Paul Ryan’s American Health Care Act

Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Mr. Donald Trump and far too many congressional and senate Republicans do not care how the American Health Care Act (AHCA) will impact on middle class and poor Americans.  What they care about is helping large corporations to maximize their profits and giving the rich the largest tax break that they can possibly give them via the AHCA.  The healthcare insurance industry is moaning and groaning about the small profit margin that they earn (I use that word loosely) and providing misleading statistics to support their assertion while paying insurance executives huge salaries.

The assertion of a small profit margin for the industry fits in perfectly with the Republicans’ agenda and their effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) so they are rallying around this assertion whether they believe the statistics or not.  Many of the people who voted for Mr. Trump will be hurt by the AHCA but he has said that he fully supports its passage and implementation.  This has earned him big time warm-and-fuzzy accolades from Speaker Ryan.  Neither Mr. Trump nor the Republicans who support the AHCA are concerned about whether it will be a better insurance plan to cover Americans than Obamacare is but, instead, are focused on the fact that they will finally be replacing President Obama’s signature healthcare plan.

The fact that the AHCA, if implemented, will cost those who are covered by it far more out-of-pocket money than Obamacare does and will cause at least 24 million Americans to lose their coverage has no impact whatsoever on Speaker Ryan or his determination to repeal and replace (maybe) Obamacare.  He says that the important thing is that the AHCA will reduce costs.  Depending on your perspective – that is, if you are rich – it will reduce costs.  But if you are among the middle class or poor, your costs are more likely to go up.  Even if executives in large corporations do not know when to say ‘we have enough’, one would think that those politicians who were elected to represent all of their constituents and not just the rich would know when to say ‘they have enough’.  One would think, and hope, that politicians would have the insight to see and understand that the middle class is the backbone of America and that to decimate it is to decimate America.

It is hard to figure out what happens to politicians after they are elected to office.  As cynical as this question may sound, are things so corrupt in politics that once a person becomes involved in it that they are just somehow consumed by the corruption?  Does  ‘country first’ and statesmanship no longer matter?  Are these supposed prerequisites and others that are required to be a dedicated leader of people and a solid patriot to various degrees – depending on the elected official and their personal mental strength and determination, gobbled up by the inherent corruption encompassed in party and politics?

A good example of what could drive someone to wrestle with cynicism like that just mentioned above is what is happening right now with the committees that are investigating whether or not Mr. Trump and/or any past or current members of his administration colluded with the Russians in an effort to impact the recent presidential election.  Rather than taking this matter as a serious threat to our democracy, getting to the root of the problem and resolving it as quickly as possible, politics is dominating the investigation.  There is more concern about protecting party and Mr. Trump and his administration than there is about protecting America.  Where do politicians draw the line?!

Sure, it is the Republican party that is in the hot seat this time but what if it were the Democrats’ party that was in the hot seat?  Would Democrats respond to the problem in the same way that Republicans are responding?  Should a president who is under investigation by the FBI be putting together a cabinet – some of whom are also under investigation, or nominating someone to become a justice on the Supreme Court?  Do these politicians know something that the rest of Americans do not know and that is why they are so cool and calm under these dangerous circumstances?  Do they believe that they can fix the problem whenever they are ready to fix it and at a moment’s notice?

I would prefer not to be cynical and I would prefer that if we are going to fight over the issues based on party affiliation, that we fight about the regular old things that we have always fought about.  At least that way I could reasonably hold out hope that we will ultimately come to our senses, stop talking past one another, stop just listening to one another and actually hear one another.  And once we begin hearing one another, then I – along with the hundreds of millions of other Americans, could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  We could then at least hope that our elected officials will somehow find common ground and address America’s current pressing issues.  And we can hope that after that, they will use that milestone as a starting point to forge a system of bipartisan governance that will work for all of us.

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line

Republicans’ Skillful Prestidigitation

A while back I mentioned to my City Councilperson that Democrats would do well to immediately put together a program similar to the successful REDMAP program that the Republicans implemented back around 2010.  I hinted that maybe she should be the person to instigate this program by bringing it up either in a city council meeting or mentioning it to the mayor.  I also mentioned to her that I did not really expect her to respond to me regarding my suggestion but that it should certainly be food for thought.  She did not respond.  I’m sure that she has plenty of other things that she is faced with that might cause her to put folks like me on the back burner; so that’s okay.  But I won’t stop pestering her whenever the urge strikes me, especially if I feel that the situation demands it.

That notwithstanding; right now, there is something that Republicans at the very highest level of federal government are assisting their fellow Republicans at the state level around the country to do that I believe amounts to REDMAP 2.0.  It is an all-out assault on the states that, in my opinion, too many Democrats seem to be totally oblivious to.  And Mr. Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are square in the middle of this plot and complicit in every move that Republicans in majority Republican states throughout America are making.  Republicans in these states are continuing to work hard to suppress votes and maintain control of these statehouses while they also work hard to take control politically at the local levels as well.  This includes mayoral positions, city councils, school boards and more.

While Mr. Trump is busy jumping up-and-down, waving his hands and saying and doing all sorts of ridiculous things to attract American voters attention and his cohorts, Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell, are either overtly or tacitly supporting him – despite the damage that he is doing to America and our reputation; Republicans at the state level around the country – out of voters purview –  are quietly adding building blocks to their goals to suppress votes and take control at their local levels of government.  To be frank, I am astonished at how much that Mr. Trump has been able to get away with thus far as he continues to thumb his nose at government and the American people.  One can only hope that those politicians who are responsible to manage the checks-and-balances of our government to assure that the fidelity of America’s best interest is always maintained are holding back because, if they act at this point, it will only serve to hurt the stability of America and the world.  But we must be able to have confidence and believe that they are acutely aware of the situation and are capable of acting quickly and will act when appropriate.

In the meantime, as we continue to monitor the situation, if we take a close look at Speaker Ryan, one key person that he admires and an example of something that likely reflects his values (e.g., his American Health Care Act [ACHA] Bill) we should not be surprised at how he is conducting himself.  The ACHA shows that he has no problem with leaving those people (the takers) who need healthcare insurance the most in his heartless wake of ‘the makers and the takers’ that he and many of his Republican colleagues often refer to.  The ‘makers’ in this reference, by the way, refers to those that are considered by these Republicans to be the productive members of American society.  The ‘takers’ are the flip side of that coin, the non-productive members of American society.  And that one key person that Speaker Ryan highly admires and who, according to him, had a lot to do with him getting into politics?  It is Ayn Rand.  Speaker Ryan says that her book ‘Atlas Shrugged’ is one of the books that he constantly rereads and he insists that his interns, at the least, read it even if they might not embrace her and her ideology.

The point here is that as Democrats, or anyone else who wants to maintain a fair and just American democracy, we must not be distracted by the prestidigitation by Republicans via Mr. Trump and his constant antics.  Instead, in these dangerous times that are full of threats that pose a clear danger to our democracy that could easily morph into an existential threat to it as we know it, we must keep our eyes on the prize.  We must not allow ourselves to be lulled to sleep and duped into thinking that all of the apparent coincidences that exists between Mr. Trump and his administration and Russia are simply that so do not warrant America’s time and scrutiny to flesh out and determine the facts.  If it turns out that these are just coincidences then fine; there will be many Americans, including me, who owe Mr. Trump and his administration an apology.  However, if it turns out that these things are not just coincidences but instead reveal that Mr. Trump and his administration in anyway colluded with Russia to manipulate a U.S. election and/or are still colluding with them now, then they should be held to account.

Keep your eyes on the politics that are taking place at the state level throughout the country and especially in your state.  It is important!  It is important because there is great power at the state level especially when there are leaders at the federal level of government who painstakingly orchestrate the conglomeration of those state powers and then tirelessly work to control how that combined power will be used to further their party’s cause at the federal level.  And if you detect things that cause you to believe that our democracy is somehow being compromised, at the state level or any other level, then get to work immediately to correct the problem.

Finally, to my city council representative – if you happen to read this article, let it serve as my request to you to spread the word to the powers that be so that someone will soon be designated to spearhead the offensive to get elected Democrats and their constituents to focus on local and state power and politics and not just federal power and politics, thwarting the Republicans’ voter suppression efforts, and getting Democrats in gear to regain their power come the 2018 and 2020 elections.

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line

No Leader No Problem

No leader, no problem; no problem, no chaos…  Excuse me?  What chaos?  There is no chaos; this administration is a fine-tuned, smooth operating machine.  You don’t believe us?  Just ask our leader.  Oh, No leader?  No problem; no problem, no chaos…  Excuse me?  What chaos?  There is no chaos; this administration is a fine-tuned, smooth operating machine.  You don’t believe us?  Just ask our leader…  We’re caught in this ridiculous Trump administration spokespersons cycle, so the only logical deduction here folks – at least according to them, is that there is no problem.  Stop this endless searching; there is no ‘there’ there!  You’re wasting your time!  Even if Mr. Trump and some members of his administration did collude with the Russians; and even if they still are colluding with them, it’s not like the United States never tried to influence other countries elections or to bring down regimes, right?  Then why have we now become so consumed with righteous indignation?

That is a small part of the takeaway that I got from an article that I recently read in The Hill by Jonathan Turley.  Maybe Mr. Turley has a point and perhaps we should try not to be so indignant about the situation on the whole.  But that does not mean that we should step back and say that everything is hunky-dory because, after all, there is no denying that the United States has certainly done the same thing.  It might be easier to take that magnanimous step backwards if we were talking about someone other than Mr. Trump as our president; but we are not.  Even if we were talking about someone other than Mr. Trump, it would still be a tough pill to swallow because, despite what the United States has done, the thought of America possibly being controlled and manipulated by Russian president Vladimir Putin in his pursuit to change the world order is unbearable.

It is even worse when one thinks about the fact that we do not have an experienced politician as president who might have some nefarious scheme of his own in mind, since that is the way that the game is played, that has the best interest of America at heart.  And that this president, no matter how much we might dislike him and disagree with his politics and policies, is only luring Mr. Putin in.  And once he takes the bait, he can hook him and land him before he can break the surface, spin, twist and turn and throw the line because, once hooked, he has realized that he was duped: he knows that his plan has been foiled and that it is imperative that he breaks free before he is netted and served up on America’s terms.  We are Americans so it should come as no surprise  to anyone that we want what is best for America!  Sure, maybe we should lose the righteous indignation but certainly not our determination to get to the bottom of this Trump, Russia situation.

Anyway, instead of that experienced politician just mentioned – who would better understand Mr. Putin and his motives, we have the “if he says nice things about me, I’m going to say nice things about him” guy.  We are in a terrible situation!  Mr. Trump is just as mismatched in this situation as a politician with no real estate experience would be if they were going up against Mr. Trump in bidding for and negotiating a real estate deal.  It’s ridiculous!  Who do you think would win in that competition?  To top off the Trump versus Putin situation, the possibility exists that Mr. Trump has been compromised by Russia.  There is no proof that this is the case but there certainly is plenty of circumstantial evidence that it is.  That is why a completely above-board, bi-partisan, non-political investigation must be conducted to flesh out the truth.

Perhaps it is just a coincidence that many of the people that Mr. Trump is putting on his cabinet are somehow linked to and liked by president Putin.  Perhaps it is a coincidence that Mr. Trump does not want the American people to see his tax returns.  Perhaps it is a coincidence that Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin’s interests closely mirror each other and perhaps it is a coincidence that Mr. Trump steadfastly refuses to criticize Mr. Putin.  Be that as it may, it is a glaring distraction that needs to be cleared up so that Mr. Trump and the congress and senate can effectively govern.  There are many problems, domestic and foreign, that need to be addressed.

Those seasoned Republican politicians in the congress and senate who are now in full control of the government know this.  They know how dangerous the situation is that America is in yet they are willing to risk protecting Mr. Trump for as long as possible in order to further the Republican agenda.  It seems that they have worked out their political calculus regarding abandoning Mr. Trump just before he drives America off the cliff.  They have established their political calculus for implementing those things that the American people will find distasteful and possibly punish them for come the 2018 and 2020 elections by pushing the implementation of some out just beyond 2018 and others just beyond 2020 to avoid that punishment.  They are counting on voters to have short memories.

What if they are wrong in their calculus?  It will be bad for them if they are wrong about voters having short memories because they might not get reelected.  But it could be catastrophic if they are wrong about and have underestimated how quickly Mr. Trump will reach that inevitable cliff!  Whether or not they come to their senses and change course before it is too late, they should and must still be held to account for what has already happened to America and our reputation as a country.  We must not have short memories and fall for the same old political BS that too many of us have always fallen for.  It is far past time that we take our responsibilities as citizens seriously.  It is time that we get engaged, stay engaged, stay informed, have long memories and do our part as citizens to protect this great Democracy!

So always remember; whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent, your vote is the most important one of all…unless you don’t use it!  So let’s hold our politicians accountable in all things but especially in putting America ahead of party and politics.

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line

Do Our Elected Officials See Us; Or Are We Just Ghost-Like Figures In An Unpleasant Dream To Them?

I have been watching in horror for the past month or so as many things that are close to the heart of all American patriots are treated loosely by Mr. Trump while Republicans, who now control everything in government in Washington, stand by and watch like helpless infants.  They are afraid to even offer him stern savory advice let alone challenge him.  I’ve watched these powerful men and women whom I once viewed as titans whose power should rightfully evoke some degree of trepidation in everyone, including one another, be swatted aside by Mr. Trump like a pesky mosquito looking for a meal.  Or even more so, like an irritating fly, which has no bite whatsoever but which one tolerates and endlessly shoos away simply because they are not quick enough to squash it and completely eliminate it from their life.

Mr. Trump has swooped in from out of nowhere and struck the fear of Trump into the hearts of all of these powerful men and women.  He has pulled back the Oz curtain and revealed the tiny man who is pulling all of the handles and manipulating the levers to blow all of the smoke and fire that makes the man in front of the curtain appear so angry, great and fearsome.  He has revealed a completely different picture of all of them.  He has jerked this tiny man from behind the curtain, grabbed him by the collar, threatened him and taken away – in some cases, his lunch and – in others, all of his lunch money.  He has done this time-and-again during this past 30-plus days and dared them to do anything about it: They have done nothing.

The terrible thing about this whole situation is that not only are our elected officials ignoring the American people like we are simply hazy figures in one of their bad dreams, but they are so intimidated by Mr. Trump and so driven by their political ambitions that they are failing to defend those things that are near and dear to all Americans’ heart.  That is what I see and fear and I believe that there are many other Americans who feel the same way.  I see things happening openly and more often today in America that I have not seen for a very long time.  Things like racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of raw hatred.  And these things appear to be condoned and encouraged by Mr. Trump and his administration.  I would be naive to say that these things were long ago dead and buried but, at the least, they have been kept simmering below the surface while our politicians work to mitigate the problem and, if possible, rid America of these debilitating cancers that are plaguing our social structure.

Republican politicians do not seem to hear us or see us and they seem to be incapable of feeling our pain.  This is scary because it is emblematic of how we got to where we are right now.  In other words, the potential problem that candidate Trump and Republican nominee Trump presented to America was, for whatever reason,  ignored too long; and when someone finally decided that it was time to strip away all of the politics and truthfully and sincerely challenge  Mr. Trump and the motives driving his campaign, it was too late.

This is not about liking or disliking Mr. Trump or preferring a Democratic president over a Republican one, it is about demanding that our president respect America’s core values and principles and that he not just talk about the rule of law but completely embrace it.  Men like Mr. Trump and Steve Bannon are extremely strong and focused although that strength and focus are fueled by different drivers.  Both men seem capable of handling and willing to tolerate almost unfathomable thresholds of all sorts of pressure and go beyond them to achieve their goals.  Therefore, both are likely capable of easily wearing down and draining ordinary citizens of all energy that they have to resist Mr. Trump’s effort to normalize himself.   And this, in effect, provides an avenue for Mr. Bannon to implement Bannon policies into American government.

Based on Mr. Trump’s policies and the cabinet that he is putting together – at this point, Mr. Bannon is still the brains of the administration.  Mr. Trump and Steve Bannon need each other in order for the Trump administration to continue to move forward with, at least, some semblance of organized purpose.  It is obvious that there are those in the GOP who disagree with Mr. Trump and the direction in which he is leading America.  And although it is painfully clear that their hearts are gripped by fear, I hope that our elected officials will see us, hear us, feel our pain and do something to mitigate our fears.  And I also hope that they will let Mr. Trump and his administration know that many Americans are afraid for themselves and America.  They should do this before it is too late.

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line