Posts Tagged Women

WHEN DID HEALTH CARE BECOME A POLITICAL ISSUE, RATHER THAN A MORAL ONE?

President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, was designed to provide health insurance for poor Americans who could not afford it.  Many people already have health insurance through employer-sponsored programs, or through Medicare, for Senior Citizens.  Small businesses, however, often do not offer insurance, and minimum-wage workers cannot afford it anyway.  Uninsured Americans were just left to fend for themselves and, of course, private insurance has always been quite expensive.

The Affordable Care Act provide subsidies for poor Americans, including seniors who could not even afford Medicare, and to extend the Medicaid program to more low-income citizens.   Many GOP-controlled states, such as Florida and Texas, have not accepted the Extended Medicaid, even though the Federal Government picks-up most of the cost for the first ten years.

Prior to ACA, cheap health insurance policies, designed for young adults, excluded “pre-existing conditions”, and even maternity was often excluded for young women. For older Americans, the premiums were exorbitant, and out of reach for many.  Policy holders took comfort in being “insured”; however, they didn’t realize how little the policies actually covered—that is, until they became sick or injured!

The total number of previously uninsured Americans, who were able to buy subsidized health insurance, through ACA, approaches 30 million, when the 11 million covered by the Medicaid Extension is included.  Many state Legislatures, that have Republican majorities, have not even allowed their Insurance Commissioners to negotiate for lower premiums, with the insurers.  Basically, those states were working against ACA—and against their own residents.

ACA was assumed to be the first step in providing Affordable Health Care for all Americans.  Like Medicare, some 50 years before, this comprehensive program was expected to need to be amended and modified over time.  But the Republicans, at the Federal and State levels, just fought against the program every step of the way.

TChe Affordable Care Act also required the Health Insurance Industry to meet certain goals:  pre-existing conditions would be covered; contraceptives and maternity must be included for women; equal premiums for males and females; premiums for the elderly could not be more than three times those paid by the younger insured; and no more than 20% of customer premiums would go toward expenses.  Many of these requirements have been dropped, or watered down, under the GOP’s AHCA.

When people do not have health insurance, they only seek medical assistance when they are gravely sick or injured, generally at hospital Emergency Rooms.  By then, the medical condition is usually more aggravated, and the medical personnel are working without any knowledge of the patient’s medical history.   The cost of health care, in this advanced stage, is normally much more expensive, and society and the hospitals bear the expense.

The most humane, as well as the most cost-effective, way to address the need for Affordable Health Care, is to make it available on a regular preventive basis.  Should we ignore the grievously sick, and allow them to die on the streets?  Do we continue to just ignore the overall costs—assuming that they will just go away?   Realistically, we should take pre-emptive action!

Among all of the world’s industrialized nations, American spends the most on health care; but, it gets the lowest return on its investment, by most every metric.  Is this how we wish to continue on?  Should we address the need for providing Health Care for all, in a caring and effective manner?   Or do we, as a Nation, just continue to sink. further and further into the bowels of Humanity.

NOTE:  I was wondering who Donald Trump would try to make the scapegoat when his first foray into major legislation had to be canceled twice, for insufficient support.  Would it be House Speaker Paul Ryan or the entire GOP?  No, he blamed the Democratic Party since they were perfectly happy with the ACA, which they passed seven years ago!   Next stop: Trump’s Tax Scam!

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BOOKS THAT I RECOMMEND:

During my forty year career in Investment Services, I hardly ever read a book, and then only an occasional one that was generally work-related.  Approximately six months ago, however, I began reading books from our County Library, on a multitude of topics.  So far, I’ve had great luck in my selections, and I would like to list a few of them.  OVER TIME, I WILL MAKE ADDITIONS TO THIS LIST.  If you don’t find one that might interest you, perhaps consider another!

GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH—TWO ALL-ROUND FEEL-GOOD STORIES:

Epic Measures, by Jeremy N. Smith.

Christopher Murray, a Harvard-trained M.D, with an Oxford, Ph.D. in Medical Health Economics, challenged the Global Health Establishment and won.  His tool is a data base of virtually every known disease, broken-down by country.  Knowledge of country-specific diseases enables more accurate, disease-specific appropriations.  The free on-line “GMD Compare” is linked, as follows: http://vizhub.healthdata.org/gbd-compare/.

Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder.

Paul Farmer, a fellow resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, with Chris Murray (cited above), and Jim Yong Kim, all three vowed to “Save the World,” and they are still working toward that goal.  Farmer and Kim, through their Partners in Health, also challenged the Establishment, and appear to be winning, as well.  PIH is providing high-quality health care to some of the poorest and remotest locations on Earth:  Haiti, Mexico, Rwanda, and a Siberian Gulag.

THE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM:

Reinventing American Health Care: How the Affordable Care Act will improve our terribly complex, blatantly unjust, outrageously expensive, grossly inefficient, error prone system: by Emanuel, Ezekiel J.

Dr. Emanuel is a Professor of Oncology and Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania, and was a key architect of the Affordable Care Act (derisively called “Obamacare” by the Republicans).  This program currently provides health insurance to some 25 million previously uninsured Americans.  Dr. Emanuel acknowledges that any Health Care, or Insurance, System can always be improved upon.

ORIGINS OF HUMANITY:

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari

A great historical and scientific explanation of Who we are, Where we came from, and How we got here.  The obvious idea is to understand our past in order to contemplate our future.

ENVIRONMENTALLY-BASED SCIENCE FICTION:

The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future, by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway

Two scientists have written this science fiction novel, which predicts what the Earth, which Mankind is currently passing on to successive generations, might be like.  We must change direction, in order to avoid assured destruction.

THE FINANCIAL CRISIS (4Q07 TO 1Q09):

Stress Test: by Timothy F. Geithner

Tim Geithner was President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the beginning of the crisis and, then, he moved over to take Hank Paulson’s place, as Secretary of the Treasury during the First Obama Administration.  The FRB-NY implements the Federal Reserve Board’s Monetary Policy.  The book reveals the thinking from inside the Obama Financial Team.

Too Big to Fail:  the inside story of how Wall Street and Washington fought to save the financial system from crisis–and themselves,  by Andrew Ross Sorkin

Respected Wall Street journalist—as a reporter for the NY Times and a morning host on CNBC-TV—Mr. Sorkin describes the crises from outside the Government, with numerous excerpts of discussions and interviews with the Wall Street and Government participants.

Historically based Racism in America:

Freeman, by Leonard Pitts, Jr.

In this well-researched historical novel, Mr. Pitts describes life, in the Deep South, given the uncertainty of what life had actually become, in the vanquished south, immediately after the Civil War.

The Plot Against America,  by Philip Roth

A historically fictional novel, as told through the eyes of eleven year-old “Philip”, growing-up in a Jewish neighborhood of Newark, NJ, during pre-World War II America.  The hypothetical situation assumes that famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, an avid Nazi-Sympathizer, defeated incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt, for the Presidency, in Isolationist America.  Published in 2005, the ironies with the current political environment abound.

Mankind, and our Sense of Humanity:

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger.

Tribe is a wonderful book, that calls on a number of academic fields, in order to describe Mankind’s search for a sense of belonging.  Mr. Junger traces this Tribalism from Colonial America, the WWII London Blitz, returning war veterans with PTSD, the lasting psychological effects on rape victims, etc.  The outstanding review, from the Guardian (UK) is linked, as follows: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jun/22/tribe-by-sebastian-junger-review.

War and Misunderstanding:

My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and Its Aftermath,  by Seymour M. Hersh

Sy Hersh won a Pulitzer Prize for uncovering, what I believe, was the very darkest hour of the U. S. Army.  Elements of the Army’s Americal Division massacred some 550 Vietnamese old men, women, children, even suckling babies—for no other reason, perhaps, than “scoring body counts”.  The Courts Marshall went nowhere in what seems to have been a massive cover-up–by many men, up-and-down the Chain-of Command.

Feel-Good Books:

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

This book tells the stories of a multitude of people—victims of sexual slavery, non-existent health care, domestic abuse and murder, decade’s-long civil warfare, etc.  Once they found a way-out, they had the humanity to, then, help others.  You might find other, similar books by this husband and wife team of interest.

The Rosie Project,  by Graeme Samson

A hilarious fictional novel about a middle-aged professor of genetics, with Asperger’s Syndrome, deciding that he needs to find a wife, for his “Wife Project”.  So, he draws-up a 16 page questionnaire for candidates to complete.  Need I say more?  Bill Gates’ wife, Melinda, suggested that he read it, since it deals with the structured mind of a logically-focused person.

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies,  by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

This book describes how today’s Technological Revolution–the Digital Age–is taking-over where the Industrial Revolution had left-off.  Now, as then, innovation often doesn’t necessarily precede applications, the two of which might come in either order, or even simultaneously.  And in same cases, intermediate inventions or applications might be required.

Hillbilly Elegy, by J. D. Vance

After World War II, many people from Appalachia moved-up, to southern Ohio and Indiana, searching for a better way-of-life. But, they retained their Hillbilly culture—extreme poverty, lacking job skills or a respect for education. Actually, Appalachia moved north with them. This is J. D. Vance’s personal story about how he escaped, gained a good education and began a successful career; but, he still shares many of those same Hillbilly values.

The Rothschilds : a family portrait, by Frederic Morton

The true story of a poor man, who sends his five sons to the major capitals of Europe, creating a global financial dynasty.  There are many financial lessons to be gleaned from this book:  the origins of global banking;  the reasons for some of the most basic securities laws;  business intelligence (Intel);  and the relationship between commerce and politics.

The Hunt for Red October,  by Tom Clancy

Yes, the fiction adventure movie was great, but the book was even better.  American naval forces compete with Soviet naval forces to find and “destroy” (retrieve) a run-away technologically state-of-the-art Soviet sub.  All the while, the Americans don’t know if the Skipper has gone berserk, or is trying to turn it over to us.  Once again, the Pentagon wonders where Clancy gets his spot-on information.

 

 

 

 

 

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CHINA’S SOCIAL ENGINEERING CONTINUES TO HINDER ITS ECONOMIC PROSPERITY

China’s economic growth, over the past 35 years, has enabled its Economy, by measure of the Gross Domestic Product, to rise to be second only to that of the U. S.  Ironically, many of the other nations of East and Southeast Asia have also done so, by similarly educating the girls, as well as the boys.  Educating females doubles the labor force and, as the economy grows, the Chinese People advance into higher pay-scale jobs. The larger workforce also enables country to move-up, into more-advance ed industries, as we as increases the Nation’; several standard-of-living.

China, like India, is held back, however, by its extremely large 1.35 billion population.  Unfortunately, China has been slow to expand beyond its initial economic explosion.  Currently, only 25% of Chinese workers are employed in the Industrial Sector, while the remaining 75% are still less-educated, and work mostly on small family farms, or repair and retail shops.  China should hardly be considered a fully-developed economy.

During the early years, following the Chinese Communist Revolution, babies were encouraged, and the birth rate per woman of child-bearing age rose to around six.  In 1956, Premier Zhou Enlai encouraged women to voluntarily curb the number of babies they had, but that didn’t work.  So finally, Chairman Deng Xiaoping established a One-Child Policy in 1980, which carried harsh penalties for non-compliance.  Over time, the Chinese birth rate per woman declined from 4.4 to 1.64, which is now far too low to sustain a stable work force.

Such Social Engineering has been a considerable hindrance in maintaining a reliable labor pool, where one generation replaces another.  Currently, only one-quarter of China’s population has high-paying jobs in the cities, while the large majority of Chinese are still living and toiling in small, inefficient jobs, and barely existing above subsistence levels.  China also has some questionable policies, which seem intended to keep city dwellers tied to their home provinces. (But, that is beyond the scope of this post.)

There are three main problems, that I see, with the One-Child Policy: it has disrupted the natural rotation of generations into the labor pool, as a large portion of the current workforce is approaching retirement; although there were multiple exceptions to the One-Child Policy, they were not disseminated by regional and local officials; and parts of the policy—especially the Forced-Abortions—have caused anger and frustration on the part of many young couples.

Just last year, the Telegraph (UK) newspaper posted the linked article about a Chinese woman, who was eight-months pregnant, being forced by government officials to have an abortion, in order to save her husband’s job: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11858723/China-Forced-abortion-late-term-to-avoid-one-child-policy.html.
Additionally, consider the effect that forced-abortions, mostly involving girls, has had on the boy-girl ratio.  When the babies born today reach age 20, consider the potential side-effects of many frustrated men looking for wives.

Yes, China has pulled-off an economic miracle; but, it has also created a social disaster.  Educate the girls: yes, by all means!  But, leave the social engineering to Mother Nature.  Here’s my rough outline of what China needs to do:  build infrastructure out to the rural areas, including lower and medium-level factories; emphasize consumer spending in order to increase domestic consumption; totally eliminate the One-Child Policy: and pay bonuses to move young women, from one region to another, in order to massage the deficiency of women in some regions–or even consider recruiting some from other countries, such as Malaysia, Singapore or Taiwan.  China needs to clean-up its mess!

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WHY DOES THE REPUBLICAN PARTY CONTINUE TO EMBRACE DONALD TRUMP EVEN THOUGH IT CLEARLY HAS NO CHANCE OF CONTROLLING HIM?

It is hard to comprehend the Republican Party Leadership, many of whom have denounced Donald Trump’s words and actions time and again, but they continue to embrace him as the Party’s Candidate for President.  I believe that Trump has combined his usual snake-oil and showmanship with false promises to the populace, which also appeals to his Party’s ideology of Small Government.  Small Governments theoretically assess the smallest taxes possible, eliminate virtually all regulations, and let the people fend for themselves.  But, can you name any?

Thomas Jefferson first espoused the Small Government concept and, it might have worked well in the Pre-Industrial Agrarian America, in the early 1800s, when many people grew much of their own food, tended livestock and, perhaps, bartered for other goods in the small village squares of the day.  But, given today’s modern society, with the industrial age transforming to digital, and increasing life expectancy, are we ready to turn away from personal and mass transportation, an abundance of consumer products and the myriad of advances in medicine?

This is the charade that both Trump and the GOP would have us believe.  It reminds me of Pope John Paul II’s first visit to Manila, in 1981.  Since the motorcade from the airport passed through an extremely poor suburb, First Lady Imelda Marcos had facades erected along the way, so that “El Papa” would see nothing, but happy Filipinos.  My wife pointed it out to me on TV, at the time, since we had just flown over that same area on our departure, the year before.  And, the Republicans expect us to be happy with a similar facade, although a more modern American version?

But, what would the America that the GOP’s Candidate want us to believe in be like?  Consider just a few of the policies that Trump would have us accept:  Tax cuts skewed toward the wealthy, but add $6.2 Trillion to our National Debt over ten years;  Social Security would be “privatized”, with part of new Payroll Tax contributions going into the stock market;  with the repeal of Obamacare, 20 million newly insured Americans would lose their coverage, and HSA’s and health care coverage would be subject to the whims of the insurance companies; eliminate a Woman’s Right-to-Choose; many of the Jobs promised have already been replaced by the service industry or robots; and horror of horrors, Donald Trump would control the nuclear codes… Must I go on?

The Republican Party has continued to embrace Donald Trump because he is going to reduce the American Government as much as he can.  Expect a National Sales Tax, which would most impact the poor, to be added to State Taxes. The Party Leadership seems to believe that, as long as their ideological needs are met, they will have accomplished their goal.  And, the American People be damned!

To sum up Donald Trump’s willingness to meet all of his false promises, I am reminded of former NYC Police Commissioner, Bill Bratton’s, response when asked to comment on Trump’s pronouncement, the night before, that he would be the “Law and Order President”. Bratton responded, “What’s his experience?”  Seriously, what has Donald Trump ever done for anyone, but himself? And why should we expect him to change now?

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WHAT’S BEHIND THE DAILY AVERAGE OF 22 VETERANS COMMITTING SUICIDE?

Before I start:  Let me point-out that I am not a Mental Health Care Professional.

I had already decided not to write any more about Donald J. Trump since he seems to be self-destructing right before our eyes.  But On October 3, before the Retired American Warriors, a group of military veterans, in Herndon, Virginia, he stated that military (and veterans) who develop mental health issues, are not “strong” and “can’t handle it”.  He went on to suggest that others saw many of the same things, like the members of his audience; but they were strong, and could handle it.  Now, that’s coming from a Draft-Dodger!

What Trump said certainly didn’t help those in the mental health care field, who have been trying to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues for decades, and to move it out into the mainstream. Although similar issues abound in civilian life, the difficulty in encouraging diagnosis and treatment is more greater in the military, where strength and bravery are celebrated.

Several years ago, I ran across a blog by Steve Rose, Ph.D., a Canadian psychologist, who has done a great deal of research on PTSD among Canadian soldiers returning from Afghanistan.  I have linked his most recent blog post, in which he specifically reports some of his findings regarding the average 22 man suicide rate in the U. S:  https://steveroseblog.com/2016/08/27/who-are-the-22-veterans/.

I personally found the VA chart, which Steve included, that provides a demographic break-down, in ten-year age groupings, of suicide rates for both civilians and veterans, to be of great interest. The chart reflects the percentage of suicides in each of these groups, between 2009 and 2010, broken-down by the age demographics. Take a few moments to study the table from the report. Can you spot what is happening?

veteran-suicides

Notice the Main Finding, right below the chart: 69% of the veteran suicide rate is among those 50 years old, and older.

In his research, Steve began to look behind the numbers.  The non-veteran suicide rate is higher than that of the veterans, up until the 50-59 year-old demographic, during which the veterans group shifts slightly higher.  In the next age group, 60-to-69, the suicide rate for Civilians drops significantly, while that of Veterans remains relatively higher.

As I look at this chart, I can only make two unprofessional observations:

1. The suicide rate for civilians is significantly higher in the younger age groups, than that of the veterans. Then, they appear to criss-cross—with civilians veering lower and veterans remaining relatively higher in the older demographic.

2. The fairly-consistent, higher suicide rate among older veterans, at least to me, suggests that military service might have something to do with the different outcomes.  I am assuming that the veterans’ statistic might be more skewed toward “lifers”, who retired within the past ten-to-fifteen years, after having served for 20-to-30.

As Professor Rose points-out, there are a number of factors, which come into play, regarding the suicide rate among veterans.  I will leave the possible medical reasons for the professionals; but, let’s consider the various societal reasons that might be causing suicide among veterans.  Research indicates that the rate is highest among white males, with a high school diploma.

There are some gender-related factors, such as the male focus on masculinity, competitiveness and accomplishment.  Oftentimes, men tend to be more geared toward work, hobbies or other “instrumental” activities, whereas women—with that maternal instinct—are somewhat less competitive, have greater empathy, and are more societal in nature.  Professor Rose points out that there can be a loneliness factor among men, whereas women tend to have more social relationships that provide some protection from depression.

A major problem for some military veterans is making the transition into civilian life.  In the service, oftentimes your co-workers might be your neighbors, or people you see around the post or a small town, on a regular basis.  That communal atmosphere can take-on greater significance in overseas assignments, and yet be even higher yet in combat units, where each member of the unit’s life depends upon the others.

As I consider what I have read on Steve Rose’s blog, as well as other things regarding communal and even tribal societies, with regard to returning veterans, I have the following points to make:

1.   Having a support group—family, friends, co-workers—can help prevent depression.
2.   Finding a job helps and, if necessary, use the GI Bill to gain job skills.
3. In the current All-Volunteer Military, roughly only one percent of Americans are either serving in the military, or has a family member that is. The makes the transition, from military to civilian life, that much more difficult.
4. I wonder if education beyond high school, possibly reflecting greater job skills, has any effect on the outcome?

NOTE:  Ladies, I am not in any way suggesting that you cannot be intelligent, accomplished and focused!

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FINALLY! A REPUBLICAN WOMAN WHO IS WILLING TO SAY WHAT NEEDS TO BE SAID ABOUT DONALD J. TRUMP!

This link from, today’s Miami Herald, is provided without comment. I certainly couldn’t say it better:

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/election/donald-trump/article106951737.html

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DONALD TRUMP THINKS OUR FRIENDS OVERSEAS LIKE HIM! HOPEFULLY, HE’LL NEVER KNOW! (UPDATED)

Soon after he announced his candidacy for President, in June of last year, besides his attacking virtually every faction in the American Demographic, Donald Trump began to suggest that a President Trump would strive for Isolationism and Protectionism.  Contrary to common sense, Donald boasted that the nations overseas love him.  That’s just par for the ignorance that seems to engulf Trump.

When I check-in with foreign media, from time-to-time, I’m just not seeing that love for Donald Trump.  Au contraire, other than Presidents Vladimir Putin, of Russia, and Xi Jinping, of China, most world leaders and their seem advisors seem to detest him.  Accordingly, I am linking recent articles , which seem representative of what I have been reading in various foreign periodicals on a regular basis.

The Guardian, of the United Kingdom, represents the nation from which we inherited most of our political philosophy.  The “Forget Gary Johnson.” article refers to the Libertarian’s apparent lack of Foreign Affairs awareness, but Dave Schilling then goes on to predict that a Donald Trump Presidency would be one long “Aleppo” moment.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/29/gary-johnson-trump-presidency-aleppo-moment-2016-election.

The “Spiegel”, of Germany, reports that the German Administration has had low-level contact with the Trump Campaign, just in case he wins the Election.  Perhaps one of the most poignant comments, was made by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier who recently described Trump as a “preacher of hatred.”

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/germany-prepares-for-possible-president-donald-trump-a-1114716.html.

The linked article from The Sydney Morning Herald reflects a quite interested following of our Presidential Campaign, literally from the other side of the world.  This report is in regard to Donald Trump’s comments at a town hall meeting, that very same day, for a retired veteran’s group in Virginia, last Monday.  In them, Trump suggests that veterans with mental health issues are not strong.  Donald, you’re a “Chicken Hawk”: when these guys went off to war, you searched for a doctor to give you a mythical medical deferment!  Besides, most health care practitioners are trying to advance mental health into the mainstream acceptance.

http://www.smh.com.au/world/us-election/trump-suggests-veterans-with-mental-health-issues-arent-strong-20161003-gru3xx.html.

The Editorial from the Japan Times—one of the two countries that would be most directly impacted by a Chinese invasion of North Korea (as mentioned in my last post)—cites the difference between Secretary Clinton’s preparedness and Donald Trump’s vagaries.  It cites his comments on using nuclear weapons: “When asked about nuclear weapons, Trump first said that ‘I would certainly not do first strike.’” But later, he added: “At the same time, we have to be prepared.  I can’t take anything off the table.”.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2016/09/28/editorials/unnerving-debate-u-s/#.V_G8UzKZPR0.

The article from the Miami Herald, by Andres Oppenheimer, suggests that every single nation in Latin America, even the pro-America ones, to significantly shift the the Left—and away from a President Donald J. Trump.  I have found Mr. Oppenheimer to be one of the most knowledgable writers in analyzing the Americas, and sort-out where we might be headed.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/andres-oppenheimer/article104993976.html.

In an oversight, I forgot to include our friends to the North, in Canada. The columnist for The Globe and Mail, of Toronto, asked the question that every Republican–even those who do not endorse him–must come forward and rebuke him. All three of President Ronald Reagan’s children have done so. It’s time to step forward, en masse!

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/every-republican-candidate-must-now-answer-do-you-support-trump/article32310390/

Over the past several weeks, Donald Trump have moved from one pot of hot water to the next.  It’s hard to believe that many in the Republican Party do not take action, mindless of the downward slope that he is taking the GOP on.  As the much-belovedauthor and,poet Maya Angelou once said: “When people show you who they are, believe them!”

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