From #ObamaCare To #TrumpCare: Why You Should #Care

The 2010 Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare, tried to reform U.S. healthcare, sparking a divisive, seven-year political battle. Obamacare has failed to collapse, despite Republicans best efforts to undermine it. People like Obamacare. It’s their healthcare. They don’t want to lose it. So, what do they want?They want something better. President Trump has promised TrumpCare.

Six years after the enactment of Obamacare, here’s what we know: The uninsured rate dropped to an all-time low (8.8%). 12 million people enrolled in marketplace coverage this year. Also, it’s worth mentioning that Republican governors are praising Medicaid expansion. As you can see, ObamaCare is more popular than ever.

The GOP has failed to deliver on its core promises of working on behalf of families and children instead of fighting for huge corporations. The attacks on health care are only getting worse. While Republicans could simply allow the law to collapse, that would make it hard for Republicans in Congress to get re-elected. Why? Because you would not have any health care. So, Republicans must do something.

Repeal and Replace
President Trump made a promise on the campaign trail: repeal and replace. He said he would repeal ObamaCare and replace it with something better: TrumpCare. Repeal is something the GOP has been talking about for 7 years now. But, Republicans don’t know how to do it. Think about it: 7 years. Repeal and Replace with TrumpCare should have been done on Day 1 of Trump’s presidency.

Republicans have a solution. That’s why, when the House returns after President’s Day, the GOP will try our best to replace your insurance with a HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNT (HSA). We will deliver on our promise to the American people, to take away your health insurance to help pay for a massive new tax cut for the wealthy. Yes, we lied about that whole populism thing. Health Savings Account is the solution.

What will the transition from ObamaCare to TrumpCare be like? Stable or immediate? A stable transition is the opposite of what our HSA “plan” calls for. Our efforts will ensure protections for the most vulnerable are eviscerated.

We have a “Better Way” to take away your health insurance. Our replacement plan ensures more tax cuts for millionaires (and billionaires too) and no access to health care for you. Specifically, our “plan”:
– Moves health care decisions away from patients, their families, and their doctors.
– Provides nothing for the 32 million people who would lose insurance under our plan.
– Gives patients Health Savings Accounts, which have no real value for anyone but the wealthy. This is the Republican BETTER WAY!
– Allows those who don’t receive insurance from an employer or government program t have access to quality coverage, if their parent or spouse is a plutocrat.
– Eliminates Medicaid to prevent the most vulnerable from having access to quality health care.

Obamacare is hurting more millionaires and billionaires than it is helping:
– Premiums have gone up by an average of 25 percent this year, if you run the numbers using an abacus.
– Republicans opposed a public option, so nearly 1/3 of all U.S. counties have only one insurer offering plans on their state’s exchange.
– Under Obamacare, we have a new class of uninsured-those paying the penalty because they can’t afford the plans, and those who ae buying plans that have sky-high pemiums and deductibles, prohibiting their access to actually receiving care.

Our “BETTER WAY” Trumpcare plan does nothing for them. Why? We love deductibles. We feel like it’s important now to end $1 Trillion in new taxes for the billionaires who fund our election campaigns.

House Republicans are working hand-in-hand with the new Trump administration to strip health insurance from 32 Million Americans.

There are three different ways we are working to take away your health insurance so our wealthy friends can get another tax cut:
1. Repeal and Replace legislation (Check back in the year 2033)
2. Action from the Trump Administration: (Whatever Russia does for US health insurance)
3. Delivering Solutions through A Trump Executive Order: (Check with President Steve Bannon, since he is the person calling the shots in the White House)

Conclusion: The election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, along with the retention of Republican majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, portend major changes for U.S. healthcare, including the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. President Trump and the GOP is keeping our promise!!

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story

I’m a storyteller. And I would like to tell you a few personal stories about what I like to call “the danger of the single story.”

I grew up on a university campus in eastern Nigeria. My mother says that I started reading at the age of two, although I think four is probably close to the truth. So I was an early reader, and what I read were British and American children’s books.
I was also an early writer, and when I began to write, at about the age of seven, stories in pencil with crayon illustrations that my poor mother was obligated to read, I wrote exactly the kinds of stories I was reading: All my characters were white and blue-eyed, they played in the snow, they ate apples,
and they talked a lot about the weather, how lovely it was that the sun had come out.
Now, this despite the fact that I lived in Nigeria. I had never been outside Nigeria. We didn’t have snow, we ate mangoes, and we never talked about the weather, because there was no need to.
My characters also drank a lot of ginger beer, because the characters in the British books I read drank ginger beer. Never mind that I had no idea what ginger beer was.
And for many years afterwards, I would have a desperate desire to taste ginger beer. But that is another story.
What this demonstrates, I think, is how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children. Because all I had read were books in which characters were foreign, I had become convinced that books by their very nature had to have foreigners in them and had to be about things with which I could not personally identify. Now, things changed when I discovered African books. There weren’t many of them available, and they weren’t quite as easy to find as the foreign books.
But because of writers like Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye, I went through a mental shift in my perception of literature. I realized that people like me, girls with skin the color of chocolate, whose kinky hair could not form ponytails, could also exist in literature. I started to write about things I recognized.
Now, I loved those American and British books I read. They stirred my imagination. They opened up new worlds for me. But the unintended consequence was that I did not know that people like me could exist in literature. So what the discovery of African writers did for me was this: It saved me from having a single story of what books are.
I come from a conventional, middle-class Nigerian family. My father was a professor. My mother was an administrator. And so we had, as was the norm, live-in domestic help, who would often come from nearby rural villages. So, the year I turned eight, we got a new house boy. His name was Fide. The only thing my mother told us about him was that his family was very poor. My mother sent yams and rice, and our old clothes, to his family. And when I didn’t finish my dinner, my mother would say, “Finish your food! Don’t you know? People like Fide’s family have nothing.” So I felt enormous pity for Fide’s family.
Then one Saturday, we went to his village to visit, and his mother showed us a beautifully patterned basket made of dyed raffia that his brother had made. I was startled. It had not occurred to me that anybody in his family could actually make something. All I had heard about them was how poor they were, so that it had become impossible for me to see them as anything else but poor. Their poverty was my single story of them.
Years later, I thought about this when I left Nigeria to go to university in the United States. I was 19. My American roommate was shocked by me. She asked where I had learned to speak English so well, and was confused when I said that Nigeria happened to have English as its official language. She asked if she could listen to what she called my “tribal music,” and was consequently very disappointed when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey.
She assumed that I did not know how to use a stove.
What struck me was this: She had felt sorry for me even before she saw me. Her default position toward me, as an African, was a kind of patronizing, well-meaning pity. My roommate had a single story of Africa: a single story of catastrophe. In this single story, there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her in any way, no possibility of feelings more complex than pity, no possibility of a connection as human equals.
I must say that before I went to the U.S., I didn’t consciously identify as African. But in the U.S., whenever Africa came up, people turned to me. Never mind that I knew nothing about places like Namibia. But I did come to embrace this new identity, and in many ways I think of myself now as African. Although I still get quite irritable when Africa is referred to as a country, the most recent example being my otherwise wonderful flight from Lagos two days ago, in which there was an announcement on the Virgin flight about the charity work in “India, Africa and other countries.”
So, after I had spent some years in the U.S. as an African, I began to understand my roommate’s response to me. If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa were from popular images, I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves and waiting to be saved by a kind, white foreigner. I would see Africans in the same way that I, as a child, had seen Fide’s family.
This single story of Africa ultimately comes, I think, from Western literature. Now, here is a quote from the writing of a London merchant called John Lok, who sailed to west Africa in 1561 and kept a fascinating account of his voyage. After referring to the black Africans as “beasts who have no houses,” he writes, “They are also people without heads, having their mouth and eyes in their breasts.”
Now, I’ve laughed every time I’ve read this. And one must admire the imagination of John Lok. But what is important about his writing is that it represents the beginning of a tradition of telling African stories in the West: A tradition of Sub-Saharan Africa as a place of negatives, of difference, of darkness, of people who, in the words of the wonderful poet Rudyard Kipling, are “half devil, half child.”
And so, I began to realize that my American roommate must have throughout her life seen and heard different versions of this single story, as had a professor, who once told me that my novel was not “authentically African.” Now, I was quite willing to contend that there were a number of things wrong with the novel, that it had failed in a number of places, but I had not quite imagined that it had failed at achieving something called African authenticity. In fact, I did not know what African authenticity was. The professor told me that my characters were too much like him, an educated and middle-class man. My characters drove cars. They were not starving. Therefore they were not authentically African.
But I must quickly add that I too am just as guilty in the question of the single story. A few years ago, I visited Mexico from the U.S. The political climate in the U.S. at the time was tense, and there were debates going on about immigration. And, as often happens in America, immigration became synonymous with Mexicans. There were endless stories of Mexicans as people who were fleecing the healthcare system, sneaking across the border, being arrested at the border, that sort of thing.
I remember walking around on my first day in Guadalajara, watching the people going to work, rolling up tortillas in the marketplace, smoking, laughing. I remember first feeling slight surprise. And then, I was overwhelmed with shame. I realized that I had been so immersed in the media coverage of Mexicans that they had become one thing in my mind, the abject immigrant. I had bought into the single story of Mexicans and I could not have been more ashamed of myself.
So that is how to create a single story, show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.
It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. There is a word, an Igbo word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structures of the world, and it is “nkali.” It’s a noun that loosely translates to “to be greater than another.” Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali: How they are told, who tells them, when they’re told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power.
Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. The Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes that if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with, “secondly.” Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have an entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story.
I recently spoke at a university where a student told me that it was such a shame that Nigerian men were physical abusers like the father character in my novel. I told him that I had just read a novel called “American Psycho” —
— and that it was such a shame that young Americans were serial murderers.
Now, obviously I said this in a fit of mild irritation.
But it would never have occurred to me to think that just because I had read a novel in which a character was a serial killer that he was somehow representative of all Americans. This is not because I am a better person than that student, but because of America’s cultural and economic power, I had many stories of America. I had read Tyler and Updike and Steinbeck and Gaitskill. I did not have a single story of America.
When I learned, some years ago, that writers were expected to have had really unhappy childhoods to be successful, I began to think about how I could invent horrible things my parents had done to me.
But the truth is that I had a very happy childhood, full of laughter and love, in a very close-knit family.
But I also had grandfathers who died in refugee camps. My cousin Polle died because he could not get adequate healthcare. One of my closest friends, Okoloma, died in a plane crash because our fire trucks did not have water. I grew up under repressive military governments that devalued education, so that sometimes, my parents were not paid their salaries. And so, as a child, I saw jam disappear from the breakfast table, then margarine disappeared, then bread became too expensive, then milk became rationed. And most of all, a kind of normalized political fear invaded our lives.
All of these stories make me who I am. But to insist on only these negative stories is to flatten my experience and to overlook the many other stories that formed me. The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.
Of course, Africa is a continent full of catastrophes: There are immense ones, such as the horrific rapes in Congo and depressing ones, such as the fact that 5,000 people apply for one job vacancy in Nigeria. But there are other stories that are not about catastrophe, and it is very important, it is just as important, to talk about them.
I’ve always felt that it is impossible to engage properly with a place or a person without engaging with all of the stories of that place and that person. The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.
So what if before my Mexican trip, I had followed the immigration debate from both sides, the U.S. and the Mexican? What if my mother had told us that Fide’s family was poor and hardworking? What if we had an African television network that broadcast diverse African stories all over the world? What the Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe calls “a balance of stories.”
What if my roommate knew about my Nigerian publisher, Muhtar Bakare, a remarkable man who left his job in a bank to follow his dream and start a publishing house? Now, the conventional wisdom was that Nigerians don’t read literature. He disagreed. He felt that people who could read, would read, if you made literature affordable and available to them.
Shortly after he published my first novel, I went to a TV station in Lagos to do an interview, and a woman who worked there as a messenger came up to me and said, “I really liked your novel. I didn’t like the ending. Now, you must write a sequel, and this is what will happen …”
And she went on to tell me what to write in the sequel. I was not only charmed, I was very moved. Here was a woman, part of the ordinary masses of Nigerians, who were not supposed to be readers. She had not only read the book, but she had taken ownership of it and felt justified in telling me what to write in the sequel.
Now, what if my roommate knew about my friend Funmi Iyanda, a fearless woman who hosts a TV show in Lagos, and is determined to tell the stories that we prefer to forget? What if my roommate knew about the heart procedure that was performed in the Lagos hospital last week? What if my roommate knew about contemporary Nigerian music, talented people singing in English and Pidgin, and Igbo and Yoruba and Ijo, mixing influences from Jay-Z to Fela to Bob Marley to their grandfathers.
What if my roommate knew about the female lawyer who recently went to court in Nigeria to challenge a ridiculous law that required women to get their husband’s consent before renewing their passports? What if my roommate knew about Nollywood, full of innovative people making films despite great technical odds, films so popular that they really are the best example of Nigerians consuming what they produce? What if my roommate knew about my wonderfully ambitious hair braider, who has just started her own business selling hair extensions? Or about the millions of other Nigerians who start businesses and sometimes fail, but continue to nurse ambition?
Every time I am home I am confronted with the usual sources of irritation for most Nigerians: our failed infrastructure, our failed government, but also by the incredible resilience of people who thrive despite the government, rather than because of it. I teach writing workshops in Lagos every summer, and it is amazing to me how many people apply, how many people are eager to write, to tell stories.
My Nigerian publisher and I have just started a non-profit called Farafina Trust, and we have big dreams of building libraries and refurbishing libraries that already exist and providing books for state schools that don’t have anything in their libraries, and also of organizing lots and lots of workshops, in reading and writing, for all the people who are eager to tell our many stories.
Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.
The American writer Alice Walker wrote this about her Southern relatives who had moved to the North. She introduced them to a book about the Southern life that they had left behind. “They sat around, reading the book themselves, listening to me read the book, and a kind of paradise was regained.”
I would like to end with this thought: That when we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.
Thank you.

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Why Are The Dutch So Good At English? #ASMSG #edchat #bilingual

Ming Chen
Chief Culture Officer, EF Education First
Source: Huffington Post

They’re overwhelmingly tall. They ride their bikes everywhere (without helmets). They’ve conquered sea level. And now, they’re ranked #1 in English. In the most recent EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI) ranking, the Netherlands came in 1st out of 72 countries in English skills. 90 percent of respondents in the Netherlands claim to know English. It can’t just be their astoundingly liberal policies about weed that put Dutch so high in the rankings. These results beg the question: Why are the Dutch so damn good at English?

Small country, big voice

This tiny country of 17 million people punches well above its weight with the 17th largest GDP in the world, and the 5th largest in the EU, according to the IMF. While South America or the Middle East can rely on a sizable Spanish-speaking or Arabic-speaking market to drive growth, there are 27 million Dutch speakers—and 2 billion English speakers. And so the Dutch have needed to learn English to enter the global market.

Brad Pitt and Fred Flintstone speak English

The Netherlands doesn’t dub foreign language TV and movies. As a result, Dutch children grow up hearing English in popular culture from a very early age. Countries with a large enough audience for dubbed TV programs and movies, like France or Germany, dub everything, and as a result, have much less success in integrating English into their cultural life. Dubbing seems to render people linguistically numb to foreign languages, a condition the Dutch have successfully avoided.

Where there’s business, there’s English

The Dutch have always been enterprising—the Dutch East India Company was established as the world’s first multinational company in 1602. That same year, the first modern stock exchange was set up in Amsterdam to facilitate international trade. The country’s business-friendly legacy lives on as many iconic multinational companies (Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever, Heineken, and IKEA) are headquartered in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is in a self-perpetuating cycle where strong English leads to strong business, which in turn encourages the best English proficiency in the world.


The Flying Dutch

While the Flying Dutchman is the stuff of legends, make no mistake: the Dutch love to travel. The education giant, EF Education First, has witnessed steady growth in the Netherlands of students who travel abroad and take gap years since EF’s Amsterdam office opened in 1970. English opens doors not just economically, but also for the average Dutch tourist, and so it’s no wonder why there’s interest in this global language.

The Dutch advantage

Before any English test, the Dutch can thank their linguistic ancestors. Dutch is a Germanic language, just like English, and so they share many roots and characteristics. De? The. Bier? Beer. Wafel? Waffel. While many language families don’t talk at the dinner table, cross-language similarities give the Dutch something to say when it comes to learning English.

The Dutch have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to English skills —and benefit from it enormously. Anyone who remembers that New York was once New Amsterdam will know that the adventurous Dutch have always been a country with global ambitions.Countries a little further down the EF EPI’s English rankings ladder should pay attention. The Netherlands is a great example of how a country’s English proficiency can make it globally competitive and future-friendly. Adds a whole new meaning to the phrase “going Dutch,” doesn’t it?

[Full disclosure:The writer is married to a Dutch man who speaks excellent English.]


Ming ChenChief Culture Officer, EF Education First

Ming is Chief Culture Officer at EF Education First, the world’s largest privately-held international education company focused on language, travel, and cultural experiences. As EF’s Chief Culture Officer, Ming holds the ‘secret sauce’ recipe of EF’s extraordinary culture which has helped the company grow from a small entrepreneurial business based in Sweden to a multinational conglomerate that spans 53 countries and employs more than 43,000 staff and teachers in more than 500 schools and offices. She has been closely affiliated with the EF’s English Proficiency Index ( ). Ming has helped to position the Hult International Business School ( , a new kind of business school for the global generation.

Ming is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School.
In her spare time, Ming runs (58 marathons) writes children’s books (Sassparilla’s New Shoes and Ling Ling Looked in the Mirror) and is in awe of her children. She sits on the board of the Keswick Foundation, a philanthropic organization, the Hong Kong Forum, and is an ambassador for Sweaty Betty ( a terrific yoga and running gear brand.

Ming and her identical twin sister were tickled to discover that they appear as vampires in Melissa de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods’ series as Deming Chen, Angel of Mercy, and Dehua Chen, Angel of Immortality.

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An Open Letter To The #Electors Of The #ElectoralCollege From A Concerned #Citizen

Jewish & Nazi Shoah U-Boat Catchers: An Amazing Tale of Holocaust Betrayal in World War II by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]Jewish & Nazi Shoah U-Boat Catchers

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ~ Elie Wiesel

At first glance, my book seems to have no bearing on the matter at hand. I beg your indulgence. I wrote this book in January, 2016, a fictional story with a moral dilemma that stretches the limits of the imagination. I challenge the reader(s) to put themselves in the shoes of the protagonist, to take sides, to experience the choices taken. I ask the reader to feel what it is like to have to make a choice between unsatisfactory options, as we have recently done. This we share. It is our common ground.


No one faithful to our history can deny that the plan originally contemplated . . . that electors would be free agents, to exercise an independent and nonpartisan judgment as to the men best qualified for the Nation’s highest offices.”


RAY V. BLAIR, 343 U.S. 214, 232 (1952) (JACKSON, J., DISSENTING)

If you’re a conscientious Elector, and you’d like advice or support, send an email to


Dear Elector,

My name is Thomas Jerome Baker from El Cajón, CA.

Thank you for this unique opportunity to communicate directly with you.

Regarding Donald Trump, I am a concerned citizen, participating in the electoral process. I have read, and re-read, Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Papers No. 68. Titled: “The Mode Of Electing The President, published Wednesday, March 14, 1788. Author: Alexander Hamilton.

Hamilton writes: “It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any preestablished body, but to men chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture…A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.” (end of quote)

Ladies and gentlemen of the electoral college, you are the chosen ones for this awesome responsibility of electing the next President of the United States of America. I greet you with pride, I salute you one and all.

After much careful reading and reflection, I sincerely believe that Hamilton’s intent was for Presidential Electors to be responsible for protecting our nation’s future and ensuring that the next President is the best person for the job.

It was Alexander Hamilton’s vision, that the Electoral College should, when necessary, act as a constitutional failsafe against those Lacking The Qualification from becoming President. Using Hamilton’s wise guidance, I ask three questions:

1. Is Donald Trump qualified to be President of the United States of America?

He is not only unqualified, he is unfit for the office of president. For example, he has never held any elected office in his life. The presidency of the United States will be his first elected office. In contrast, as a businessman, Donald Trump would not hire Candidate Trump to run one of his businesses. Reason: Lack of experience. We can not, we must not apply a lower standard to the office of president than we would apply for one of Mr. Trump’s businesses. No, we must not desecrate the office in this way.

Nonetheless, it is possible that Mr. Trump is a winner. Maybe he is a person who has acquired exceptional knowledge, skills, and abilities in an unconventional way. So, let us take a long, hard look at the life experience which Mr. Trump brings with him to the presidency, to the office of Most Powerful Man On The Planet:


2. Is Donald Trump a demagogue?

Yes. A demagogue is, “a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people.” (end of quote)


Again, yes. Donald Trump is a demagogue.

Further, his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again”, shows no awareness that America has never stopped being great! The USA is admired and respected all around the globe. America past, present, and future, is still the land of dreams, the American dream. It is still the land where the circumstances of your birth do not determine your destiny. My America, Your America, Our America has never stopped being great! We reject Trump’s demagoguery here and now.



3. Is Donald Trump under the influence of a foreign power?

Yes. Yes, Donald Trump is under the influence of a foreign power, Russia, and in particular, Vladimir Putin.

According to public documents, he owes tremendous sums of money to foreign banks. Further, he has business dealings in foreign countries. His tax return? He never made it public. Congress recently made public the extensive foreign interference in our recent election. Trump denies that the KGB, Putin, Wikileaks, all played a hand in the election. Again, public documents contradict Mr. Trump.

In sum, he owes a debt of gratitude to foreign powers. Moreover, his business dealings in foreign lands make him susceptible to the intrigues of foreign powers and his own personal self-interest. The American people will never know if Trump is acting in the interest of America or in the interest of Donald Trump.

This is a genuine disqualification for the presidency on constitutional grounds. On Day 1 of his presidency, he would be impeachable for the above reasons. Electors, reject him now, sooner, rather than later. If you wait until later, he will have to go to jail.

In sum:

I Accuse President-Elect Donald J. Trump of being constitutionally unelectable.

1. I Accuse President-Elect Donald J. Trump of being unqualified and unfit for office.

2. I Accuse President-Elect Donald J. Trump of being a demagogue.

3. I Accuse President-Elect Donald J. Trump of being under the influence of a foreign power.

His election is untenable, and a desecration to the ideals of democracy which the Founding Fathers carefully crafted so long ago. Electors, it is clearly your sacred duty to reject Donald J. Trump on constitutional grounds.

There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Donald J. Trump is the man who Alexander Hamilton has been waiting for all these years.

Trump is the man that Hamilton had in mind when he wrote the Federalist Papers No. 68. As an author, Hamilton’s wise voice comes to us all, to me, to you, to the Electors, gently whispering the words of wisdom that you must follow in order to save the USA from the future deeds and misdeeds and damage that a man like Donald Trump would surely inflict upon our great country.


We are Americans. We are not waiting, we have not been waiting, we will never be waiting, for one man, a demagogue like Donald J. Trump, to “Make America Great Again.”

The Founding Fathers already made it great. The blood, tears, and sacrifice of patriots have kept America Great across the centuries. We reject Donald J. Trump’s claim. America Is Great, Today, Yesterday, and All the Days to Come!

Electors, ladies and gentlemen, heed the words of Alexander Hamilton, himself an immigrant to America. I wonder and ponder a simple question: Would Alexander Hamilton, the immigrant from the Caribbean island of Nevis, would he even have a place in Mr. Trump’s America?

No, sad, but true. The evidence from the Trump campaign suggests that Alexander Hamilton, the man with his picture on the $10 dollar bill, he would be lucky just to get a travel visa to the USA in Mr. Trump’s, “America.”

Electors, have the courage to do what must be done. The fate of the republic is in your hands.

Democrats and Republicans, Electors, Patriots, put aside your party and put America first!

Electors have already come forward calling upon other Electors from “red states” and “blue states” to unite behind a Responsible Republican candidate for the good of the nation.

A MAJORITY of voters, 54%, voted AGAINST Mr. TRUMP in the recent election.


I repeat: 54% of the voters who went to the polls voted AGAINST Donald John Trump. Mr. Trump represents a minority of the voters, a significant minority. Trump, the “winner”, got 2.84 MILLION fewer votes than the second place candidate, Secretary Clinton. Donald Trump has No Mandate!

Let me repeat: Mr. Trump has NO MANDATE from the American people. It is absurd to think otherwise.

Electors, have the courage to do your constitutional duty!

Unite behind a responsible, Republican candidate.

If you do this, a thousand years from now it will be written that what truly makes America Great is the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, always present in the Constitution, which has guided this great country across the centuries of our existence.

Electors, I beseech you, I implore you, I beg you: Do Your Sacred Duty!

The eyes of the world are upon you, and should you fail, history will judge you harshly.

Do your constitutional duty, and history will record your names for all posterity in the hearts and minds and souls of the American people.

Ladies and gentlemen, “Do. Your. Sacred. Duty!

May God Bless You One And All.

Thank you kindly for your time and consideration.

I appreciate and respect the role you serve in our electoral process.

Thomas Jerome Baker




Pennsylvania Loses 22k Votes Prior to Jill Stein Recount Effort
#CroweNation Explains What Happened

Posted in Authors, Debates, Education, human-rights, Politics, Reading, Reflections, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Connectivism: A Theory of Learning for a Digital Age

Oxford University Press

Collectivism word cloudIn this guest post, Thomas Baker, a teacher and teacher trainer in Chile, and President of TESOL Chile, introduces the concept of digital connectivism and the impact it has on teachers and students of the English language.

[Image courtesy of wlonline, via Flickr]

Connectivism has been called, “A Learning Theory for the Digital Age” (Siemens, 2005).  I aim to share what I have learned about connectivism,  and what it means for English Language Teaching.

What I share comes from a Massive Open On-line Course (MOOC) called, Connectivism and Connected Knowledge 2011 (CCK11).  The course facilitators are George Siemens and Stephen Downes.  Siemens first wrote about connectivism in 2005.  Since then, he and Downes have worked together to develop the theory and practice of connectivism.  The CCK11 course is where I enter the picture, as a learner and EFL teacher.

In this post, I will do three things:

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How To #Teach Literature: The Role of Close #Reading In Teaching English Language Learners To Read Complex Texts

How To Teach Literature: The Role of Close Reading In Teaching English Language Learners To Read Complex Texts by [Baker, Thomas Jerome] How To Teach Literature:

What Is Literature?

If what we read entertains us, speaks to us, or makes us aware of the human condition, then it is literature.

How to best teach literature?

I share my knowledge about teaching literature, gained from 15 years teaching experience.

This book is intended for students of English Language and Literature Teaching.

New and experienced teachers will find it a useful resource also. Informed by theory and practice, it explores current approaches of teaching close reading of complex texts.

It is applicable to instructional settings from middle school to university. It promotes integrated teaching of the four skills. Critical literacy is promoted for engaging with and interpreting literary and informational texts. Readers will have opportunities to engage with poetry, fiction, and informational texts.

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Conflicted Elector in a Corrupt College

#ElectoralCollege Elector Says: “My Conscience Will Not Allow Me To Vote For #Trump” #Hillary Won #PopularVote By LARGEST Margin In US History – More Than 2 Million Votes

The Blessed Path

When running for the Presidential Elector Nominee some six months ago, I had no idea the conflict that would ensue both from without and within. To say that it has been an “educating experience” would be an understatement. I embarked on this journey with a basic understanding of the difference between a republic and a pure democracy. I knew the Constitutional Fathers[1]  set up our government as the former and not the latter[2]. They had wisdom we lack. In my speech before the convention, I mentioned that nothing exemplified the difference between these two forms of the government more than the Electoral College. I admit, at the time, I was ignorant how deeply that held true.

Republic vs Democracy

The essence of a republic is that the authority rests in elected representatives, not in the people directly.  Noah Webster defined a republic as,

“A commonwealth; a state…

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#ASMSG Why Bob Dylan’s Songs Are Literature

How has Bob Dylan redefined the way we look at literature? His win is certainly the culmination of a lifetime of writing. No doubt, we are invited to expand our definition of literature. Further, we could begin to see a renewed interest in literary forms within the lyrics of songs.

But songs?

Can songs be literature?

In my book, How To Teach Literature, and in the view of the Nobel Prize Committee, the answer to that question is: Yes.

Songs can be literature. Yes, a song is literature.

It only took the Nobel Committee 20 years of deliberation to reach that conclusion.

In the following article, author and editor Craig Morgan Teicher addresses what is no longer a debatable issue, namely: Why Bob Dylan’s Songs Are Literature.

by Craig Morgan Teicher | October 14, 2016 | New Republic

Yesterday, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the writers I know were either horrified or overjoyed. I am in the latter group, a tremendous Dylan fan, though I came to his music not as a teenager but later in life, around the time I had my first child.

But everyone who loves Dylan loves him for his or her own reasons, and enumerating those reasons seems beside the point. After all, Dylan doesn’t need the Nobel to prove his lasting cultural importance. What’s interesting about this Nobel pick is the question it raises: Can music be literature?

My favorite comment about Dylan’s Nobel win came from the poet Matthew Zapruder, who, in response to people complaining that Dylan is not a poet, wrote on Facebook, “Ok, I agree it’s not poetry, but it’s NOT THE NOBEL PRIZE IN POETRY.”

Is Bob Dylan a poet?

No, I don’t think so. But is his work literature? Yes, absolutely, and literature is what the Nobel Prize is for.

His body of work adds up to some of the central literature of our time. And that must include the music that accompanied his lyrics, since lyrics by themselves are not poetry.

There is a common sense that poetry exists in a world of pure language, but a poem is, in fact, both the music and the words. Poetry’s sonic aspects—such as syllable sounds, rhyme, rhythm, assonance, dissonance, and meter—are meant to “accompany” the content, to set the mood, to refer to and elicit a sensory experience related to the emotions and images of the poem. They also refer back to the long history of language, echoing sounds and rhythms of the past, placing the poem in history, linking it to a timeless tradition. Dylan’s lyrics alone don’t compare to a poem, but a complete song—words, music, arrangement, instrumentation, all of it taken together—does.

(Now, this thesis introduces some complications: Does “song” mean a particular performance, a recording of a song, or even musical notation—the abstract idea of the song performed? For now, let’s presume we’re speaking of song recordings, which like books sit on the shelf and are more or less fixed in time.)

Dylan’s lyrics use more poetic techniques than practically anyone’s (Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell are his only peers in the American songwriting canon), but they are not poems, because, without the music to back them up, they don’t have that depth of reference and history that qualifies them as literature.

But if Dylan’s lyrics aren’t quite poems, they’re pretty damn close. Take the first verse of “Desolation Row,” a song that is really a catalog of literary allusions:

Cinderella, she seems so easy.
“It takes one to know one,” she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets
Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he’s moaning
“You Belong to Me I Believe”
And someone says, “You’re in the wrong place my friend
You better leave”
And the only sound that’s left
After the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up
On Desolation Row

This is a song written in what the poet Lucie Brock-Broido would call “long-haired couplets”: long lines that rhyme in groups of twos. (Except Dylan prints each line broken in half, presumably because that’s how they’re stretched over the melody of the song. Poetry is also about how form relates to content.)

This verse is obviously rife with allusion (Cinderella and Romeo meet up here, and Ophelia, Robin Hood, and a host of other famous characters come up later in the song).

As in the best contemporary poetry, Dylan mixes ancient and modern (Cinderella, meet Bette Davis), the quotidian (“back pockets,” “ambulances”), the elevated (Romeo), and the kind of memorable one-liners that lyrics need to be instantly apprehended (“You better leave”).

But Dylan’s got more than allusions and a sense of how words register. In his late masterpiece “Not Dark Yet,” a song about facing mortality, Dylan writes,

“[I] Feel like my soul has turned into steel / I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal.”

A steel soul is a powerful metaphor for the deadness that comes with age and loss. And if we want to get more technical about it, “steel” here is an objective correlative, T.S. Eliot’s fancy term for an object that signifies an emotion. The cold, unreflecting, inflexible metal, if you conjure it in your mind, makes you feel lonely and tired. That’s the stuff of poetry.

His music is equally literary. Dylan’s sources for the forms, styles, melodies, and even chord changes of his songs are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old—he’s always been an unparalleled interpreter of traditional songs, even as he’s deeply innovated song form. Perhaps his greatest technical innovation comes in lengthy tirades like “Desolation Row” and “Idiot Wind,” parades of repeated verse-chorus-verse structures that remind me of nothing so much as the epic poems of Homer.

Those poems were cast in rhyming stanzas so they could be transmitted orally over generations before they were written down.

Dylan saw a new use for that old form, soldering it to folk- and blues-based music. Homer catalogued the heroes and villains of ancient battles; Dylan does the same with the tropes and myths of his changing times.

Leadbelly with Accordeon.jpgIf Seamus Heaney, himself a Nobel laureate, sourced his voices and rhythms to predecessors like Keats and Yeats and Wordsworth, then Dylan finds his in Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie, as well as the writings of his contemporaries, the Beats (who were influenced by Blake and Baudelaire and Whitman), and the jazz musicians of the 1950s and 60s.

And, of course, just as Dylan was inspired by the writers of his youth, so have most of the writers of the last half-century been inspired by Dylan; his fingerprint is everywhere in literature.

Dylan is like Homer in another significant way. His anonymous sources in the deep history of folk and blues mirror the influences of the ancient poet, who may or may not have been one writer, but who doubtlessly drew together the Greek myths to form The Iliad and The Odyssey.

No, Dylan isn’t a writer of literary books. But perhaps no living artist has shaped the American soul, or plumbed its depths, as profoundly as Bob Dylan. And what’s literature for if not that?

Source: The New Republic

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#BobDylan Wins The #Nobel #Prize For #Literature: “Art is a river that we drink from but do not own”

How To Teach Literature: The Role of Close Reading In Teaching English Language Learners To Read Complex Texts by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]

Press Release

13 October 2016 – The Nobel Prize in Literature 2016: The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016 is awarded to Bob Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

Bob Dylan won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, and I may be one of the few people on Earth who was not surprised, not shocked, not astonished by the news. Really. I wrote about Bob Dylan in Chapter 2 of this book. I noted that if he didn’t win in 2016, then he would win in 2017. If not 2017, then 2020 would be all right.

Bob Dylan winning the Noble Prize for Literature was clearly inevitable. In his case, it’s sooner rather than later. Wait. It’s later rather than sooner. Did you know that Bob Dylan was nominated for the Nobel every year since 1996? It took the Nobel Prize Committee 20 years to have the courage to recognize that Bob Dylan had redefined the notion of what literature is.

What is literature?

In my book, How To Teach Literature, I answer that question:

If what we read entertains us, speaks to us, or makes us aware of the human condition, then it is literature. With Bob Dylan finally winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, my definition is not even debatable. As Dylan has written, “The Times They Are A’Changing.” Teachers of literature need to change with the times and broaden our horizons on what we consider to be, “literature.”

How to best teach literature? That’s what my book is about. Specifically, I share my knowledge about teaching literature, gained from 15 years teaching experience. This book is intended for students of English Language and Literature Teaching. New and experienced teachers will find it a useful resource also.

Informed by theory and practice, it explores current approaches of teaching close reading of complex texts. It is applicable to instructional settings from middle school to university. It promotes integrated teaching of the four skills. Critical literacy is promoted for engaging with and interpreting literary and informational texts. Readers will have opportunities to engage with poetry, fiction, and informational texts.

What if you disagree with Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature? What if you disagree with my definition of literature? Then, in that case, both Bob Dylan and myself would hope that you treat us kind.

In the words of Bob Dylan, “I can write you poems, make a strong man lose his mind / I’m no pig without a wig, I hope you treat me kind.”

High Water (For Charley Patton)

High water risin’ – risin’ night and day
all the gold and silver are being stolen away
big joe turner lookin’ east and west

from the dark room of his mind
he made it to kansas city
twelfth street and vine
nothing standing there
high water everywhere
High water risin’, the shacks are slidin’ down
folks lose their possessions – folks are leaving town
bertha mason shook it – broke it
then she hung it on a wall
says, “you’re dancin’ with whom they tell you to
or you don’t dance at all.”
it’s tough out there
high water everywhere
I got a cravin’ love for blazing speed
got a hopped up mustang ford
jump into the wagon, love, throw your panties overboard
i can write you poems, make a strong man lose his mind
i’m no pig without a wig
i hope you treat me kind
things are breakin’ up out there
high water everywhere
High water risin’, six inches ‘bove my head
coffins droppin’ in the street
like balloons made out of lead
water pourin’ into vicksburg, don’t know what i’m going to do
“don’t reach out for me,” she said
“can’t you see i’m drownin’ too?”
it’s rough out there
high water everywhere
Well, george lewis told the englishman, the italian and the jew
“you can’t open your mind, boys
to every conceivable point of view.”
they got charles darwin trapped out there on highway five
judge says to the high sheriff,
“i want him dead or alive
either one, i don’t care.”
high water everywhere
The cuckoo is a pretty bird, she warbles as she flies
i’m preachin’ the word of god
i’m puttin’ out your eyes
i asked fat nancy for something to eat, she said, “take it off the shelf –
as great as you are a man,
you’ll never be greater than yourself.”
i told her i didn’t really care
high water everywhere
I’m getting’ up in the morning – i believe i’ll dust my broom
keeping away from the women
i’m givin’ ’em lots of room
thunder rolling over clarksdale, everything is looking blue
i just can’t be happy, love
unless you’re happy too
it’s bad out there
high water everywhere
Writer(s): Bob Dylan

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#IAmWithHer: Why I’m Voting For #HillaryClinton2016


Hillary’s Accomplishments In 30 Years of Public Service

Thirty years is a long time to be a public servant. According to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton hasn’t done anything in 30 years. According to “the Donald”, he thinks he can use Hillary’s husband, President Bill Clinton, to attack Hillary Clinton. I beg to differ.

Donald, I disagree, respectfully, with everything you say, and everything you do.

Donald Trump’s attack on a woman who is running for President of the United States, by referring to her husband’s conduct, is unacceptable to me. In fact, it is reprehensible, and an outrage. I hasten to add, inadmisible, at least for a “real man.”

If “the Donald” were a real man, if “the Donald” truly has an issue with President Bill Clinton, isn’t it the manly thing to do for Donald Trump to take up the issue with Bill Clinton, rather than Bill Clinton’s wife?

Let’s put the shoe on the other foot.

How would “the Donald” feel if President Bill Clinton decided to take up your conduct, with your wife? Melania isn’t running for President of the USA. You are. The Republican Party #GOP candidate is Donald J. Trump.

“The Donald”, you are the one who was caught on camera bragging about kissing women without their consent, and grabbing a woman’s genitals. Let us not forget you were 59 years old at the time, and your wife was pregnant at the time you were bragging to Billy Bush about sexual assault on women.

In the second debate, in St. Louis, you lied about it Donald. First you tried to apologize, but clearly you did not mean the apology (you are never wrong, so you never apologize). You weren’t contrite, you were defiant. You said your bragging was just “locker room talk.” You said it was just “words.”

You said you were just telling a lie, building yourself up by telling a macho story to Billy Bush. Well, words matter. Donald, your words got Billy Bush fired. Now he needs a job. Got any openings Billy can fill?

Words matter Donald. Nancy O’Dell, the woman you objectified with your “locker room talk”, said:

Politics aside, I’m saddened that these comments still exist in our society at all,” she wrote. “When I heard the comments yesterday, it was disappointing to hear such objectification of women. The conversation needs to change because no female, no person, should be the subject of such crass comments, whether or not cameras are rolling. Everyone deserves respect no matter the setting or gender. As a woman who has worked very hard to establish her career, and as a mom, I feel I must speak out with the hope that as a society we will always strive to be better.” (end of quote)

In my experience, athletes don’t talk like that in the locker room. Men don’t talk like that. Not even inexperienced, immature high school boys talk like that.

I don’t know what kind of locker rooms you have been in, but as an athlete who played on football teams, basketball teams, and baseball teams, nobody talked about grabbing a woman’s genitals or kissing women without their consent. Nobody. Not even our “star” players.

Donald, you do know that grabbing a woman’s genitals is a crime, sexual assault? For that kind of behaviour, you can go to jail. Even you, Donald Trump. You could be locked up for a long time. So in that second debate in St. Louis, you were wise to deny that your words were true. It would have gotten you locked up in St. Louis if you had confirmed your words. But of course, it was only “locker room talk.”

Donald Trump, I read somewhere that Mark Cuban, owner of NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, offered you ten $10 million dollars for a 4-hour interview about your policies. He said he would give the money to a charity of your choice, or, he would write the check to you if you need the money. Donald, you could talk with Mark Cuban about your “locker room” policy on how you talk about women. Let me quote Mark Cuban:

“$10mm to the charity of YOUR choice if you let ME interview you for 4 hrs on YOUR policies and their substance,” Cuban wrote.

Groundrules are that you can’t mention the Clintons or discuss anything other than the details and facts of [your] plans and no one else is in the room to help,” he continued. “Just me, you and a broadcast crew. Deal?”

Donald, it is certain that there is more damaging audio and videos out there that are yet to be brought to the light of day, so going to jail for sexual assault is still a reality for you. But wait.

Just because somebody accuses you of wrongdoing, it doesn’t mean you are guilty, does it? Of course not, especially if there is”absolutely no merit to the allegations, and the matter was ultimately settled without any finding of liability and without any admission of wrongdoing whatsoever.” Wouldn’t you agree?

Then why does it not work the same way for President Bill Clinton?

Why does it not work the same way for the Central Park Five?

Donald, does the law work one way for you, and another way for other people?

You got a trial. President Bill Clinton got a trial. The Central Park Five got a trial.

Donald, are any Black people still hounding you about the outcome of your trial? There was no merit to the allegations, you settled that case with no admission of wrongdoing. And Black people are not hounding you accusing you of a crime. You answered your accusers in court. You defended yourself.

Isn’t that what happened to President Bill Clinton?

Isn’t that what happened to the Central Park Five? Wait, that isn’t what happened to the Central Park Five. They were wrongfully convicted of a murder they did not commit.  The Central Park Five sued the city for their wrongful prosecution and received a $40 million settlement in 2014, $1 million for every year of their lives wrongfully spent behind bars. Shortly after the news of the settlement broke, Donald Trump published an op-ed in the New York Daily News calling it “a disgrace.”

What is it with you Donald, when you don’t like the way the law works?

Just like you refused to accept the law in the Central Park Five case, you also refused to accept President Obama’s birth certificate, and you also refused to accept the law in President Bill Clinton’s case. In what reality do you live in?

When the law speaks, Donald Trump, whether you like it or no, you have to let people move on with their life. People should not have to publically embarrass you, like President Obama did, before you will accept reality. Sometimes Donald, you lose, and that’s real. That’s the reality people live with.

Of course, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. You would have the opportunity to defend yourself. A defense lawyer would present the evidence that supported your claim of innocence. You could even make a deal, a settlement, a financial arrangement Donald.

You have done that so many times in the past, haven’t you?

According to an analysis by USA Today published in June 2016, over the previous three decades, “Trump and his businesses have been involved in 3,500 legal cases in U.S. federal courts and state court, an unprecedented number for a U.S. presidential candidate“. (source: Wikipedia)

Let’s pivot off of your attack on President Bill Clinton.We both know, he’s been out of office for 17 years now. He’s not running for President. His wife, Hillary Clinton, she is running for President.

You claimed, (quote) “Hillary hadn’t done anything in 30 years.” (end of quote)

So, at the presidential debate in St. Louis that she won (and you lost) I was happy when Secretary Hillary Clinton took the opportunity to clarify her record of public service, in terms of her accomplishments, so clear that even you understood. You called her a fighter, a woman who fights for what she believes in, a woman who never gives up. For once in your life, Donald, you told the truth, fully and completely.

Secretary Hillary Clinton is special. She is all of what you said about her, a fighter, and much more.

When Secretary Hillary Clinton spoke about her accomplishments, it was a moment that made me realize how much she has done for other people in the past 30 years. You lied about her Donald. You tried to paint her as incompetent.

The truth is, Donald Trump, you have done so little, while she has done so much (quote):

Hillary Clinton: “Look, he has now said [about me] repeatedly “30 years this, and 30 years that.” So let me talk about my 30 years in public service. I’m very glad to do so.

  • Eight million kids, every year, have health insurance because when I was First Lady, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to create the children’s health insurance program.
  • Hundreds of thousands of kids now have a chance to be adopted because I worked to change our adoption and foster care system.
  • After 9/11, I went to work with Republican mayor, governor and president to rebuild New York and to get health care for our first responders who were suffering because they had run toward danger and gotten sickened by it.
  • Hundreds of thousands of National Guard and reserve members have health care because of work that I did.
  • And children have safer medicines because I was able to pass a law that required the dosing to be more carefully done.
  • When I was secretary of state, I went around the world advocating for our country, but also advocating for women’s rights to make sure that women had a decent chance to have a better life.
  • And negotiated a treaty with Russia to lower nuclear weapons. 400 pieces of legislation have my name on it as a sponsor or cosponsor when I was a senator for eight years.
  • I worked very hard and was very proud to be re-elected in new York by an even bigger margin than I had been elected the first time.
  • And as president, I will take that work, that bipartisan work, that finding common ground because you have to be able to get along with people to get things done in Washington. I’ve proven that I can and for 30 years, I’ve produced results.”
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