The War Against Women

 I suspect that the current debates and policy changes concerning women’s rights must be especially troubling for the women of my ge...

Monday, December 12, 2016

Trump's Campaign Promises: It Like De Ja Vu All Over Again

This is a reprint of a blog post I wrote September 9, 2012 -- two months before the last presidential election between Mitt Romney and President Obama. Between 2012 and 2016, the Republican Party gained a majority in both houses by gerrymandering districts in key states, suppressing the minority vote, and suppressing citizen participation is passing new laws/policies. The suburbs were and still is the fastest growing areas of poverty. The highest rate of suicide were committed by white men over the age of 40. And the majority of Americans living in poverty are Americans with job that pays less than the minimum wage. Donald Trump is making some of the same promises that both candidates made during the last election. I am praying to God that he keeps them, but I am very doubtful. 

                   The High Cost of Forgetfulness

How short are our memories? How short
are our powers to recall The Promises?

The Promise of employment repeated again
and again, “Cut taxes and it will create
jobs!” They told us again and again and
again the told us, “Cut taxes and it will create
jobs!” They promised.

So we cut taxes. Remember? We cut and cut and cut taxes. Remember?

Remember the $750 billion tax cut Congress approved in 1981 for the purpose of creating jobs? Remember these tax cuts were “going to create jobs?”

Remember the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which lowered the top tax rate from 50% to 25? Remember these tax cuts were “going to create jobs?”

Remember the Revenue Reconciliation Acts of ’87, ’88, ’89, ’90 and 93? Remember these tax cuts were going to create jobs?

Remember the series of tax cuts President George Bush signed into law. Remember his Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001? Remember when he created a tax rate of 10% for the richest Americans? Remember these tax cuts were going to create

Remember George W. Bush other tax cuts, like his
Jobs and Growth Tax Relief and his Reconciliation Act of 2003? Remember how he extended these tax cuts in the bills he signed into law in 2005 and
2006, which extended his favorable rates through 2010? Remember these tax cuts were going to create jobs? Remember?    

Remember when the United States was held hostage by the Tea Party and forced to cut taxes
two years ago. Remember their promise: “Cut taxes and it will create jobs.”

Remember one year ago when the republican majority in the House of Representatives refused to raise the debt ceiling unless President Obama and the United States Senate agreed to massive tax cuts? Remember their argument for the tax cuts: “Cut taxes and it will create jobs!” they told us. “Cut taxes and it will create jobs!” they argued.

Remember “The Promise?” Remember
this promise: “Cut taxes and it will create
jobs!” Remember it was also stated again and
again and again and again by republican governors?
“Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”
“Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”
“Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”
“Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”

Remember Scott Walker said it in Wisconsin?
Remember John Kasich said it in Ohio?
Remember Mary Fallin said it in Oklahoma?
Remember Tom Corbett said it in Pennsylvania?
Remember Nikki Haley said it in South Carolina?

“Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”
“Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”
“Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”
“Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”

Remember Christ Christie in New Jersey,
Remember Robert Bentley in Alabama,
Remember Nathan Deal in Georgia,
And Jan Brewer in Arizona. Remember
all of them promised it:
“Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”
“Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”
“Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”
“Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”

Rick Scott in Florida, Mitch Daniels in Indiana,
Terry Branstad in Iowa, Sam Brownback in Kansas, Rick Perry in Texas, and Bobby Jindal in Louisiana. All of them promised it:
“Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”
“Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”
“Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”
“Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”
Now corporate profits are at an all time high.
The richest Americans are sitting on boat-loads of cash.

And these republicans who received 36 years of tax cuts. These republicans who told us “Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”
blame President Obama for the lack of jobs created.

 Donald Trump and his republicans in office, once again tell us, “Cut taxes and it will create jobs!”

I wonder: Will we remember this time?

12/12/ 2016 Answer: I doubt it!!


James A. Porter

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Trump: The More Things Change, The More They Remain The Same

    On June 12, 2012 I wrote an article entitled The Promise of Employment -- Republican Style. I did not realize at the time just how accurately my words would foreshadow the policies of the Republican Party and how relevant it appears to be to the upcoming four years of President Trump.  The following is the original article I wrote four years ago: The conclusion reached at the end of the article about Mitt Romney is dangerously true about Donald Trump.

                                      The Promise of Employment -- Republican Style

     Employment is badly over-rated: Prior to 1862, 100 percent of African-Americans were employed in the United States – as slaves! In many areas of the world, today, the percentage of employed workers is high, but most of them labor for wages that only allow them, on some days, to meet their basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Their wages do not permit them to live a comfortable life.; their wages simply enable them to survive.
     In the years following reconstruction, the United States, with its share of slavery, exploitation of immigrants, robbery of American Indians’ land, and similar gross injustices, elevated itself above all other nations by bringing its employment practices in line with its democratic principles: More and more with each passing year, its citizens and its leaders insisted on better working conditions, better salaries for workers, promotion based on workplace achievement, and workplace adherence to fairness, respect, equality, justice, and ethical/moral practices. The United States talked the talk and walked the walk. And the upward mobility and quality of life it produced for American workers stood as evidence that its talking wasn’t an unsupported boast, but in fact, its talking were the articulation of goals and objectives, which produced lifestyle changes that enabled Americans to own homes, buy cars, pay for their children’s education, enjoy family leisure time, and made American workers “the most envied employees in the World!”
     Interestingly, the workers weren’t the only ones that benefited from this positive evolution in employment practices. American corporations became the richest companies in the world. American products became the best in the world, and the United States led the world in all areas of innovations.
     The employer-employee relationship truly became a partnership that produced a win for each side: Corporations became wealthier; workers became richer. And our God-fearing, Christian democracy seemed assured of the path it was taking towards greater prosperity and better quality of life for all its citizens. Then in the early 70’s, the United States economy began to change. 
     First, the Vietnam Conflict, which started in 1964, had drained our nation’s resources by the early 70’s. Second, OPEC raised its oil prices in 1973 and 1979; this caused rapid inflation and a deep recession. And finally, the shortage of oil caused a gas shortage, which interrupted the flow of goods and services, produced long lines at the gas pumps, and sent the entire nation into a state of panic – desperately in need of social and economic change.
     The Republican Party seized the moment. They ignored the fact that the inflation and recession started during the Nixon years (1969 – 1974) and greatly deepened during the Ford years (1974 -1977). Instead, they decided to blame President Carter (1977 – 1981) for the dismal state of the nation.
     Specifically, the republicans began an all-out assault on organized labor. They targeted labor unions, and successfully defeated all attempts by the unions to reform labor laws. They prevented, for example, the passing of the Humphrey-Hawkins bill, which seek to form a consumer protection agency and gain a federal guarantee of full employment for all American workers. Additionally, the republicans targeted social welfare programs by dividing the citizens into two classes: Americans who believed in rugged individualism, and Americans who believed that the government was the solution to their problems.          
      President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) took these Republican Party’s ideas one step further: He turned them into the national mandate for change by convincing most Americans – especially the more affluent citizens, that it was the correct course to follow.
     Reagan told the American people “Government isn’t the solution; government is the problem!” He argued that government collected too much of the taxpayers’ money, squandered virtually all the revenues it collected, imposed too many regulations on businesses, and continued to grow in these three areas (collecting, spending, and regulating).
     Reagan solution was an economic policy with four goals: 1. Reduce capital gains tax and income tax. 2. Reduce and control government expenditure – particularly as it relates to “government hand-outs/wasteful spending.”  3. Reduce government regulations on businesses. And 4. Reduce the overall growth of government spending.
     Regan implemented his plan and it worked: Income tax on the richest American dropped from 70% to 28%. Unemployment dropped from 10% to 5%. Inflation rate slowed from 10% to 4%, and government experienced one of its biggest periods of deregulation in the years 1960 to the present.
     Today, the four pillars of Reagan’s economic policy remain the foundation of the current Republican Party’s economic plan: Cut taxes (especially for the richest one percent), deregulate the restrictions on corporations, cut government handouts/wasteful spending, and reduce the overall size and overall growth of the government. This is the plan we see, with slight variations, in the 29 states led by republican governors – especially the states in the South and the Midwest.
     Most of these states have successfully cut taxes, reduce government spending, cut entitlements, and reduce handouts/wasteful spending. These are the positive accomplishments. However, we are overlooking the fact that they, like the original Regan’s policy, are producing some major negative results: 1. Real wages decline. 2. The number of Americans living below the poverty line increases. 3. Hunger and homelessness become more visible. 4. State budgets, without the revenues generated from decent wages and higher taxes, usually go into debt. 5. In most of these states their economy is greatly supplemented by increasing the size of government in the form of defense spending, which has always been “the Republican Party’s hidden stimulus package.”
     There several trends we are going to see in the United States: 1. The gap between the richest Americans and middle class Americans will continue to get larger. 2. We will continue to see a decrease in the size of the middle class. 3. Unemployment will go down; a large number of Americans will be hired/re-hired, but their real wages will be far less that it was in the past. 4. Workers will pay for 90+ percent of their benefits. 5. The effect of deregulation will be less clean air, water, and soil; less safety conditions in the work place, in goods and services, in food (produce and handling), and many other areas of our lives. 6. Increase Tort reform laws, which will intentionally make it harder for victims to file a lawsuit, obtain a jury trial, or obtain a reasonable amount of money in lawsuit payment for injuries caused by corporations. 7. The number of Americans living below the poverty line will continue to expand. And 8. This is just the tip of the iceberg – especially if Mitt Romney is elected the President of the United States in November. 

God help us!

James A. Porter    

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Colin Kaepernick, Remember the Principles of Our Democracy

Dear Colin Kaepernick,

Remember reading and studying American history in school? Remember the dreams of the Founding Fathers? I do. And I am willing to bet that your remembrance of the dreams and aspirations of the Founding Fathers, as well as the hopes and goals of the men and women, who built this great nation, are very similar to mine. I am willing to bet that every time you think of our nation ― The United States of America, and what it stands for, a slew of democratic principles come rushing to your mind: We believe in fairness. We believe in equality. We believe in justice for all. We believe in the rights of the individual. We believe in freedom. We believe in unity. We believe in our motto ― In God We Trust. We believe that although our nation is far from perfect and it has its faults, concerning social issues like racism, sexism, inequality for gay Americans, class warfare . . . we’re moving in the right direction, and things are going to get better. I am willing to bet that these democratic principles were first planted in your mind by parents, relatives, community leaders, ― and teachers in American history classes. We were told that these were “the principles upon which this nation was built.” These were the principles of Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Madison, S. Adams, Hancock, Paine, J. Adams . . . who were determine to build a nation that celebrated, more that anything else, the rights of the individual to practice his faith, raise his family according to his beliefs, pass down the customs and traditions of his ancestors, and earn a living through his creative and innovative resolve to be successful: These were the values of individuals who would work in concert with their fellow citizens to promote the principles of our democracy ― for the betterment of all of humankind. It's important to understand that these are the true beliefs of the majority of American people. More importantly, the American flag represents their values -- not he values of the oppressors, racists, sexists, and others who are only concern it their selfish, greedy motives.  

In these very trying times, the principles of the Founding Fathers are worth remembering, for they are the ingredients in the glue that bind us together ― in spite of our differences!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Our Nation’s Growing Deficit in Strong Leadership (Reprinted)

     Leadership is a required course in the United States military. Every American who served (or is serving) in the army, navy, marines, air force, and coast guard studied (or is studying) it. I taught it for 20+ years in the army, and studied it from 1969 to the present. I guess this is my round-about way of telling you that there are millions of military personnel and veterans who will verify and reinforce the points I am about to make about leadership.

     First, excellent (or strong) leadership is perhaps the single most important factor for creating success in organizations, companies, corporations, or democratic governments. Second, excellent leadership is built on sound, fundamental principles; and finally, the same principles of excellence that create success in organizations also create success in corporations, and democratic governments.
     So, what are the excellent principles of leadership? There are many, but here are the five important ones. (It might be helpful and informative if you compare the person you consider to be an excellent leader to the leadership principles that follows.):

1. Excellent leaders lead by example. Their personal conduct always reinforces their stated beliefs in the highest pillars of character. What they do models what they say: An excellent leader, for example, who truly believes that “government sponsored health care is wrong for the American people” would not have “government sponsored health care” for himself and his family – especially if he was a United States congressman or a United States senator.

2. Excellent leaders are perceived as “fair” even when the make tough decisions. Strong leaders have moral compasses that allow them to empathize with all members of their organizations. They always appear to be keenly aware of the impact that their decisions are having on others. Since excellent leaders are very good at articulating their feelings, they are able to demonstrate to everyone in their organizations that all experiences and concerns are understood by them..

3. Excellent leader gets everyone involved, and make everyone feel important to the organization, corporations, etc. Strong leaders do not demean, degrade, or publicly put-down members of their organizations; and under no set of circumstances do they intentionally divide their subordinates by pitting one group against another (rich vs. poor, public workers vs. private workers, those who receive entitlements vs. those who receive tax benefits, corporations vs. workers, etc.)! Quite the contrary, they are always trying to find ways of raising their subordinates’ self-esteem, self-confidence, feelings of empowerment, and feelings of inclusion. All members, regardless of their status, are made to feel important to the team and vital to achieving the team’s goals. (For example, a strong leader in the United States government would consider "getting everyone involved" an important strategy for solving problems like reducing the deficit, balancing the budget, improving education, increasing employment, and protecting the environment, reducing crime, reducing racial tension, reducing poverty, etc.) Anyone who tells the world "I alone can do it!" is indirectly stating "When it comes to excellent leadership, I am clueless!"

4. Excellent leaders have the ability to anticipate problems. Their leadership style is proactive – not reactive. They are always thinking “cause and effect.” They are always imagining the resulting scenarios in their minds, and they are always preparing for them. As a result their organizations are never caught unprepared. What is even more interesting is the fact that this way of thinking (or their way of anticipating problems) becomes contagious. It spreads throughout the entire organization to the point that it becomes “just the way everyone in the organization thinks and performs his/her job!”

5. Excellent leaders are visionaries. Strong leaders have a clear vision of where they want their organization to go, a clear understanding of the abilities of organization members, and the knowledge and skills to design and articulate a positive game plan that enables everyone to contribute to the best of his/her ability. Organizations that are led by strong leaders always achieve their goals in the most effective and efficient manner, while maintaining high morals, esprit de corps, team work, and job satisfaction for everyone!

     In the current social and political climate in the United States dominated by divisions, deceptions, lack of moral courage, greed, poor leadership by example, reactive leadership, leaders without vision, etc., it should be clear why I make the argument that this nation has a growing deficit in strong leadership. I wish I could say that I am hopeful that this will improve. I am not, but I will keep my fingers crossed!

James A. Porter

Friday, August 26, 2016

The True Systemic Problem in the United States: Politicians – Not Leaders

     The men and women governing the United States of America are first and foremost politicians or people with the types of leadership skills that enable them to run for office, get elected, get re-elected, and build and grow constituencies. They are usually attractive/handsome, charismatic, eloquent-persuasive speakers, and out-going-socially-charming individuals. Their strengths lie in their abilities to identify existing social and economic problems, and in their abilities to persuade the citizens that they (the politicians) have the best plans for solving these problems. Their types of leadership are reactive: They respond best to existing problems. So although they are wonderful patriotic Americans, who are very good at what they do, they are not the type of people who should be running this great country!

     The men and women, who should govern the United States of America, should be first and foremost leaders: They should be individuals who are trained and experienced at being proactive. This means that they should be men and women with excellent skills for anticipating problems, and for preventing the problems they anticipated. These men and women should have the knowledge and skills to ensure subordinates understanding of the problems, to ensure subordinates understanding of assigned responsibilities, and to ensure compliance and a state of readiness at all times. Men and women, who make the best proactive leaders, are usually individuals that tends to be courageously-candid with everyone, stickler for details, receptive to feedback from their subordinates, meticulous stewards of inspection, students of lessons learned, great team builders, and highly accountable. Most importantly, they are outstanding role models who practice what they preach: They lead by example.

     As long as we continue to elect politicians, we will remain a reactive nation that is constantly in a state of responding to the evils done to us.

     As soon as we begin electing leaders, we will become a proactive nation, with the ability to anticipate the evils and prevent them from happening to us!

     Let’s begin electing leaders!

James A. Porter

Thursday, August 25, 2016

One "Christian Nation" Under God?

     I am always amazed by the fact that although we call ourselves “a Christian Nation” and we boast about the fact that we have more churches in the United States than any other country in the world, the teachings of God, the Father, and His Son, Christ Jesus, play minor roles in our policy decisions. Our actions suggest that we do not ask ourselves questions like “What grade would Jesus, who knows what’s honestly is in our hearts, give us for the policy decisions we’ve just made?” “Are our policy decisions in accordance with His teachings?” “Are we conducting our selves in compliance with the example He modeled on Earth? And finally, are we writing and passing legislations that are in the true spirit of His principles (in accordance with The Word  in His Bible)? Were we acting as God-Fearing Christian when we have incorporated His principles and ethics into the two most important documents in our nation – The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States?

     In fact it appears to be quite the opposite: Our decision-makings are so far afield of His teachings that they would probably put us in good standing with the other guy – Satin. Moreover, what I find to be even more amazing is the fact that organizations, like the Republican Party, which claim to be the beacons of Christian values and morality, are the worst offenders. Their anti-Christian policies, which are becoming more frequent, are increasingly producing more severe consequences: Reductions in real wages; reductions in the size of the middle class; increases in the number of people living below the poverty line; and deregulation of civil rights, workers’ rights, gender rights, equality for all, representative government, and individual rights.

     Currently, it appears that the republicans are winning all the social and economic battles. They won the battle concerning “no new taxes.” They won the battle concerning the topics and the framing of the economic debates. And most significantly, they won the battle concerning spending cuts: they forced our country to make deep cuts to badly needed social and education programs, while refusing to make any cuts in defense spending, for weapon systems the Pentagon neither wanted or needed.

     On the surface it appears that the republicans won the economic debates because their economic ideologies were better and more effective than those of the democrats. I don’t believe this is true. Moreover, there is one inescapable fact that all honest God-fearing Christians cannot overlook: Jesus would never cut entitlements, because He knows that cutting entitlements make the poor poorer. This means that death from poverty and other conditions in poverty-stricken neighborhoods increases. God knows that cutting entitlements is literally a death sentence for the poorest Americans. And the majority of poor Americans are children. God knows that the deeper the cuts, the more children you sentence to death.
     Cutting entitlements or social programs that help “Americans in need” might be a good strategy for minimizing the tax cuts for corporations and wealth Americans. It might appease the Republican-Tea Party, but let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind: Agreeing to these actions makes you and I and every American conspirators in what has already become “the biggest mass genocide of Americans by Americans – And most of the victims are children!!!!!!

  God help us!!!         

James A. Porter