Douglass was born a slave on the Eastern Shore of Maryland; he was often badly beaten and semi-starved by cruel slave owners, their overseers and slave breakers. In an extraordinary odyssey, he became the pre-eminent African American speaker and leader, writer, editor and newspaper publisher in the twenty years of lead up to the Civil War and during its turbulent aftermath. During his long life of activism he faced every issue from racism and political corruption to misogyny and nativism to a retrograde Supreme Court, which we all must now confront and combat yet again in the administration of President Trump.

“Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable. In short, remote-control murder by lone wolf(ves).”

The Trump re-election campaign is underway, and he wants to ensure that his loyalists are in charge of the nation’s intelligence agencies. Witness the rapid rise and fall of Representative Ratcliffe from Texas to replace Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats who has minced no words in describing Russian efforts to interfere in US elections.

In the heat of the Presidential candidates’ debate, crucial misinformation is inadvertently conveyed; some because the candidates don’t fully understand their own plans or those of their rivals, and some because they seek to elevate their own plans and dismiss their rivals.

Senator Kamala Harris has outlined her own health plan for all Americans. Like Senator Bernie Sanders, she covers everyone. Like Senator Sanders she offers comprehensive benefits. Like Senator Sanders, she eliminates copays and deductibles, and premiums. She departs from Senator Sanders on three issues: the role of private insurance, the financing and the length of transition.

Here we are celebrating the extraordinary American moon landing achievement of 1969. It was also the time of great advances in civil rights, in health coverage for seniors, the disabled and the poor, and of a nation divided by the Vietnam War and the end of legal segregation – the American version of apartheid.

For the next decade, we will be running annual budget deficits equal to about 4.5% of GDP as compared to the last 50 years where it was 2.9% of GDP. The levels of budget deficits will require an increasing share of the federal budget to be spent on interest payments to those who hold Treasury notes and other federal securities. Federal taxes are bringing in revenues of roughly 16% of GDP while federal spending is running at about 20.5% of GDP. The Presidential election in 2020 is crucial to the nation’s financial future.

The Medicare for America Plan, HR 2452 (DeLauro and Schakowsky), gives all Americans a choice of Medicare or private insurance. Individuals can choose public coverage through Medicare or private coverage through their employer or private coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan.

There are four Public Option bills – S 3 (Cardin), S 1261 and HR 2462 (Merkeley and Richmond), S 981 and HR 2000 (Bennett, Kaine and Delgado), and HR 2085 and S 1003 (Schakowsky and Whitehouse) . They give participants in the Exchanges (like Covered California) the option to choose a plan offering Medicare coverage. Some increase premium assistance and cost sharing reductions; others do not. All leave existing coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and employer plans unchanged.

There are two different Medicare for All Plans in Congress: Senator Sanders S 1129 and Representative Jayapal’s HR 1384. They are comparable, but with a few salient differences. Both cover all Americans for a comprehensive set of benefits with no cost sharing or premiums, using a Medicare-like payment program. Both eliminate all employer and individual private insurance and the existing Medicare program and most of the Medicaid program as well (Senator Sanders retains it for institutional long term care – i.e. nursing homes. Neither eliminates the VA programs for veterans or the HIS program for Native Americans.

The United States of America has been a beacon of hope – starting with the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War, the founding of the United States of America and the enduring principles of the United States Constitution. We fought a Civil War to end the unspeakable crime of slavery. We welcomed immigrants fleeing poverty, persecution and violence.

We also have many episodes of our history that we must remember with shame, and we must acknowledge our grievous harm to many innocents.