Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Our Minds Matter--Our Lives Matter--Our Votes Matter

 Think For Yourself!
by C.A. Matthews

It's time to start thinking for ourselves, America!  It's time to stop taking the establishment at its word and trusting things will "turn out for the best" if we  keep our heads down and try hard not to be noticed. Deep down you know it doesn't work that way.

Our guest blogger this week shows us what can happen when we allow a self-centered oligarch like the Tangerine Tyrant Trump take a position of power and play with our health care under the ACA. Our health, our very lives will be compromised; our freedom of choice and the control over our own bodies negated--especially if we are female. 

When the establishment forces us into a corner and make us feel powerlessness, is it really surprising our voting system has become compromised as well? A real life example of how far the establishment is willing to go to prevent progressive change on a local level is given, along with an update on the Recount 2016 from Jill Stein's campaign. The powers-that-be want to control and manipulate the popular vote.  Yes, the elite 1% fears we of the 99% that much. They might not cherish our minds and bodies, but they are very wary of our abilities to take action. And we are capable of action against them... Decisive action. Keep that thought in mind. When we value ourselves and our abilities, we have greater power than those who try to control us.
It's no time for tears. It's time to fight back. Knowledge is the first step. Read, discuss, comment and share this blog with others. They can't shut down our conversations off line quite as easily as they block them online, you know?

Our minds matter. The establishment wouldn't try to brainwash us so much into thinking otherwise if they didn't. Be true to yourself. Think for yourself. You might just like the world you help create. After all, it'll be a world made in our image, not theirs.

Trump's Latest Gambit: 
by Bern Notice

President Trump is at it again. If there is anything that should be crystal clear about his agenda, it is that he clearly does not like Obama-care (a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act). Despite his efforts to push the current Republican Congress to repeal it, he has come up short in every single attempt.

Now he is continuing his attempts to undermine it, likely in hopes to sway the public to put greater pressure on Congress to repeal it. The latest effort is less about popularity as it is about throwing red meat to the evangelical wing within the Republican party.
On Friday, the administration made one of its boldest moves yet, with two memos from multiple agencies that would dramatically curtail women’s access to birth control through their employers. The new regulations, effective immediately, would exempt all employers and insurers from covering or paying for coverage of contraceptives if they object “based on its sincerely held religious beliefs,” or have other “moral convictions” against covering such care.
Source: The Atlantic - Trump Reverses Obama Rule on Birth Control
Birth control is a method of preventing pregnancies which in turn prevent abortions. How is it productive to do away with birth control in health insurance?

Problem #1: Birth control isn't just for preventing pregnancies.

Contraceptives, specifically birth control pills, are not just a matter of birth control. They are also used to relieve pain that comes with heavy menstruation, lessens bleeding during periods, and help regulate them for women who need it. Doing away with contraceptives effectively leaves women who are using birth control for these means to suffer needlessly. This particularly falls under health care. Feel free to check into it yourself.
Source: WebMD.com - Other Uses for Birth Control

The ability to deny contraceptive/ birth control option in health insurance is also counter-productive to what evangelicals say they are worried about--abortions. If pregnancies are prevented from happening, there are fewer abortions. This is a good thing, particular for adults who either aren't interested in having, or are financially and emotionally ill equipped to have, children. According to a 2012 study by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis:
From 2008 to 2010, annual abortion rates among study participants ranged from 4.4 to 7.5 per 1,000 women. This is a substantial drop (ranging from 62 to 78 percent) compared to the national rate of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women in 2008, the latest year for which figures are available. The lower abortion rates among Choice study participants also is considerably less than the rates in St. Louis city and county, which ranged from 13.4 to 17 per 1,000 women for the same years.
Among girls ages 15 to 19 who had access to free birth control provided in the study, the annual birth rate was 6.3 per 1,000, far below the U.S. rate of 34.3 per 1,000 for girls the same age.
Source: Washington University School of Medicine (2012) - Access to Free Birth Control Reduces Abortion Rates
Further, The Guardian reports:
The rate of abortion in the US reached a lower level in 2014 than in any other year since the procedure first became legal, a study has found, a decline that appears to be due to the widespread use of contraception producing a drop in unintended pregnancies.
Nineteen percent of pregnancies ended in abortion in 2014 – the lowest abortion rate since the supreme court handed down Roe v Wade in 1973, legalizing the procedure – and the number of abortions between 2011 and 2014 also fell, by 12%.
But the researchers found strong indications to link the decline in the abortion rate to the wider availability of highly effective contraception – which could be imperiled by efforts to repeal Obamacare by the incoming Republican administration.
Source: The Guardian - US abortion rate is lowest since Roe v Wade – but contraception access may go
Abortion Gutmacher
Image from: The Guttmacher Institute - U.S. Abortion Rate Continues to Decline, Hits Historic Low
Later it continues...
Some data – such as trends in contraception usage – that could help determine the reasons for the decline are not yet available for 2014. Still, the researchers predicted that the drop in the abortion rate had less to do with new restrictions than with changes in contraception usage and a reduction in unintended pregnancies. One clue is that more than 60% of the decline in the abortion rate took place in states that had not enacted new hurdles to getting the procedure.
If the drop is due to contraception, it would have alarming implications for Republicans’ breakneck campaign to repeal the ACA. The law says that most health insurance plans must cover a broad range of contraceptive drugs and devices at no copay – the so-called contraception mandate. Public health advocates have credited this provision with an explosion in women’s access to more affordable and more effective birth control.
Source: The Guardian - US abortion rate is lowest since Roe v Wade – but contraception access may go
So based on all of the above information, it is logical to conclude that the removal of the contraception mandate has a very good chance of increasing abortion. If you're an evangelical who supports this, how does this make sense? If you care so much about the aborting of fetuses, would it not be logical to prevent them in the first place? How does this end in a win for you?

Problem #2: Good Ol' Religious hypocrisy

Another problem with this decision starts with the decision to base contraceptive access in health care based on "religion." I could go into the establishment clause added to the First Amendment, but some will have a different point of view on it. The problem is that once you make an exception for one religious group in reference to secular law, you now lay the groundwork for other laws to be catered to other religious groups.

To demonstrate the point, let's change the religion and circumstance. Let's assume for a moment that we substitute evangelical Christians with Jehovah's Witnesses. Let's assume that you and your family work for and are covered by health insurance provided by a business owned by a Jehovah's Witness. You and your loved one are driving to a movie, then your car is hit at an intersection.
You're ferried away to the hospital to tend to your wounds, and you've lost a lot of blood. The doctors state that you need a blood transfusion, but you can't get one because your insurance doesn't cover blood transfusions. Your employer opted out because they are against his firmly held religious belief. Does this still make sense to you?

The point here is that practice of your religion is fine. Declining coverage for yourself because of your beliefs are fine. When your beliefs are used as a means of depriving others of their rights, that's a problem. Your right to practice your personal faith ends where another persons life and beliefs begin. Otherwise, we are no longer a republic governed by the rule of law. We become a theocracy.

Part #3: What's in YOUR wallet?

The last issue that I will address (although there are a myriad of other problems) is the myth that this saves money for the tax payer. I must call "b.s." on that because while it saves money in the short term, it is vastly more expensive in the long term. If birth control isn't made available, particularly in low income areas, it ends in one of two ways:
  1. The mother has an abortion, to which we refer to part #2, or
  2. The mother gives birth to a child.
While it may sound hunky dory with the "individual responsibility" crowd, let's carry this forward to the logical conclusion. If the parents happen to find a way to climb out of poverty, that's great. Unfortunately, the odds are that they will not. So the parents have to raise a child, when they can barely support themselves. This leads to having to get tax payer funded support for the parents and child in the form of WIC, Food Stamps and other programs to keep them afloat.

If the parents can't cope, they turn their child over to foster care, which again will rely on tax dollars. If not, they may abuse or kill the child, which lands the parents in jail,  and if the child survives, the child is placed in foster care--both of which cost tax payer money.

If the parent can cope, then the child goes to school, most likely public school, since private school costs money that the parents likely don't have. Hopefully the child stays on the straight and narrow and the child becomes a productive adult. If not, and the child gets in trouble, you now have another resident of the prison system.
Conservative Logic Birth to Jail

So where does the savings come from by cutting birth control? Even in the most optimistic setting, a child born costs more money when compared to having birth control freely available to keep things as they were.

What is the end game here? Based on available data, abortions will likely go up with the mandatory birth control mandate being repealed. So, it doesn't make sense logically from a evangelical point of view. It doesn't add up financially, because in the long run it costs more to not have the mandate that it would to simply keep it. If you have an ounce of integrity in your body, you know that this simply opens up Pandora's Box in terms of religious exemptions for secular laws. If you don't and have no problem with it, I don't want to hear you complain when someone from another faith calls for an exception to government policy.

At the end of the day, this is just chum for Trump's base. Nothing else logically adds up. Sooner or later, they need to understand that this extremely short term "win" will end up being a major loss in the long term. The fact is this really hurts more people than it helps.

BIO: Bern Notice fights for the hearts and minds of Americans through his progressive insights and arguments. Check out his blog here.


From Ohio Green Party organizer and former senate candidate Joe DeMare:

"Well, for me this is a nail in the coffin for the idea that Facebook can be used as a catalyst for social change. I've fought with countless trolls; they don't daunt me. But, I bought Facebook advertising for our Green Party candidate for Bowling Green city council-at-large, Beverly Ann Keeling Elwazani, and had a shocking experience. 

The ad was doing great for the first few days; almost a 1,000 views through advertising and with a high percentage of sharing, over 2,000 views altogether. Not bad for a municipality of only 30,000 people. Then, the numbers stopped going up. I couldn't understand it. 

Now I see that the numbers stopped increasing because Facebook simply stopped showing the ads. They left about 2/3 of the money I had budgeted unspent. In the meantime, they kept running ads for our Democratic Party opponents. I still see them every day. Facebook is not supposed to pick winners and losers in political campaigns. This sucks."

The establishment will do whatever it takes to remain in power--even blocking lowly Facebook ads. Don't forget to put on your "thinking caps" and question those in authority. Double-check their math. The following report from the Jill Stein campaign about Recount 2016 demonstrates this well. 

Jill 2016

In a country that proudly calls itself a democracy, the question we raised with the 2016 recount effort was simple: do we have an election system we can trust, that is accurate, secure and just?

So far, the answer is a resounding NO.

In an age of commonplace computer security breaches - from the WannaCry ransomware intrusions into energy, health care and transportation, to the Equifax hack into hundreds of millions of credit accounts - it's astounding that the security of our voting technology has still not been verified.

To put it simply, an un-recountable election is a blank check for fraud and malfeasance. It is a guarantee that elections cannot and will not be verified.

For that reason, we continue to fight in the court of law and the court of public opinion for a just and verifiable voting system we can trust!

At the Democracy Convention in August, a number of leaders from the recount effort reported on key findings, ongoing challenges and lessons learned from the recount effort so far.

Legal action continues in Pennsylvania, and we are still working with the Wisconsin Election Commission to get important information about voting machines in Wisconsin. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

Recount 2016 overview:

Jill Stein and Alex Halderman, leading expert on election cybersecurity, gave a big picture overview of the 2016 recount effort. Dr. Halderman detailed the shocking vulnerability of our voting system to hacking and other forms of tampering. Dr. Stein discussed the politically-fueled opposition in the US to verifying the vote, a practice that is common in democratic countries around the world. All this underscores why we need election protection in the form of paper ballots, routine audits to verify the vote count, and cybersecurity best practices to prevent hacking of the vote.

Watch the Recount 2016 overview.
Recount reports from MI, PA and WI:

Lynne Serpe, George Martin and Rick Lass, who were on the front lines of the recount efforts in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, reported what happened in each state and ongoing election integrity struggles. In Michigan, political operatives leaned on partisan judges to stop the recount - but not before it exposed major problems calling the 2016 results into question. In Pennsylvania, a nightmare of bureaucracy stopped thousands of voters calling for a recount in a state that relies heavily on touch-screen voting machines banned in other states. In Wisconsin, we saw “half a recount” that glossed over the major communities of color that are most vulnerable to voter suppression.

Watch the Recount Reports from MI, PA and WI.
Recounts and lessons learned, 2004-2016:

Election integrity veterans Lynne Serpe, Mark Halvorson and John Maa discuss the recent history of recounts in the US, from the 2004 Ohio recount to the 2016 recount effort, and what we’ve learned about how to create a voting system we can trust.

Watch Recounts and Lessons Learned, 2004-2016.
It’s clear that the struggle for election integrity and voting justice won’t be easy or quick, but it is critical for building a real democracy. Thank you for leading the charge in this critical struggle.

It’s in our hands,
Jill Stein

PS. If you have questions about the recount effort or ongoing election integrity litigation, please take a look at our Recount 2016 frequently asked questions. If you don’t see an answer to your question, please send it to us and we’ll do our best to answer it. 

314 Action
Another terrible nomination from the White House.

Trump's pick to be his senior adviser on environmental policy -- Kathleen Hartnett White -- once described climate change as a "kind of paganism for secular elites." She has also denied that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, calling it “the gas of life on this planet”. 

The good news? Her appointment requires Senate confirmation. That means we can fight this if we speak up now and speak up LOUDLY. 

Add your name to demand your senators vote NO on this dangerous nomination >>

Kathleen Hartnett White isn’t the only one of Trump’s nominees with some controversial -- and downright dangerous -- opinions on science. 

There’s Sam Clovis, Trump’s pick for the top science position at USDA -- a rampant climate change denier who helped push racist “birther” conspiracy theories about President Obama.

His pick to head up NASA, Jim Bridenstine, thinks we should study climate change on the moon instead of on earth -- because he doesn’t believe it’s caused by humans.

And then there’s Michael Dourson, who has already started advising Scott Pruitt at the EPA despite having not yet been confirmed by the Senate over controversial ties to the chemical industry. 

Blocking these nominees is critical. It’s the difference between leadership and denial, between protection and destruction. We need to act now. 

Sign our petition to the Senate to demand they reject Trump’s climate denying nominees!
Thanks for signing on.
- Team 314 Action


Congress is rushing a bill that would give Donald Trump and the NSA the power to spy on Americans – without even getting a warrant.
Donald Trump is a known bully who will use every power available to him to threaten everyone, from decorated war veterans to journalists to ordinary people who oppose his agenda.
So it’s terrifying to think about Trump having far-reaching spying powers.
The House of Representatives just introduced a bill to extend Trump’s power to snoop on Americans’ phone calls and emails for 6 years – without needed reforms to prevent abuse.
Right now, loopholes in a legal authority known as Section 702 give Trump and the NSA the power to spy on Americans without a warrant.The House recently introduced a bill called the USA Liberty Act to extend Section 702. And it lacks needed reforms to prevent abuse of this far-reaching surveillance power.
That’s why we’re joining with 17 progressive organizations to call on Congress to fundamentally fix the USA Liberty Act, and push for reforms like those mentioned in Senators Ron Wyden and Rand Paul's bill, the USA RIGHTS Act. Only then can we make sure that Section 702 doesn't allow the government to spy on Americans on without a warrant.
Congress has between now and the end of the year to reauthorize Section 702. While the Trump administration wants a straight reauthorization, a growing bipartisan block of Congress want reforms. But it’s up to us to make sure Congress passes real reforms that will actually prevent warrantless spying on Americans.
Here’s why the USA Liberty Act needs to be fundamentally fixed. It currently:
  • It doesn’t stop backdoor searches, which is when the government searches through the hundreds of millions of communications it collects yearly for information on Americans and people on U.S. soil – all without a warrant. Instead, the bill okays accessing and sharing this information for foreign intelligence purposes, a loophole big enough to drive a truck through.
  • It fails to permanently end "about" collection, an illegal practice the NSA says they've stopped that allows for warrantless spying on Americans’ communications that merely mention an intelligence target. Collections should be limited to communications that are "to" or "from" a target.
  • It doesn’t prevent the government from secretly using surveillance information in court against defendants. Despite tens of thousands of searches by the government of Section 702 data, only a handful of defendants have ever received notice of it – and only after the Department of Justice was caught misleading the Supreme Court about its practices.
Meanwhile Senators Wyden and Paul's USA RIGHTS Act addresses each of these problems by closing loopholes and placing limits on the NSA.
We’re teaming up with 17 progressive organizations to call on the House to fundamentally fix the USA Liberty Act, and support the reform measures in the Senate's USA RIGHTS Act. Now it’s time your representatives in Congress heard from you.
Thanks for taking action,

Reuben and the team at Demand Progress


  1. We see Big Pharma spending over $3 million a week on the campaign against Issue 2 here in Ohio. They face a big hit if/when it goes through, and a massive payoff if it fails. Of course the media just sucks up the money.

    1. We're at the mercy of the corporations. Time to support the Move to Amend movement and end the horrible "Citizens United" ruling that allows corporations to purchase politicians. Once we have some "non-bought-off" people in office, then we'll have a chance of a true representational democracy.


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