Guest contributors run the gamut, but they all pretty much rock.
As Republicans like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan ramp up efforts to take on entitlement reform in 2018, you will hear several takes along the way about how the GOP doesn’t care about hungry kids, the elderly, and folks who actually need assistance from the government. Wading through these responses from far leftists and Democrat politicians sound like an episode of The Dr. Oz Show, where everything Republicans vote on or propose can “literally” kill you.
My views on entitlements cause many disagreements between myself and many of my Republican friends and counterparts. It’s one of many things that I feel justifies the self-identifying “Conservative Democrat” label. My Republican friends in college believed that helping others is never fully achieved through taxes, rather it was the role of private charities (nonprofits, churches, etc.). While I don’t disagree with that, I also think it’s incredibly important for the government to step in where those charities cannot. In some regards, we have a responsibility to help those who cannot help themselves, be it in the form of SNAP for the family that’s having a tough time after the loss of a job, in the form of disability assistance for those who have a legitimate ailment that requires lots of medical assistance and renders them unable to work full capacity, and helping our seniors, many of whom were promised those social security benefits at retirement age from the time they started working. I get the point: it’s our own responsibility to help ourselves and largely, I agree with that. But unfortunate situations and circumstances happen and for those exceptions, our government should be there where private charities are not.
The Card With No Limit
There are many who wonder where I cultivated any sort of fiscal conservatism as a Democrat. It all started when I worked at the town grocery store through my last few years of high school. I worked about 40 hours a week, minimum wage, and there were great and not so great things about it. But it was where I learned that many people (not all, but many) who utilize EBT were able-bodied Americans who relied solely on the government to help them. Not the senior citizen who bought into the New Deal. Not the mother who worked 40+ hours a week who had a little extra help to do what she could for her kids.
For those who wonder where the term “entitlement” came from, you would have to be behind that cash register to fully understand it. While there were those who did not make a big deal about utilizing the SNAP/EBT program, there were several others who strutted about, flashed their cards like they were holding American Express Black; as if they were actually proud of being permanent recipients of a program that is meant to be a temporary fix. These weren’t Americans who needed a small boost to get them out of a hole; these were Americans who had officially given up on finding gainful employment. They succumbed to the belief that their role in life was to sit back and allow their government to control every aspect of their lives, including how much food their family was going to eat for the next two weeks. These were Americans who believed the American Dream was something they couldn’t provide for themselves. It used to make me angry as that sixteen-year old-cashier in small-town Arkansas. Looking back on those stories, I’m less angered and more heartbroken.
Sitting Alone At The Party
Those problems I listed are legitimate problems I have with certain entitlements and that is where the disconnect with many in my own party start. Democrats usually lie to themselves when they ignore these stories and others about people who claim SSI disability at ages nowhere near close to retirement caused by years of drug abuse, extreme obesity, “a bad back,” among other things. There is a sense of entitlement many people (not all, but many) on these programs have: it’s there, the government gives it to me, and I deserve this for [insert absurd reason here]. They don’t care what someone else earned and was taxed so that they could have food on their plate, be it the One Percenter up in the tower with their name on the building, the nurse making over 100K a year who squirrels most of her money away in 401K to keep the government’s hands off of it, the middle class family whose insurance went up post-Affordable Care Act, or the grocery store employee who stood there all day scanning groceries, struggling to eat ramen and pay bills while they arrogantly grin about the goodies in their basket.
I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t a recipient of government programs. I utilized Pell Grant, loans, and other programs in college. I cashed out unemployment around the time I was fired from a stressful job in higher education. I’m not against help; it should exist for those who need it to get to the next part of their professional lives. But it amazes me that there are those who pay into these programs and “make too much money” to utilize them, usually those families in the middle class or single individuals who did the right thing and may actually need that temporary fix EBT or another program can provide.
Whenever anyone attempts to have a rational discussion about the long-term effects of creating a welfare state on the backs of others, an immediate shutdown occurs, followed by a play of identity politics. I actually had a young white millennial tell me one evening, “You’re black and you’re gay, how can you want a change in these programs?” when I stated how millions of Americans staying on entitlements long-term can harm our country.
For years, I would sort of dismiss or roll my eyes at my Republican friends who told me for years that Democrat politicians support these programs because it creates a voting base dependent upon them for survival. It seemed crazy to me that a party that claims to pride itself on help as needed (civil rights, LGBTQ rights, safe-legal-rare abortion, EBT, disability) would want people to remain dependent on the government exclusively for its survival. But witnessing how the last eight to ten years has created the worst sort of sense of entitlement and the worst sort of hyperbolic replies, (#ItsMyBody, #BakeMyCake, #EverythingIsRacist, #TaxTheRich) those Republicans begin to make a lot of sense.
Leave My Stuff Alone
I always believed in the mantra, “We help our kids, we help our seniors, we help those who have legitimate disabilities that render them unable to work, and we offer temporary assistance for those who need it. And everybody else needs to hit the pavement and work for the wages, their food, their health insurance.” For many on both sides of the aisle, that is unreasonable to ask. The far left says that’s not enough and everyone should have these things whether they can afford it or not, regardless of the reason. The far right believe “we” don’t help anyone but ourselves. But for many who share some of my line of thinking, these are things that we can negotiate and really explore. Having a rational discussion about a reasonable birth year to raise the age of Social Security or completely eliminate it, deciding a cap on SNAP/EBT programs in a lifetime, putting restrictions in place to keep those receiving these programs from abusing drugs are not unreasonable.
Democrats like California Senator Kamala Harris like to grandstand on entitlement reforms and ending government mandated healthcare by claiming the Republicans are “taking it from us.” What she and those who agree with her fail to realize is that Republicans can’t take something away from you that technically wasn’t yours to begin with. We talk about how we can cut military spending or cut multiple things funded by the government to provide food, clothing, and healthcare to millions. I agree that there is a lot of spending we should assess. But just because we can afford it, doesn’t mean that we should provide it. Attitudes like these slowly create societies where people feel financially and emotionally handicapped. It creates a society where programs aren’t temporary fixes but are permanent leaks and cracks that become too much for anyone fix. It eventually creates conditions like the ones you hear about in Venezuela, where the government rations your food and controls your money.
We need to strongly encourage an overhaul of government programs so those on entitlements who are nowhere near retirement age can jump into the workforce again, to be competitive in the workforce, to have income that is earned. The only way we can encourage that is by restricting or even eliminating programs designed to encourage those to rest on their laurels and forever enjoy the fruits of someone else's labor.
Regular Contributor Chad Felix Greene
It appears a major LGBT advocacy organization, the Human Rights Campaign, is intentionally misrepresenting a now discredited claim that the Trump administration instructed the CDC not to use a series of words important to the Left. As Yuval Levin detailed in an article for National Review titled No, HHS Did Not ‘Ban Words’, the concern began when the Washington Post reported “The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.”
As Levin explains, however, “In other words, what happened regarding these other terms (“transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based”) was not that retrograde Republicans ordered career CDC officials not to use these terms but that career CDC officials assumed retrograde Republicans would be triggered by such words and, in an effort to avoid having such Republicans cut their budgets, reasoned they might be best avoided.”
The Left-wing media leapt to many conclusions ranging from demands of censorship to intentional targeting of LGBT Americans. On December 17th, 2017, the director of the CDC made a clear and public statement denying the assertion there were any banned words or that the Trump administration was interfering with research or reporting. On December 18th, 2017, the Human Rights Campaign tweeted: “After attempting to erase transgender Americans from CDC documents, we're now seeing the Trump-Pence administration refuse to disclose public comments on religious exemptions to #LGBTQ health care coverage.”
Nevertheless, the thought of the CDC refusing to use the word ‘transgender’ sent ripples of worry and anxiety through the LGBT world, mostly validating what the Left already believes about president Trump. The Washington Blade quoted Daniel Bruner, senior director of policy for the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Clinic, saying, “For the CDC to be told when you’re submitting budget documents, don’t talk about transgender people, or even use the term is potentially horrifying.” The Blade further stated, “In the view of many LGBT advocates, the report reinforced the widely held belief the Trump administration is seeking to eliminate any mention of LGBT people from public life…”
Strangely, the HRC continued its efforts on December 19th, 2017 tweeting the list of words with the headline: HRC Projects CDC’s ‘Banned Words’ Onto Trump Hotel. The linked article contained an image of the phrase ‘We Will Not Be Erased’ projected onto the hotel. The article states, “In conjunction with the enormous light display, HRC has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for any and all records, including communications with the CDC, relating to the banned words from November 2016 onward.”
On the same day they tweeted, “Our message for the Trump-Pence Administration is this: you cannot erase us. We will meet attacks on our community with a resolve to be louder and more visible than ever before.”
The Director of the CDC, as stated, clarified this as a misrepresentation a full two days prior by tweeting: “I want to assure you there are no banned words at CDC. We will continue to talk about all our important public health programs.” And as Levin pointed out, it appears to be nothing more than members within the CDC presuming to know what Republican’s might react to and attempting to protect their budgets accordingly. This does not appear to be based on any evidence other than political prejudice. It is patently absurd to take the assumptions of politically-minded individuals within the CDC and determine it as evidence of motivation from the administration itself.
More baffling is that there is nothing to investigate here. Levin was easily able to verify the details and none of it is particularly nefarious. How could a massive organization representing the LGBT community stage a public protest two days after what they are protesting was proven to never have happened by official sources? From an outside perspective it seems the motivation is either purely blind dedication to a political narrative or intentional deception for the same goals. No honest, respectable organization would so blatantly deceive the public over something so easy to prove incorrect.
Unfortunately, the troubling truth is this organization is catering to an audience eager for protesting what they are utterly determined to believe is an oppressive government bent on their destruction. President Trump is arguably the most pro-gay president to ever walk into office and despite the hair-on-fire panic over his Vice Presidential choice, there is absolutely no indication his administration has any anti-LGBT goals in mind. The audacity to demand ‘We Will Not Be Erased’ has the same nonsensical pattern as the ‘You Will Not Replace Us!’ chant at the Charlottesville white supremacist rally earlier this year. Both groups seem profoundly lost in their own hallucination of events and are filled with outrage and intense emotion over absolutely nothing.
When ideological groups begin gathering to chant in defiance of their existence being threatened by an imaginary force, it becomes greatly concerning. What we see here is a series of confirmation bias events that appear to demonstrate a pattern. The HRC sites several Trump administration actions that provide evidence of this attempted ‘erasure’ of the LGBT community. They began in January of this year when they panicked over Trump ‘removing’ pages from the official White House website that included the words ‘LGBT.’ This, of course, was merely a transition from one presidency to another and Trump did not ‘remove’ anything. The next panic was over the accusation Trump ‘removed’ LGBT from the upcoming 2020 census report, a claim quickly proven false as sexual orientation and gender identity were not asked on the 2010 Obama-approved report previously.
More recently the HRC claimed the “…Trump-Pence administration refuse to disclose public comments on religious exemptions to #LGBTQ health care coverage.” This claim appears to be nothing more than speculation as the comments provided were selected to present a positive light on the proposal. However, it assumes religious exemptions would somehow impact LGBTQ healthcare. Beyond refusing to perform transgender surgeries, there is no currently demanded religious objection to providing the same care to LGBTQ individuals as everyone else. There is nothing for the Trump administration to disclose, which is likely why nothing was.
Lastly, on December 18th, 2017 the HRC tweeted several times in regard to President Trump’s National Security speech demanding to know why LGBTQ issues were not specifically addressed. They stated, “As #LGBTQ people are under attack in Chechnya, Egypt, and elsewhere, this National Security Strategy doesn't even acknowledge LGBTQ people and the threats that they face.” Strangely, the Left appears to now be highly concerned about the treatment of LGBT people in Islamic countries and controlled areas, something President Obama never addressed and which they never demanded previously. The primary theme of President Trump’s security speech was security in the United States. LGBT do not face any significant threats in the United States.
What the LGBT Left has done is collect the above examples and pieced them together into a narrative which confirms their belief in an intentionally anti-LGBT administration. The latest outrage, despite being disproven, fuels this fire. They react to the lack of evidence, or in this case the refutation of their claims, by concluding that the disproved narrative is, in fact, true enough for their current emotional outrage. If challenged they will simply ignore the claims or create further narratives of conspiracy or media deception etc. to maintain the view. They simply do not care that it is false.
It is profoundly disturbing that an organization of this size and influence, however, would be so willing to participate in such dramatic deception. It legitimately appears that the HRC is dedicated to pushing a narrative of an oppressive and dangerous anti-LGBT Trump administration by any means necessary. Sadly, the majority of LGBT individuals will accept it as true because it already fits what they believe must be true. Has the LGBT movement fallen so far that they must fabricate outrage in order to stay relevant? Is this what LGBT individuals want in representation and advocacy? From a purely objective point of view, these types of stunts only discredit and hurt the movement as a whole.
We must never cease in calling out deception and demanding truth from our media. Powerful voices are openly deceiving millions of people with grand acts of propaganda and theatrics and the simple truth that none of it is real does not matter. The only weapon we have against this type of campaign is repeatedly shouting out the truth and exposing the lies. To stay quiet and recognize defeat in the face of a remarkably dedicated and overpowering enemy is simply not an option.
For more from Chad, visit chadfelixgreene.com and follow him on Twitter @chadfelixg.
I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous - everyone hasn't met me yet. -Rodney Dangerfield
As we approach the end of first year of the Trump Administration, I thought it would be fun to review the impact that President Trump has had on my life and the country’s life, as I see it, both the presidential and the unpresidential.
The first thing that comes to mind is the improving economy, which is showing signs of life after 8 years in a semi-conscious state. For many, especially young people, the impact of the Obamacare economy was largely part-time employment. Because anything over 30 hours a week required an employer cover their health insurance, we got hourly workers who had to work 60 hours at two jobs with zero benefits and zero free time, or others, kids mostly, who had to commit to one part-time job exclusively or lose it. This put moving out of their parents’ nest beyond reach financially, and gave them wasted unproductive time largely spent eating and playing video games. Of course, Obamacare allowed them to stay on their parents’ insurance (assuming they had any) until they were 26, but the period after that was apparently not considered important enough to give any attention to, so they languished.
But now, under Trump, it seems like more and more “Help Wanted” signs are showing up, and not just part-time. I’m not sure about where you’re from, but from where I sit, opportunity is starting to knock again and full time jobs are becoming more available. I hear the unemployment rate may even go below 4%, which would be interesting, considering it never did count those who gave up looking for jobs. I wonder what happens when they all start getting hired again. I suspect the move from part-time to full-time jobs is making a difference in real dollars, and I can certainly attest to that in my world, as my own kids have better jobs now than they did last year. A new sense of confidence seems to be wafting over things, and even if President Dangerfield continues to moronically tweet his way through the Halls of Government for the next 3 years, his overall impact on the economy so far is proving to be a positive one. Even his detractors have to grudgingly admit that stocks are up and things look brighter, economically speaking.
I’m not saying these detractors don’t have anything to complain about when it comes to the sometimes juvenile Trump. He is one of the most thin-skinned and transparent man-children I’ve seen in years. That said, I still get a chuckle from watching grown adults attempt to deal with being so wrong last year, especially the ones who can't see any redeeming qualities in him at all. Like those dealing with a death in the family, these Trump haters now range from resigned bitter acceptance to continued rage at the man, even after all this time. On both the Left and the Right, people still wail and moan about how ‘unpresidential’ he is, and how so-and-so would have been so much better.
We were taught that the President of the United States was to be gracious and genteel...quick to laugh and slow to anger, at least in public. We were taught that the President should be always patient and kind, and whether blessed with a sharp wit or dull, to be temperate in his speech and manner. The President was to be a gentleman (or woman) and wise...deserving of the respect of the Office as well as deserving of the respect for the character of the person holding it. The President must have the heart and will to do good for the sake of the country, with humility and modesty, to shine as an example of what any American could achieve.
At least, that’s what we were taught.
In reality, we've had our share of cads and scoundrels living in the White House, and a Free Press more than willing to hide their sins from the public for the Public Good. In Trump, we have the opposite...an orange, bumbling big mouth and media on both ends of the spectrum that are more than willing to showcase every flaw this president has, which are many.
In the past, we’ve had presidents who were vicious, vindictive, and violent. With sometimes temperamental egos and much arrogance, these men thought nothing of stepping on anything that kept them from power. But the public at large was always shown the softer side. The Statesman, the Calm Leader with the serious demeanor of resolute wisdom, at least for the most part. But Trump is the layman president, and while being wealthy and mostly respected before being elected, still comes into meetings like a Regular Joe, with a comfortable easy-going humor that, by all accounts, immediately breaks the ice. Of course it also occasionally backfires as he tosses both good taste and tact out the window for the sake of a cheap laugh, usually at someone else’s expense. His enemies leap to showcase these moments, hoping to bring him down for being a lout.
Politics has always been messy. George Washington may have been the last person to occupy the Oval Office with so much distinguished high moral character and so few political enemies. However, even Washington probably had moments when he would have rather been fishing than dealing with the realities of the political process he was burdened with.
With Trump, we have two things most presidents had: his ego, which is massive, and, I believe, the heart and will to want to do good for the country. He wants to be the best President he can be. On the other hand, while he may be a very smart man with good sense in many ways, he has also proven that he's an adolescent in many others. No one can mangle a comment or phrase like he does when he's riffing at the worst of times and places.
Remember, even he didn’t think he was going to win the election. So while he makes mistakes and shoots his Twitter mouth off like a WWE trash-talking wrestler, I figure he has the heart to try to fix what he sees as broken, and is learning to have sense enough to listen to people he trusts who may know more than him. That doesn’t make him less of a gaffe-prone diplomatic amateur, but it does make him redeemable. I remain presidentially optimistic, but realistic enough to expect mistakes as he plods along wanting to be right all the time.
Yet amid all this distraction, his administration is not standing still. His appointees and Cabinet are burning through regulations, enforcing laws, and filling judge positions at a quick rate, undoing much of what the narcissist Obama and his corrupt bunch were trying to advance. Sure, the next bunch can undo this activity if they gain power, but Trump has at least 3 years to make permanent what he can, and hopefully Congress will soon start making some good moves in that direction as well.
On the world stage, Trump’s global trips have been successful, despite media ill-will and unflattering spin to make him out to be more of a President Dangerfield than he actually is. He’s charmed various leaders while alienating others, but we expected that. At home, he continues to keep his base happy while his chagrined enemies fester and fume at his latest ‘mistake’ as they see it. As of this writing, Mr. Mueller could not be reached for comment, but even with an investigation under way, Trump is not letting it or ‘Fake News’ stop him from doing what he thinks is right.
Like Rodney Dangerfield, Trump gets no respect, no respect at all. To many, he could easily fire off a nuke and blow us all to Kingdom Come, but he probably won’t. He could easily offend world leaders potentially causing global mayhem, and probably already has. He could also do some good and listen to people that others still ignore, and he probably is. None of these are mutually exclusive.
No one knows what tomorrow will bring, but President Dangerfield, imperfect but amiable, is doing pretty good so far if you ask me.
Classic Rodney Dangerfield: