Dear White America…

donald-trump

By: M. K. Williams

… is actually a book.  Yes, seriously. There is a book titled Dear White America and the author’s name is Tim Wise.

I reluctantly picked it up at a Barnes and Noble that was going out of business a few years ago.  I initially thought that it was another “angry black person” book, yelling at white people (which is probably what you’re thinking this article is right now).  But I went ahead and picked it up anyway.  My mental shelves were already packed with a wealth of non-fictional information that could inspire me to yell at all the white people I wanted to my own dang self.  That particular day I didn’t need anybody else yelling the same thing that I could have been yelling at white folks for.

To my utter disbelief, a young looking white man appeared inside the book’s back cover. I couldn’t even claim him as lightskinned.  This man was straight up white.  So I checked to make sure that I picked up the right book, but it still said Dear White America.  When I decided to catch the book being tricky, I read a few pages.  The next thing I remember was that the receipt functioned as my bookmark while I consumed the first 3 chapters sitting in my parked car.

I’ve since followed Wise’s growing influence.  From videos of lectures and panel discussions to appearances on CNN, Wise is one of the boldest white men I have ever heard speak the raw truth about the American mindset.

The only way that I can describe Tim Wise is to ask you to imagine that a black nobel laureate rode a time machine back to the 60’s, got filled with the holy ghost in Nashville, Tennessee, then had his brain squeezed into Wise as a toddler – who apparently has been walking around with it ever since.  Believe me. 

Which brings us now to Donald Trump.  If you’re not wealthy and are even thinking about voting for Donald Trump – don’t let that man make a fool out of you.

You obviously have good sense if you can sit through reading this.  I’m not trying to be funny this time.  You are interested in varying views and I can bet, you’re the type of person that believes in due diligence.  It doesn’t hurt that you also A) read beyond a fourth grade level – which our failing public school systems say is a major accomplishment in this country;  B)  seek out facts TO read which; C) demonstrates that you don’t blindly follow the crowd.  It’s the same innate intelligence that’s been giving you pause over and over again about Donald Trump.

I don’t know if you’re tired of establishment politics or if you agree that the economy is a hot mess.  I don’t even care if you’re just sick and tired of not getting to see white people everywhere you go.  Some things and people can’t  be wished away if we tried, and trust me, I’ve tried.

I’m keeping it real with you and hope that you can too.  Regardless of how your search has landed you on this page, it doesn’t matter as long as you remember this –  Donald Trump and the republican agenda is NOT the answer to improve the quality of your life or that of the “middle class”.

Thanks to the heartless, dog-eat-dog business practices  of this country’s largest corporations / employers, THERE IS NO middle class majority anymore.  There are the poor, the working poor, the small group of folks who are clinging on to high paying jobs or nest eggs that they earned or inherited, and then of course there are the wealthy.

By the way, the same greed driven cut-throat business tactics mentioned above are exactly what Donald Trump is famous for.

The comfortable job stability of an abundantly thriving middle class has gone bye-bye. From the working poor to the “middle class”, everyone  is constantly watching their back, praying that they don’t lose their jobs or nest eggs.  Those with the latter are constantly trying to find ways to hold on to their money, which lands many on Wall Street’s front porch of volatility.  Both know that they’re one month’s earnings away from a potential financial catastrophe.  We watched as major corporate facilities closed down.  We read and lived through countless layoffs and furloughs across the country.  To add insult to injury we saw in three decades time, hundreds of the nation’s largest corporations pull branches of their operations completely OUT of the country while eagerly GIVING OUR OLD JOBS AWAY to people overseas.

What is not as easy to see is how the wealthy have been playing the majority of Americans like a fiddle.  President L.B. Johnson advised his White House Aid, Bill Moyers in 1960,

“I’ll tell you what’s at the bottom of it,” he said. “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”  L.B. Johnson to White House Aid, William Moyers  

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Tell me this – how in God’s good name are Mexicans (and the silent nod including black folks for that matter) responsible for the fact that 10% of people in this country, WHOM ARE PRIMARILY WHITE, earn an average of 9 times more than the entire remaining 90% do?  There aren’t enough illegal immigrants in the world that could pull off such a coup against the United States.   And how are illegal immigrants supposed to take over the country when so many are busy doing work that we’re either too lazy or unskilled to do?

There’s only one way to pull this old trick off: To exploit the majority..regardless of color, gender or faith.  First tactic: don’t let the majority get along with one another.  If they do, they will unite and take over.  To do this, the power structure must create theories and practices to wedge a division between them.  To effectively do this, there must some form of “reward system” for one group while imposing a “penalty” for another. Sound familiar?  It should. Poor whites and slaves were getting along just fine in America back in the day.  While slaves were being beaten and killed into destitution, poor whites just had no other choice.  For neither could read or write, so both had to do the same manual labor to eat.  So, when the wealthy/educated class saw these folks uniting and having babies and parties and rebellions, they knew they had to do something quick.   So, they offered poor whites land and a small taste of power in the form of jobs…as “overseers” of slaves.  Division complete  The rest is history.

(A great lesson about power by former Parliament member, Tony Benn)

If you’re super rich and back Trump, I can almost understand because you probably want to stay super rich and get even richer – regardless if you’re democrat, republican, green, purple, or independent.  I would imagine that you think Trump will definitely protect your interests because you have money.  However, this fundamental question remains:  Why should 90 % of us suffer to make you rich?

I don’t know about you, but I believe Trump could care less if half the planet had to drop dead in order for him to stay rich.  As a matter of fact, I don’t think that he would care if half of us got blown off the map by a Putin or North Korean nuclear attack judging by the way he talks.

I digress.

Let’s take a look at  the striking comparison between the Great Depression leading into the 1930’s and the Great Recession of the early 2000’s.

1.  In 1928 and 2007 the earnings of those who made the highest 10% peaked.  Also during those years, this same group paid historically low tax rates.

2.  The stock market crashed in 1929 ushering in the Great Depression.  The most devastating Recession since the Great Depression tore in with a crash in 2008.

When the largest share of the country’s money stays in the hands of a few, the many can’t afford to buy goods and services.  Without enough money, the companies who employ people to provide goods and services can no longer afford to pay them.  Wala! The companies cut jobs or worse, go out of business like those which brought lawsuits against Donald Trump.

Don’t just take my word about it.  See the hard facts below from the Economic Policy Institute  (their text is in blue).  You can find my recommendations in the conclusion.

 

Income Inequality

Download Chart PackIncome includes the revenue streams from wages, salaries, interest on a savings account, dividends from shares of stock, rent, and profits from selling something for more than you paid for it. Income inequality refers to the extent to which income is distributed in an uneven manner among a population. In the United States, income inequality, or the gap between the rich and everyone else, has been growing markedly, by every major statistical measure, for some 30 years.

Household and Family Income

Source: Emmanuel Saez, Center for Equitable Growth, June 2015

Income disparities have become so pronounced that America’s top 10 percent now average nearly nine times as much income as the bottom 90 percent. Americans in the top 1 percent tower stunningly higher. They average over 38 times more income than the bottom 90 percent. But that gap pales in comparison to the divide between the nation’s top 0.1 percent and everyone else. Americans at this lofty level are taking in over 184 times the income of the bottom 90 percent.

 

Source: Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States, Emmanuel Saez, June 2015

 

The top 1 percent of America’s income earners have more than doubled their share of the nation’s income since the middle of the 20th century. American top 1 percent incomes peaked in the late 1920s, right before the onset of the Great Depression.

 

Source: Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States, Emmanuel Saez, June 2015

 

Inequality in America is growing, even at the top. The nation’s highest 0.1 percent of income-earners have, over recent decades, seen their incomes rise much faster than the rest of the top 1 percent. Incomes in this top 0.1 percent increased 7.5 times between 1973 and 2007, from 0.8 percent to an all-time high of 6 percent. The Great Recession in 2008 did dampen this top 0.1 percent share, but only momentarily. The upward surge of the top 0.1 percent has resumed.

 

Source: Statistics of Income Division, Research, Anlaysis and Statistics, Internal Revenue Service, Table 1, December 2015

 

The 1990s saw the annual incomes of the ultra rich explode in size. Between 1992 and 2002, the 400 highest incomes reported to the Internal Revenue Service more than doubled, even after the collapse of the dot.com bubble in 2000. In the early 21st century, the economic boom driven by the real estate bubble would more than triple top 400 average incomes before the 2008 economic collapse.

 

 

High levels of income concentration are pervasive across the country, but there are important differences among states. Connecticut has the highest threshold for entry into the top 1 percent. At least $677,608 in annual income is needed to be a member of this elite group in that state. That’s three times the minimum needed to be among the top 1 percent in bottom-ranking Arkansas. (place cursor on each state for detailed data)

 

Sources: Household income shares for the 0-99 percent, U.S. Census Bureau. Top 1 percent data, the World Top Incomes Database. Analysis by NPR, January 2015

 

Before the 1980s, lower-income earners owned a far larger portion of total U.S. income than they do today. How much more income would these earners be making today if the United States had the same distribution of income as the nation displayed in 1979? NPR found that Americans would experience income increases of at least $3,000 across all quintile levels, with the highest quintile owed an additional $17,311. The top 1 percent of earners would see a dramatic fall in their income, losing more than just $824,844.

 

Source: Congressional Budget Office, The Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, Table 3, November 2014

 

The Congressional Budget Office defines before-tax income as “market income plus government transfers,” or, quite simply, how much income a person makes counting government social assistance. Analysts have a number of ways to define income. But they all tell the same story: The top 1 percent of U.S. earners take home a disproportionate amount of income compared to even the nation’s highest fifth of earners.

 

Source: Congressional Budget Office, The Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, Figure 11, November 2014

 

Since 1979, the before-tax incomes of the top 1 percent of America’s households have increased more than four times faster than bottom 20 percent incomes.

 

Source: Congressional Budget Office, The Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, Figure 13, November 2014

 

The Congressional Budget Office defines after-tax income as “before-tax income minus federal taxes.” After taxes, top 1 percent incomes are increasing even faster than before taxes. Before-tax income growth for the top 1 percent has averaged 174.5 percent since 1979. The after-tax increase: 200.2 percent. A progressive tax system should function to narrow income gaps between the affluent and everyone else. Over recent decades, America’s tax system has done no narrowing.

 

CEO Pay

Source: Institute for Policy Studies and AFL-CIO analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics average hourly earnings data and corporate proxy statements, 2015

 

In the United States today, unions have a much smaller economic presence than they did decades ago. With unions playing a smaller economic role, the gap between worker and CEO pay was nine times larger in 2013 than in 1980.

 

Wages

Source: A look at pay at the top, the bottom, and in between, Spotlight on Statistics, Page 2, U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015

 

Wages in the United States, after taking inflation into account, have been stagnating for more than three decades. Typical American workers and the nation’s lowest-wage workers have seen little or no growth in their real weekly wages.

 

Source: Economic Policy Institute analysis of Kopczuk, Saez and Song (2010) and Social Security Administration wage statistics, November 2015

 

Between 1979 and 2007, paycheck income of the top 1 percent of U.S. earners exploded by over 256 percent. Meanwhile, the bottom 90 percent of earners have seen little change in their average income, with just a 16.7 percent increase from 1979 to 2014.

 

Source: Economic Policy Institute analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bureau of Economic Analysis data, January 2015

 

Productivity has increased at a relatively consistent rate since 1948. But the wages of American workers have not, since the 1970s, kept up with this rising productivity. Worker hourly compensation has flat-lined since the mid-1970s, increasing just 15.5 percent from 1979 to 2013, while worker productivity has increased 132.8 percent over the same time period.

 

Source: Economic Policy Institute analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bureau of Economic Analysis data, January 2015

Nobody has to be an economist to see what’s right in from of their faces.  Greed at the top has sucked a lion’s share of money directly away from the majority and into their own pockets.  And the top earners in this country WANT the majority of Americans to remain broke and dumb so that they can continue to rob us blind.

The top 10% of earners are the very ones who are making the corporate decisions to slash thousands of American jobs at a time with a stroke of a pen which represent billions in American wages . They then hire cheaper employees abroad. Despite popular belief, overseas employees are NOT just laborers in the manufacturing sector. They are also giving our jobs to cheaper highly skilled professionals ranging from engineers and scientists to construction workers and MBA’s. 

To slap a “STUPID” sticker on the brows of Americans, they promote a big fat lie that of all people – it’s the Mexicans who are taking over.  Then, they get all the stupid-sticker folks riled up to VOLUNTARILY pay for a 2,000 mile long x 30 feet high  Trump billboard.

whyivoterepublican

If you’re not rich and are looking to improve your quality of life i.e.,. the very possibility of higher wages, lower taxes, and guaranteed healthcare in the event that you get ill, vote for Hillary Clinton.  On the other hand, if you want to lose any chance of keeping affordable/ guaranteed healthcare as you continue to work at a job which pays you less than you made 10, 15, and even 20 years ago,  while watching the  rich pay less in taxes than you do – vote for Donald Trump.  That’s just the bottom line.  Check their records.  Oh, Darnit!  I almost forgot…one won’t release them.

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“Get out of MY Country” Says Ignorant Trump Supporter and/or Staffer

“Get out of my country”…says ignorant Trump supporter or staffer to famous reporter Jorge Ramos.

WHOEVER YOU ARE “MR. IGNORANT MY COUNTRY”, If you had any education whatsoever, you would know that many Mexicans are actually Native Americans and descendants thereof. Therefore, THIS IS THEIR COUNTRY. The Mexican border is only a line in the sand drawn by Europeans on the United Sates map DIRECTLY ATTACHED TO TEXAS, “NEW” MEXICO, ARIZONA, AND CALIFORNIA.

“Mr. Ignorant My Country”, I suggest that you channel your intense energy into figuring out where you’re people came from so that you can find “your country” origins.  Unlike Mr. Ramos, your skin is an immediate giveaway that your people DID NOT COME FROM HERE. Find some time to shut your mouth which spews ignorance, and use that opportunity to learn something.

And people wonder why Civil Rights Activists are still born everyday.

M. Kita Williams

http://www.civilrightsagenda.com

If You’re NOT a Multimillionaire and DON’T Check Sanders Out, Don’t Say that You Didn’t Have the Facts!

CIVILRIGHTSAGENDA.COM

Credit: biography.com

Bernie Sanders Biography

Mayor, U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator (1941–)
Senator Bernie Sanders is America’s longest-serving independent politician in Congress and a candidate for president in 2016.

Synopsis

Born in 1941, politician Bernie Sanders started out his career as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont. He served four terms as the leader of Vermont’s biggest city from 1981 to 1989. Sanders then moved on to the national political arena by winning a seat in the House of Representatives. From 1991 to 2007, he distinguished himself as one of the country’s few independent legislators. In 2007, Sanders won election to the U.S. Senate and was reelected…

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Who??? 24 GOP Candidates Declared for 2016 POTUS Run

Do you know who this is?  I don’t either, but his profile information is below.

While I will not be voting for any of the 28 individuals interested in running on the GOP ticket for POTUS below (there are 4 which are in “exploratory” status – whatever that is), I’m quite sure that a few will at least garner votes from some of their family members and neighbors.I always thought that only those who knew that they would have a pretty good shot at winning a nomination would enter the campaign trail for POTUS.   The Grand Old Party now seems to be more like the Guys On Pot-us.

Case in point, this guy.

Declared Republican 2016 Candidate Skip Andrews

According to http://2016.republican-candidates.org/#Declared-Republican-Candidates. “Skip” Andrews is a diverse candidate who probably has at least one opinion to please anyone. Few politicians are able to satisfy both a pro-legalization marijuana advocate and a staunch pro-lifer. Of course, this also means most would object to a majority of his platform.”

All right, “Skip”.  This is a trip…in every way.

Next, we have the no-teeth-showing-guy.

Declared Republican 2016 Candidate Brooks Cullison

Who told him that it would be a good idea to put on his black suit with matching tie and frames, then attempt to smile by squeezing his lips together, and sign the “I’ll run for POTUS form”?  Maybe this is his drivers license picture.  Perhaps due to technological advances, all one must do when signing the form is to list their license number, and then the POTUS form people just use that to pull your DMV profile.

As it turns out, his name is Brooks Cullison.  His profile reads, “A man of faith for whom addressing the threat of radical Islam is Job One, but Brooks Cullison also worries about the abused and destitute in the US and the high volume of illegal immigrant traffic crossing the border with Mexico. Support for education is another issue on which he feels strongly.”

In other words, Cullison is an attorney and CPA with so much faith in something, that he neither embraces Muslims nor Mexicans.  Can’t you envision him saying, “This is OUR COUNTRY! … We have to get back to American values!”  Despite the fact that long before Europeans terrorized Native Americans and jacked their land, these original dwellers for centuries lived throughout North America, which includes the United States and the now “line in the sand” called Mexico.

I have to end it here with Michael Bickelmeyer. Declared Republican Presidential Candidate Michael Bickelmeyer  He is described as, “An eccentric fellow who enjoys coming up with some very creative inventions, Bickelmeyer is running for the GOP nomination in 2016. He has a very dim view of terrorists and drug traffickers – in fact, he wants to deploy weapons to fry them from orbit.”

Oooo-Kay!

It wouldn’t be a surprise at all if Bickelmeyer and Skip grew up together.  He “enjoys coming up with some creative inventions?”  Well, so did I when I made a bracelet out of a dixie cup and a piece of ribbon when I was 5 years old.  WHO ARE YOU?  What are you talking about?  Perhaps he wants to patent a gazillion dollar slingshot which can be placed on Jupiter to pop people on earth in the head.  And what exactly does “dim view” mean?  Is he depressed?  Bickelmeyer, just say, “no”. OK?

The rest are below.  I just can’t…not today.

M.K. Williams  civilrightsagenda.com

Source: http://2016.republican-candidates.org/#Declared-Republican-Candidates

 Declared and Exploratory Republican Candidates 
Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Army child and business owner
Declared Republican 2016 Candidate Skip Andrews
Skip Andrews
“Skip” Andrews is a diverse candidate who probably has at least one opinion to please anyone. Few politicians are able to satisfy both a pro-legalization marijuana advocate and a staunch pro-lifer. Of course, this also means most would object to a majority of his platform.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Creative Dreamer
Declared Republican Presidential Candidate Michael Bickelmeyer
Michael Bickelmeyer
An eccentric fellow who enjoys coming up with some very creative inventions, Bickelmeyer is running for the GOP nomination in 2016. He has a very dim view of terrorists and drug traffickers – in fact, he wants to deploy weapons to fry them from orbit.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Veteran and volunteer spokesperson with Americans For Fair Taxation (AFFT)
Declared Republican Presidential Candidate Kerry Bowers
Kerry Bowers
A former military man with a long career in the United States Air Force, Kerry Bowers has experience not only in the armed forces but as a police dispatcher, businessman, and in many other fields.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Former Governor of Florida
Declared Republican Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush
Florida’s only Republican two-term Governor, Jeb Bush is a heavyweight political contender who comes from a family of presidents. His left-leaning ideologies make him too liberal for the taste of some in his party, however, and his lineage could be hindrance rather than help.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Physician, Author and Citizen Politician
Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Dr. Ben Carson
Dr. Ben Carson
Ben Carson is a highly accomplished physician who is seen as a breath of fresh air in the world of politics. He has left his position as director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Center and is in pursuit of the U.S. presidency in 2016.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
International entrepreneur and business professor
Declared Republican 2016 Candidate Dale Christensen
Dale Christensen
With experience in business management around the world, Dale Christensen is a self-described “first and foremost” family man who advocates a variety of conservative principles.


Exploratory 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Governor of New Jersey
Exploratory Republican 2016 Candidate Chris Christie
Chris Christie
Assurances given to a number of his biggest campaign contributors held Gov. Christie back from running in 2012, despite pleas from party luminaries such as former president George H.W. Bush. However, Gov. Christie has been slowly but surely positioning himself for a 2016 run.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
U.S. Senator from Texas
Declared Republican Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz
The Harvard and Princeton-educated attorney once served as the Domestic Policy Advisor to former president George W. Bush. Noted for his formidable oratory skill, Senator Cruz is viewed by some as one of the intellectual leaders of the tea party movement.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Attorney and Certified Public Accountant
Declared Republican 2016 Candidate Brooks Cullison
Brooks Cullison
A man of faith for whom addressing the threat of radical Islam is Job One, but Brooks Cullison also worries about the abused and destitute in the US and the high volume of illegal immigrant traffic crossing the border with Mexico. Support for education is another issue on which he feels strongly.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Constitutional Republican and strong conservative
Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate John Dummett, Jr.
John Dummett, Jr.
Hailing from the state of California, John Dummet, Jr is a Constitutional Republican who has become disenfranchised with both the Republican and Democratic parties.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Businessman and former IRS Commissioner
Declared Republican Presidential Candidate Mark Everson
Mark Everson
A strong conservative with an extremely dim view of large banks, Mark Everson calls the integrity of mainstream politicians into question and accuses them of catering to monied special interests. He strongly believes a President should serve only a single term.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Businesswoman and Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard
Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Carly Fiorina
Carly Fiorina
The only well-known woman running for the Republican nomination in 2016, Carly Fiorina is a unique political figure. Her business experience and conservative principles make her attractive to the right, but past difficulties and failures could haunt her moving forward.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
U.S. Senator from South Carolina
Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Lindsey Graham
Lindsey Graham
The former Colonel with the USAF JAG unit has been one of the most recognized Republican faces in the post-2012 election era. However, his reputation as a compromise broker in Congress has taken a hit over his recent conversion into a foreign policy hawk.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Former combat pilot and current airline captain
Declared Republican Presidential Candidate Chris Hill
Chris Hill
Chris Hill is a combat veteran who served as a pilot during Desert Storm. Although he is running on the Republican ticket, some of his leanings are at odds with those of the GOP, including his “Living Wage” plan and his support for labor unions and recognition of gay marriages.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Former Governor of Arkansas, Man of Faith and TV Personality
Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee
Mike Huckabee
Mike Huckabee is an Evangelical Christian who never shies away from his faith. In January, 2015, he bid farewell as host of his popular talk show on the Fox News Channel to pursue his 2016 presidential bid.


Exploratory 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Current Governor of Louisiana
Exploratory Republican Presidential Candidate Bobby Jindal
Bobby Jindal
Gov. Jindal created history in 2008 when he became the first Indian American to be elected a state Governor. At the grand old age of 24, the Rhodes Scholar was appointed by Gov. Murphy Foster to manage the Health and Human Services Dept., the largest department in the state.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Conservative and Tea Party supporter
Declared Republican Presidential Candidate Michael Kinlaw
Michael Kinlaw
Michael Kinlaw is a conservative Republican who has strong opinions on a number of issues. His views put him right in line with a number of other conservatives likely to run in 2016. Kinlaw has no political background and has launched his campaign in his hometown of Houston.


Exploratory 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Successful entrepreneur and media personality
Exploratory 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Dennis Michael Lynch
Dennis Michael Lynch
Affectionately known as “DML”, Lynch boasts a quarter-century of experience in building and managing successful businesses. He has also worked as a film producer, made public speeches and provided political commentary. He has appeared copiously on television and radio.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Former Governor of New York
Declared Republican 2016 Candidate George Pataki
George Pataki
A three-term Governor of New York State with an impressive political career besides, George Pataki is a red Republican who has found success in blue country. His fiscal policies are pleasing enough to the GOP base, but his stance on social issues may leave something to be desired.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
U.S. Senator from Kentucky
Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Rand Paul
Rand Paul
Sen. Paul finally emerged from the huge shadow of his larger than life father, maverick Republican Ron Paul, when he was selected to deliver the tea party response to President Obama’s SOTU address in 2013, and in the process, cementing his de facto leadership of the movement.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Former Governor of Texas and 2012 presidential candidate
Declared Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Perry
Rick Perry
After his ultimately underwhelming presidential bid in 2012, Gov. Perry, the longest serving Texas governor in history, announced a 2016 presidential bid at an event hosted by his political action committee, RickPAC, on June 4, 2015.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Businessman and veteran
Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Michael Petyo
Michael Petyo
A “business first” fiscal conservative with a very optimistic view of the role played by corporations in generating wealth, Michael Petyo is himself a business owner who feels the United States has lost its way economically and that relaxed regulation on the private sector is the solution.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
U.S. Senator from Florida
Declared Republican 2016 Candidate Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio is definitely on the short list of names for Republican frontrunner. Being himself of Cuban heritage, he enjoys strong support among the important Latino demographic, in addition to holding solid conservative principles that make him eminently likeable to the Republican constituency.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Entrepreneur, innovator, limited government advocate
Declared Republican Presidential Candidate Brian Russell
Brian Russell
Brian Russell is a successful entrepreneur who believes that implementing sound economic policy should be the government’s top priority. He also supports a strong military and foreign policy that presents the USA as the true leader in the free world.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Former US Senator from Pennsylvania
Declared Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum
Rick Santorum
The former two-term Senator from Pennsylvania announced yet another bid to be the party’s nominee for president in 2016 on May 27, 2015. With a small but loyal base behind him, Senator Santorum will work to expand his demographic appeal over the next months.


Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Businessman, television personality and author
Declared 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump
Donald Trump
A wealthy business tycoon and well-known American personality, Donald Trump brings a dour attitude that never fails to entertain. He has channeled his notoriety into a number of outlets, including a successful reality show and a public feud with rival celebrity Rosie O’Donnell.


Exploratory 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate
Governor of Wisconsin
Exploratory 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Scott Walker
Scott Walker
Gov. Walker’s proposed Wisconsin Act 10 triggered a wave of controversy that forced a recall election in his second year in office. However, Gov. Walker prevailed and achieved the distinction of becoming the country’s first governor to survive a recall election.

How Scott Walker and His Allies Hijacked the Wisconsin Supreme Court | Mother Jones

POLITICS

How Scott Walker and His Allies Hijacked the Wisconsin Supreme Court

And what it means for the probe into alleged campaign violations by Walker and conservative dark-money groups.

| Fri May 22, 2015 8:45 AM EDT

For three years, Wisconsin prosecutors have been investigating whether Republican Gov. Scott Walker broke campaign finance laws as he battled a 2012 recall effort sparked by his push for a law that undercut the power of public-sector unions. Prosecutors allege that Walker and his aides illegally coordinated with conservative groups that were raising money and running ads to support Walker and his Republican allies. At least one group at the center of the probe, the Wisconsin Club for Growth, has gone to court to stop the investigation. Its fate now rests with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which will rule any day now on whether the inquiry can proceed.

But there’s a rub. Two key targets of the investigation—the Wisconsin Club for Growth and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the state’s leading business group—have spent more than $10 million since 2007 to elect a conservative majority to Wisconsin’s top court. Given their involvement in the investigation, and the Wisconsin Club for Growth’s position as a party to the case, good-government advocates question whether the four conservative justices elected with the help of these two groups should be presiding over the case.

The Wisconsin Club for Growth and WMC did not make direct contributions to the campaigns for these justices. Instead, they poured millions into so-called independent issue ads that clearly conveyed messages that supported these campaigns. And in an odd twist, due to lax recusal guidelines—which were adopted at the urging of one of these conservative outfits—these justices on the state’s high court are not compelled to sit out a case involving these two groups.

The Wisconsin Club for Growth and WMC are top players in a years-long undertaking by Walker and his allies to create a conservative majority on the Supreme Court that is friendly to conservative policies—an operation that has included spending millions on ads, ending public campaign financing for Supreme Court elections, rewriting the court’s ethics guidelines, and amending the state’s constitution. This effort has led to one of the most partisan and dysfunctional judicial bodies in the country, a court with liberal and conservative justices who won’t appear together in public. And it could well end up benefiting the conservative groups under investigation should the jurists they helped elect rule the probe should stop.

“This large amount of money and special interests has impacted the workings of the court, the reputation of the court, and how it’s interacting internally,” says former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske, who served on the court from 1993 to 1998.

The Wisconsin Club for Growth and WMC first began pouring millions into state Supreme Court elections in 2007, when the groups spent an estimated $2.9 million on ads backing conservative candidate Annette Ziegler for an open seat on the Supreme Court and attacking her opponent. Total spending on that election topped $5.8 million, four times the previous record for a Wisconsin Supreme Court race. The following year, the same groups spent more than $2.7 million on ads aimed at unseating sitting Justice Louis Butler, a liberal, and electing conservative candidate Michael Gableman. The election was so nasty that racially-tinged ads released by Gableman’s campaign were compared to the infamous Willie Horton spot from the 1988 presidential election.

The partisanship and massive interest-group spending of the 2007 and 2008 state Supreme Court elections spurred Wisconsin lawmakers to take action. In 2009, the Legislature passed the Impartial Justice Act, setting up a robust campaign finance system for Supreme Court elections, including a matching funds provision to help candidates counter negative ads run against them. But in 2011, Walker quietly repealed the public financing law with language tucked into his first budget as governor.

In the spring of 2011, conservative dark-money groups, which can take in unlimited donations without disclosing where their money comes from, once again poured money into a Supreme Court race in the midst of statewide upheaval over Walker’s Act 10, the anti-union bill that gutted the collective bargaining rights of public-sector unions. As protests over the bill roiled Madison, the reelection campaign of conservative Justice David Prosser became a referendum on Walker’s policies. Prosser’s liberal opponent tried to paint him as a Walker stooge—an easy attack to mount since Prosser’s own campaign manager had touted Prosser as “a common sense complement to both the new [Walker] administration and [GOP-controlled] Legislature.” By the time the April 2011 election arrived, Act 10 was already working its way through the courts and was widely expected to end up before the state Supreme Court. On the eve of the Supreme Court election, Walker’s general counsel at the statehouse urged his friends to vote for Prosser by emphasizing that the fate of Walker’s agenda was on the line. The Wisconsin Club for Growth and WMC spent an estimated $2.5 million backing Prosser through ads, while Prosser’s own campaign spent just $700,000. Ultimately, Prosser won by a slim margin (7,004 votes)—a victory he likely owes to those conservative groups.

Now Prosser and three other state Supreme Court justices elected with millions of dollars in assistance from Wisconsin Club for Growth and WMC are weighing the future of the probe into whether the Walker campaign illegally coordinated with these groups during the recall election (which Walker ultimately won). And the Wisconsin prosecutor leading the investigation believes that this is a significant conflict of interest. In February, he filed a sealed motion asking at least two of the justices to recuse themselves from the case. A heavily redacted copy of that recently unsealed motion raises serious questions about the fitness of at least one justice to participate in the case. That justice, whose name is redacted, is suspected by prosecutors of committing the same type of campaign finance violation that Walker’s recall campaign has been accused of—coordinating its activities with independent groups, possibly the Wisconsin Club for Growth and WMC.

None of the court’s conservative justices have given any indication that they plan to step aside for this case. And, unlike in other jurisdictions, where a conflict of this sort would compel them to remove themselves from the proceedings, they don’t have to. That’s largely thanks to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s exceedingly permissive recusal guidelines—rules that were written by WMC.

And that’s another curious wrinkle in this tale. In a 2009 case, the US Supreme Court ruled that the right to a fair trial could be violated when a judge presides over a case that involves an individual or group that backed that judge’s election. The decision, Caperton v. Massey, prompted state courts around the country to bring their recusal rules into compliance with that Supreme Court decision. But Wisconsin adopted recusal guidelines at odds with the Caperton decision. The state’s new rules, which were proposed by WMC and then adopted by the court, state that a recusal is not warranted even if an individual or entity involved in a case has donated to the judge’s campaign committee or sponsored an independent issue ad in the justice’s election. That is, a group can spend millions helping a justice win his or her seat and still have that justice preside over a case it is involved in.

“We have clearly a conflict situation with really no guidance with the rules they have adopted,” says Geske, the former justice, referring to the Walker investigation case. “It’s a mess.”

This ethics mess has been accompanied by a series of clashes between the justices that have put the court’s internal dysfunction on public display. The source of the most recent acrimony traces to an effort by Republicans to further consolidate their power within the court by demoting its liberal chief justice, Shirley Abrahamson, so a conservative could run the court. To achieve this, the GOP-controlled state Legislature voted in 2013 and 2015 to amend the state constitution, which stipulated that the court’s most senior justice hold the top post. The GOPers proposed creating a system in which the seven justices elect a chief justice. In April, after WMC spent $600,000 on ads backing the change, voters approved it. (Two votes were required in the Legislature for a constitutional change, before the matter could be put to a referendum.) In short order, the court’s four conservative justices voted in a new chief, conservative Justice Patience Roggensack. In response, Abrahamson sued in federal court to maintain her post for the duration of her term. On Monday, the court’s liberal justices boycotted a ceremony at the state Capitol, refusing to appear in public with their conservative colleagues.

“It’s like watching a slow-moving car wreck,” says Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California-Irvine. “I can’t think of another court where we’ve seen anything like this.”

The dispute over the chief justice spot is only the latest battle between the court’s liberals and conservatives. Many of these skirmishes have involved Prosser. There was the time in 2010 that he called Abrahamson a “total bitch” and threatened to “destroy” her. The next year, Prosser placed his hands around liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s neck during an argument—an episode that occurred as the Wisconsin Supreme Court was in the midst of ruling on Walker’s anti-union law. In a 2013 letter to the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, Bradley detailed the extra security measures she took because she felt unsafe around Prosser. These moves included requesting police escorts and locking herself in her office when she worked after hours. (Due to a procedural loophole, Prosser was never censured for the chokehold incident.)

It is in this charged climate that the court is now deliberating the Walker investigation. In an unusual move, the conservative justices recently decided to cancel scheduled oral arguments and decide the case without them. “It’s the first time that I know of that the court has taken a case like this and not had oral arguments,” says Geske, calling this decision “concerning.”

The case comes at a delicate time for Walker, as he prepares to launch an expected presidential bid. If the investigation moves forward, it could cast a pall over his campaign. But Walker’s political fortunes are not the only thing on the line. The court’s decision could have major campaign finance ramifications in Wisconsin. If the Supreme Court rules that there is no basis for an investigation, it could signal that coordination is permissible and render “the state’s contribution limits meaningless,” warns Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington-based group that advocates for tougher campaign finance rules. Nonprofit groups, such as Wisconsin Club for Growth and WMC, can raise and spend unlimited cash and they don’t have to disclose their donors. But there are strict limits and disclosure rules on contributions to political candidates. By coordinating with outside groups, a candidate can skirt both contribution limits and disclosure rules. Should the Wisconsin Supreme Court halt the probe, groups including the Wisconsin Club for Growth and WMC would likely “view it as a green light to continue” coordinating, Ryan says. And that may well help the future electoral prospects of the justices themselves
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How Scott Walker and His Allies Hijacked the Wisconsin Supreme Court | Mother Jones.

“Don’t Underestimate Me” – Bernie Sanders

This morning on ABC’s “This Week”, Bernie Sanders (I-VT) responded to one of the country’s most echoed opinions regarding his 2016 presidential candidacy.  Host George Stephanopoulos put it out there.

“Most people don’t believe that you can actually become president of the United States.”

Sanders relied, “Let me say this about my political career…..Nobody thought that I would be elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont.  Very few people thought that I would beat an incumbent republican to become an United States congressman from Vermont by 16 points, and people weren’t so sure that I could beat the richest person in Vermont to become an United States senator.  So I would say, don’t underestimate me.”

Sanders did not let the opportunity get by during the interview to reiterate his commitment to putting an end to Citizens United and policies which give the billionaire class control over politics.

M.K.Williams – Civilrightsagenda.com