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Day 188. 

Yesterday the Department of Justice announced that they have ordered a Special Counsel to oversea the Russian Hacking and any possible collusion between them and any member of the trump campaign.  That announcement was met with hails of praise about the decision.

I agree that we do need a special counsel or special prosecutor because it is time we actually find out what happened, who may have been involved, and how we are going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  And, quite frankly, the Congressional investigations are running at a snail’s pace with no sign they will pick up anytime soon.

We also had a report that Mike Flynn told the trump transition team that he was under investigation by the FBI before he took the position of National Security Advisor.  According to the report, Flynn told the now White House Counsel about the investigation on January 4.  Before the inauguration.

Which begs the question of how could trump still name him as National Security Advisor when he knew Flynn was under investigation for his time as an unregistered foreign agent for Turkey?

We also had a report that Kevin McCarthy, the second in command in the House Republican Caucus told a group of Republicans in 2016 that he thought trump was on Putin’s payroll.

On June 15, 2016 McCarthy said:  “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”   Some of the Republicans laughed but McCarthy quickly added “swear to God”.  These comments were actually taped by someone, and the tape was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

When the story first broke both Ryan and McCarthy claimed the conversation “never happened”.  But, when the Post told them they had the tape, they changed their story.  Instead of it never happening, they said it was a “bad attempt at humor”.

This took place exactly one day after the news broke about the hacking of the DNC.  And, right after Ryan and McCarthy came out of a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, who had described a Kremlin tactic of financing populist politicians to undercut Eastern European democratic institutions.

Getting back to yesterday, when the news of the special counsel was first announced, trump seemed to be happy and claimed it would end in total clearance for him and then he could move on with his agenda.  In a written statement he said “A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity.  I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”

That story changed big time today.  In his usual Cowardly Lion manner, he tweeted this morning:  “it is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”  Then just to make sure he threw red meat to his base he tweeted:  “With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel (sic) appointed!”

Naturally he gave no indication of any of the so-called “illegal acts” by either Clinton or Obama.  The one thing you can say about the Obama administration is that they were not involved in anything “illegal”.  You may not like the man.  You may even hate his guts.  But, he was never at the center of any scandal nor did he get involved in any illegal acts.  Even Republicans called him “no drama Obama”.

But trump can’t stand the fact that his “team” appears to be neck-deep in Russian scandals.  His former Campaign Manager had dealings with “Russian backed Ukrainian government that was ousted by the people.  There are reports of his money laundering for Russians.  And then we learned that somehow he received a $3 Million mortgage that was mysteriously paid off for him.

Mike Flynn went to Moscow to sit next to Putin at a dinner for RT and was paid
$35,000 for his speech without reporting it.  He was a paid foreign agent for the Turkish government during the campaign and did not register as one.  He reportedly told trump team that he was under investigation before the inauguration.  Then he took the position of National Security Advisor and sat in on highly classified briefings that could have affected his client, and Russia.

As reported, there have been at least 18 undisclosed meeting between the trump transition team and Russian officials including ones involving Kushner, Sessions, and that infamous “phone call” about sanctions Flynn made.  Beloved leader call this a witch-hunt.  He calls this a hoax.  He calls this “fake news”.

To add insult to injury, beloved leader was as the Coast Guard Academy’s graduation ceremony yesterday.  During his speech he complained about how the media was out to get him.  He then bragged, again, about his victory.  He tried to tell the graduates to “fight, fight even when thing are against them”.

That is good advice since his administration wants to slash the Coast Guard’s budget.  They want to cut about $25 billion form the Coast Guard.  Including cutting all of the funding for new equipment the Coast Guard desperately needs.  Yet he had the audacity to claim that the Coast Guard was “necessary to help him fight to keep America Safe”.  Hard to do when you cannot afford the very operations that do that now.

And, all the while, we don’t hear anything of consequence from the Republicans.  Both Ryan and McConnell are fuming over the special counsel appointment because they didn’t want one named.  They both said so many times so they cannot be happy right now.  Still we hear the usual silence from them and their party.

Then we come to the final point.  Mike Pence.  As I wrote the other day, I believe Mike Pence is a co-conspirator in all of this.  I do not believe that Pence was lied to by Flynn but Pence was trying to cover for Flynn.  I believe he knew all along about Flynn’s actions and his not being registered as a foreign agent all the while working for trump and Pence’s campaign.

I further believe that in terms of domestic policy Mike Pence is far more dangerous than trump.  With the way trump behaves, we cannot be sure that he will rubber-stamp anything that Republicans in Congress put in front of him.  We know for certain that Pence will.

During his term as Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence was atrocious.  His poll numbers were at rock bottom which is why most people believe he even took the position as the running mate for trump.  He was the driving force behind the anti-LGBT laws passed in the state.  His track record of voter restriction, anti-LGBT laws and anti-civil rights are well-known.

He is a strong believer that rich people should pay less in taxes than you do.  He believes that health care is a privilege not a right and is in full support of the Americans Without Health Care Act.  If we wind up with a president pence after all of this, we can be sure that our country, domestically at least, will be far worse off than it is now.

As Grover Norquist once said, Mike Pence would be that President with “enough digits to hold a pen and sign everything Republicans put in front of him”.  Some are hoping that Pence will get caught up in all of this as well, and will be forced out.  But, that isn’t all that great either.  Remember the next one in line is none other than that unintelligent wank Paul Ryan.

When Richard Nixon was forced out over the Watergate Scandal, our country had one hope.  We had Gerald Ford sitting as the Vice President.  Ford was a moderate and there was hope that the nation would survive the scandal and get back to normal.  With Pence the sitting Vice President, I  don’t have that same hope for the country.

In the year 2017 we face a real problem.  We have an administration that has tried to “run things” like a dictatorship.  We have a political party, the Republicans, who want to dismantle our democracy.  We have another political party, the Democrats, that react to events rather than planning a real resistance that could put a stop to all of this.

What we really need is some people with cool heads and a plan to fight back.  What we need to have is people who love this country more than they love their party and power.  There are some Democrats who are remaining cool-headed and wanting to get to all of the facts no matter where they lead.  There are beginning to be cracks in the Republican side who want the same thing.

The problem is that there aren’t enough of them yet.  The leadership of the Republican Congress is still hiding their heads in the sand.  Or, should I say they have their heads up their asses.  As a result, we won’t know the extent of this problem for months if not years.

Only, it really doesn’t matter how this all plays out.  If trump is exonerated, he will remain in power and continue his authoritarian form of government.  He will be able to pass laws to “jail” journalists that write things against him, which is what he wants.  He will be able to destroy the country we all love.

If he is found to be involved in this mess, he will be forced out of office, if Republicans have the guts to impeach him and hold a trial in the Senate, and we will end up with president pence.  Which would be no better than having president trump.

Because the 2016 presidential election was a disgusting soap opera instead of a real campaign, we wound up with president trump and vice president mike pence.  As a result, we find ourselves in totally uncharted waters.  There is a major scandal hanging over the White House, and there are no heroes who will ride to our salvation.

To put it very bluntly, no matter what happens from here, we the American People are fucked.  We lose no matter how this plays out.  All of this played out in full during the campaign.  The very fact that trump refused to agree with out intelligence community that is was the Russians who hacked the DNC showed just where his loyalties lay.  His comment about hoping the “Russians would hack Clinton’s emails” showed that he liked the idea Russia was involved.  So, this was all foretold.

The best lesson to take from all of this is how important it is to actually participate in our election process.  Maybe if Americans took their responsibility to get out and vote seriously, we wouldn’t be where we are today.  If you didn’t vote last year and are looking for the real blame, look in the mirror.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 178. 

This administration is very good at exercising conflict of interest in order to line their own pockets.  We have seen instances of one advisor advertising Ivanka’s products on air.  And, we have seen a U.S. department advertising for Mar A Lago on its website.

However, Jared Kushner and his family have gone even further.  They are actively “selling visas” in China in order to get more money for their projects and line their own pockets.  There is something called the EB-5 visa program.  This program awards foreign investors the right to live in the United States for two years and a path to permanent residency, in exchange for investments of at least $500,000 in American development projects.

This program was instituted in order to finance projects in economically troubled neighborhoods.  It has instead turned into a form of cheap financing for luxury real estate developers.  Applicants are primarily seeking the visa, so they do not seek a significant return on their investment.

The United States Government Accountability Office, the investigative branch of Congress, has criticized the visa program for its lax safeguards against illicit sources of money.  It is informally known as the “Visas For Sale Program”.

The Kushner family has used this program in the past as well.  They raised about $50 million from Chinese investors in EB-5 funding for another project in Jersey City, a Trump-branded luxury apartment tower that opened in late 2016.

Now the company is at it again in China.  They held one “investor program” in Beijing, and one in Shanghai.  In both instances, there was a very clear mention of the EB-5 Visa program to lure in more investors.  The Kushner company claimed is was just an investor program and not political.

But, to Bi Ting, who attended the event, part of the appeal was political: Jared Kushner is the son-in-law of — and a powerful adviser to — President Trump. Virtually unheard-of in China just months ago, he is now known here as a deeply influential figure in American politics.

When they held the event in Beijing, reporters for the Washington Post and the New York Times were escorted out of the gathering.  In Shanghai, the press was kept out of the event and kept in an elevator lobby.  I guess the Kushners didn’t want the press to know what they were up to.

Still, leaks come out anyway.  Some who attended described an investor pitch similar to the one in Beijing, and Mr. Trump’s political power was palpable at the Shanghai event even if his name went unsaid. As on Saturday in Beijing, one slide presented to the Shanghai audience on Sunday showed a photograph of Mr. Trump when describing who will decide the future of the visa program for foreign investors, according to a snapshot taken by an audience member.

As you can see, this is not something that is totally unusual.  And, you will also note that Jared Kushner claims to have stepped away from the day-to-day control of the family’s businesses.  But, it still gives off a very dark optic at the very least.

While Kushner’s star keeps rising in the administration, his family is trying to sell visas to rich Chinese who want to come to the U.S. anyway.  This is also at a time when Kushner’s father-in-law is supposedly trying to close our borders to immigrants.

With all of the screaming about Latino immigration, what you are not hearing is that about three-quarters of the 10,000 investor visas were issued to Chinese.  So, it shows that if you have money to invest in this country, you can purchase your visa along with your investment.

If you are a family like the trumps or the Kushners, you simply need to go to China and sell U.S. visas in order to get money to build your projects.  If you are president, or a very powerful advisor to the president, it is much easier to get your money by selling visas.  And, then you claim that you aren’t personally involved in the day-to-day operations of the company.

That way you can claim, falsely in my opinion, that you are not involved in a conflict of interest.  Even though you are still receiving huge profits from the company into your personal pockets.  How convenient.

Of course Jared is not the only Kushner doing business with China from the White House.  His wife Ivanka has also done deals with China from the White House.  She was miraculously granted a shit-load of branding trade marks in China the very day she sat next to the Chinese President at dinner at Mar A Lago.

Jared’s power in the West Wing is growing each day.  One of the things that he is supposedly responsible for is matters dealing with China.  How convenient.  I wonder, if the fact that his daddy-in-law refused to name China a “currency manipulator” as he promised relentlessly on the campaign trail was really the result of Jared’s instance.  Especially in light of these “investor events” selling visas to Chinese for money to finance Kushner projects.

If anyone is wondering why there is a big hoopla over the conflicts of interest this administration has, this is a good example of why that hoopla is necessary.  How is it possible for us to believe that any decisions on China is in the best interest of the nation and not in the best interest of Kushner businesses?  Or, trump’s businesses for that matter.

These types of actions are becoming all too common for the president’s family and other members of his administration.  The head of the HHS has been shown to be guilty of insider trading when he was a Congressman.  No, he wasn’t convicted in court, but he was convicted in the court of public opinion.  Buying stock and then passing laws to benefit the company you just bought stock in is considered insider trading by any definition.

We are not even at the four-month mark of this administration.  And, yet, we seem to be saddled with the most corrupt administration in my living memory.  Yet, no one really seems to care and that is the real problem.

Beloved leader will tell you that he cannot be accused of conflict of interest because he is president.  The Republicans will tell you that people like the Kushners are just using they system and “doing nothing illegal”.  The Kushners will tell you that they are not doing anything that other businesses aren’t doing.

In technical terms they are all correct.  But, in the reality of politics and proper ethics, they are all wrong.  When I was teaching at a Community College in Security Management, I told my students that “integrity is all we have to ensure we do our jobs properly.  If we lose our integrity, we lose our ability to do our jobs correctly”.

The same can be said for politicians, especially the president.  If the president has no integrity, how can the American People trust him to make any decisions that are in their best interests.  How can we believe him if he says we need to attack another country because they have nuclear weapons?  How can we believe him when he says “believe me”?

The answer to all of those questions is that we cannot believe him.  We cannot believe that decisions are made in our interests and not his own financial interests.  We cannot believe him when he says he “cares about us” and wants to make our lives better.  Especially when his actions, and those of his administration, have been to use the office of the president to line their own pockets at our loss.

Beloved leader proved one of his statements correct.  He said “I am probably the only person who can run for president and make money off of the campaign”.  His companies raked in money from his own campaign, so he was right in that aspect.  Now, he is proving that he can also make lots of money off of being president.  And, he doesn’t care if you know it or not.  All that matter to this maniac is his bottom line, not your bottom line.

That is why we see things like the Americans Without Health Care Act pass the House with his blessings.  That is why we see agencies like the EPA being gutted both financially and personal matters so polluters can pollute our water, air and land even more than they already do.  That is why we see his draconian budget that tears apart every program that is intended to make your lives better.

As you can see, conflict of interest comes in many forms.  This administration is openly and blatantly using the office of the president to line their own pockets.  And, like all of the Goldman Sachs former employees who head up our all of finance agencies after causing the economic meltdown 11 years ago, no one will be held accountable.

Ethics and Integrity.  Two essential items necessary to properly govern a country are sorely lacking in this administration.  As a result, they keep getting richer and we keep getting poorer.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 171. 

The first 100 days of beloved leader’s presidency are finally over.  In those 100 days about the only thing we learned about beloved leader is that he is a total clown with no idea of what the hell he is doing.

The three main items about trump we have learned are Bluster, Incompetence, and Complete Ignorance.  If those are his three main traits, we are all in deep shit.  Included in those three traits is one more.  He is an absolute lousy negotiator.  He couldn’t negotiate his way out of a men’s room.

But, don’t just take my word for it, look at each trait individually.  The day after his inauguration, he complained that no one was giving him credit for “having the largest crowd in history at my inauguration”.  Photographs of his inauguration proved otherwise, but what the hell, he believed it so we should.

Just last night at a rally in Harrisburg, PA he bragged that the crowd set an “all-time record for the arena and that there are thousands of people standing outside who couldn’t get in”.  Only photographs showed the arena was not at capacity.  It holds about 7,000 people, and photographs from the event show about 15 percent of the seats were empty.

Look, there was a large crowd there.  They were even loud and supportive of beloved leader.  But, his bluster couldn’t allow that to come out, he had to openly lie to the people in the arena who could see it was not full.  Yet, they still cheered him and agreed with him.  I guess the arena was never full for any event in its history.  If that is true, then he was right when he said it was an all-time record setter.  If that is not true, then neither is his comment.

He loudly tells us that he is for the “little people”.  But, his first executive order was to increase the cost of mortgage insurance for first-time home buyers making it harder for them to get the mortgage they need.  I am sure all first-time home buyers are thanking him for his support every time they write their mortgage checks out costing them $500 per year more than if he had not signed that stupid order.

Then he allows his EPA chief to let Dow Chemical’s pesticide that affects the development of brains in children and fetus’ to be used on food crops.  This pesticide was banned from food crops under the last administration, but who cares if you child’s brain developes like it should.  Dow Chemical’s profits are far more important than your children’s development.

The EPA has also taken down all of the information about climate change from its website.  It thinks that there is no such thing as climate change so why bother with putting up all of that scientific information that shows they are wrong.

Then under his incompetence, we only need to look at all of the vacancies in the Federal Government.  Of the roughly 459 positions he is required to fill, less than 60 of them have been filled.  There aren’t even any nominations announced for the remaining vacancies.

Additionally, his empty suit Rex Tillerson said that he expects to lay off over 2,000 state department employees.  Beloved leader apparently doesn’t believe that an active state department with real professionals can stop wars.  Which is exactly what their job is.  As whimpering dog Mattis over at Defense actually said “if we don’t have an active State Department, I will need a lot more bullets”.  Even whimpering dog knows we need a State Department that engages with the world.

During his time in office, our beloved leader has managed to piss off our allies like Germany, England, France, Canada, and even Australia.  All the while he is praising the murderer Putin for being a “great leader” as trump likes to call him.

He and his administration told the American People that “we are sending a great armada to the South China sea to show North Korea we mean business”.  Only, that “great armada” was actually heading for exercises with the Australian Navy thousands of miles south of the South China Sea.  The Commander-in-Chief and his whimpering dog Mattis didn’t even know where his fleet was or what they were doing.

Mattis even told us that they made the announcement because the exercise was cancelled so they had to give a reason for cancelling it.  Only, it wasn’t cancelled, and the Vinson and her fleet didn’t head towards Korea until it was over.  How incompetent can you be?

In Syria, his administration said they didn’t mind that Bashaad was in power and that it was up to the Syrian people to decide if they should get rid of him.  Then, Bashaad used chemical weapons on his own people.  So, trump launched a handful of missiles at one of Bashaad’s air bases with very limited results and bragged about being “presidential” over the incident.  He claimed that he had to send the missiles because of the pictures of all of those “beautiful babies” he saw being gassed.  Yet, he won’t let any of those “beautiful babies” to come here to get away from the war.

Then we get to his total ignorance.  We have been staring down North Korea for about 70 years.  Beloved leader seems to want to draw another “red line” in the sand over North Korea.

North Korea has artillery aimed at and in range of Seoul where about half of South Korea’s population lives.  So, in order to show we mean business again, he ordered that a missile defense system be installed in South Korea.  Sounds reasonable especially considering we have over 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea.

Then, he fell back on his gangster mode and claimed that he told South Korea that they should really pay for the missile defense system.  He seems to have left out the part where he would pull it out if they didn’t pay, but the possibility remains loudly in the minds of the South Korean people.

Then, to make matters even worse, he said he would tear up the trade agreement we have with South Korea.  This ignoramus doesn’t understand just how bad he is making relations with one of our best allies.  Does he really think that the South Koreans will be so “strong” in supporting our moves against North Korea if he is going to “tear up” our trade agreements with the South?

Additionally, there are Presidential elections going on in South Korea since their last President was removed from office over corruption charges.  Does he really believe that the winner will be the one who calls out the name trump as a “great leader”?  Rather, it would appear that the winner will be the one who defies and distances themselves from trump the most.  Boy, isn’t that a smart way to win friends.

But, let’s be fair.  He has accomplished a lot in his first 100 days.  He failed to get his Americans Without Health Insurance Act passed because he is a lousy negotiator.  That is a positive for the country.

He was able to get his nomination to the Supreme Court approved.  Of course, his patsy Mitch McConnell had to change Senate rules to achieve that, so it really doesn’t count as a “victory” to me.

He has made “town hall meetings” for his party members almost unbearable.  As a matter of fact, many of his party’s members won’t even hold town halls anymore because they are afraid to face angry crowds.

He has placed a gag order on the employees at EPA so you can never find out about the real effects of climate change or the “sweetheart deals” that Pruitt is making with the fossil fuel companies.

He has removed worker protections from companies who do business with the government.  So if a contractor is guilty of sexual harassment, unequal pay for women, or has a horrible safety record, we won’t know about them and they will get to keep their contracts.

He hired, and then was forced to fire, an unregistered foreign agent to be his National Security Advisor.  Before he was fired, Flynn sat in on highly classified briefings even on briefings that were about the countries for which he was an unregistered foreign agent.

A total of 15 people of his administration have either been fired, resigned, or withdrew their names from consideration for high level posts.  That surely is a record for a president in his first 100 days.  And, we all know how much he loves records.

He has signed more executive orders in his first 100 days than any other president since World War II.  Remember when Republicans claimed that executive orders were nothing more than “a political overreach that flew against the Constitution”?  Funny, we don’t hear the same thing from them now that beloved leader is using executive orders instead of actual legislation.

Finally, he has managed to become the first president who is the subject of a counter espionage investigation concerning his campaign’s collusion with Russia in hacking our national elections.  He managed that in his first 100 days.

All of this shows that we probably have the biggest asshole sitting in the White House in our nation’s history.  The only thing he hasn’t done, yet, is follow his hero Andrew Jackson’s lead who tried make the east coast all white by shipping out all of the Native Americans who lived there.  Only, trump will ship out all Mexicans and Muslims instead of Native Americans.

He has named a fossil fuel company puppet as the head of the EPA.  He has named a public education hater to head up the Department of Education.  He has named an openly proud racist as our Attorney General.  He has placed former Goldman Sachs heads in positions to run our budgets and finances.  You know the company that was the lead in destroying the economy in 2008.

He named a person to head up the Department of Energy who doesn’t even know what the department does, and wants to “get rid of it” anyway.  He fired every District Attorney and has yet to fill one of those vacancies.

He gave a speech about not “tolerating anti-Semitism” in our country, but won’t name one White Supremacist or Neo-Nazi group as domestic terrorists.  Of course these groups all say they are acting as real Christians.  As he liked to say during the campaign, “our president won’t even say the term domestic Christian terrorist”.

The first 100 days of beloved leaders’ administration are finally over.  I won’t blame you if you think it has felt more like 100 years instead of days.  We are saddled with a do-nothing blusterous, incompetent, ignorant idiot in the White House.  Every time he gives a speech using his tele-prompter, I get the feeling I am listening to a first grader reading “see   spot   run”.

That is what we have learned about trump during the first 100 days.   The only question left is will we even have a country left by the 2018 elections?  Considering the first 100 days, that is a reasonable question to ask.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 163. 

We are quickly approaching the 100 day mark in beloved leader’s presidency.  All through the campaign and at the very beginning of his presidency, he has said over and over that he will accomplish so much in the first 100 days.  He even had something called his contract with America on what will be accomplished during his first 100 days.  I believe there were something like 10 legislative bills he said would be passed.

Well, so far, nothing has been passed.  He made a very feeble attempt at passing a replacement for the ACA, and it crashed and burned even before it could get to the floor of the House and have a vote.  He hasn’t released any information on his tax reforms which he claimed would be passed by now.

He ordered a 90 day review on cybersecurity and promised we would all be very pleased with the results.  No results have come forward, and no one seems to know who is even supposed to conduct this review.  So, one hasn’t even started yet.

Beloved leader claims to have “done more in my first 100 days than anyone in history”.  Which is a blatant lie.  Now he claims that the “first 100 days” thing is a bunch of bullshit.  Maybe because he hasn’t done anything yet.

About the only thing he has accomplished so far is to destroy the EPA and our environmental protections.  He has made it much easier for coal companies to pollute rivers and streams but not at producing more coal.  He has tried to implement his Muslim Ban but has failed at that as well since it was blocked in the courts more than once.

Yes, he did get his terrible nomination to the Supreme Court.  But, as usual, the Republicans had to change and break the rules to get it done.  They proved once again that “they don’t need no stinking rules”.  Something trump loves to hear.

Oh, he launched some missiles at Syria after saying that the dictator could stay as far as trump was concerned.  The damage was so minimal that the Syrian Air Force was carrying out air strikes against the rebels the very next day from that airfield.  Maybe that is because he warned the Russians and therefore the Syrians we were coming.

And, of course, we cannot forget that his administration is under FBI investigation for possibly colluding with the Russians hacking during our elections last year.  I guess that is something he is real proud of as well.

So, as we approach his first 100 day mark, we need to ask what will be his first major “victory” of his administration.  Here are my choices.

First, will he start a war with North Korea?  All of the signs are leaning in that direction.  Only, he doesn’t seem to understand that a war with North Korea would probably include nuclear weapons.  That could cause a global catastrophe.  I really doubt if he fully understands that threat.  I am more inclined to believe that he thinks that would be okay since the nuclear weapons would only be used on Asians anyway.

Second, will he manage to start a war with Iran.  Republicans and trump have been itching for a war with Iran for a very long time.  He want’s to “review” the nuclear deal with Iran even though his own State Department put in writing that Iran is complying with the accord.  Since when does this country pull out of an agreement that is being followed?  Does our word mean nothing anymore?

He claims that Iran isn’t complying with the “spirit” of the accord.  What he really means is they aren’t complying with his “spirit” of the accord.  So, he can just pull out and let Iran get the nuclear weapons this accord has prevented them from getting.  Does that mean that if we pull out of the accord, are we then going to invade Iran on the premise of them wanting nuclear weapons and we are just trying to stop them?  Doesn’t that sound a lot like the second Iraq War that W. got us into and trump blasted during the campaign?

Third, will he finally manage to toss 24 million people from their health care coverage.  He and Republicans are going to try again to pass the Americans Without Health Care Act.  Only this time, because the have allowed the so-called Freedom Caucus to name the conditions, more than 24 million people will lose their coverage.

The Freedom Caucus wants a provision that allows states to opt out of the coverage part for people with pre-existing conditions.  The provision says they must have a “High-Risk Pool” for these people.  But, it doesn’t say how it is to be funded.  Meaning, when a state opts out, insurance companies will have license to price pre-existing conditions out of the market.  So instead of just 24 million people losing their coverage, the number will most likely double.

But don’t worry, trump calls this a “wonderful bill” that will make coverage cheaper for everyone.  People with pre-existing conditions, and those who will lose Medicaid coverage are not considered as part of the “everyone” trump keeps talking about.  Or he believes that having no insurance is “cheaper” since you don’t have to pay premiums.  So what if you get sick.

Fourth, will the administration allow those retired miners to lose their coverage and pensions as we talked about the other day?  Is he going to step up to the plate and ensure they keep their retirement benefits or just throw them to the side of the road like everyone else who isn’t rich?  Can we consider that a “major victory” for trump because it will save a whopping 200 million dollars per year?

Fifth, will he cause a government shutdown at the end of next week.  As of midnight next Friday night, the government money will run out.  If there isn’t a continuing resolution, the government will shutdown again.  And, if it does shutdown it will be trump and the Republicans fault full stop.

The only thing that needs to be done is a continuing resolution that funds the government through the end of the fiscal year.  That is all.  But, Republicans and now trump love to throw in “poison pills” that hurt people just to say they are “standing on principle”.  They simply cannot allow a continuing resolution to pass cleanly and try to get their pet projects through normal channels.

This time, trump seems to be the trigger.  He wants his money to build his damn Berlin Wall.  He is even threatening to stop paying the subsidies in the ACA if he doesn’t get the money.  That would mean that millions of poor people, working poor people, and middle-class people would immediately lose their health care coverage because they wouldn’t be able to afford their premiums.

I mean really?  Beloved leader hates Latinos so much that he is willing to let you lose your health care coverage?  There are ways to fund projects, but holding hostage half of America is not the way it is supposed to be done.  You simply put together a plan and a bill, take it down to Congress, and fight like hell to get what you want.

The problem with this simple legislative way the government is supposed to work is that Republicans abandoned that principle 40 years ago.  Now, they simply want to hold America hostage and hold their breath until they get what they want.  They think it is much easier that way.  And, the only people who will be hurt by their tactics are the “little people”, not themselves.

Those are my five favorites of what would be trump’s “major victory” during his first 100 days in office.  He hasn’t proposed any meaningful legislation.  He hasn’t issued any Executive Orders that does anything except help pollute the planet and make the rich richer.

He has made sure that the “swamp” he promised to drain is overflowing its banks right now.  Corruption and unethical behavior are running rampant in his administration.  So, maybe he is right when he says that he has done more than anyone else in history.  I haven’t seen so much corruption and unethical behavior surface so fast in an administration in my lifetime.

I have said before that the first 100 days thing doesn’t mean much to me.  I am more interested in being shown that the person in the White House has some kind of plan and is ready with some real legislation to push the plan forward.  Beloved leader doesn’t seem to have a plan, and he has no legislation to put forward.

His backers say he is “learning on the job”.  I say it shows his incompetence.  He has shown me only that he is interested in making the rich, like himself, richer.  He is interested in destroying our planet by tearing down environmental protections that have taken decades to implement.  He is interested in allowing a foreign oil company take land away from private farmers in America to build a pipeline that will produce not one drop of gasoline for our country.  It is all going to be exported.

He has shown disdain for the Average American by trying to take away their Health Care Coverage and polluting their drinking water and poison the air they breath all in the name of profits for the insurance companies and the polluters.

I seriously doubt that trump will manage to accomplish even one of these five options.  He doesn’t have the competence to accomplish anything and he is proving that day-by-day.  Which could be a good thing for us.  Because any one of the five options above would be disastrous for the American People.  Especially to most of the very people who voted for him.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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Day 160. 

As usual, there are a lot of things to talk about this morning.  We have beloved leader calling Erdogan to “congratulate” him on his referendum victory.  Only, his referendum victory is going to demolish their parliamentary democracy and establish Erdogan as a dictator.  Even trump’s own State Department said the vote was not fair and the victory should be overturned, but trump loves seeing democracy disappear, apparently.

Then we have the issue of just where in the world the aircraft carrier group that is supposed to be off Korea really is.  It turns out that while trump was declaring this “powerful armada” was heading to Korea, it was off the coast of Australia participating in exercises with the Australian Navy.  It was nowhere near the Korean Peninsula.  Which means the administration lied, or they had no idea what they were talking about.  Neither is very good if you are the leader of a country.

But, while all this stupidity is on full display, there are a lot of things that are not only stupid, but actually dangerous to the American public.  Americans are being made more unsafe by trump and his administration, but no one in the media is talking about them.

Remember when trump said he launched his attack on Syria because he saw those pictures “of those beautiful babies” and decided he had to act?  Sounds very commendable.  Only, American babies all across the nation are at threat of being victims of chemical deaths, and trump is willing to allow it to happen.

This threat comes from hazardous chemical facilities ― from oil refineries to water treatment plants. An accident, natural disaster, or deliberate attack could trigger an explosion or chemical release that could kill thousands of people. Millions of our citizens live and work near these dangerous facilities.

This problem has been with us for generations.  The EPA is supposed to protect us from these dangers, but trump has pulled back.  First after three years of intensive discussions with chemical companies, plant workers, affected communities, first responders and others, the Environmental Protection Agency on January 13 issued a rule to help protect the American people from these dangers. The rule strengthens the federal Risk Management Program (RMP), which addresses some 12,500 facilities that use or store large quantities of highly toxic or highly flammable chemicals.

So to prove that you do not matter more than the bottom liner of companies, Scott Pruitt, the EPA director acted on a petition from the chemical industry and placed a stay on the rule until June.  Now that has happened, the chemical lobbyists are busy trying to kill the rule altogether.  And, to give them more time, Pruitt is proposing to keep the rule on hold until 2019.

In 2006, then Senator Barak Obama said that chemical plants are basically stationary chemical weapons.  And time and time again, we have seen this observation to be true.

It was just in 2013 that a plant in West, TX had an ammonia nitrate explosion.  It was even suspected that the explosion was caused by sabotage.  15 people were killed and 160 were injured.  But you probably don’t know this part because it is never reported as it should be.  From 2004 to 2013 there were some 1,500 chemical releases or explosions in this country causing 17,000 injuries and 58 deaths. There have been hundreds more incidents since then, with more casualties.

In 1984 a United Carbide company in Bhopal India suffered an accident that caused the deaths of 20,000 people.  Don’t think that type of accident cannot happen here.  What would happen if a terrorist attacked a large chemical plant?  How many people in the surrounding area be killed by release of these toxic chemicals?  Our beloved leader says he wants to keep Americans safe, but from what?  Obviously he isn’t trying to keep us safe from chemical companies.

The EPA has identified 466 chemical facilities that each put 100,000 or more people at risk of a poison gas disaster. In 2004, the Homeland Security Council projected that a major attack would kill 17,500 people and injure tens of thousands.

The Risk Management Program (RMP) that this rule would have strengthened was not perfect.  Chemical industry lobbying already has kept important protections out of the RMP rule. In particular, community, labor and environmental groups had strongly urged that plants be required to move to safer technologies where feasible, as some responsible companies, such as Clorox, have already done voluntarily.

But the final RMP rule does provide for some critical, common-sense reforms: enhancing emergency preparedness; improving investigations of near-miss incidents; increasing public access to chemical hazard information; and, for three industries with the most serious accident records ― refineries, chemical manufacturers, and pulp and paper mills ― requiring safer technology analyses.

I worked for a long time in disaster preparedness planning.  One of the biggest concerns I always had was about chemical accidents.  This country has had way too many accidents that have led to deaths and injuries.  And, not very much has been done to stop or even reduce such accidents.  This rule was definitely a step in the right direction.  It was intended to protect the American public from suffering more deaths from accidents in refineries, chemical plants, and a lot more.

But, like other rules that protect people, this rule would cost the manufacturers money to implement them properly.  And, that would affect their bottom line.  And, that is something totally unacceptable to the trump administration.  The health and safety of the American people comes in second to company profits.  The stay on this rule is a perfect example of that philosophy.

It is no accident that people like the Koch brothers are such strong supporters of the Republican party.  It is no accident that Republicans are very willing to save profits and not save lives.  The only thing that matters to Republicans is money and power.  They believe that money leads to power, and they will do nothing that will affect the donations from people like the Koch brothers even at the expense of the lives of their own constituents.

There are refineries, chemical plants, and other hazardous sites all across the country.  Millions of people live in the shadow of these facilities and Republicans say their lives are “expendable” because doing something to protect them would cost the facility owners “too much money”.

The idea of a terrorist attack against one of these facilities is not out of the question either.  In 2003, the government’s National Infrastructure Protection Center warned that U.S. chemical plants could be terrorist targets. Security experts have warned of the relative ease with which determined attackers could thwart plant security. The potential for cyber attacks makes the challenge even more serious.

So, as you can see, you are more at risk than you think.  But, trump and his administration just doesn’t care if you are hurt or die if such an attack should happen.  The rule was too “costly” for the company owners, so it must be killed.  And, since it might cause blowback from voters, it must be killed very quietly and very secretly.

I dare any conservative out there to defend this stay of the rule without using money as an excuse.  I cannot think of a single reason other than money why this rule should not be in effect right now.  I seriously warn America to wake up and see what trump is doing to you.  It isn’t getting you new jobs.  It isn’t making your life better.  It isn’t making you safer.

This administration only has one real goal.  To make the rich richer and everyone else poorer.  If making the rich richer means you need to be placed at risk, then that is perfect for them.  If you happen to live near one of these facilities, you better be prepared to run like hell if an accident happens.  Because trump and his administration really don’t care about you.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

 

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Day 153. 

We are at the end of month three of our beloved leaders presidency.  I am not one of those who think the first 100 days tells us anything, normally, but at this stage, I think it is time to reflect on just what our beloved leader means when he says “great”.

In the first three months, our beloved leader has accomplished absolutely nothing.  He failed in his attempt to “repeal and replace” the ACA with the House’s rotten Americans Without Health Care Act.  He twice tried to enact a Muslim Ban using Executive Orders and was blocked by the courts both times.

We keep hearing about all of the wonderful things he has done, so let’s look at what he has actually accomplished.  He has managed to raise the mortgage insurance rates for first time home buyers by $500 per year.

He has allowed coal companies to use rivers and streams for the dumping grounds for their toxic waste.  He has given the greenlight to a foreign company to build a pipeline across the middle of our country using foreign steel.  And, he is also allowing that foreign company to use U.S. Eminent Domain to steal land from the people who own it to build their pipeline.

He has ignored the environment case and the treaties with the Standing Rock Sioux to allow that pipeline to cross under a lake that provides drinking water to the reservations, and dumps into the Missouri River that provides drinking water to about 17 million other residents in three states.

He has started mass deportations of people who are undocumented immigrants.  He stayed quiet when his Secretary of Homeland Security announced they “might separate children from their families” when they are caught at the border.  He has allowed people under the protection of DACA to be rounded up with other undocumented immigrants.

He has refused to allow Syrian children and their families to seek asylum in our country, but then turned around and made a worthless attack on Syria because he saw those videos of “beautiful babies” being killed by the Syrian Regime.  He loves those “beautiful babies” so much he is willing to attack a sovereign country, but he hates them so much he won’t let them get away from the war and gain entry to our country.

His head of the EPA has given the greenlight to Dow Chemical to continue to sell and farmers to use a pesticide that has been proven to affect the brain development of children and the unborn that Republicans love so much.  The original ban was for “food crops” but his administration thinks that is too much to ask to protect our children.

His proposed budget will cut the State Department by over 30 percent.  It will cut the EPA by over 30 percent and he has placed a gag order on anyone at EPA from even talking about climate change science.  It will cut NOAA by at least 25 percent.  That isn’t too important, except that is the agency that provides the National Weather Service with information that helps get out weather warnings to the people.

He is cutting satellite time for the National Weather Service.  He wants to eliminate all of the Coast Guard’s funding for new equipment.  The Coast Guard only saves lives, protects our ports, helps with drug interdiction, helps with people trafficking, helps enforce and clean up after oil spills in our oceans, rivers, and lakes, and a lot more.  So, they aren’t that important.

It is going to cut out the National Broadcasting Corporation so you won’t find Sesame Street. They say you can now watch it on HBO, but they fail to tell you that you have to “subscribe” to HBO and poor people can’t afford that just to get children’s educational programming.  But what the hell, education is overrated according to beloved leader.

He has allowed ISP companies to sell your personal data to anyone without your permission or giving you any compensation.  He is about to eliminate net neutrality so those same ISP companies can charge you more for using their “fast lane” on your computer.  If you fail to pay the higher rates, you will be placed in the slow lane and have to wait longer to download your information.

His administration is embroiled in a counter espionage investigation being conducted by the FBI because it appears that at least some of his advisors were cooperating with Russia in their hack of our elections.  It was revealed that Carter Page was the target of a FISA warrant because the FBI believed that he was acting as an unregistered foreign agent.  The warrant was issued back in June or July while he was working for the trump campaign.

Paul Manafort has made the headlines again because at least $1.2 million form the so-called black ledger of the former Putin ally who was president did go to his consulting firm after he denied anything like has happened.

Both Republicans and Democrats who have viewed those classified documents that had Nunes all a tizzy said there is nothing in them that say anyone in the Obama administration, including Susan Rice did anything unusual or wrong.

The Immigration Advisor, Sebastian Gorka, has ties to an ultra-right wing party in Hungary that the State Department still labels as a collaborator with the Nazis during World War II.  He claims not to be a racist or belong to the organization, but he proudly wore the medal of the Order of Vitez to the presidential inaugural ball!  He claims he has not sworn allegiance to the Order of Vitez, but the Order say he has.  Yet, he still has his job with a president who has a daughter who is Jewish.

Our beloved leader has not created a single job since he took office.  He has done nothing to improve the lot of the working class.  He reuses to raise the minimum wage.  He has repealed worker protection orders on equal pay and sexual abuse for women working for companies under government contract.

He declared this as Women’s Abuse month, then went on to praise Bill O’Reilly for “being such a nice guy” even after the new blow up about his sexual abuse of women on his show and at Fox News.  Someone ought to tell our beloved leader that Women’s Abuse month is not a period of time to praise those who abuse women.  But, what do you expect from a man who brags how he can sexually abuse women and get away with it because he is famous.

A few days ago a teacher and one 8-year-old child were shot and killed in the school by the teacher’s estranged husband.  Not a peep out of the administration about this incident.  Why?  Because it did not involve a Muslim.  And, because it was committed by a man who apparently “abused” his wife when married.

Yesterday our lovely and stupid Attorney General announced a crackdown on every single person trying to cross the border “illegally”.  It even includes prosecuting people for “harboring” illegal immigrants.  It further appears that if a man comes across the border with his wife and children, he will face “harboring” charges for bringing his family with him.

Finally, beloved leader’s propaganda minister tripped all over himself with a horrible comparison between the chemical attack in Syria and Hitler.  Saying “even Hitler didn’t use chemicals against his own people”.  Then he called the concentration camps “holocaust centers”, like they were a nice place to go to be relocated.

Now, to be fair to Spicer, he actually did apologize.  He didn’t use the standard trump line of “if I offended anybody” he actually said he made a stupid mistake.  But, that doesn’t take away from the stupidity to begin with.  If you are going to be the Press Secretary, don’t you think you should know at least basic history?

It is also understandable that there has been no comment from the White House either.  Stephen Bannon, Gorka, and a lot of other “key” employees of trump are known to be white supremacists.  So the culture of such comments is not all that unusual for this administration.

What we have discussed here is just the tip of the iceberg.  There has been a host of other outrageous things that the administration has either done or is going to try to do.  For example, the proposed tax reform plan includes eliminating the Social Security Tax from your pay checks.  Sounds nice, but without that tax, how will Social Security be funded?  It will be at the mercy of Paul Ryan the Republicans who want to kill Social Security completely.

So, we must ask beloved leader one question.  What exactly do you mean by “Make America Great Again?  So far, you haven’t done anything that could remotely be any indication of making America great.  All you have done is lie to the American people and take just about every weekend off to go play golf at Mar A Lago on our dime.  At the rate you are going, you will have played more rounds of golf in one year than President Obama did in eight years.

It is very clear that when beloved leader says he is going to Make America Great Again” he isn’t talking about making it great for you and me.  He is talking about making it great for himself and the 1 percenters.

I guess it is possible that things will change.  But with trump, I find that possibility very unlikely.  And, we are only at the end of three months.  Seems like thirty years.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 139. 

You all know that I am old.  I have never said that I wasn’t.  So, let me tell you a little story.  When I was a boy, we lived in a house on the South Side of Chicago.  As I understood things, my mother’s father built the house and he and grandma lived there the rest of their lives.  It had a second story with an apartment where we lived.

Later, my parents bought the house from my grandparents.  Grandma and grandpa moved upstairs to the second-floor apartment and we moved into the main house.

There was one thing about the house.  It needed a lot of work to bring it up to date including the heating.  the house had a coal-fired furnace to heat the house in the winter.  Therefore, we would get deliveries of coal to the house.  They would drop the coal on the curb in front of the house.

When dad got home from work, he would put a plank of wood down and then shovel the coal into the wheel barrel and haul it to the “coal bin” in the front of the basement.  Actually, we dumped it through a window in the coal bin.

Naturally, as children, we loved playing outside.  When the coal was delivered, we loved playing on the coal pile.  There was a lot of coal to play in.  As you can guess, mom wasn’t very happy about how dirty we got playing on the coal pile, and we would usually “get it” for doing so but it was just too good to pass up.

We didn’t have the coal bin for long after my parents bought the house.  They soon replaced the coal furnace with a gas heater.  There went the coal piles, and there went all of our fun.  But, it saved my family a ton of money and hard labor heating the house.

I bring this little tale up because yesterday, our beloved leader signed another executive order.  Remember when Republicans hated executive orders?  Well anyway, this one goes after the Clean Power rules and regulations.  Our beloved leader claims this will “bring back the coal industry very quickly”.  He is lying.  He says that it “ends the war on coal”.  He is lying.  He says we will have “lots and lots of clean coal”.  He is lying.

If he had said that it could possibly result in massive amounts of greenhouse gasses being released into the atmosphere and thus quickening climate change, he would be telling the truth.  But the truth and trump only appears in the same sentence when you need to point out how much he lies.

The real “war on coal” is not being waged by the federal government or the EPA or any environmental groups.  It is being waged by electric companies that want cheaper sources of fuel to create their electricity.  The utility companies have discovered that natural gas is cheaper than coal.  They also discovered that natural gas emits about half of the greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

As a result of this two-fisted discovery, utility companies like my parents did years ago, changed their coal furnaces to natural gas burners.  And viola, cheaper and cleaner ways to make electricity.

Coal companies want this executive order more than coal miners.  If anyone thinks that we will see thousands upon thousands of miners returning to the mines, think again.  Like other industries like manufacturing, the mines will be mostly be filled with automation.  There may be some miners returning to work, but not nearly enough and not the “thousands” trump has promised.

He also said he would look at “the EPA mileage requirements” for our cars.  Under President Obama the EPA said that cars needed to double their gas mileage.  Our beloved leader want to “review” those regulations.  In Republican speak, that means kill it.

Who out there in our lovely land wants to have this regulation killed?  Let me see a show of hands!  I mean, who would not love to have a car that cuts their fuel costs in half?  If you pay $30 per tank of gas everytime you fill up, and you fill up once a week, you would average $120 per month in gas costs for your car.  Now double the gas mileage for your car.

When you double the gas mileage, you won’t need to fill up once per week.  You would fill up just once every two weeks.  So, if you pay $30 per tank of gas, and you fill up twice a month, your total cost would be $60 per month.  Half of what you are paying now.  That would mean a $720 per year savings in gasoline alone.

Then, we need to look at the real possibility that the price of gasoline would actually go down once every car had twice the mileage we currently have.  That is basic capitalism principles of supply and demand.  If we are demanding less gasoline, oil companies would have to cut prices to encourage us to drive more and buy more gasoline.

So, to answer my own question about who would not love to have a car that cuts their fuel costs in half?  The answer is the oil companies.  And, who does our beloved leader love more than he loves you?  Oil companies.

The fastest growing area of our energy sector is clean energy.  We continue to grow in solar power.  We continue to grow in wind power.  We continue to grow in tidal power.  And, we continue to grow in geothermal power.

The best part of these clan power sources is that these are American Jobs that cannot be outsourced.  Also, they are jobs that can be expanded because we can export the technology.  It is a growing business, but it does rely on one thing.  The tax incentives that were necessary to get the industry off the ground.

The biggest fear about the latest executive order is that the next one will probably go after the tax incentives for clean energy companies.  That will help kill the real competition to big oil and coal companies.  I don’t see any clean energy executives in trump’s administration, do you?

So, if you really want to look at what is going on and why we don’t need to rollback these regulations, you don’t even need to argue climate change.  That is important, but Republicans don’t care about climate change.  They only care about money and power.

So, when the coal jobs do not “magically” reappear because of this executive order, the miners will realize that trump lied to them and used them as puppets.  And, when clean energy jobs start drying up after he cuts the tax reliefs for those companies, we will see a backlash there too.

This rollback of the Clean Power regulations is nothing less than a hoax and bad economic policies.  It will hurt jobs and not create them.  It will hurt our economy because once we kill our clean energy sector, countries like China, Germany, and others will fill the void and take control of that lucrative market.  It will kill any possible savings in energy costs to the average person by not doubling the mileage in our automobiles.

So, you see, I sure wish that trump had been president when I was a boy.  Maybe I wouldn’t have “gotten it” for playing in the coal piles in front of the house.  I could have argued that it was “clean coal”.  But, I don’t think mom would have bought the argument.  See, mom isn’t stupid.  She knows that there is no such thing as “clean coal”.

Our beloved leader knows it too.  He just doesn’t care.  He is willing to lie about anything and everything just to get people to “like” him.  What a pathetic little boy he really is.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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