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Day 105. 

I think it is time to discuss the Republican lie about “states rights”.  According to Republicans, especially conservatives, that whatever they want as law should be “up to the states to decide”.

This came up again yesterday when trump rolled-back the transgender rule for schools about which bathroom and shower they should be allowed to use.  The order said that children should be allowed to use the bathroom and shower based on their actual gender and not what is necessarily on the birth certificate.

Yesterday, after months of saying he supports LGBT rights, he rescinded this rule.  there is some confusion over the order in that of all people Betsy DeVos was originally against the order.  Sessions reportedly pressured her because he needed the Education Department to back it.  It was also reported that trump pressured her as well, and in the end she caved.

We knew this was coming because the day before, Sessions’ Justice Department told the courts they would no longer support the rule in the courts.  Then, in typical fashion, they all said “this is something better left to the states to decide”.

I have always found it dangerous the way Republicans use “states rights” so selectively.  This stupidity goes back a long way.  We had a Civil War over the issue of slavery.  Yet, today, the south still says that it was fought over “states rights”.  Only, the only “states rights” that they fought over was the right to keep slaves.

So, even if you buy their lie about it fought over “states rights” they still lost the war.  Yet, conservatives and especially today’s Republican Party keep trotting out the “states rights” claim for anything they don’t agree with.

However, the only things that seem to fall under “states rights” are laws that affect the civil rights of people across the country.  This same cry of “states rights” was the crux to the Jim Crow laws that discriminated against African-Americans for so many years.

Other topics that seem to fall under their “states rights” cry are things that affect all people, but may hurt profits of certain businesses.  Like clean air and water.

To name just a few, here are some of the things that Republicans want the states to decide.  Jim Crow Laws, Same-Sex Marriage, Abortion Rights, Bathroom Rights for Transgenders, Voting Rights, Clean Air Regulations, Clean Water Regulations.

These are just some of the issues covered by their lie.  If you look at all of these issues you will discover that the laws affect all parts of the country, not just a particular state.

The Jim Crow laws were so strict, that an African-Americans who were riding on a train from the north in was forced to leave the coach they were sitting in and go to sit in the “colored coach” when the train crossed into a southern state.  That even included service members during World War Two.

Same-sex marriage is another one that affects everyone.  If a gay couple in New York get married and need to move to another state that does not recognize same-sex marriages because of their job, they could lose their married status for taxes and health coverage.

Abortion rights is really convoluted.  Under Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court that women have a constitutional right to have a  “safe and legal abortion”.  Republican controlled states hate that idea.  They want to change the law in their states, claiming “states rights”.

The other oddity in this is that these same Republicans say that the ACA put the government between you and your doctor and that is the biggest reason it needs to be repealed.  Yet they are very willing to get between a woman and her doctor if comes to abortion or birth control.

They also cry about “religious beliefs” and say it is okay to discriminate against same-sex couples trying to get married based on the business’ “religious beliefs.  Yet they want to deny “religious beliefs” for women who want an abortion whose “religious beliefs” disagree with their viewpoint on the issue.

Many states have passed what they call Photo ID laws.  In order to vote, you need to show a Photo ID.  However, in order to make sure that only the right people have Photo IDs, they do some odd things.  They close all of the DMV offices in certain areas that are mostly populated by African-Americans and Latinos.  They reduce the number of early voting stations to one in heavily African-American and Latino areas while opening more polls in less populated areas but are mostly white.

Here in the Soviet State of North Carolina, they actually did research on the types of Photo IDs that minorities usually have.  Then they said those photo IDs were not acceptable.  The courts caught them on that issue and said they acted with “surgical precision” to restrict minority voting rights.

Our current Head of the EPA says that only states should have the right to pass clean air and water regulations.  He says that only states know what effect these regulations have on “business”.  He doesn’t seem to think that the dirty air from his state will drift over other states.  That isn’t his problem.

On the other hand, they won’t cry “states rights” if a law goes against what they want.  Just look at the gun rights issues.  When a state, like Maryland, passes a law banning assault weapons and large capacity ammo, these same “states rights” liars run to court calling the law “unconstitutional”.

Under the Constitution, the states do have rights.  However, the same Constitution says that the Federal Laws supersede state laws.  Meaning if the Federal government passes a civil rights law, the states cannot ignore it under the guise of “states rights”.

We are a nation.  Yes, it is made up of several states.  And, the states have a right to determine most of their laws.  However, since we are a “nation” we cannot have 50 different laws dealing with simple human and civil rights.  As a nation, we need to ensure that all citizens regardless of their zip code have the same human and civil rights.

We must protect our minorities from the excesses of the majority.  We must make sure that civil rights don’t end just because a couple or person is required or chooses to move from one state to another.  We cannot live in a country where one state can pollute the air of their neighbors.  We cannot live in a country where one state can pollute the drinking water of another state.

The unfortunate thing about this is that “states rights” has become code words for “legal discrimination”.  It has no other meaning the way Republicans try using it.  The only time you hear them cry “states rights” is when they pass a law that makes discrimination legal in their state.

Civil rights are protected under our Constitution.  Sates do not have the right to change those rights in their state.  They do not have the right to legally discriminate against any minority group.

Rescinding this order will allow more bullying in schools.  It will allow more attacks against LGBT students.  It will make our schools less safe.  And, it targets children the most.  And, it is all in the name of “states rights” not in the name of “civil rights”.  To use trump’s own words, the first time that a transgender student is attacked in a bathroom or locker room, you can place the blame and the blood at trump’s door.

It is the primary responsibility of the president to protect people and their rights.  It is especially his responsibility to protect our children.  He has just failed “bigly” under the false claim of “states rights”.

Disgusting!

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 83.

A lot of things happened again yesterday, and not many of them were good for the country.  The biggest news should have been the nominee for the Supreme Court.  Neil Gorsuch was named as the nominee.  There will be plenty of time to get into this pick, but I am not going to say a lot today.  I need to review his record more before making serious comments.

However, from what I have researched so far, if you like the idea of a religious state, and allowing discrimination against anyone who does not share your narrow views of religion, you will love Gorsuch.  Some people are calling him Scalia 2.0.  But, at first glance he is even worse than Scalia when it comes to civil liberties for every citizen.

As I said, we will have more on Gorsuch as time goes on.  I need more research on his record so I am going to take my time on this matter.  Though I will say that since the only real “vetting” of him was from the right-wing Federalists, it doesn’t look good if you love all of our freedoms.

There was other news that we cannot stop looking just because trump nominated someone for SCOTUS.  The nomination was supposed to take place tomorrow, but his weekend was so bad with his unconstitutional executive order, he needed to change the subject and hope we wouldn’t notice the rest of the shit happening.

The Dissent Chain memo at the State Department now has about 1,000 signatures on it.  It was first reported that 100 employees were going to sign it, but that number rose significantly and more people are reportedly eager to sign it as well.

That will place all of these people in trump’s crosshairs.  They are risking their careers to show dissent against the immigration order.  Yes, it is true that in State, this dissent channel is supposed to “protect” employees who express dissent, but with trump and his henchmen in charge, there is nothing to stop him from trying to “get them”.

Then we have the problem of the nominations for HHS and Treasury.  Yesterday, the Democrats on the finance Committee boycotted the hearing that was supposed to vote on these two nominations.  They boycotted because the day before, reports and evidence said that both Price and Mnuchin lied to the committee in their hearings.

Democrats wanted them to be recalled to explain their lies.  Republicans hated the idea and did nothing except complain about Democrats using the same tactics they used in 2013 in a hearing for the EPA Secretary.  Oh, yeah, Republicans boycotted a hearing trying to get their way.

Only Democrats did not do what Republicans did today.  In an effort to show their support for their dictator in waiting, Republicans changed the rules for the committee that said they didn’t need any Democrats to attend to form a quorum.

As a result of this rule change, both were approved by Republicans on the committee by a 14 – 0 vote.  Republicans have no problem that nominees for their dictator lied to the committee.  That just shows Republican values, I guess.

Also yesterday, Betsy DeVos was approved by her committee to be voted on in the Senate to tear apart our public education system.  It was a total party-line vote and we can see the end of public education in the works.

The actions taken by Republicans on these three nominations show clearly that Republicans do not give a shit about the American people or what they want.  There is more pushback on these three nominees than any others with the possible exception of Jeff Sessions.

DeVos is totally unqualified to head up the Department of Education, and the other two were caught is bare-faced lies to the committee.  Yet, Republicans don’t care about qualifications or honesty.  They only care about pleasing their beloved leader.

This is the exact type of behavior we expect from a dictatorship.  If you can’t get what you want quickly through the normal rules, change them and do whatever you want anyway.  Democrats wanted more information on these two liars, and Republicans did not even talk to them about how to resolve the situation.

Yes, it is true that they would have probably been approved by the committee anyway, but the American People have a right to know if the people being placed in positions of authority in our government have even an ounce of integrity.

Republicans don’t seem to believe the same thing.  They seem to believe that if the nominee is appointed by a Republican, nothing else is required.  This also shows just how much and how quickly Senate Republicans are willing to change decorum and integrity of the Senate.  They only care about power, and now that they have a little bit of it, they are going to ram through whatever they want, the American people and our democracy be damned.

If you take a look at the SCOTUS nominee, what is going to keep McConnell from changing the 60 vote threshold for this nominee to be approved?  The filibuster is a tool that allows the minority to have a say in governing.  Without the filibuster, the majority can ram through anything without any problem.  That is true regardless of which party is in control.

The nominee for SCOTUS is far more serious than even the Appeals Courts judges.  SCOTUS is the final court.  There is no appeal to a Supreme Court decision.  If you claim to really love the Constitution, then you should be more in favor of centrist judges who will look at each law individually not ideologues who will make their mind up before the case is even heard.

The filibuster and the 60-vote threshold on SCOTUS nominees are intended to help make that possible.  They are intended to help keep the court independent of ideologues who want to dominate the rest of the country with their views.

The real frightening part of the rules change in the Finance Committee is that Republicans have shown that they only care about their agenda.  They are willing to destroy the very fabric of our government just to please their beloved leader.

Republicans have been very quiet about the executive order banning Muslims, except to say it “wasn’t rolled out very well.”  They have been very quiet about spending billions of dollars building our Berlin Wall on the Mexican border.  They have been quick to complain that Democrats have used some of the very tactics they used in their hatred of President Obama to “obstruct” him at every turn.

They have shown with their action in the Finance Committee they are not interested in cooperation with the other party.  They are not interested in bi-partisanship between the two parties.  They are not interested in what is good for America.  They are only interested in their authority and their power grab.

What they don’t understand is that once trump gets his dictatorial powers, they will also become “surplus to requirements”.  Our president came into office with the clear intent to establish an authoritarian government with him having all of the power.  Republicans in Congress are more than happy to give him exactly what he wants.

I am not even sure that the upcoming battle over the nominee to SCOTUS is even worth fighting.  If trump doesn’t like what the court says, he isn’t likely to follow it anyway.  That became clear over the weekend when courts across the country said detainees at airports were supposed to be allowed to speak to lawyers and CBP refused to let them anyway.

The administration has said over and over that trump won because many people wanted change.  That is true.  But, I don’t think the majority of Americans thought that change meant destroying our democracy.  They are beginning to discover that is what their votes will get them.  The real question is when and if trump voters will realize their mistake and join the resistance to his authoritarian desire?

Until they do, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 78.

If you were wondering who is in charge of the White House, after yesterday you must still be wondering.  Besides that, I am wondering if the entire White House staff have a combined IQ of about 15.

Yesterday was a perfect example of just what we are in for during the next 4 years.  Chaos, stupidity, and danger.  There was so much going on it is hard to actually write about it.  But, let’s try.  However, I will leave the big part for last.

Did you know that there are two famous people in England with very similar names?  One is Theresa May.  The other is Teresa May,.  According to a White House briefing memo, the White House is expecting Teresa May to visit today.

Only, they are not expecting Teresa May today, they are expecting Theresa May.  If you wonder what the difference is, Theresa May is the Prime Minister of Great Britain.  Teresa May is an English porn star.

Now, this may sound silly to even discuss this issue, but it displays that no one in the White House even proofs these memos before being put out.  They don’t seem to get it that what they say and write is seen by the entire world and is a reflection on our country.  It is true that once the error was pointed out to them, they changed it, but that is not the point.  The point is they are sloppy and don’t seem to care.  Let’s hope trump doesn’t confuse the two today and try to kiss May on the lips.

Then, we have a former transition member confess that trump and his administration is planning to severely cut the EPA staff and budget.  The one agency we have that is responsible to insure our clean air and water is the first to be cut because trump doesn’t believe we need clean air and water if it hurts fossil fuel companies profits.  Additionally, even though he and his children were signatories on a letter from several famous people and business people a few years back explaining how horrible climate change would be to the country and the planet, he now doesn’t believe it is real.

Then there is the issues of his executive orders.  Did you know that he never ran these orders past anybody but his staff?  Meaning that he got no guidance from members of congress, congressional staff who specialize in helping draft these orders, or any expert in law.  Meaning, these executive orders may have a slew of problems and may even be unconstitutional because of how poorly they are written.  I mean, I have read some of them and they are more confusing than anything I have ever read.  Lots of words and very little meaning.

Finally we have the Berlin Wall and the example of the “great negotiator” in action.  We have been told over and over and over until we are sick of hearing it, that trump is the greatest negotiator we have ever seen.  All I can say about that is hahahahahahahaha.

One of the first orders he signed was to start building his Berlin Wall.  And, true to form he has stuck to his plan to make Mexico pay for it.  Only Mexico says they won’t pay for it.  And, when the President of Mexico sad so, trump tweeted that if that was their attitude maybe the meeting between their President and him should be delayed.

Then the President of Mexico said he told the trump team that he was cancelling the meeting and he was not coming.  Basically, he told trump to take his wall and shove it up his ass along with the bill.  In typical trump lying fashion, trump then tweeted that it was a “mutual cancelling” of the meeting.

Later on a flight from Philadelphia where trump met with his version of his politburo, his Press Secretary told the press on the plane that we would place a 20 percent import tax on everything coming in from Mexico to pay for the wall.

Then, a couple of hours later, they backtracked on that idea and Spicer said it was only one of several options they were considering.  Later in the West Wing, trump was ambushed by a reporter asking “what about that 20 percent”.  He actually seemed surprised and asked “what 20 percent”?

Our great negotiator has been ranting about taxing imports, especially from Mexico for years as his plan to make companies return to the U.S. from Mexico.  Which proves that he doesn’t know a damn thing about business.

Let me be as clear about this as I can.  Besides breaking an international treaty, imposing import taxes on products coming into the country WILL NOT HURT THE COMPANY.  IT WILL HURT YOU AND OUR ECONOMY!

Let me use cars as an example.  Every single car made in the U.S. by our three big auto makers get parts from every part of the world.  So, let us say that some parts come from Mexico.  When trump places his import tax on imports from Mexico, those part prices will increase.  Therefore, the price for that nice shiny new car will also increase.  The automaker will not pay the tax, you will pay the tax.

That goes for everything you buy.  When you go to WalMart to purchase your cheap clothes made in Mexico, they will cost more.  When you buy your new television it will cost more.  The companies that make the products won’t give a shit either.  They are not going to come running back to the U.S. because they won’t be losing any money with the import taxes, you will.

Then, when you stop buying things because the price keeps going up with the trade war he will unleash, they will start laying off American workers not overseas workers.  See, they pay less in overseas markets for labor than in the U.S. so they will cut the top earners, not the low earners.

As one business analyst said on television the other day, car manufacturers like making cars in Canada because they don’t have to provide health insurance to their workers because of Canada’s Universal Health Car plan.  So what makes you think any import taxes will make companies run to us?  They won’t, they will just cut U.S. jobs and we will face another recession.

That is what the Great Negotiator is going to unleash on his own country.  But, he doesn’t care because it won’t affect him.  And, he is not interested you.  Only, he will find out that you don’t like him very much anymore.

This is what happens when a president decides to tweet his negotiations instead of listening to experts who know what to do and how to handle problems like this.  Then again, since almost all of the top career civil servants in the State Department are either resigning or being fired by trump, there aren’t any real experts for him to listen to.

The purge going on at the State Department is astounding.  He is forcing out some of the best and most experienced foreign policy experts we have.  He isn’t going to have any seasoned foreign policy experts left.  These are non-partisan experts who have served our country for decades in some cases, and he doesn’t want them around.  But, Stalin was Bannon’s hero, so it is no wonder that such purges are taking place under trump.

The irony is that his chief strategist, Steve Bannon told the press yesterday to “just shut up”.  He even went so far as to call them “opposition”.  Very Stalinesque.  It is trump who should “just shut up and listen” to someone other than the brainless Bannon.

All I can say is when the shit hits the fan Americans will begin to hurt again.  And, you won’t have a clear thinker like Barak Obama to bail us out again.  We will see things go from bad to worse to worst.  And all the while, trump, his family, his cronies, the Republican Politburo, and the top 1 percenters will be laughing all the way to their Swiss Bank Accounts.  Our banks will collapse and we will lose even more.

If trump goes through with his so-called economic plan, we all face another economic collapse.  This time probably leading to a full on depression with over 25 percent unemployment.  But, don’t worry, the Republican Politburo will surely cut unemployment insurance to help “save” the budget deficits.

And, it will all start because the “greatest negotiator in the universe” failed miserably with one of our closest allies in Mexico.  As Bugs Bunny would say:  “What a moroon”.

 

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Day 77.

As each day goes by we are starting to live more in the new German Democratic Republic (GDR) which was really communist East Germany during the cold war.  The real question is about this stupid Berlin Wall.  Is it really intended to keep “them” out or is it really intended to keep “us” in?

We need to ask these questions because every day something new is coming out of trump’s mouth that increases “crackdowns” not only on undocumented immigrants but on the rest of us as well.

A leaked copy of an upcoming executive order is showing that his Muslim ban is gong to start really soon.  I know he and his lackeys are saying it is only a ban against people from certain countries, but all of the countries are Muslim majority countries and the ban includes language to allow non-Muslims in even from these same countries.  That means no matter what you want to say, it is a Muslim ban.

Yesterday he signed his wall order.  He is so obsessed with his Berlin Wall that he is going to break his promise and make us pay for it.  No matter how many times he is asked about his promise to have Mexico pay for it, his answers change every time he is asked.

This order also says that “sanctuary cities” will lose their Federal funding if they don’t stop.  So, just hat exactly is a “sanctuary city”?  A sanctuary city is nothing more than not turning in undocumented immigrants to federal authorities just because they get a ticket.

All of the cities will turn over undocumented immigrants who commit serious crimes for deportation.  However, since they also need undocumented immigrants to call the police when needed, they won’t turn them over if they don’t commit serious crimes.

The trump administration is trying to make it sound like they are deliberately harboring serious criminals.  That is not true.  The trump administration says they want to deport all of the undocumented immigrants who are criminals and have criminal records.  Only, they don’t define what a criminal record is.

Do they consider a speeding ticket as having a criminal record?  Do they consider driving a vehicle with a busted tail light a criminal record?  In reality, they are crimes, so they must be including them in their criminal record definition.

There have been right-wing wackos on all kinds of social media saying that police officers who don’t help deport undocumented immigrants every time they stop one for a minor traffic violation is violating their oath to defend the Constitution.  No, they are not.  Local police take an oath to uphold the laws of the city, county or state they will be serving.  Only Federal Employees swear to uphold the Constitution.

Besides, why is so offensive if a police officer does not turn over a law-abiding undocumented citizen but it is heroic for a Sheriff in some red-state county stating he would “arrest any federal law enforcement official who tried to enforce legally passed gun control laws”?  The only difference is the first is doing his job correctly and protecting the people who live in his city, and the other is following right-wing nut jobs idea of guns for every white Christian no matter what the criminal record says.

Then we found out yesterday that trump has decided that the EPA cannot put out any scientific information without his political staff reviewing it.  He is openly stating that censorship of anything he personally doesn’t like will be the rule under his administration.  Yeah, like some nut job like Spicer or Bannon know anything about science.

He has threatened to “send in the feds” if the crime problem in Chicago doesn’t decrease soon.  Only, Chicago per capita is not leading the nation in murders.  It actually ranks 18th.  Besides, what does “send in the feds” mean?  Is he going to send in more FBI Agents?  Is he going to send in the National Guard?  Or, is he going to send in Army?

In order to send in any “feds” he will have to declare a state of emergency and/or martial law.  If he feels he can do so over murder rates, what will stop him from doing the same thing to other localities?  What will he decide constitutes “enough is enough” that will trigger his sending in the “feds”?  Will we see troops on the streets of so-called “sanctuary cities” to round up those damned “illegals”?  Anything will become possible.

Then we have that ridiculous claim by trump about those “illegals” and “dead” people all voting for Hillary Clinton and that is why he lost the popular vote in the election.  There is no evidence for his claim, so he is planning to have a “major investigation into the matter” to prove he is correct.

In an interview on ABC he even went so far as to say that he “knows everyone who voted twice voted for the other side and he got no votes there”.  Funny we already have proof that is a lie.  A lady admitted during the early voting period that she voted for trump twice and is facing charges for that crime.  Plus, three people close to trump including his own daughter and Bannon are registered in two states.  I am sure they voted twice for Hillary Clinton.  Bannon apparently got ruffled and he cancelled his Florida registration – yesterday!

Most of the pundits are claiming that this is just a scam to help pass more voter restriction laws.  They are partially correct.  But, this goes far beyond just voter restriction laws.  It goes to the heart of his real plan.  Control the population.

Once his bogus “investigation” gets completed, he will announce with all the pomp and circumstance possible that he was right and that therefore we need more control to ensure it doesn’t happen again.  He will announce his big plan for us to be required to carry a National Identification Card.  He will probably claim that you need your National ID to vote.

But, don’t be surprised when the National ID card includes things like “sexual orientation” or “religion” or “handicaps” or a host of other labels.  Then since we as a nation have a tendency to move around a lot, we will need to keep the voter records straight, so you will probably see permission papers to move from one state to another.

The argument will be that way the government can purge you from one state’s voter records so you can’t vote in two different states.  Additionally, you will be required to submit death certificates to the voter registration office when a family member dies.

This “investigation” is needed by trump so he can “prove” that he was right and that he is the most popular person who ever lived on the Planet Earth.  In order to make his dream of establishing an authoritarian government, he needs to be able to show how popular he is so the people won’t revolt against his idea and Republicans will go along with him.

Don’t think this is all too outlandish even for trump.  These ideas have been floated from time-to-time in our country before.  The idea of a National ID card has been around for at least 40 years.  The first time I heard of it was under the Nixon Administration, and far right-wing nuts have proposed it periodically ever since.

The State of Arizona tried to begin the process when they passed their “papers please” law.  The courts overturned that law, but it is still in the wings waiting to be reintroduced.  What will happen if trump gets an ultra-conservative to the Court and he starts his own “papers please” law at the federal level?  Do you really think it will be overturned?

So far, he hasn’t ordered any rights to be denied.  But, if he signs the executive order on immigration he will get the ball rolling.  Prohibiting immigration based on religion is unconstitutional.  Once that ball rolls along, what will be next?

We have been watching a president who disregards the law.  Has serious ethical problems.  And, lies out of his ass every time he opens his mouth.  Just what country are we living in?

I know that his hard-core supporters are all loving these moves.  They want to kick out or at least separate from the rest of society everyone who isn’t white and/or Christian anyway.  We are just in the starting blocks.

 

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Day 72.

Today we saw just what a mass demonstration can look like.  In all 50 states and over 600 cities and towns, literally millions of people marched in protest.  The great thing about this protest was that it was started by a retired lawyer in Hawaii.  She tweeted the night of the election that there should be a “woman’s march on Washington” the day after the inauguration.

When she woke up the next morning, she discovered over 10,000 retweets and responses.  It all took off from there.  In Washington, D.C. there were hundreds of thousands people marching.  In Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and many other cities hundreds of thousands of people joined the Washington March in Sister marches.

The protesters were from all backgrounds.  They were from all races.  They were from all religions.  They were from all sexes and sexual orientations.  They were there to voice their opposition to the policies of the new president and what they mean for people in this country.

There were of course some detractors. One I heard talked about there were “too many issues” and no one could be sure what the purpose of the marches was all about.  But, that is the point.  These people were not there for a single issue, they were there for several issues that they all are willing to support.

They were there for sisterhood, brotherhood, and humanity.  They understand that if you can take away the rights from one segment of who was there, you can take rights away from other groups.  They were there to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, and with the crowds that was about all they could do, to support each other.

As one speaker said, she is always asked about what is “women’s issues”.  She answers by saying you want to talk about women’s issues?  Okay let’s talk about the economy.  Let’s talk about national security.  Let’s talk about health care.  Let’s talk about voter rights.   Let’s talk about equal pay for equal work.

Women’s issues are the same issues that should be all of our issues.  They want the same thing that we all want.  They want a country that is free.  They want a country that treats all of its citizens equally.

They were voicing their opinions and telling the new administration that they were not prepared to sit back and give them carte blanch to strip our rights out of the Constitution.  They were also telling their representatives that they better listen to them as well.

The great thing about this march was that it was a true grass-roots movement.  Politicians did not organize this.  Groups did not organize this.  A retired lady in Hawaii actually organized it.  Yes, they looked to organizations for help in putting it together, but they organized it at the grass-roots level.

Women went to the various marches with their daughters.  They went with their husbands.  They went with their friends.  They went and joined together with one voice of warning that they are here and they do not plan to go away.

This was the first time I have seen such protests since the Civil Rights and the anti-Vietnam protests of the fifties and sixties.  And, to make matters even better, there was no violence at any of these marches.  They were peaceful and purposeful.

These marches took place on all seven continents.  That is right, there was even supposed to be a march, or protest, on Antarctica.  I know that there are no electoral votes on any continent but ours and in no other country but ours.  But, these people were also showing their support for our people and our rights.

The other amazing fact was that thousands upon thousands of people who participated were in their first protest.  For the first time these people felt concerned enough to get off the couch and join the protest.

There were a lot of signs at these marches.  Some were nice and some were vulgar.  However, there was one sign that I saw at the Washington March that made me laugh and think about a lot of women I know.  It simply read “DJT Don’t Make Us Come Back Here”.

When I read that sign,  I could imagine that woman wagging her finger in Trump’s face at the same time.  It was classic.  Another thing I saw was a pair of glasses with writing on each lens.  On one lens, it read “A Woman’s Place” and the other said “Is In Your Face”.  I loved it.

This was a march that was organized by women.  They put it together and they managed it, and they pulled it off beautifully.  It had magic.  It had grace.  It had meaning.  It was what we needed exactly at the time we needed it.

Since the election too many people have been moping around.  They seem to have lost their will to do what is right.  These women woke everyone up again.  They are not willing to mope around and let Trump and the Republicans do whatever they want.  They intend to make their voices heard and fight back whenever and wherever needed.

It is the kind of activism that can cause change.  It is the kind of activism that can make politicians take notice.  It is the kind of activism that mobilizes the common people to rise up and take back our country from the greedy and the wanna-be kings.

In my lifetime, no president survived when their administration or policies were the subject of massive protests.  Lyndon Johnson dropped out of the 1968 race because of the anti-Vietnam protests.

Richard Nixon struggled with protests during his time in office.  Some will even argue that these protests had a very negative effect on his mental stability which led to his eventual resignation over Watergate.

We don’t know what will happen from here.  But, I am hoping that the activism shown today by these wonderful women will continue as time goes by.  I am also hoping that these marvelous women drag the rest of us along with them.

We are at a time in our history where our very democracy hangs in the balance.  Trump has shown his willingness to scrap the Constitution in order to become our authoritarian ruler.  These women have thrown the gauntlet.  We all need to throw down our own gauntlet and tell Trump don’t mess with our country.

Thank you ladies.  You provided us with the medicine we need.  Please keep the doses coming so we can continue to be the immune system our country needs to stop the viruses of divisiveness and hatred that is infecting our country.

To all the women out there, congratulations on a marvelous day.  You are our heroes.

 

 

 

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Day 71.

Today Donald John Trump will place his hand on a bible and take the oath of office to become our next president.  And, for the first time, I am beginning to lose my optimism for the future of our country.

To be totally honest, if I were a Christian, I would wonder if he is going to burst into flames once his hand touches the bible.  He has shown that he is anything but a Christian in his actions before, during and after the election.

He will be taking that oath knowing that he is the least favorable president-elect to be sworn in in our history.  Usually, after an election, the favorability numbers of the president-elect go up.  This time, they have gone down.  Maybe that is because of his caustic behavior, or his overflowing the swamp with his cabinet picks, or maybe just because even his supporters are realizing what a virtual pig he really is.

The other thing that has gone virtually unnoticed during the transition is his absolute horrible leadership.  When a new president takes office, they are required to fill about 4,000 positions in various departments of the government.  The most important positions include the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security.

When he takes office, almost all of those positions will have empty desks this afternoon and the unforeseeable future.  So far, not counting his cabinet nominees, they have hired about 30 of the 4000 people needed to fill those positions.

He had announced at first that every political position would end today when he takes office.  Then, when he realized that he isn’t even close to fill any of those critical positions, he started asking people to hang around for a “few months”.  Some have agreed and some have not.

Now remember, this is supposed to be a “great businessman who organizes tremendously”.  Well, this situation shows that statement is true in his own imagination.  As someone who worked in business for over 20 years and in the Coast Guard for 20 years, I find this a total disaster caused by someone who loves himself but has no clue about leadership.  In simple words, he has totally botched the transition.  If he can’t handle that, how can we expect him to handle the country?

We can only be thankful that there are thousands of professional public servants who will take up the responsibility of these critical positions until Mr. Incompetent finally gets around to filling them.

Then we have his conflicts of interest hanging over us and him.  At the moment he becomes president, he will be in violation of his lease for the hotel in the Old Post Office building.  Only, nothing will probably be done because the lease if owned by the General Services Administration and he will be in charge of it.

And, since he and his team always rave about the hotel and suggest that everyone including foreign governments use it, he is in possible violation of the emoluments clause.  That is just the beginning of his possible conflicts of interest.  This is something that will need to be watched very closely.  Only, it will be difficult because Mr. Secret won’t divulge his holdings or where he is actually getting his money.

If you love the Constitution, and all Republicans claim to do so, then the first piece of legislation needed to be passed is one that requires all public officials in the federal government, including the president, must release their tax returns.  That is the only way to ensure the emoluments clause will be honored and openly enforceable.

We are looking a very uncertain next four years.  Trump made so many promises to so many people he doesn’t even remember which ones he made or to which group of people he made them to.

He keeps talking about bringing jobs back, but he still refuses to ensure his own family brings their manufacturing to the U.S. and leaves those 12 countries they currently use.  If he doesn’t add his family’s products to the 35 percent “border tax” he keeps threatening, we will know he doesn’t mean a damn thing he says.

There is talk about cutting the budget, again.  But, the only items on the cut list are things that support the rights of every citizen.  Things talked about being cut are grants to help prevent violence against women.  Closing down several agency departments that protect civil rights of minorities of all kinds.  And of course closing down PBS or at least privatizing it.

Then we need to watch out for cuts in several social safety nets.  Republicans want to privatize Social Security.  They want to voucherize Medicare.  They want to “block grant” Medicaid.  And, of course they want to throw about 18 million people off of their health care by eliminating the Affordable Care Act without even telling us what their replacement plan is.

These are just some of the issues and potential problems that America will face under a Trump presidency.  We will have a cabinet with more ethical questions than we have seen in over 100 years.  I will be quite surprised if any of the nominees are stopped.  The current Republican Party is not interested in ethics or integrity.

The anti-regulation crowd known as the Republican Party is itching to eliminate all of the same regulations they eliminated under George W. Bush which caused the Great Recession of 2008.  That is a very scary thing indeed.  Are they actually trying to cause another Great Recession?

Then again, all of this could be mute.  We will have a president who loves to attack people on twitter.  What is going to happen when his target is some unstable foreign leader?  How certain are we that he won’t start a war just because of his bitter, and immature use of twitter?  And, if he does start a war using twitter, will he launch nuclear weapons. After all, as he said “why do we have them if we aren’t going to use them?”

We are moving into a very uncertain future.  We are most likely going to see attacks on African-American rights.  Gay Rights.  Women Rights.  Religious Rights.  Our Health Care.  Our Environment.  Our Economy.  Our Farms.  Our Small Businesses.  Our Public Education.  And, Our Decency.  It is probably the most uncertain future in my lifetime and I lived through the “great red scare”.  I also lived through the so-called “hippie” movement and civil rights and anti-Vietnam war protests.

The future was far more certain during those times than it is today.  The only reason those times were more certain was because we had leaders who were reasonable and rational people leading our country.  Today we will get what I consider the least rational person in history in charge.

It is that instability that causes concern for everyone in the world, not just in our country.  As a result, I am very cautious about the future of our country.  I served my country and I hate the idea of someone so irrational being in charge of the nuclear codes.

I can only keep voicing my opposition to this madman.  I can only try to point out his conflicts as they arise.  I can only try to educate anyone who wishes to be educated about any damage he causes our liberties and freedoms.

We have heard for the last eight years that President Obama restricted our freedoms.  But, when asked to name just one, there is silence.  I am afraid that will not be the case under a Trump presidency.  I am afraid that we will see our Constitution be shredded by him and his Republican lackeys in Congress in the name of Power.

I find it extremely ironic and very frightening that a man is going to take the oath of office that swears to “protect the Constitution of the United States” when he doesn’t even know what is in it.

Furthermore, his actions during his entire life has shown a complete disregard for the law and decency.  He ran for president to line his pockets with more money.  That is all he is interested in and that is all he will work towards.

Hopefully, the near future will also be a time of activism.  It will be a time when people take to the streets again to hold our elected officials somewhat accountable.  It is all up to us now.  We can no longer pretend that the people in charge have our best interests at heart.  They don’t.

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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