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Day 72.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Day 71.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the shirts keep marching along.

 

 

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Day 67.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Day 64.

You have probably read a lot of articles about how to establish an authoritarian government since Trump was elected.  I haven’t read any of them, because I already know history.  One thing I can tell you is that the best way to establish an authoritarian government is to threaten reprisals against anyone who dares to comment negatively on the “leader”.   Especially against political rivals or presumed political rivals.

In the last few weeks, we have seen Trump go after the news media with vigor.  He has attacked our Intelligence Agencies, which he will head up in seven days.  He has attacked Democrats who oppose repealing the Affordable Care Act, reducing Medicare and Social Security.

However, Trump is not alone in his reprisal bluster.  Republican Congressmen are also getting into the act.  The other day, an Alabama Representative in the U.S. Congress said that the questions Democrats asked Jeff Sessions proved there was a “war on whites”.  Which is totally ridiculous and only adds fuel to the argument that Sessions is an open racist.

While all of this was going on, Trump was hit with that unverified dossier about Russia having some dirt on him. Mostly, he has still not said he would continue the sanctions placed on Russia over the interference in our elections.

He keeps deflecting that it “could have been others like China”.  All seventeen Intelligence Agencies have said Russia was involved, and tried to swing the election against Hillary Clinton.  They never said if it resulted in changing the outcome, but Trump keeps saying they said it did not.

Yet, despite calls from people like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell refuses to set up a special committee to investigate these hacks and their intentions.

There are also reports about Trump team contacting Russia.  The last claims that Mike Flynn called the Russian Ambassador the day Obama ordered several Russian spies out of the country.  I don’t know if it is true, but if it is that is disturbing.

There are all kinds of conflicts of interest facing Trump and his Presidency.  That came to light “big time” as Trump would say during Carson’s confirmation hearing.  Carson was asked if he could assure the people that none of the HUD money for public housing would end up in Trump company properties enriching the president and his family.  He said he could not.

The day Trump takes office he will have more potential conflicts of interest screaming for investigations into his practices than anyone in our history.  So, what does Jason Chaffetz plan on doing about all of this?  He has threatened to hold an investigation.

The problem isn’t that he is planning on investigating any of these potential conflicts of interest about Trump.  No, he is planning on investigating the Office on Government Ethics.  Why?  Because Mr. Shaub, who heads up the OGE didn’t say nice things about Trumps plan to “step back” from his businesses.

Shaub has said the whole thing announced at that infomercial the other day is “meaningless”.  In a speech at the Brookings Institute, Shaub said”

Stepping back from running his business is meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective.  The idea of setting up a trust to hold his operating businesses adds nothing to the equation. This is not a blind trust — it’s not even close.

Later defending his comments he said”

The only thing this has in common with a blind trust is the label, ‘trust.’ His sons are still running the businesses, and, of course, he knows what he owns.  The idea of limiting direct communication about the business is wholly inadequate. That’s not how a blind trust works.

So, the head of the OGE gave his opinion about the trust Trump claims he is setting up to avoid conflicts of interest which won’t avoid anything.  Besides, you cannot tell what conflicts of interest exists because Trump refuses to release his tax returns.  That is the only way to see everything he has and where conflicts could arise.

That was enough for Mr. Reprisal.  Chaffetz blew his top so to speak.  He immediately sent a letter to Mr. Shaub including a veiled threat to hold investigations on the OGE.  In his letter, Mr. Reprisal accused Mr. Shaub of:  “blurring the line between public relations and official ethics guidance”.

Republicans are also upset because they don’t believe that the OGE needs to finish all of its investigations into the ethics paperwork for each of the cabinet nominees.  Because of this, several nominee’s confirmation hearing had to be put on hold until the OGE and the FBI finish their background checks.

Chaffetz also noted in the letter how his committee has the authority to “reauthorize” the OGE and possibly even shut it down.  He wrote:

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee of the House of Representatives and may at ‘any time’ investigate ‘any matter’ as set forth in House Rule X.

There is no veiled threat here as far as I am concerned.  Chaffetz is openly telling Mr. Shaub that his agency, which ensures ethics in our government, must say nice things about Trump or face investigations.

Remember, when Republicans put their “rules” together, ethics was the one thing they wanted to erase from the government.  Only thousands upon thousands of people calling their Representatives kept them from putting that “rule” into their rules.

We are just seven days from this little boy gaining the power of the presidency.  Trump and his cronies have shown their disregard for the law and for ethics.  They have shown their willingness to threaten people who say things that are not favorable to them.  And, they are more than willing to conduct reprisals against any of their “enemies”.

I have never understood why Republicans are so anxious to kill our country and tear down our democracy.  Yet, that is exactly what they are trying to do.  You see it at the State level in places like the Soviet Socialist States of Kansas and North Carolina.  You are now seeing it at the Federal level.

The so-called party of “small government” wants that government so small that one man can run it and order you how to behave and live your lives.  Your voice and your opinions don’t count unless you agree with them.  That came to light during the “vote-a-rama” the Senate had the other night.

In order to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they held a bunch of votes.  Remember they said that when they repeal the ACA they would keep things like the protections for preexisting conditions and keeping your children on your plan until age 26.  Only, they voted those protections down during their vote-a-rama the other night.

Trump is going to become president with the least favorable rating of any president-elect in our history.  And, rather than those numbers increasing as we get closer to the inauguration, they are going down.  Congress, especially Republicans in the House, are showing their willingness to help him conduct reprisals against anyone who says something unflattering about him.

I don’t know what the future actually holds for us.  But, from where I am sitting, it doesn’t look bright or cheery.  On the other hand, it looks bleak and dreary.

As far as I am concerned, reprisals against political opponents is nothing short of government sanctioned terrorism against your own people.  Is that what we are heading towards?

 

 

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Day 62

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Day 60

As usual, the Republicans are thumbing their nose at the American People and the rule of law.  They don’t care what laws they avoid or even break as long as they get their way.  We have seen it before, but not to this level.

Starting tomorrow, Trump’s nominees for his cabinet will begin having their hearings in the Senate to be approved.  The Republicans are going to ramrod through these nominations because according to Mitch McConnell “we won” so suck it up.

I don’t have any real problem with quickly holding hearings, but I do have a problem with the way McConnell is doing business.  First he is going to hold hearings at the same time.  There are actually members of the Senate who serve on more than one committee.  Meaning that they will have to pick which hearing they sit in on.  We will actually have confirmation hearings without having full committee membership attending due to conflict of hearing times.

But, that is the small, what some might say insignificant, part of the problem.  The biggest part of the problem is that not all of the nominees have even completed and submitted their paperwork to the Office of Government Ethics.

The way this process usually works is that nominees fill out a questionnaire and submit it to the OGE and the OGE begins processing the applications to ensure there are no conflicts of interests.

Every President before this president-elect followed the usual practice of submitting the “paperwork” to the OGE even before they made the announcement of their picks.  This gave the OGE and the FBI time to properly conduct their investigations so when the confirmation hearings took place the committee members had a full report they needed to make a reasonable judgement.

However, this year that isn’t the case.  The OGE sent a letter to Democratic Senators complaining about the quick process and worried that their work will not be completed before the hearings are even over much less begin.

OGE Director Walter Shaub wrote in his letter:

The announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me. This schedule has created undue pressure on OGE’s staff and agency ethics officials to rush through these important reviews.  More significantly, it has left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings.

He also wrote that this appears to be unprecedented.  He said:  “I am not aware of any occasion in the four decades since OGE was established when the Senate held a confirmation hearing before the nominee had completed the ethics review process”.

Of course Republicans and the transition team aren’t very worried about confirming potentially people with huge conflicts of interest.  Even that mind-numbing idiot Newt Gingrich said we don’t have to worry because all of these people “are hugely successful people”.

Senate Democrats are asking that these hearings be delayed until the OGE and the FBI complete their investigations and/or at least until they nominees complete all of the questionnaires they seem to think are not very important.

How can any Republican honestly state that these investigations are not important and a necessary part of the process?  It is true that as McConnell has said, seven of President Obama’s 2009 nominees were confirmed before the inauguration.  Yet, it was also true that they all filled out the proper paperwork and had their investigations completed before being confirmed.  Big difference.

Other experts agree this is unprecedented.  “This is unprecedented,” Trevor Potter, former chair of the Federal Election Commission, tells the Washington Post.  “This suggests that there has been a real breakdown between the transition and the Office of Government Ethics.”

There are not a lot of reasons for this quick ramrod of the nomination hearings unless the Republicans are afraid they will unveil ethics problems with any of the nominees.  What other sane reason could they give.  Sorry, but “we won” so we don’t have to follow normal rules is just not good enough of an argument for anyone.

If that isn’t the reason, then they must be looking at avoiding normal democratic processes in order to set up a Republican Authoritarian Government.  The one thing we have been able to count on during our history, is the peaceful and almost unheard of transition between the current President and the incoming President.

In all my years following politics, I have never seen so much coverage about the transition as I have this year.  The Republicans seem willing to avoid any common decency during this transition and that is simply unheard of in the past by either party.

This kind of behavior does not bode well for the future.  It seems like we are being told to shut up and do as we are told.  It doesn’t give us much belief that if one or more of these nominees are later found to be in serious conflict of interest, that we can count on the Republicans to do anything about it.

I am beginning to get the feeling that this will be the most unethical, most corrupt, and most radical government we have ever seen in our country.  I am also beginning to believe that our media or more importantly our so-called “independent press” isn’t going to do anything about it either.  They all seem to be eagerly willing to “normalize” Trump and his gang of extremists.  There are a few exceptions, but not enough.

If you have been wondering why Trump seems to love Putin so much, these actions are showing us that is exactly what Trump wants to be as our president.  Trump wants to become America’s Putin.  A person I believe to be a power-hungry corrupt businessman wants his presidency to be like a power-hungry corrupt politician like Putin.

If you look at everything piece by piece, you will miss the full picture.  You have to look at everything as it ties to everything else.  Kellyanne Conway said the other day we need to “look into Trump’s hears and not listen to what comes out of his mouth”.  Maybe she is right.  If we look into his heart, we will then the authoritarian wanna-be that he really is.  Does she really want us to see that?

Do McConnell and Ryan want a real Congress or a Politburo.  We have a Politburo in North Carolina and we are seeing our democracy here being depleted piece by piece.  We will continue fighting our Politburo here, we need to fight it in Washington before it gets to far along. We cannot let that happen to our country.

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Day 57

Yesterday four people, one adult and three teenagers were arrested and charged with hate crimes for that sickening video showing them torture another teenage boy.  Racial slurs were heard being shouted.  The whole affair was sickening.

There are a lot of people trying to bring up the meme of Black on White hate crimes being rampant, which it is not.  The boy tortured was white and the attackers were black.  Furthermore, the boy went to school with one of his attackers.

This is incident is totally about hate.  It really has not a lot to do with anything else but hate.  I don’t care what color the victim is and I don’t care what color the attackers are.  The fact that something like this can actually happen is out of pure hate.

The absurdity of hate was on full display this past election.  The fact of the matter is that just about everyone could be the victim of hate.  The only problem is that it usually takes race or sexual orientation to make officials charge someone with hate crimes.

When charges are made in hate crimes, both sides all get in an uproar.  Rather than look at the incident it was, we need to “categorize” what type of hate is really is.  We have seen the “justification” of hate crimes by both sides of the issue rather than talking about the hate that caused the crime in the first place.

Don’t you think it is time we faced our hate problem?  Don’t you think it is time put an end to all of this nonsense?  Yes, I know we can never eliminate it completely, but our actions after such incidents tell me that we have no intention of ending the hate.

You have probably seen other posts that tell you that our problem is because we have “turned away from god”.  You have also seen posts that say “this is what happens when you don’t believe in god.”

Sorry, but that is a form of hate all by itself.  The very idea that only “god-fearing” people are good people is total bullshit.  Morality is based more on how humanity treats other members of the human race.  It has nothing to do with religion.

In fact, religion is one of the primary forces behind our hate.  We hate minorities because “god mad us superior”.  We hate women because “god made them subordinate to men”.  We hate gays because they are “sinners in the eyes of god”.

Then we have people who hate just because they love to hate others.  Hating someone else makes them feel good about themselves.  It makes them feel superior.  It categorizes people into bins that allow us to separate ourselves from them.

The world we live in is complex and can be very divisive.  You cannot have black without white.  You cannot have light without dark.  You cannot have love without hate.  And, you cannot have good without evil.

The thing that makes us get along is our basic humanity.  Love is not based on religion it is based on our common humanity.  Hate on the other hand is based on ego.  The idea that I am better than you so therefore I can hate you.

We also live in a country that is supposed to be based on the claim “that all men are created equal”.  Yet, too many of our politicians have led the charge against inclusiveness.  They “categorize” people into those handy bins to make them lesser people than the “chosen” category of people.

Legalized discrimination bills based on so-called religious beliefs makes hate much easier.  The so-called bathroom bills make hate much easier.  Voter restriction laws make hate much easier.  Any law that restricts or bars access to basic rights make hate easier.

You can make the argument that problems like these are taught in the homes.  You can make the argument that parents need to teach their children better.  You can make a lot of arguments about cases like this.  But, making arguments is fixing blame and not addressing the real problem of hate itself.

When someone says “I’m not a racist” but refuses to acknowledge the civil rights of minorities, you are lying to yourself.  If you say you “love gays, but hate the sin” you are lying to yourself.  Whenever you argue against your own beliefs you are lying to yourself.

You cannot say that you love our neighbor and then send disparaging emails against people or groups.  You cannot say you are compassionate and then call someone with a disability a “gimp” or someone with a mental disability “nuts” or “stupid”.  That is simply lying to yourself.

Lying to ourselves makes our hate covert, but it is still there.  Lying to ourselves allow us to make excuses when something like this happens.  Lying to ourselves does not help stem hate, it actually feeds it.

When you really look at it, hate is nothing more than an act of terrorism.  Letting people know your hate towards them should be classified as terrorism because we you are trying to make them fear you.

I hope with all my heart that these people who tortured this boy get exactly what they deserve according to the law.  Just like I do whenever any of the thousands of hate crimes that occur everyday in this country find justice.

But, if you want to see an end to these types of crimes, you cannot keep lying to yourself.  You need to look yourself in the mirror and confront your hate.  Then, you need to work to overcome and end your own hate.  Otherwise, hate will continue.  Hate crimes will continue.

I don’t care if you are religious or not.  I don’t care what color you are or nationality, or sex, or sexual orientation.  The fact is we are all part of the human race.  We are all brothers and sisters with a single common factor.  We deserve better from our neighbors.  We deserve better from ourselves.

The fact of the matter is only we can stop hate.  Then maybe we will see an end to these sickening crimes.  One can only hope.

 

 

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