments in a reasonable and polite manner.  I look forward to conversing with each one of you in the future.

So here we go!  The first of many new pieces should be up for you review shortly so please check back soon.

Respectfully Your,


Editor and Chief

Friday, October 31, 2014

Officer Darren Wilson Unlikely To Face Civil Rights Charges in Brown Case

According to The Washington Post, it appears highly unlikely that civil rights charges will be levied against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.

Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown on August 9, 2014 resulting in protests and riots by residents.  “The evidence at this point does not support civil rights charges against Officer Wilson,” said one person briefed on the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

Many supporters of Brown fully expected there to be no state-level indictment of Wilson, but they were hoping for a more positive result from the Justice Department after a full and fair review.  According to the Washington Post justice spokesman Brian Fallon said the case remains open and any discussion of its results is premature.  Fallon went on to say, “This is an irresponsible report by The Washington Post that is based on idle speculation.”

Monday, May 7, 2012

Can We Put The Same Sex Marriage Issue To Rest Already! Enough Is Enough!

Vice President Joe Biden
May 7, 2012 By: D.DiFrancesco
Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday he was "absolutely comfortable" with the idea of same-gender marriage.
"I just think that the good news is that as more and more Americans come to understand what this is all about, it is a simple proposition: Who do you love? Who do you love? And will you be loyal to the person who love?" Biden said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
He then followed up with, "I think 'Will and Grace' did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has ever done," , referring to the former NBC comedy.
So what is wrong with the Vice President’s comments?  Nothing!  Whether this is his view or the view of the administration is totally irrelevant.   What it shows is that the Vice President at least, holds the same opinion that most contemporary thinking Americans have, that the LGBT community deserves the same rights and respect that the heterosexual community currently enjoys.
Those that oppose these rights are typically our evangelical brothers and sisters as well as  those otherwise predisposed toward religion intermingling with all things.  These very same individuals will cry for the separation of church and state while plotting to inject their religious views into our public lives.  Unfortunately, you can't have it both ways.
The founding fathers worked very hard to keep their religious views out of the public realm.  Did their views ever influence their decisions...probably simply because they were human, but those such as Thomas Jefferson made a committed effort to avoid religious influence in public policy.  We should do the same at any cost.
Same Sex Marriage - Getty Images/Comstock
Those that take the anti-gay marriage viewpoint are ultimately denying not just marital  rights, but the civil rights of this segment of our population.  Doing so is not going to make them go away, no matter how hard they try.  So why then as a nation shouldn't we embrace them, they are our brothers and sisters, and fellow human beings after all.
Long term, what affect with any of this have on the religious right?  Absolutely none!  Heterosexuals will always be heterosexuals, and homosexuals will still be homosexual.  A marital equality law will in no way change that.  All it will do is give legal rights to same sex partners that they don't currently have.  That in my view, is a good thing and does not infringe on my rights at all, but instead enhances another's life.
Why Vice President Biden's comments have been such a focus of media attention is beyond me.  For all of the flack that he takes for his misstatements, this time I think that he is spot on.
Take religion out of the same sex marriage issue and it becomes a non-issue instantly.  Equal rights are equal rights for all under the constitution so lets separate church and state from the issue, as it should be, and put this to rest once and for all.
What side do you take on the issue?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Education, The Political Pawn That Could Lead To The Downfall Of America

April 27, 2012  By D. DiFrancesco
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." 
Thomas Jefferson
President Thomas Jefferson
For all of his faults, Thomas Jefferson was a huge proponent of free public education up through and including university education.  He viewed educating the populace as one of, if not the most important safeguards to preserving our democracy.
Why is it then that education is always one of the first things that gets put on the chopping block when budget discussions occur.
1786 August 13. (to George Wythe) "I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happiness...Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils [tyranny, oppression, etc.] and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance."
Thomas Jefferson
For the first time in our history, our children are receiving less of an education than previous generations did.  In a country as great as ours, this is an absolute disgrace.
If you want to see examples of this, you need to look no further than this weeks headlines. Contained within you will find examples of our nations educational system being used as a pawn for political gain, and in some cases profit.
The Washington Post reports, House approves student loan plan; White House vows veto over health fund depletion,  Please tell me how bankrupting college students before they even get to truly contribute to society is in this nations best interest!  What we are looking at is the Republican Party tying their student loan plan to an attempt to destroy the President's health care initiative.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Has President Obama Overstepped His Constitutional Authority As Republicans Claim?

President Barack Obama
April 25, 2012
By: D. DiFrancesco
We Can’t Wait - President Obama's slogan signifying the administrations unwillingness to wait for Congress to decide on domestic policy issues.
President Obama is not letting congressional gridlock slow our economic growth.
"Without a doubt, the most urgent challenge that we face right now is getting our economy to grow faster and to create more jobs…. we can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will."
- President Barack Obama, October 24, 2011
Is President Barack Obama's willingness to use all of the tools at his disposal, and in the process bypassing Congress, appropriate in light of the ongoing gridlock caused by the extreme partisanship and inflexibility that exists in the right wing of the Republican Party?
Selfishly, I would say yes, but does history support this?