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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 69.

Last night there was a confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos to become the next Secretary of Education.  From what I heard, she is totally unqualified to fill the post.  And, I am not even talking about her conflicts that need to be cleared up first.

To begin with, she has absolutely no experience in teaching.  She has no experience in school administration.  She has no educational experience at all.  Now some people claim that is a good thing in order to “shake things up”.  And, there could be something to that argument if we were talking about someone with some experience at anything but being a lobbyist.

On top of all of that, she has no understanding of what it takes to administer one school much less an entire public education system.  How can she honestly believe that she has any qualifications for such a task?

Her biggest claim to fame in education is her carte blanch actions she got in Michigan to get more Charter Schools up and running.  Only, the law she got passed with help from conservative Republicans, doesn’t even have any supervision or accreditation involved.

For example, if you wish to open a for-profit Charter School in Michigan, you can do so without getting any accreditation before you start.  Then, you don’t have any supervision about your results.

Since this law was passed, the reading levels in Michigan have declined steadily.  The regular public schools in Detroit score higher on these tests as well as math and science than these for-profit Charter Schools.  Yet the Charter Schools are still allowed to take in students and get their money.  How is that making education for our children better?

DeVos, by her own admission, does not understand the student loan or Pell Grant programs.  Yet, she will be expected to administer them.  That is like asking someone who failed basic arithmetic to be your accountant.

There is also a law called IDEA which deals with special needs children.  When asked if she would continue to enforce that law, she said she thinks it is up to the states and local communities to enforce it.  She doesn’t even understand that this law is a Federal Law and therefore is enforced by the Federal Government since Federal dollars are used to fund it.  Her answer forced a gasp from the audience.

She has also been a huge advocate to use public education dollars to pay for “private” or “Christian” schools to take in public school children.  That would leave the public education without sufficient funds to educate the children that are stuck having to use public schools.

When asked if she would promise that no public education money would be used for these voucher programs, she refused to answer.  Even when pushed to give a simple yes or no answer, she refused.

When she was asked about the Gun Free Zone for public schools, she said that if the president-elect repealed that law she would back his decision.  Then she got really weird as to why.  She said that a school in Wyoming has a problem keeping bears away and therefore probably has a gun to keep the bears away.  What the hell does that have to do with Gun Free Zones for schools?

Then there were the questions about sexual assault on campuses.  Schools are not required at discipline hearings to follow the “preponderance of evidence” as used in criminal courts.  They use what is known as “it most likely occurred”.  Of course conservatives don’t like that because they want to treat all victims like they “asked for it” like they do in court.

When asked if she would uphold such reforms, she said it was “premature” for her to make a determination on that right now.  When pressed, again, she said:

If confirmed, I commit that I will be looking very closely at how this has been regulated and handled, with great sensitivity to those who are victims, and considering perpetrators as well.

There are a lot of different ideas about our public education and how best to improve it.  The one thing I do not agree with is the idea that privatizing our public education is the answer.  Whether you are talking about Charter Schools or Vouchers.  That is merely “running away” from the problems and not doing anything to fix them.

And, no the answer isn’t just more money.  The answer is to actually look at what the problems are, what is causing the problems, and then come up with solutions that will help all of our children.

You especially won’t improve education with the type of Charter Schools that DeVos helped create in Michigan where they are failing the children there.  Nor will you help public education by placing a totally unqualified person in charge of the Education Department.

As I have said before, it amazes me how Republican politicians love to talk about how public education made them what they are, yet they are so willing to destroy the very institution that made them what they are.  How can you brag about how great your public education was and then try to tear it down and make it go away?

I would think that you would prefer to make it possible for all of our children to get that “great” education that put you in office.  But, no, they would prefer to “run away” from the problem and tell you that you are the problem because you don’t believe in privatized public education.

I have gotten to the point where I feel like I am watching the movie “Search For The Holy Grail” every time I hear Republicans talking about public education.  Whenever the topic comes up, they use the same “retreat” slogan in the move.  “Run away, run away!”

I spent some time as an Adjunct Professor at a college.  I have more understanding about the learning environment that DeVos does.  I was also part of a group that tried to put together a curriculum for a degree program that could be taught at all colleges.  It is tough and difficult to say the least.

Even with those experiences, I do not believe I am qualified to be the next Secretary of Education.  But, I do know enough to know that DeVos definitely is not qualified for the post either.

Education of our children is far too important to be treated like amateur night at the Roxy.  We need serious professionals to look at our problems and come up with a solution to fix them.

We need to look at the schools themselves and determine if they are equipped properly.  We need to look at teachers to determine just what qualifications they really need.  We need to look at funding so teachers aren’t buying school supplies out of their own pockets.

Maybe we do need more funding for education.  Maybe many of the problems can be fixed in other ways.  We won’t know until we have serious discussions about the problems and work together to fix them.  DeVos has no solutions except to run away from them.

We also need politicians who understand that we are living in a global economy, and that “local control” is not necessarily the answer to our questions if we are willing to ensure our children get the education they will need to compete globally.

During her hearing DeVos said more than once that she would be “sensitive” to the issues brought up.  Sorry, I don’t want a Secretary of Education who is going to be “sensitive” to the issues.  I want someone with a serious plan to make our public education the best in the world.

Running away from the problems and lining the pockets of your friends to run schools that fail our children is not a serious solution.  As with most of Trump’s nominations for his cabinet, DeVos is not qualified for the position and should not be allowed any near the office she has been nominated to fill.

It is a simple equation.  An unqualified person cannot fix the problems they don’t even understand.  If you believe she is qualified, then the next time your plumbing backs up, call a telemarketer to fix it and see what happens.

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Day 68.

We are beginning to see who is the next target in Trump’s attempt to establish his authoritarian government.  And, of course, it is the free press.  If you want to establish an authoritarian government you must control the media.  If you can’t control it, you simply set up a propaganda arm of the government and refuse to talk to the free press.

We saw an example of that with his so-called press conference last week.  The room was full of paid staff and supporters who were more than willing to boo hard questions from the real press and cheer his campaign zingers as if he was right.

He refused to take follow-up questions if they challenged his honesty, which is a constant problem in covering this little boy.  In an atmosphere of anti-press, it was very easy for him to refuse to take questions from anyone who wrote something he didn’t like.  In a press room with just journalists you can’t get away with that.

The idiocy of calling the press “dishonest” all of the time is starting to take its toll on both the press and on Trump.  He seems almost afraid to face the journalists whose job it is to get facts on any story.  That is understandable since Trump doesn’t usually deal in facts.

Taking a cue from their so-called press conference, the incoming administration is ramping up the heat on the press.  First they announced that they would hold press conferences in the Eisenhower Office Building across the street so they could “accommodate four times a many journalists than they can in the press briefing room”.

That is a bogus argument since what they really want is to have a room large enough to fill it with right-wing, alt-right, and paid staff to cheer on the president.  The idea that they couldn’t accommodate more people in the press briefing room is ridiculous since President Obama had a whole lot more requests to attend briefings in his first few months of office, and did so in the very room Trump people say is too small.

The second step was to float the idea that they would evict all journalists from the West Wing of the White House and move them to the Eisenhower Office Building and then require them special passes to enter the White House.  Those passes would require a separate request for each visit.

The press has had office space in the White House since President Teddy Roosevelt in 1901.  Even during the war years the press had offices in the White House.  But now, the incoming administration doesn’t want them around.

One of the advantages of having the press in the White House is that they get to build relationships with the administration people.  They get to establish what is going on and are able to question visitors as they leave because they are allowed on the grounds to watch the comings and goings.

Yesterday Sean Spicer was asked if they were planning to move the press out of the White House.  He went off about the press room being too small.  He was then pressed if they planned to evict the press corps from the White House and he said” that hasn’t been decided yet.”

At the same time, a senior Trump official admitted that he considered the press as the “enemy”.  What he actually said was:  “They are the opposition party.  I want them out of the building.  We are taking back the press room.”

Of course this all falls in line with Trump’s thin skin and desire to be “loved” by his subjects.  One of the first things that needs to be done in order to set up the tyrant’s government is to control what is being printed and said about him.

That is what this entire war on the press has been all about.  Whenever someone says or prints something that does not place a halo around the tyrant’s head, they attacked.  First on twitter and then by the surrogates.

During the campaign, people like Katie Tur from NBC had to be escorted out of rallies by the Secret Service because of the assaults on her from Trump.  Why did he attack her?  Because she dared to ask hard follow-up questions he didn’t want to answer or challenged his lack of facts.  She wasn’t the only one either.

Then last week he went off on a rampage about CNN comparing them with Buzzfeed.  The difference is that Buzzfeed actually printed the unverified dossier about Trump.  CNN merely reported that the existence of the dossier was included in a classified briefing to Trump and President Obama as an addendum to let them know it was out there.

Trump has waged a personal war on CNN for a long time now, so he used this report as proof that CNN was “totally against me.”  So, when CNN tried to ask a question at the so-called new conference, he refused to take the question and his paid staff members cheered the rejection like they were watching a wrestling match.

We have had contentious relationships between presidents and the press before.  Nixon absolutely hated the press, but even he knew that you don’t evict them from the White House just because you don’t like them.

Every time one of the little boy’s surrogates goes on air to defend something he did or said or tweeted, they look more and more like propaganda puppets.  They refuse to answer the question asked but rather point the finger at everyone else in the world.

Kellyanne Conway was asked last night if Trump would try to mend the fences with Rep. John Lewis by calling him.  Conway tried to, sorry for the use of the word here, legitimize Trump’s tweets by saying Lewis fired the “first shot.”  When asked again if Trump would call Lewis to try to mend fences, she responded by saying “we would accept a call from Rep. Lewis”.  Meaning, of course that they have no intentions of “mending fences” by reaching out themselves.  That might give the impression that Trump might be an adult.

On Friday, this little boy will become our 45th president.  He will take the oath of office which says he “swears to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic”.  The problem is, you cannot defend the Constitution of the United States against domestic enemies if you are the primary domestic enemy.

Slowly but surely, we are seeing the plans to unravel our liberties and freedoms.  By expelling the press from the White House, if indeed that is their plan, is another shot at the freedom of the press.  But, if you want to be an authoritarian tyrant, you must eliminate the free press and control what your subjects hear and read.

 

 

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Day 67.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Day 63

Yesterday, Donald Trump faced the news agencies with his first press conference in six months.  However, I believed I was watching an infomercial instead of a press conference.  Trump laid the groundwork saying he was going to come clean about his “divestment” but he didn’t come close.

Off to his right there was a table which Trump claimed was all of the paperwork that he “signed to divest” himself from his businesses.  Only when you listened to what he said, he didn’t divest himself from his businesses.  He merely named his two sons, Don, Jr. and Eric to run it for him.

Furthermore, several reporters asked to view the documents, but were refused access to them.  That begs the question of were they real or just another stunt like the “Trump” stakes he once tried to use as a prop?

He claimed that it was a “trust” and that the two sons would never discuss business with him.  In other words, we are supposed to “believe me” again, without any proof.  He did promise that the company would not do any more new business overseas.  But, that is just as much a promise as his other promises that we are supposed to “believe” like Mexico paying for his Berlin Wall.

The oddest thing was when his lawyer declared herself a Supreme Court Justice to state categorically that “a foreign government paying a hotel bill is just business and not an emolument”.  Of course the conflict of interest still exists in tww manners.

First, how do we know that the “foreign government” wasn’t pressured or decided to stay in his hotel just to impress him and get more favors?  Secondly, since he is not divesting himself from the hotel, it will be in violation of its lease the moment he takes office since the lease states that no elected official can be an owner in the hotel.

He once again mentioned that he would place “huge border taxes” on American companies who make their products overseas.  But, he never mentioned his own products or his daughter’s products or his wife’s products.  Nor did he mention when he was going to open factories in America to make those products rather than in the twelve or so countries they are now made in.

The head of the Office on Government Ethics called his plan “meaningless”.
Apparently, Mr. Shaub doesn’t agree with the idea that if Trump would divest himself, he “would take a huge financial loss” as his lawyer said.  Rather, he said that he should divest himself since he is going to be President.

This problem is about conflicts of interests.  It isn’t necessarily all about laws.  How can anyone in this country be sure that when Trump makes a decision on something overseas, he isn’t doing it to line his own pockets and those of his kids?  We can’t.   That is why divestment is the best way for him to go.  At the very least, a true blind trust would be far better than what he announced.

Then of course there was the usual rancor towards the press.  Especially in light of that claim and “dossier” that Russia has something on him.  I am not going to comment about all of that because it is unverified, and I hate to be like so many on the right and claim unverified stories are true if they happen to hurt the other side.

However, it is right to point out that no one in the Intelligence Community in this country wrote that dossier or “leaked” it.  His reference yesterday to our intelligence community and asking if “this is Nazi Germany” is really rich considering all of the unverified stories that were floated by Republicans against Hillary Clinton for the last 30 years and Trump’s own lies passed as facts about President Obama’s birth certificate..

Seems that if the so-called “fake news” hurts Democrats that is just fine with the right-wing.  If it hurts their hero, then the world is coming to an end.  If you watched the confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions the other day, you heard Ted Cruz making all kinds of accusations without facts against Democrats who were asking tough questions.

Last night, Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, called Trump to talk to him about this story.  Clapper said:

I emphasized that this document is not a U.S. Intelligence Community product and that I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC. The IC has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions.

Clapper further said he was “dismayed” by the leaks and agreed they are “extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security.  He further went on to say that the DNI included this information because it existed, true or not, and that they felt he should be aware of it because it affected him.

So early this morning, Trump took that as a signal to lie again.  He tweeted about his conversation with Clapper:

James Clapper called me yesterday to denounce the false and fictitious report that was illegally circulated. Made up, phony facts.  Too bad!

The tweet suggests that Clapper called the information made up and phony facts.  Maybe Trump is simply calling them that.  But, which is it?

The one thing that was missed by all of the pundits at the infomercial and those who “analyzed” it was a simple statement that should send shivers down everyone’s back if you believe in the “freedom of the press”.

He said:  “I used to hold a press conference all of the time.  I haven’t held one in a long time because there have been too many bad stories about me.”  SAY WHAT?

That was a very subtle and obvious threat that if the press doesn’t treat our Slanderer in Chief with kid gloves, he won’t talk to them at press conferences.  He admitted he hasn’t held a press conference in six months because he was “hurt” by all the bad things the media has said about him.  Poor baby.

For some reason, Trump has declared war on both the media and our Intelligence Agencies.  Is that because of his love affair with Putin or because he fears that they could actually stop his authoritarian take over of the government?

I don’t care if you like the Intelligence Community or not.  They are necessary for the defense and security of our country.  If you plan to lead those agencies, you should not declare war on them.  While he was doing his infomercial, his nominee for Secretary of State was on Capitol Hill telling his confirmation hearing that if China continues their activities in the South China Sea, they would be prevented from going to their an-made islands.

He didn’t say how they would be “stopped” and that has a lot of people worried.  Which means that if things get worse in the South China Sea, Trump will need his Intelligence Community to help him figure out the best way to act.  Or, for that matter, what is exactly going on.

Fortunately, I do not believe that our Intelligence Community would jeopardize our country.  But, it would only take one or two rogue agents to throw a monkey wrench into the works.  Trump should think about that.

As every human generation in the history of the planet, we live in a world with very dangerous players.  The Intelligence Community is our eyes and ears as to what those dangerous players are up to.  You cannot afford to piss them off too much.  You cannot publicly say that you don’t trust them.  They are necessary and very important to help you make the right decisions.

Whether or not you were looking for his divestment from his business, or how he will react to Russia’s intervention in our election process, or what health insurance, if any, you can expect from his “replacement’ plan for the Affordable Care Act, or his willing to be honest with the American People, you came away from his infomercial very disappointed.

All we got was another “look at how wonderful I am and how terrible all you little people are” infomercial.  I am amazed how much Donald Trump tells American People just how stupid they are, and they won’t fight back.

Every time he speaks, he tell us that we are the most stupid, ignorant people on the face of the planet.  He tells us that we aren’t smart enough to deal with foreign countries when it comes to trade or defense.  There is no doubt that when he said during one of the debates “I alone can fix it” he really believed it.

If we are so stupid, why did he name the most anti-public education nut to run our Education Department?  You would think that if we are so stupid, he would want the education of our children be his primary agenda item.  I guess he wants us to remain stupid, even after our savior Donald Trump is dead and buried.

I can’t speak for you, but I came away from his infomercial with far more doubts about him.  If he was trying to make me feel better about his upcoming administration, he failed miserably.  He actually made me more nervous about him and his choices.

Many pundits seem confused by the fact that Trump supporters are not fazed by all of these problems about him.  Remember, even Richard Nixon had his supporters who failed to believe that he was the crook he claimed not to be after all the facts proved it to be true.  So, I am not surprised by Trump supporters.

They are the minority.  At some stage, Trump will do something so obviously wrong he will get caught just like Nixon did.  The one major difference between Trump and Nixon is that Nixon at least tried to keep his mouth shut about everything.  Trump isn’t that smart.  He loves to brag about himself, especially when he thinks he has pulled a fast one.

One last point for my evangelical friends.  Maybe you should be asking yourself if Trump is your anti-Christ?  His actions and greed proves he is no “savior”.

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Day 62

In nine days the Presidency of Barak Obama will come to and end.  During his eight years in office we have seen the least productive three Congresses in our history.  In his last six years, the House was under Republican control due to gerrymandered districts.  In the last two years he faced a total House and Senate in Republican control.  What came from these Congresses?  Nothing.

President Obama was not perfect.  There were some things that I disagreed with him on, but overall, he did more than most other Presidents to help the country.

When he took office, the country was at the beginning of the worst recession since the Great Depression.  The day he took office, we were losing over 850,000 jobs per month.  Before he even had time to even consider the damage taking place, the unemployment rate rose to over 10%.

The President, with a friendly Congress took actions and got Congress to pass the Republican hated stimulus packages.  He worked to help save the auto industry which over 3 million jobs relied.  Slowly, the brakes started to be placed on the economic free-fall.

In the last quarter of his first two years, unemployment rates stopped gaining and new jobs began to be created.  Since then, we have seen 75 consecutive months of new job growth.  That is an unheard of accomplishment.  During those 75 months over 15 million jobs were created.  That is over 2 million jobs per year.  We have never seen jobs grow for so many consecutive months in our history before.

As a result, when the President leaves office, that over 10% unemployment rate sits at 4.7%.  It was cut by nearly 60%.  The auto industry is on firm economic footing again.  In the last two years, income increased at record levels as well.

You know that the workers are beginning to see gains when you look at a state like Kentucky who just passed that “right to work for less” law that Republicans love so much.  It was another attack on unions and an attempt to keep wages low so employers can make more money in profits.  That is the only reason to even consider “right to work” laws.  When workers start making more money, companies turn to Republican controlled state legislatures to put the brakes on those gains.

On top of all of this, our economy has come back without all of the “austerity” measures that European countries tried during the same time period.  Their economies are still lagging behind ours.  That proves that “austerity” does not work the way conservatives say it does.

At the time he took office, the Stock Market was just over 6,000.  Today it is nearly at 20,000.  So, if you own stocks they have tripled in value under President Obama.

I argued about income inequality, and I was hoping that the President could do something about it.  However, I also realize that he cannot do everything by himself.  With an obstructive Congress, there was no way the workers would gain the same attention as the top 1% of the economic ladder do.

Our economy is on strong footing again.  Our companies are healthy again.  People up and down the economic ladder are seeing greater income for their families.  Rather than sinking into a second Great Depression, we were pulled from the brink and put back on the road to a healthy economy.

The Affordable Care Act helped over 20 million people who never had health insurance now have it.  The percentage of uninsured people is at the lowest rate in our country’s history.

Under President Obama our NATO allies were comfortable with us and our actions.  They worked with us and were happy to have a President who did not dictate what everyone should do.  The President worked to build coalitions rather that the rogue “go it alone” of his predecessor.

NATO did not get real nervous until Donald Trump won the election.  His rancorous rhetoric about NATO and his love fest with Putin have made them very nervous about our national interest and our commitment to NATO.  When you say that if a country of NATO is attacked, he would decide to defend them once he reviewed “if they have paid their fair share” makes our allies very nervous.

The other thing is that this President has not been accused of any scandals.  Yes, the conservative wackos will talk about Benghazi and the IRS thing, but there were no real scandals.  We did not see anything like Watergate, the Iran/Contra Affair, or the Monica Lewinsky matter.

The so-called scandals were all politically motivated.  You don’t have to take my word for it either.  Republicans were caught on tape bragging that all of the Benghazi investigations were intended to hurt Clinton during her run for President.

After dozens of investigations and millions of dollars being spent on them, nothing was found to be improper or illegal.  Every time Republicans said “we got her” they didn’t have her.  Every time they said “we have the proof” they had no proof.

You can argue that the President used too many Executive Orders.  But, he did not even come close to the number of Executive Orders issued by the Republican sainted Ronald Regan.  He issued almost 300 Executive Orders in his two terms in office.  And, he had to deal with the Iran/Contra scandal that resulted in some of his staff going to jail.  It was also under his watch that 250 Marines were killed in a terrorist attack on their barracks in Lebanon.

While we have had a few terrorist attacks in our country, they were all conducted by “homegrown” terrorists who were radicalized.  No coordinated attack by foreign terrorists took place on our soil.

What most don’t know is that thousands of potential terrorists were arrested and charged before they were able to act.  Additionally, all of the “terrorist” attacks were not launched by Muslims.  Dylan Roof used a terrorist attack against a black church in Charleston for example.

The rise of ISIS was the direct result of the Iraq war.  When you overthrow a government and do not have a plan on what to do when the war is over, vacuums take hold and terrorism gains a foothold.  That is what President Bush gave us.  But, you cannot end it by simply invading another country like the warmongers want us to do.

He took on climate change.  He took on immigration reform.  He took on education problems.  He took on fair taxes.  He was opposed by Congress on every issue, but he kept working on them.  That is what a President is supposed to do.

Michele Obama was a First Lady of grace.  She, like all First Lady’s before here, picked a topic that was dear to her and helped to teach our children.  She settled on nutrition.  Even though many Republicans and right-wing media gave her hell for her topic, she stuck to her guns.  As a result, we are seeing children trying to eat better.  Good nutrition is important for health and even productivity.

When criticized.  When called hateful names.  Mrs. Obama kept going.  She never hurled insults back at her attackers.  Her goal was to help children and she stuck to that goal regardless of what her detractors said.  That is grace no matter what you think of her.

It is my belief that the Obama’s understood their role.  They also understood that being the first African-American family to live in the White House was a huge challenge.  They seemed to understand that their behavior and actions would be placed under the microscope like no other family before them simply because they were the first African-American First Family.

They conducted themselves with measured temperament.  They conducted themselves in a manner that can be an example to everyone who desires to sit in the Oval Office.

President Obama took office at a very difficult time in our history.  We were fighting two wars.  We were collapsing economically.  He faced problems head-on.  You may agree with what he did, or you may disagree with what he did.  But, at least he did something in an effort to make things better for the American People.  If that is being a bad president, then we will never see a good president.

This President faced more obstructionism than any President in my lifetime.  He faced more death threats than any President in my lifetime.  Yet, as he leaves office, we have a strong economy.  We are safer than we were when he took office.  He ended torture as a way of “interrogation”.

My opinion is that President Obama was one of the best Presidents we have had.  He faced problems with rational thinking and plans to make those problems go away.  He wasn’t always successful.  He may not have made all the right choices.  But, he worked for us and not his own glory.

There has been a lot of talk about his legacy.  The incoming administration will do its best to erase it.  But, they won’t be able to do that.  Only history will give us a full review of his legacy.  I am convinced that history will say that he was one of our best Presidents.

So, I want to say to President Obama a thank you.  May you have a very happy life after office.  You were a great example of what an American President should be.  Farewell!

 

 

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