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Day 74.

If this past weekend is any indication of what we can expect from trump and his administration, forgive the language, but we are fucked!  I mean, the stupidity of this administration to really believe that they can say whatever they want and the whole world will believe it is amazing.

It began with trump’s shameful performance at the CIA where he complained about coverage of his inauguration and he said how we should have broken international law by “stealing” Iraq’s oil.

Then we have his Justice Administration giving the green light to him hiring his son-in-law to his administration in contrast to the anti-nepotism law.  Funny how the law means so much until a Republican breaks it.

Then we have two separate “executive orders” which trump and Republicans claim are “unconstitutional when President Obama” used them.  The first was so confusing that no one really understands what it means.  Priebus called it reducing financial burden of Obamacare order.

The second was eliminating the reduction in FHA mortgage insurance premiums for first time home buyers.  That was intended to help first time home buyers afford their insurance premiums.  The mortgage insurance covers the home if something happens and the homebuyers can’t make their payments for any number of reasons.  So, he is costing these people $500 per year.  You know, the same people he claims he is going to help.  Some help.

Then his Justice Department decided that they wanted a judge to delay hearings in the suite against the Texas Voter suppression law, which is the strictest in the country.  Arguments were supposed to take place tomorrow.

Then as a final act of, I don’t even know what to call it, Sean Spicer showed up in the Press Briefing Room, one and a half hours later than announced, and virtually scolded the press for not praising trump, especially his inauguration.  As Spicer put it, “this inauguration was the most watched inauguration ever, period!”  Except it wasn’t and there is photographic evidence to prove it.  Plus Nielsen said that 30.8 million people watched on television.

That is far below President Obama’s first inauguration which came in at around 39 million viewers and the 43 million people who watched Reagan’s first inauguration.  Spicer also gave a fairytale story about a journalist who tweeted that the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office.  He further claimed that the journalist gave a weak excuse for his tweet when he discovered that it was false.

On the contrary, the journalist did make the original tweet.  However, as soon as he noticed he had made an error, he tweeted again apologizing to everyone for his mistake.  To make matters worse for Spicer, he tweeted back “apology accepted”.  That all happened 24 hours before Spicer’s rant in the briefing room.

Yesterday, trying to defend these blatant lies, Kellyanne Conway whose title should not be “counselor to the President” but rather “chief confuser of the facts for the President” said that Spicer was simply using “alternative facts”.

The Sunday Morning talk shows fought back.  When one pointed out that “alternatives facts” are not facts they are falsehoods, Conway quickly tried to change the topic.  She even threatened the media on air by saying the administration may “rethink [its] relationship with the press if the media continues to criticize Spicer”.

Even Chris Wallace on Fox News was against these alternative facts.  He said Trump had made statements that were “flat wrong” and that there needed to be discussion about “the president’s honesty.”   He went on to say:  “I was there on the Mall. … I am telling you, there were huge empty areas.”

Wallace also challenged Priebus on the comment made at the CIA that trump did not have a grudge or feud with the intelligence community.  It was all made up by the media.  He said:  “It’s not the media, it’s what he was saying”.

At that point Priebus changed the topic and complained about the dossier that was leaked.  Even though the intelligence community was not the source of that leak.

Finally, Conway also announced that the promise to “release my tax returns after the audit is complete” by trump was a complete lie.  She now says that he will not release his tax returns because people didn’t care.  She forgot to mention that there is a petition on whitehouse.gov demanding he release his tax returns and it has over 100,000 signatures on it.  Sounds like a lot of people really “do care”.

What this really boils down to is what Hitler called the “Big Lie”.  In his world the more you tell a lie, the more people will believe it to be fact.  We have also seen this kind of nonsense in George Orwell’s book 1984.  In that world, the government changed the facts by changing history.  They would actually go back and change stories in newspapers to coincide with today’s happenings.

In the first 72 hours of his administration, trump has managed to tell more lies than most Presidents tell in an entire four-year term.  He is setting the stage for falsehoods to become the norm for our country.

I have to tell you, when Spicer went into his rant, I had flashbacks to newsreels of the past showing Joseph Goebbels ranting in front of German Press back in the 20s and 30s.  Is that what we can expect from this administration?

In the next 30 days, according to trump’s administration, we can expect a slew of those “unconstitutional executive orders” being signed by the new “law and order” president.  I know, that sounds like a conflict, but trump is well-known for his conflicts.

It was once said that you can lie your way into power, but once you try to govern the truth eventually gets its boots on and runs you over.  We can only hope that the truth gets its boots on real quick this year.

 

 

 

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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 70

We are now seeing just why Republicans have been so worried about having ethics watchdogs hanging over their heads.  Now, I am fully aware that there are some Democrats who follow the same lack of ethics in office, but it is the Republicans who are trying to do away with the ethics groups in government.

Rep. Chavetz and the incoming administration’s Cabinet Picks are showing why getting rid of ethics watchdogs are so important.  They don’t have any ethics and they are damned proud of that fact.

First we have Chaffetz who has been screaming at the top of his lunges that OGE Director Shaub “blew off a meeting with him” in December.  Problem, emails that were released yesterday through the Freedom of Information Act, proves beyond a reasonable doubt, that it was in fact Chavetz who blew off the meeting.

Those emails were not just from the OGE, but from Chaffetz’ office as well.  In the last one, Chaffetz own person told Shaub that Mr. Chaffetz was backlogged and was trying to “get home” which is why he missed the meeting.

This unethical, lying buffoon is the  chairman of the House Oversight Committee to top it all off.  Instead of threatening to close the OGE because Chaffetz didn’t like Shaub’s comments about Trump’s non-divestment from his businesses, they should look at shutting down the Oversight Committee.  Or, at the very least replace this liar from his chair on the committee.

Then we have the case of Wilbur Ross who is the nominee to head up the Commerce Department.  He came out and said that last month he fired a household employee because that person couldn’t produce a valid driver’s license and Social Security Card.  He claims that he did produce what appeared to be the same documents when he hired him.

He is saying that he “unknowingly” hired an undocumented immigrant.  Of course, if he had used E-Verify, he would have discovered the discrepancy when he hired the person in the first place.  When other nominees had similar problems, Republicans said at the time that ignorance was no excuse and they pulled their names from nomination.  Not so for Ross.  He is being given a pass.

There is the nomination to head up the Budget Office, Mick Mulvaney who did not pay employer taxes for his employees for years.  The final bill was over $15,000.  Again, when other nominees were found out doing the exact same thing, they were disqualified.  Republicans don’t think this is a big deal for Mulvaney.

Then, of course, is Tom Price.  He is the nominee to head up Health and Human Services.  His problems come from stocks.  Seems Mr. Price purchased stocks just before he introduced legislation that would help that company’s stock prices rise.

You can quibble about how much money was involved in that one deal or the many other stock purchases he made.  The real question comes in when you look at what he was and what extra jobs he had.

When this first came out a few days ago, the Trump team put out a statement that read:

Dr. Price’s Morgan Stanley financial advisor designed his portfolio and directed all trades in the account.  Pursuant to the arrangement with Morgan Stanley, the financial advisor, and not Dr. Price, has the discretion to decide which securities to buy and sell in his account.

Here we go again with another lie.  During his testimony, Price admitted that Morgan Stanley’s financial advisor was told by him to purchase the stock and did not do so on their own.  The company in question makes hip replacement parts.  Exactly six days after purchasing the stock, Price introduced legislation that would eliminate regulations on that particular industry.  Can you say “conflict of interest?”

It turns out that Price has a lot of medical company stocks.  At first glance, the idea of a doctor purchasing medical equipment stock may not seem all that horrible.  But, this is also a man who served on a committee that was responsible to regulate the health care industry.  Additionally, even if he wasn’t on that committee, he would have to vote on legislation affecting his stock.

Senator Murray questioned Price on whether he thought it was appropriate for members of Congress to be trading stocks that could benefit from legislation under consideration, adding that the 21st Century Cures Act had numerous provisions that would benefit Innate Immunotherapeutics, the company Price purchased his stocks in after Rep. Collins told him about the company.  Collins was a board member of the company at the time.

“Do you believe it is appropriate for a senior member of Congress actively involved in policy making in the health sector to repeatedly personally invest in a drug company that could benefit from those actions?” Murray asked. “Yes or no?”

“That’s not what happened,” Price said.  Sorry doctor, that is exactly what happened.  Why didn’t you divest your health industry stocks to avoid any possible conflicts of interest?  Because you wanted to be able to influence your stock’s worth with laws and lack of regulations that you personally introduced.  In other words, you are a crook.

As I said, ethics hold no meaning for these people.  They are even proud of the fact they have no ethics.  So much so that they want to kill all of the ethical watchdogs in Washington that could call them out for their actions.

The amount of money involved is neither here or there.  The simple fact that a sitting member of congress is willing to take advantage of their position for any personal gain is repugnant at best, and criminal at worst.

These aren’t the only people nominated by Trump with potential ethical problems.  Don’t forget Mr. Mnunchin who ran a bank known as the “foreclosure machine”.  He once foreclosed on a home for an elderly lady over 24 cents.  And, Trump wants him to be the Treasury secretary.

Trump has promised to “drain the swamp”.  If this is his idea of draining the swamp, please stop.  After screaming about the evils of Goldman Sachs, he has placed six Goldman Sachs executives into his administration.

He has offered up the most unethical cabinet nominees in a very long time if not history.  There is the real possibility that we are going to see a whole host of “Teapot Dome” scandals follow his administration if these people are confirmed.  And, with Republican repugnance to ethics on full display, they most surely will get confirmed.

By the time Trump takes his oath of office tomorrow, he won’t be able to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House without wading boots.  The swamp is overflowing right into the heart of our capital.

This is what happens when “businessmen” are selected to run the country.  The only thing they are interested in is running more money into their own pockets.  Take for example the Facebook ad that says Trump wants to invite you to the inauguration for “free”.

It is a scam to raise money.  If you click on the RSVP button, you don’t get an RSVP response, you are taken to a page where you can buy a Commerative Inauguration License Plate for $30.  If you want to go to the inauguration, you can go for free anyway.

Raising money for the inauguration is fine as long as you are up front about it and not trying to scam the people.  This is an open and blatant scam to raise money, but we don’t know where exactly that money is headed.  Another con from the conman!

Money in politics is very bad as we can see.  But, it isn’t just the money in contributions to campaigns, it is the money these scoundrels make everyday right under our noses because of their “secrecy” protections.

But don’t worry, Trump has promised us more “military parades” so you don’t have to think about their lack of ethics.  You can be proud of the military parades just like they are in Russia and other authoritarian countries around the world.

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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 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 65

With both the Senate and the House taking the first steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act, there seems to be a real problem differentiating between the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare.  The only problem is there is no difference between the two.

I offer as proof this.  Someone I have known all of my life shared a link to a Representative from Illinois talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act.  I know that he really doesn’t like it very much, and was not surprised to see that he liked this reps version of nothing.

However, a few scrolls down the page, this same person “liked” a piece from a person praising the Affordable Care Act as one of the best pieces of legislation ever passed.  In the post the man said his child was saved because of the Act because he was able to keep insurance despite preexisting condition.  He also said that it was good because he could actually consider retiring a bit early because the ACA allowed a bridge in the gap between working and Medicare.

The question is if one is correct and the law is horrible and must be repealed, and the other is correct because it saved his son and allows the possibility for those financially able to retire a bit early, how can they both be correct?

That is the problem the average person has with the Affordable Care Act.  Which is probably why only 18% of the American People want it completely repealed.  Not exactly the “mandate” Republicans say they have to repeal it.

If you are willing to share and “like” an article claiming the law must be repealed and then share and “like” an article claiming how good the law is, you are acting on two different emotions.

The first is purely political.  Saying the ACA is horrible and should be repealed is a pure political stance.  You don’t like the idea that a Democrat passed a law that Republicans either couldn’t pass or refused to even consider even though it was their law to begin with.

The second is showing that the law is actually good and that people need and deserve to have access to affordable health care.  You recognize that the way things were before the law was put into place was horrible and did not serve the majority of the people.  And, you also recognize that people actually are able to save themselves and/or their children using the health insurance they never had before.

The Affordable Care Act is not perfect.  It hasn’t helped that Republicans have managed to throw several monkey wrenches into the bill since it was passed using law suits and refusing to fund certain areas of the bill.  Even that said, the vast majority of Americans want the bill fixed and/or expanded, not repealed.

So, why are Republicans so impatient to repeal the bill?  For instance, they have a law suit pending against the bill arguing that the co-pay money called for in the bill for low-income people should not be paid out to insurance companies.

Yet, when they passed their “first step” to repeal the bill, they included the money to do exactly that.  That bill is $9 billion.  However, if they don’t also extend the taxes that are in the bill, that will only add $9 billion to the debt they also claim to hate so much.

The day before the House took their first steps, at a town hall meeting, a constituent of Paul Ryan told him that the ACA saved his life and without the bill, he would have died by now.  Ryan told him that what his plan will do is make things better.  But, if you look at the site Ryan said to look for the plan, there isn’t a plan. There are four simple highlights none of which would have helped this man.  Then, the very next day, Ryan began the process to strip this man from his health insurance.

Several Republican Governors are even asking Congress not to repeal the bill.  They understand that millions of their constituents will lose their insurance if the bill is repealed, especially without a replacement plan.  Yet, Congress doesn’t seem to be listening, again.

Republicans say they will keep the part that allows you to keep your children on your plan until age 26.  But, the Senate voted that down.  They say they will keep the preexisting condition protection, but the Senate voted that down, too.  They also voted down the subsides for rural hospitals that were closing by the droves before the ACA was enacted.

Donald Trump even said during the campaign that every American should be covered by health care.  But Republicans in Congress say there will be “universal access” which is not the same as coverage.  If you cannot afford that “universal access” you will have to do without.

Repealing the ACA will have only one real positive.  It will give the wealthiest people in the country another tax break in the millions of dollars range.  The so-called Cadillac and other taxes part of the bill will be eliminated.

It is estimated by economists that repealing the Affordable Care Act will add about $1 trillion yearly to the deficit.  Only, it won’t add one new person to the rolls of being covered by health care insurance, rather it will decrease the rolls by at least 20 million people.

The other thing to remember is that the most people who will be adversely affected by a repeal live in Red States.  Rural hospitals will be forced to close down leaving entire communities without a hospital within reasonable driving distance.  That will cause more unwanted and unnecessary deaths.

Studies have shown that since the ACA, more people are seeing their doctor.  More people are involved in preventative care.  And, the health of our country has overall gotten better.  The reason is simple.  More people have health insurance than ever before.

As far as I am concerned, we have a choice between two different positions.  The first is to fix and expand the Affordable Care Act.  The other is to go to Medicare for all or Universal Health Care.  Repealing the ACA is the worst idea that Republicans have come up with.  And, they have come up with a lot of terrible ideas.

The panacea that Republicans say is in their non-existent plan is being able to sell insurance across state lines.  Only we have heard that in just about every industry.  I bet your cable bill went down when companies like Comcast could sell services across state lines.

Rather than increasing competition, that idea only allows for bigger companies to swallow up the smaller ones setting up limited competition and higher costs to the consumer.  That idea isn’t a panacea, it is a poison pill being forced down the throats of the average person.

So, before you start cheering the demise of the Affordable Care Act because of your political viewpoint, remember your sane side to remember just how bad things were before the Act went into effect.  Also, you need to think that as you get older, you will face that preexisting problem if you try to change insurance companies.  Or, if you get really sick, you will face losing your coverage because you hit your insurance company’s “ceiling” on expenditures.

Then you will wish the ACA was never repealed.  But to keep it from being repealed, we need to blow up the capitol’s phone bank with complaints to our representatives.  Maybe then they will listen, but I doubt it.  Their politics are far more important to them than your health.

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