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Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Day 163. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

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Day 160. 

As coal mines began to close down, they began showing up in bankruptcy court.  The victims of those bankruptcies were the retired miners who were about to lose their health benefits.  And, since most retired miners suffer from very debilitating diseases like black lung, something had to be done.

Those health benefits began to head towards the Federal Government.  The government took over those health benefits for the retired miners.  After all, it wasn’t their fault they were losing them.  Last fall Congress voted to finance health benefits for a large swath of retired miners for several months.  However, they have been unable to pass any long-term plan.

This brings up a real problem for these retired miners.  If nothing is done by the end of the month, about 20,000 retired miners will lose their health benefits.  These miners are all in states that went for trump in the last election.

Yet, beloved leader has said nothing about how much he wants Congress to come up with a long-term solution.  He has given coal mine owners breaks in several ways including Executive Orders, but has done nothing for the workers or these retired miners.

The health benefits are critical to these miners.  What is at stake is not only the ability to maintain a middle-class retirement, but in a lot of cases, their lives.  For example, Norm Skinner worked for more than 20 years as a miner in eastern Ohio and had triple bypass surgery in 2010. Without the retiree health plan, he said, the surgery “would have broke me,” even with Medicare picking up much of the bill.

Another miner Mr. Van Sickle, who lost parts of two fingers on the job, said his doctor advised him to retire two years ago, at 59, because he suffers from black lung, a condition associated with long-term exposure to coal dust.

He manages the illness by attaching himself to a breathing machine that essentially props open the airway to his lungs while he sleeps. “My oxygen content would drop so low without it,” he said.

Last fall, Mr. Van Sickle priced out a private insurance plan that would provide roughly comparable benefits for him and his wife, who takes about a dozen separate medications to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The estimates came in at $1,500 to $1,800 per month.

“I always wanted to be a person who would leave a little legacy for my children,” he said. “If I lose these benefits and my pension, there will not be enough for me, let alone for my children.”

The other odd part of this story is that Mr. Van Sickle and his wife might be eligible for thousands of dollars in subsidies if they were able to purchase their insurance from the ACA.  However, that plan would be less generous and trump and the Republicans want to kill the ACA which would leave him with nothing.

The other thing you need to realize is that miners, like many other union workers over the last 20 years, took lower pay raises in new contacts in order to ensure health benefits and retirement pensions were never hurt.

Beloved leader made all kinds of promises to the miners during his campaign.  He talked about how those mines were going to be digging more coal than ever under his administration.  He made promises that even miners knew in their hearts was untrue, but they were hopeful that at least some of the promises would come true.

They believed their wish was a modest one. The price tag for their benefits averages a little under $200 million per year over the next 10 years, which can be partly offset through interest that accrues in a federal fund for reclaiming abandoned mines. Because no new miners would become eligible for the health benefits awarded to this group, the cost would eventually dwindle to zero.

But, Mitch McConnell is reluctant to expedite a vote on a permanent fix of this problem.  And, Paul Ryan says he may be open but not for more than 20 months at which point the benefits would either end or have to be reapproved.  Gee, how generous of the bastard.

In the last few days, the House Republican leadership has suggested that it, too, might support a permanent fix, according to Phil Smith, the chief lobbyist for the miners union, but only if it can settle on a revenue source to offset the full cost. “It leaves the door wide open to ‘Well, we couldn’t find one,’” Mr. Smith said.

Here we go again.  If something benefits average people, especially their health, it must be paid for by cutting something else.  If it benefits banks and/or billionaires, it doesn’t have to be paid for by anything.  You can always count on Republicans to screw over the “little people” with stupid arguments about the “deficit”.

And, while all of this is going on, beloved leader, who used coal miners to win his election is saying nothing about their plight.  He isn’t calling McConnell and Ryan and demanding these retired miners be taken care of like they were promised.  No, he is off playing golf and spending tax payer’s money, like from these retired miners, on lavish vacations at his own resort, thus putting money into his own pocket.

As far as he is concerned, the retired miners can just shut up and die.  He doesn’t care about them.  They are a burden on coal mine owners and the Government because the mine owners are pawning off their responsibilities on the tax payers.  Talk about the “takers”.

Working is a mine is a very dirty and dangerous job.  These people literally risked their lives to get out that coal the powered our power plants for generations.  They don’t deserve to be thrown to the side of the road by Republicans or trump.

Ever since beloved leader took the oath of office, he has shit all over the average American with his policies, executive orders, and silence.  He has shown that we don’t matter.  You only matter if you are in the top 1 percent of the economic ladder.

His Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross founded the International Coal Group, which was formed after several coal companies went bankrupt. The United Mine Workers of America protested the bankruptcy reorganization as it led to changes in health care and pensions for the existing employees.  Arch Coal purchased International Coal Group for $3.4 billion in 2011.

But before that, in 2006 there was an explosion in the Sago Mine owned by Ross’ company that killed 12 workers.  In a report from the New York Post, Ross apparently knew all about the mine’s safety violations.  The article also reported that the mine had 12 roof collapses in 2005, and that the U.S. Department of Labor data showed 208 citations for safety violations in that same period, including 21 times for build-up of toxic gasses.

So, is there any wonder why trump is not saying anything about protecting these retired miners?  Ross didn’t give a shit about the miners when they worked for him.  He certainly doesn’t care about them now either.  So, why would trump?

This administration should be called the “billionaires club”.  Because it seems that if you aren’t a billionaire you cannot work in the administration.  And, when the “little people” need something, the common answer from the billionaires club is “screw you”.  Those are words Republicans have been telling us for years.  We are unused to hearing an administration use them so blatantly by their actions before.

Hell, I bet Exxon/Mobile gets their waiver to return to the oil contract they signed with Putin to drill oil there.  They applied for a waiver today.  If that goes through, there will be no question whose side trump is on.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 160. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

 

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Day 159. 

From now on, April 18 will be known as the real April Fools Day.  Our beloved leader has decided that today would be a good day to show his total lack of integrity by signing an Executive Order to “Review Buy American, Hire American” policy.

If you think that beloved leader is really interested in enforcing such a policy, you have not paid attention to his family’s own businesses.  Oh, I know that he is talking about Buying American and Hiring American when it comes to government contracts, but he even lied about that.

When he said he would approve the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline he said both would have to use American Steel.  Only, they aren’t using American Steel.  As a matter of fact, the entire Keystone XL Pipeline will be made using German Steel.  And, he said that was okay with him.

As you know, the day above is the count of days since he was elected president and still has not moved his own business manufacturing to the U.S.   All of his products are made overseas.  Including his family’s products.  Except Junior’s wine business.

The review will also look at the H-1B visa process.  You know, the very same process that Junior has hired over 1600 people using at his winery.  Meaning the majority of his winery is made up of immigrants, not American Workers.  Then we have trump himself hiring foreign workers for his resorts, specifically his Mar A Lago resort where he spends more time than just about anywhere else.

How is junior going to keep his winery stocked with employees if he can’t use the H-1B visa program?  How is trump going to keep his resort stocked with employees if he can’t use the program.  You can bet it will either not be changed, or it won’t affect certain industries.  That way, he can exempt himself and his family from any changes on the horizon.

It has also been reported that Ivanka got her three trade marks approved in China the very same day she was sitting next to the Chinese President at dinner at Mar A Lago.  Her and hubby Jared were both there and surprise surprise the trade marks were approved right then and there.

Beloved leader says that he is exempt from “conflict of interests” but his family isn’t.  Ivanka could seriously be suspected of conflict of interest when she sat in at the dinner and miraculously she gets her trade marks in China.

The problem is that everyone is falling for this shit.  The media, the people, and especially the trump supporters are all falling for this shit.  They think that he really means what he says.  But, he doesn’t mean a damn word.  He simply says what he thinks they want to hear and then does something different that will benefit himself.

One of the craziest things I heard at a press briefing the other day was when the propaganda minister, Sean Spicer, said that the White House will keep the visitor logs secret and not be transparent.  The reason that the trump White House will not be transparent at all is because Obama wasn’t transparent enough.

President Obama put the visitor log online so everyone could see it.  He was the first president to do so.  But, he did block out certain names if it meant national security or other potential secret work.  This president who claimed to be even more transparent says that gives him the right to just not follow his predecessor’s lead.  He claims that no other president made the visitor log public, and he is right.  Only, the other Presidents did not claim to be so open and transparent.  Or in trump’s own words “this will be the most transparent presidency in history”.  Another lie.

There is nothing transparent about trump’s presidency.  He won’t release the White House visitor’s log.  He won’t release his own tax returns on the bogus excuse that they are under audit.  He doesn’t do anything to make his presidency “transparent”.

Now, in what will probably be a wonderful photo-op, he will sign an Executive Order about Buying American, Hiring American.  Only it won’t be anything that will affect his own businesses.  Why?  Simply because his is a brazen liar!

While Congress is on break, trump is hiding out in the White House or at Mar A Lago doing nothing, as usual.  Republicans are being battered at town hall meetings across the country, and trump is trying to look presidential at an Easter Egg Roll on the White House Lawn.  While Vice President Pence is trying to look “stern” at the North Korean border, and trump is playing golf.

Oh, he launched missiles at Syria that didn’t take out the military airbase like he said.  It destroyed about 20 planes while his administration tried to claim that it took out 20 percent of the Syrian Air Force.  A lie.  Then he decided to show off and dropped a huge bomb in Afghanistan on ISIS.  His followers all hailed him as being “presidential”.  But, he hasn’t said what he will do next or what he even thinks should happen next.  That would entail some real thought.  Something that is really foreign to trump.

No, singing this Executive Order will be another empty photo-op that won’t do a damn thing to help the American People.  It won’t help make sure that contractors use and hire Americans when working on government contracts, because if they cry it will cost too much, trump and the Republicans will give them a pass and let them use whatever material and whatever workers they think will be cheaper.  That is how they have handled everything so far.

The man is such a fool his foreign-born wife even had to remind him to place his hand over his heart during the national anthem at the start of the Easter Egg Roll yesterday.  Where are all the conservatives slamming him for being anti-American like they tried to do with President Obama?  But, as usual, there is not a peep from the right-wing wackos.  Which only proves to me they are the ones who are anti-American.

So, go ahead and mark your calendars.  April 18 will now officially be known as April Fools Day.  It has been declared so by the number one American Fool, our beloved leader.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 140. 

I know that a lot of people may take exception to that question.  I also know that the knee-jerk reaction is “what the hell is he talking about?”  I hope both assumptions are correct, because it is time we have a real discussing about this issue.

I have been around for some time, and I have seen politicians come and go.  I saw the Civil Rights fights that led to the Civil Rights Bill.  I saw the conflicts that led to the Voting Rights Act.  I was part of the anti-war protests over the Vietnam War in the sixties.

I watched George Wallace bring his bigotry to the national debate with his independent run for the Presidency.  I watched as the old Dixiecrats all began to fade away the leave government either by retiring or dying.  I served under five different presidents with varying views of civil rights.  But, everyone of them loved America and American democracy in their own ways.  Even Richard Nixon.

Things were getting better.  Life was getting better for everyone.  Americans were beginning to feel good about themselves again.  Then, something happened and I cannot put my finger on exactly what that was.   In my view it started with Ronald Reagan.  It was Reagan who started coining the term “welfare queen”.

When Reagan was President, we had Iran Contra where his administration broke a real law by selling guns to Iran in order to raise money to fund the Contras in Central America which was breaking another law.

Several of Reagan’s people wound up in jail over the incident, but Reagan escaped untouched.  Then after Bill Clinton was elected, things got real nasty.  Clinton was actually impeached because he had sex with an intern in a consensual relationship.  What was his “impeachable” offense?  He lied about it, like every Republican who also got caught in affairs.

George W. Bush took us to war.  I didn’t have a problem with the war in Afghanistan since that was where the terrorists who committed the atrocious act of 9/11 were.  However, that wasn’t good enough for W.  He wanted to take out Iraq too.  As a result, it turns out he lied about getting us into the war.  He said over and over that Iraq had weapons of “mass destruction” and that was the justification for his war.

After the war, we found out that he did lie to us because Iraq did not have any weapons of mass destruction.  It was “proven beyond a reasonable doubt” that the President lied to the American people to start a war and kill hundreds of thousands of people.

The Republican Party began using lies as the only way to speak to the American People.  In the past, they used to wrap it up in “patriotic” language.  They would say things like “I am only dong what the American People want”.  or, “That is what the American People elected us to do”.

And they proved all of this was a big lie too.  When the Sandy Hook massacre took place, 70 percent of the American people wanted reasonable gun control laws.  The one they most wanted was a universal background check law.  The Republicans voted it down with “I am only doing what the American people want” lie.

We have started seeing more and more legal discrimination laws being passed, especially at the state level.  Republican state after Republican state are passing anti-abortion laws, voter restriction laws, anti-LGBT laws, and anti-local rule laws.

They have been trying their best to masquerade these laws as “liberty defense” bills.  For example, they claim that the anti-abortion laws are not intended for anything but “protecting woman’s health”.  Bullshit, they are intended to make safe and legal abortions unlawful.

They tell us that we need Photo IDs in order to vote.  Then they look at the types of photo IDs people have and the ones that are mostly used by non-whites or by the elderly or by young people, become not “authorized” as proper photo ids.  Then just to make sure no one can get around this, they shut down the government services, like Driver’s Licenses offices is areas that are primarily minority.  Making them drive or hitch a ride up to 250 miles to get the ID required to vote.

They pass laws they call “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” claiming that “Christians are being persecuted”.  They claim these laws are necessary because Christians cannot act like Christians anymore and everyone is “picking on us”.

But when you look at the laws, you discover the only purpose of them is to allow people to legally discriminate against any minority they want under the guise of “religious belief”.  They mainly targeted the LGBT community and tried to make it possible that a bakery could discriminate against a same-sex couple and not sell them a cake for their wedding.

Under this hateful behavior, they claim that if a baker must sell a cake to such people they would be “endorsing” the same-sex marriage.  BULLSHIT!  That is like saying that if you sell a cake to a member of the Chinese Embassy, you are endorsing Communism.  Or if you sell a cake to a member of the Iranian Government visiting America, you are endorsing the Iranian political agenda.

The only reason for these RFRA laws is simply to allow “government sponsored discrimination” against minorities.  Maybe they were only targeting the LGBT community, but every minority faces the same hate under these hateful laws.

Republicans claim they are the party that “wants government out of our lives”.  They claim to be the “small government” party.  Only their actions show otherwise.  When it comes to ensuring their pet projects get to see the light of day, they are more than willing to let government tell you what to do.

During the ongoing fight over the ACA, Republicans say they want the government out of the way and not get in the way of you and your doctor.  But, they are more than willing to tell doctors what they can and cannot do if a woman wants to talk about abortion or birth control.

Several Republican states passed laws “requiring” ultrasounds before an abortion could be performed.  Not because they were necessary for the woman’s health, but because they showed the fetus and they hoped that would change people’s minds.

They pass laws, like in Utah the other day, that are very dangerous to women’s health and even their lives.  They passed a law that says doctors “must inform women that after the first of two medications to perform an abortion is given, she can change her mind after the first medication was given and the abortion would be reversed”.  That is absolute nonsense and very dangerous to the health of the woman.

They pass laws like HB2 here in North Carolina.  This bill has several effects on our citizens.  First it mandates who is female and who is male.  It then says that you can only use a bathroom that matches the sex on your birth certificate.  It also says that local governments, like the city of Charlotte, does not have the power to modify this law in any way.

It does not recognize the LGBT community as a protected group under the Civil Rights laws.  It is still legal for a company to fire you simply because you are an LGBT person.  No other reason, just because you are gay.  But, Republicans say they are protecting “civil rights” of all of our citizens.

There is a push to reverse this horrible law, but the “compromise” they are announcing today is not very good and keeps in place the rule that local governments cannot pass their own laws or protecting LGBT from being fired just because they are gay.  The only reason this repeal is even being considered is because the Republicans are afraid the NCAA will lock them out of hosting any part of the tournament through 2022.  Since this law was passed by our Politburo the state has lost about $3.1 billion.

Republicans claim that women’s health care is very important to them.  Yet, they have been on a mission to destroy women’s health issues in insurance.  They have been making it difficult for women to get coverage for birth control in their “standard” health care coverage.

They have been going after Planned Parenthood for decades.  They don’t like the idea that you can get an abortion at Planed Parenthood.  So, they are lying to the American people telling them that Planned Parenthood is using federal dollars to perform those abortions.  Only that is untrue and illegal.

They latched onto the phony “sting videos” that claim that Planned Parenthood was “selling body parts” of fetus tissue after an abortion to “make money”.  The videos were proven to be heavily edited and fake.  That didn’t stop Republicans.  They insisted that Planed Parenthood be investigated.  So, many states did just that.

Problem came up.  After dozens of investigations, it was discovered the Planned Parenthood was not “selling baby parts” and they were doing absolutely nothing illegal.  The thing was someone was doing something illegal.  The people who made the videos.

In Texas, the City of Houston brought charges against them.  Felony charges.  Then just this week, California charged the makers of the video with 23 felony charges!  So, Republicans demanded investigations, but now that the only crimes found were by the people who made the videos, they are mysteriously silent.

Still, in the Americans Without Health Care Act that crashed and burned last week, one of the biggest things and most loved part of the bill by Republicans was the defunding of Planned Parenthood.  Again, Republicans say, “that is what Americans sent us to do”.

Only 70 percent of the American People do not want the government to defund Planed Parenthood.  7 in 10 people know that the services that Planed Parenthood offer are only offered by them.  Poor women and poor working women get their health care from Planned Parenthood.  Including cancer screenings, STD prevention and treatment, birth control, and a whole host of other services.

Did you know for example that unwanted pregnancies and abortions, especially among teenaged women and poor women are at their lowest in decades?  Did you also know that these women get birth control form Planed Parenthood and if you remove those services, unwanted pregnancies will increase.  How can you care about women’s health when you want to allow more unwanted pregnancies rather than fewer.

When you look at the whole picture, you have to wonder why today’s Republicans hate America and American democracy so much?  What indoctrination did they go through in order to become so anti-American?

In 2016, it was shown that Russia interfered in our elections.  But, even with this very serious problem, Republicans don’t seem too interested in getting to the bottom of the problem.  They are definitely putting party ahead of country.  Why?

Well if you are a conservative, you claim they are following “conservative principles”.  But, Ayn Rand had no “conservative principles” she only had selfish principles and Ryan is a huge follower if her principles.

If you are a Conservative Christian you will claim they are “protecting” Christian values.  I don’t know any true “Christians” who believe we should abandon the weak and the poor and the sick.  So there are no Christian values in their laws.  Only hate.

If you are a “small government” Republican you will claim they are trying to get government off of our backs and let us live in freedom.  Only,the laws they are passing have nothing to do with individual freedom.  They onely increase discrimination on minorities and favor corporate profits.

These factions of the Republican party are kidding themselves.  Today’s Republican Party is interested in power, and not for the People of America.  They are interested in their power, and mostly in the power of the American Corporations.  They want an Oligarchy.

That is why it is so easy for them to lie and lie and lie.  It is the reason they won’t answer a direct question with a direct answer.  Our current Republican beloved leader claimed he would work for “the average American”.  But, so far, he has only worked for corporations and the Republicans love him for it.

Today’s Republican Party is interested in destroying our democracy.  They are interested in removing civil rights for the people.  They are interested in destroying the middle-class because they are a threat to the oligarchs.

Today’s Republican Party is more enthralled with the way Putin runs Russia than in keeping our country a free country under a great Constitution.  They see the Russian Oligarchs getting richer and richer at the detriment of every other Russian, and that is what today’s Republicans want in America.

Somewhere along the path of our nation, the Republican lost their way.  Somehow they emerged out of a forest, and we discovered they were a lot more greedy and power-hungry than before.  Hate, greed, and discrimination are the Party’s mantra and their religious creed.

Are these the reasons why today’s Republican party hates America and American Democracy so much?  Are they the reasons this Republican Party has passed more intrusive laws against average Americans than any other party in our history?  You don’t do that if you love you country.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 139. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, the shirts keep marching along.

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Day 138. 

There are two things on trump’s agenda today.  The first is to sign an executive order that will repeal a regulation that was designed to keep shady contractors from benefiting from tax dollars.  The rule said that companies with an egregious record of violating wage and safety laws would lose their government contracts if they didn’t come into compliance.  What that means is that if a contractor stole wages through shady payroll practices, or had too many safety violations, they could lose their contract.

But, Republicans said t was too punitive and a “job killer”.  Yeah, everyone wants to work for a contractor that does not adhere to safety rules and is willing to steal their workers pay for themselves.

Heidi Shierholz, a labor policy expert at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, said in a statement.

When President Trump has a chance to stand with workers, he chooses not to.  By blocking this rule, the president and congressional Republicans will ensure that taxpayers will continue to support contractors with a history of wage theft and health and safety violations.

The other thing he has on his agenda is to sign another executive order to roll back the Clean Power Plant regulation.  This could have a major impact on our environment in a negative way by allowing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  But, then again, who needs clean air or even a climate for that matter.  Remember, the only thing that counts to this administration is money.  To hell with the people.

What is not on his agenda, and probably should be, is a troubling problem over at the State Department.  This problem isn’t about the State Department but rather about the Secretary of State.  Another possible scandal is brewing there, and it could actually put the Secretary of State in jail if he isn’t careful.

This scandal goes back to his day at Exxon/Mobile and a very shady character named Wayne Tracker.  It begins decades ago when Exxon/Mobile scientists concluded that carbon dioxide emissions, an inevitable byproduct of burning fossil fuels, are causing climate change. Yet the company buried those findings and instead funded pseudo-scientific studies purporting to deny or downplay legitimate science.

The problem is that the New York States Attorney General’s office considers this as a possible massive financial fraud.  It has been investigating this problem for quite some time now.

It kind of works like this.  Publicly traded companies like Exxon are required to make annual reports on their financial condition to the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. Federal law requires their CEOs to personally certify that those reports do not contain “any untrue statement of a material fact.” Just as importantly, they must also swear that the reports don’t “omit to state a material fact” relevant to the company’s financial health.

It appears that Exxon/Mobile failed to disclose the full truth on its own scientific research in their SEC filings.  In its 2015 statement, the last one certified personally by Tillerson, the company reported net property, plant and equipment – which includes its oil reserves – valued at about $252 billion. That constituted almost 75 percent of its total assets of $337 billion.

Here is the problem.  If ecology friendly governments or action groups succeed in cutting oil production by enforcing more clean air laws, that oil in the ground would lose value.  If it resulted in a large drop in the valuation of the company’s assets that could lead to a massive “impairment charge,” potentially driving the company into the red.

Hmmm.  The document does not mention this concern.  And, in a 2014 report that claimed to address shareholder concerns about climate risk, the company dismissed the possibility of deep cuts in carbon emissions as “highly unlikely.”

This is potentially misinformation to investors.  And, it isn’t just billionaires and hedge fund managers that would be hurt.  A lot of teachers, fire fighters, police officers, and other retirement plans for individuals could also be hurt, and badly.

You may be asking how Wayne Tracker fits into all of this.  Well Wayne Tracker is an alias email account set up by Exxon/Mobile for non other than Rex Tillerson.  The State of New York suspects it was used by Tillerson to discuss climate change science research to other executive members of Exxon/Mobile in order to conceal the information.

In a subpoena, the company was required to turn over all internal communications about climate risk.  However, it failed to turn over the bulk of Wayne Tracker’s emails.  The company responded with a long letter posturing their position, but the gist of it was its “technological processes [for finding materials responsive to the subpoena] did not automatically extend to the secondary email account.”

As you might imagine, the judge was not impressed and ordered these emails to be handed over by March 31.  But, here is the rub.  If it shows in these emails that Tillerson privately acknowledged larger climate risks to the company’s business than what was disclosed in SEC filings, he could face criminal penalties under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

If you think he would be immune because of his position, you are wrong.  This possible criminal act took place before he took office.  Plus, consider if this information had come out during his confirmation hearing.  It is possible he would never have been confirmed in the first place.

If all of this plays out, then our Secretary of State could find himself in court defending himself in a major fraud case.  We are not talking about peanuts here.  We are talking about billions of dollars in investments from people who trusted Tillerson to tell them the truth.

It appears that Tillerson was hiding the truth, and lying to the SEC as well.  You may remember this case a little.  A couple of years ago, members of the Republican Caucus in the House tried to usurp the State of New York and force a close to this investigation.  At the time, these Republicans were worried about Exxon/Mobile’s own scientific research in how bad emissions are to the environment might get out.  Unfortunately, they ignored the bigger picture here about the crime of fraud.

The thing you need to realize is this is what the trump administration is doing to our country.  He claims to be for the “little guy” yet does away with a regulation to protect that protects them from reckless contractors who also may be stealing the worker’s wages.

He named the most anti-environment person on the planet to head up the agency that is supposed to protect the environment.  Then he repeals a clean air regulation designed to make t easier for us to breath and to protect our climate.

He has named most of the executives from Goldman Sachs which was a major contributor to the 2008 economic melt-down to head up our finance departments.  Goldman has paid out billions in fines because of their actions, all of which took place while these executives were running the company.

Now, it turns out that his Secretary of State may be a crook.  Someone who deliberately hid scientific research from his own scientists in order to defraud the public into investing into his company.  Is it any wonder that the only thing his State Department has done so far is approve the Keystone XL pipeline?

You know the pipeline that will allow a private foreign corporation to use eminent domain to steal Americans land for their pipeline route.  And the pipeline that will be built with German Steel rather than American Steel as our beloved leader promised.  And, pipe oil across the U.S. that will not wind up in our markets but will be shipped to China after is has been refined.

Our beloved leader promised to stand up for the working guy.  He has failed.  He promised to repeal and replace the ACA with something “great”.  He has failed.  He has promised to create jobs.  He has failed.  He promised to surround himself with quailed, intelligent, and honest people.  He has failed.

If you want to “drain a swamp” you need to place the suction hose of the sump pump into the swamp.  In this case, trump has put the suction hose of the pump into the Potomac River and is flooding the swamp.

But, what do you expect from an incompetent buffoon.  The timing of the Tillerson upcoming scandal could have been better.  It could have come out before he was confirmed. But, it is not too late to make him pay for defrauding his investors if that turns out to be the case.  I am just wondering what his alias email account at the State Department is today.  Once you start hiding things, it becomes common practice so it would be unreasonable to believe he isn’t hiding things at State.

If you are planning a visit to Washington this year, may I suggest you take along a pair of wading boots.  You will probably need them to wade through the overflowing swamp.

And, the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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