Sunday, July 31, 2016

Hillary Clinton said she would "liberate millions" from student loan debt. But the Clintons and the Democratic Establishment have been crushing people with debt for at least 20 years.


Above: In this video clip, after she talks about free college, Hillary Clinton says: "We will also liberate millions of people who already have student loan debt. It's just not right that Donald Trump can ignore his debts, and students and families can't refinance their debts." The crowd roars in approval, completely oblivious to the role that the Clintons and the Democratic Establishment have played in turning millions of Americans into debt slaves. Video provided courtesy of PBS.

At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton said she would liberate millions of people from student loan debt and that it wasn't fair that so many people can't refinance their debt. However, Hillary and other top Democrats have, for years, worked very hard to keep people in escape-proof debt. Therefore, her statement rings hollow. Sadly, millions of Americans (including many of Hillary's supporters, judging by the applause in the video above) don't know this history. Consider these examples of how top Democrats have eagerly worked to keep Americans in the stranglehold of debt:

Bill Clinton facilitated the garnishment of Social Security to pay student loan debt

From the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance: "On April 26, 1996, the President signed the Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134), which included the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA). The DCIA made a significant change that allowed for Social Security, Railroad Retirement and Black Lung benefits to be reduced in order to collect federal debt, such as student loan debt. The 1996 change greatly eroded the strong protections in the Social Security Act against
garnishment and the changes were never fully debated in Congress. Recently, many are concerned
that more and more people with disabilities and seniors are having their Social Security benefits
garnished due to student loan debts" (http://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Restore%20Act%20one%20pager1.pdf)

Hillary Clinton voted to make it harder for struggling families to declare bankruptcy

The financial industry has long supported Hillary Clinton with millions in cash. She has often returned the favor by supporting their efforts to swindle, defraud, and victimize the public. In 2001, she voted to make bankruptcy more difficult for people trapped in debt - a vote that pleased her Wall Street backers, and ensured that they would continue to pay her millions of dollars for years to come ("The Vote for Bankruptcy Reform that Haunts Hillary Clinton," New York Times, February 6, 2016).

In partnership with President Bush and Republicans, Joe Biden voted for the 2005 bankruptcy law that has devastated millions of Americans

Political commentator Bob Cesca writes: "this law is easily one of the most disgraceful aspects of the Bush and Biden legacies. The harm it did to middle-class Americans, especially during the crushing events of the recession four years later, is immeasurable. The bill made it nearly impossible for average families to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, also known as 'clean slate' bankruptcies intended to discharge nearly all debts, a matter of a few years before they’d need it the most... Put another way, the Bankruptcy Bill was great [for] Biden and his Delawarean benefactors [Corporate America], but a financial atrocity for millions of families, made worse by the financial crisis and crippling recession that followed. While thousands of financial institutions received billions of dollars in relief during the recession, ordinary Americans who were hammered by medical and mortgage debt, not to mention record-smashing job losses, were more or less screwed.." ("Joe Biden's Greatest Betrayal," Salon, October 21, 2015)

The Obama Administration has often sided with abusive creditors and unethical debt collectors 

For example, the Obama Administration misled the public on student loan fraud, and Obama has praised former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (a pawn of the predatory loan industry) as a "strong, progressive leader."

Above: President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935, with Frances Perkins, the prime architect of the act, standing behind him. In 2005, Professor of Law Linda Green, wrote in the New York Times: "The original Social Security Act, in 1935, had barred any attachment of Social Security payments, as a way of protecting [Social Security recipients] from debt collectors." That part of the law has changed, thanks in part to our current, Wall Street-bought Democratic Establishment. Now they say they will liberate us. How ridiculous is that? Photo courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum.

How would Hillary Clinton "liberate" us?

If you look at the Clinton Campaign's explanation of what Hillary would do as president for student loan debtors, you will see that it's a mixture of policies that either already exist (e.g., income-based repayment and rewarding public service), don't do a whole lot for those struggling the most (e.g., refinancing), or are incredibly naive (e.g., "Push employers to contribute to student debt relief"). Nowhere do you see bankruptcy relief. Why? Because Hillary's Wall Street puppet-masters don't like that idea too much.

If, after all I've described above, you still believe Hillary, her administration, and the Democratic Establishment will "liberate millions" from student loan debt, well, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Presidential contender Jill Stein has a better idea

In the spirit of President Roosevelt's Second Bill of Rights, which called for "The right to a good education," Jill Stein frames education "as a Right" and would "Abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude." Doesn't that sound better than Hillary's insincere and weak policy proposals - proposals that she's unlikely to fight for anyway?

The worshipful followers 

Sadly, most Americans don't know their history very well, even their recent history. So Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Establishment can keep pretending that they care about people drowning in debt, and millions of their supporters will cheer, roll in the aisles, raise their hands to the heavens in tearful joy, and take the comical declarations of the Democratic Elite as gospel.

Isn't that pathetic?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Hillary Clinton will sign the TPP job-outsourcing agreement. Jill Stein will push for a WPA-like program to improve America's infrastructure.

Above: A worker on a WPA airport project in Morgantown, West Virginia, 1936. Currently, there are 19 million un- and under-employed Americans, and the American Society of Civil Engineers has given our aviation infrastructure a D letter grade. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Hillary Clinton was for the TPP. Now she says she's against it. Why? Because she's trying to trick progressives into voting for her. Ultimately, she will sign it. Statements by her friend, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and her adviser, economist Joseph Stiglitz, show how this will happen:

McAuliffe: "Once the election's over, and we sit down on trade, people understand a couple things we want to fix on it, but going forward, we got to build a global economy... Yes. Listen, she was in support of it. There were specific things in it she wanted fixed" ("McAuliffe: Hillary Clinton Would Flip-Flop on TPP," CNN, July 27, 2016.

Stiglitz: [When asked about Clinton's stance on the TPP] "if there is ever to be a TPP, it has to be totally renegotiated... So, my interpretation, it’s a commitment of Hillary, the next Democratic administration, to renegotiate NAFTA and to renegotiate TPP" ("Will Hillary Clinton Flip-Flop Again On TPP After Election Day?" Democracy Now, July 28, 2016.

You see where this is heading, right? A few tweaks will be made, Clinton will sign the TPP, and say, "Well, that was the old TPP, this is the new and improved TPP!" But we know how Wall Street Democrats--like Clinton and Obama--negotiate. They come to the table with a corporate-friendly offer, cave a little more to the political right, and then sign off on it. This was Obama's primary political strategy during his 8 years in office and Clinton will continue this tradition. With respect to Stiglitz's statement about renegotiating NAFTA, does anyone seriously believe the Democratic Establishment is going to invest any time in that - after it's made their corporate paymasters so wealthy? Please. Stiglitz is a great economist and commentator, but I think he's being naive here.

Jake Tapper of CNN writes, "Clinton was one of the leading drivers of the TPP when Secretary of State" ("45 Times Secretary Clinton Pushed the Trade Deal She Now Opposes," CNN, June 15, 2015). And Clinton has already showed that she has no problem lying about her position on the TPP. She once said, "I waited until it had actually been negotiated [before supporting it] because I did want to give the benefit of the doubt to the [Obama] administration. Once I saw what the outcome was, I opposed it." But Politifact has pointed out that, Clinton promoted the TPP as it was being crafted and "used words such as 'exciting,' 'innovative,' 'ambitious,' 'groundbreaking,' 'cutting-edge,' 'high-quality' and 'high-standard' in describing the partnership before she left the State Department in 2013. The partners finalized the deal in 2015." Politifact ultimately concluded that "her comments at the time were so positive and so definitive, it becomes disingenuous to argue, as she's doing now, that she didn't endorse the deal before it was finalized."

As Donald Trump has said (I hate quoting him, but when he's right, he's right): "Just like I have warned from the beginning, Crooked Hillary Clinton will betray you on the TPP." Of course, we don't really know where Trump stands on the TPP either, because his policy positions are so inconsistent and, many times, incoherent.

But we do know where the Green Party's Jill Stein stands. From her platform: "Replace NAFTA and other corporate free trade agreements that export American jobs, depress wages, and undermine the sovereign right of Americans and citizens of other countries to control their own economy and political choices. Enact fair trade laws that benefit local workers and communities." Instead of supporting wage-suppression agreements, like NAFTA and the TPP, Stein would fight for good jobs in America, and also for the creation of "direct public employment, as the Works Progress Administration did, in public services and public works for those who can't find private employment."

Which do you prefer? Would you prefer that we keep entering into wage-suppression agreements with other nations, or would you prefer a new WPA to provide jobs for our 19 million fellow Americans who are un- and under-employed, to fix our dilapidated infrastructure? Both Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan praised the WPA. They did so for good reason. Whether you are left or right--whether you like Roosevelt or Reagan--you should support a new WPA, and oppose the TPP. That means opposing Clinton.

Vote for Jill Stein. Unlike Hillary, she will fight back against Corporate America's persistent demands that we sign agreements that send American jobs overseas and/or humiliate American workers by making them train their foreign replacements here at home.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Blaming Sanders' supporters for a Trump victory: The jaw-dropping arrogance and stupidity of some (not all) of Hillary Clinton's most ardent supporters.

Above: Support and vote for Jill Stein. She's not crooked and bought like Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Establishment, and she's not crazy and hateful like Donald Trump and the Republican Establishment. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, used here under the CCA-2.0 Generic license.

All across the Internet, many of Hillary Clinton's supporters are mocking, scolding, and insulting die-hard Bernie Sanders supporters. At the same time, they're demanding that Sanders supporters vote for Hillary Clinton... and also arguing that if they don't vote for Hillary they'll be responsible for a Trump presidency and, possibly, nuclear war.

Let's consider the arrogance and stupidity of this for a minute. During the primaries, poll after poll after poll showed Bernie Sanders doing better than Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head match-up against Donald Trump (see video clips below). We pointed this out to Clinton supporters, who typically replied--in the spirit of Bill O'Reilly--"millennials just want free stuff!" or "Sanders' big goals are impractical, foolish, and pie-in-the-sky dreaming!" or "Early polls don't matter!!" Further, the Clinton campaign (through campaign finance money laundering), the DNC (by working to undermine Bernie Sanders' and his movement), and the mainstream media (by refusing to cover Bernie Sanders for more than a few minutes a day, and then distorting his message when they did talk about him) all conspired--whether by design or by coincidence--to subvert the democratic process and secure the nomination for Hillary Clinton. It was so important for them to have the first woman president--and, apparently, to continue Wall Street-friendly policies--that they were willing to undermine American democracy and force it down our throats.

In sum, we warned the Democratic Establishment that Sanders was consistently polling-better than Hillary; the Democratic Establishment scoffed at those warnings and instead chose to rig the primaries in favor of Hillary; and now, the Democratic Establishment and their supporters are blaming us for the fact that Trump is currently beating Hillary in the polls and may end up in the Oval Office. wow, Wow, WOW!


Above: In this video clip, Cenk Uygar of the Young Turks explains how Sanders was beating Clinton in head-to-head match-ups against Republicans. YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfFDc2Ute4Y.  

Die-hard Clinton supporters are denying that the primaries were rigged, of course, but when the chair of the DNC resigns in shame, and DNC staffers apologize for their behavior, and the Democratic leader of the U.S. Senate says, "Everybody knew that this was not a fair deal," can there be any doubt that (a) the primaries were indeed rigged and that our democracy was subverted by the Democratic Establishment, and (b) many of Hillary's supporters looked the other way while it was happening; and now behave as though the rigging of the primaries was nothing worse than a little schoolyard prank. Shame on them. And shame on the media (including some progressive outlets) for downplaying this electoral fraud, out of fear of a Trump presidency. Fear of the future is not a justification for hiding political corruption from the public.

And now these same people demand that we forget about all the fraud, and eagerly support their candidate Hillary. Yes, they ignored the polls, mocked us, rigged the primaries (or stood by and let it happen)... and now declare, from their unethical perch, "You better support us! You better vote for Hillary, or YOU will be responsible for Trump being in the White House!" Isn't that amazing? I'm not sure if I've ever seen this level of arrogance before, not in my entire lifetime.


Above: In this video clip, we see Bill O'Reilly flabbergasted by polls showing Bernie Sanders handily beating Republican candidates. YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gp4ctp5bag0.

The New Fad: Shaming Sanders' Supporters and Blaming Them for the End of the World   

Andy Ostroy, a political commentator whose opinions sometimes appear on the Huffington Post, is a prime example of the "you-better-vote-for-Hillary-or-else" arrogance. In a recent piece, he wrote the following (my responses in parenthesis):

"The boos at the mere mention of Hillary Clinton’s name [during the Democratic National Convention] were loud and forceful. And at this point in time, they were quite surprising and unsettling. Whether they are deserved or not is another question." (No, "whether they are deserved" is the central question - and they are deserved.)

"what we don’t get is your continued inability to see the stark differences between Clinton and Donald Trump." (We see the difference quite clearly. What does that have to do with the Democratic Establishment undermining the democratic process and rigging the primaries?)

[With respect to supposedly not seeing the differences between Trump and Clinton] "Not even after several rousing speeches by Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders at the opening night of the Democratic convention drew you a picture of these differences, and the gravity of the situation." (Here's the thing: We're less interested in "rousing speeches," and more interested in policies and action.)

"Do you really want to throw this country's future away by handing the election over to an ignorant, sexist, misogynistic, xenophobic, racist dictator-in-training?" (No, that's why we kept warning you about the polls showing Sanders having a much better shot at beating Trump.)

"Do you really want Trump as the role model for your children?" (No, and we don't want a pack of cheaters--the Democratic Establishment--as role models either.)

"With all due respect, you’re beginning to sound like a bunch of petulant children who kick and scream whenever they don't get everything they want. You’re the equivalent of the sandlot brat who whines 'it’s my ball' and quits the game because he doesn't like the way it's being played or because he's not winning." (Oh my God, this guy is soooo arrogant. He's essentially saying that if we don't like the fact that the primaries were rigged--i.e., the way the "game" is being played--we're "petulant children.")

"If you fail to show up for Hillary in November, and Trump wins, then your revolution will prove to be nothing more than a faddish exercise in futility by privileged white millennials who shamefully cut off their noses to spite their faces, while destroying everything that Sanders worked to achieve for you." (This is a not-so-subtle way of saying, "You'll be responsible for a Trump presidency and all the awful things that will ensue." According to Ostroy, Clinton supporters won't be responsible--even after ignoring the polls--but we'll be responsible. Oh, the irony and the arrogance!)

"With Trump you’ll get a big fat sweaty middle-finger shoved in your face." (You mean, kinda like the middle-finger you're shoving in our face us right now, and have been shoving in our face for the last several months?)


Above: In this recent video clip, we see that Trump is now beating Hillary in the polls, as many earlier polls had indicated would happen - polls that Hillary's most strident supporters claimed were ridiculous. YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WVfDpVYahE.

One Man's Foolishness? Or the Belief of Many?

Now, some people might think that Ostroy's blabbering is just one guy's opinion, no big deal. Trust me, I follow the news like a hawk and I read comments to news stories with avid curiosity. I can tell you that he is very reflective of many Hillary supporters. They have nothing but contempt for the folks who supported Sanders, and are demanding that Sanders' supporters--after being tricked--immediately pledge their allegiance to Hillary and her fellow Wall Street marionettes. For example, here are some of the comments to Ostroy's piece, which I've seen time and time again during this whole electoral process (my comments in parenthesis):

"These Bernie or Bust-ers are no better than Trump supporters..." (Not all Trump supporters are bad people. Many of them know that the current political establishments--both Democrat and Republican--have not served them well - they just don't know how to fix it. For example, many Trump supporters think that more tax-breaks-for-the-wealthy will help, not realizing that low taxes on the wealthy have been the main cause of our economic and national debt problems for the last 30-40 years.)

"A true liberal doesn't allow for Trump or other republicans to win by choosing to abstain from voting or by voting for a spoiler candidate." (So, a true liberal doesn't have voting freedom? They must vote as others bully them to?)

"they'd rather pout" (No, we'd rather have a democracy instead of a plutocracy.)

"No amount of reasoning is going to reach the liberal wing of the tea party (B o B's), not Bernie himself or anyone else, fortunately for the country they are in the minority and we will elect Hillary with or with out them." (Good, if you don't need us then stop telling us how to vote.)

"They are throwing away progress, they are throwing away our future! You are not only going to make Trump president with this attitude, but you are sending all the incredible changes you and Bernie made with the political revolution down the drain..." (There haven't been any incredible changes, I don't understand what this person is talking about. Bernie was talking about changes, but since he didn't win the nomination his agenda will slowly fade away under Clinton & Kaine's neoliberal agenda.)

"Trying to talk to a Bernie or Bust holdout is frighteningly similar to trying to talk to a Trump supporter. They both hate Hillary to an irrational degree, will attack YOU if you try to reason with them and are both working to elect Trump." (Wait a minute, we tried to "reason" with you months ago, pointing out that the polls were consistently showing Sanders doing better against Trump...and you attacked us!)

"Well said, Andy. All these whiny 'busters' need to get over themselves and move on. Real adults understand that Life is frequently about compromises... Sometimes you get a little sand on your hot dog. Oh, boo-hoo. Get behind Hillary and stop Trump from happening. I'll tell you this...if you DON'T vote or opt to vote for Trump purely out of spite, I wouldn't go around bragging about it after the Orange One moves into the white house." (So, let me get this straight, the subversion of the democratic process is equivalent to "a little sand on your hot dog"? Is that all democracy is to you, just a hot dog?)

"Dear Bernie or Busters, this isn't High school. This is the real world where a madman is a heartbeat away from the codes to 4000 nuclear missiles." (Hmmm, so now we'll be responsible for nuclear war if we don't vote for Hillary? Even after we warned you about the polls showing Hillary more vulnerable to Trump than Sanders?)

Here's a message for Hillary Clinton's salespeople: I don't buy into those who ignore legitimate warnings, subvert our democracy, and then try to shame us into accepting fraudulent election results. And there are millions like me, who dislike being punched in the gut and then told, "Now kiss my feet!"

Sorry Hillary Shills, we will not goose-step behind your arrogance. If Trump wins, that's on you. You were warned, now own it.

(This blog post is not intended to condemn everyone who will vote for Hillary, of course. Many of them understand, all too well, why some people--like myself--simply cannot bring themselves to vote for a candidate with such a checkered past of lies, deception, secretiveness, and bad policy decisions. Likewise, I understand why they might vote for Hillary Clinton as the seeming lesser of two evils. Trump is definitely a frightening candidate.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I just gave $27 to Jill Stein. You should too. As Hillary advocates for more fracking, and Trump says global warming is a hoax, Stein is pushing for a "Green New Deal."

Above: Now that Bernie has conceded to Hillary (after Hillary and the DNC conspired to undermine our democracy - see my last blog posts), progressives and independents must choose who they will support. Something to consider, is that Hillary is a promoter of fracking, which is highly damaging to the environment, and Trump has called global warming a hoax. Both of these stances indicate that our two major candidates don't take environmental problems too seriously - despite the clear evidence that man is indeed making the planet warmer and warmer by constantly spewing fossil fuel exhaust into the atmosphere. Contrast that with the Green Party's Jill Stein, whose platform includes the following:

"Enact an emergency Green New Deal to turn the tide on climate change, revive the economy and make wars for oil obsolete. Initiate a WWII-scale national mobilization to halt climate change, the greatest threat to humanity in our history. Create 20 million jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, conservation and restoration of critical infrastructure, including ecosystems."

Consider giving Jill Stein a $27 donation, as I just did, to continue the fight to clean up the environment, make employment a right, and get money out of politics (http://www.jill2016.com/). Send a message to Hillary, the DNC, Trump, and Republicans, that you don't support plutocracy or fascism.

(Photo above courtesy of Paul Stein and Wikipedia, used here under the CCA-SA 2.0 license.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Sarah Silverman tells Bernie Sanders supporters they're "being ridiculous." She's right. I'm finally throwing in the towel and saying, "I'm With Her"..... Jill Stein, 2016!


Above: In this video clip, we see Al Franken and Sarah Silverman awkwardly trying to fill in empty time while a band gets ready to play at the Democratic National Convention last night. Silverman eventually grows tired of Bernie Sanders supporters and tells them they're "being ridiculous" for causing a commotion and not supporting Hillary. YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjGEHIkZ7ss

Sarah Silverman first supported Hillary Clinton, then supported Bernie Sanders, and now is back to supporting Hillary Clinton. She apparently feels that voters not willing to follow her example are "ridiculous." But it's easy for people like Silverman, i.e., multi-millionaires, to support Clinton because they have no real need for radical change. Would they prefer a few radical changes? Perhaps, but the status quo, or perhaps some incremental changes here and there, will do for now. However, for people who are mired in poverty, suffocating under oppressive debt, stuck in low-paying & dead end jobs, contemplating suicide, etc., incremental change means nothing - it will not improve their lives in any significant way. Indeed, incrementalism is a strategy to shut the people up, and acclimate them to economic injustice, while the wealthy rake in more wealth.

Worse still, we can't even be certain that Hillary will fight hard (or fight at all) for incremental changes. She is a fundamentally deceptive and secretive person (just as the DNC is a fundamentally deceptive and secretive organization) and she is also beholden to the financial industry - and the financial industry does not look kindly upon middle and lower-income Americans, seeing them more as potential targets for fraud & victimization than as human beings.

Ultimately, Silverman and others are asking us to overlook the rigged primaries, which have undermined our democracy, and to just go ahead and support Hillary and the DNC anyway. Oh, and if you have any doubts, consider these four examples of how the primaries were rigged:

Collusion and Money Laundering: The Clinton Campaign and the DNC colluded to launder campaign cash through at least 32 state state party committees, and then put most of money into the "Hillary Victory Fund," thereby skirting donation limit rules, and giving Hillary an unfair and unethical advantage.

Super-Delegates to Undermine Voters: Super-delegates pledge their support for Hillary (e.g., in conversations with reporters), before voters even went to the polls at the various primaries, thereby making it seem that Hillary could not be defeated. This, no doubt, suppressed the vote. The chair of the DNC explained the purpose of the super-delegates: "Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists." She is telling you, blatantly and openly, that the super-delegates exist to make sure that candidates like Clinton beat candidates like Sanders.

The DNC Took Sides: As the recent WikiLeaks clearly show, the DNC, despite their mandate to remain neutral, actively worked to undermine the Sanders campaign. Is this any surprise though, since the chair of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was a former campaign worker for Clinton. You would think that such a conflict of interest might have led to her to step down from the DNC when the Sanders-O'Malley-Clinton race began. But, you see, the DNC thinks we're suckers. They think, "Those fools don't even know what a conflict of interest is, let alone care about it."

Suppressing Debate: Debbie Wasserman Schultz limited debates, and scheduled debates at odd times, in an effort to keep voters from hearing Bernie Sanders' message.

Despite this damning evidence, many Hillary supporters are vehemently denying that the primaries were rigged in any way whatsoever and are, instead, calling Sanders' supporters "whiny little children" and "sore losers." And many who do acknowledge the fraudulent nature of the primaries say, "What's the big deal" (see, e.g., "With DNC Leaks, Former ‘Conspiracy Theory’ Is Now True—and No Big Deal," Common Dreams, July 25, 2016).

Question: How can the subversion of our democracy be no big deal? How can it be something to dance about (as I saw last night at the DNC)? And how can people call us "whiny little children" for calling out such unethical activity? Die-hard Hillary supporters, like Silverman, are essentially telling us, "Yeah, you were tricked, deceived, and lied to, but you are being absolutely ridiculous for not supporting the people who tricked, deceived, and lied to you." Excuse me???

Even Bernie Sanders, bless his heart, is so afraid of a Trump presidency, that he has been reduced to supporting the people who contemplated using his religion against him. Oh Bernie, say it ain't so!

In any event, no Ms. Silverman, it is you who are being ridiculous. And I refuse to be ridiculous with you. I am voting for Jill Stein, a woman who probably has more integrity and good intentions in her pinky finger than the Clintons have had in their entire neoliberal (i.e., Republican Light) lives.  

Monday, July 25, 2016

Dear Fellow Progressives: Let's stop being suckers for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Establishment, and form our own party (or vote for the Green Party)

Above: Unlike Hillary Clinton, President Franklin Roosevelt was a true fighter for progressive values. And, perhaps even more importantly, he surrounded himself--and listened to--other, even more progressive fighters - his wife Eleanor, Harry Hopkins, Harold Ickes, Aubrey Williams, and many more. Many liberal groups today don't fully appreciate the combativeness of New Deal policymakers. For example, according to a New York Times piece, naively titled, "Could Hillary Clinton Become the Champion of the 99%," we learn that "The Roosevelt coalition [the Roosevelt Institute] agreed by and large with the direction of Sanders’s economic program, but they regretted the crudeness of his exposition." I find it ironic that the "Roosevelt coalition" regretted the crudeness of Sanders' exposition, when FDR himself famously said of organized money, "I welcome their hatred!" FDR's crudeness towards those who sought to manipulate the government with money (as Hillary Clinton's bankster buddies are doing today) was just as forceful, if not more so, than Sanders' crudeness. Why? Because sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.   
  
Everyday, I read stories about progressives trying to influence Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Establishment - trying to make them more progressive. And every day, I think more and more, progressives are being played for suckers. They should, instead, realize that the Democratic Party has been irreversibly changed to the party of Wall Street, and they should therefore form their own party and/or vote for Green Party candidates.

Here are some points to consider:

Wall Street Friendly VP Pick: Clinton chose Tim Kaine to be her running mate, despite pleas from progressives to pick someone more, well, progressive. Tim Kaine is a Wall Street Democrat who will work harder for the banksters than workers. That's why he supported anti-union "right-to-work" laws when he was governor of Virginia, and that's why he supports the anti-union, and anti-democratic, TPP. (See, e.g., "Tim Kaine Has a Troubling Record on Labor Issues," The Nation, July 22, 2016)

Clinton Rewards Wasserman Schultz For Rigging The Primaries: Spitting in the face of progressives, Clinton hired Debbie Wasserman Schultz to be the honorary chair of her campaign, after leaked emails showed Wasserman Schultz used her position as the DNC Chair to manipulate the primaries in favor of Clinton.  In effect, Clinton has rewarded Wasserman Schultz for rigging the primaries against Sanders & progressives by giving her a prestigious job. Other folks at the DNC apparently contemplated using Bernie Sanders' religion against him. I wonder how Hillary and the DNC will reward them? (Also see, "DNC Leaks Reveal Party Insiders Promising Access to President in Exchange for Cash," Common Dreams, July 25, 2016) 

An Assembly Line of Centrists: To replace Wasserman Schultz, the DNC picked Donna Brazile, another pro-Clinton centrist Democrat.

The Democratic Establishment And Their Bankster Buddies: Despite progressive calls to re-instate Glass-Steagall, Hillary remains adamant that she will, under no conditions, prohibit her bankster friends from gambling with depositor funds and taxpayer money.

Wasserman Schultz And Predatory Lenders: Debbie Wasserman Schultz--the chair of the DNC for heaven's sake--supported predatory lenders after they gave her campaign cash.

Hillary's Secret Speeches: Despite progressive calls to release the transcripts of her secret speeches to Goldman Sachs, Hillary has thumbed her nose at progressives and, in effect, said: "I'm not releasing them, because you suckers are going to vote for me anyway - because Donald Trump."

The False Promise Of The Party Platform: The Democratic Establishment has resisted progressive changes proposed by Bernie Sanders' folks on the Party Platform Drafting Committee. Not that it matters anyway because, as I pointed out in a recent blog post, the Democratic Establishment has no qualms about blatantly betraying their party's platform when Wall Street tells them to. The granting of five picks to Bernie Sanders, for the drafting committee, is a sham.

And these points are just a continuation of the un-progressive and bad decisions that Hillary, her husband (who will be "First Man" should Hillary win), and the Democratic Establishment, have made over the last quarter-century. From seeking to privatize Social Security, to voting to make bankruptcy more difficult for struggling families, to supporting middle-class-destroying trade deals, to voting for the Iraq War--and thus wasting hundreds of billions of dollars that could have been spent improving America's crumbling infrastructure--the Clintons and the Democratic Establishment are a neoliberal horror show.    

Above: FDR brought fighters into his administration, like Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior and head of the Public Works Administration (PWA). We can be sure that Hillary, should she win, will not bring anyone into her administration that will offend Wall Street. They will all be corporate-friendly centrists like Tim Kaine. Above scan is from a personal copy, used here for educational, non-commercial purposes

By continuously trying to change the Democratic Party--a party that has nothing but contempt for them--progressives are embarrassing themselves. They would be better off devoting their energies to better coordination with each other (the progressive movement is extremely disjointed) and then forming a new political party and/or voting for the Green Party.

The Democratic Establishment is an utterly corrupt and unethical cabal of insiders who think progressives are fools to be manipulated. Don't let them get away with it.

"And so you start to think that the game that the Clintons play with us, where we vote for them because we have nowhere else to go--you know, it’s a two-party system, it’s a duopoly, and there’s... a sort of political economics of how we the voter are manipulated in this situation, and they’re very, very good at playing that game. And so people like you and me, who are on the left, are captured, basically; we don’t have anywhere else to go, and they play us in a certain way."

--Thomas Frank, historian and political analyst, in "Thomas Frank and 'The New Liberal,'" Huffington Post, March 18, 2016

(Image used under license.)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The NYA created many new opportunities for African Americans

Above: In this 1942 photograph, we see a young man in the New Deal's National Youth Administration (NYA) working as a lab assistant at the Frederiksted Municipal Hospital, Virgin Islands. The Final Report of the National Youth Administration notes that "From the time of its establishment, NYA pursued the policy that no person was to be deprived because of race, creed, color, or national origin of any employment, position, work, compensation, or other benefits made possible under the program of the NYA" (p. 111). Hundreds of thousands of young African Americans found opportunities in the NYA. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The National Youth Administration improved the lives of young Puerto Rican men and women

Above: The description for this photo (ca. 1939-1942) reads, "Not outside the safeguards of the NYA health program are the 175 resident workers of La Mona. The outstanding medical and dental men of Puerto Rico recently visited  La Mona aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Unalga; they brought with them an X-ray machine and gave complete physical examinations to all the boys." The young men you see above were part of a National Youth Administration (NYA) project to perform forestry work on Mona Island. The NYA provided thousand of jobs for young Puerto Rican men and women who were not enrolled in school. Photo provided courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: The description for this photo (ca. 1939-1942) reads, "Waitress in University of Puerto Rico Student Restaurant Project." By providing work opportunities, the National Youth Administration helped many young Puerto Ricans finish high school or college. For example, during any given month of the 1940-1941 academic year, nearly 1,200 students participated in the NYA's student work program. Photo provided courtesy of the National Archives.

The New Deal's NYA greatly improved the lives of young Puerto Rican men and women. Today, the story is quite different. As U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren has noted, many super-wealthy Americans want Puerto Rico to cut health care, close K-12 schools, and reduce its support for the University of Puerto Rico. Why? Because these super-wealthy Americans don't care about the health and education of young Puerto Ricans (or any young Americans). The misery of others means nothing to them, they just want more money. Living on $50 million per year is unacceptable to them - it has to be $75 million per year. And when they reach $75 million per year, that will become unacceptable - it will have to be $100 million per year. The New Deal ethos has been replaced with an ethos of insatiable and sociopathic greed - and young Puerto Ricans are suffering for it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The New Deal made us smile. Trickle-down economics is making us hate each other.

Above: The description for this photograph (ca. 1934-1939) reads, "Lunch and grins during the construction of the Mississippi River Lock at Dubuque, Iowa." This river lock project was funded by the New Deal's Public Works Administration (PWA) and, like thousands of other PWA projects, it brought smiles to workers hungry for jobs during the Great Depression. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: Though critics sometimes scold the New Deal for not completely eliminating hundreds of years of racism, in just 10 years, the New Deal did open up hundreds of thousands of new opportunities. The African Americans in this photo are in the New Deal's National Youth Administration (NYA). Scholar Harvard Sitkoff writes, "the federal government [during the New Deal] aided blacks to an unprecedented extent, both substantively and symbolically. New Dealers joined with civil rights organizations to fight for equality of treatment for blacks in the relief and recovery programs and largely succeeded in the FSA, NYA, PWA, UHSA, and FWA" (A New Deal for Blacks, 30th Anniversary Edition, 2009, p. 248). Photo courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum and the New Deal Network.

Above: This 1939 photograph shows a WPA worker receiving his paycheck in Washington, DC. In his autobiography, Ronald Reagan wrote: "The WPA was one of the most productive elements of FDR's alphabet soup of agencies because it put people to work building roads, bridges, and other projects... it gave men and women a chance to make some money along with the satisfaction of knowing they earned it." That's probably why this guy is smiling. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: The description for this 1938 photograph reads, "WPA Hot School Lunch Project - School lunches are prepared and distributed by trucks for undernourished children to schools in the Dist. of Columbia. Photo shows children enjoying their hot school lunch." These children seem very happy to have a nice meal. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: This photo is part of a larger series, showing a child receiving therapy, and gaining much greater mobility, at the Morris Memorial Hospital in Milton, West Virginia, ca. 1936-1940. The hospital was a WPA project, and the therapy offered at the hospital brought smiles to children in need. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: These two women are at a camp for unemployed women in Minnesota, operated by the New Deal's Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), 1934. There were FERA camps for unemployed women in various parts of the country, where they could learn new job skills, participate in recreational activities, and network & socialize with each other. Part of the the idea behind these camps was, obviously, to boost the spirits of women struggling through the Great Depression and, judging by the above smiles, must have been somewhat successful. Sadly, the suicide rate among women has increased by about 45% in recent years. This has happened alongside the financial elite's assault on the middle-class, and our culture's rejection of the New Deal. Coincidence? Photo courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum.

Above: Across the country, tens of thousands of American Indians worked in the New Deal's Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The program alleviated poverty & unemployment, improved infrastructure & agricultural land, and produced the smiles you see above on these American Indian CCC enrollees in Michigan. Today, despite extraordinarily high rates of poverty, unemployment, and depression on Indian reservations, we would never consider a new CCC for them. Instead, we have fully embraced the disastrous and solidarity-destroying principles of trickle-down economics and hyper-individualism. Photo courtesy of the Michigan History Center.

Conservative columnist David Brooks, lamenting on the rise of Donald Trump and the anger & fear that is pulling our culture apart at the seams, recently wrote: "solidarity can be rekindled nationally. Over the course of American history, national projects like the railroad legislation, the W.P.A. and the NASA project have bound this diverse nation. Of course, such projects can happen again - maybe through a national service program, or something else."

Yes, Mr. Brooks, they can happen again. But they won't. As long as Republicans and Neoliberals are running the federal government (and American voters are getting ready to put even more of these people into high political office) bold programs that can bring the nation together will not be pursued because they might possibly reduce the gargantuan profits of wealthy executives, shareholders, and hedge fund managers (i.e., the big campaign donors for Republicans and Neoliberals). And, Lord knows, we can't possibly offend our precious and holy "JOB CREATORS"... no matter how pathetic their actual job-creating skills are.

The New Deal made Americans smile. But the economic philosophies of the past 3-4 decades, i.e., trickle-down economics, austerity, individualism, "greed is good," etc., are dividing us, angering us, and making us believe that more guns & ammunition, and routinely carrying assault rifles when we go shopping or go to the movies, are the solutions to our problems. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said "An armed society is a peaceful society." The fact that we are already the most heavily armed society in the developed world, and the most violent, seems to have not mattered to the maker and bearer of that bumper sticker.

In any event, which would you prefer? Another New Deal, to bring us together for common interests like infrastructure development, national park improvements, and preserving our history? Or, even more hyper-individualism, where we constantly eye each other suspiciously - with contempt in our hearts and our fingers near the trigger?

I vote for another New Deal. But I fear I'm in the minority.

Above: A bas relief, "Promote the General Welfare," in Greenbelt, Maryland, created with New Deal funding. The Founding Fathers recognized that the common good was something worth pursuing, so they put it into the Constitution (in both the preamble and Article I, Section 8). New Deal policymakers gave life to this aspect of the Constitution through a variety of programs & policies. But today, trickle-down economics and hyper-individualism are making a mockery of it. And that, I am convinced, is why we are seeing Americans so angry at one another - and so hungry for more weapons to protect themselves from each other. We are facilitating anger and violence, through economic policies that enrich the already-rich and punish & insult those who are struggling. Photo by Brent McKee.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Infant Mortality: The New Deal saved and improved the lives of babies. Trickle-down economics, greed, and austerity are killing them.

Above: The description for this photo (ca. 1935-1939) reads, "Baby gets a bath with all modern conveniences at the Allegheny County Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA." The Allegheny Hospital was built with funds from the New Deal's Public Works Administration (PWA). Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

In recent years we've been alerted, time and time again, that our infant mortality rate is too high. But, like so many problems in America, e.g., crumbling infrastructure, gun violence, increasing rates of suicide, and children drinking leaded water, we're not doing much about it. We're in a state of political and cultural paralysis.

Consider just a few of these repeated warnings about infant mortality:


2014: "Our infant mortality rate is a national embarrassment," Washington Post, September 29, 2014.

2015: "U.S. infant mortality rate stays high, report finds," NBC News, August 6, 2015.

2016: "The U.S. is failing in infant mortality, starting at one-month," New York Times, June 6, 2016.

Why are so many infants dying in America, the wealthiest nation in the world? Well, for many reasons. But, according to Dr. Aaron Carroll at the Indiana University School of Medicine, "Deaths in the postneonatal period are due, in large part, to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)... and accidents. Moreover, they seem to occur disproportionately in poor women." Speaking about a recent study, Dr. Carroll writes, "One suggestion made by the authors, with which I agree, is that we consider programs of home nursing visits to reduce the incidence of SIDS and accidents."

Hmmm, in addition to building new hospitals, operating health clinics, delivering immunizations, making diapers for low-income families, improving nutrition, etc., guess what else the New Deal did?

Above: A WPA nurse on a home visit, helping a new mother. Image courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library & Museum and the New Deal Network.

So, a lot of infant mortality can be explained by poverty, which trickle-down economics, greed, and austerity has made worse over these past many years. But, since we have 19 million Americans who are un- and under-employed, and since experts say that home nursing visits would help reduce the rate of infant mortality, and since the history of the WPA shows us that we can successfully hire the unemployed to engage in such work, we'll surely create a new WPA program, right? For the good of infants and children, yes?
 
Nope.
 
You see, free market fanatics, Tea Partiers, Ayn Rand devotees, and Koch puppets have so thoroughly demonized public programs, that we're too scared of the Socialism Bogeyman to address infant mortality in a significant way. And conservative Democrats and Neoliberals, beholden to Corporate America, devote little energy to changing this toxic "government-is-bad" national dialogue. Also, unlike New Deal policymakers--who saw the unemployed as an untapped resource--many modern policymakers view the unemployed as useless "parasites" and "takers." Therefore, tax-breaks-for-the-wealthy, and less spending on the common good, will remain the dominant philosophies. Call it: "Who-Gives-A-Sh&t" public policy.
 
The state of Kansas provides a good example of our modern Who-Gives-A-Sh&t public policy. There, Governor Sam Brownback--a Tea Party darling and a leader of the trickle-down economics movement--has repeatedly threatened to cut his state's Children's Initiative Fund (part of which supports an infant health assistance program) to help close the budget gap created by his massive tax cuts for the wealthy. Nice, right?
 
So, for the foreseeable future we will continue to lag behind other developed countries on infant health--just as we lag behind on just about every other health care metric (for example, life expectancy)--while simultaneously waving flags and yelling "We're Number One!!" 
 
Unfortunately for infants (and the rest of us), the cost of being "number one" can be death.
 
"...we estimate that every $100 in New Deal spending per capita was associated with... a reduction in infant deaths of 18 per 1,000 live births..."
 
--David Stuckler (sociologist, Oxford University) and Sanjay Basu (epidemiologist, Stanford University), "How Austerity Kills," New York Times, May 12, 2013

Friday, July 15, 2016

New Deal Art: "Pretzel Vendor"

Above: "Pretzel Vendor," a lithograph by Harry LeRoy Taskey (1892-1958), created while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, ca. 1935-1939. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

New Deal toys for children

Above: The description for this 1938 photo reads, "Girl shown with doll that was repaired on WPA doll repair project." The photo was taken in Washington, DC, and is provided courtesy of the National Archives.

Toys are a fun part of growing up. They also enhance the development of creativity, focus, and problem-solving skills. New Deal policymakers understood all this. So, they paid unemployed workers to make toys, or refurbish discarded toys, for underprivileged children. These types of work projects solved or addressed three matters: Unemployment, child development, and waste.

A 1935 report from the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) noted the following: 

"In [public works] handicraft projects, over twenty-five hundred women were employed; while in handicraft classes, 3,203 women teachers conducted 43,250 classes attended by 1,058,205 women and girls. These handicraft groups made baskets and rugs, they wove, knitted and crocheted, they made toys for Christmas distribution to the children of relief families, sometimes fabricating them ingeniously out of cornshucks, pine needles, walnut shells, and gourds. Some very fine work was done in copper. Broken toys were collected and repaired in many states for Christmas distribution. Typical reports from Montana tell of the help of the Girl Scouts, the Rainbow Girls and Boy Scouts in collecting these old toys for renovation, and of money to buy Christmas candies donated by the Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis and Rotana clubs" (The Emergency Work Relief Program of the F.E.R.A., April 1, 1934 - July 1, 1935, p. 84).

   Above: The description for this 1938 photo reads, "Dolls are repaired by women workers on a WPA Doll Repair Project." Photo taken in Washington, DC, and provided courtesy of the National Archives.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

New Deal dental clinics for children

Above: The description for this photograph reads, "Kanawha County, West Virginia - Dental Clinic showing the oral hygienist cleaning teeth of school children with an NYA worker in attendance." During the New Deal, health care workers & trainees were employed in public work programs--like the Works Progress Administration and National Youth Administration--and addressed the health care needs of non-wealthy Americans. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

According to the National Children's Oral Health Foundation (NCOHF), "Dental care is the most prevalent unmet health need of children in the United States," and "An estimated 16 million children in America have untreated tooth decay." The CDC adds, "Tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the United States. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning."

America should be increasing the amount of  dental care it provides to children (and adults too), not only because it's the right thing to do, but also because it's the economically smart thing to do. As the NCOHF points out, "For every $1 spent on oral health preventive measures, American taxpayers are saved as much as $50 in restorative and emergency procedures for the under and uninsured." In other words, as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Unfortunately, the political right has brutally, callously, and falsely labeled low-income Americans as "takers," thereby turning Americans against one another. This foolishness contributes to children having unmet dental care needs, and also ends up costing us more money in the long run.

During the New Deal, the WPA operated dental clinics all across the nation. For example, "in some rural areas the WPA operated mobile dental clinics, staffed with a dentist, nurse, and clerk, that went in trailers from school to school" (Final Report on the WPA Program, 1935-43, p. 69). New Deal policymakers saw this as a way to get unemployed health care professionals back to work, while at the same time addressing a very important, unmet need. Today, few of our policymakers possess this sort of common sense.

Above: WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

New Deal Art: Boatbuilders' Houses, St. Johns, Virgin Islands

Above: This watercolor and pencil painting was created by Mitchell Jamieson (1915-1976), while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1936. Jamieson went on to become a very successful artist and served our nation in a number of capacities. An interesting (and also tragic) biography of him can be found hereImage courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Making America Safe: The New Deal's elimination of hundreds of grade-crossings

Above: The description for this photo (ca. 1935-1943) reads, "Completed Works Program grade-crossing [elimination] structure under the Pennsylvania Railroad at Minnesota Avenue, Washington, D.C." Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: An oil painting by an unknown WPA artist in Iowa, ca. 1935-1943. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Above: This bridge in Nashville, Tennessee--funded by the Public Works Administration (PWA)--eliminated a dangerous grade-crossing. Photo from the 1936 book, The Story of PWA in Pictures.

A grade-crossing is a point where a railroad line and a vehicle road meet. Grade-crossings impede the flow of traffic, and are also dangerous. New Deal policymakers facilitated the elimination of hundreds of grade-crossings across America. In 1939, for example, it was reported that the PWA had "aided in eliminating one of the Nation's greatest menaces - the railway grade crossing. Under the $400,000,000 statutory allocation of PWA funds to the Bureau of Public Roads for highways, 492 grade separations were built. In addition, communities and States have applied for PWA aid for 40 projects costing $36,292,483 to eliminate 117 additional death traps" (America Builds: The Record of PWA, p. 188).

Other types of dangerous crossings were also eliminated by New Deal work programs. For example, the following was reported by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) in 1935: "a pedestrian underpass in Davenport [Iowa]... now connects a large school, attended by several hundred children, with a park containing a zoo, playground and picnic facilities; formerly, it was necessary for children and others to climb a grade-embankment twenty-five feet high and cross the railroad tracks to get from one side to the other" (The Emergency Work Relief Program of the F.E.R.A., April 1, 1934 - July 1, 1935, p. 41).

And make no mistake about it, grade-crossings can be extremely dangerous. On April 11, 1935, for example, 14 high school students were killed when a train hit a bus in Rockville, Maryland. "President Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke out the next day, pledging up to $200 million for eliminating dangerous railroad crossings throughout the United States, including the fatal one at Rockville in Montgomery County."  ("After 60 years, small town's tragedy remains vivid 'This Was Our Worst Day,'" Baltimore Sun, April 9, 1995).      


Above: In this ABC News video from 2015, we see that grade crossings are still a deadly problem today. Unfortunately, we don't have a New Deal to eliminate these remaining threats. Tax-breaks-for-the-wealthy and endless military adventures have been judged to be more important than addressing our infrastructure problems - problems that include not only dangerous grade-crossings, but also sewage spilling into waterways and making people sick; children drinking leaded water; dams failing during heavy storms; hundreds of thousands of water main breaks; and substandard roads that contribute to thousands of highway deaths every year. YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOsZexohjgw.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

New Deal Art: "Old Willows"

Above: "Old Willows," a lithograph by Louis Lozowick (1892-1973), created while he was in the WPA art program, 1940. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Dingbats in Congress: They've been drinking lead to starve the beast

Dingbat: "A dingbat is an idiot: a person who's dumb, silly, or just empty-headed." (Vocabulary.com)

 Above: WPA workers building a new water reservoir in Cecil County, Maryland, 1935. Between 1933 and 1943, the New Deal funded thousands of waterworks projects all across the country. Why? Because FDR and his fellow New Deal policymakers thought that uncontaminated drinking water was important. Today, many policymakers think tax-breaks-for-the-wealthy is far more important than clean drinking water; probably because those tax breaks are funneled back to them in the form of campaign contributions - kickbacks. And that's why millions of American children are drinking leaded water, in various parts of the country, and the federal government is doing little or nothing about it. Most of our policymakers don't give a damn, because they've been paid not to give a damn. Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.

Above: This video reminds me of how our current policymakers address infrastructure problems. YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVJL9oXgsAA.  

It was recently reported that the Canon Office Building, where members of Congress "work," has high levels of lead in its water supply. So, bottled water will be used from now on. This is just the latest debacle with America's crumbling and lead-tainted water infrastructure. Contaminated water is being discovered all across the country on a fairly routine basis now, and the policy response has been weak, spotty, or even non-existent. The whole thing resembles a game of whack-a-mole, where the core problem is never adequately addressed.

Any rational culture would have, by now, begun a massive initiative to modernize its water supply & delivery system. After all, lead is a neurotoxin that causes brain damage and other ailments in children. The CDC has said that no amount of lead is safe to consume. Specifically, they've said, "No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. And effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected."

But we don't live in a rational culture, do we? Instead, we'll just continue to keep taxes low on the super-wealthy and thus starve our governments of revenue (this is the right-wing "starve the beast" doctrine that has ruled our nation for the past 35 years). If any new revenue is raised, it's sure to be regressive taxes, tolls, fees, and fines on the middle-class & poor (e.g., higher sales taxes, higher property taxes, higher fuel taxes, higher utility rates, more aggressive law enforcement, etc.). And this is just how the super-wealthy like it, which is why they pour millions of dollars into political campaigns. They want their taxes kept low, they don't give a damn about the nation's infrastructure, and they're paying politicians to maintain the status quo of poisoned children and 657 water main breaks per day.

And our dingbats in Congress are so subservient to their corporate masters, that they've ignored their own infrastructure for decades and have been drinking lead for God knows how long. Judging by their impaired mental faculties, perhaps for a very long time. Yes, they've been drinking lead to starve the beast. Drinking lead to ensure taxes are kept low on their billionaire donors. These are our leaders doing this. But they're not really leaders, they're dingbats. And we put them there. What's that make us? And when someone came along with a big infrastructure plan (Bernie Sanders), millions said, "No thanks, that's not practical. We'll take Hillary or Trump instead. We like celebrities, not policies."

Isn't this amazing to witness? This is not your garden variety stupidity. This is a rare kind of stupidity that only comes along every so often, like when Halley's Comet comes along every 75 years. Younger folks today will be able to tell their grandchildren, "When I was a kid, people were so submissive to the rich that they willfully drank poison for them!"