Hatred, Division, Change, and its Challenge! March 28, 2017

Over the past eight years I kept on hearing how divided America was, as if President Obama precipitated this new phenomenon.  Therefore, was this some new and strange dynamic that had never existed before? Well to put it into historical and the most simplistic terms, America has been divided from day one. Whether it was over the American Revolution, and who to back, our King or our independence, debate over the Constitution, or the issues of slavery, international trade, alliances with Britain or France, the rural South over the industrial North, Americans found much to be divided about. As we moved past the Civil War, Suffrage, Women’s Rights, and the rise of the Union movement divided people and led to debate, violence, and strife.

Our divisions resulted in the disastrous Civil War which proportionally killed more Americans, by far, than all our wars combined. Statistically, compared to today’s population, the Civil War would have killed over seven million Americans. Even in our parent’s time, the divisions over immigration quotas, isolationism, World War II preparedness, labor rights, the worthiness of the Korean War, and the McCarthy Era, were deep and contentious.  Had things changed for our generation? For sure Vietnam, the Draft, Civil Rights, Integration, the issue of busing, neighborhood schools, de facto and de jure segregation, Affirmative Action, women’s health issues, birth control, Choice, gun control, Gay Rights, the separation of church and state, and even free speech have divided our Nation.

In truth, many of these issues were resolved. Mainstream political leaders of the center left and right adjusted to the changing social values, morays and realities and found compromises. Were these compromises perfect? Of course not! No compromise makes everyone completely happy! In the past, especially with the issue of slavery we had tried to solve this economic and social stain on our society with the Three-Fifths Compromise, the Missouri Compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and the Compromise of 1850. In actuality these were failures, as we ignored the inevitable and paid a huge price in blood and treasure.

Why today are the issues we face any bigger, any more important or as threatening? In fact, they are not. But, today, in the wake of the Internet, the rise of talk radio and the accelerated “Greed Factor,” we have seen the dramatic rise of a new dynamic. This force has emerged after years in the making. It started to emerge in the Nixon Era with the “Silent Majority,” and then it blossomed with Reagan and his neo-Goldwaterism. It was a vestige of Joe McCarthy and the Witch Hunts of the Korean War-Red Scare Era. It does not have the old shape of North versus South, or the division over race or religion.  It isn’t over free trade or tariffs. It isn’t over States’ Rights or even American Exceptionalism!

It has crystalized in this hyper-age of hucksterism, which has been long a factor regarding the American culture. We now see its full-blown manifestation in this coming Age of Trumpism.  America has turned to a carnival barker, a super Billy Bigelow from “Carousel,” a valueless, creature, who worships glitter, excess, illusionary glamour, and the witless idea of notoriety to help sell junk and disgraced policies. First we heard the clarion call, “Make America Great Again!” Then we heard the double-talk, the accusations, the insults, the outrageous lies, the bold promises, the baseless assertions, and then we witnessed the age old tactics of “divide and conquer” and the “Ends justify the means!” Next we’ll be hearing about how America was founded on “Social Darwinism,” or the survival of the fittest. This is not new. Machiavelli wrote about this hundreds of years ago, we saw the power concentrated first in the Church, then in the rise of the nation/state along with the age of the “Divine Right of Kings,” and then the Age of Revolution, the empty promises of the regicides, the rise of Communism and of course stain of fascism.

Are we now entering into another era of the next false G-d? Are we entering into an era of know-nothingness, mythology, parallel “truths,” or hyper hucksterism? If answers to complex problems were simple, why have they been ignored? One should read, “The Power of Myth,” by Joseph Campbell, or re-watch the PBS series hosted by Bill Moyers with Campbell, which was aired in 1988. Somewhere in the near future, Americans have to wake up and become aware of the realities of the world we live in and not remain captives of the myths we believe about ourselves. We are not G-d’s gift to mankind. We are made of flesh and blood, and no more heroic than anyone else. We are basically a country of immigrants, who have brought us the best and brightest, along with a lot of societal and generational baggage. When we start to “grow up” we may then start to reject these myths and the false gods, embodied in empty personage of Donald Trump.

This does not have to be a new age of hyper-divisiveness. This does not have to be an era dominated by mindless fear; dominated by race hatred, religious strife, gender competition, and class warfare!  As we address this new challenge, we must confront our skeptical masses, who seek easy solutions and simplistic nostrums, with strength, realism, knowledge, facts, education and unity. If we turn away and ignore what is out there, assuming it will wither away, we will be fooling ourselves, indulging in our own brand of self-delusion, and condemning ourselves to a bleak future. As the philosopher, and essayist, George Santayana wrote: “Progress far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Let us focus on what made us great and not the Pied Pipers who have led us down the path of delusion, division and delusion.              

Letter to Rep. Adam Schiff March 18, 2017

Dear Representative Schiff,

I was in West Palm Beach, today, at your Town Hall Meeting in Citi Place. As an active Democrat, since 1969, who has been a District Leader in Westchester County in NY and now a Precinct Captain in Palm Beach County, I have been involved in every political campaign. I was also at the LBJ-JFK Democratic Dinner where you spoke last year.

I have also included, with this letter, a copy of a letter that I sent to Speaker Ryan and 16 Republican Senators. I don’t expect an answer from any of them. As a political person, since my teens, I have thought about how this country is governed, how the political process works, and what the Democrats need to do to insure we have a progressive future.

When you came to the podium today in West Palm Beach, I mentioned to you the word “messaging.” In other words, why are the Democrats failing to get their message across! Over the years, in my conversations with Representatives: Nita Lowey, Debby Wasserman-Schultz, Pat Murphy, and Ted Deutsch, I have suggested a district by district, Democratic “truth squad” all over the country. The DNC should pay for an office in every Republican Congressional District, so that when a Louis Gohmert or Stephen King make an outrageous statement, this “truth squad” can hold a press conference countering their positions.  

Over the past eight years, and the two terms of Bill Clinton, I observed that the Republican “Swift Boat” campaign was ongoing, every day and every way! Where were the Democratic Senators, Representatives and officials of the DNC? How come we were exposed to Reince Priebus, every day, and other GOP “taking heads,” while the Democrats were not countering with their own spokespersons? How come most people do not know the difference between Obamacare and the ACA? How come the pace of the recovery from the collapse of 2008-9 was not defended better? Every recovery from a recession, since WWII, was led by domestic housing. This one was caused by Wall Street bundling over- valued derivatives based on domestic, home mortgages. We clawed back over 10.5 million jobs, and since Truman, under Democrats, we created 2.5 times the jobs created than during Republican Administrations. How come virtually no American is aware of that history? I constantly am hectored for money by multiple sources every day on the internet. I am asked to answer some insipid poll and then I am solicited for money! Even when I give to a candidate, I receive more requests, is if my next contribution is the last bulwark for the survival of Western Civilization. 

As a student of the New Deal and the political success of FDR, we have to go back to coalition building. We should be talking about these three key issues: education, jobs and housing. In addition, the Democrats should have been pressuring the GOP-controlled Congress on the need for infrastructure re-vitalization every day of the week. We allowed the GOP to control the political dialogue by focusing on: transgender bathrooms, LGT needs and concerns, Black Lives Matter, Out of Wall Street, Global-warming and Choice. I stand behind all those concerns, but, the blue collar, middle-aged, white worker in the Rust Belt States, who won the election for Trump, couldn’t care less. We already have those voters who support those issues to the hilt. The Democrats also must choose between supporting Organized Labor and continuing to allow undocumented workers to take many of the jobs, especially in construction in places like NYC. This is not hyperbole, but fact.  

The Republicans believe in Social Darwinism, (the survival of the fittest,) “the ends justify the means,” and “work or starve!” Even today Vice-President Pence basically stated that Medicaid and Welfare be determined by work!  Therefore, we must address, “bread and butter” issues and become the champion of FDR’s “Forgotten American.”

I suggest the following:

a.       More money should be spent on the grass roots, not on meaningless, repetitive TV commercials

b.      College campus recruiting is a must, and the future is with the youth of the country. Too many of our City and County Democratic Committees are dominated by senior citizens

c.       Money should be invested in starting Democratic Clubs and outreach on all of campuses

d.      A significant outreach must go out to the labor rank and file, not just focusing on the leadership

e.      In the media there should be Democratic spokespersons available, not journalists to be put in the position of defending progressive issues against professional, conservative operatives

f.        There should be commercials on the media defending and explaining progressive public policy issues. (The Democrats are constantly on the defensive and playing catch up.)

g.       Every Republican Congressional District, no matter how Red, should have a “truth squad” office, staffed and paid for by the DNC. The cost of an extra 240 offices, staffed by two paid staff with volunteers would cost about $6-12 million for rent, etc, ($25-50,000) and probably another $15-25 million for staff. That $20 to $35 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the wasted money on television, pollsters and consultants. These “Shadow” district offices in these Red States could be an ongoing center for year round political action. It could be a coordinator between the local Democratic Committees and the DNC.  We have repeatedly learned that pollsters and consultants know very little, as we again witnessed in 2016. 

In Palm Beach County, we apprised the local head of the Clinton Campaign, one Mike Coleman, that there would be four “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” marches (two in Palm Beach County, one in Broward and Miami-Dade) with 100,000 women marching. We advised them to recruit volunteers and print palm card handouts for all four events! With weeks of ample warning, nothing was done! This cost us thousands of votes in these three critical counties. I asked them to recruit college students at FAU, Lynn University and Palm Beach State College for door to door canvassing and registration. I suggested they offer students $50 for work every night of the week from 6-9 pm and on Saturday mornings from 9-12 noon. If they did any of this (which I doubt), it was way too little and too late. It is always the claim that there is no money or campaign HQ hasn’t authorized that strategy.

We were making calls for Hillary for about one year. We were instructed to call only the prime voters. Many of these people were listed as being called 10-12 times, and we were told to not leave a message. What a waste of time. Why weren’t we calling independents and “soft” Democrats? Later we learned that the Republicans did just that.

The Democrats are getting caught in the “politically correct” snare every day of the week. Why was Keith Ellison even in the running for Democratic National Chairperson? He would have been a disaster.  Personally, after almost 50 years in this “game,” I am getting tired of fighting “windmills,” at the beck and call, of every new generation of “experts,” who aren’t “dry behind the ears!” By the way, our precinct went 69% for HRC and only 11% of the registered voters here didn’t vote, and they were probably Republicans or Independents. I will include with this letter a chart showing all the lead districts, including our- 5038 and please note the fall-off vote in the top districts for Hillary! Where was the ground game in those districts?  

Again, we appreciate your work and the message you are sending to the country. Please keep it up. But, also remember that the other side has unlimited money attracted by tax cuts and deregulation. Thus, we have to mobilize the public, and without a change in tactics, we will either be losers for a generation or only benefit by another Republican disaster.

Letter to Hugh Hewitt March 26, 2017

Mr. Hugh Hewitt,

I have been listening to you on MSNBC for the past several months. What amazes me is that people like you, who consider yourselves conservative and religious, can defend Donald Trump. He is neither conservative, religious, nor a man with any discernible values. It is quite apparent that every day we move past the last election the nefarious background of Donald Trump is conveniently forgotten. The only thing that seems to remain, each day, is his outrageous claims, his bald-faced lies, his inane assertions, and his lack of leadership. He blames everyone, but himself. He rationalizes every one of his moronic statements and tweets, and he has reversed himself more times than anyone can count.

 

Today, I watched a recording of his past ringing endorsement of Planned Parenthood and his claim that he would protect women’s health care. I know that your positions are diametrically opposite Choice, Planned Parenthood and women’s right, so I assume you applaud his conversion to being a troglodyte, when it comes to the progressivism of the last 100 years. So aside for his obvious Russian connections, of which, I have no idea why any sane person would not note, what makes you defend this valueless brigand? Is it that you are so desperate for a right-wing court to rubber stamp your views?

By the way, I have been quite familiar with Donald Trump from his days at Penn, his membership at Winged Foot GC, in Mamaroneck, NY, his US Football League gambit, etc. I am a former 68 year resident of Westchester County and I have heard every story possible about this lowlife.

I have included with this email, an attachment which I have sent nineteen Republican Senators, Paul Ryan and a few others.

 With the assumption that you will not open the attachment, I have listed below my thoughts on Donald Trump and why I believe he should be removed from the office of the presidency!

 a.       He is a chronic and unreconstructed liar

b.      He is a serial adulterer

c.       He is a sexual predator

d.      He is a notorious swindler- 4000 litigations, numerous bankruptcies

e.      He used his Foundation as his own personal bank

f.        He has lied about his charity- there is none!

g.       He is spending the scores of millions of the public’s money on his and his family’s travels

h.      He is an incredible hypocrite

i.         He has made promises of healthcare, taxes and the budget he can never deliver

j.        He has smeared people in his own party and continues to do so daily

k.       He talks of draining the swamp- he has no clue how to do it- and he is the swamp!

l.         He has the worst cabinet of amateurs and robber barons since McKinley

m.    He lied about the murder rate in this country, crime amongst illegal immigrants and the problem of the southern border of the US

n.      He lied about the being wire-tapped, his electoral vote and the 3-4 million illegal voters

o.      He lied about the 122 Jihadist released by Obama

p.      He made outrageous claims about the abortive GOP healthcare replacement bill

q.      He is connected to the Russians in many ways, his hidden taxes are obviously what would have him removed, and you folks should be very concerned that he won this election because of his connection to the Russian leaks, the Swift-Boating of Clinton and the Comey October surprise. That changed enough voters in 3-4 states to bring into the White House an incompetent liar and the head of a Borgia-style crime family! If you continue to ignore the Putin-Manafort-Flynn-Trump connection you will be eventually disgraced with him and his whole gang.

I could list 100 more moronic claims and lies, but, who has the time. I just want to know how long moralists like you are going to hang on to this brigand because of political gain, selfishness, and misplaced loyalties?

 

Letter to US Senator Bob Corker 4-6-17

Dear Senator Corker,

I listened to your interview with Chuck Todd on MSNBC yesterday. You stated that “Trump was evolving…!” Have you been watching the same person as the whole country has for over a year? When are you going to put country ahead of party? He is now at 34% in the job favorability polls and the Washington Post has reported that he lies five times per day. In fact they have added up over 317 outright lies, falsifications   You are part of a party that created the recently created “monstrosity” that was supposed to replace the ACA. Your party refused to participate in the 18 month effort to reform health care seven years ago, and then you folks put out a bill in 17 days. The first and second version of that bill was a disgrace! If passed, it would have been a tax giveaway to the super rich and would have eventually eroded the benefits offered on corporate/company sponsored health plans that provide benefits for 56% of all Americans.

I have been paying attention to national events in America since 1960. I have been involved in local politics and government, on and off, for 45 years. I was an American History major in college, ran a business in NYC for 25 years, had a second career in financial services and did a radio show for eight years on WVOX 1460 am in Westchester County, NY and WJUP in Jupiter, FL. I did over 300 shows on public policy from 2007 through 2013, and in 2016. You can access my website at www.theadvocatesradio.com.

I would like to know when people like yourself, in the Congress of the United States, are going to stand up and say to your colleagues, “Enough is enough!” In other words, are you elected officials going to allow this country to self-destruct through the divisive efforts of Donald Trump? You especially should be doubly offended with regards to the treatment, the insults and the disrespect Donald Trump has shown many of your colleagues.

I would also like to know why you and your colleagues have not emphatically rebutted President Trump’s outright and continual lies! He has continually repeated these claims:

A.       Trump claimed that he was number one in his class at the University of Pennsylvania and he earned an MBA. A total lie!

B.       He said many times that he would release his Federal Income Tax statements. He hasn’t and will not. His taxes should be audited by a Congressional Bi-Partisan Committee to see if he has lied about his connections to Russia and Putin. If he has nothing to hide, let a responsible committee review them.

C.       He has stated that he has had no connection with Russia, but statements from his children and his own recorded remarks differ with that assertion.

D.       He stated that the murder rate in the United States was the highest in 45 years. That was a complete lie. The murder rate has been dropping in America for decades.

E.        He made a specious claim that his Electoral College victory was one of the largest in modern history, a complete misstatement and a lie. When confronted, he inanely remarked, and I paraphrase, “I heard it from others!” How can any person get away with such a specious retort?

F.        He has made the claim that he really won the popular vote, because of massive electoral fraud! Where is the proof of such mendacious claim?

G.       He stated that he had complete confidence in General Michael Flynn, and then fired him for misleading the country and his Vice-President. He knew for weeks what had happened with Michael Flynn’s contacts with the Russians. He lied about this whole episode.

H.       He has repeated often that Hillary Clinton transferred 20% of America’s uranium for a gift to the Clinton Foundation, a lie!

I.         He claimed that Admiral Harwood would not take the position of his NSA chief because of family obligations. That was a complete lie! Harwood and others want obviously no connection with his choice of a known anti-Semite, Steve Bannon on the NSA.

J.         He claimed that he had never heard from the Congressional Black Caucus regarding a meeting. That was completely refuted and another lie!

K.       He stated that the Supreme Court overturned a record amount of decisions by the 9th Judicial Circuit, another false statement.

L.        His ghost-written book, by Tony Schwartz has been repudiated as a complete fabrication. Why haven’t his specious claims been refuted?

M.     He lied about Trump University and settled for $25 million!

N.       He claimed that Senator Richard Blumenthal was disingenuous about his conversation about Supreme Court designee Gorsuch. That was a lie.

O.      He has lied about his wife’s immigrant status and promised a press conference to clear the air. He lied about that. She was here on a visitor’s visa and worked. Where are her tax records and her visa history?

P.       He has lied about crime in Chicago and made a specious claim about killings during President Obama’s farewell speech. Another lie!

Q.      He lied about his Trump Foundation. Why hasn’t there been a follow-up on how he has used that Foundation a personal checking account?

R.       He lied about his charitable giving. When did a person of his supposed wealth give practically nothing to any charities? His tax returns will show the level of his contributions! Every day his tax returns should be demanded.

S.        He has lied about the amount of immigrants coming from the countries he put on a “no travel list!”

T.        He stated that he inherited a “mess” in Washington! A complete lie!

U.       He stated that his administration was a “fine-tuned” machine! Another lie!

V.       He claimed that President Obama tapped his phone lines, where is the proof? Another lie!

W.     He claimed that president Obama released 122 Jihadists! Another lie!

X.       He claimed that Jews were behind the continual bomb threats, desecration of cemeteries and the painting of swastikas on building, another blood libel lie!

Y.        He claimed that the current bill in the House to replace the ACA will cover all Americans! Another lie!

This is only a partial list of literally hundreds of misstatements by Donald Trump. Are we in an unwritten chapter of “1984?” When is the media going to fight back on his blatant and unrelenting attack on Freedom of the Press? Our democracy is fragile and it can be lost if our free press doesn’t exercise its rights and muscle. The country is waiting for the truth, not banal interviews with his phalanx of apologists from the campaign.

By the way, I have been on a number of protests regarding Trump in Palm Beach County, and maybe you would like to know, that almost all the people I speak to and my hundreds of friends of Facebook want him impeached. Universally, all these people regard him as a valueless brigand, a sexual predator, a serial adulterer, a swindler, a con man, a carnival barker, a narcissist and a danger to America. He has no core values but self, he conflates the truth, he knows nothing of the economy, our history, science or any other discipline. In other words, he is a disaster. In the words of Joseph Welsh, Senator. “…You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” When are people like you, along with your colleagues going to admit to the public what the country is dealing with? When are you going to understand the illegitimacy of this man to serve in any type of office?

Sincerely,

Richard J. Garfunkel

Health Care Today 3-25-17

Our healthcare coverage is the best in the world and it is the most expensive in the industrialized world. Until Medicare, healthcare was unaffordable to most seniors. People were healthy until they died. When they got sick they died. Until comprehensive healthcare plans, with groups, only people working for firms had health care coverage for hospitalization. Medicare and company-sponsored healthcare coverage made doctors wealthy and care did not deteriorate as threatened by the American Medical Association.  

1)      Medicare is a Single Payer system for seniors, funded through the payroll tax of 1.45% on unlimited income.

2)      Every industrialized country in the world has a Single Payer system for all their citizens

3)      Healthcare insurance has always been expensive and it is expensive today for employer and employee.

4)      There are 267 million non-elderly Americans

a)      56% are covered through their employers and that coverage could range from $16,000 to $30,000 (est) per family. The majority of those covered pay a co-premium of 25% and many have high deductibles. This coverage is not inexpensive and premiums continue to increase

b)      18% are not insured

c)       21% receive coverage through Medicaid and other public programs

d)      6% have individual or family plans, not in groups

5)      The ACA/ Obamacare has made coverage available to millions who cannot afford coverage

6)      The ACA eliminated many so-called “cheaper” plans that had caps on coverage, exclusions for certain care and tests, and excluded people with pre-existing conditions. Many of the replaced plans were “inadequate” plans with fine print exclusions, of which, many policy owners were totally unaware of the contract limitations and the consequences.

7)      Before the ACA, health care insurance premiums were going up at 2-3 times inflation each year. Since the ACA, health care costs experienced the lowest increase in 50 years since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid (1965).

8)      Blue Cross and Blue Shield developed from 1929 through the 1940s. It covered Medical and Doctor related costs in a hospital.  These group plans faced bankruptcy when in the 1980s, when they were left with covering the most vulnerable citizens. Individuals were always able to buy Blue Cross/Shield catastrophic care. The emergence of HMOs and PPOs doomed the old Blue Cross coverage options.

9)      There was never coverage under Blue Cross for receiving a doctor at home or at his/her office

10)   In the 1980’s comprehensive group plans became offered which covered Doctor’s within a certain designated plan-(HMOs, PPOs Oxford, Aetna, Humana, etc.) drug prescriptions and co-pays were added. One could also see a Doctor outside “network” and eventually, co-premiums for these company-sponsored plans were instituted to share the burden of coast from employer to employee. Also, as costs continue to rise for health care and health insurance, deductibles were offered. Many people have high deductibles (basically self-insuring up to a certain dollar amount) to keep the premium as low as possible. These plans caused the re-structuring of all the Blue Cross plans.

What is happening today:

A.      The ACA or Obamacare provided health insurance for over 23 million Americans

B.      Health care expenses are the single greatest cause of bankruptcy in America and in the industrialized world, where a Single Payer system (Medicare for all) exists in Japan, Israel, Canada and Western Europe, there are no healthcare caused bankruptcies. There have been many estimates on bankruptcies caused by medical expenses. One figure published is 643,000 in 2013. That number has declined because of the ACA and this figure has been basically justified by SNOPES.

C.      The above number is broken down in the following age groups:

1.       Below 25  2.3%

2.       26-34       18.7%

3.       34-44       29%

4.       45-54       26%

5.       55-64       15.8%

6.       Over 65     8%  (On Medicare)

What are the Options:

A.      Continue with the ACA, make sure it is properly funded, and force the 19 Red States with Republican governors to have Medicaid recipients have access to the plans, creating a larger pool of younger people. Put pressure or incentives on insurance companies to remain I states where there is one carrier.

B.      Have an alternate plan like the one just defeated in the House of Representatives, which was not properly funded, eliminated many benefits, would cause the loss of insurance to initially 14 million people, created tax incentives for folks who barely paid taxes and favored the well-off.  Basically it went back to the period before the passage of the ACA. But with its provisions to limit pre-natal care along with other services, its passage would have definitely threatened the benefits currently offered in company sponsored health insurance plans, now serving 56% of the population.

C.      Single Payer (Medicare for all).  This plan would have to be first funded by the government and initially supplemented by a period of taxation on every American before it could be instituted. Unlike Medicare, which is funded by payroll taxes on every working America above the age of 18 until age 65, the government would have to create a “pool of money” to service people immediately when it came into service, replacing one’s current form of health insurance.

The Consequences of the Single Payer:

A.      The health insurance company premiums would disappear. Employers would no longer have to offer insurance to their employees and pay 75% of the costs of between $16K and $30K (est) for each employee. This would save the employers hundreds of billions of dollars and make them more competitive with foreign companies and corporations. Employees could possibly benefit from not costing their employer between $12K and $22.5K (est) per year, and receive increased compensation.

B.      The employee would not pay the co-premium of $4-$7.5K (est.) each year with a deductible ($200-$2,000 est.) The employee would be paying an increased payroll tax for each member of his/her family. It would increase when each child is added to a family. In most cases the costs for the employee would be much lower than the current combination of payroll taxes and co-premiums.  Today a person pays a payroll tax of 1.45% of their gross income. An individual pays $725 on $50,000 and a family with a household income of $150,000 would pay $2,175 plus a $4000 co-premium with a $1,000 deductible. Therefore the average family pays out over $7,000 before they even see a doctor.

C.      Therefore the payroll tax would go up significantly and people could also buy a “private” supplemental plan, in the same way people buy a Medicare supplemental plan, for Doctors who wish to be outside of the Single Payer system.

D.      There are Doctors who do not except any private insurance plan or Medicare. The patient can seek re-imbursement (pre-waiver) from their private or group plan and in certain circumstances a person on Medicare, needing healthcare services from a provider that doesn’t accept Medicare, can get permission for a re-imbursement.

E.       Doctor’s office would save considerable money regarding billing- one reimbursement like Medicare.  

F.       The bottom line is that health care expenses would be flattened, corporate expenses would be drastically lowered, health care would be for all Americans, healthcare costs for the average American would be the same, the pool of insured would expand greatly, especially with young adults who don’t need much care. There would be a need for more health care professionals: Doctors, Nurses, and PAs. There would be the end of healthcare insurance companies, their profits and overhead, unemployment would increase with these workers, but more Doctor’s office would open up and many of these people would be employed in that part of the private sector. People would pay a lot less over their working lifetime – 18 through 65.     

Letter to Peter Baker of The NY Times May 2, 2017

Dear Mr. Baker,

I read your opening article in yesterday’s Sunday NY Times. I wanted to bring to your attention a few letters that I have sent a number of Republican US Senators, Speaker Ryan and a few other GOP Representatives. As of today, I received one form letter from Senator’s McCain’s office, with no reference to the points I made in my April 6, 2017, of which I have enclosed.

I wanted to express my considered opinion that the media doesn’t seem to understand the animus that we hold for Donald Trump, his administration of billionaires, bigots and individuals who want to reverse our government to where it stood before the Progressive Era.

I am constantly amazed that normal and understandably sane reporters, in the written and audio media, can ignore Trump’s track record on lies and more lies. It seems that each day goes by and there is another egregious statement and the ones, from a few days before, are ignored or forgotten. Where are the constant questions about his duplicity, his conflicts of interest, his slanderous accusations regarding President Obama’s “wire-tapping,” his wife’s visa violations and scores of other outrageous claims and assertions? Where are the follow-ups? Many of your profession seem to be above the fray and refuse to fight fire with fire.  

In this enclosed letter, I have included my April 6th letter, and one that I sent out today. By the way, I am quite familiar with Congressional offices and their handling of mail. My wife worked for Representative Richard L. Ottinger, D, NY-24th CD from 1973-81, and I have had 45 years of campaign experience that ran from being the campaign coordinator for George McGovern in the City of White Plains, NY to the Chairman Chairperson for Paul Feiner, Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, NY, 2007 and 2009, until 2016, when my wife Linda and I were the precinct captains in a district in suburban Palm Beach County, which went 70% for Hillary Clinton.

Here is a list of Senators receiving both letters: Corker, Alexander, Blount, Collins, Ernst, Fisher, Flake, McCain, Graham, Hatch, Murkowski, Portman, Roberts, Rubio, Sasse, Toomey, Gardner, Burr, and Speaker Ryan. I assumed the other Senators were a complete lost cause.

I am not sure whether you check Facebook, but, I suggest you open up the site “Donald Trump is not my president,” and get a sense how much scores of thousands think about this unfit, unqualified and unhinged brigand.

 

Trump and Andrew Jackson May 2, 1945

This time Trump has told Jon Meacham that if he were in Lincoln’s shoes, he would have prevented the Civil War. Maybe if he was in Andy Jackson’s boots, the he would have avoided the Battle of New Orleans and made a deal to trade Louisiana for the Stone of Scone. The King of Self, in the Civil War tradition that he knows so much about, has placed a monument on his golf course in his Lowes Island GC in Virginia commemorating a battle that was supposedly fought there. Sorry, another lie by the King. There was no “river of blood” there!

Speaking of the King of Self, it wasn’t so bad that the old warts, wounds and historical impurities of Old Hickory, Andrew Jackson, were exposed to today’s generation by the most ill-informed and ignorant person to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Poor Andy Jackson, who was slashed by a British Recoat during the Revolutionary War and went on to be the first real Democratic President, was, for most of the 180 years since he was president, rated as a great or near great president. Of course, up until 1945, we only had 32 presidents, and since Jackson, only two presidents had served out two full terms; Woodrow Wilson and FDR.

Many, in the period from the 1840s to the 1970s ignored some of Jackson’s most notorious warts; the Cherokee relocation, or the “Trail of Tears,” the fact that Jackson owned about 150 slaves at his death, and that he was an acclaimed “Indian” fighter and a very successful duelist. Obviously, early generations admired Indian fighters and tough guys like Jackson, who was the hero of the Battle of New Orleans that theoretically taught the British a costly lesson, when they invaded Louisiana, weeks after they actually lost the War of 1812 and signed a peace treaty. Jackson was always given high marks as a leader. Eventually, he was nominated and almost won the presidency in 1824, (defeated in the Electoral College), but was finally elected and re-elected in landslides in 1828 and 1832. He was a reformer, a nationalist, an opponent of John C. Calhoun’s opposition to the Tariff of Abominations, was the only president to pay off the National Debt, established relations with European countries regarding trade, opposed the 2nd Bank of the United States, which unfortunately was a contributing factor in the bank crisis of 1837 and the resulting panic and long recession. But, all in all, he was given very high marks and even today he is highly rated, even in this politically correct era.

But, here we are 172 years after his death and over 150 years after the Civil War, where probably over 700,000 Americans died (a new estimate). That high death total represented one out of every 44 Americans in 1860. With today’s population of 320 million, those deaths, with todays’ numbers, would represent over 7 million. Of course, of these 700,000, a vast percentage were men from the ages of 16 to 45. In fact, that number of 7 million, would be almost greater than all the soldiers lost in WWII by Germany, Japan, Britain and the United States combined. In fact, the population of those countries in 1939, totaled 319 million, almost exactly what today’s population of the United States. In other words, it was a pretty large conflict.

So, how does a president of the United States be so functionally illiterate about the history of the United States and the immensity of the Civil War? Aside from the fact that Jackson died 16 years before the Civil War, he, like most Americans did not want war. A vast amount of Americans were ambivalent about slavery (there were very few Abolitionists even in 1860) and there was general support for compromises regarding slavery, from the Missouri Compromise in 1820 (Missouri and Maine would come into the Union as Slave and Free states,) to the Great Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Of course, that last attempt to stave off a fratricidal war over slavery, led to the rise of John Brown, Bloody Kansas and his ill-fated raid on Harper’s Ferry’s Federal Arsenals. The Election of 1860 of Abraham Lincoln as President, with his opposition to the spread of slavery to the western part of America, promised to change the slave/free balance in Congress, and would lead to the promised Secession of seven (SC seceded in 1860) Southern States. But, the King of Self could make a deal!

So assuming Andrew Jackson was alive or even president in 1861, which is patently idiotic, how would he have stopped Secession? Even some historians in the distant past have speculated that the Federal government could buy out slavery, by paying the market price for the slaves. There were approximately four million slaves in America in 1860 and the average price of a slave has been estimated at $800, which would put their total value at $3.2 billion. The whole GNP of the United States in 1860 was only $4.3 billion. So could the fictional President Jackson have raised that money? Not really, remember, he had paid off the National Debt in 1835, which was only $58 million when he came into office. Therefore, where would America get $3 billion to buy the slaves? Maybe this fictional President could have borrowed money from the Chinese and the Russians like our present incumbent. Of course, the truth and myth are always swirling in the head of the King of Self aka the Moron-in-Chief. Recently we were astounded by the King as he was applauding the great efforts of Frederick Douglass, who happened to have died in 1895. Is the King that uninformed? The King likes to drop names of his buddies, even if they are long dead. Recently, he claimed he was a great friend of the great tenor Luciano Pavarotti, who died in 2007. Interestingly, Pavarotti’s family can’t stand the King. It seems that the King wanted to stiff Pavarotti after a performance he didn’t like. But, that’s nothing new for the King, because he has been stiffing people and vendors for years. Maybe that is why he has been in court over 4000 times. So now, after all has been said, the King really isn’t sure about Old Hickory’s ability to avoid the Civil War, but for sure, as he told historian Jon Meacham, he could.

May 2nd 1945! My Birthday

On this day of my birthday, I think back to my many conversations with one of my oldest and brightest friends, Professor Warren Adis, who just retired from decades of teaching at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY. Since we were both born in May of 1945, we often discussed how lucky we were, as Jews, to be born in America. We were both raised in Mount Vernon, NY, which in 1945, was a mid-sized city of about 65,000 souls. Mount Vernon was about eight years from celebrating its 100th year of incorporation, and had been a settlement that went back to the days of Anne Hutchison. Here we were, teenagers in Mount Vernon, discussing that when we were born, Jews were being killed all over the world, anti-Semitism was rife everywhere, including the United States, concentration camps were being liberated, the awful truth was finally being revealed. Here, in 1963, we were enjoying a great life in a wonderful, pluralistic city that offered us a great education at the well-respected AB Davis HS. My greatest lesson I learned from growing up in Mount Vernon was tolerance and respect for others. I had been raised in a well-off, upper middle class family, sheltered from just about everything. My great awakening were my years at AB Davis HS, my association with people of other races and religions, and my great friendship with my coach, the late, great Henry Littlefield, a giant of a man in every imaginable way. He taught me lessons that I cherish today

I always believed, that in 1963, on my 18th birthday, I was living in the greatest year. We loved and admired John F. Kennedy, we were at peace in the world, the country was prosperous, the struggles for Civil Rights seemed to be moving along and that summer Nat King Cole, released his song, “Those Lazy, Hazy, Days of Summer.” It was idyllic time that would end forever on November 22, 1963, our last real day of peace.

On my birthday, May 2, 1945, as my mother was recovering, she was worried about her brother, Captain Aaron Kivo, who was in midst of the European combat as Nazi Germany was collapsing. In that remarkable week, on May 8th, the surrender of Germany happened at a school house in Reims, France where 33 French kings’ coronation was consecrated. VE Day officially ended the 2nd World War in Europe. Over these decades, my only regret, was that the great architect of victory, and my most cherished hero, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was unable to be there for the final victory and drink from the cup of triumph.

On May 2nd, as Berlin fell to the Soviets, and Italy surrendered, the battle against Japan continued. Many years later, I became aware of a great book, Brave Men, Brave Ship. On my birthday, six kamikaze planes hit the destroyer minelayer USS Aaron Ward (DM-34) in the early evening of May 2, 1945. Although the attacks killed 42 men, the ship managed to stay afloat but never returned to action. The author, Arnold Lott, a former Navy Lieutenant Commander who sailed in the 1920s on the first destroyer named Aaron Ward, performed extensive research for this history. This included numerous interviews with surviving crewmembers and bereaved family members, examining official Navy logs and action reports, and reading hundreds of letters from the crew. Brave Ship Brave Men, a tribute to the courageous men who served on Aaron Ward, depicts regular life aboard the ship before the kamikaze attacks and provides personal glimpses into the crew’s emotions as they faced incoming planes and recovered after the strikes.

The first five of eight chapters cover the ship’s first five watches on May 2, 1945, from midnight up to 6 p.m., as the crew waits in anticipation of Japanese plane attacks. The author introduces the ship’s history through a series of flashbacks. Aaron Ward, which had been originally built as a destroyer (DD-773), was converted to a destroyer minelayer before her commissioning in October 1944. These first few chapters also describe the many different jobs of the some 350 men aboard this ship. The crew passes the first 18 hours of May 2nd with little excitement but much tension about enemy planes that could appear over the horizon at any moment.

On one hand, in Europe, Axis belligerency had virtually collapsed and were surrendering to the Allies, but in the Pacific, ordinary men were doing extraordinary feats to survive. That was what was happening on that momentous day in May 2, 1945.

Thank you, to all who have sent me best wishes. I appreciate and cherish your friendship. Aside from one’s family; my great and brilliant wife Linda of 47+ years, my daughter Dana, my son Jon, their spouses; Craig and Jocelyn and three beautiful grandchildren; Sophie, Josh and Emma, what else can one really need?

The Immigrants and their Descendents from the Great Immigration , 1880 to 1917 8-11-16

The Immigrants and their Descendants from the Great Immigration, 1880-to 1917

8-11-16

Richard J. Garfunkel

I am constantly amazed at the virulence of the “new” ethnic-based Eurocentrics. I can almost understand the Southern Baptists and the States’ Rights advocates who are descended most directly from the earliest white settlers; English, Scottish, Welsh, Dutch and German Protestants, who were enamored with the white man’s burden and learned of that supremacist tradition at their mother’s knee and in the churches. It existed all over the English-dominated World from India to the American colonies, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Burma, the Middle East, Singapore and Micronesia. The Raj ruled with an idea and rationale of moral, racial and intellectual superiority.  That is what they knew and believed. They saw the culture and habits of Native peoples, and on one hand, despised, feared and looked down upon them, and on the other hand, ruled by “divide and conquer.” That existed certainly in India until 1947 and here until 1776.  They learned from their defeat here!

But, what of the later immigrants? First in the late 1840’s, were the next wave of Germans, who were quite often Catholics, escaping from revolutionary Europe and the policy of “Kultur Kampft” (culture’s struggle) under Bismarck and then the Irish Catholics escaping the potato famine and the oppressive British rule. The Germans were used to conservatism and many became the backbone of the new Midwestern Republicanism. Culturally they were used to a strong, male-dominated family and thus supported a strong central government. They were hard working and felt comfortable with other citizens of British and Dutch orientation. Also, the country had many Germans (Lutherans) living here from the time of the Revolution, when many had come here as soldiers for hire, or mercenaries (the Hessians from Hesse-Cassel, and others from outside the most militarized state in Europe)). As for the Irish, they hated the British and became the immigrant heart of the Eastern Cities and gravitated to the Democratic Party and eventually took over Tammany Hall in NYC and virtually reinvented politics in America.

What amazes me is that many of the grandchildren of the last great European immigration from Eastern and Southern European immigrants have forgotten their roots. The heart of these people, who are mostly Catholic, along with some Jews, were helped and assisted by the Democrats from Wilson to FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ and beyond, are now the “New” Republicans.  They forgot the Wagner Act, which allowed unions to collectively bargain, they have ignored the efforts of the Democrats and the unions to end discrimination regarding housing, education, and the work place, where their grandfathers and fathers couldn’t get a job in a Fortune 500 company, a law firm, or practice in a hospital. They have ignored the efforts of the liberals who opened the doors of education for them and for their daughters. Who supported Social Security, Medicare, the Minimum Wage, anti-discrimination in the work place, the fight for equal pay for equal work, Choice, and women’s healthcare, Ttile ( and hundreds of other benefits that helped the children of immigrants? They have ignored the age-old efforts of the Democratic Party in opposing the exclusion of these people from all of our “closed” institutions. This history has been chronicled in 10’s of thousands of books and millions of articles. But, how often do I read from some of these same people that the Democrats keep the poor in economic shackles. How short are their memories! Isn’t ironic, that the South, which was the home of home of Southern-based, Jefferson branch of the Democratic Party, which supported slavery and sustained Jim Crow is now the new home of the most conservative Republicans and the reddest states in the Union.  Many of these people seemed to have forgotten discrimination and bigotry and where it has stemmed from.  What happened? Do these children of immigrants now think that it is their turn to be the next generation of bigots and haters who believe in Social Darwinism, “the end justifies the means,” and “divide and conquer?” it is a sorry state of affairs when they forget the remarks of George Santayana, who sagely wrote, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” 

 

Supreme Court and the 2nd Amendment 8-11-16

Supreme Court and the 2nd Amendment

Richard J. Garfunkel

8-11-16

Speaking of the Constitution, I have been reading how the Right-Wingers are the last bastion to avoid the shredding of the Constitution.  I answered one of these arm chair geniuses!

It is interesting how the right-wing dunderheads are now experts on the US Constitution. I am always amazed when the average citizen starts to opine on Constitutional Law.  I’m sure that these “novitiate” experts know the difference between “Strict Construction,” and “Loose Construction.” Of course they know the history and the impact of Marbury v Madison, Dartmouth College v Woodward, McCullogh v. Maryland. Of course, they understand the nuances of the Heller Decision or McDonald V. Chicago? Maybe they understand the impact of Scalia and the 5-4 decisions on gun ownership, and the fact that in the “strict” analysis of the Founder’s debates on the Bill of Rights, there is no mention of the right of an individual to own a firearm.

 In other words, it wasn’t discussed.  But these brilliant “legal beagles” would know that the compromise on the Constitution was over the fear of a Federal “standing” army, and thus the rights of the states to organize their militias. In fact, few people could afford to own arms in 1789, and when the Militia “mustered” arms were passed out and strictly regulated and returned. There is nothing said about individual firearms or the innate right to own them.  Maybe that is how Justice Scalia saw it, but there have always been gun control laws from Dodge City to the Firearm’s Act of 1934. Or if you need clarification, read about the Hughes Act. If anyone was a “loose Constructionist,” it was Justice Scalia, who re-wrote the “originalists” concept of gun ownership.  But, if you don’t believe me, read Federal Period historian, Professor Carol Berkin’s book, “A Brilliant Solution,” Inventing the American Constitution. While you are at it, maybe you should be curious about “search and seizure,” Fourth Amendment Rights, and then learn the meaning of Escobedo v. Illinois, and Miranda v. Arizona.

Why don’t you write Professor Yale Kamisar at the University of Michigan Law School , who co-authored the “Criminal Justice in Our Times,” and is the co-author of the definitive American law school text book, “Modern Criminal Procedures,<” in its 12th edition.  But, what about your expertise on schools, starting with the impact of Plessy v Ferguson, to the Rowley Case, Myers v Nebraska to Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka? Maybe you understand the “free exercise” clause and the “exclusionary rule?”

But what of executive power and orders.  Maybe folks believe that President Obama has used his Executive Orders to violate the Constitution. Well Obama’s EOs were 244, the lowest for a two-term president since William McKinley. You maybe interested in the fact that here are the following list of Executive Orders going back to FDR: Bush 43 291, Clinton 364, Bush 41 166, Reagan 381, Carter 320, Ford 169, Nixon 346, Eisenhower 484, Truman 907, and FDR 3721.  By the TR used the EO 1083 times. But you are protecting the Constitution!