Update: On Monday, Republican Representative of Michigan’s 11th District, Dave Trott, announced he will not pursue reelection in 2018, becoming the third Republican House member to retire in the last week and fourth overall. Michigan’s 11th went to Donald Trump by 4.5 points in 2016, but 270ToWin is calling it a tossup in 2018.


 

There are now three open House seats up for grabs in districts favorable for Democrats after two, seven-term Republican Representatives announced their retirements in back-to-back days this week.

Charlie Dent, the moderate Republican Representative of Pennsylvania’s 15th District since 2005, announced that he would not seek an eighth term in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, saying in an interview with the Washington Post that it’s become too difficult to work with members of his own party.

“Accomplishing the most basic fundamental tasks of governance is becoming far too difficult. It shouldn’t be, but that’s reality,” he said.

Dent has been one of the most outspoken Republicans when it comes to Donald Trump. He told Trump to drop out of the 2016 Presidential Election after the “grab them by the pussy” video surfaced. He didn’t vote for Trump, casting a vote for independent Evan McMullin instead. And he’s spoken out against Trump’s travel ban, his firing of James Comey and Trump’s comments after white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, killing a counter-protesting, white woman. Two Virginia State Troopers also died in a helicopter crash.

Dent is co-chairman of the Tuesday Group, a dwindling group of a few dozen moderate Republicans that focuses on governing through sensible legislation rather than upholding conservative ideals. But given the growth of Far Right Conservatives via the Tea Party movement and culminating in the House Freedom Caucus, moderate Republicans are a retiring breed.

On Wednesday, moderate Republican Representative of Washington’s 8th District, Dave Reichert, announced he won’t pursue an eighth term either. Like Dent, Reichert has been critical of Trump, and like Dent’s, Reichert’s House district could flip to the Democrats. In fact, it’s more likely to flip than Dent’s 15th District.

Democrats are expected to pick up a seat in Florida, too, as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was the first Republican Representative to announce her retirement back in April after 35 years in office. The first Cuban-American elected to Congress leaves a very favorable seat for Democrats in the recently redrawn 27th District of Florida. Hillary Clinton carried the district by 20 points over Donald Trump, and 270ToWin has predicted a win for the Democrats.

Roll Call projects both Florida’s 27th and Washington’s 8th districts will turn over to Democrats. But House Republicans are likely to lose more than just two seats due to retiring Republicans. History shows midterm elections aren’t friendly to the party of the President, and results are influenced by the President’s approval rating. Trump’s 36 percent approval rating is the worst of any President this far into his first term.

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At some point Congressional Democrats have to start wondering if things could have turned out any better for them had they won the 2016 Presidential Election. I’ve already said once that it couldn’t be worse for Republicans, and except for the hundreds of judges Donald Trump is appointing all over the country, things are really going Democrats’ way. Congressional Democrats will reap the benefits of Trump’s record low approval rating and compulsive terrorizing of his own party members come the 2018 midterm elections.

When Trump said he would “drain the swamp,” I didn’t think he was talking about members of his own party. If that was his goal, it’s the only thing he’s done really well. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s approval rating in Kentucky is 18 percent. He won’t be back, but a Democrat won’t take his seat either. That’s okay as long as Democrats preserve their seats most likely to switch parties (there are eight) and pick up at least three seats. The seats most likely to be within reach are in Nevada, Arizona or Texas.

The Democrats are going to gain seats in the House. Congressional minorities pick up seats when their opposition occupies the White House. 270ToWin has 14 seats as tossups, and every tossup Democrats win after the first will be a House seat gained.

While Democrats winning the 24 seats to take a House majority is a longshot, FiveThirtyEight says House Democrats have a “historically strong position.” Despite Republicans holding the incumbency advantage by holding more House seats, FiveThirtyEight pits Democrats’ chance at taking back the House majority at 50/50.

The prediction is based on the House generic ballot, where voters are asked for which party they’d vote in a House election. Democrats lead that generic ballot by seven percentage points. In 2008, when they led the generic ballot by nine points, Democrats picked up 23 House seats. When they led by 11.5 points in 2006, Democrats picked up 30 House seats.

So House Democrats have to hope Trump’s approval rating keeps decreasing, which would result in an increased margin on the generic ballot and more Democratic Representatives elected in 2018. And it’s not crazy to think Trump’s approval rating could reach the record low of 22 percent set by Harry Truman before the 2018 midterm elections.

Only George W. Bush managed to raise his net approval rating going into his first midterm election, and it took 9/11 for that to happen. The other eight newly elected Presidents of the Presidential approval rating era lost at least 17 points before their first midterm elections. So barring a terrorist attack unifying the country behind a war, Trump’s approval rating will likely continue it’s downward trend.

Trump has been shedding .038 percentage points per day since starting his Presidency with a record low 45 percent approval rating. As of this writing, there are 437 days until the 2018 midterm elections. At Trump’s current rate, his approval rating would be at least 16 points lower than his current 37 percent approval rating, setting a new record low at 21 percent.

Even with his current approval rating, Trump would hold the record low for a net approval rating of nearly -20 percent (37.1 approval rating minus 56.9 disapproval rating). The three Presidents who went into their first midterm elections with disapproval ratings at least as high as their approval ratings ended up losing the most House seats, but none of them even touch the travesty that is Trump’s net approval rating.

Barack Obama’s House Democrats lost 63 seats when his net approval rating was just -2 percent. Bill Clinton’s House Democrats lost 54 seats when Bill Clinton’s net approval rating was zero. Ronald Reagan’s House Republicans lost 27 seats when his net approval rating was -4 percent.

So while there isn’t a direct correlation between negative net approval ratings of the President and the number of House seats lost, negative net approval ratings certainly result in House seats lost. And with 60 to 80 Republican-held House seats that could be competitive in 2018, and 209 Democratic challengers for House seats raising at least $5,000 by June 30 this year compared to the 28 Republicans who did so, Democrats are in position to surprise us like Trump did in 2016. The only thing that might stop them, according to history, is a terrorist attack.

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U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled that Texas’s new voter I.D. law is invalid and made it sound like any similar voter I.D. law would be ruled the same. It’s the fifth time a voter I.D. law has been ruled invalid, and it’s because the laws were created with “discriminatory intent.” Since this law’s predecessor was created with discriminatory intent, all reincarnations of said law would also be created with the intent of taking voting rights from people without access to photo I.D. services. Judge Ramos has basically said for a third time, “These are not anti-voter fraud laws. These are anti-voter laws.”

You might wonder why someone wouldn’t have a photo I.D, but in a lot of places they’re prohibitively expensive. In Texas, acquiring a photo I.D. can cost between $78 and $390 (“The High Cost of ‘Free’ Photo Voter Identification Cards,” p. 54). How? Even if the photo I.D. is free, the trip to the DMV isn’t. Some people have to take a bus or cab to visit the nearest grocery store, and the closest DMV is likely further from home than food. If they don’t have a birth certificate, that’s another document they have to pay to get. If they can’t find their marriage certificate and took their partner’s name, they’ll need to acquire that document, too.

Judge Ramos went so far as to suggest Texas elections be subjected to Department of Justice oversight, which hasn’t been the case since 2013, when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. So if there are judges with the same sense as Ramos in other states that have adopted voter I.D. laws (there are 32 of them), they could use Ramos’s decision as precedent to bring back DOJ regulation of elections that was specifically part of the Voting Rights Act to make sure this type of discrimination didn’t happen. Instead, states have adopted Jim Crow laws and passed them off as a defense against voter fraud. If you were wondering what the possible voter fraud was in Texas, it was .000038 percent in 2012.

So this is all a big win for voters, right? Well, if you haven’t noticed, Jeff Sessions isn’t exactly fond of brown people voting. When the Voting Rights Act was gutted of sections designed to protect the minority or impoverished voter, Sessions called it “Good news...for the South.” His home state of Alabama tried to close 31 DMVs, mostly in majority-black neighborhoods, right after passing laws that required a photo I.D. to vote.

Even if Texas, or any other Southern state, was again subject to elections with DOJ oversight, what kind of oversight do you think Sessions would provide? By controlling the ballot to elections in the world’s most powerful country, Sessions would become more powerful than the President, because he will have been responsible for electing the President. That makes him the most powerful man in the world.

But will Sessions be the attorney general in power when all this goes down? Given the fracturing of the Republican Party by Donald Trump and his record-low approval rating for a President this far into his first term, it’s highly unlikely Sessions and Trump remain in office after 2020. But if the Texas appeal is heard before the 2018 midterm elections, Sessions could keep minorities and impoverished voters from the polls to preserve a Republican majority in Congress. Saving Trump might be too tall a task for even the most powerful man in the world, though.

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Democrats and Republicans agree on something. Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton defended current first son Barron Trump, who was bullied by the Conservative publisher The Daily Caller, for wearing a T-shirt and jean shorts aboard Air Force One. Melania Trump, whose big First Lady focus is to put an end to bullying, thanked Clinton for defending her son on Twitter.

Why a publisher bullying a minor is wrong

First of all, a media outlet, and a Conservative one at that, publishing anything about any of the President’s children is not just in bad taste; it’s wrong -- and not because they’re the Conservative President’s children. Historically, the President’s children have been off limits to the media, but the only minors who should be targets of the media are high school athletes and high school achievers.

The only time a minor warrants a published word is when said minor has done some good for her community. No one wants to read about how poorly the home team played or which minors were caught in possession of drugs the day before the game. You can still publish that athletes were held out of lineup as punishment for poor behavior, but a sports reporter’s focus should stay on the field or court and with the kids who did show up to represent their high school that day.

People want to read about how the kids hung in there despite overwhelming odds, and how much money the volleyball team raised for local cancer survivors, or how well the Mathletes did at State. It’s the “good news” in the newspaper that helps small newspapers survive. More than anything, parents want to read about their child’s accomplishments and feel proud. They want to clip their kids’ pictures out of the paper and hang them on the fridge. The last thing they want to see is their child’s name in the paper for doing something wrong. That’s when they don’t even bother putting on clothes and just rush out the house to the newspaper office to rip into the editor about how their child’s a minor and her name shouldn’t be in print or on lips.

Minors get the benefit of the doubt from both journalists and the judicial system because they’re minors. They don’t have the experience to know what they ought and ought not do, so society cuts them some slack so they can figure it out. The Daily Caller cut Barron Trump no slack for his lack of slacks. They thought it was “High Time Barron Trump Starts Dressing Like He’s In the White House.” Barron probably wishes his father would act like he’s in the White House. See, now that’s proper bullying.

Bullying the President is protected by the Constitution

The Daily Caller or any other publisher or person in this country can bully the President all they want thanks to the First Amendment. While attaining his “experience,” Donald Trump made plenty of mistakes, and he still does things that warrant a published word or billion. He’s not afforded the societal benefit of the doubt because he’s 71.

Trump’s 11-year-old son doesn’t have to dress like he’s in the White House because he’s 11 years old. His only focus should be being 11, and 11-year-olds wear jeans and T-shirts everyday. If your crazy old man was the most powerful old man in the world you’d want to be comfortable, too. Also, imagine graduating high school when your dad’s 78? How difficult it must be for Barron to connect with his father. There’s a multigenerational gap there.

End bullying for good

There’s no gap between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to bullying. It’s decidedly bad, and cyber bullying has exacerbated the problem. Victims of cyber bullying are more likely to be depressed than victims of traditional bullying. According to a 2010 Archives of Suicide Research study, “Youth who experienced traditional bullying or cyber bullying, as either an offender or a victim, had more suicidal thoughts and were more likely to attempt suicide than those who had not experienced such forms of peer aggression.” While suicidal thoughts and behaviors were more strongly related to those bullied, the bullies themselves also suffer, and the act of bullying is a coping mechanism.

Cyberbullying is like traditional bullying, except the bully is always there. Now that every parent issues mobile phones to their kids as a means to keep tabs on them, bullies can keep tabs on them, too. Back in my day, there weren’t mobile devices in high school, so all the bullying was done in the traditional manner. Now kids get bullied in school and at home, with no refuge in sight.

If you thought bullying would end as soon as some kid died as a result, it not only didn’t, but more kids are dying. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those between 10 and 24 years old. A study done in Great Britain found at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying. Wikipedia even has a wiki dedicated to some of the most notable suicides attributed to bullying. Most recently, 12-year-old Katelyn Davis hanged herself from a tree in her backyard while live streaming it on Live.Me.

With bullying, the First Lady chose an honorable challenge despite the irony that engulfed its announcement while her husband was bullying Hillary Clinton, quite literally. You can’t go wrong attempting to save the children, but what can really be done about bullying?

Anyone who has ever been a victim or offender of bullying knows how to put an end to it. You must stand up to the bully but do so without resorting to violence. Experts say a violent response is not advised. So you don’t even have to be successful in the fight. You just have to show you have fight.

I grew up in the only state without anti-bullying laws (Montana), and I was bullied in middle school for one day. I decided that was the first and last time anyone would bully me. I didn’t throw one punch, didn’t attempt one kick. I just told the bully to hit me. He never did, but he did drive my nose into a metal railing at the top of a stairwell, and while bloodied, it wasn’t broken. I just kept repeating, “I’m still standing” until my mother arrived on the scene. (She was a teacher at the school, and her classroom was furthest from the action if that gives you an idea of how little teachers are doing about bullying.)

I didn’t have a problem with that bully or any other after that day, and I didn’t have to win the fight. I just had to prove I would be a frightful pain in the ass and not worth the bully’s time. The same tactic will work for cyber bullying as well.

Putting an end to cyber bullying takes a bit more dedication than getting the traditional bully off your back, but the principle’s the same. Stand up to the bully every time. Sure you could ignore the bully or block them, but then they just move on to another victim. Don’t let a Facebook comment or Tweet fall through the cracks. You must respond and respond quickly to all attacks on your character and that of others, but you must do so in a manner that reveals to the bully her reason for bullying without actually calling the bully insecure. You must be a social media psychologist.

How to be a social media psychologist

The most important thing to do as a social media psychologist is listen, which you can’t do if you block the bullies. In the case of cyber bullying, read deeply into every word your bully writes and calmly respond -- so calmly that the bully could never read malice into your response. They should be surprised by your lack of emotion and somewhat bored by it. Don’t try to be too smart or you’ll risk your cyberbully turning into a bully bully. While confidence is key, it’s more important to convey that you don’t care what your bully thinks.

Sometimes seeking out common ground can help. Instead of waiting for the next attack, be proactive and respond to something the bully posts on social media that you both like. If the bully knows you like some of the same things she does, it can go a long way in humanizing her thought of you. You might even end up friends.

For persistent bullies it might take the assistance of some friends to put an end to the bullying. The more people who stand by the bullied and speak on the bullied’s behalf, the more likely the bully is to stop bullying. So don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t hesitate to help others who are bullied. If all the bullies and all the bullied teamed up for war, the bullied would win the day. Remember that episode of The Simpsons when Bart unites all of Springfield’s bullied against Nelson? There's a lot of truth to that.

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A few months ago I read about the play, Her Opponent, and quickly dismissed it as “preaching to the choir.” For those who have not heard of it -- Maria Guadalupe, an associate professor of economics and political science at INSEAD came up with an idea to restage sections off all three Presidential debates with a gender reversing twist -- by casting a female actor (Rachel Whorton) as the Trump character “Brenda King,” and a male actor, Daryl Embry to play the Clinton character, “Jonathan Gordon.”

 

The actors would learn the exact dialog, phrasing, gestures and movements of their real life counterpart candidate as each appeared in the live 2016 debates. An actor, Andy Wagner, would take part as the moderator as well. The idea was to restage the debates as close to reality as possible. The debate script was taken verbatim from the live telecast -- making no changes to the words with the exception of a few verb adjustments to avoid gender confusion. Even the renames of the characters have the exact same syllables, so the actors, during the staged debate, could keep the same beats as the real life candidates.

 

Donald Trump = Brenda King.

 

Hillary Clinton = Jonathan Gordon.

 

And why do this? Well, the liberal producer, director, cast, crew and facility who put Her Opponent together all reasonably assumed that switching the gender roles would confirm what all we lefty liberals knew from day one -- Trump is an aggressive asshat and will be equally intolerable as woman, and Clinton’s “crushing it” experience will shine through even more so, dare I say, coming from a man.

 

So I ignored Her Opponent as a silly concept play because it’s “dog bites man.” It’s obvious, commonplace and it’s not newsworthy. Instead we should be looking for “man bites dog,” which is shocking -- and therefore compelling news!

 

So, it was with great “eye rolling trepidation” that I finally watched the rehearsal tapes as well as several minutes of footage from the thirty minute play, Her Opponent.  My ideas were, pretty much, confirmed.

 

A female version of Donald Trump is still a hateful buffoon.

 

Er, expect that -- um -- you know that’s not what happened at all, right? Liberal audiences, pretty much, universally liked (female) Trump and hated (male) Clinton!

 

*Sigh*  I know. Her Opponent is totally man bites dog. I was wrong. The above is my liberal wishful thinking. That being said:

 

It’s very true that during its two performance run, liberal audiences were fucking shocked at how much they hated the Jonathan Gordon / male Clinton character calling him, “very punchable.” There was even one poor liberal chap who could not believe how much he respected the female Trump and literally held his head in his hands while his date rubbed his back in comfort. By comparison the female Trump was praised for her strength with liberal audiences saying how much they loved seeing that character, “attacking, endlessly attacking and never giving up.”

 

Basically, Trump’s debate technique, his aggressive forwardness and the simplicity of his repeated messages became much easier for liberal folks to tolerate when it came from a woman.

 

Also, basically, the same audience members couldn’t connect with the male Clinton who kept repeating sad, over-rehearsed, regurgitated, thirty-year old DFL talking points (and creeped everyone out with his endless, inappropriate smile).

 

Wow. Ouch! Seriously, man, how did this all happen?

 

Well, Maria Guadalupe (producer), hired director Joe Salvatore, a Steinhardt clinical associate professor of educational theatre who specializes in ethnodrama -- a method of adapting interviews, field notes, journal entries, and other print and media artifacts into a script to be performed as a play. And they put it all together. Their original goal? From the Her Opponent website:

“Can experiencing what the 2016 U.S. presidential candidates said and how they said it through gender-reversed characters, cause us to revisit our own biases and develop insights from different perspectives?

 

Her Opponent uses documentary theatre techniques to re-create excerpts of the three 2016 presidential debates. An actor performs the text, gestures, and movements of Hillary Clinton, but as a male Democratic candidate named Jonathan Gordon and an actress performs the text, gestures, and movements of Donald Trump, but as a female Republican candidate named Brenda King. A third actor plays the role of The Moderator from each of the three debates.

 

The experience includes an opportunity for audiences to share their thoughts and impressions in a facilitated discussion that immediately follows the performance.”

 

The actors rehearsed first by listening to audio of the debates until they memorized the selected script. Then they delved into the debate video to mimic all aspect of their candidate's physical performances. It’s not so much great acting as it is great mimicry. This video has a back and forth comparison between the actors in rehearsal and the actual candidate debate: The SJW View: Gender Swapped, Trump and Clinton Debate. If you watch the back and forth you’ll see what I’m talking about -- acting vs. mimicry -- there are plenty of times when the actors get the hand motions right but miss the sincerity of what the candidate is saying (especially the Gordon / Clinton character). Of course, that is only a rehearsal and not the actual show. So, keep that in mind.

 

Her Opponent, had two sold out performances so there has not been a lot of national coverage but I suspect the show will get picked up off Broadway and will continue its run with the same cast. NYU has a great (several page) story about the original two night performance: What if Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had swapped genders?

 

MSNBC has a nice eight minute piece about it as well: Debate and Switch -- where the director and three actors weigh in on the production and the aftermath.

 

Conservatives sites and vlog’s, as you can imagine, had a field day when they heard about the Her Opponent audience response. I don’t think it’s the slam dunk they proclaim -- Tucker Carlson’s: If Trump Were a Woman - Liberals re-create Trump/Clinton debate and it BACKFIRES. (Note: most of that video is a repeat of the rehearsal footage).  

 

I think the word, “backfires” is a bit of a stretch. Don’t get me wrong. I find the reaction to the play fascinating, sincere and totally believable. And it certainly says -- something. I’m not one hundred percent convinced it’s the colossal backfire that Mr. Carlson claims. I mean, it’s very true that liberals are usually smug. I know what I’m talking about here. I’ve been a smug liberal for twenty something years.

 

But after working on dozens of conservative radio programs I've warmed up to a more centrist view. And now I really notice the smugness of the left (even when I agree with them). But to be fair -- I also notice the insincere piety of the right. Both sides have serious credibility issues as far as I’m concerned.  

 

Her Opponent is a great experimental idea and probably makes very fine points about gender bias (I have yet to see the full production) but it does have an elephant in the room. First of all, yes, perhaps some liberals will learn a valuable lesson from watching the show. And yes, conservatives have a right to mock them about something they found to be so, so obvious. But, even if two people, one male and one female, are using the exact same language, gestures and movement to express the exact same thing -- there is a huge, gigantic, vast difference between the following two scenarios:

 

Scenario one: Three Hundred Pound Man angrily & condescendingly talks over One Hundred and Twenty Pound Woman. 

 

Scenario two: One Hundred and Twenty Pound Woman angrily & condescendingly talks over Three Hundred Pound Man.

 

One of those scenarios carries the full weight of thousands of years of the oppressive, abusive, murderous, terrifying history of male violence against women, on its shoulders. The other is scenario two.

 

So, again, Her Opponent is interesting and it might have important things to say about gender bias -- but if you honestly don’t understand the difference between scenario one and scenario two.

 

Well, then you don’t.

 

But it's the reason why President Donald Trump is a dick.

 

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It’s no secret that Americans pay more for healthcare than anyone in the world, and it’s increasingly less of a secret that a better system would result in fewer infant deaths, fewer preventable deaths, fewer uninsured people, and less expense for Americans. What does that system look like, though? Well, it’s not privatized health insurance.

The problem with privatized health insurance is that it allows or forces people to go uninsured due to cost, which is why President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act is so important. It lowered the number of uninsured to an all-time low of 8.6 percent by forcing affordable coverage options upon them (if you live in a state that expanded Medicaid) or forcing them to pay a fine so the insured wouldn’t have to flip so much of the uninsured’s bill. And while healthcare costs are still increasing (they always will), they are increasing at a slower rate than they were prior to the ACA.

The biggest reason socialized healthcare is difficult for Republicans to stomach is because they don’t trust the federal government to handle healthcare. You hear them say that over and over, and that the states can do it better. I don’t disagree, but if India can provide free healthcare to roughly 276 million Indians living under the poverty line, the American government can certainly do it for 43.1 million impoverished Americans. States should not be allowed to opt out of this coverage. It should be mandatory because those with private insurance would be paying for fewer uninsured visits to the hospital, meaning hospitals wouldn’t have to increase costs for everyone because of the $900 each uninsured visitor costs them annually.

But socialized healthcare is not going to be passed by this Congress or any other unless the Democrats manage a supermajority at some point, and even then it’s no certainty given the bad, yet unwarranted, reputation the word “socialism” has in this country. (Hint: it’s not fascism.)

The House Republicans’ American Health Care Act won’t be passed by this Congress, either. At least not how it currently stands. But minimum wage legislation should appeal to constituents and politicians of both parties.

The biggest problem for Americans isn’t increasing health insurance premiums. The biggest problem is stagnant wages, which is why passing minimum wage legislation is so important. Back in February, the U.S. inflation rate was at its highest since 2012. An item that cost $20 back in 1997 would cost $30.38 today. That’s a cumulative rate of inflation of almost 52 percent in 20 years. Middle- and low-wage workers’ incomes grew just over five percent during the same period. When the value of the U.S. dollar decreases 10 times faster than incomes increase, people struggle to pay for everything. My father and an entire district of a machinists’ union didn’t get a raise for the eight years Ronald Reagan was President. Imagine working for the same wage for nearly a decade while the cumulative rate of inflation increased 36.4 percent over that time. By the end of the eight years your 1981 U.S. dollar was worth just 63.6 cents in 1989. The lack of union membership in America has a lot to do with the increased income for the top 10 percent of earners, too.

While the globalization of the economy makes executives more valuable, a lack of union membership and lack of collective bargaining allows executive salaries to inflate. And while the affordability of commonly used items like refrigerators, ovens, etc. has increased according to the CATO Institute, that doesn’t necessarily offset the ever-increasing cost of energy. Between 2005 and 2015, residential energy costs increased 34 percent despite prices of natural gas delivered to electric utilities declining nearly 60 percent and coal prices remaining essentially flat, according to the Institute for Energy Research. And we all know that gasoline is more expensive. Today’s average price for gasoline is 54 percent more than the inflation-adjusted price of 1998, when oil prices reached an all-time low of $18.13 per barrel.

Secondary education continues to be an increasing expense, which increased on average at a rate of nine percent at four-year colleges, 11 percent at two-year colleges and 13 percent at private colleges since 2011-12, according to CollegeBoard. “But you don’t need a college education,” you might say. Sure, you might not need it, but the value of of a secondary education was double that of an equal investment in the stock market back in 2011, according to the Brookings Institute, and USA Today reported that a New York Fed study determined the net present value of a college degree to be at an all-time high of $300,000 back in 2014.

Education isn’t the only thing that’s steadily increased in cost, either. The median cost of rent has increased 64 percent since 1960 and 12 percent from 2000 to 2010 despite median wages falling seven percent during that time, according to ApartmentList. The Consumer Price Index for food is also 2.4 percent higher than it was just a year ago, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

While Republican politicians have no interest in socialized healthcare legislation or minimum wage legislation, they should if their goals entail more American jobs and a flourishing American economy. Socialized healthcare legislation, like Rep. John Conyer’s Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, and minimum wage legislation, like Rep. Al Green’s Original Living Wage Act, would allow Republicans to create more jobs and allow Americans to further stimulate the economy with expendable income.

No Conservative who is struggling to pay for necessities can successfully argue that they don’t deserve a raise, and no Republican politician can successfully argue that his or her struggling constituents don’t deserve a raise and keep his or her job. This is something Congress can pass and something Donald Trump should be proud to sign. It would be quite the blow to his predecessor if Trump managed to increase wages for all American workers making minimum wage. It would certainly make the numbers look better if Trump and the Republicans are successful in passing their healthcare bill, as more Americans would be able to afford health insurance.

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After signing an executive order to limit the number of H-1B immigrants (immigrants working jobs requiring at least a Bachelor’s degree), Donald Trump signed Congress’s temporary spending bill that allows for more than double the number of H-2B immigrants (immigrants working jobs that don’t even require a high school education).

This is nothing new, as it’s the same policy passed in the last spending bill, but Trump didn’t exactly do much to alter the policy despite being in a position to do so. Why would he? Allowing even more immigrants to serve as temporary employees at cheaper wages will make his CEO friends happy, but it should infuriate Americans. It certainly assures that the 11.5 percent youth (ages 16 to 24) unemployment rate will remain mostly unchanged.

These H-2B jobs, like working at winter or summer resorts in guest services or as a housekeeper or groundskeeper, used to be filled by high school and college students looking to make a buck while going to school. Some of them are saving for a college education that has grown increasingly unaffordable. Now the money goes to temporary immigrants who will take it home with them when they’re no longer needed. They can serve up to three years on an H-2B visa, but then only have to leave the United States for three months before reapplying. From the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website:

A person who has held H-2B nonimmigrant status for a total of 3 years must depart and remain outside the United States for an uninterrupted period of 3 months before seeking readmission as an H-2B nonimmigrant. Additionally, previous time spent in other H or L classifications counts toward total H-2B time.”

When you elect an American businessman to be the most powerful person in the world, you are submitting this country and others to the business practices of an American businessman. Those practices include hiring cheap, immigrant labor (Trump businesses have asked the government to grant temporary visas to 1,200 foreign workers since 2000), lowering taxes for corporations and the rich and raising them for the middle class (Trump’s tax plan cronies are considering eliminating the personal exemption and reduce the top corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent), and allowing internet service providers to monitor your online history and sell it to advertisers.

At least medical marijuana jobs won’t be affected by the spending bill, though. The Department of Justice still can’t spend funds enforcing federal marijuana law upon state’s that have legalized medical marijuana, but no protections exist for states with recreational marijuana policies.

Alaskan fisher-people should also be happy, as the spending bill has made the “brown king crab” more appealing by allowing it to be called “golden king crab.” Young Americans will also be subjected to school breakfasts and lunches featuring more sugar and fat thanks to new Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue freezing Michelle Obama’s plan to fight childhood obesity. Welcome to Trump's America, where under-educated Americans lose jobs to under-educated immigrants, under-paid Americans pay more taxes than over-paid Americans, and diabetes runs rampant.

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, The Tech Night Owl, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, Free Talk Live

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Alex Jones continues to receive about as much press as his friend Donald Trump, with Stephen Colbert impersonating the talk show host on The Late Show, and Trevor Noah attacking him on The Daily Show. Follow the links to view the videos.

Alex Jones makes for good television. That enraged character is so entertaining that Comedy Central has requested the right to use this clip of Jones to open their new show, The President Show, featuring a Donald Trump impersonator as host talking about the day’s news. It’s an attempt at impersonating the InfoWars model and mocking the Alex Jones character to attract a larger, more moderate audience. (The show had Keith Olbermann from GQ’s The Resistance as its first guest.)

The writers and producers of just about every comedy show have been pretty lazy lately, with the lone exception being the writers and producers of Last Week Tonight. With very little effort and originality, the writers and producers of The Late Show, The Daily Show and even Newsweek are taking shots at an easy target from point blank range and making easy money doing so. Not only that, they’re only giving Jones free publicity that enhances his “celebrity,” because as the cliché goes, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Clichés exist because there is truth to them.

While our advertising sales representatives at GCN confirm they have not raised the advertising rates for The Alex Jones Show, they certainly aren’t having trouble selling those spots, even while Jones is taking time to attend a custody hearing. He’s not off to a hot start in proving his attorney’s argument that Jones is playing a character on his show, telling the jury on 4/20 that George Soros is to blame for the ever-increasing potency of marijuana.

All that said, Jones’s audience is set. The people who tune into The Alex Jones Show will likely always tune into The Alex Jones Show, whether it’s on the radio or YouTube. The people who watch Bill O’Reilly will continue consuming whatever it is he does after Fox News, much like Rush Limbaugh. You don’t need to understand these people; you only need to understand these people exist and there’s no changing them.

Apparently, the only thing that could affect the advertising revenue of The Alex Jones Show is a criminal charge or sexual harassment allegation brought against Alex Jones. That’s been the case in sports and entertainment for quite some time. A custody battle isn’t going to turn advertisers away in droves like they ran away from The O’Reilly Factor.

There’s nothing anyone can do about people who want to be heard and have the resources to accomplish that goal because there’s nothing anyone can do about the audience that consumes that garbage. Americans consume everything including garbage; some garbage just smells better.

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If you like this, you might like these GCN Live talk radio shows: The Alex Jones Show

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Donald Trump is in the battleground state of Wisconsin to sign an executive order that will reportedly make it harder for technology companies to hire cheaper, high-skilled workers from overseas and prioritize the hiring of American workers and strengthen rules to make sure government contracts are awarded to American contractors.

Trump and White House officials have targeted the H-1B visa for high-skilled, foreign workers, which will even affect Trump himself. His own company takes advantage of the H-1B visa at his hotels, golf courses and vineyard. According to a CNN Money investigation conducted in July 2016, Trump utilized the visa to import 1,256 workers over 15 years. One of Trump’s campaign promises was to end the H-1B visa as a cheap labor program, but according to a study by Brookings Institute researchers, H-1B job vacancies are harder to fill and H-1B workers are paid more than non-H-1B workers, with wage growth much higher than the national average. Here are some answers to criticisms brought against the study and here’s a comparable study that comes to the same conclusion.

According to WorkPermit.com, the U.S. H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows American companies to employ graduate level workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as in IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, medicine, etc. Any professional level job that usually requires a Bachelor’s degree or higher can come under the H-1B visa for specialty occupations, but if a foreign worker does not have a Bachelor’s degree, they may still be able to show degree equivalence through work experience or other qualifications.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it received 199,000 petitions for 85,000 slots during this year’s H-1B visa lottery. Last year, the agency received 236,000 applications. Indian outsourcing firms such as Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro receive most of the visas because they submit the most applications to increase their chances.

Technology companies have long complained of a lack of a highly educated and skilled American workers as a reason for taking advantage of the H-1B program, but there are also companies taking advantage of it. Regardless, American technology companies could get around all of this by hiring foreign workers to work remotely from their home countries.

Supporters of the H-1B visa program say Trump’s executive order will make it harder and more expensive for businesses to find adequate workers, while the opposition says Trump’s order doesn’t go far enough. If more is to be done, however, Congress will have to get involved. Several bills have been introduced to overhaul the visa program. One presented by Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley would require companies seeking H-1B visas to make a “good-faith effort” to hire Americans prior to exploring foreign workers. What constitutes a “good-faith effort” will be determined by the Labor Department. The bill would also give foreign students studying in the U.S. the upper hand when applying for H-1B visas.

H-1B visas shouldn’t be confused with the H-2B visa program, which does allow companies like beach and ski resorts to import cheaper, low-skilled labor to serve seasonal positions. Hotels, resorts, restaurants, construction companies and seafood processors got a big boost when a spending bill was approved last year that allows for anyone who obtained an H-2B visa in the last three years to retain it and not count towards the 66,000 visa cap. These jobs will still go to immigrants who will do the work for less. That’s why every time you ski Montana or Colorado or California or Utah there’s rarely a local to be found in uniform. Yet the price of admission never seems to reflect the lower cost of the labor.

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Costa Report, Drop Your Energy Bill, Free Talk Live, Flow of Wisdom, America’s First News, America Tonight, Bill Martinez Live, Korelin Economics Report, The KrisAnne Hall Show, Radio Night Live, The Real Side, World Crisis Radio, The Tech Night Owl Live

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