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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

No Longer A Christian Nation

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 12/24/17 12:45

by Alan Anderson

This is a very sad time. Christmas is approaching. A time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the development of the Christian church. While we spend time remembering the beginnings of the religion and the teachings and purpose of Jesus, we must reflect on where we are today as a country. We must examine the morals, values, and behaviors of our leaders and our role in the world to ensure that we remain true to our religious foundations and beliefs.

Jesus was born to bring joy and harmony to the world. He preached about the power of service to achieve greatness, about the importance of working for the poor and the oppressed to achieve life and dignity, and about the importance of harmony and love in dictating the interactions between all humans. He fought for forgiveness, for peace among all people, for building bridges and communication to solve human differences, and for ensuring the role of society to help those less fortunate and to reduce the power of money and armies to control the lives of all who inhabit the world. He fought against the power of oligarchs and monarchs and pleaded to make all people act with love and compassion in their connections with other humans.

As we begin the celebration of Christmas we are faced with a new reality....our country and its leaders do not embrace Christian values, morals, and actions. Their behavior and actions undermine all that Jesus and Christianity stood/stands for. We no longer model the actions that would allow us to be called Christians.

First, our leader, our president, is not a man who follows Christian faith. Quite the opposite. He is a man who continuously berates others, insults others, and bullies anyone who disagrees with him. He is a man who has been married three times, attacked his first wife, had an open affair with the woman who became his second wife, had a child out of wedlock, and continues to flaunt his desire to engage in sexual and physical assault against women. He is currently married to a woman who took off her clothes to work in a new country and she defends his aggressive behavior against others.

He has cheated at business, defrauding many students at his Trump University, filed several bankruptcies, and been engaged in countless court cases where he sought to intimidate adversaries and use lawsuits to hurt others. He has a charitable foundation that has acted illegally, using funds intended for charity and assistance for personal purposes and gain.

He has sought to destroy the country that he leads. Rather than bring people together he has acted in ways to divide citizens, supporting positions and people who embody hatred and violence against others. He has acted in ways to undermine the fabric of the country, failing to staff important agencies like the State Department, leaving many important positions unfilled. He has placed antagonistic people in charge of government agencies, such as a leader of the Environmental Protection Agency, who is against environmental protection, a leader of the Education Department, who doesn't support public education, and a leader of the Consumer Affairs Protection Bureau, who doesn't support consumer rights. He appoints relatives of governmental leaders, such as the wife of the leader of the US Senate (Elaine Chao) to run the Transportation Department. He selects his own children to provide advice and policy implementation for important government roles. He supports candidates for public office who have horrible records, including being removed from a state supreme court for not following the law (twice), having illicit sexual relations with young women, and claiming homosexual behavior was immoral and caused the 9/11 attack that killed thousands of Americans.

Even worse, he has placed the United States in a new role in the world. Rather than being a true leader and partner with other nations, he has isolated the US as a nation in opposition to the rest of the world. He has made efforts to withdraw from the international environmental agreements, making the US the only country not to support the Paris accords. He has made efforts to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal (with several other nations), to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, and has changed US policy to enrage the entire Arab world (and many of our allies) and undermine the entire peace process in the Middle East. People have already died in protests against his policy.

He has changed US policy in Syria, supporting the Russian positions to help dictator Bashar al-Assad stay in power. The US is now fighting against those who are trying to remove Assad.....a dictator who has killed hundreds of thousands of his own people and caused millions to flee in terror. He has also embraced President Duterte of the Philippines, another horrible man who has killed thousands of his own people. Referencing Adolf Hitler, Deterte said he wanted to kill 3 million drug addicts. Both men have been compared to Hitler, clearly one of the most evil persons to ever have lived.

And now he threatens to cut off funds for any country that votes against the awful resolution in Israel to move the US embassy to Jerusalem......a policy that the US and other countries have avoided for decades in order to allow discussion and resolution by the Israelis and Palestinians without outside interference. Such an action would only hurt the most vulnerable in those countries....clearly an action that Jesus would not support.

Add to these realities the actions and policies of the American Congress in order to judge whether the teachings of Christ are being followed by national efforts. The Congress just passed a tax bill that will throw millions of people off of health care, will especially transfer wealth to the richest people and corporations, and add a huge economic burden to the children of the future. In addition, they have failed to support the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which supports the health care of 9 million poor youth.

And a new preliminary report from the United Nations (Alston, 2017) indicates that poverty in the US is much worse than anticipated. More than 40 million people live below the poverty line, with the US experiencing one of the most extreme income inequality rankings in the developed world. Things are not going well: Average life expectancy is falling for the first time since 1993. The U.S. ranks 36th in the world for access to water and sanitation. We rank 35th out of 37 richer countries for poverty and inequality. Our incarceration rate is about five times that of the OECD countries.

The reality is that those principles and moral values that Christ taught, and his focus on helping those who are poor and ensuring that all people have a good chance at living a healthy and happy life, are greatly challenged by the reality of American life and leadership. The US has abandoned their strong effort to assist those in need and rather, have embraced giving power and money to the richest people and companies. This is not what a Christian country would do.

Let us hope that the next year will bring change. Let us hope that we will return to the teachings of Jesus and other religious leaders to construct a more just and a more peaceful world. Only then will Christmas re-emerge as an important day to celebrate the birth of Christ and Christianity. Only then will we return to be moral and spiritual leaders of the world.

Amen.


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18 Bucks A Week

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 12/23/17 13:02

by Dave Mindeman

Apparently we are supposed to be grateful. Grateful that the Republican tax bill throws us a bone. Grateful that they actually thought about the rest of us for this Festivus.

Grateful for an average of $18 bucks a week.

When compared to an estate tax break averaging $4.5 million for the privileged class, it doesn't seem like much. When a 2% reduction in taxes brings in millions for the 1% and we get our $18 bucks a week - somehow being grateful seems like a hopeless exercise.

We were not the target of these tax cuts. We were the afterthought. While they gave us that $18 bucks, they cut out the ACA mandate which will raise our insurance premiums. They gave us an increase in the children's tax credit, but then did not renew CHIP - which is causing so much angst in the states.

They slashed the corporate tax rate by 14% and gave international companies an incentive to bring profits home at an even lower rate. But they changed the Roth conversion rules for us little guys so that we have less tools to plan our retirement with.

Some corporations realizing the disparity in treatment decided to give out some paltry bonuses (AT&T's was actually part of a union contract) and some corps raised their base salary rate - which is still not a living wage and could have been done long ago. But that was more of a public relations scheme than any real benefit to workers. The real corporate winners will be the stockholders as bonus dividends, essentially stolen from the US Treasury, are given to them and company buybacks will increase the share price.

But all of that corporate benevolence is temporary. All of that largesse for the 1% and corporations was handed out on the backs of a $1 to $1.5 trillion deficit spending tax bill.

Deficit spending is not inherently wrong. When we are in recession it is a necessity. But what we have done here is used recession type economic tools to increase income disparity. It makes no logical sense.

Yes, we are in an economic expansion. Employment data is good. But we are way overdue for an economic downturn...a recession. We hope it will be light. We hope it will not cause massive layoffs. But we face that prospect without any tools to help. When you increase the deficit in a good economy, all it does is put money into the pockets of people and corporations who are already flush with cash and have no incentive to invest in expansion. When interest rates are at historic lows, the Fed is unable to lower them in response to a recessionary cycle.

In other words, the 1% and corporations have received their cushion for any economic turn - while we are essentially screwed.

But, yeah, I forgot - we did get $18 bucks a week.
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Top 10 Things To Do When Trump Is Gone

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 12/22/17 21:44

by Dave Mindeman

The top ten things that must be done immediately after Trump leaves office. And the sooner the better.

1. Infrastructure package paid for by corporate surtax.

2. Reboot the EPA

3. Hire back all those State Department people who left.

4. Since Corporations got theirs - institute an immediate $15/hr wage.

5. Solve the backlog of disability benefits.

6. Put the national monument boundaries back to where they were.

7. CDC gets back their words.

8. FIX OBAMACARE

9. Either fix immigration regs - or get rid of Trump's added mess. And if DACA is not in place - DO IT IMMEDIATELY.

10. Apologize to the world.
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