You Want More of This…?

As we move closer to election day, we continue to hear more alarming things come out of Trump’s mouth on an almost daily basis. He’s setting the stage for a coup, to enable himself to become the dictator of the Trumpian States of America. Amazingly, there are people who believe this is a fine idea, because why not? These last four years have been a grand ride, why not do this all the time?

Folks, you really aren’t seeing the long view, are you? Once one piece of our Constitution is broken, it all can go. We are guaranteed to have free and fair elections, and a peaceful transfer of power. If Trump removes that and declares himself the winner either by having the senators determine the electoral vote, or simply by not leaving, then what is to stop him from telling us the rest of the Constitution is null and void as well?  You know all the screaming you’ve done about having your 2nd Amendment rights violated, and that a candidate from the Democratic party is infringing on that? Or how awful you think ‘Obamacare’ or the ACA is? Or what about the fact that you’ve been able to speak up at all? If you haven’t thought about that, well, now is the time.

All you need do is look around you at life under other dictators, and it’s pretty easy to see that what you think of as being a pleasure cruise, will become just another nightmare. Gun rights? Gone. That freedom to speak your mind, travel where you want to and stand in front of a government building, throwing fire bombs, smoke bombs or just f-bombs? Gone. (Not that those were good ideas in the first place.) Want to work where you want to, or do what you want to? Gone. Don’t think the rules of the ACA are right, or that it should even exist at all? Then I imagine you’ll love government run Trumpcare, which will determine what benefits you have, and how much money is allocated for those benefits. If they don’t put enough money toward it because this year Trump doesn’t want to, then either you pony up out of pocket, or you just don’t get that medicine because you aren’t allowed to. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you’re on the side of anarchy now, doesn’t mean you get any kind of a pass later. No, you’ll just be Citizen No. 12657390. Just as likely – perhaps more so – to get tossed in jail for activities against the state. Think not? Check these out…

Gun laws in Dictatorships

Russia: According to the Library of Congress, “Individuals are not allowed to carry guns acquired for self-defense; a license only serves as a carrying permit for hunting and sport firearms when these guns need to be transported. Russian citizens may not own guns that shoot in bursts or have magazines with more than a ten-cartridge capacity.”

In North Korea, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law.

In China, Civilian ownership of firearms is largely restricted to non-individual entities such as sporting organizations, hunting reserves, and wildlife protection, management and research organizations. The chief exception to the general ban for individual gun ownership is for the purpose of hunting.

Cuba: In Cuba, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law, and civilians are not allowed to possess pen guns, cane rifles, rifles with a calibre greater than 5.6 millimeters, machine and sub-machine guns of any kind, home-made firearms, shortened shotguns, firearms that have been modified with devices to make them more efficient, and certain types of ammunition. Private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited, and handguns (pistols and revolvers) are permitted under license. Civilian possession of rifles and shotguns is regulated by law.

Healthcare

Russia does guarantee free health care, 48% of expenditures comes from government sources which primarily come from medical insurance deductions from salaries. While there appears to be private insurance there, the state insurance improved during the 90’s and 2000’s to be very competitive, then it’s quality significantly declined. Due to the Russian financial crisis since 2014, major cuts in health spending have resulted in a decline in the quality of service of the state healthcare system. About 40% of basic medical facilities have fewer staff than they are supposed to have, with others being closed down. Waiting periods for treatment have increased, and patients have been forced to pay for more services that were previously free.

In China, about 95% of the population has at least basic health insurance coverage. Despite this, public health insurance generally only covers about half of medical costs, with the proportion lower for serious or chronic illnesses. In urban areas, insurance isn’t free either. And in rural areas where it is, the quality of care varies widely.

North Korea claims to provide universal health care with a national medical service and health insurance system. North Korea claims that health services are offered for free. However, this claim has been contrasted by North Korean defectors, who claim that patients must in fact pay for health services, that the upper classes have access to a higher standard of healthcare than ordinary ones do, and that “how much money a patient has determines whether they live or die”.

Cuba’s national health system is made up of multiple tiers: 1) the community containing individuals and families, 2) family doctor-and-nurse teams, 3) basic work teams, 4) community polyclinics, 5) hospitals, and 6) medical institutes. The Family Physician and Nurse program is made up of physician and nurse teams that serve individuals, families, and their communities. Polyclinics are community-based clinics that house primary care specialists, and exist in every Cuban community. While preventive medical care, diagnostic tests and medication for hospitalized patients are free, some aspects of healthcare are paid for by the patient

Freedom of Speech

Cuba: The Cuban constitution recognizes the freedom of the press, and prohibits private ownership of the media. “Only 25 percent of Cubans use the internet, while only five percent of homes are connected”, making it one of the Americas’ least-connected countries. The Internet is censored; a number of websites are blocked, and access to information is scarce.North Korea: Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and nations such as the United States have asserted that, in practice, there is no right to free speech, and the only media providers that are deemed legal are those operated by the government.

China: The only people in China who can publish criticisms of, or opinions contrary to those of, the Communist Party, are senior members of the Communist Party. Academics and editors of China’s state-controlled publications are afforded somewhat less leeway than Party officials, but still more than the average person.

Russia: In 2019 Russia introduced new regulation commonly called “fake news law” which criminalizes publications containing “unreliable” information as well as opinions that show “disrespect for society, government, state symbols, the constitution and government institutions”. The law was criticized for vague wording allowing selective application e.g. against political opposition. Since 2009, the practice of the law enforcement agencies (most notably FSB) was to abuse newly introduced anti-extremism laws to suppress freedom of speech, including corruption investigations. On 31 March 2013, The New York Times reported that Russia was beginning ‘Selectively Blocking [the] Internet’.

That’s a glimpse of life under Trump as ‘president’ for life here. So, all those ‘rights’ you keep harping on, well, don’t worry, you won’t have them because we won’t have a Constitution. No Constitution, no rights. And if you think it can’t happen here, think again. He’s already trying to set the stage, with declaring the media “enemies of the government”, and “fake news” (hmm, look familiar?), telling us what he wants us to know around COVID-19, hiding his tax returns, installing his family and flunkies in positions of authority, and making us all question each other. It’s not too late to keep it from happening.

Vote on November 3.

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Why Dan Patrick (and the GOP) Are Wrong

I heard Texas Lt Governor Dan Patrick say something a while back on a news bite that made me stop in my tracks.

“There is no reason — capital N, capital O — no reason that anyone under 65 should be able to say I am afraid to go vote,” Patrick, a Republican, said in an interview with Fox News. “Have they been to a grocery store? Have they been to Walmart? Have they been to Lowe’s? Have they been to Home Depot? Have they been anywhere? Have they been afraid to go out of their house? This is a scam by the Democrats to steal the election.”

What? Is he serious? Unfortunately, he was. And he’s dead wrong too.Screen Shot 2020-06-06 at 6.49.13 AM

There are many reasons why people under the age of 65 are afraid to go and vote with a pandemic. Anyone with a compromised or suppressed immune system is at very high risk of catching – and dying from – coronavirus. Their immune systems are just not able to fight off infections, either because the disease they have has made their body not able to fight off infections or because they are taking some kind of medication that has chemically suppressed their immune system. This could include people with different types of cancers either because of the disease, or because they are receiving chemotherapy, anyone who has HIV or AIDS, and anyone that has received an organ transplant. It could also include some people with psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, because some of the medication they take suppress the immune system as well. Heart disease? Check. Lung diseases like cystic fibrosis? Check. Crohn’s disease, having your spleen removed, bone marrow ablation, genetic immunodeficiency, diabetes and chronic kidney disease are also on the list. Guess what Mr. Patrick? All of those affect individuals of all ages.

Add to the group above everyone in their households, because if a spouse, significant other, child or parent brings home the virus, then the immunocompromised person could get it from them, and if they do, they will probably die because their immune system is unable to fight off infections. For some of them even a common cold means the risk of pneumonia, and getting a flu shot each year is critical. So, when coronavirus became a “thing”, and the CDC said “wash your hands”, they did. When the CDC said “wear a mask”, they did that too. And when their medical providers said “it’s not safe for you to work and be around so many people”, they either quit or took a leave of absence and thanked God for unemployment (if they had a state that wasn’t a complete cluster about it) and the stimulus.

How do I know this?  My husband was blessed 29 years ago with a kidney transplant, making our household one that is immunocompromised, thus we take many precautions to keep him safe. We wash our hands – a lot. We wear masks if we go out, and use hand sanitizer. I wipe down the groceries before they come in the house, and as a rule, I don’t go shopping for them in the store. I order them online, then go through the drive though that my grocery store offers and have the loaded in my vehicle. I order everything I possibly can online, trying to respect the delivery folks as much as possible by bundling my orders up and having a single delivery day. Neither of us has had a professional haircut in months (I’ve learned to cut my husband’s hair, and it actually doesn’t look too bad!), unlike you Mr. Patrick, who is freshly shorn by a stylist. I no longer enjoy luxuries I used to indulge in because they aren’t safe, like manicures or dining out. I wipe down surfaces in our home with bleach, as well as my car on the few occasions I do go out. I’ve seen my mother four times since March, and made her wear a mask each time. We do still attend church, but online. I will admit having gone to Home Depot but I don’t wander the aisles. I order what I need ahead of time when I can and have it waiting for me at customer service so I can get in and get out or have a plan so I am in and out quickly.

Now, maybe they don’t have these problems down in Texas, with folks getting sick or needing dialysis and transplants, or maybe Mr. Patrick, like so many members of the GOP is just so out of touch with real people and real problems that he’s just clueless to the realities of life. Of course, we’re now learning there is a third option, which is the public message they say on camera or through their Twitter feed, and the private message when they think few are listening. I suspect he knows the truth even if he won’t admit it publicly, and there isn’t one single thing he – or anyone else – can say to me to convince me to take risks that would endanger my husband’s life.

We’re under the age of 65 in this household, and have plenty of reason to NOT vote in person, Mr. Patrick. (And if you live in the Washington, DC area, as we learned this week you might have some new reasons for not voting in person, as POTUS and FLOTUS mutual COVID -19 diagnoses are the gift that keeps on giving.) Fortunately for us, we live in a progressive state that allows absentee voting without an excuse, and we are exercising that right. Neither you, your ignorance not your great desire to align with a man who believes that  herd mentality will save us, are going to put that at risk. And contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence of any kind that mailing in your ballot promotes voter fraud.

Note: Your vote counts. To find out if you can vote absentee in your state, and what the rule are, go to  Vote.org. If you are concerned, like many of us are, about Louis DeJoy and the efforts he has undertaken to undermine the ability of the USPS to deliver your vote on time, please look to see if there is a location near you in your county with a drop box for your ballot. In ours, there are a number of them where ballots can be dropped beginning weeks before the election, so we don’t need to rely on the post office. If you live in Texas, you won’t be so lucky as the governor there has restricted drop offs to one location per county.

Vote. It could be your last chance.