The People vs Big Pharma

People vs Big Pharma

There is a large outcry from the American public when it comes to the healthcare crisis in the country. One of the largest contributing factors is the cost of medications. The cost of medicines in the US is on the increase and the vast majority are only partially covered by insurance, if even that. Most people are familiar with the story of the Epipen that went from a cost of $100 for two pens in 2007 to a cost of $600 for those same two pens in 2016. Yet, that is simply the tip of the pharmaceutical iceberg. What about other common medicines prescribed for everyday use in order to keep people alive? They are also increasing at an alarming rate all pretty much due to the companies that make them placing profit over people.

A friend of mine is a diabetic. In December 2016, she paid $250 for a bottle of insulin which she goes through in about a week. A couple of days ago, that same bottle cost her $305. That’s a 22 percent increase in 5 months. Simply do the math on this. There are 52 weeks in each year. At $250 per week, that’s $13,000 a year. At $305 per week, that increases to $15,860. This is for medicine that keeps my friend and countless others alive, and that’s just for the medicine and with her having insurance. In total, she say it costs her over $2,000 a month for supplies. $24,000 a year. While the cost of insulin in the U.S. varies depending on brand and type from a low of $24 for a 10ml bottle of Novolin N (GoodRx.com) to a high of $688 for 5 solostar pens of Soliqua 100/33 (GoodRx.com), that still makes for an average price of $356 to keep someone alive, plus the costs of other supplies needed. If that is a weekly cost, that is $18,512 per week just for insulin and that’s only an average. Head to Canada and the average cost ranges from $0 to $3,427 per year for everything (healthydebate.ca).

Take a closer look at that comparison using my friend’s estimates per month. It costs her over $24,000 a year while someone in Canada could pay $3,427 per year for the same or similar treatment. That’s almost a 700% difference in cost. Just to stay alive.

So, why isn’t the cost coming down in the U.S.? Free market dictates cost or, as my friend relates from her pharmacist, “…the drug companies can charge what they want because they know desperate people will pay what they ask.”

Since when should people have to choose between staying alive or not due to their having a medical condition that was genetic?

Since the idea of higher profits exceeded the call to help others. I’d hazard to guess the average pay of the CEOs of the big pharmaceutical companies hasn’t dropped and that it likely increased as the price of the medications increased.

Why? Ask your elected official who received a big donation from a big pharmaceutical company why. The government has the ability to regulate the cost of medications, especially life sustaining or life saving ones. They choose not to in order to cater to their donors. This is not simply wrong, it is immoral.

Speaking of the morality of healthcare, some GOP politicians have even said that if people led better lives or were more religious, then they wouldn’t have a medical condition. It doesn’t take a physician to say that their way of thinking is bogus. Yet, it is far more than bogus as it is sinister. Genetic conditions happen. It’s no fault of a person that he or she develops diabetes or leukemia or cystic fibrosis or any other disease that has been shown to be genetic.

People need to stand up against this immorality! Healthcare and affordable medications are a right, not a privilege to extend to only a select few who have the means to afford it. There is no reason why any developed country in the 21st Century should have people who have to choose between paying bills and affording medical care.

I have lost friends due to lack of healthcare and have many more who are ill and faced with financial burdens that they should not be facing in a country of such wealth.

Call, write, email, or visit (or all of the above) your elected officials, especially your Senators as they work to revise the horrible Trumpcare bill that was passed by the House of Representatives. Do the same with the pharmaceutical companies. Let them know that we demand that they make medications affordable for all people. We can make a difference, but we have to speak out to do so! Silence will not enact change, only actively seeking and demanding change will.

Democracy in Crisis

Democracy in Crisis

Wake up, America! Our democracy is in a state of crisis!

The news has reported that our elected officials have had people arrested for asking them questions about policy. There have been people jailed for free speech. There have been two people fired for investigating the ties between Russia and the current administration. There have been members of the current administration who claim that it is wrong to question the actions of the president or any elected or appointed leader of our country. There have been threats against reporters and other members of the media who question or comment on the wrongdoings of the current administration.

This is not how a democracy is supposed to work, but rather it’s how dictatorships work. The United States of America is not a dictatorship!

It is time, past time actually, that We, the People of the United States of America, for us to rise up and protest in a persistent, peaceful manner to get answers to the questions that are not being answered. We know that Russia tampered with the last election in order to get their preferred candidate into office. There is no longer any doubt about that. However, how deep does the deception of our last election run? That hasn’t been answered and, if the current administration has its way, it will not be answered.

If the current administration is innocent, why are the constantly trying to keep an investigation from occurring? Anyone with an ounce of common sense would realize that the fastest way to clear any doubt is to have an independent and thorough investigation that brings out the truth. Yet, every time an investigation gets close to revealing that truth, the current administration acts in such a way as to stop or delay the outcome of the investigation.

That simply smacks of illegal collusion and treasonous actions on their part!

To put it more simply, if innocent of any wrongdoing, then let an independent investigation be done to prove it. It is obvious through all the delays and mis-directions being given that there is guilt. That guilt does nothing but disgrace our country and, with it, the current administration.

Elected officials are supposed to represent us, whether we voted for them or not. In their refusal to listen to the will of the People, they are in dereliction of their duty to serve us! We must not allow them to continue to ignore us. We must demand justice and demand it now! The time for complacency is long past. Now, is the time for action from the People!

I will never advocate for violence, as I feel it is the absolute last resort of a civilized society to use violence as the means to an end. We are a democracy where civilized discussion of the issues should be encouraged and exhausted before any thought of an uprising should even be remotely considered. Yet, we are seeing our rights being torn from us by people who have lost sight of who they represent. If our elected officials no longer represent us, then we need to demand that they do or remove them from office as provided within our rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States of America.

No one in our country is above the law! Not the President, not Congress, and not any elected official. I have heard and read comments from people outside of our country who cannot fathom why we are not actively protesting in the streets daily about the actions of our leaders. It is unfathomable that so many of us are sitting around in complacency while our rights are being stripped away, while our elected officials act in ways contrary to what is best for ourselves and our fellow countrymen, while there is action taken against our fellow humankind, and while there is proof that a foreign power has stolen our highest elected office. They cannot understand why we do not act.

Have we become so lazy to allow our elected officials to run roughshod against us?

Have we become so self-absorbed that as long as it does not affect us personally that we are willing to sit by idly and, therefore, become accomplices in the wrongs that are being perpetrated?

Have we become so ignorant that we refuse to seek the truth and rather believe whatever we hear without question?

Dammit, America, wake up before it’s too late!

We must act NOW!

We must Stand Up and be Heard!

We cannot afford to let the people elected to office simply do so without our input and if they act in contrary to what we want, to not demand they change or be removed from office!

It’s never inappropriate for reporters or even citizens to ask for answers and get them from our elected officials!

Our country was founded upon the belief that government should be of, by, and for the People!

Our Democracy is in Crisis and it is time for us to work together to get it out of that state of being. If we do not, then we are guilty of its demise and, with it, our own demise.

For the sake of all that is good and decent, please Wake up and take action to save our country Now!

Of Qu’rans and hijabs

Of Qu’rans and Hijabs

I recently made a deliberate study of aspects of Islam, namely the Qu’ran and the wearing of the hijab. I did this to get a better sense of the religion that is often demonized and ridiculed in the West. Much of the prejudices about Islam come from a lack of knowledge aside from sensationalized newscasts and misrepresentations of the religion based on a few people who hide behind Islam and commit acts of atrocity, acts which are against the teachings of the Islamic faith.

Now, as I’ve stated before in one of my earlier posts, Islam is a cousin to both Christianity and Judaism. In Islam, Jesus (pbuh) is seen as a prophet and the Messiah, but not as God. Islam’s respect of Jesus (pbuh) is evident in the phrase “peace be upon him” that is mentioned or written in abbreviated form of pbuh after mention of his name, like I have done here in this article. All three religions trace their lineage back to Abraham of the Torah/Old Testament with the Jewish and Christian religions basing theirs on Isaac and Islam basing theirs on his stepbrother Ishmael. I will not go further into their similarities at this point due to both having written about them before as well as that not being the topic of this article.

Instead, I wish to focus on two other aspects about Islam which are often brought up in an attempt to show the religion as being hostile, intolerant, and sexist: the Qu’ran and the wearing of the hijab.

I have spent time reading the Qu’ran. In fact, I made it a point to read a verse or a surah (chapter) from it each day during the Lenten season. From this and other readings I have done of the Qu’ran, I find it to be no more violent than the Torah/Old Testament of the Bible. There are mentions of attacking non-believers who attack first. Yet, there are also admonishments to not compel belief in anyone. That is, to put it another way, no one is forced to believe in the Islamic faith, unlike the door-to-door proselytizing that occurs with some sects of the Christian church. In fact, there are many verses that sound much like the Bible and seek to convey the same incidents.

When some individuals or groups state that the Qu’ran is filled with violence and calls for violence against non-Muslims, they seem to forget places within the Old Testament/Torah where there are calls for the Israelites to do the same, such as admonishments to kill entire cities in the name of Jehovah. The calls to violence in both the Torah/Old Testament and the Qu’ran are contextual to the time wherein they were written. They are not to be taken as modern day admonishments for believers.

Instead, the practices of Islam are based on what are known as the Five Pillars of Islam: The Profession of Faith (Shahadah), Daily Prayers (Salat), Almsgiving (Zakat), Fasting during Ramadan (Saum), and Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj). These bear resemblance to Judeo-Christian practices of reciting articles of faith, such as the Apostles Creed or Nicaean Creed; daily prayers or even the hours of prayer once used in the Catholic Church; works of charity; fasting during the 40 days of Lent; and the former practice of Christians who used to make pilgrimages to holy places or as many Jews do now to the Eastern Wall.

But what about the Islamic practice of jihad? What about it? Jihad simply means “the spiritual struggle within oneself against sin”. While some groups have used the term to engage in violence against others, that is not the true meaning nor is it sanctioned by the vast majority of Muslims. Muslims engage in personal jihad every day as they struggle to not commit sins against their faith. This is much like pretty much any religious person does as he or she strives to remain true to the tenets of his or her faith. So, there goes that argument.

The Qu’ran is filled with lovely sections that praise the Creator and the works the Creator has made, much like the Torah and the Bible are filled with similar sections.

My other topic is the hijab or scarf worn by some women who are Muslim. Many believe this is required by the Qu’ran, but it isn’t in the sense that many believe it is. The hijab or other head coverings are simply part of the Islamic faith for women to maintain a sense of modesty in dress. It is not that different from nuns who wear habits or Amish/Mennonites who wear bonnets. While there are some countries who impose the wearing of head coverings or full body coverings for women, they do not do this because it is required by the Qu’ran, but by their own set of moral or legal codes.

Women, particularly those living in the West, wear the hijab or other head coverings (shayla, khimar, chador, niqab, or burqa) for various reasons from believing their faith calls them to do so to a way to visibly express their faith to expressing their cultural identity or even to challenge the prevailing thought in the West that women who wear the hijab are somehow oppressed or silenced. There are also Muslim women who do not wear a head covering, but maintain their modesty in other ways. It’s a personal choice for the woman far more than a religious one. By the way, some Muslim men also wear had coverings for the same reasons, although they are not like the hijab. Even this is somewhat like the reason why some Jewish men wear yarmulkes or hats.

I hope this serves to enlighten my readers a bit about both the Qu’ran and the wearing of a hijab. If you have further questions, I suggest you contact your local mosque with a open mind and simply ask. Many mosques also hold open houses for non-Muslims to learn more about their Muslim neighbors.

The greatest defense against ignorance, prejudice, and fear is education. If more people take the time to learn about other religions and cultures, then the better our world becomes. Humankind has far more similarities than differences once you reach out and learn more about one another.

Peace-Salaam-Shalom

Immigrants are US

Immigrants Are US

Care to know a little history behind immigration to the United States? Here is a time line with numbers showing legal immigrants to the United States, some coming of their own freewill and others who did not.

1607: Jamestown Colony in Virginia
1619: Approximately 20 Africans forced into slavery in Jamestown.
1620: Roughly 100 people, later known as Pilgrims, come to what is known today as Plymouth, Massachusetts.
1630 to 1640: Approximately 20,000 Puritans arrive in the region.
1680: Roughly 7,000 African slaves in the colonies.
1790: Approximately 700,000 slaves in the US, with between 500,000 to 650,000 brought between 17th and 19th centuries.
1821-1830: 143,439 immigrants to the US.
1831-1840: 599,125 immigrants to the US.
1841-1850: 1,713,251 immigrants to the US.
1851-1860: 2,598,214 immigrants to the US.
1861-1870: 2,314,825 immigrants to the US.
1871-1880: 2,812,191 immigrants to the US.
1881-1890: 5,246,613 immigrants to the US.
1891-1900: 3,687,564 immigrants to the US.
1900-1910: 8,795,386 immigrants to the US.
1911-1920: 5,735,811 immigrants to the US.
1921-1930: 4,107,209 immigrants to the US.
1931-1940: 532,431 immigrants to the US.
1941-1950: 1,095,039 immigrants to the US.
1951-1960: 2,515,479 immigrants to the US.
1961-1970: 3,321,677 immigrants to the US.
1971-1980: 4,493,314 immigrants to the US.
1981-1990: 7,338,062 immigrants to the US.
1991-2000: 9,095,417 immigrants to the US.
2001-2010: 13,900,000 immigrants to the US.

Between the years of 1820-2000, the following numbers of immigrants came to the US from each of these countries:

Germany: 7 million
Mexico: 6 million
Great Britain: 5 million
Ireland: 5 million
Italy: 5 million
Canada: 5 million
Austria & Hungary: 4 million
Russia: 4 million
The Philippines:2 million
China: 1 million
Sweden: 1 million

Take a moment to let these numbers sink in. In the last 70 years, approximately 41,758,988 people immigrated to the United States. Those numbers are the legal immigrants. There are likely thousands more undocumented people who have immigrated to the U.S. in those years, including prior to the 1940s. The vast majority of those people came to make a better life for themselves. Many, came due to war, persecution, and famine in their home country. I find it both depressing and ironic that now, under the new administration, there is a movement to deport people and a demonization of immigrants, particularly when many of those people advocating this were either immigrants or the offspring of immigrants only a few generations ago.

Demonizing immigrants isn’t new. After all, the Irish were demonized as they brought a very large influx of poor and Catholic people to the country. The majority Protestant population distrusted them based primarily on their religion. Now, we have the same occurring to people who are immigrating who practice Islam. We also have negative rhetoric about people of Hispanic and Asian decent occurring as well. It’s not the first time Asians have been discriminated against either as many Chinese immigrants were blamed for the decrease in wages when the railroads were built in the 1800s since they would work for lower wages. Hispanics, in particular, are demonized for similar reasons, but not many non-immigrant or non-Hispanic people care to become migrant farmers/pickers either.

The present administration promised to get the “bad hombres” out of the U.S. Yet, we see and hear news reports where people who have been in the U.S. for 20+ years are being deported for something as minor as a DUI that took place decades ago. Hardly the hardened criminal element. In fact, if having a DUI were punishable by deportation, then there are likely plenty of people who should be deported, illegal or not.

Rather than eliminating criminals, what is occurring is the breaking up of families of people who have done nothing major or even nothing at all, except for entering the U.S. without proper documentation. Many of these people have worked since they arrived and done jobs that will go unfilled if they are deported simply because former immigrants and the children/grandchildren of those 41,758,988 people who came to the U.S. since 1940 won’t do the jobs the illegal immigrants do because those jobs pay little and are under extremely harsh conditions. I challenge the unemployed white person to go out and pick vegetables or fruits for 12+ hours a day for low wages. Some may attempt it, but many more won’t even try.

Rather than eliminating criminals, there are children who live in fear that their parents will not be home when they finish school or fear their parents will be arrested when taking them to school or checking in with U.S. immigration services. What happens to these children, some of whom will be orphaned for no good reason? Some will live with neighbors or relatives, but the trauma they experience will not end as it will always be with them.

The United States is a country of immigrants. There is no question as to that, especially if you look at the numbers above. Legal or illegal really doesn’t matter in the long term, especially when you consider that the people we know as the Pilgrims were illegal immigrants. They did not ask permission to stay from the First Nations/Native Americans when they arrived. Instead, they simply stayed and took advantage of them to the point where First Nations/Native Americans were driven from their lands through wars and broken treaties. Imagine if they had the power to deport those who did that or the progeny of those who did that to them. Would that be fair?

When the vast majority of people leave their homelands, it is not done on a whim. It is done to survive. It is done out of fear. It is done out of hope for a better life. It should not matter whether they come with papers or undocumented because they come and enrich our culture and our country with their culture. The only reason people want to deport them is fear. Fear of the unknown that could easily be known if folks would simply step up and be welcoming to them. It’s amazing what a smile and a kind gesture can do to further understanding.

It is also ironic and depressing that many of those who wish to deport or demonize immigrants claim to be good Christians. They seem to forget that one of the most important commandments given in Christianity is to “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” There is no commandment to hate others. There is no commandment to fear others. There is no commandment to deport others. Love your neighbor. That means to love your fellow humankind regardless of his or her immigration status, religion, skin pigmentation, or any other label placed on other people.

So, what are the solutions?

First, for politicians from both parties to stand up against the administration and end these needless deportations. Then, for them to create a fast-track way for immigrants to remain in the U.S. and obtain citizenship more easily.

Next, and slightly less than legal, for churches and people who care to create a network not unlike the underground railroad to shelter and provide sanctuary for people who need it. These same people need to stand up and speak up for immigrants, legal and undocumented, to stop the deportations and assist immigrants, recalling that their ancestors were immigrants themselves.

A key to all of this is not seeing people as immigrants or undocumented immigrants, but as people just like we are. As such, we are to treat them as we would like to be treated.

The Myth of White Superiority-A Brief Look

It’s time once again for me to anger some people and delight others. With the recent installation of a new president in the United States, there has been a surge in the numbers of white supremacist groups, along with other hate groups that are primarily made up of individuals of white European backgrounds. They all claim to be of a superior race. It’s not a new thing that they’re claiming, but it is a myth or rather an invention of culture that has sullied the human race over time.

Gene researchers have concluded that race simply does not exist. All humankind is genetically the same. Our differences in appearance are evolutionary mutations that helped our ancestors adapt the climate where they lived. In fact, “the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)issued a statement asserting that all humans belong to the same species and that “race” is not a biological reality but a myth” in 1950 (Sussman). Dr. Sussman, a professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, further states that while “the concept of human races is real. It is not a biological reality, but a cultural one. Race is not a part of our biology, but it is definitely part of our culture”(Sussman).

I recently read, and I apologize as I do not recall from where, how at one time in our nation’s history, indentured whites and blacks were considered to be on the same level, the lowest in fact. However, in order for the white elites to maintain power, they allowed the poor and indentured whites to believe they were part of the ruling class based not on economic status, but on race. Much of this occurred as a result of Bacon’s Rebellion in the 1675, when Nathaniel Bacon, “a white property owner in Jamestown, Virginia,…managed to unite slaves, indentured servants, and poor whites in a revolutionary effort to overthrow the planter elite” (The Birth of Slavery). When the uprising was suppressed, the wealthy planters put into motion changes that brought in more slaves from Africa rather than ones from the West Indies who might know English and be able to try to unite again with the indentured servants and poor whites (The Birth of Slavery). As such, the poor whites, while allowed to vote, felt they were superior to black people based on their being white rather than being any better off than the black people were.

The myth of superiority of whites simply continued as our nation developed and the myth continued to be perpetuated though laws and stereotypes. Historically, there was, of course, the whole Eugenics area of pseudo-science that tried to perpetuate these ideas of race and racial superiority. Nazi Germany was perhaps the most infamous for this as they tried to show the superiority of the Northern white Europeans over everyone else. Even in the history of politics, we have the words of Lyndon B. Johnson who said, “I’ll tell you what’s at the bottom of it. [commenting on racial epithets seen on signs as he visited in Tennessee] If you convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

What does all this have to do with life in 2017? Everything. This myth of white superiority has never gone away. It’s why there are people who complain about the Black Lives Matter movement and reply with All Lives Matter. It’s why enough people went out and voted in such a way as to give an openly racist and xenophobic person the Electoral Votes to win the presidency, even though he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes, which he claims were rigged. It’s why there are people who have given themselves over to irrational fear of immigrants from primarily non-white countries and who are of primarily non-white dominated religions. Racism is not dead by a long shot, but it is, despite the uptick of hate groups in recent years, terminally ill.

One remaining vestige of the myth remains with white privilege. There are whites who wrongly claim this does not exist. Many of these white privilege deniers think that since they are not wealthy, then they cannot be considered privileged. These folks still buy into the same culturally based myth as the poor whites did after Bacon’s Rebellion, yet they refuse to see how people of color are treated differently than they are treated. They do not see how law enforcement target people of color in subtle and not so subtle ways. They don’t hear car doors lock at a stoplight when they walk pass. They do not know what it feels like to be denied service or even a loan because their skin color makes them a credit risk. If a white person commits a terrorist act, that person is deemed mentally unstable; however, if a person of color, especially a person of color who is also a non-Christian commits a similar act, then not only is the act labeled an act of terrorism, but it’s expected by the media that all members of the perpetrator’s race or religion come out to condemn the attack or else they are deemed to be in favor of it.

That’s white privilege. Those are not exhaustive examples, but I’m not writing a dissertation on racism or white privilege either.

White privilege is not about wealth or status. It’s about how being born white, particularly a white male, makes it that the person can get away with things that his or her non-white peer cannot. It’s the white kid caught with a joint who gets a verbal reprimand, but her non-white counterpart gets suspended or expelled from school. It’s the Asian kid who is told they must be good in math or science based simply on the color of his or her skin, while his or her white counterpart rarely hears that. It’s the Middle Eastern person who is seen as a terrorist, while his or her white neighbor never gets a second glance. It’s the Black person who is seen as a threat simply by walking down the street, while a white person is not. It’s the Hispanic person who gets asked if he or she is an illegal, even though he or she was born in the United States, but the white person is not. It’s stop and frisk versus let him or her pass freely. It’s fear that creeps into the heart whenever law enforcement passes a person even though he or she knows that he or she is doing nothing wrong.

White people need to own up to this problem and work to eradicate it. While a few whites may see this as an “us vs them” issue, it is not. Our country is based on the ideal that all humankind are equals. If a white person is treated better or differently than a person of color, that damages us all, if we truly believe in equality for all people. Some whites will feel threatened by this for fear that those who have been treated unfairly will rise up against them. Some whites fear no longer being in the majority and, therefore, feel they must fight for their culturally given right to remain a superior race. But again, there is no race aside from the human race. That’s a scientifically proven fact.

When it all comes down to it, all humankind are the same. There are good people and bad people of every skin pigmentation. There are intelligent people and, frankly, stupid people of every skin pigmentation. There are good people and bad people from every religion and no religion at all. People are simply people. Messy, mixed-up, and imperfect humankind.

We, as humanity, must begin to shift our conversations from non-existent race and toward conquering the problems we face as humankind. Problems that are not perpetuated by any race or religion, but by people being irrational and cruel to one another. Problems caused by not seeing one another as human beings regardless of skin color and treating one another with mutual love and respect that is due to all humanity.

Alexander, Michelle. “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” The Birth of Slavery (Bacon’s Rebellion), The New Press, 2010, http://www.duboislc.net/read/BirthOfSlavery.html. Accessed 16 Feb. 2017.

Sussman, Robert W. “The Myth of Races:Why are we divided by race when there is no such thing?.” Rawstory, Rawstory, 9 Nov. 2014, http://www.rawstory.com/2014/11/the-myth-of-race-why-are-we-divided-by-race-when-there-is-no-such-thing/. Accessed 16 Feb. 2017.

Never Forget–Never Let It Happen Again

Today, January 27, 2017, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day was established on November 1, 2005, to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. It is also the day in 1945 when the Auschwitz-Birkenau death/concentration camp was liberated. Over 6 million Jewish, 2 million Romani, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled, and 9,000 homosexual men (Wikipedia) died as the result of the Holocaust.

Some of you may be saying, “Gee, thanks for the history lesson. What does this have to do with me here in the 21st Century?”

It has everything to do with you.

The common phrase associated with the Holocaust is Never Forget. That phrase is more than just some catchy advertising campaign. Never Forget is what those who survived the Holocaust tell us because they not only want us to never forget what happened to the millions of people under the savage reign of the Nazis, but they want us to make certain it never happens again. Unfortunately, it has in places like Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

It happens when groups of people are set apart as being the cause of problems from loss of jobs to terrorism. We hear it today from the current incumbent of the White House who calls Mexican people “criminals” and “rapists” and “killers”. He blames violent crimes on Blacks and Hispanics. He’s called for a ban on Muslims. He’s signed executive orders to ban Muslims from immigrating and to build a wall to keep Mexicans out. He has also taken action that would be detrimental to the LGBTQIA community. His words are reflected in the actions of his supporters who go on the attack against these groups of people and some of whom, frighteningly enough, also fly the flag of the Nazis or engage in the salute of that same group.

Never Forget also means to never let it happen again. If we never let it happen again to the Jewish people or to any other group that is discriminated against, that honors the victims of the Holocaust. No group of people should face those horrors again.

The numbers of Holocaust survivors are dwindling as that population ages. Their call to us should never cease, even when the last survivor dies.

We must act against prejudice and violence against marginalized people!

We must STAND UP to those who bully, threaten, or attack marginalized people!

We must act against laws that discriminate against other people!

Now is not the time to simply Never Forget, but it is a time to ACT against future atrocities!

Even if it doesn’t personally affect you now, there’s nothing to say it will not affect you or someone you love in the future. Therefore, STAND UP and ACT UP against prejudice and violence wherever you encounter it. Whether it is contacting your elected officials or marching in the streets, it is up to US to Never Forget and NEVER let it happen again.

Dammit Democrats!

Dammit Democrats, you screwed up what should have been a landslide victory once again! What in the hell is wrong with you? Never mind, you don’t know what’s wrong unless you establish a committee to create a think tank to determine what’s wrong.

I figure after almost 49 years on this planet and having been registered and voting Democrat for the past 30 years, I’ll give you my insights as an outsider. Do I expect you to listen? No, but it’d be nice if you did.

First, you have got to stop being so damned nice all the time. I recall the first time I noticed that, as a whole, the party is too damned polite. It was during the election between Michael Dukakis and George Bush, Sr. While the GOP was throwing every bit of muck and garbage they could at our candidate, the party kept playing nice. Taking the high road when you should have gone after any weak spots you could find, and there were plenty. Then, when Gore ran and, once again, the party went flat. Same with Kerry. Yes, there is the hacking scandal to blame in part for the current mess, but there’s more to it than that. Which brings me to my next point.

Second, the Democratic Party used to be the party of the poor and middle class. We’re the party of FDR and JFK! Have we lost sight of being able to not only fight for the rights and welfare of the poor and middle class, but to also communicate with them? The folksy manner of George W. Bush and the populist rhetoric of the current president-elect should remind the party leadership that great ideas don’t mean a thing if you cannot communicate them to folks that may only have a high school education or less. FDR, while being a wealthy man, was able to do this through his demeanor and weekly fireside chats. He used larger words with caution and relatively sparingly. Yet, words are just a part of the issue.

The GOP has campaign offices set up all over the United States all year long and even in non-campaign years. They are visible in almost every small town from coast to coast. Our party shows up around campaign time, then goes away after the election. When the average person can walk past a GOP headquarters 24/7, 365 days a year, but only see a Democratic office during a campaign cycle, what message does that send? It send the message that we are around for you to elect, but no other time. That’s egregious! Set up offices like the GOP does. Be active in communities. Support and raise up candidates who are viable and active members of their communities and not just names. I know when I tried to run for a state legislative seat where I lived in Florida, the local Democratic party seemed resigned to defeat because the incumbent was one who held the office for quite a few years. They wanted people to go door-to-door with petitions for other offices, but didn’t see how a high school English teacher could be a viable candidate. I wasn’t a name. I wasn’t wealthy, so why help? How many other contenders are there who are staunch Democrats who are working class people who don’t receive support from the party that he or she should to even have a chance at contesting a seat? I think there are more than the party leadership thinks.

Third, and this goes along with the second, get out there and talk to people. I think pollsters are relied on far too much and the people far too little. If we are the party of the people, then we need to know what the people think. What affects their lives. What will help them live a good life, send their kids off to higher education or a good job? The things that truly matter to most rank and file voters.

Fourth, celebrate our diversity as a party. We are not a party of one race or one socioeconomic class. We need to communicate that better. We’ve had the greatest opportunity these last 8 years with President Obama in office to show off our diversity. He did many things to help, from the Affordable Care Act to seeing that marriage equality became the law of the land. We didn’t capitalize on that enough, plus we didn’t combat the negative rhetoric about those items enough. We allowed the GOP to incite fear over both of those items far too much. We could have shown how both would help all Americans, again by going to the local level where there were people who saw these things as either government intrusion or as being somehow against our values as a nation.

Fifth, we need to go back and find our roots as a party of the people. There are new generations who don’t recall the victories of our party that helped all Americans. They don’t realize that fair wages, good working hours, vacation/sick time, and other social net programs were due to the efforts of our party in particular. We witnessed a resurgence in our values and roots in the campaign of Bernie Sanders. He, while historically an independent who sided with Democrats on most issues, excited the younger voters. He didn’t do this through his name or by being the preferred candidate of the party, but through listening to what was needed in our country. He reached out at the grassroots level, much like President Obama did, to listen and act for the people as a whole. Hillary had the experience, but Bernie had both the experience and the passion. What’s more, he excited the passion in the largest voting block in our country. (For the record, I supported both candidates in the primaries and supported Hillary once the primaries were over). Hillary tried to excite the voters, but that’s not her style. There’s nothing wrong with her style, but given the opponent was well-known for his loudmouth and willingness to do whatever it took to be elected, her strengths became weaknesses in the eyes of some voters. Besides, the GOP had enough alleged muck on her to sabotage her efforts. We played into their hands, in effect. (This goes back to my first two points).

Finally, the Democratic Party needs to stop being so damned centrist on every issue. We need to embrace our progressive side on some things and our more conservative on others. Instead, we sit on the fence too damned much. There’s nothing wrong with being able to take a conservative position on one issue while taking a progressive tack on another. We can be fiscally responsible, but still find ways to pay for social programs, for instance. We can fix our infrastructure by putting people to work, for instance, though work-fare programs where people who are able to work are trained to do so and given a job to receive their check. Yet, we can also care for those who truly cannot work as well.

We have a lot of work to do to win back both the Congress and the White House, assuming the incoming administration doesn’t sell us out to the Kremlin and set our country back hundreds of years or creates a Fourth Reich out of our country.