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By now you might have seen today’s headlines about the incoming NRA president and former Iran/Contra scandal villain Oliver North. He claimed that school shootings were in part made worse by an epidemic of drugged kids who have been prescribed Ritalin.

His claim, without mentioning any kind of supporting evidence, isn’t just more unfounded fearmongering from a group who uniformly throws science to the dustbin when it’s counter to their objectives. It’s also copying a tried and true method of distraction used whenever things go wrong. Why? Because it’s exactly like the silly links that are pushed by the (generally anti-science) vaccine fearing crowd who are convinced that such things lead to autism.

Meanwhile, people who study this stuff say Ritalin leads to mostly calmer behavior in children. But North doesn’t seem to care. He has a new bogey man that will be argued about for years to come as a surrogate for gun control. Just like vaccines leading to Autism.

Does it matter at all that there’s no such link? That North grabbed this idea out of thin air? Nope, not a whisker. That’s the beauty of the Republican voter these days. They are usually too uninformed and disinterested to look this stuff up – or they do – on partisan and non academic sources, so now Ritalin is responsible for the violence and if we can just solve that problem there won’t be any more school shootings.

President Trump asked Bill Gates about forming a commission to investigate the link between vaccines and autism. Gates told him there is no link and that’s a “dead end”.

So one of the richest men in the world, and one who’s committed to donating the lion’s share of his vast wealth to charity, is forced to counsel the president that the people whispering conspiracy theories in his ear are full of crapola. Proof that disinformation reaches the highest levels, even if in this case, that happens to be our own Mr. Bean, President Trump.

I’m not an authority on autism or vaccines, but let’s face it: I’m going to trust the opinion of Bill Gates, the worlds most respected philanthropist, over that of the politicians who scorn academia like our hapless leader – who also had to ask the Gates to explain the difference between HIV and HPV – twice.

Once again, conservatives have willfully chosen to believe their politicians over academics and believe fake news and fake information. So now a whole army of innocently, stupid people are afraid to vaccinate because, you know, autism.

Oh, and we should hurry to fix the REAL problem we have in this country causing all the violence – Ritalin – before school shootings become horrific and commonplace!

The death toll is now at 50 in the new Palestinian protests. Many shot by Israeli snipers tasked with defending the border wall from breach. What did we gain from all of this? a big fat nothing.

But what did we lose? Well, let’s see – we certainly lost the respect from the world, who collectively turned their backs on this predictable situation. Well, not everyone to be fair. I think Guatemala and Paraguay both followed us into this dark and stupid adventure, but pretty much everyone else called it collective nonsense and refused to be part of it.

We also haven’t done Israel any favors. There’s nothing to be gained by them – no financial or geopolitical advantages to speak of. Perhaps those on the right consider a TON of bad press a win for Israel as bodies of stone throwing teenagers are carried away by makeshift ambulances in front of the camera? Oh, sure, the hawks are happy, but only because they enjoy poking the bear. Not because they actually gained anything either.

Meanwhile America is determined to self immolate. After pulling out of the Paris agreement, then announcing the breaking of America’s word in the Iran accord, we now have followed up with a third gut punch by stirring up the Middle East hornet’s nest and adding more blood to the feud.

We also gave up our impartiality with this reckless maneuver. The Palestinians will now never allow the US to mediate peace. But to be fair, Trump had already thumbed his nose at the Palestinians anyway having previously named Jared Kushner as Middle East peace head honcho – a questionable choice given that he’s Jewish. Full disclosure – I’m a Jew as well. But let’s be real: it’s hard to imagine a Jew successfully mediating between Jews and Muslims. Predictably things have not improved with this move.

So the peace the process has been shot and left for dead by the Trump clan and the world once again think’s we’re run by drunken monkeys. You can disagree with me, and call this ‘winning’ if you want, but the middle east is a mess and no one trusts America to lead in a responsible way. I’m not sure how much more winning we can take. To me, this is just poor American leadership. An adventure with no purpose, no goal and no definable winners.

Today, the Mexican President took the highly unusual step of cancelling a meeting with Donald Trump. The amazing, but not wholly unpredictable result of 18 months of bellicose blather by the new President. But what does this mean for the world?

Well, I think it’s fair to speculate that any unilateral action Trump takes will elicit a reaction by Mexico and affect trade in a negative way for American consumers and businesses, which is obviously bad for the US.

Trump’s twitter rants are no way to renegotiate NAFTA, and his bullying of Mexico is not endearing – to we Americans and Mexicans alike. A better approach would have been to announce a renegotiating of NAFTA and work through the issues at the table.

That said, the wall Trump wants to build is a separate issue from NAFTA. For one thing, Trump’s been insulting towards our Southern neighbor, arrogantly proclaiming that he’s going to make them pay for his grand idea. He speaks about them like someone in high school that you can beat up and manipulate, and at this point I’d be surprised if their national mood was anything but SCREW TRUMP, even if it costs jobs and money.

So, the result is that Trump has embarrassed himself internationally and created animosity with our third largest trading partner. And it’s only week 1. This is going get really interesting. It’s like watching a semi-slow motion train wreck.

Even before I became a business owner the concept of trickle down economics never made sense to me. The fact that Republicans have so successfully been able to push this concept decade after decade, well let’s just say I find it astonishing.

On its face, trickle down economics makes no sense. Lowering income taxes on the wealthy won’t create jobs. First, employers don’t hire simply because they have money. They hire when they have a need – that is when they have demand for their product or service and they need people in order to accommodate that demand. Why for example would someone who only needed five dishwashers hire more if he had no need for more people? Having the money to hire is beside the point. Either you need people or you don’t.

There’s usually a point where you have spent as much as you can on your business and now it’s time, as a business owner, to take the rest for yourself. Well, if the rest happens to be $50 million, then that is money that is being taken out of circulation for the benefit of the person who made it. So lowering taxes on people who already make hoard-worthy piles of cash is just a give-away in the end, since that’s just extra profits for the business owner to keep.

Also, tax breaks on wealthy income earners means they pay less personal taxes, not corporate taxes. This is money that’s paid to them as a salary. If they were planning on hiring people with that money, they wouldn’t be paying themselves money to begin with. They would leave the money in the business. All an income tax reduction does is let wealthy people keep more money from their paychecks.

Also, while rich people do generate jobs by spending their millions, those paltry numbers pale in comparison to the job growth that would come if that same tax break were given to far less advantaged people who need that money to pay bills. Those people would spend the money, and in so doing, stimulate the economy. A tax break to a wealthy man is worth less economic stimulation than that same tax break being given to lower income earners who actually need the money to pay bills and buy things.

This is the most confusing thing to me about the trickle-down crew. If a millionaire makes more millions, he’s basically going to put it in the bank or buy toys. If a poor or middle class person makes more money via a tax break, he’s probably going to spend it. So it becomes fairly obvious who’s going to stimulate the economy more – the small guy who immediately puts the money back into circulation, not the rich guy with the impressive bank account.

If I got a tax break, all I would end up doing is pocketing the money. If I were rich, it would just make me richer.

Why is giving money to a candidate considered free speech? Free speech means you can say or write whatever you want without fear of imprisonment or worse. That’s free SPEECH. It doesn’t mean you can DO whatever you want. You can’t rob a bank, for instance. Why does donating to a politician somehow qualify as ‘speech’? This isn’t speech. This is clearly a financial transaction. Giving money to politicians isn’t necessarily saying anything at all. It might be a kickback, bribe, or just a donation with no particular issue in mind. Making donations a first amendment issue is like making sales a first amendment issue. Both are financial transactions. One says you support a candidate, the other says you support a product. Why is one speech and the other not? You could then argue, for instance, that the government must allow me to purchase C4 explosives or that fully automatic rifle with extended clip and silencer – you know, because of free speech.

This is absurd for a number of reasons. First of all, if donations are a form of free speech, then wouldn’t rich people have more of a ‘voice’ than the poor? Would that not give the rich more opportunities to ‘speak’ than the poor? I’m not sure that’s what the framers of the constitution had in mind. But in practice, this is what happens. The rich spends millions while the average person can’t afford to donate anything substantial to politicians in the first place. I think everyone can understand speech isn’t something that you should need to be able to afford. The rich shouldn’t have a larger voice with which to speak.

Financial transactions are not ‘speech’ and should not protected by the constitution like actual speech is. What we’re really protecting here is the ‘right’ of the rich to have more influence on our politicians and our lives than the majority of citizens. We’ve handed them the keys to the kingdom and called it a ‘right’. Good work, all you idiots who made this happen. When the ‘wrong’ people have all the money to spend, then what will you think of your success?