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Day 96. 

If you are wondering, the truth is dead.  According to the trump administration, there is only “alternative facts” that matter.  That became very clear today at the propaganda minister’s press briefing.  According to the administration, Flynn was cut loose because of “an erosion of trust”.

That sounds like a nice 20 second sound bite, but it is also a lie.  Flynn was cut loose simply because the whole mess came out in the press, and trump could not just let it die away and keep Flynn in his administration.  The so-called “erosion of trust” came out because the press proved that Flynn had lied and trump knew he had lied.

The other piece of evidence is that the propaganda minister said that the White House Counsel found nothing improper in Flynn calling the Russian Ambassador and talking about not taking the new sanctions the Obama administration was placing on them seriously.

Okay, even if we like to think that might be true then the huge question is “Why did Flynn lie about it?”  Did he lie about because he believed there was something wrong with undermining the administration still in office?  Or, did he lie about it because trump ordered him to make the call?

If the National Intelligence Advisor lied about a phone call, then it is safe to believe that there was a legal issue with the call or its contents.  What was so secret about the call that made Flynn lie about it?

Then there is the fact that trump knew about this “lie” for 3 weeks before doing something about it.  He did nothing at all.  Why, if there is such “an erosion of trust” would the president allow this liar keep reading very sensitive classified information for 3 weeks after he discovered that person was so dishonest?

As a side note, it turns out the Vice President, Mike Pence was not told he was lied to until last Thursday.  That was over two weeks after trump knew it.  That means Pence was sticking to the story that was false to begin with, and trump was letting him continue lying to the American People.

When the White House Counsel found out about the lie from the Acting Justice Department head, he told trump, but no one bothered to tell Pence.  And, from what transpired during the propaganda briefing today, Pence was the only person of importance who was not told.

The Republican Politburo on the hill isn’t helping things either.  While most people with a brain are calling for in independent investigation, the leaders of the Grand Oppression Party is claiming that isn’t necessary.   In the House, Jason Chaffetz, the staunch leader of the oversight committee who wanted so bad to take down Hillary Clinton, said he doesn’t see any reason to investigate Flynn and we should “just move on.”

Then, today, our beloved leader signed a law passed by his Politburo that repeals an order connected with Dodd-Frank.  Our beloved leader said that signing the bill will bring back oil jobs to America.

He claims it is a great start in repealing “restrictive orders that cost companies billions of dollars”.  He called it a “big deal” several times while getting ready to sign the bill.  It was HJ Resolution 41.  Here is what this “big deal” that will save the oil companies billions of dollars and bring back oil jobs is all about.

The bill rolls-back an order from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that required oil and mining companies to disclose their payments to foreign governments. Holy Shit!  That order must have really cost these companies a lot of money to comply.  That really is a “big deal”.

Tonight the New York Times has an article that claims that members of the trump campaign were in contact with Russian Intelligence during the election.  If that is true, then the sink hole just got a whole lot deeper.

“The truth shall set you free” as the saying goes.  Maybe that is the reason that trump and his administration isn’t interested in telling the truth.  Maybe that goes against their plan to take over the country.  Maybe that is the one thing that scares them to death.  Why else would they say that the Flynn mess isn’t the big deal, the leaks are the big deal.

The Republicans in Congress are showing no spine to stand up and do what is right.  No one in the administration is showing any spine over this either.  If I were Mike Pence, I would tell trump to take his job and shove it.  I quit a job because of integrity issues, and I turned down others when I suspected integrity issues.

If Pence cannot rely on the president to be honest with him, why should he continue in the job?  Unless he thinks trump will get impeached and he will become president.  Which tells me Pence does not have any integrity himself.

It is totally obvious that the truth is dead on arrival in the White House.  That is why an independent investigation into all of this is so important for our democracy.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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Day 67.

We are looking at having the most corrupt administration in our nation’s history.  I don’t make that accusation lightly.  However, the facts are beginning to show that is a real possibility.

First we have a president-elect that doesn’t think any conflicts of interests are a bad thing as long as he is the one in conflict and personally benefitting from them.  For example, after his infomercial where he announced he would do no more foreign deals, he just announced he in fact is expanding his golf course activity in Scotland.  Sounds like a foreign deal to me.

But, he isn’t the only one in the administration that will have conflicts of interest or will be willing to take “political donations” just to look the other way when his donors break the law.  As a matter of fact, his EPA pick is already leading the pack in that category.

Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to head up the EPA was more than willing to take over $40,000 in donations from chicken industry executives and then not force them to clean up the pollution they caused in the Illinois River which is the drinking water for millions of people in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

The problem is that he was the Attorney General for Oklahoma, but was unwilling to continue a lawsuit against several chicken companies for the pollution.

When he took office, there was a six-year ongoing lawsuit against several chicken companies trying to force them to pay for the clean up of tons of chicken manure that had fouled the water of Northeastern Oklahoma.  Most of the pollution had come from companies in Arkansas.

After taking office, Pruitt decided to drop the law suite which could have resulted in tens of millions of dollars to clean up the mess, and instead negotiated a deal with the companies to “study the problem further.”

This was only one in a series of instances where Pruitt supported and cooperated with industry before confrontation as he sought to blunt the impact of federal environmental policies in his state — against oil, gas, agriculture and other interests. He has also sued the EPA at least 14 times since he took office.

Now he has been chosen by Trump to head up the organization that is supposed to enforce laws on pollution and climate change.  Mark Derichsweiler, led the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality division responsible for overseeing the poultry-related cleanup.  Mr. Derichsweiler retired in 2015 after 40 years with the state, frustrated with Mr. Pruitt’s approach.  He said:

He has advocated and stood up for the profits of business, be it the poultry companies or the energy industry and other polluters, at the expense of people who have to drink the water or breathe the air.

Pruitt has the idea that only states should worry about pollution and that the federal government shouldn’t be involved.  Yet, this case shows clearly that is a really stupid position to take.  Pollution does not abide by state lines.  In this one case most of the pollution came from Arkansas yet Oklahoma’s water was affected.

The same is true for air pollution and other forms of pollution.  Without federal oversight, one state could literally poison another state’s population without any consequences.

“Pollution doesn’t respect state boundaries,” said Patrick A. Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School. “States have limited ability to regulate pollution from outside the state, and almost every state is downstream or downwind from other pollution.”

After Pruitt got his donations from about a dozen poultry companies, he decided not to go ahead with the suit that was started by his predecessor.  Instead of pushing the federal judge for a ruling that, seven years later, still hasn’t been issued, he negotiated an agreement with Arkansas and the poultry companies to conduct a study of the appropriate level of phosphorus in the Illinois River.

His argument?  “Regulation through litigation is wrong in my view.  That was not a decision my office made. It was a case we inherited.”  The one thing that is missing in this story is that the cleanup has never been paid for by the polluters, which I believe everyone thinks is the right thing.

So, there is nothing to keep them from doing it again, and again, and again.  J. D. Strong, director of Oklahoma’s Wildlife Department and the state’s former Secretary of Environment, praised Mr. Pruitt for negotiating the settlement.

“You can’t force a judge to rule,” Mr. Strong said. “Pruitt didn’t sit back and wait or badger the judge for a ruling. He worked to get the states of Oklahoma and Arkansas around the table.”

Yeah, they got around the table and did nothing of any consequence except give the poultry industry license to continue their polluting ways.  That is not what I expect from my Attorney General.  I expect him to punish the companies that dare to pollute my drinking water.

In 2003, Mr. Edmondson, Pruitt’s predecessor, negotiated an agreement with Arkansas to reduce poultry waste pollution, and to monitor the progress.  Pruitt let that agreement lapse without seeking another formal extension of the deal.

And, Mr. Pruitt also shut down the specialized unit of four attorneys and a criminal investigator that helped initiate the lawsuit against the 14 poultry companies.

That environmental unit had broad jurisdiction, forcing pork-producing farmers to spend millions of dollars on their own cleanups and collecting tens of millions of dollars to clean up toxic sites in the state, including poisonous waste left at an abandoned lead and zinc mine known as Tar Creek.

With this kind of history, do you really think that Pruitt should be allowed anywhere near the EPA?  I don’t.  He is the perfect example of what happens when someone who is willing to benefit businesses instead of his constituents.

He is willing to let the poultry industry pollute water used as drinking water by his own constituents.  They don’t have as much worth to Pruitt than the paltry $40,000 dollars in political donations from the very industry poisoning his constituents.

To put a finer point on this, Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund said:

The president’s choices deserve a lot of deference from Congress and even environmental groups.  But at some point when the nominee has spent his entire career attempting to dismantle environmental protections, it becomes unacceptable. That’s why Mr. Pruitt is the first E.P.A. nominee from either party that the Environmental Defense Fund has opposed in our 50-year history.

The entire concept of letting industries police their own pollution is ridiculous.  They will not worry about who they are poisoning or even killing as long as they keep their profits high.  And, as shown by this shameful example, in Red State America all they need to do is give a paltry donation to a politician and they will get away with that pollution.

The vast majority of people Trump has nominated to be in his cabinet are being shown to be anything less than stellar in protecting the American People.  They are only interested in protecting their own profits and those of their companies or donors.

From Rex Tillerson to Jeff Sessions to Betsy DeVos to Scott Pruitt, we are looking at the worst administration in history.  We are also probably looking at the most corrupt administration in history.

You better get used to being used as pawns by this administration.  Because you won’t gain any benefit from this gang of thieves.  You will only wind up paying the price for their power grab.

Every amount of progress made since the end of World War II is on the line from civil rights to public education to clean air and water.  But, business will do quite nicely during this time.  Only, they won’t “trickle-down” any of that benefit to you.

Since these autocrats with help from the Republican Party are hell-bent on establishing a new country, should we name it the “United Businesses of America”?  I am sure our new president would prefer the “United States of Trump”.

Maybe we should change our money to read “In Money We Trust”.  Or, change the pledge of allegiance to say “One nation under business”.  We can change the Declaration of Independence to read “all non-business executives are created as serfs”.

If this goes as it appears to be heading, we will all be singing that old folk song.  The one that says: “St. Peter don’t call me because I can’t go.  I owe my soul to the company store”.

Welcome to Trump’s bold backwards future.  Lackeys like Pruitt will help him achieve it.  And we all lose while the “shirts keep marching along.”

 

 

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Day 35

With Donald Trump getting ready to take the reins of power, and with all of his gas and oil magnates being named to cabinet positions, we cannot forget about Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Army Corps of Engineers has refused to issue the permit for Energy Transfer Partners to run the pipeline under Lake Oahe, which is a drinking water reservoir for about 17 million people.  The company says they are not going to even look for an alternate route as the Corps wants.

According to their CEO they are simply going to wait until Trump takes office and have him override the Corps and let them run their pipeline under the lake anyway.  They claim it is safe because they will have electronic leak detectors in the pipeline so they will be able to shut off the flow of oil if a leak should occur.

There is another pipeline that is run by Casper, Wyoming-based True Cos., which operates the Belle Fourche pipeline that is about 150 miles from Standing Rock.  They also have electronic leak detectors.

On December 5, a local landowner discovered that this pipeline was leaking oil.  It has been determined that the leak began sometime around December 1 so it was leaking for about 5 days before being detected.

Approximately 176,000 gallons of oil spilled out of this pipeline.  The problem is that it spilled into the Ashe Coulee creek.  The creek empties into the Little Missouri river which is also a drinking water source.

Officials don’t “think” the oil got that far.  They do know that about 6 miles of the creek has been contaminated and untold amount of shoreline was contaminated.

But, remember, this pipeline just like the DAPL one has electronic leak detectors.  However, they didn’t work.  So, the company was unaware of the leak and if the local landowner didn’t notice the leak, it would still be leaking now.

Most of this pipeline is underground.  However, at the creek it comes up and passes over the creek.  The leak was discovered at the point where the pipeline comes out of the ground.  If this pipeline was under the creek, and the detectors failed as they did, how long would it be before the company found out about the leak, and how much more oil would have contaminated the creek?

At the time of the leak, the creek was free-flowing.  Since then, it has frozen over which makes the clean up even tougher.  There have been about 60 people working on the clean up since Monday and they are cleaning about 100 yards per day.  And, it will probably take until spring until things get much better.

The company, True Cos. has a history of oil field–related spills in North Dakota and Montana, including a January 2015 pipeline break into the Yellowstone River. The 32,000-gallon spill temporarily shut down water supplies in the downstream community of Glendive, Montana, after oil was detected in the city’s water treatment system.

True Cos. operates at least three pipeline companies with a combined 1,648 miles of line in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming, according to information the companies submitted to federal regulators. Since 2006, the companies have reported 36 spills totaling 320,000 gallons of petroleum products, most of which was never recovered.

Since the oil boom started in North Dakota, there have been reports of several spills across the state.  Many of these spills were never fully reported or cleaned up.  That is disturbing all by itself.

So, Energy Transfer Partners wants to place an oil pipeline beneath a water reservoir that affects 17 million people.  They claim it is safe because they will have electronic leak detectors, just like the ones that failed 150 miles away.

So, what if those leak detectors fail under Lake Oahe?  How long will it take for Energy Transfer Partners to realize there is a problem?  How many people will have their drinking water contaminated?

The problem is since their pipeline will go under the lake, there will be no local landowner who discovers the leak for them.  We would have to wait until the oil bubbles to the surface of the lake.  By then, hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil will have leaked.

When I was in the Coast Guard, I was involved in an oil cleanup on the St. Lawrence River.  In that case a barge struck bottom and leaked over 600,000 gallons of oil into the river.

That leak happened in June and we were still working on the cleanup until October when winter weather shut us down.  The leak was a total mess to say the least.  The entire area stunk for months after the leak and the water was contaminated for quite a long time.

Oil spills on lakes and rivers that are used for drinking water cannot just be blown off as the “cost of doing business”.  It is not the company that caused the leak that suffers, it is the average person who needs to stay alive by drinking water.

Additionally, the cost of cleaning up a mess like this is considerable.  And, in most cases, the oil company does not pay the full cost of cleanup, the taxpayers do.  So, we get our drinking water contaminated by an oil company’s recklessness, and then we have to pay to clean up their mess.  Nice.

All along the route of DAPL we have seen a private company flaunt their power in our face.  First, they used eminent domain in many areas to steal land from private citizens.  Then they rerouted the original planned route away from Bismark because the Governor thought it was too close to his drinking water.  Now they are waiting for their puppet to say it will be okay to endanger Lake Oahe.

This won’t be the only “resurrection” of a pipeline either.  You can bet your bottom dollar that we will see the Keystone XL pipeline raise its ugly head again.

We have always had to fight for our rights against private companies who think they own everything.  With Donald Trump becoming their President it will get even worse.  We will see more disregard for private property just so oil companies can make more money.  We will see more disregard for the environment.  We will see more disregard for us and our rights.

As Republicans plan to dismantle our health care system by repealing the Affordable Care Act throwing millions out of their health care coverage, they are planning to allow more pollution of our environment.  Meaning we will see more cases of respiratory problems in our population and poisoning of our water, land and food.  That is a great combination isn’t it?

We must continue to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux in their fight against DAPL.  If we don’t, the oil companies will be coming for your land and drinking water next.  And, with the appointments to his cabinets of oil executives, bankers, and generals you won’t have much of a leg to stand on.

Until we wake up as a nation and wean ourselves off of fossil fuels, we will always have a transportation problem when it comes to oil.  That doesn’t mean we aren’t supposed to hold these companies responsible for their actions.  It doesn’t mean we can’t say no to certain routes picked for convenience and cost savings if they threaten our environment.

Trump’s selections for his cabinet so far tell me the government won’t give a diddily-damn about the environment.  So, it will be up to us to fight for it.  We can win as long as we don’t forget fights like Standing Rock and the pollution at places like Ashe Coulee creek.

 

 

 

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Day 33

It is becoming clearer and clearer as we get closer to the inauguration of president-elect Donald Trump, our SIC that Trump really doesn’t know anything but to show how “smart” he is he is filling his cabinet with stupid people.

I know that is harsh to say, and I don’t like calling the people that will run our government stupid.  But, I cannot think of anything else to call them.  There seems to be only a handful of qualities that you need to be on Trump’s team.  You need to be very very rich.  You need to be a General.  Or you need to be a paranoid who believes that the real world is out to get you.

What we are being told what is true and what is not true is almost unbelievable.  Except these morons actually believe the shit they are trying to make us swallow.  Their idea of “proof” is simply what they believe.  If they believe something is true or false, it is simply because they believe it and no “proof is necessary.

All you have to do is look at two simple facts.  They believe that climate change is a hoax.  Not because any reasonable scientist says it is a hoax, but rather because they believe it is.  Despite the fact that over 97 percent of all environmental scientists say it is real, the Trump team says there is “no proof”.

On the other side, the CIA, the NSA, and every single intelligence agency says that Russia was behind the political attacks against us, but team Trump says no, there is no “proof”.

The definition of “proof” seems to have a rambling meaning depending on which side you want to believe.  Another example is that “life begins at conception”.  That is a religious belief and I have no problem with anyone who believes that.  However, there is no scientific “proof” that is a true statement.  Yet, team Trump says it is a true fact covered by “proof.

Then when they don’t want to answer questions about an issue, they come up with a conspiracy theory to deflect attention away from the real culprits and place blame on some fictitious theory that they want you to believe.

The latest comes from John Bolton who is considered as Trump’s pick to be number 2 at the State Department.  He did an interview on that really intelligent network, Fox News, and said that the CIA report about the hacking is probably a “false flag”.  In case you are wondering, a false flag is something that your government is supposed to have done to make it look like someone else did it.

In the interview with reporter Eric Shawn Bolton said:

It is not at all clear to me just viewing this from the outside, that this hacking into the DNC and the RNC computers was not a false flag operation.

A really sophisticated foreign intelligence service would not leave any cyber fingerprints.  So the question that has to be asked is why did the Russians run their smart intelligence service against Hillary [Clinton]’s server, but their dumb intelligence services against the election?

Shawn called that a “very serious charge” and cited the Washington Post’s bombshell report that intelligence officials believe hackers with ties to the Russian government worked to help Trump win the election.

Are you actually accusing someone here in this administration, in the intelligence community, of trying to throw something?

“We just don’t know,” Bolton responded, claiming the intelligence community has been “politicized” under President Barack Obama.

What Bolton is trying to say is that the DNC hacks and the hacks of Podesta emails were all done by the Obama administration.  Really?  And, Trump wants this lunatic to be the number 2 person at the State Department?

And remember, Trump the other day said that he doesn’t take his daily intelligence briefings because “I am a smart guy”.  Something tells me that he sits in his Trump tower in New York city and gazes into some magical crystal ball.  How else can he be so “smart” about what is going on in the world?

The SIC hasn’t even been sworn in yet and he has already pissed off China.  He sends his love to Russia.  And, his picks for his cabinet will ensure that every person in the bottom 99 percent become poorer, has no health care, no Social Security or Medicare to take care of themselves in their retirement.  His picks will gut the EPA and destroy our drinking water and the air we breath.  They will close down our public schools in favor of “Christian” schools. And wipe out all civil rights that have been earned by minorities over the last 100 years.

I hate to say this, but if you are one of the white blue-collar people who voted for Trump to be your hero, you were fooled.  I am willing to predict that after the first 12 months of his presidency, your lives will be far worse off than they are today.

His selections for his cabinet shows his intent to leave us all behind in favor of the oligarchs.  On top of that, he has selected the worst people he could have possibly picked.

We are being forced to live in a country that will no longer believe in facts.  It will no longer be the land of the free.  It will be the land of oligarchs who don’t give a shit about you.  If there was ever going to be an ingorant “Russian Puppet” heading into the White House, Trump is it.

 

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One journalist, David Fahrenthold, from the Washington Post has been on a crusade.  He has heard as we all have about Donald Trump’s wonderful donations.  According to Trump and his campaign he has given tens of millions of dollars to charity.  However, without him releasing his tax returns, there is no proof of his claims.

So, Fahrenthold has made it his mission to discover just how much the Donald has donated to charity.  The Donald J. Trump Foundation was first started in 1987.  At the beginning, Donald Trump did donate to his foundation.  It must be pointed out here that family foundations like the Trump Foundation are usually created so the rich person, in this case Donald Trump, can donate his own money to various charities.

The Foundation has a record of having very little money in its bank account.  Then, in 2008 Donald Trump began to give absolutely nothing to his own foundation.  There is no record, according to Fahrenthold’s investigation that shows any contributions from Trump to the Foundation since then.  Rather, he started getting donations from other people.

That by itself isn’t a big deal.  However, since 2008, Trump has used other people’s money to donate to charity and giving the impression that the money was coming from himself.  According to Fahrenthold’s investigation, there have also been “illegal” activity by the Foundation that benefitted Trump directly.

For example, Trump reportedly purchased through an auction a signed Tim Tebow helmet.  The Foundation paid the $12,000 bill.  In another auction, Trump’s wife Melania purchased a six foot tall portrait of Donald Trump for $20,000.  Again, the foundation paid the bill.

These purchases are illegal.  According to charity laws, no one can use Foundation money to purchase anything for himself.  So, the purchases were illegal in that they were paid for by the Trump Foundation and not by Mr. Trump even though he benefitted from the purchase.

Then we have the “pay for play” donation to a political action committee for the Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.  This was first explained away as a mistake.  However, the mistake became another mistake and it was never fully explained why the money, supposedly meant for different charities never made it to them, but rather to Bondi’s PAC.

One of the most egregious activities to me was a donation to the Palm Beach Police.  Trump donated $120,000 to the Palm Beach Police.  The money was donated by the Trump Foundation.  However, even though Trump made it seem like he was personally donating the money, it turns out that the money came from a separate charity in New Jersey.

The real bad part was that the Palm Beach Police awarded Donald Trump the Palm Award for his donation.  This is something that they hand out to benefactors for their donations.  The “award ceremony” was held at Trump’s Mar a Lago resort in Florida.  To show just how generous Trump really is, he charged the Palm Beach Police over $267,000 for the ceremony dinner at his resort.

So, Trump donated someone else’s money to the Police, received an award for himself by donating other people’s money, and then raped the police for the ceremonial dinner.  How charitable of the vulture.  Imagine getting an award for something you did not do, then charge the organization awarding you to make money for yourself.

The Trump campaign keeps saying that Trump will not release his tax returns until the so-called audit is completed.  Yet, there isn’t even any proof that he is under audit.  That came to light yesterday on CNN.  Kellyanne Conway was giving an interview and was asked, “will the Campaign release the letter from the IRS that states Mr. Trump’s taxes are being audited?”  I thought Conway was going to choke on the answer.

Her first response was “excuse me?”  Seems Kellyanne doesn’t know that if you are under audit, the IRS cannot openly announce it to the world, but they do send a letter to the payee that their tax returns are under audit.  Trump could simply release that letter to prove he is under audit.  Instead Conway asked “are you saying he is a liar?”

I don’t know if the CNN interviewer is saying that, but I am.  Trump is a liar.  There is no reason for him not to release his tax returns even if he is under audit.  Richard Nixon released his returns while he was under audit.  There is no law that prevents him from releasing his tax returns while under audit.

No, Trump will not release his tax returns because things like his NOT donating tens of millions of dollars to charity will be exposed.  If he is claiming to have donated to his own Foundation on his tax returns while the Foundation’s records do not show such “giving” he is not only lying, he is also a tax cheat.

Newsweek today dropped an article about Trump’s organization and its many ties to foreign financiers, foreign politicians, and even foreign criminals.  If all of that is true, it would show up in his tax returns.  The story also brings up some very serious conflict of interest concerns should Trump be elected.

How can we trust a President who is beholding to foreign politicians to properly deal with foreign policy that conflicts with his business interests?  Besides, shockingly, there is no law that requires a President to place his holdings in a “blind trust” to avoid conflict of interest.  And, Donald Trump has said he probably would not do so.  Meaning while he is President, if elected, he would also be running his company.

Newsweek says he would be the “most conflicted President” in history.  Even if he did “blind trust” his companies while in office, if he doesn’t permanently break from his own companies, we will never be sure just what foreign policy is set to benefit his business over the nation.

This all proves that Donald Trump is the least transparent candidate in my lifetime.  He has refused to disclose the most basic things like his tax returns.  Why?  What is he hiding?  How many other “suspicious activities” would we discover in his returns?

Donald Trump keeps saying “believe me” when he wants to make a point.  Sorry, Donald, I don’t believe you.  Your own history with your Foundation is riddled with fraudulent activity.  You keep saying the Clinton Foundation is a “pay for play” system.  Yet, the only “pay for play” has come from YOUR Foundation, not Clinton’s.

If you have nothing to hide, Mr. Trump, release your tax returns immediately.  Otherwise you will be proving my assertion that you are a liar to be true.

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The Democratic National Convention is finally over and the election really begins.  There are about 101 days until the election on November 8.  Quite frankly, there is a huge difference between the two candidates.  Both in the views they have of our country today, and how they plan to move it forward.

If anyone thinks this is going to be an easy election, you better think again.  I am very willing to “discuss” differences with our opponents, but I don’t always release comments or bother with a reply if they are filled with vulgar threats and name calling.  And, I get quite a few of them. Which tells me that this is going to be a very nasty election.

As I have said, I am a registered Independent.  I have cast votes for moderate or left leaning candidates from both parties.  I would even like to say there are a few Republicans that I could support this election, but they have all seemed to have left the building.  In the case of the Republic National Convention, that was quite literal since many major players didn’t even show up.

I say all of this because today’s Republican Party has been hijacked by bigots, haters, and liars.  They have nothing to offer our country.  They offer no plans.  They offer no vision.  They offer only fear, hate, and divisiveness.  Those are not the ideals that this country was founded on.

More than once I have asked “where have all the Republicans gone?”  Last week, we discovered they all needed haircuts or went fly-fishing.  We have always had opposing views.  We have always had deep discussions about policies.  But, we have never seen such hate in my lifetime since the 1960s and the Civil Rights movement.

And, if you remember those days as vividly as I do, you will also remember that it was mostly Democrats, namely the “Dixiecrats” on the side of hate.  It was Republicans who were fighting for desegregation.  Those roles have done a complete 180.  And, with the advent of Donald Trump, the white supremacists feel safe enough again to crawl out from their sewers and become “mainstream” again.

Today, we constantly hear about Benghazi and “missing emails” from Republicans.  If the Democrats had such hate in their hearts for their opponent in the 1980s, we would have heard about the “murderous” Ronald Reagan and chants of “lock him up” about him too.

Ronald Reagan was president when 250 Marines were killed with a truck bomb that exploded at their barracks in Beirut.  The Democrats did not call for his head because he “allowed” those 250 Marines to die.  Instead, there were discussions surrounding the incident and what happened and how to fix the problem.

It was also Ronald Reagan and his administration that violated the law and sold weapons to the one country that Republicans hate so much today.  The Reagan administration violated the law against selling weapons to Iran.  But they did anyway so they could fund their “war” in Nicaragua.  Some members of his administration were convicted of this scandal and today the crazies in the Republican Party call them “heroes”.  They aren’t “heroes” they are “criminals”!

Furthermore, when Ronald Reagan was President and a recession hit, we were told by his “economists” that a steady growth rate of about 2% was what we needed to sustain a continued growth.  Over the last seven years that is about what we have seen as an average of growth in our economy since the Great Recession of 2008.

Only today, those same Republican “economists” say that is not enough.  They say that we should be growing faster.  They use those figures as “proof” that our economy is in a shambles.  They use those numbers to “prove” we need more tax cuts for the wealthy.  Reagan slashed taxes, then realized the arithmetic didn’t add up and he raised them to stop the bleeding he let loose.

I have not brought this up to defend anyone or to blame anyone.  I am stating facts to illustrate the different ways Democrats and Republicans handle issues when the “other” side was in power when they occurred.  The differences are stark.

At the RNC last week we heard a very dark and grim view of America today.  This week at the DNC we heard a different version of America today.   I believe that the reality is somewhere in between.  Depending on where you sit today, you are either gaining benefits from the economy, or you are still suffering.

If you are one of those still suffering, you are angry because you believe you have been left behind.  If you are benefitting, you may still be angry because you haven’t seen a decent pay raise for years.  I share your anger.  I understand your suffering.

I grew up on the South Side of Chicago in the manufacturing hub of the city.  Our little neighborhood was surrounded by steel mills, Pittsburgh Paint, Inland Coke company, and many more plants.  As I grew up, I also witnessed the closing of these plants.  I witnessed the devastation that their closings wreaked on the neighborhood and my neighbors.

And, we were not alone.  These closings swept across the Midwest like a plague.  Millions of hard-working people lost their good paying jobs.  Local economies were shattered.  Instead of spending capital to upgrade the existing plants, owners spent that capital to build new factories overseas where labor was cheaper.  And, got tax breaks for it.   Then they blamed the workers for their closings.  Imagine that.  Shows how much things have changed so little over the years.

So I do understand the anger.  I do understand the feelings of frustration.  I do understand the painful cries of “what about me?”  I have seen it and witnessed it.  My family was fortunate because my father did not work at a steel mill.  He owned his own small auto repair shop.

But, that was no easy thing either.  His business boomed between April and the first snow fall.  After that first snow fall, business fell off.  People only cared about their car starting on cold winter days and not anything else about them.  My dad worked about 12 hour days during the busy times.  As a result, we were not as affected as our neighbors.

This year we have a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  We have a choice between two platforms of both parties that are so different they can be called polar opposites.  We must decide on which of these we want to run our country.

The Democrats this week laid out their plans for our future.  They told the American people how they planned to put Americans back to work.  They showed us what we can expect from them.  Throughout the four days, we were given ideas and policies.

Last week the Republicans failed to tell us anything.  They failed to let us know how they planned to put Americans back to work.  They failed to show us what we can expect from them.  They failed to tell us what they believed in.

Last week we heard a lot of talk about whom to blame.  We heard a lot of talk about whom to fear.  We heard a lot of talk about our lives being miserable from top to bottom.  We heard a lot of talk about separatism.  We heard a lot of talk about nativism.  And, we heard a lot of “believe me”.

We have been told, especially by Republicans who are trying their best to distance themselves from Trump, this is a binary election and must choose between two evils in the candidates.  I do not subscribe to that theory.  This election is between two people and two parties who have very diametric views of who we are and where we should go in the future.  The real binary choice is between the platforms and their ideas, or lack thereof.

The Republican platform wants to take us backwards in time to those “good ole days”.  I am just not so sure how far back we need to go to reach their definition of the “good ole days”.  I suspect they are talking about the turn of the century.  And I am referring to the turn of the 20th century from the 19th century.

In those days, the rich kept getting richer and the poor kept getting poorer.  Mining and other companies didn’t just own the mines and factories, they owned the town you lived in and the store you had to buy everything from.  In essence the “owned your soul”.

Is that where the Republicans want to go?  Their policies have just about made that happen already.  The rich are still getting richer while everyone else is getting poorer.  It was a time when wages were about 25 cents per hour.  There was no middle-class.

Women were supposed to “stay home” and take care of the man’s house and have as many babies as they could.  More babies meant more workers for the factories for the future and therefore pay wouldn’t have to go up.

Today’s Republican party’s platform of “social issues” handsomely disguised from the “conservative religious beliefs” they really are tell us that is how it should be now.  Women should just shut up, stay home, have babies, and be subservient to their husbands.

This week the Democrats painted a different picture.  They want to improve our infrastructure.  They want to create non-outsourcable jobs in clean energy.  They want to teach new skills and trades to those being hurt by the inevitable change from fossil fuel to clean renewable energy.

They want to reform our immigration policies so they are enforceable and inclusive.  While the Republicans want to shut down our borders and build walls.  They want to improve education so our children are better equipped to compete in a global market.

They want to reestablish trade schools so anyone who does not want to go to college can get training in a skill they can support their family on.  They want to raise the minimum wage so people working full-time don’t still live in poverty or have to work two or three jobs to get ahead.

This is not a binary election between two candidates.  It is a binary election between the two parties platforms and they are stark.  It is really a choice of moving forward or moving backwards.  It is a choice between being “one nation indivisible” or a nation of divisiveness and bigotry.

We have seen the Republican’s platform unchanged for at least the last 40 years.  They are stuck in the mud.  They have no vision of what the future of our country should be.  They long for the days when there was social order.  A time when we all “knew our place” and just went along with what they told us.

That lack of vision is stifling our economy.  It is resulting in our infrastructure crumbling around our heads.  It has resulted in the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs that our country desperately needs so our people can work and live in comfort.  It has resulted in divisiveness in our social structure.

Rather than seeing the glorious nature of diversity, the wonderfulness of innovation and new technologies, and the energy and desire of our people to work hard and move forward, they prefer to take us back to a time that was even worse than anything today.

They then nominated a person in Donald Trump that exemplifies those very old and failed principles.   A man who claims to be a “businessman” that made his wealth on the despair of those who “believed him” and then he betrayed by not paying his bills forcing them out of business and out of work.  Even worse, he brags about doing just that!

As Michael Bloomberg said during his speech this week: “Donald Trump wants to run America like he runs his businesses?  God help us!”  He says he wants to “make America strong”.  Yet he is willing to abandon our allies because he doesn’t believe they “pay enough” for our protection.  That sounds more like a gang-related “protection racket” to neighborhood businesses than a foreign policy to me.

In the 1960s I was considered a Hippie Liberal.  Today, my son tells me I am more of a left-leaning moderate.  He may be right since times change.  However, I am a left-leaning Independent.  You may argue that my writings here indicate that I am a definite Democrat.  But, that is only because today’s Republican Party has abandoned all of its policies.  It has abandoned it principled ideals of being the “Party of Lincoln”.  It has even abandoned its “conservative credentials” in favor of “strong-man” tactics.

You only need look at their nominee for the proof.  I don’t just listen to words that are spoken, I look at body language as well.  Body language tells you more about the person than the words coming out of the mouth.

Donald Trump exhibits the body language of all of the dictators he seems to love.  He poses like Mussolini.  He claps to himself like Stalin and the rest of the old Supreme Leaders of the old Soviet Union.  He has praised people like Saddam Husain and Kim Jung Un.  Then he tells us “only I can fix our problems” just like Hitler did in the 1920s in Germany.

In this election you will need to make up your own mind on who to support.  I am a left-leaning old Hippie.  I am a twenty-year veteran who served my country in the U.S. Coast Guard.  I am a retired white “old fart” that spent my entire working life in careers dedicated to helping others.

When I sat in a small radio room in the middle of the night and the call came in for help, I never asked what race you were, I never asked what religion you were, I never asked what nationality you were.  I simply responded and got the mechanism moving to rescue you.

As such, I cannot in any way, shape or form support a candidate like Donald Trump or a party that has the gall to put him up to be our President.  I cannot remember ever voting a straight ticket.  This year that will change.

Donald Trump and the platform of the Republican Party is so disgusting to me, I will vote and I will support Hillary Clinton and the Democrats up and down the ticket.  I am actually hoping that this crop of Republicans get beat so badly this year, that the real Republicans will take back their party.

I believe in discussions.  I believe in political differences.  That is the only way to bring about change and necessary improvements.  I believe in compromise where each side gets something out of the deal as long as Americans are the benefactor.  Today’s crazies who control the Republican Party will never allow that to happen, and they must go.

Now, I don’t expect Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party to be jumping up and down over my endorsement.  I know I write for a small somewhat obscure little blog.  But, I do believe that more of us “small” people must speak up, take a stand, and say enough is enough.  And, more importantly, to vote the crazies out!

One last word to Donald Trump.  If I were still in active uniform and you gave me an order to burn down the house of suspected terrorist, or to kill the family of a suspected terrorist, or torture a suspected terrorist, or any of the other idiotic things you claim will happen, I would refuse to obey.  I would also order my people not to obey.

Our oath says we will “obey all lawful directives given to us by those appointed above us”.  What you are saying is illegal, inhuman, and downright fascist.  To put it in terms you may understand, I would simply look you in the eye and say “Fuck you!”

Enough said.

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Congress returns to Washington today.  I won’t say that Congress returns to work today, because that would be a huge stretch.  Congress hasn’t “worked” for at least five years.  I am afraid that we will continue to see Congress not “working” again when they return.

During their last “recess” Justice Antonin Scalia died.  He threw a really hammer into the works.  His death means that President Obama, according to the Constitution, “shall” appoint his replacement.  The Senate is then to hold hearings on the nomination, and “advise and consent” to the President’s choice.

That is all in the Constitution.  It does not say that the President “shall” nominate during any year he is in office “except his last year”.  It makes no distinction on where in his term a President is to make his nomination.

Conservatives on the other hand, are already screaming that the President would be breaking the “norm” if he nominated a replacement in his last year.  They say, the President should not perform his duties as outlined under the Constitution.

Conservatives are saying that no one has been approved during a President’s last term.  That is an outright lie.  Justice Kennedy, a conservative, was approved during George W. Bush’s last year as President.  So you can see their argument for “holding off for the next President” does not exist.

It isn’t just Senators who are making an argument about the pending nomination either.  Conservatives are more concerned with the Supreme Court makeup than the makeup of the Senate Majority.

“I would rank having a conservative justice as more important than having the majority in the Senate,” said David Bozell, president of For America, a conservative advocacy group. “God knows this Republican majority in the Senate hasn’t done much anyway for conservatism, period.”

“If you look at some of the conservative movement’s successes, it’s in large part due to the court doing some decent things and making some good decisions,” he added.

Of course their arguments for the President not nominating someone is inconsistent with previous views as Peggy Noonan proves.  Last week, she argued:

When the court is roughly balanced, 5-4, the public is allowed to assume some rough approximation of justice will occur—that something that looks like justice will be handed down. There will be chafing and disappointments. ObamaCare will be upheld. Yay! Boo! Gay marriage will be instituted across the land. Yay! Boo!

The closeness of the vote suggests both sides got heard. The closeness contributes to an air of credibility. That credibility helps people accept the court’s rulings.

When the balance of the court tips too much one way, it invites people to see injustice and bully politics. It invites unease and protest.

She is acting like a 5-4 conservative majority is a “balance” but a 5-4 liberal majority is not “balanced”.  Even still, she is arguing against an earlier rant she had over major decisions like the gay marriage decision just last year.  She wrote:

Unanimous decisions tend to quell dissent; they confer an air of inarguable legitimacy, even inevitability. Whatever your own views, you as a citizen must acknowledge that nine lawyers, presumably skilled interpreters of the Constitution who hold different judicial and political philosophies, were able to agree on the charged issue at hand. Unanimous decisions rob opponents of arguments.

Landmark decisions based on narrow splits reflect a continuing breach.

What this really boils down to is the conservatives are trying to figure out a way to show that their obstructionism isn’t really obstructionism.  That is really hard to do.

There is no reason on earth why this President, who by the way won two elections by a wide margin, should not nominate Scalia’s replacement.  There is no reason why the Senate should not hold hearings on that nomination, and vote on the nomination.

Unless you consider not abiding by the Constitution as an excuse.  But, that would never happen.  The Republican Party, especially the conservatives like Ted Cruz are campaigning on their “love” for the Constitution.

As a result, we can be sure that conservatives and the Republicans will be more than happy to prove their “love” for the Constitution and do their job!  Than again, words are cheap.  Actions cost.

I am sure we will see a real fight over this process.  I am also willing to bet that the Republican leadership in the Senate will cow-tow to the conservative wacko branch of the party again.

Even if the Judicial Committee does hold hearings on a nominee and recommends a vote, you can bet that Ted Cruz will march back into the Senate to filibuster the nominee.  He will wail about “protecting” the Constitution, all the while he is shredding it on the floor of the Senate.

That is what the current wacko group of so-called “conservatives” do today.  They talk a lot about their love for the Constitution while they are putting it through the shredder.  The worst part is that the media lets them get away with it.  They refuse to challenge them at all.

No, this is just another example of obstructionism being alive and well in the Republican Party.  If you have not policies to offer the American people, then obstructionism is all you have.  They know that is all they have left in their “bag of tricks”.

As I asked once before, where have all the Republicans gone?  The answer is they have left and gone away.  But, the “shirts” keep marching along.

 

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