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News reports have it that Donald Trump is going to name a Veep running mate based on choosing someone with lots of experience in D.C.

Huh?  Excuse me:  I thought that Trump’s big appeal was that he’s an OUTSIDER?!?  So, to balance his outsiderness, he’s going to run with an ultimate insider.  Well, that’s about as logical as everything else he’s done.

The Déjà Vu that I’m feeling (kinda like my Spidey senses are tingling) is that this is so frigin’ reminiscent of the W./Cheney ticket.  Remember?  Everyone thought that W. was so inexperienced (maybe a tad, well … dumb) that he needed someone on the ticket with “gravitas.”  Remember the use of that word during the 2000 election?

Well, holy shit … here we are again, with a nominee who is clearly not presidential material, looking to make up for that with a Veep who’d be able to actually run the show.

How’d THAT work out for ya last time, Amurka?

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The violent anger of the political right is the clear result of the impending death of their political and social power.  Like the Old Confederacy, history is passing them by — and they don’t like it.  Understandable.

The world just has to live through their death throes, and survive the damage they’re determined to inflict.  Many in the GOP know what is actually happening, and understand that if the Republican Party or the Conservative movement are to survive, that there will have to be changes made in their policy prescriptions and their obstructionist behaviors.

The American electorate doesn’t like the results of the GOP’s Trickle-Down Economic Theory.  After more than 30 years of what George H. W. Bush once called Voo-Doo Economics, the American people, both on the right and the left politically, are ready to bury that idea and find a better way to more income equality for all Americans.  And while many still, on a theoretical level at any rate, still support smaller government and less regulations, that too is getting second looks — and while those ideas may be theoretically appealing to voters, do not seem to hold up in reality.

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are the direct result of the decisions of the GOP, and now they are having to look in the mirror to understand that actions have consequences.

The Shuddering of the GOP really does reflect the end of old and tired, and destructive policies.

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President Barack Obama’s presidency is a hugely consequential one.  His low key approach and professorial demeanor belie his long and impressive list of accomplishments.  Barack Obama has turned the enormous ship of state toward the future, and the the nation will never be the same — even the world is changed with his global Climate Change agreement.

Even GOP Presidential candidates like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who promise to reverse President Obama’s achievements, have been complaining on the campaign trail that he’s accomplished most of his agenda.

Politico has an article spelling out Obama’s incredible accomplishments, The Nation He Built.  I hope you will read the article in its entirety, but here’s an abbreviated list and a summary of accomplishments spelled out by Politico.

  1. Healthcare which covers millions of the uninsured, also included dozens of less prominent provisions to rein in the soaring cost and transform the dysfunctional delivery of American medicine.  Obama’s changing the way doctors and hospitals treat us, with the most important change being that insurers can no longer deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
  2. Education reform included an equally radical reform of the trillion-dollar student loan program, and reformed the academic standards in our schools.
  3. He’s changing the way we produce and consume energy.  Solar energy installations are up nearly 2,000%, and carbon emissions have dropped even though the economy is growing.  The new Global Climate Change Agreement, spearheaded by our President, is signed by 195 nations.
  4. Gays can now serve openly in the military, and marriage equality that was championed by our President is now the law of the land.
  5. Credit card companies can no longer impose hidden fees and markets no longer believe the biggest banks are too big to fail.
  6. He’s changed the long-term fiscal trajectory of the nation, and the national budget deficit has been cut by 2/3.

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The world seems to be veering rightward into extreme positions.  Middle Eastern anger is moving to violence, Putin is taking Russia back to cold-war era hard lines, and the GOP in America is going down their old familiar rabbit hole of intolerance, bigotry, and fear-mongering.

It still remains to be seen whether or not America will follow GOP Extremism.  Conservatives are all acting like cowering little rabbits, and one can’t quite tell if it’s political posturing, or if their right-wing brains are having a simultaneous attack of the quivering amygdalaes!

Take a look at this article for research data on how political orientation is associated with psychological processes for managing fear and uncertainty.  It has been established that the conservative brain looks and responds with more volatility in uncertain or frightening situations.  The conservative brain has a larger area of the brain called the amygdalae, and it is more excitable than in the brain of a liberal.

So, perhaps we can’t actually hold them accountable for having a cowering panicked response to difficult situations … but it’s mighty hard not to!

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In past years the Starbucks holiday cups have had winter and holiday images like snowflakes, reindeer or pine trees.  This year, Starbucks decided on a plain red design with no wintry images.

Right-wing Christians decided that the lack of wintry images is an example of political correctness and a slam against Christians.  I’m not sure when winter designs like snowflakes have been considered Christian images like the cross,  but be sure to bear in mind that the holiday cups have NEVER featured religious designs of any kind, and Starbucks does sell Advent Calendars and special coffee blends they call “Christmas Blend.”

But, an evangelical pastor was offended by the new design, because it didn’t have the usual wintry images, so he posted a message on youtube.com declaring war on Starbucks.  He claimed he’d gone into a Starbucks in Arizona and even swaggered in carrying a legal gun just to piss them off even more.  He ordered a drink and declared that his name is “Merry Christmas.”   When his drink was ready, according to Starbucks protocol, they called out his name:  Merry Christmas.

Hence, according to this fellow — Christians had won something in the “War on Christmas” because the barista was forced to call out “Merry Christmas,”  and it was a blow for Christians because obviously Starbucks hates Jesus.

He calls on fellow Christians to follow his example.  This is what they’ve come to, folks.

But, it won’t matter one way or the other!  The Righties are determined to have their friggin’ “War on Christmas” and no matter what the rest of us do — they’re gonna have it. If it isn’t red Starbucks cups, they’ll find something else. Me thinks these folks are really scared about losing the Culture War. Move on, sane Americans …

Starbucks is just their latest target.

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War On Police

There’s a war on our police … actually, there are two wars on police:  one is a declared war — the one that ISIS called for in January of this year; and the other is a war of retaliation against police brutality and the killing of unarmed Americans by the police.

Both wars kill innocent people, innocent police officers in this case.  But, then again … war does kill innocent people.  The answer, it seems to me, is to find a way to peace by understanding the root causes of this new violence.

ISIS is striking out against us for their perceived injustices.  They resent the loss of Arab prestige and power in the middle east, and they blame western nations for that loss.  Mostly, like Al Qaeda, they blame the United States.

We are the easy target:  we are a wealthy and successful nation and we have been known to throw our weight around.  We have supported brutal dictators in their neighborhood, who have suppressed their people (like Saddam Hussein in Iraq), and we have stormed into their countries with our military and wrecked havoc.

ISIS resents western nations and is busy targeting us in the only way that they can:  they are using social media to call on sympathizers in Western countries to execute so called “lone wolf terrorist attacks”; and in particular they have singled out our police and military in uniform as targets.

And now, adding to that, we have “lone wolf attacks” targeting police by individuals who are sympathetic to those standing up and calling for an end to the killing of unarmed minorities.

The sad thing about these wars is the loss of life of the innocent.  These killings will not solve problems — because this violence is not justice, it is war.

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I just did something really fun:  I downloaded the Republican Party Platform onto my laptop!  If you can ignore all the “freedom” talk, and the “opportunity” and “Constitution” and “Founding Fathers” spin, you’ll see quite readily just what their agenda is.

Right off the bat they tell you that government spending is harming the economy, which is batshit.  Government spending increases employment and therefore increases spending by fellow Americans, which in turn stimulates the economy to grow — therefore:  cutting government and government spending actually harms the economy.

And in the GOP plan, right up there with shrinking government is cutting regulations.  Once we all understand that the GOP lives to serve the elite in our nation, it then makes perfect sense that they want to cut regulations.

But, let’s just take a moment and recall that the driving force behind the 2008 economic melt-down, that almost took down the worldwide economy, was the lack of government regulations and supervision of the greedy bastards.  Yes, we eliminated and deregulated the law that had kept the economy safe for over 50 years, the Glass-Steagall Act, and gave Wall Street carte blanche to rob us … and they did!

So, if we want to roll back the minimal regulations that we have on Wall Street, on our food and drug safety, and on our cars, etc., then fine.  Elect Republicans and you’ll get your wish.  Just don’t come crying to Center Left Nation when you lose your nest egg to Wall Street greed, your defective automobile harms your child, or someone you love is poisoned by unregulated food and drug production.

And I haven’t even started on marriage equality, health care for millions of Americans, immigration reform, diplomacy over invasions, etc………

The Two Parties Are The Same?  NOT.

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We’ve had inklings of this news, but in the April 5, 2015 edition of The Washington Post this article lays out the facts — the hidden hand behind the Islamic State militants is Saddam Hussein’s.

The power of ISIS is the former Baathist Party of Saddam Hussein’s.  Most of the Iraqis involved in the success of ISIS are former Iraqi officers who served under Saddam Hussein, including some who were former Iraqi intelligence officers.  According to The Washington Post article, “Almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi officers, including the members of its shadowy military and security committees, and the majority of its emirs and princes, according to Iraqis, Syrians and analysts who study the group.”

Sunni Iraqis, who have been left out of governing the new Iraq, that is now being run by Iraqis Shiites, are taking their revenge by lending their expertise to the Islamic State.  They offer ISIS not only military expertise, but also their knowledge of the smuggling networks that allow ISIS to add to their coffers via the illegal oil trading with neighboring countries.

And, we have to remember — the Sunni, under Saddam Hussein, were the educated class, the rulers, and the experts in military matters.  When W. decided to remake the Middle East, I am pretty sure that ISIS wasn’t his goal.  But, ISIS is the result.

One of the early colossal post-invasion mistakes by the W. administration was the decision to purge Saddam Hussein’s Baathist members from the military, to bar 400,000 of their members from holding any government employment (and even denying them their pensions) — and then allowing them to keep their guns — the inevitable insurgency of the Sunni Iraqis began.

The resulting insurgency was initially pacified by American assurances that Sunnis would be included in the new Iraqi government, and by buying off the leaders with American dollars.  Unfortunately, it was assurances that America couldn’t keep — the Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki did not keep his word to form an inclusive government.

“The Americans bear the biggest responsibility. When they dismantled the army what did they expect those men to do” a former Baathist officer asked? “They were out in the cold with nothing to do and there was only one way out for them to put food on the table.”  When U.S. officials demobilized the Baathist army, “they didn’t de-Baathify people’s minds, they just took away their jobs,” he said.

Disbanding the Iraqi army after the invasion in 2003, leading to the Sunni insurgency, and the resulting Shia government’s exclusion of Sunni Iraqis in the running of the country, all led to the Sunni Baathist leaders joining forces with the Islamic State.  “The crisis of ISIS didn’t happen by chance,” according to a former intelligence officer,  “It was the result of an accumulation of problems created by the Americans and the [Iraqi] government.”

Before W.’s invasion of Iraq, Sunni and Shiites lived peacefully there, and even intermarried.  With the collapse of Iraq, the Sunni and Shia conflict in Iraq has spilled outside the country to become an active, hot war all over the Middle East.  American actions took a match and lit the fire of an Islamic Civil War.

Unintended consequences:  “Outcomes that are not the ones intended by a purposeful action,” Wikipedia definition.  NeoCon meddling in Iraq has certainly remade the Middle East — just not the way they intended when they purposefully took action in Iraq.

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Just noticed that it’s been two months since I posted on CLN.  It surely isn’t because I have nothing to say;  I think that maybe it’s that my Facebook page has drained some of my passion from my blog site!

The inspiration for commenting hits me in the moment and I dash off a quick and shortened opinion to my “Friends” on Facebook.  It’s like a release valve and some of the steam floats off, and I can then move on to other ideas and topics.  But what’s lost, for me, is the opportunity to expand the thoughts I have and provide more detail and hopefully well-reasoned opinions.

Just as emailing has replaced letter writing and texting has replaced phone calls — has Facebooking replaced Blogging?  Each new technology seems to offer easier and shorter ways to communicate our thoughts … but IS easier and shorter actually better?

We’re a lazy bunch, we Westerners.  I don’t know, maybe I should say Earthlings, because perhaps the people in the Eastern bloc countries do it too.  Perhaps it is just being human, after all.  But, something is lost here.

I will try to post on Center Left Nation more often.  It’s good for the soul to have a place to get it down in writing.  Or, maybe just get it down — because my granddaughter gets it all down in her creative photographs and images on her Instagram Page, my son gets it all down in his artwork, and my daughter gets it all down in her public speaking/lectures on having emotionally healthy families.

It’s all just creative expression of who we are, what we think, what we feel.  And, this post is a creative expression of … my own analysis of my laziness of Facebooking!

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Sleight of Hand

Suddenly and surprisingly, the GOP has now decided that it cares deeply about economic inequality in America. I’m sure we all remember that the previous position of the right on this subject was that even mentioning economic inequality was waging “class warfare” and was “the politics of envy.”  We’re glad that they have finally ended their See No Evil period, and now seem interested in addressing the issue.

We can’t wait to see their proposals — but anticipate the prescription from the right will be more of the same:  you know, Deregulate Financial Institutions; Lower Taxes for Corporations and the Uber Wealthy; and maybe even throw in Cutting Food Stamps?

None of it makes any sense in today’s environment … but, you know, they’re still following Ronald Reagan’s economic plan that is now 35 years out of date, and is the plan that caused the economic inequality in the first place!

Following the 2008 crash of the economy — which was completely predictable with all the GOP inspired lax financial regulations and tax cuts for the wealthiest among us — there arose a growing concern among the populace about the enormous concentration of wealth and wealth-growth at the top.

According to Wikipedia, “the richest 1 percent in the United States now own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.”  The gap between the top 10% and the middle class is over 1,000%; that increases another 1000% for the top 1%. The average employee “needs to work more than a month to earn what the CEO earns in one hour.”

The American people have finally caught on to the GOP deception and realize that addressing runaway economic inequality is not “waging class warfare.”  So, the GOP has no choice but to begin to address the issue and abandon the notion of just dismissing and ignoring it.

Paul Ryan, along with a parade of elected Republicans and GOP spokespersons, is now bringing up the subject of economic inequality — and at the same time is creating yet another deception.  While a few of these  statements may be factually true, the asserted conclusions and implications are untrue.

The new GOP party line is that “income inequality increased under Obama.”  Well, yeah it did … however it has also increased every year, beginning with Ronald Reagan and continuing right through every president since then.  Our middle and lower classes have had a 35 year downward slide since Ronald Reagan won the economic argument — which implemented Reaganomics, better known as Trickle-Down Economics.

The GOP’s deceptive implication is that economic inequality started with Obama and is caused by implementing Obamanomics!  Every serious economist states unequivocally that this president saved the country from falling off an economic cliff; more net jobs have been created under Obama than both Bushes combined — over 1 million jobs added in just the last 3 months; the stock market is booming; and the GDP is growing.  America is leading the world economically and our economy is the envy of the world.

Yes, economic inequality is a continuing problem … and one that the Dems have been trying to tackle — with the GOP’s obstinate obstruction thwarting President Obama’s and the Democrats’ efforts every step of the way.

So, we need to be sure that we don’t just listen to the GOP’s words about economic inequality, we need to see what they actually do.  Remember ~ At first the GOP reflected the attitude of, “Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil” about economic inequality.  And when they suddenly switch their message so drastically and suddenly, maybe we should consider the reason why they would do so.

Maybe we should think “Hmmmm, is this just a deceptive Sleight of Hand?

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