Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Why the Electoral College Should Choose Mitt Romney and Joe Biden

In establishing the Electoral College, our founding fathers created a mechanism intended to achieve two goals:  

     1) to guarantee a minimal level of representation for sparsely populated states 

     2) to ensure that those chosen to serve as President of the United States would be qualified to hold that position.

If our founding fathers intended the Electoral College to be nothing more than a rubber stamp on election day vote tallies, they could have stopped with the first goal ─ making the process no more than a simple mathematical calculation.  Instead, they deliberately inserted a fail-safe protocol requiring electors to validate that every individual ascending to the Presidency have the requisite qualifications and not pose a threat to the foundations of The Republic. 

It is noteworthy that in the weeks leading up to the recent election, virtually every major American news organization across the entire political and ideological spectrum, issued warnings that Donald Trump was unfit, unqualified and a threat to our American democracy. 

Historically conservative publications stood side-by-side with liberal and moderate publications to warn, in unison, of the threat Donald Trump presented to the survival of The Republic.  If that unprecedented confluence of agreement is not enough to alert us that now is the time to invoke the Electoral College's fail-safe mechanism, then when? 

Perhaps the hardest question is not so much about if or when, but how.  My suggestion, in deference to the fact that it was a Republican candidate who won the most number of electoral votes, is that the Electoral College appoint Mitt Romney, the last qualified Republican nominee, to serve as President.  And in a gesture of unity and an acknowledgement that this is an American concern and not a partisan one, that they appoint a Democrat, Joe Biden, to serve as Vice President. 

This plan won't make everybody happy, but it will overcome a looming threat to the very foundations upon which this country was established, and it will do it in the least disruptive and most unifying way.  And, most importantly, it will ensure the preservation of The Republic as the founders intended. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

An appeal to every young person who says they won't vote in this election

POLITICS SUCKS.  So do politicians.  But even though your vote next Tuesday won't improve politics, it will actually mean something this year, because ...

POLICIES MATTER.  Policies transform our lives, for better or for worse.  And these 3 particular policies, which will impact the rest of your life, are going to be decided in next Tuesday's election:

The Democrats want to raise the Federal minimum wage to somewhere between $12 and $15 an hour.  Right now it is at $7.25 an hour.  For a full time job, that means anywhere from an extra $190.00 to $310.00 per week.  Even in those few states which now have a minimum wage of $9 or $10 an hour, workers will take home an extra $80.00 to $240.00 a week.  That's serious money, and because virtually all of it gets spent, it boosts the economy even further, requiring more hiring to keep up with increased sales of goods and services.

By comparison, Republicans oppose the minimum wage and believe that employers should be allowed to set wages at whatever rate the market will bear. 

It takes a college education to land the highest-paying and most satisfying jobs.  But a college education costs almost as much as a house these days, which is why Democrats are proposing to do 2 things:

1) Make college debt-free by providing every student with the ability to get, at a minimum, free tuition at Community Colleges; and also to provide a tuition-free State College option for families who earn less than $125,000 annually.

2) allow the 25 million graduates who already have outstanding college loans to refinance them at lower rates, the same way homeowners can refinance their homes in order to save money

If you are under the age of 40, (which may explain why Republicans deny it even exists), this will be the issue of your lifetime.  What good is a higher wage and a better education if in the near future, the planet is inhospitable to human habitation?  It's not selfish to want breathable air and drinkable water.  And besides lowering our costs and reducing our impact upon the planet, renewable energy is really cool!  And it's an industry that will continue to innovate and create high-paying jobs well into the future.

While there are many other issues which will be affected by the outcome of this election, there are none that will affect your lives more than the 3 above.  If for no other reason, that's why you should vote next Tuesday.  Not because I asked, but because your future depends upon whose policies our country follows.

POLICIES MATTER.  So does your future.

Note:  Presidents can't make policy on their own.  They need the cooperation of the House of Representatives and the Senate in order make changes.  Your vote matters there, too.

Monday, October 31, 2016

To My Progressive-Minded Friends Who are Planning to Vote 3rd Party

If Donald Trump becomes our next President, tens of millions of Americans you care about are going to get hurt, some of them badly and in ways from which they will never fully recover. 

     -- Immigrants, who will constantly be required to prove they belong, yet never treated as if they do

     -- People of color, whose skin will make them targets for those who believe their race or ethnicity makes them inferior and not true Americans

     -- The GLBT community, who will face legally permissible discrimination in every aspect of their daily lives

     -- Women, who will be forced to bring unplanned or unwanted pregnancies to term

     -- The Poor, for whom life will be harder, sicker and shorter -- and for whom opportunities will be fewer

     -- America's school-age children, whose Presidential role model will be a proud poster boy for misogyny and male chauvinism

These tens of millions of tragedies in waiting, are the human costs of a 3rd party vote in 2016.

And do not overlook The Supreme Court, whose beliefs will bear Donald Trump's thumbprint for decades to follow, putting progressive ideals further out of reach for at least another generation.

You've spent your life standing up for social justice.  Standing up for equal rights.  Standing up for fairness.  Now is NOT the time to abandon the people whose rights you have fervently championed; whose lives you have saved.  Now is NOT the time to allow this country to be led by those who would undermine all you have worked to achieve.

I get it.  Hillary isn't Bernie Sanders.  I wholeheartedly agree.

But she isn't Donald Trump, either. 

And no matter what we do or say, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will become our next President.  It's one or the other.

On November 8th, this country will either embrace a movement that is based, in no small part, on people whose beliefs are defined and measured by who they hate -- or they will rebuff it.  
You have the ability to decide that outcome.

In fact, at this point in time, you are probably the only ones who still can.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What have you got to lose?

Enough of the name-calling and bickering. This isn't reality TV. This is an election to determine what the future holds for us, for our children, and for our grandchildren. If the candidates and the media won't act responsibly, then we need to.

A few weeks ago Donald Trump asked the question: "What do you possibly have to lose by electing me?" My first response was "seriously?" But then I realized that virtually the only thing the media was focusing on was what terrible human beings each of the candidates was. Trump because of the widely demonstrated racist, sexist, bigoted and xenophobic attitudes he harbors for women, minorities, immigrants, gays and lesbians. Hillary because she illegally used a private e-mail server while Secretary of State. Yeah, equivalence!

You know, I really couldn't care less about politics or politicians. But I sure do care about how their policies affect me and my family. I think you do, too.  

Here's a news flash: political candidates lie. I know – shocker. Get over it. Their promises don't matter, but the historical actions of their parties, do. If you want to get a glimpse of what your life will be like under each of the candidates, take a look at what their parties stand for. Sort of like what your mother told before you got married – if you want to know what your fiancĂ© will be like in 30 years, take a look at their parents. It's something like that.

So, I decided to take up Donald Trump's challenge and I made up the 2 lists below. The first is a list of 13 things you and I stand to gain if we elect Hilary Clinton. The second is a list of 16 things you and I stand to lose if we elect Donald Trump.  

But first, a little history about what each of the parties supported, opposed and accomplished over the past 2 dozen years. Yes, history matters. As your shrink keeps reminding you, "past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior." That'll be $200, please.  

80 Years ago, Republicans opposed Social Security – and they are still trying to weaken it today. 50 Years ago they opposed Medicare (they still do). 7 Years ago they opposed the Affordable Care Act – the law that has recently helped over 20 million Americans obtain health insurance. Republicans have vowed to repeal it if they get the chance. A Republican President may make that repeal possible, causing 1 out of every 16 Americans to lose their health insurance.

Republicans don't believe that global warming is real, calling it a "hoax", despite the fact that nearly every single climate scientist in the world has warned about the dire consequences we all face if we don't act soon. You know, we've already given our children the lingering gift of the housing crisis, taxpayer-funded bank bailouts, enormous student debt and a near-depression. How selfish would we have to be to hand them a much less hospitable and much less habitable planet as a bonus?  Sorry, I digress.

The Republican view of economics isn't any prettier. Their formula for spurring economic activity is to cut taxes for the wealthiest and for big business. It's called trickle-down economics. If you survived through the George W. Bush years, you know how that theory worked out. The Democrats take a different approach:  cut taxes and increase minimum wages directly for the working class, while raising taxes on the wealthiest amongst us. As Warren Buffett said, it's absurd that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary pays. It's also unfair. 

Eight years ago dozens of banks failed. More had to be bailed out with taxpayer money. Wall Street crashed. Millions of people had lost – or were in the process of losing – their homes, their jobs and their life savings. U.S. businesses were shuttering their doors nearly every single day. Over 2.5 million businesses eventually closed as a result of the financial crash. For one scary weekend in September of 2008, our entire financial system teetered on the brink of total collapse.  

Today, the Obama administration's policies have created over 15 million private sector jobs in the longest streak of job growth ever recorded; the Stock Market has nearly tripled; unemployment has fallen by half; wages have increased; and the banks have been stabilized and regulated. That's a good start.

Looking back through the past few decades, you can clearly see the effect of both approaches. Economic activity soared during Bill Clinton's administration. During George W. Bush's administration, the economy tanked, leading to a near-collapse of our entire financial system and requiring taxpayers to pay for bailing out the banks. Though initially bogged down by the Great Recession, the economy during Barack Obama's administration has significantly recovered with 72 months of uninterrupted, private sector job gains – the longest streak ever recorded.

Many of us lived through all 3 of these administrations and while we may have our political differences, we saw the effect of those policies in our daily lives and on our wallets. What happened during each of those presidencies is not speculation. It is fact. Reflect and remember. As has been said before, "those who do not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it."

If you are concerned about the environment; if you are concerned about the availability of affordable healthcare; if you are concerned about preserving Social Security and Medicare; if you are concerned about preserving a woman's right to choose; if you believe that global warming is real; if you believe that gays and lesbians and all minorities deserve the equal rights promised in our Constitution – then your only way to prevent those beliefs from getting trampled out of existence over the next 4 years is to vote for the person who represents the only party that has championed and fought for those causes.


  • A $15 minimum wage that provides an opportunity for people to work their way out of poverty, instead of a meager wage that sentences them to a life of it. (Republicans oppose the concept of a minimum wage altogether, preferring to let businesses and the free market set wages.) 
  • Debt free state college options (enabling every American to get the education that employers require for good-paying jobs, without taking on a lifetime of debt)
  • A planet that is habitable and hospitable to human life. (Democrats believe global warming is real and that we must act now to preserve our planet. Republicans believe the concept of global warming is a hoax. Go figure.) 
  • A moderate and fair Supreme Court defining our rights, our freedoms and our laws for decades to come.
  • ObamaCare or, if we're lucky, universal healthcare. (Democrats support it.  Republicans obviously don't.)
  • The right for gays and lesbians to marry and be treated as equal citizens under the law. (Democrats support. Republicans don't. Hello? 2016 calling!)
  • A lower share of taxes paid by the middle class and the poor. A higher share of taxes paid by the wealthy. (Republicans skew their tax cuts toward the wealthiest, claiming it will "trickle down" to others. It doesn't. It hasn't. And it never will.) 
  • Preservation and protection of Social Security and Medicare programs. (Republicans call them "entitlement programs". Doesn't that really piss you off?)  
  • Fairness, Equality and Opportunity for all of us, not just for some. (Duh.)
  • A government that actually represents what's best for ordinary citizens rather than what's best for lobbyists, corporations and other moneyed interests. 
  • The aggressive pursuit and expansion of clean energy technologies so we can eventually eliminate our dependence upon fossil fuels. (Democrats support. Republicans don't.)
  • More of the economically sound fiscal policies that pulled us out of the Great Recession; doubled the stock market; put limits on Wall Street banks; reduced the rate of poverty; and created an unprecedented streak of job gains over the past seven years. 
  • The repeal of Citizens United, the law which allows billionaires and corporations to dump unlimited amounts of money into political campaigns in order to elect legislators who will support their interests instead of ours. (Democrats favor repeal. Republicans don't.)


  • Accessible and affordable healthcare for everyone, regardless of income or pre-existing conditions.
  • A hospitable and inhabitable planet.
  • Fairness, equality and opportunity for everyone, not just some. 
  • Regulations on banks, workplace safety and food safety. 
  • Protections for the environment, wildlife, national parks, oceans and waterways.  
  • A woman's right to obtain a safe and legal abortion.
  • Net neutrality, treating and regulating Internet services just like telephone and other monopolistic utilities in order to serve the public interest rather than corporate profits.
  • Especially for minorities, the presumption of innocence, unless and until proven guilty.
  • The Constitutional right for all American citizens to cast their vote with dignity and without intimidation, hindrance or encumbrance (through voter suppression laws, Republicans have already stripped voting  rights from millions of American citizens).
  • The fundamental assertion, embodied in our Constitution, that all of us are created equal.
  • Medicare health insurance for retirees. Republicans want to phase it out forcing retirees to seek alternative health care insurance plans.
  • A political system that represents the will of the voters as opposed to the will of billionaires and large corporations whose goals and interests are often in conflict with those of citizens. 
  • A moderate and fair Supreme Court .
  • The right for gays and lesbians to marry.
  • Laws designed to prevent the same kind of bank failures that caused the 2008 financial crisis; forced taxpayers to bail out the banks; cost nearly 9 million American workers their jobs; saw 7 million Americans lose their homes to foreclosure; and caused 2.5 million American businesses shutter their doors for good. (Republicans want to repeal)
  • More of the same Republican policies that put this country into an economic spiral and into an unjustified and ill-conceived war in Iraq which killed thousands of American soldiers; cost Americans taxpayers trillions of dollars; and gave rise and safe harbor to our terrorist enemies by destabilizing the Middle East.

Because the Supreme Court determines our rights, our freedoms and the legality of our laws, it's worth noting the extraordinary effect this election will have on it. The next president will pick at least two (and possibly as many as four) justices for the 9-member court. Those appointees will not serve for four or eight years, the term of the presidency – they will each serve for decades. With the Supreme Court having become so politicized, and the appointment of justices being equally politicized, each of the new justices will reflect the beliefs of the President and their political party. Donald Trump has stated that everyone he appoints must be willing to overturn Roe vs. Wade, eliminating a woman's right to obtain a safe and legal abortion. His appointees will be inclined to mirror Republican views on global warming, the minimum wage, banking regulations and oversight, environmental protections, voter suppression, minorities, the GLBT community, Citizens United, Social Security, Medicare and Obama Care.  

The next President's Supreme Court appointments will define our laws for decades to follow. If you care about what this country will be like in 20 years, you'd better make sure that the next president's beliefs are also your beliefs. This is what they mean when they say that elections have consequences.  

If you still are in undecided, try asking yourself the following questions:
  • Are you and your family better off today under Democratic policies than you were 8 years ago under Republican policies?
  • Which candidate's beliefs most closely match your own beliefs?
  • Whose version of America do you want your children to live in? Hillary Clinton's? Or Donald Trump's?

For the future of every citizen in this nation, and for the future of the only planet we call home, I will vote for Hillary Clinton on November 8th. It's not the vote I originally wanted to cast, but I will not allow my disappointment to cause me to throw away everything we have gained these past 8 years in an attempt to "get even" with the political system.  

There is too much at stake right now. We can change the system later.

Right, Bernie?

John P. Epstein


Differences between Democratic and Republican party platforms:

The economic records of US presidents:

Democratic Party Platform:  

Republican Party Platform:[1]-ben_1468872234.pdf

Hillary Clinton Platform:

Donald Trump Platform:

Friday, July 1, 2016

I Wish You Enough

Recently I overheard a Father and daughter in their last moments together at the airport.

They had announced the departure. Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the Father said:

"I love you, and I wish you enough."

The daughter replied, "Dad, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Dad."

They kissed and the daughter left. The Father walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry.  I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me by asking, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?"

"Yes, I have," I replied.  "Forgive me for asking, but why is this a for ever good-bye?"

"I am old, and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is - the next trip back will be for my funeral," he said.

"When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, 'I wish you enough.' May I ask what that means?"

He began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone."

He paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and he smiled even more.

"When we said, 'I wish you enough,' we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them."

Then turning toward me, he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.

"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good- bye."

He then began to cry and walked away.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them; but then an entire life to forget them.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Holyoke City Council Ignores Voters -- Appoints Their Own Candidate

Earlier this evening, the Holyoke City Council selected a replacement for Councilor Jennifer Chateauneuf, who resigned last month.  As you know, Councilors are exclusively elected by the voters to represent them, but tonight the City Council decided to put their own individual wishes ahead of the voters' wishes.  In fact, 8 of the Councilors entirely ignored the voters' wishes.  That should raise an alarm for every single Holyoke resident.

Mimi Panitch, who placed 9th in a field of 16 (the first 8 being elected), was the next-highest vote-getter in the recent November election and would normally have been in line for the vacated position.  3,000 Holyoke residents chose her as the first runner-up in November but, tonight, 8 of the 13 Councilors present refused to cast even one single vote for her.  Instead, they decided to play "politics" -- ultimately appointing a former colleague who wasn't even on the November ballot.  Ironically, it is some of those same Councilors who will be the first to decry the playing of politics by others. 

I (and others) had intended to make public comments at the start of the meeting, which is customary, but for some reason Council President, Kevin Jourdain, instead recommended that the Council alter their schedule and take up the vote first -- preventing public comment until after the voting had been completed.

Unable to speak as I intended until after the vote, I had to change my words to past tense, but they were just as sharply pointed as they would have been had I been allowed to speak ahead of the vote.  This is, essentially, what I said to the City Council at the conclusion of the vote:

"The Council has conducted the process of replacing Jennifer Chateauneuf as if this is a hired position.  This is NOT a hired position.  Not one of you is hired.  Every one of you has been chosen by the voters, and ONLY by the voters.

Only the voters get to decide who they want to represent them. 

How is it, then, that some of you decided to usurp that authority, in an attempt to appoint your friends or political allies to this Council?  The voters have already told you who their pick is, but some of you chose to play "politics", instead.  Voters didn't elect you so you can replace their choices, with yours.  The Council's job tonight wasn't to pick and choose ... it was to ensure that the will of the voters, in choosing their representatives, was followed.  You failed.  And you failed deliberately.

You don't get to dismiss the election results simply because they don't jibe with your own politics.  You don't have that right.

Sure, you may have established a rule that says you can ignore the voters' wishes, but you take that step at the risk of diminishing the credibility of this entire body.  Was it worth it?

There were two ways you could have gotten this right tonight:
            1) Either go by the November election results
            2) or hold a special election

Instead, you decided to play "politics". 

Shame on every one of you who acted on the belief that your vote outranks the votes of thousands of Holyoke voters."

Footnote:  the 8 Councilors who completely ignored the voters' wishes, refusing to cast even one single vote for Mimi Panitch were:  David Bartley;  Dan Bresnahan;  Howard Greaney;  Kevin Jourdain;  Todd McGee;  Joe McGiverin;  Nelson Roman;  and Linda Vacon. 

For the record it should be mentioned that Councilor Peter Tallman voted for Mimi Panitch, the next-highest vote-getter, on every one of the 13 ballots and Michael Sullivan voted for her on the first 11 ballots.  Gladys Lebron-Martinez and Rebecca Lisi voted for her on 7 ballots and Jossie Valentin on 6.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Life under Bernie Sanders vs. life under Donald Trump

This is What Your Tax Dollar Gets You
In a Bernie Sanders Society

8 Guaranteed full health care for all

8 A guaranteed state or community college education for everyone who is willing to apply themselves (resulting in a more educated and more globally competitive American workforce)

8 A livable minimum pay wage allowing every working American the ability to become self-sufficient

8 Rebuilding of America's crumbling infrastructure -- roads, bridges, dams, railways, power grids, and more -- creating 13 million good-paying jobs

8 Environmental stewardship including seriously addressing global warming

8 More fairness, equality and opportunity for all Americans

8 Better protection of our natural resources focusing on water pollution; air pollution; soil and chemical pollution

8 The end of politicians (and laws) that are bought and paid for by corporations, lobbyists and billionaires

8 A government whose job is to serve and protect Americans, not persecute them

8 Shoring up of the Social Security safety net and ensuring its viability for generations to come

8 More economic equality

8 Pursuit of policy, not politics

8 Freedom of religion and religious belief

8 A new focus on early childhood education

8 Paid sick leave

8 Paid family leave for parents of newborn children

8 Strict regulations on investments banks and related firms so taxpayers never again get stuck with footing the bill for wild, and irresponsible, Wall Street speculation
       For all of Bernie's policies, follow this link:


By Contrast, This is What Your Tax Dollar Gets You
In a Donald Trump Society
M Authoritarianism

M Persecution of Americans based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, gender

M More costly wars and military actions and interventions

M Trade war with China

M Economic wars with everyone

M Mass deportation of people based on race, ethnicity and religion

M Religious intolerance

M Border walls

M More bullying, less diplomacy

M More pointing of fingers and passing of blame

M Less civility

M More economic inequality

M Distrust of each other

M No action on global warming

M Intolerance of opposing views