Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Taxation Without Representation

Washington crossing the Delaware. What the painting could not record were the cries of  "Sit down! You'll knock us over!"

Taxation Without Representation
by Coast Watcher

The Battle of Trenton was a small but crucial engagement which took place on the morning of December 26, 1776, in Trenton, New Jersey. In the hour before dawn of that morning, General George Washington crossed the Delaware River using boats to convey 2,400 men of his army. Conditions were hazardous, with deep snow covering the ground and large ice floes in the river preventing the rest of Washington’s troops – a little more than half his total force – from crossing. Nevertheless, due to these very weather conditions his opponents had lowered their guard, believing themselves safe from attack.

The Hessian mercenaries employed by the British were shocked to find a rebel army bearing down on their winter encampment. After a short but fierce struggle, most of the Hessians surrendered and the remainder retreated in confusion.

Although it was small engagement as military conflict goes, it served to inspire the army to continue the fight and attracted a growing number of volunteers to the Colonists’ cause.

The American Colonists fought a war against unjust levels of taxation imposed by Britain. Most people today know their battle cry: "No taxation without representation!" 

Why is the war, and the two hundred and forty-first anniversary of this particular battle, relevant today? Because once again we’re seeing an unjust level of taxation being imposed by our supposed superiors and masters, a level of taxation that imposes an unbearable burden on a populace already struggling with ever-shrinking income and ever-increasing debts. Once again we’re seeing a rising level of opposition to this inequality.

On Friday, December 22 the GOP’s tax bill passed into law with a stroke of Trump’s pen as he sat in the great Oval Office. It followed the active connivance of the Republican-dominated Congress to prevent the details of the bill from becoming public. Even Senators were not allowed to view the document before voting on it.

The whole bill was fabricated by over 4,000 lobbyists working on behalf of the rich, and big business. I think we’ve all seen images of the shoddy presentation
of the bill, with handwritten notes tailing off into illegibility alongside the printed text. It’s an effort that would shame a third-grader and would rightly earn an F  in any school worth the name. This sorry mess was handed to the GOP millionaires in Congress, who fell over themselves with slavish eagerness to do their masters’ bidding. The whole thing was passed with reckless speed, with no thought nor care taken to consider the consequences to ordinary Americans.

A last-ditch effort to delay the passage of the bill came when Senator Bernie Sanders challenged it on the basis of incorrect parliamentary procedure. The whole shambolic process has now introduced additional hardship on the majority of the American populace in the form of additional expenditure. As if that wasn’t enough it also deprives 13 million people of healthcare through defunding the Affordable Care Act’s and makes provision for oil drilling within the Arctic Circle. Oh, and the rich – including Trump and his family – get a massive tax break and easement on inheritance taxes. How nice
just in time for Christmas!

The new law eliminates the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that most people must have health insurance or else pay a penalty. It should be noted that this very clause was introduced by the GOP during the wrestling over the ACA in order to make it toxic to the general population. By eliminating the harmful clause they themselves created, the GOP thinks they can gain approval from voters.

Even if this is the case, it may not help them.

Due to the indecent haste with which this bill was rushed through Congress some of the most harmful effects will be felt in this coming year – 2018 – rather than 2019 when the mid-term elections are over and the people have presumably forgotten the new tax law. What effect this will have on a Republican party and President already struggling with growing unpopularity remains to be seen. Trump’s first year in office has been marked by chaos and dramatic shifts in policies which seem caused by what he sees on Fox news.

As we go about our daily rounds in these post-Christmas days, spare a thought

for those brave men who, two hundred and forty-one years ago, struggled through snow and ice to defeat an enemy determined to keep the Colonists under the boot of unbearable taxation. Are their ghosts looking on now and wondering why you, their descendants, are doing nothing to oppose the modern incarnation of that oppressive power?

Related Links:

Still confused about what's what in the "GOP Tax Scam" and how it will affect you? Here are some helpful facts followed by a short video from Robert Reich who explains things simply through illustrations.

Trump's Trojan Horse Tax Plan

BIO: Coast Watcher looks into the past and sees where we've gone both the right way and the wrong way. But will we learn  from our Founders' example and overturn the current corrupt system which taxes us without representation and gives power to a hereditary aristocracy of the 1%? The answer to that question remains to be seen in 2017, but in the new year perhaps we'll be the change we've been looking for.


Other stories this past week that mainstream media didn't really cover because they didn't really want you to know:

NPR does a hit piece on alternative media journalist/comedian Lee Camp:

Jill Stein interview with Democracy Now after a smear campaign is started against her, reminiscent of McCarthyism: 

How the US Government Hid Fracking Risks to Drinking Water:

From Sierra Club:

I'm angry, and I'm sure you're angry, too.

Congressional Republicans just passed their massive tax scam -- the worst piece of legislation in a generation -- despite its deep unpopularity. There's no way of sugar coating it: This law will have far-reaching negative consequences for families across the country and our environment.

It's an outrageous giveaway to the richest of the rich and corporate polluters at the expense of the rest of the country, and at the cost of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

But we're not giving up, we're fired up. On this bill alone, Sierra Club supporters like you sent tens of thousands of emails and made thousands of calls to key members of Congress. And we won't stop in 2018.

If you're angry about this bill, join me in pledging to continue the fight for progress in 2018. Together we can win.

Republican leaders rammed this disastrous legislation through at a breakneck pace, with no public hearings or input. There were late night, last minute changes and secretive backroom deals designed to give even more away to their corporate pals. Here are some of the worst parts of this bill:

  • Opens the Arctic Refuge to oil drilling, which could have a devastating impact on the Porcupine caribou herd and the Alaska Native tribes that rely on it for subsistence
  • Gives massive handouts to corporate polluters and other corporations
  • Balloons our deficit by about $1.4 trillion which will force funding cuts to public health and environmental programs in the months to come1
  • Repeals a key part of the Affordable Care Act, leaving 13 million people without healthcare in the next 10 years, increasing premiums, and creating uncertainty for many hardworking families1
  • Imposes a devastating excise tax on Puerto Rico, as if it wasn't part of the United States, that would kill job-creating industries on the hurricane-ravaged island while it's still recovering2
Sign our pledge today to continue to fight for all communities, our planet, and our future.

In the face of an uphill battle with a president, cabinet, and congressional leaders that are anti-science and pals of corporate polluters, we've done a lot of pushing back. At every turn, the Trump administration or Congress has tried to pull a fast one on us. 

But we have been paying attention, and we have successfully pushed back, delayed, and even stopped some of the worst plans from being implemented. We're delaying their attempts at repealing the Clean Power Plan. We've protected the Affordable Care Act from a full repeal. We've rallied by the thousands to protect our public lands and waters. We've exposed their racist travel ban, and so much more.

This year has been an amazing show of strength of the environmental and progressive movements -- thanks to you. We have shown our real power, and we will continue into next year.

Join me in saying "I'm in" for continuing the fight for a cleaner, safer, and more just and equitable future for all. Sign the pledge.
Thanks for all you've done,
Michael Brune
Executive Director
Sierra Club

1 - "GOP, with tax bill finalized, makes its case to a skeptical public" Washington Post
2 - "The Final Republican Tax Bill Screws Over Puerto Rico" Mother Jones

From Jobs With Justice:

When you leave a tip at a restaurant, you expect it to go to the server who waited on you. Unfortunately, Trump’s Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta wants to make it easier for employers to steal people’s tips. 
We can’t let these business owners and the Trump administration get away with legalizing wage theft. Tell the Department of Labor to halt their proposed rollbacks NOW!
Restaurant owners and the National Restaurant Association (‘the other NRA’) have made it clear that they don’t think working people have a right to keep the tips they receive from customers. Corporate lobbyists pushing this proposal represent NRA executives of well-known brands like Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster and Olive Garden. These greedy companies see tips as another way to line their pockets. In fact, the latest analysis shows that employers would pocket $5.8 billion if this ‘tip stealing’ rule moves forward. 

These profitable corporations are promoting a policy that will make it harder for their employees to provide for their families. This is unacceptable. Make your voice heard before it’s too late.
American eateries are far from being great places to work, even with the legal protections in place today. Twelve percent of people working in restaurants report stolen tips, and the majority-female workforce faces overwhelming rates of sexual harassment. In fact, the restaurant industry is the single largest source of sexual harassment complaints in the U.S. 

Secretary Acosta and the NRA are on a mission to make restaurants even worse places to work. But we know that if enough of us come together, we can stop these corporate lobbyists in their tracks. The federal comment period only is open for a limited time. Act now to fight back and stand with working people. Send a message to the Department of Labor today!
In Solidarity,
Jobs With Justice 


From Friends of the Earth:The Trump administration is poised to hand Monsanto a license to pollute our environment, harm our health, and wipe out monarch butterflies. It could renew the registration for glyphosate, a.k.a. Roundup®, moving us further away from organic agriculture.

Roundup® is linked to a 90% decline in monarch butterflies in the last 20 years. And it’s bad for us as well -- the World Health Organization has called this pesticide is a “probable carcinogen.”

But Trump’s EPA just released a report based heavily on industry studies that contradicts the strong science showing links between glyphosate and cancer. This is a clear signal that the agency intends to allow Big Ag to keep dousing our food in this toxic chemical. We need your help to stop it!

Over the last two decades, what used to be a roaring river of butterflies migrating to Mexico each year has become a trickle.

At the same time, the amount of Roundup® being used each year has gone from 25-30 million pounds to 180-185 million. That’s more than half a pound of pesticides for every American. The impacts on our health and the environment have been huge.

The evidence is clear: we must stop supporting a food system built on toxic pesticides like Roundup® and instead build a future of organic for all. The EPA could start by revoking the license for glyphosate. But we need your help to push it to act.

Add your name: Stop Monsanto from poisoning our environment and communities with Roundup®!

Roundup® is wiping out butterflies and putting our health at risk -- but it’s making $5 billion every year in profits for Monsanto. So surely the company is pushing the EPA to protect those profits.

Instead of caving to Monsanto, the EPA should be helping us shift toward healthy, sustainable, organic farming. After all, organic farmers don’t use glyphosate or a whole host of other toxic pesticides. Organic farming helps bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects flourish. It promotes biodiversity and is better for your health. And it improves farmers’ incomes and boosts local economies.

With Trump in charge of the EPA, it’s going to be an uphill battle to defend our food system from Monsanto. But the agency still has to consider public input. If enough people like you speak up, you can force it to help shift to a food system that works for pollinators, people and the planet.

Help save monarchs from extinction: Tell the EPA to revoke Monsanto’s license to pollute!

Standing with you,
Lisa Archer,
Food and Technology Program Director,
Friends of the Earth

From Politics Reborn:

Like many of you, Politics Reborn is deeply disappointed to see the Republicans pass a tax bill that will only benefit the wealthy while only worsening the situation for many lower-income communities. We could rant and rave, listing the various reasons why this tax bill is a terrible piece of legislation, but we aren't going to do that. We aren't going to tell you things you know and think about the bill. 

Instead, we are going to talk about something that we surely need more of in this movement, and that is hope. 

What’s happening in the United States right now is neither unique nor extraordinary. It is a continuation of the many sins that our history books erase. For as long as America has existed, there has been injustice. Nevertheless, there have always been people who have stood up, organized, and fought for a more just society.  

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice." The question we must ask ourselves is this: What are we doing to better assure the arc bends towards justice? 

This movement can not simply be a series of reactions to each and every horrible change that the Trump Administration has implemented. We must be proactive, not reactive. It is time to build from the ground up. It is time to organize our communities!
Volunteer for Politics Reborn Now!

We are creating something that will make a lasting impact on society but we need your help on the amazing projects we are involved in. Will you join us in our vision in implementing the programs necessary to create systemic change?

Michael Blecher

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Christmas Story--Republican Style

A Christmas Story--Republican Style
(with many apologies to Jean Shepard)
by Cindy A. Matthews 

Ralphie knew what he wanted for Christmas. More than anything in the world Ralphie wanted a  Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. But his mother (being a lowly woman without the same mental or moral capacity as a man according to their preacher) had been heavily influenced by the left wing media conspiracy full of "libtards" who smugly declared that a nine year old boy can't safely run around with a loaded weapon without hurting himself anymore than he can run around with pointed scissors and long shoelaces without tripping.

"You'll shoot your eye out," Ralphie's mom told him in no uncertain terms.
Ralphie, being an all-American, red-blood boy who knew who really was in charge, was disappointed in his mother's response, but he wasn't about to give up. 

Ralphie decided he'd get his teacher on his side in this debate. He would turn in the best essay that a boy could buy from an online essay-writing service out of India, which only charges pennies on the dollar compared to American-based ghostwriters who whined all the time about being paid a living wage.

In his well-chosen essay, Ralphie insisted that it was his God-given right to own a BB rifle and shoot the hell out of anything that crossed his path. He demanded protection for his Second Amendment rights to own a firearm--or several hundred firearms, if he so choose. 

But Ralphie's teacher recently had lost a good friend in a mass shooting at an elementary school. A middle-aged white male (who'd been having a rough time of it since he'd been downsized and lost his health care and could no longer deal with his opioid addiction) shot a whole classroom of first-graders and their teachers.

Ralphie's teacher didn't agree with Ralphie that it was okay to sell weapons to a man who wasn't in his right mind since he wasn't a Muslim terrorist. She said she didn't understand why innocent six-year-olds and their teachers had to die in order to make America great by keeping the weapons-manufacturing industry churning out products and selling them cheaply to the paranoid masses. She added that she couldn't see why voting for a adult white male who stalked and picked up teenage girls in malls was preferable to voting for a progressive, too.

Ralphie received a failing grade on his essay. When he asked why, his teacher explained, "Ralph, do your own homework next time. Besides, you'll shoot your eye out."
Disgusted, but not surprised by his teacher's callous disregard for his Second Amendment rights to bear arms, Ralphie decided to ask his Old Man directly for his ideal Christmas gift.

Ralphie had been avoiding his Old Man lately since his father had been spending a lot of time down in the cellar cursing and drinking while trying to Band-Aid their rickety oil furnace together by fencing chop-shop auto parts to scrimp up enough dough to keep it fueled so they didn't freeze. 

The Old Man blamed those liberal goody-two-shoes who wanted to build wind turbines and erect ugly solar panels everywhere for his manufacturing job being offshored to China after NAFTA became the law of the land. Who cared if their air in the crumbling inner city was growing opaque with diesel fumes and the algae-bloomed water in the lake was the color and consistency of green slime? Who cared about lead pipes? Fossil fuels were still cheap, and fracking makes perfect sense because... who'd want to drink well water anyway?
Ralphie realized that since the union folded a few years ago the Old Man hadn't been able to find a decent job. None of the part-time jobs his father toiled in made anywhere near that fabled $15 an hour the lazy McDonald's workers were always protesting about. The Old Man was in a chronically bad mood nowadays, but Ralphie was pleasantly surprised how his father's eyes lit up when he mentioned how much he wanted to purchase and own a weapon.

"Just the BB gun, son?" the Old Man asked, his words slightly slurred, his eyes blazing with undisguised loathing. "How about an Uzi or an AK-47? We could do some serious deer hunting with one of those. We could even take out some of those illegal Mexicans and the Muslim terrorists who've destroyed our neighborhood by moving next door. We could splatter their brains about the sidewalks and teach'em all a lesson that this country was discovered by white men and immigrants aren't wanted or necessary. What do you say, Ralph?"

Ralphie was more than a little frightened by the Old Man's enthusiastic response. He smiled, turned around slowly and fled the cellar.

Christmas morning, Ralphie was happily surprised to spy a tall, narrow package standing beside the tree. Joy, oh joy! It was the Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle he'd asked for all along.

"Now, be careful with that thing," his mother warned him. "We no longer have any health insurance through the CHIP program for you or your brother."

Who needs health care? Ralphie thought. New and Improved Medicare for All was for libtards and girls according to the Old Man. Ralphie couldn't wait to dress and run out into the snow to practice his shooting.

Ralphie fired his new gun first at the Bumpuses' dogs because the malnourished beasts had ran through their backdoor earlier that day and devoured their holiday turkey. Then Ralphie shot at Old Man Bumpus when he came over to complain about his bleeding pets.

A ricocheted shot hit Ralphie in the glasses and shattered a lens, but he didn't mind. Somehow his parents would figure out a way to get him a new pair. Some charity would pay for them because he'd earned it as a white male. It wasn't like he was some lazy welfare queen who didn't deserve to have her eyes taken care of that the Old Man blamed all their economic troubles on, right?

Last, but not least, Ralphie took aim at the police officers who drove past their house in response to the neighbors' calls about a "crazy kid running around with a rifle shooting at anything that moved." Thirteen seconds after the cops exited their patrol vehicle they raised their weapons and took aim.

Ralphie was pronounced dead at the scene. He was one of only a handful of white children shot by the police in their city that year--the vast majority of those killed being either African-American or Latino. Ralphie's family filed bankruptcy after they paid his funeral expenses and settled the civil suit filed against them by the Bumpuses.

It was a quiet holiday season after that. Ralphie's mother joined a self-help group for grieving mothers and even got to know their neighbors better. The Old Man bought more weapons and stashed them in the cellar. Somehow, he believed, owning all that firepower could make America great again.

BIO: Cindy A. Matthews has been the editor (and chief writer) of The Revolution Continues blog since its inception as The Bernie Blog in June 2015. For all her fighting for progressive causes, she's never received a dime (or a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle such as Ralphie wanted). If you appreciate her work, please consider buying one of her fiction titles or giving a Paypal (cynthianna@hotmail.com) donation to help  keep this web site up and running in the coming year. Thank you, and may you and yours experience a truly peaceful holiday season.
 A Holiday Meditation
 by C.A. Matthews

It's a very different holiday season than last year, isn't it?

Last December, we were anxious to see how Trump and company would act upon taking their new offices, and this December we know for sure how they'll act. The following meme sums up their callous disregard for ordinary Americans:
The 1% get richer and the rest of us... Well, we're the 99%. It's not like we  matter to the super-wealthy, is it? They can dress up their "tax reform" all they like, but in the end, their hypocrisy shows through in the provisions that make life harder for the poor and middle classes.

Can any politician who claims to be a Christian honestly defend the current administration's positions when asked, "What would Jesus do in regards to providing health care for all Americans, especially children, veterans, the elderly and disabled? What would Jesus do when faced with refugees and others seeking a new life in a safe place?" (Whatever happened to "Love thy neighbor," Republicans? I guess the parable of Good Samaritan isn't in your Bible.)
If there's one good thing to come out of the Trump administration, it's now we know for sure what we're up against. We know fascists exist in this country in the year 2017, and they are considered "nice people" by our president. Compassion and empathy are character traits to be laughed at by those in power. For-profit health care and for-profit prisons are what it's all about, since you can always bilk the poor for what little pocket change they have until they drop over dead in their tracks.

Maybe there is no Santa Claus, but there's still We the People. Together we will fight these injustices, change our society for the better, and build a future to believe in. 

Have faith, progressives. Dr. Martin Luther King said he might not get to the mountain with us, but we're going to get there if we believe our cause is just. Keep believing. Keep fighting. 

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to you and yours. We're going to be busy in 2018, no doubt about it.

Here's a link to a great Facebook video by Upworthy about how facts don't always convince others to see your point of view. It has some tips to help others "see the light" this holiday season. 
Militarizing Our Police? No Thanks!
Jeff Sessions Protest in Toledo
photos by Adrian Matthews

Even the cold and damp couldn't dissuade protestors from gathering in front of 4 Seagate Center in downtown Toledo, Ohio on Monday afternoon. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in town for a brief meeting with the Toledo Police Department. It seems the Feds want to militarize our streets because having a city police force alone isn't seen as enough to keep order nowadays in dying Rust Belt cities. 

Perhaps they're worried once the remainder of our manufacturing jobs (that weren't lost to NAFTA previously) are offshored we'll be rioting and marching in the streets? Toledo cops will need some Humvees and tanks to keep the peace?

And, of course, we can't be a city offering sanctuary to immigrants of any kind--especially those of a darker skin color or different religious background than Mr. Sessions.  That would be just "wrong." Right, Jeff?
 Sessions' record against the LBGTQIA community and the Dreamers speaks for itself. Several protestors took to the bullhorn to tell why they opposed his visit and the tactics the current administration is using against people of color and the disadvantaged.
Ruth Leonard with the Community Solidarity Response Network rallied the crowd for a march about the Seagate building while the meeting with Sessions and the Toledo city police administration was taking place. Shouts of "Jeff Sessions, go home!"  and "This is what democracy looks like!" rang throughout the downtown.
 Remember--you're never alone when you have right on your side.  Others feel the same way. Others want to restore democracy to our land. We can do it if we stick together and raise our voices as one.
 Speak out. Silence isn't golden--except to the greedy billionaires who want to shut us up to maintain the status quo. Power to the people!